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Costa Rica - build your own excursion

The Costa Rica excursion includes your accommodations in beautiful Grecia (located in Costa Rica's Central Valley, about 45 minutes from the airport at San Jose), nestled in the mountains with a view of Poas Volcano. Enjoy relaxing in this fine location with breath-taking views of the central valley below and WI-FI internet access.

 

You get to determine everything about your stay! The possibilities are endless! Ideas for optional excursions are listed below.

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Optional excursion ideas

Grecia and surrounding areas

This excursion takes you to several areas in and around Grecia for an overview of the area. You will visit the city of Grecia itself, as well as Sarchi, Zarcero, and Naranjo (though not necessarily in this order).

 

Zarcero is known for it's unusually sculpted topiaries. There is also a lovely church at the town's square. You can also buy some of the most delicious cheese here, called Queso Palmito; the Queso Palmito you find in grocery stores throughout Costa Rica will not taste the same as the original variety in Zarcero.

 

Sarchi is famous for it's painted oxcarts. Sarchi is a quaint little artists' town where one can find a variety of unique souvenirs for low prices. You can visit several shops and perhaps even an artist's studio (with better prices than the shops).

 

On this journey, you will also be able to explore the town square of Grecia, including the unique metal church shipped here by mistake in the 1950's from Belgium! If school is in session, you have the option to visit a local school and donating any items you brought from home. 

 

Naranjo has a charming town square. If you are a coffee lover, be sure to request a stop at the main shop in town to pick up some delicious Naranjo coffee at rock bottom prices.  Coffee plantation tours are also available in the area if you are interested; they generally charge $35 per person.

Irazu Volcano

Irazu is one of the highest altitude volcanoes in Costa Rica at 11,260 feet (3,432 meters), and it is a beautiful 2 hour drive to get there. Cross through San Jose and other areas of the central valley before slowly and steadily climbing in altitude to get there. More often than not at Irazu, you will have lovely views of the crater lakes if you take a moderately easy walk along the fences. Feel like you're in another world!

La Fortuna, Hot Springs, Suspension Bridges

On this excursion, you will drive several hours to the city of La Fortuna, where you will get your first amazing glimpse of Arenal Volcano. Take break to enjoy the town square and explore the church in this quaint town.

 

Drive for about 20 minutes and see Arenal from multiple vantage points as you slowly get closer to this massive volcano. As you approach the park with suspension bridges, you will also see Lake Arenal, which was created when a dam was built on the river flowing through this area. On the suspension bridge tour, you will cross 16 bridges, some of which are short and not very high, and others which are true suspension bridges, leave you towering many stories above the forest canopy; all bridges are constructed with galvanized steel and aluminum. Though they sway, they are very safe, secure, and offer stunning views. This tour generally takes 2-3 hours; be sure to go slowly enough to enjoy all the scenery, and you will have a very good chance of glimpsing interesting animal species as well. Most of the walk is easy though there are a few brief hill climbs that can be a bit more tiring.

 

After the nice hike, you will have time to relax at one of the nearby hot springs, which are heated naturally by Arenal Volcano. The hot springs that you will visit are actually shaped a lot like traditional swimming pools, with each one heated to a different temperature. There is a perfect pool for everyone (including a couple that are not heated by the volcano and are cool like typical swimming pools). Most hot springs have a terrific view of the volcano. After relaxing for some time, you will depart for Grecia, and make it back in time for dinner.

Jaco, Quepos, Manuel Antonio National Park

Visit Manuel Antonio National Park!. Along the way, you will see gorgeous coastline and will have several opportunities to stop and take photographs. If the crocodiles are particularly playful, you will have an opportunity to see them en route as you drive over the Tarcoles River. Once at Manuel Antonio, you will be able to spend a few hours at the beautiful beach there, and optionally hike through the park on one of the designated trails. You canspend several hours here, enjoying the beaches and trails at your own pace. On the way back to Grecia, stop at the beach in Jaco (with any luck, you will catch a gorgeous sunset) and enjoy dinner at one of many  "soda" restaurants (where "soda" means a restaurant that serves typical Costa Rican food). There are also a few US chain restaurants along the main route, plus some excellent places to enjoy ice cream!

Sloth Sanctuary and Puerto Viejo, 2+ day tour

The journey today will take you to the Caribbean coastal port town of Limon. The Sloth Sanctuary is located about 30 minutes beyond Limon, almost on the coast. The goal of the sanctuary is to rehabilitate injured and orphaned sloths, and return as many as possible to the wild. Those that cannot return to the wild have a permanent home at the sanctuary. Included in the admission price, you will enjoy a canoe ride along the river and have the opportunity to see amazing wildlife, and will also have the opportunity to photograph and pet some of the adult and baby sloths currently in residence. After enjoying the sanctuary, you can explore the beach at Puerto Viejo, and this is where we recommend spending the night as there are many hotels. On the following day, before heading back to Grecia, you have the opportunity to take an optional excursion in the area, including snorkel dives, a partial day trip to Panama, and more, depending on conditions. Check the options upon arrival at your hotel.

Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, more

Start the day with a drive to lovely Poas Volcano. While Poas itself is only about 7 miles "as the bird flies" from your accommodations, it takes approximately 45 minutes to drive there by car. You will see gorgeous mountain scenery on the way up to the crater. At the crater, you will be able to see the central lake which has other- worldly blue water. Afer marveling at this view, be sure to hike another 10 minutes up the path to the second crater lake (called Botos), which is at a slightly higher altitude. Even on days when the main Poas crater is foggy, the Botos crater lake is usually clear.

 

Once finished, you will drive to La Paz Waterfall Gardens. The gardens have lush landscaping and also are home to many of the species that are native to Costa Rica. Most of the animals that live here would not be able to thrive successfully in the wild. Many of them are also relatively elusive in the wild. After enjoying the animals and landscaping, hike to three of the lovely waterfalls that are on premise. There is minor stair climbing involved but the overall walk is not too difficult for the average traveler.

 

** Depending on your adventure level, you may or may not want to include a third stop. If you do, the final stop of the day will take you to Catarata del Toro, a beautiful waterfall in a secluded setting. The hike to and from the waterfall requires climbing down, then up, over 350 stairs. The climb is worthwhile so long as you enjoy climbing. It is on private property and you'll also see a lot of hummingbirds on site.

San Jose for the day

Explore the sights and sounds of San Jose for the day! This trip will take you through the main city center. You can stop and walk around, explore the main church in the city and it's park grounds. You can also spend time in San Jose's equivalent of "Central Park" where people can go horseback riding, rent paddle boats on a small lake, or just enjoy a sunny afternoon strolling the grounds. Perhaps enjoy a picnic, too. There are also several museums worth checking out. 

Airport transfers for San Jose

Roundtrip airport transfers are available, especially if you are not planning to rent a car. The airport in San Jose is approximately 45 minutes from your home away from home in Grecia.

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