January 26 — February 11, 2018

17 days/16 nights

WHY COSTA RICA?  Many of the people on the Nicaragua trip plan to keep the “good times rolling” and have already signed up. I’ve already purchased my plane ticket! In short, the trip is ON!! Why Costa Rica? Here are some reasons that make this country an extremely appealing hiking and travel destination:

112 volcanoes (5 are active)

27 National Parks

58 Wildlife Refuges

32 Protected Zones

15 Wetland Areas/Mangroves

11 Forest Reserves

Many rivers, lakes and waterfalls

Abundant wildlife (6% of all biodiversity in the world is in Costa Rica)

Stable democratic government

No army, navy or air force (since 1948)

Premier retirement destination

World-class coffee

Commitment to renewable energy (in 2016, 98% of the energy output for the entire nation came from renewable sources — 80% of which was from hydroelectric power)

Costa Rica is the World’s Happiest Country (for real — according to the most recent “Happy Planet Index”)



2) 17 DAYS/16 NIGHTS (at least 12 nights single occupancy!!)


4) NOT AS HOT AS NICARAGUA! (For those who have hiked in Nicaragua before, you will understand the significance of this statement. In fact, overnight lows at many of our mountain destinations will approach the freezing mark)

5) NO CAMPING (Leave the tent, sleeping bag and pad at home)

6) 8 DIFFERENT HOTELS — (Usual attractive selection; almost all single occupancy)




10) EVER PRESENT CE COOLER!! (beer, wine, soda, water, etc.)


Here’s the day-by-day itinerary. Meals that are included in the trip price appear as B (Breakfast), L (Lunch), D (Dinner) at the end of each day’s description.


JAN. 26 – Fly to San Jose, Costa Rica. Check in to the Hotel Barcelo (single occupancy). Evening Orientation Meeting/Happy Hour.

JAN. 27 – Day tour of San Jose (Central Park, Coronado Cathedral, La Sabana Park, National Theater, Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza de la Cultura, Artisan Market, etc. Visit the Costa Rica Craft Brewing Company (microbrewery). Welcome Dinner. Hotel Barcelo. (B, D)


JAN. 28 – Drive to Arenal Volcano National Park. Have lunch in the town of La Fortuna. Visit La Fortuna Waterfall. Check in to the Arenal Observatory Lodge (single occupancy), the only hotel inside the national park. Enjoy views of the perfectly shaped Arenal volcano (5,479 feet) and nearby Lake Arenal. (B)

La Fortuna Waterfall Full By Photo by and (c)2007 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man) (Self-photographed) [<a href="">GFDL 1.2</a> or <a href="">CC BY-SA 4.0</a>], <a href="">via Wikimedia Commons</a>

JAN. 29 – Hike to the top of Cerro Chato (3,740), right next to Arenal volcano (Arenal is closed to hikers due to volcanic activity.) Peer into the emerald pool that fills Cerro Chato crater. Enjoy stunning views of Arenal. Hike in forests at the base of the volcano. Arenal Observatory Lodge. (B, L)

Costa Rica Arenal Volcano (

The Arenal Volcano viewed from the Arenal Observatory Lodge. Lake Arenal is visible on the left.

JAN. 30 – Drive to the Doka Estate Coffee Plantation. Have lunch and take a tour of the plantation (tour included). Continue to El Churrasco Hotel and Restaurant (single occupancy) between the Poas and Barva volcanoes. (B)

JAN. 31 – Early morning drive into Poas National Park and up to the summit of Poas volcano (8,885 feet). Hike around the crater rim. Drive to the trailhead of Barva volcano. Hike to the summit (9,534 feet). Return to El Churrasco Hotel. (B, L)

FEB. 1 – Drive up to the crater rim of Irazu volcano (11,260 feet), Costa Rica’s highest volcano (but NOT the highest peak). Short hike around the crater rim. Continue to Guayabo Lodge (single occupancy) near Turrialba volcano (10,958 feet). (B)

Irazu-pano photo by Rafael Golan (Own Work).

Panorama of Irazu Volcano, Costa Rica

FEB. 2 – Hike up to the crater rim of Turrialba. Traverse through the lush highlands to the summit of Irazu volcano. Hike or drive back to Guayabo Lodge. (B, L)

FEB. 3 – Drive to Chirripo National Park.  Register our climbing permits with Park Headquarters in the town of San Gerardo. Continue on to Casa Mariposa, a charming and rustic hostel at the park entrance. We have rented the entire house. (double/dormitory occupany.) (B)

FEB. 4 – Hike about 9 miles to Crestones Basecamp Lodge (11,000 feet). Spend a chilly night in a dormitory setting (meals, mattress, sheets and sleeping bag provided). (B, L, D)

(IMPORTANT: I need to buy the “overnight permit” for each hiker on August 4, 2017 — 6 months prior — when they first go on sale. They sell out quickly. Please let me know BEFORE August 4 if you want me to buy you this overnight permit, otherwise, you will only be able to do a shorter day hike and return to Casa Mariposa outside the park to sleep.)

FEB. 5 – Arise early in the morning to hike 3 miles to the summit of Chirripo (12,530 feet), the highest peak in Costa Rica and the crown jewel of the national park. On a clear day you can see both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Descend to Casa Mariposa. Total distance covered in the two-day hike: 25 miles — 16,000 vertical feet up and down. (B, L)

FEB. 6 – Drive to the riverfront town of Sierpe near Corcovado National Park. Take a boat down the Sierpe River, through mangroves, and make a dramatic entrance into the Pacific Ocean at Drake Bay. Wet landing. (Our bus will make the long drive around, with our luggage, to our hotel). Check in to Hotel Jinetes de Osa situated on the beach. (B)

FEB. 7 – Take a boat along the coast of Corcovado National Park. Wet landing. Hike to Sirena Ranger Station in Corcovado National Park with a naturalist guide. Take a 4-hour hike deep into the park. Possible wildlife sightings: tapirs, monkeys, sloths, anteaters, jaguars, toucans, macaws, hawks, owls, woodpeckers, coatis, agoutis, otters, raccoons, butterflies, spiders, etc. (National Geographic has called this park “the most biologically intense place on earth in terms of biodiversity.”) Return by boat to Hotel Jinetes de Osa. Enjoy a spectacular beach sunset.     (B, L)

FEB. 8 – Free morning on the beach at Drake Bay. Drive north along the Pacific coast to Manuel Antonio National Park (Manuel Antonio beach was rated the #2 best beach in all of Central America by TripAdvisor in 2016. Forbes included the park as one of the top 12 national parks in the world!) Stop at Marina Ballena National Park and Dominical beaches along the way. Lunch in Dominical (included). Check in to the Karahe Beach Hotel on Manuel Antonio beach. (B, L)

Manuel Antonio National Park

FEB. 9 – Free day. Possible activities: Swimming, sunning poolside, hike in national park, explore the various beaches, ziplining, sea kayaking, paddle boarding, etc. Karahe Beach Hotel. (B)

FEB. 10 – Drive to San Jose. Check in to the Hotel Barcelo (single occupancy). Farewell Dinner!! (B, D)

FEB. 11 – Fly home. Buen viaje!! (B)

$2,900 per person (single occupancy)
$2,750 per person (double occupancy)


1)  Transfers to and from the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica
2)  All overnight accommodations (16 nights — at least 12 nights single occupancy)
3)  All ground transportation (private bus)
4)  All guiding services
5)  All park entrance fees
6)  All breakfasts, some lunches and some dinners
7)  Overnight permit in Chirripo National Park, accommodations and all meals at Crestones Basecamp Lodge
8) Boat/walking tour of Corcovado National Park with naturalist guide
9)  Large group cooler (with beer, wine, soda, juice and water)
10)Farewell Dinner celebration


1) U.S domestic and international flights
2) Independent (non-group) day trips and activities
3) Food/meals not included in itinerary
4) Personal incidental expenses, including medical expenses
5) Insurance of any kind
6) Gratuities

     Just to clarify about the overnight permit ($36 per person) in Chirripo National Park for the night of February 4 – I will need some kind of affirmation to go ahead and purchase you this permit BEFORE AUGUST 4 (they go on sale, online, six months in advance). If you do not ask me to buy this permit, you will, of course, still be able to join the trip, but will only be able to do a shorter day hike in the park, returning to the hotel outside the park at night. And if you ask me to buy this permit, but later decide NOT to go on the trip, that’s fine, although I would appreciate it if you would return the $36 to me. (All permits are nonrefundable and nontransferable.)


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