NEW YEAR's 2008 in COSTA RICA!
The beautiful cone of its namesake volcano soars above Volcán
Arenal National Park
In 2001-02 and 2002-03, Rutahsa Adventures organized and led two spectacular
turn-of-the-year trips to Guatemala, a wonderful way to start a new year. And
now we are branching out into Costa Rica to offer our travelers the same
opportunity to leave Old Man Winter and the stateside rush and pressures of the
Christmas season behind you by joining this special exciting end-of-the-year
excursion to beautiful Costa Rica, Central America's primo eco-adventure
This trip will be ground-breaking for Rutahsa Adventures. Though we have
traveled in Costa Rica enough to know our way around, this will be the first
time we offer a group excursion to this popular country. And the trip will
include more adventure activities than most of our culturally oriented trips:
whitewater rafting, canopy tours, zip lines, and a secluded beach accessible
only by 4WD. At the same time the trip provides more luxury than Rutahsa
Adventures travelers are accustomed to-- our lodgings for this trip include
a luxury jungle lodge, a spa and an all-included resort. All in all, this
will be a GREAT way to start off a new year!
The itinerary covers many of the best-known attractions of Costa Rica--
Monteverde cloudforest preserve and active Arenal volcano-- plus a
special place we found many years ago that still remains seldom visited-- Playa
Naranjo in Santa Rosa National Park. We will ring in the new year in an
exotic rainforest eco-lodge reached by rafting down a whitewater river! The
trip maintains a high level of activities, but staying two nights at most
hotels keeps the pace relatively relaxed. So take a look at our plans and
e-mail us if you want an application blank!
Here's our itinerary:
Sat., Dec. 29: Today is mainly a flight day, from the US (or wherever
you start your trip), to Costa Rica. You will land in Juan Santamaría
International Airport, named after Costa Rica's national hero from the 19th
century "National War". In 1856, Costa Rica spearheaded Central American
efforts to liberate Nicaragua from the grip of the Tennessee adventurer William
Walker and his army of soldiers of fortune. During the Battle of Rivas (in
Nicaragua), Juan Santamaría set fire to the house in which Walker and
his men were holed up. Santamaría's brave action forced the American
"filibusters" into retreat, but he paid with his life. While Walker is
virtually forgotten in the US today, Santamaría remains a martyr to
Central American unity and a hero to all Costa Ricans.
You will be picked up at the airport and taken to the Hotel Clarion Amón
Plaza in the heart of the capital city. Here you will have a chance to
rest up from your flight down, as our group assembles for the beginning of the
Those who arrive San José early in the day will have time to do some
independent exploring of this pleasant highland city. We recommend visits to
the National Museum in the old Bellavista Fortress and to the ornate National
Theater built in the mid-1890s with coffee-baron money.
Sun., Dec. 30: Today our adventures begin. We will board our charter
bus before breakfast and drive eastward out of San José, passing through
the colonial capital of Cartago, en route to the Río Pacuare. Don't worry
about those rumbling stomachs, before reaching the river embarkation point we
will stop for an authentic Costa Rican breakfast.
Upon reaching the embarcadero on the Pacuare River we will board our
rafts (after a quick safety course!) and set off downstream into the river gorge. The float trip is exhiliarating
and the dense rainforest scenery is beautiful. Perhaps the only drawback is
it will be over too soon...we'll reach Pacuare Lodge in time for lunch,
appetites sharpened by river adventures.
[N.B.: Anyone preferring not to travel by raft may opt to reach Pacuare Lodge
by 4WD vehicle and a short walk; however, in order to arrange the 4WD
transport we must be advised well in advance of the excursion start.]
After lunch, optional activities at Pacuare Lodge include a guided hike into
the rainforest-cloaked mountainside, the Pacuare Canopy Adventure, or just
enjoying lazing about and relaxing in enchanting surroundings.
A candlelight supper, prepared by guides trained by a French chef, is included
with the lodging at Pacuare. For a preview of the lodge, click here: Pacuare Lodge.
Included meals: B, L, D
Mon., Dec. 31: After a hot breakfast, we will take a guided hike into the
rainforest surrounding the lodge. Here you can see tropical birds and
butterflies, exotic plants and animals in a stunning natural paradise. Truly
hearty hikers can take a five or six hour hike to visit a settlement of
indigenous Cabecar families. But whether you opt for an easy hike or a long
one, we'll all return to Pacuare Lodge for happy hour and a fine New Year's Eve
dinner. We'll see the old year out and toast the new one in accompanied by the
sounds of the jungle's nocturnal critters!
Second night in Pacuare Lodge. Included meals: B, L, D
Tues., Jan. 1: HAPPY NEW YEAR! And what a fine place to be to start a
new year! Today, after another good hot breakfast, you'll have a bit more
time to enjoy the surroundings of Pacuare Lodge before we once again load the
boats and head downstream. Rafting becomes more exciting today, and you'll have opportunities to apply your
experience and skills picked up on the first day on the river. But it won't be
all whitewater-- Our guides will put the boats ashore at various points to take
us up hidden trails to pristine waterfalls and natural waterslides. This will
be a fun, wet day!
Lunch will be served at a convenient spot somewhere en route along the river.
Around 1:30 PM we'll reach our take-out point where we reboard our bus and
continue on to the Arenal volcano area, about a 3 1/2 hour drive. Enjoy the
scenery gliding by as you rest up from the river trip. Sighting Arenal, a big,
active volcano with the soaring profile of a classic composite cone, will signal the end of our travels today.
But --depending on the volcano's mood-- not necessarily the end of the day's
excitement. Arenal frequently can be heard rumbling and grumbling into the
night! If we are lucky, Arenal will cooperate with a nighttime display of
natural fireworks from Vulcan's Forge to
cap off our New Year's Day!
Our lodgings tonight will be in the hotel Linda Vista del Norte, from
which you can view the active lava flows descending the cone of Arenal.
Volcanoes are temperamental, and there is no guarantee the lava will be flowing
in January, but it has been for sometime now, and the prospect of watching the
red hot flows at night is the main reason we have selected this hotel.
Included meals: B, L
Weds., Jan. 2: After breakfast at our hotel, we will go for a hike and
a closer look at Volcán Arenal. We will hike through rainforest, again
admiring the flora and fauna, to reach the "lava wall" where we can walk on old
lava flows and observe ongoing activity such as boulders tumbling down the
steep flanks of the cone or possibly ash and cinders erupting from the peak.
Though Arenal is very active and classified as an explosive and potentially
dangerous volcano, it is visited and enjoyed by thousands of national and
international travelers annually. The volcano is carefully monitored by Costa
Rican vulcanologists, and our guide knows how to get us to good viewpoints
while keeping us out of harm's way.
Second night at the Hotel Linda Vista del Norte. Included meal: B
Thurs., Jan. 3: After breakfast we will set off for a change of scenery.
While our private bus takes all our luggage around the long way, we will boat
across Lake Arenal to the little town of Río Chiquito, then switch to
microbus transport to drive 1 1/2 - 2 hours up into the mountains to reach the
famous Monteverde cloudforest preserve.
Monteverde was founded about 40 years ago by a group of conservation-minded
Quakers looking for a peaceful place to pursue their agrarian lifestyle. The
Monteverde cloudforest reserve is one of the best-known and most outstanding
wildlife sanctuaries in tropical America. The high elevation forest contains
miles of trails and excellent opportunities for spotting tropical birds,
including the Resplendant Quetzal which is often sighted here during the months
of January to July.
The quetzal, a member of the trogon family, is a magnificent creature. Both the
male and female of the species are beautiful, but in the case of the male the
plumage is truly extravagant: his head is a cockade of emerald green, and his
shoulders are draped with shimmering metallic emerald green plumes that hang
off him like the exaggerated epaulettes of some pompous 19th-century Central
American general, while his breast is a screaming crimson. But his greatest
glory are his four auxiliary tail plumes --which are up to two or three feet
long, emerald in color, and, serving no function other than to make him more
attractive to his mate-- stream behind him in flight like the tail of a horse at
gallop. A truly amazing and beautiful bird--
Let us hope the bird spirits and forest genies smile on us and allow us to see
both the male and the female quetzales. Because of its quetzals
Monterverde attracts more visitors than any other private preserve in Costa
Rica. But whether or not the quetzales reveal themselves, there is much
more to see and enjoy here-- you could spot the three-wattled bellbird or an
emerald toucan, or other avian species including parrots and of course
hummingbirds. Bromeliads, orchids and other types of exuberant tropical vegetation, the cool mountain air
and the peaceful ambience make up the constant backdrop that completes
Overnight in the Hotel Fonda
Vela. Included meal: B
Fri., Jan. 4: This morning we will explore the top of the cloud forest
by means of the "Sky Walk", a complex of suspended bridges, platforms and paths within the forest at
Monteverde. The hike starts and ends at ground level, but takes you up into a
world above, one that is nearby, yet almost invisible from the ground: the
After the Sky Walk, the adrenaline level goes up a notch with the famous Sky
Trek Canopy Adventure. Rather than walking along suspension bridges through
the canopy, you can zip from one treetop platform to another over a series of
cables ("zip lines") totaling 1.3 kilometers of thrilling arboreal adventure.
Although breath-taking, the ride is perfectly safe, with special equipment
holding you securely in place while you flash from platform to platform. [The
entry costs for both the Sky Walk and Sky Trek are included in the trip fee.]
Second night in the Hotel Fonda Vela. Included meal: B
Sat., Jan. 5: Today we head down to the Pacific coast, to Ocotal Beach
in the province of Guanacaste, about 4 1/2 hours distant from Monteverde. We'll
stop for lunch somewhere en route.
Our hotel for the next two nights, the Ocotal Resort, will make our stay here very pleasant indeed.
Included meal: B
Sun., Jan. 6: Be ready for a really full day! This morning we leave at
7:30 AM to drive about two hours to Santa Rosa National Park. At the park we
will first visit the site of La Casona, where on March 26, 1856, Costa
Rican troops surprised and utterly routed an invading force of mercenaries sent
by General William Walker from Nicaragua. This defeat of Walker's troops paved
the way for the ultimate success of the Costa Rican army against Walker's main
forces in Nicaragua.
After our history lesson, we will take a hike on trails leading through dry
tropical forest, an environment and habitat utterly different from the rain-
and cloudforests we visited earlier on the trip.
Finally, around 11:30 AM, we will board 4X4 vehicles to travel about an hour
down to Playa Naranjo, a wonderful beach of fine sand stretching for miles
between the rolling Pacific in front and a brackish water lagoon behind. We'll
have a picnic lunch, swim and surf, and enjoy the sun and sand.
Around 4 PM we will leave the beach to head back to the Ocotal Resort. Included
meals: B, Picnic lunch at Playa Naranjo
Travelers preferring a more laid-back day can, of course, opt to spend the full
day at Ocotal Resort, enjoying their many amenities.
Mon., Jan. 7: The morning will be free time to enjoy the resort's
facilities and the beach. After lunch and check out we board our bus again and
head back to San José, about five hours away on good highways.
In San José we will return to our familiar lodgings at the Hotel Clarion
Included meal: B
Tues., Jan. 8: After breakfast we drive to the city of Alajuela, where we
will make a brief stop to see the monument to its famous native son, Juan
Santamaría. Continuing on, we will climb up once more into the cool
temperatures of the cloudforest zone to reach Poás Volcano National
Park. Poás has multiple craters, some inactive and one very wide crater where volcanic activity is still
From Poás we will continue in the direction of the Caribbean zone to
visit the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, a nature park with beautiful trails,
numerous waterfalls, an aviary, a reptile house, a tropical frog house, and the
largest enclosed butterfly observatory in the world. Here you can walk among
plants and numerous beautiful tropical butterflies floating about like winged
After a fine lunch we will return to San José and a final night at the
Hotel Clarion Amón Plaza. Included meals: B, L
Weds., Jan. 9: Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and
today is the day you head to back to the Juan Santamaría International
Airport to wing your way back home, carrying lots of photos and other souvenirs
of your travels, the addresses of your traveling-companions-become-friends,
and a million memories. Airport shuttle service will be provided at the
appropriate time for your particular flight schedule.
Included meal: B
COST OF THE EXCURSION:
NOTE: Trip prices DO NOT include US-Costa Rica-US air fare. Travelers are
responsible for arranging their own air travel to and from Costa Rica. For
excellent prices on air fares to Costa Rica, Rutahsa Adventures gladly
recommends Solar Tours at 1-800-388-7652; ask for Veronica at extension 158,
and tell her you are going on Rutahsa Adventures' Costa Rica trip.
A minimum of 10 travelers is necessary to make this trip go; a maximum of 16
will be allowed.
To make an enquiry about Rutahsa's Costa Rica New Years Excursion, e-mail Dr.
Ric Finch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make a reservation, please request a trip application blank, fill it out and
send it with your deposit of $450 to Rutahsa Adventures at 299 Allen Hollow
Rd., Cookeville, TN 38501. Once your trip application blank has been received
and your deposit accepted by Rutahsa Adventures, Inc., you will be guaranteed a
space on this excursion. Your deposit will be fully refunded if for any
reason the trip is canceled. If you decide to cancel your reservation,
your deposit will be fully refunded provided cancellation is made before
Oct. 1, 2007. After Oct. 1 there will be a cancellation penalty of $225 if
cancellation is made before Nov. 1. In the event of cancellation after Nov. 1
the full deposit is subject to retention.
- With 15-16 travelers: $2350 p/p in double room accommodations
- With 10-14 travelers: $2580 p/p in double room accommodations
- Additional cost for single-room accommodations: $620
Thanks for visiting!
- To see the other excursions and varied services Rutahsa Adventures offers,
click here: Rutahsa Adventures homepage
- Photos courtesy of Costa Rican Trails.