Upon arrival at the San Jose's Juan Santamaria International
Airport, meet your complimentary hotel shuttle curbside outside the customs
area. The driver will be holding a VBT sign or a Wyndham San Jose Herradura
sign. Then transfer by minibus (approximately 5-10 minutes) to your hotel in
the outskirts of San Jose.
The rest of the day is free to settle in and explore the
city. Choose a restaurant for dinner on your own.
Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be
available until 3:00 pm. You may store your luggage with the reception desk.
Our splendid San Jose hotel, Wyndham San Jose Herradura, is
located just minutes from the International Airport and approximately 30
minutes from the center of the city. VBT provides you with City Information in
your Final Travel Booklet that includes information and recommendations on what
to see and do in San Jose during your stay.
VBT Pre-Trip Extension guests: After breakfast, board a boat
with your local Naturalist Guide and depart on the 1.5 to 2 hour trip to the dock
area where a Service Guide and van driver will meet you for the drive back to
San José (3-4 hours). Along the way you
will pass through the Braulio Carrillo National Park.
arrival to San Jose enjoy the remainder of the day and evening at your leisure.
Day 2 - Meet Trip Leaders / Warm-up ride / Zip line through rainforest
canopy / Welcome reception
VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders and
the rest of the group at 8:00 am at our San Jose hotel (Wyndham San Jose
Herradura, General Cañas Highway, 5 km. South from International Airport, San
Jose, Costa Rica; tel: +506 2209 9800). Trip Leaders will be wearing VBT staff
garments. Please be dressed for your first warm-up bicycle ride. From San Jose
we transfer by private motor coach (approximately 20 minutes) to the site of our
warm-up ride. If your arrival at the hotel is scheduled later than 8:00 am, or
if you are delayed, you must take a taxi at your own expense to the Villa
Blanca Cloud Forrest Hotel & Spa in the Los Angeles Cloud Forest near the
town of San Ramon (approximately $100 USD). Please contact the hotel if any
travel delays or changes; the staff will pass the message on to your VBT Trip
VBT Air Package guests and Pre-Trip Extension guests: Meet
your VBT Trip Leaders at your San Jose hotel at 8:00 am. Trip Leaders will be
wearing VBT staff garments. Please be dressed for your first warm-up bicycle
ride. From San Jose we transfer by private motor coach (approximately 45 minutes) to
the site of our warm-up ride.
This morning participate in a safety and bike-fitting
session, followed by a warm-up ride. After our warm-up ride, we follow “the route of the Ox-Cart” as we
shuttle to the historical town of San Ramon, which is home to many Costa Rican presidents and well known poets. After a brief stop, we continue to our included lunch spot, located in a cloud forest. This afternoon we enjoy the thrill of a canopy tour, ascending high into the treetops and soaring through the canopy on a secure zip-cable line. It's an experience unlike any other, and a great way to get a magnificent view of wildlife in the rainforest.
Later we transfer (approximately 30
minutes) to the nearby Los Angeles Cloud Forest and the conservation-focused Villa
Blanca Resort, one of the elite “Green Hotels of Costa Rica.” Villa Blanca
strives for absolute guest comfort while maintaining the highest standards of
respect for its natural surroundings. Villa Blanca was given a “5-leaf” rating
by the Certification Board of Sustainable Tourism, their highest score.
Tonight, we enjoy a satisfying dinner at El Sendero, the resort's restaurant.
Get to know your fellow travelers over a welcome reception
and dinner tonight at the resort.
REMINDER: It can be
cool in the evenings and on cloudy days at the elevations visited on this trip.
You will want to have a lightweight layer of warm clothing for travel in any
month of the year.
Day 3 - Cycle to foothills of Arenal Volcano / Tabacon Resort's hot springs
Those interested may join expert naturalists on an optional
early morning guided bird-watching expedition through the Los Angeles Cloud
Forest. Costa Rica is home to an estimated 840 bird species, so we will be treated
to a variety of unusual sightings, such as the brown pelican, toucan and macaw.
We might even spot the elusive, resplendent quetzal.
After breakfast this morning, we will shuttle to the start of today's ride. From
here we cycle through the northern lowlands close to the Arenal Volcano. Arenal
is also the youngest volcano in Costa Rica; it erupted for the first known time
around 7,000 years ago. We cycle through small towns on paved paths and across
rushing rivers to the foothills of Arenal Volcano, which are dotted with yucca,
pineapple and papaya farms. We will stop for our included lunch in the town of La Fortuna. After lunch, continue your ride or shuttle to our nearby resort for the next two nights.
This evening gather with your leaders at the thermal
springs of our hotel Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, a
member of The Leading Hotels of the World. Enjoy the remainder of your evening
at the hot springs before dining on your own at one of the resort's fine
restaurants. Your leaders will also offer a shuttle to La Fortuna if you prefer to dine in town this evening.
Please note that Arenal Volacano has been dormant since 2010
and therefore most likely will not be active during your visit.
Day 4 - Lake Arenal ride / Evening in La Fortuna
Costa Rica's largest lake, Lake Arenal, offers scenic riding
and an especially picturesque shore. The lake is a popular destination for
windsurfing, fishing, kayaking and boating, as well as shoreline hiking,
horseback riding and cycling.
This morning we will enjoy a relaxing boat excursion on Lake Arenal. From the lake we'll admire rolling fields and forests, and get a different perspective of the towering Arenal Volcano. Though you might never know by its serene appearance, Lake Arenal is crucial to Costa Rica's energy production, providing almost 70% of the country's electricity. The Lake Arenal hydroelectric dam, completed in 1979, tripled the lake basin's size to about 33 square miles. Disembarking in the town of Nuevo Arenal, we will enjoy a morning ride along the lake's scenic northern shore back to our resort, or to a nearby restaurant where you may enjoy lunch on your own.
Later this afternoon, enjoy the hot springs and spa of your
5-star resort. As a guest of the Tabacano Resort, you are entitled to unlimited
access to the hot springs at any time during your stay. Dinner tonight is included, so meet your leaders for a quick shuttle into La Fortuna where you will dine in one of the town's restaurants.
Day 5 - Morning ride / Peñas Blancas River wildlife safari
Today, we cycle to a boat launch for a peaceful
river-rafting safari on the Peñas Blancas River, where we'll be on the lookout
for some of Costa Rica's diverse wildlife. The crystal-clear waters of the
Peñas Blancas are fed by surrounding cloud forests in adjacent Monteverde.
We'll drift by lush rainforest, volcanic hot springs and cascading waterfalls.
Truly a mesmerizing journey, the sights and sounds of the
natural world surround us as we float through the rainforest. Our river guide
points out examples of Costa Rica's abundant and varied creatures such as
lizards, sloths, monkeys, toucans, herons and kingfishers, as well as native
plants. This is an ideal opportunity to photograph wildlife, plants and even
butterflies up close. Before we return to land, you'll understand more fully
that Costa Rica's landscape and wildlife are among the most diverse on Earth—and so valued that more than a quarter of the country's land has been set aside
Later this afternoon we will shuttle back to cooler
altitudes and Costa Rica's central valley.
Enjoy the remainder of the evening at your leisure at our resort.
You may wish to have a pair of water shoes or casual sandals
for the rafting trip.
Day 6 - Coffee / Poás Volcano / Doka Estate Coffee
This morning a shuttle transports us to Poás Volcano, which
has seen only occasional eruptions since 1828. We have time to explore before
cycling down its slopes on smooth paved roads to the charming farm town of
Here, we stop to visit a family-owned fruit stand where
we'll taste some of Costa Rica's sweetest strawberries and discuss local
agricultural practices with the farmers. Then shuttle to Doka Estate Coffee
Farm, Costa Rica's largest family-owned coffee plantation. The estate is
located in Costa Rica's “Coffee Capital,” Sabanilla de Alajuela. We enjoy a
tour of the award-winning farm and mill, learning about the coffee-brewing
tradition of chorrear and tasting some of the estate's fresh-roasted coffees.
Return to our resort by bicycle or shuttle.
This evening we gather for a festive farewell dinner in a nearby home, hosted by a local couple, Manrique and Lorena.
Day 7 - Depart for U.S. / Begin optional Pacific Coast Extension
Enjoy a leisurely morning at your resort with a swim in one
of its pools, a spa treatment or walks through beautiful tropical gardens.
In the late morning, we transfer to the San Jose airport for
our post-extension flight to Manuel Antonio. Those flying home today will transfer to the nearby Juan Santamaria International Airport throughout the day. For guests with later afternoon flights, you will need to check out of your room at 12:00 pm and will have leisure time and lunch on your own at the resort prior to your airport transfer.
NOTE: There is a
departure tax that needs to be paid upon departing Costa Rica. The tax must be
paid at the airport in U.S. dollars or Costa Rican currency, or by credit or debit card.
The current tax is $29 USD per person. VBT recommends that this be paid in cash
as using a debit or credit card will incur additional fees.
VBT No-Air Package and Air Package guests: We will assist you
to the San Jose airport, and you'll fly back to the U.S. late this afternoon.
Flight departures from San Jose airport prior to 3:00 pm are not recommended;
those departing earlier must make transfer arrangements from the last hotel at
their own expense.
VBT Post-Trip Extension guests: You will fly from San Jose
to Quepos on the Pacific Coast. Please note that you are only allowed ONE piece
of luggage and your luggage cannot exceed 30 pounds. Please visit here
for all luggage
guidelines and restrictions. Your leaders will provide you with your flight
confirmation and details about your transfers. Additional luggage may be stored
in San Jose at the Wyndham San Jose Herradura hotel for your return to San Jose
on your last night. Upon landing in Quepos you will transfer to your hotel
overlooking Manuel Antonio National Park. VBT provides you with City
Information in your Final Travel Booklet to help you explore on your own. It
includes information and recommendations for your independent stay at the Si
Como No Resort & Spa.
Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are
finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you
extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to
the airport will be at your own expense.