Exploring national parks and working on a reforestation project
13 – 27 March 2021
Costa Rica Aventure – Overview
We meet in Costa Rica on Saturday 13 March at our stunning accommodation near San José. After acclimatising for a day, we travel to Santa Maria de Dota, to start the trek. Three days of walking in the cloud forest and trails lead us to the seaside town of Manuel Antonio. Next, we travel south to the Osa Peninsular to complete the reforestation project. After this we go into the heart of the Corcovado National Park and spend two days looking at wildlife. Finally, we enjoy twenty-four hours of relaxation at Uvita beach, just before our return to San José, where the trip ends on Saturday 27 March.
Days 1 - 2. Arrival and Orientation
The trip starts on Saturday 13 March at our beautiful accommodation in Alajuela, only twenty minutes from San Jose airport. We spend the first evening relaxing here, enjoying the spectacular views across the central valley.
On Sunday, we take advantage of the clear skies in the early morning to visit Poaz volcano. If we are lucky, the clouds will pass, and we’ll get a direct view into the depths of the crater.
In the afternoon, we go into San José and visit the Jade Museum, which is famous for its collection of pre-Columbian artefacts. There are over 7000 items on display, providing an insight into Costa Rican life, dating back to 500BC.
We return to our accommodation, where our friendly hosts cook for us and we eat on the balcony, watching the sunset over the city.
Days 3 - 6. Ruta Sukia Trek
Our local agents drive us to the start of the trek by jeep, and we begin walking early to make the most of the cooler morning air.
We walk for about 7.5 hours today and cover 20km. The path is safe and well-trodden, albeit narrow in places, and it takes us through primary and secondary forest. We arrive at Hostel Betania in the afternoon; an idyllic location, one step removed from all aspects of modern life.
The second trekking day is equally beautiful, but about half the distance. Less than 10km, we cover the ground in about 4.5 hours and arrive at the next hostel, Tinamú, in time for lunch.
Birdwatchers may wish to take time during the afternoon to look for rare species with the guide. Evenings at Tinamú also provide an excellent opportunity for seeing wildlife: red-eyed tree frogs can be heard and sometimes seen in the garden.
The third trekking day is a 17km walk to the outskirts of Londres de Quepos. The terrain is much easier we follow the local road all the way and it takes 4-5 hours. The trail is more open today and we benefit from long-distance views of the countryside and sea.
We finish in the sea-side town of Manuel Antonio, where we settle into our hotel and spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach.
Days 7 - 10. Reforestation Project
There is no rush to leave Manuel Antonio: an early morning swim is an excellent way to recover from the trek. And, Manuel Antonio National Park is just 5 minutes walk from the hotel, where it is possible to view sloth bears and many other species.
After lunch, our transport collects us, and we make our way further south, into the Osa Peninsula. We arrive in the remote village of Dos Brazos in the early evening, where we spend the next three days working on a reforestation project.
The area surrounding this village is regenerating after decades of mining activity. Native plant species are returning, as are the animals. But, there is still more work to be done enabling this.
Our project involves collecting native plant seeds from the forest, sorting them into respective categories and then planting them in the nursery. When they have grown sufficiently, they are taken back outside and planted in the deforested areas.
Alongside this work, there is time to swim in the local rock pool and arrange exceptional wildlife and birdlife tours with the local guides. There are over 60 species of bird living on the village road outside our accommodation in Dos Brazos.
Days 11 - 12. Corcovado National Park
For the next two days, the jungle experience will become even more special. An expert guide will lead us into the heart of the Corcovado National Park, home to 50% of all species found in Costa Rica.
Day 10 will involve a boat journey from Puerto Jimenez to Sirena field station, the research centre where we stay for one night.
Once there, our excellent guide will take time to teach us about the flora and fauna of the region. We are likely to encounter Spider Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys and Cappuchin Monkeys.
Dawn is one of the best times to view nature, and our guide will lead a pre-breakfast jungle walk on the morning of Day 11. March is an excellent time to view Tapir as it is the dry season and they come to the rivers for water.
Our excursions here are short, slow and quiet; the guide uses all of his senses to locate and the show us species that we would never notice without him.
It is possible to wander freely on the trails surrounding the station and find somewhere quiet to sit for some time during the morning. This is often the best way to catch sight of a rare bird or animal.
We leave by boat on Day 11, around 12.30 and make our way to a jungle lodge by the beach, for twenty-four hours of rest and relaxation.
Day 12 - 13. Uvita Beach
We’ll be staying one night in a jungle lodge at Uvita beach, overlooking Ballena Marine National Park.
There is no agenda for this time. You may choose to sunbathe all day or swim in the sea. The lodge has its own trails which can be explored in the surrounding forest, so there are opportunities to put your skills as a naturalist back into action.
Alternatively, you may like to book a whale-watching boat tour. Whilst there is no guarantee of seeing a whale, these tours are still highly recommended.
Day 13 - 14. San José
Finally, on the morning of Friday 26 March we head back to San José. We finish in the comfortable and familiar accommodation we used at the beginning and enjoy our final meal together overlooking the city. The trip ends on Saturday 27 March.
We visit Costa Rica during the dry season (Dec – April) and can expect temperatures to range between 0°C on the mountain top at sunrise to 37°C at sea level at noon. It may rain.
Costa Rica has a strong Spanish influence with a few areas that have a more noticeable Jamaican or indigenous culture. 70% of the population identify themselves as Roman Catholics.
Level of difficulty
The treks are not technical. However, the walking days are sometimes long. Therefore, a good level of fitness is essential.
Throughout this adventure, we’ll stay in shared rooms. Sleeping space throughout the trip will be shared – from two to four people per room.
Costs & Inclusions
The cost of this trip is £2995. This includes all food, drinking water, transport and accommodation for 12 days.
Other drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) are not included.
Flights are not included.