Choosing the Right Neighborhood in Buenos Aires For You

Visiting Buenos Aires (or as the locals refer to it: “Capital” or, as the expats call it: “BA” )? Overwhelmed or not sure where to stay in the city? Many of our travelers have had the same question. I lived on and off between Argentina and the US for almost 8 years and during part of that time I went to college in Buenos Aires. I have lived in numerous barrios, neighborhoods, around the city and have recently come up with a short list of the best places to make your base while exploring “The Paris of the South”.

RECOLETA: Up-scale neighborhood where many designer clothing shops are, high-end restaurants, long boulevards that remind visitors or Paris, great plazas/parks (Plaza Frances is where most college students hang out. On Sundays there is market there and often small music or art performances are going on). This is of course also the neighborhood where the famous Recoleta cemetery is (Evita’s grave/mausoleum is here). Our city tour will take guests here briefly however, if you have time and want to come back, it is a nice place to bring a picnic and wander around. This neighborhood has a few subway connections but best to take a remis/taxi when going out of the neighborhood if trying to move more quickly.

Recoleta

Recoleta

Recoleta

 

PALERMO: This is the chic, hip, SOHO (they even have a part of Palermo called “Palermo Soho”) neighborhood of BA. There are loads of small unique shops, art galleries, traditional old houses and buildings, more up-scale shopping, and recently microbreweries and burger joints have exploded everywhere here. The heart of the neighborhood is Plaza Serano where on Sundays there is an artist market and all the nearby streets are closed off. There are great restaurants all over this neighborhood (cheap to high-end). There are several subway stations that service this neighborhood and lots of buses as well as taxis/remises. From here you can walk to the Botanical Gardens and Parque Palermo which are huge parks and nice to enjoy during the afternoon.

Palermo

Palermo

Palermo

 

SAN TELMO: This is a bohemian neighborhood and is the heart of Tango in the city. This neighborhood feels like artistic parts of Paris and is the oldest neighborhood in the city. All the famous Argentine writers have stories that take place in San Telmo. This neighborhood has numerous small cafes, great restaurants and local bars. Shopping is mostly local art, antiques and up and coming clothing designers with small shops. On Sundays there is the famous San Telmo antiques market that goes down Dorrego street and ends in Plaza Dorrego. Almost any given night in Plaza Dorrego there are local musicians playing and tango dancers in the street. Parque Lezama, a beautiful park to relax in, is within walking distance. You can also rent bikes from the company Orange Bicycle and ride over to the Reserva Ecologica (ecological reserve) (You can of course visit this reserve from the other neighborhoods too but you need to drive). The food carts next to the Reserva Ecologica, along what is called, La Costanera, make the most famous Choripan (grilled sausage sandwiches in fresh baguette) sandwiches. There is one subway that serves San Telmo but best to take remis or taxis if trying to move around quickly.

San Telmo

San Telmo

San Telmo

 

Have more questions about these areas of Buenos Aires? Want to book your next adventure to Argentina? Contact us!

Your friendly Argentina expert,

Gretchen

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Galapagos Cruise vs. Island Hopping

Galapagos island hopping land tours

Trying to decide between a cruise/boat experience in the Galapagos, or and island-hopping tour? Here are some pro’s and con’s to help you decide!

See all Galapagos Island Hopping Land Tours >>

Galapagos with Natural ParadiseCRUISE

  • Can get to some remote islands
  • Don’t have to pack and unpack
  • With same guides and guests (make friends)
  • Cruises get to places with larger populations of birdlife, and visit more islands so you see more subspecies
  • Required if you want to do a scuba diving trip to Wolf and Darwin Islands

Galapagos Island Hopping Land TourISLAND-HOPPING

  • Can start on any day and for any number of days (typically 4 to 8 days)
  • Hotel rooms are bigger and don’t rock-and-roll at night
  • Can choose accommodations
  • Can customize the itinerary
  • Group or private tours
  • Better snorkeling – Kicker Rock and Los Tunneles not available to cruises
  • Can visit towns with local people, see island life, enjoy diverse food options
  • Easier to do occasional scuba diving
  • You can buy your own flights to the Galapagos

Galapagos Multi-sportMulti-Sport Activities

  • Hiking
  • Sea kayaking
  • Snorkeling
  • Biking
  • Horseback riding
  • Scuba diving
  • Stand-up paddleboarding
  • Surfing

See all Galapagos Island Hopping Land Tours >>

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New Trip – 9-Day Colombia Great Outdoors Adventure

Situated at the crossroads of epic natural wonders, and with a culture and history all its own, Santander is the perfect location for our new 9-Day Colombia Great Outdoors Adventure. There is truly no shortage of activities to get your heart racing:

  • Rushing rivers
  • Rugged mountains
  • Deep canyons
  • Exciting caves

This may be the most diverse adventure tour we offer anywhere, with a wide variety of experiences and places in just 9 days.  Despite its excitement level, this is a moderate adventure suitable for any adult and older child in good health and you can start this trip any day of the year. Our itinerary gets you into the splendor of the area’s incredible landscapes and deep into the culture of a rich agricultural tradition.

Day 1: Arrive Bogotá and overnight

Arrive Bogotá anytime.


Day 2: Free day in central Bogotá

Today, you will enjoy leisure time to take in the myriad sights and experiences of fascinating big-city Bogotá.

Panoramic View of Bogota

Panoramic View of Bogotá


Day 3: Transfer to airport, fly to Bucaramanga, transfer to San Gil

San Gil Colombia

San Gil

This morning after breakfast, we will transfer you to the Bogotá airport, where you will catch a flight to Bucaramanga where you will be met by your driver and transferred to San Gil. The balance of the day is at your leisure to relax and enjoy a quiet evening in San Gil.


Day 4: Biking to Barichara and Suarez Canyon

Suarez Canyon Bike Tour

Suarez Canyon Bike Tour

Start things off with an incredible full day of biking. This route is the best rated in all of Colombia, combining downhill and cross country riding through farmland, colonial towns, and up and down an epic canyon. Our top-of-the-line dual suspension Konas are put to good use as we descend 2,000 meters from the town of San Gil to the colonial city of Barichara. Go back in time by exploring the 15th-century architecture and get some culture by learning about the history of the area. Stop for a drink and then soldier on to the rim of Suarez Canyon. Speed things up and fly down the steepest part of the canyon, reaching the bottom after a 1,000-meter vertical descent. Take a 4×4 up to the other side of the canyon and enjoy lunch with a view. Traverse rushing streams as we cross the gorge headed north. Cold beers await you and your friends in celebration of a great start to the adventure.


Day 5: Waterfall rappel and cave adventure

We will spend the morning on a 4 km hike through lush forest to the top of an 180-meter waterfall. You will take in the scenery with a naturalist guide explaining the unique flora and fauna, before harnessing up and rappelling back down. Making your way down the falls just meters from the rushing water is an exhilarating experience. You will swim in the natural pools at the bottom and gaze up at the powerful river system.

Rappelling Down a Waterfall Colombia

Rappelling Down a Waterfall

After lunch, we will head underground for a subterranean adventure. Cueva del Indio (Indian Cave) is a mysterious limestone cave system, complete with long echoes and bats flying overhead. We will don hard hats and hold up a torch to light our way through the darkness. We will learn about life underground while weaving between stalactites and stalagmites. We will swim out into the daylight via an underground river exit. From here, we return to San Gil and overnight.


Day 6: Paragliding Chicamocha Gorge, explore Curiti, and swim Pescarderito

Chicamocha Gorge was recently converted into one of Colombia’s National Parks. With its sweeping canyon walls and wide open spaces, it is not hard to see why. After a full lesson, you can take the leap and paraglide through the canyon, soaring like an eagle over farmland in the valley. Enjoy a chilled-out lunch and allow your heart rate to settle before heading to nearby Curiti for an afternoon devoted to Colombian culture. This colonial town produces premium fique (agave) products. We will learn about the manufacturing techniques and do some shopping for yourself or someone back home.

Relaxing bye the river in Colombia

Relaxing by the River

We will finish the day off with a swim in Pescaderito, a scenic river with plenty of natural slides and high boulders for epic cliff jumping into the water. Afterward, we will return to San Gil and overnight.

 


Day 7: Rafting the Suarez River

Suarez River Rafting Colombia

Suarez River Rafting

You have not really experienced the adventure of Santander without doing a little whitewater rafting. The Suarez River, only an hour from San Gil, is one of the top high-volume runs in the country, with thrilling rapids and huge waves. Our run starts out with Class III rapids and ends with Class V. Rafters have been known to experience waves the size of the ocean, depending on the weather and the water levels. In the case of wipeouts, there are plenty of pool-drop portions of the river that make for a safe environment and easy recoveries. With tired bodies and pumping hearts, we will settle back on dry land for a big lunch and an afternoon spent relaxing by the river.


Day 8: Hiking to Guane via the Royal Road / Free afternoon in colonial Barichara

Hiking the Royal Road to Guane, Colombia

Hiking the Royal Road to Guane

Today, we will enjoy adventure hiking through some of the area’s most incredible scenery and explore one of the region’s historical and architectural gems. We will hike along the Royal Road, a route so historic it was declared a National Monument. You will stroll through the best of the Colombian countryside, with lots of chances to spot rare birds.

Guane Colombia

Guane

Arriving in Guane is like stepping back in time. Although the original inhabitants are nowhere to be found, the remains of their culture indicate a truly majestic past. Learn all you can at the anthropology museum and marvel at the evolution of the town from prehispanic, to colonial, to modern times. Your guide will assist you in making your way back to Barichara, a photogenic colonial town. You will have the afternoon free to wander this cute if sleepy, little town with amazing stone slabs paving its roads.


Day 9: Transfer to Bucaramanga, depart or extend

After an early breakfast, we will transfer you to Bucaramanga airport, where you are free to depart (fly to Bogotá and onward) or extend to Cartagena or elsewhere.

9-Day Colombia Great Outdoors Adventure >>

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Full Moon or New Moon for your Kilimanjaro Trek or Tanzania Safari

Climb Kilimanjaro on a full moon

Summiting on or soon after a full moon is very beautiful and helps illuminate the landscape on summit day on Kilimanjaro without using headlamps.  Nighttime photos on Kilimanjaro and on safari are beautiful with the moon in the sky.

However, it is also very bright for sleeping and stars are not as visible.  If you want to get a time-lapse photo of the stars, a new moon is a better option.

To summit on a full moon, you will want to start a 6-day trek 4 days before the full moon (3 days before if doing a 5-day trek, 5 days before a 7-day trek, 6 days for an 8-day trek).

Full Moon and New Moon Dates for 2018 >>

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9-Day Costa Rica Adventure For Couples

This 9-day Costa Rica Adventure for Couples is specially designed for active romantic couples seeking more beach time but wanting a great experience in the country’s legendary rainforest too. Corcovado is the country’s premier wildlife reserve. In Manuel Antonio National Park, enjoy white sand beaches and clean Pacific waters set against a background of the deep green tropical jungle, where hikes reveal howler, squirrel, and white-faced monkeys, sloths, toucans, and more. In Arenal, enjoy Costa Rica’s most dramatic scenery and the nation’s adventure hub among hot springs and more.

Listed rates are based on green season travel from May 1 through November 30. If traveling in the high season between January 8 to April 30, just add $200/person.

Best times to go: Generally December through March, with April through November often seeing some rain in the afternoons, but mornings generally sunny and dry. The rainiest month is usually October.

Day 1: Arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica

Arrive in San Jose where the arrival manager meets you and transfers you to your San Jose hotel.


Day 2: Fly to Corcovado

Breakfast at your San Jose hotel. This morning, transfer to the local airport for your flight to Corcovado. On arrival, transfer directly to your lodge, the Aguila de Osa Inn. Check in at the front desk, with the rest of the afternoon free to enjoy the comfortable facilities of the hotel and your lush surroundings.


Day 3: Corcovado National Park

Breakfast at the lodge. This morning, enjoy a full day guided tour in the phenomenal National Park of Corcovado, Costa Rica’s premier wildlife reserve and one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.


Day 4: Corcovado – boat tour to Isla del Caño

Breakfast at the lodge. Today day, enjoy a boat tour to idyllic Isla del Caño.


Day 5: Transfer to Manuel Antonio

This morning, you’ll take a boat to Palmar Sur, where we’ll arrange a private van to take you the rest of the way (by van) to the beaches of Manuel Antonio. The balance of the day is free to take in the great views and enjoy some blissful R&R.


Day 6: Manuel Antonio National Park

This morning enjoy a naturalist-guided hike in famous Manuel Antonio National Park. This is a fantastic opportunity to see white-faced monkeys, sloths, iguanas, toucans, and much more. The park has several trails that lead you to several magnificent wilderness beaches so bring a day pack with a picnic lunch and your beach gear and enjoy more time in the park at your leisure. Overnight in Manuel Antonio.


Day 7: Travel to Arenal Volcano

Transfer from Manuel Antonio to Arenal Volcano. Overnight in La Fortuna, the gateway to the volcano, at the Hotel Manoa, which has attractive hot springs on-site and gorgeous views of the volcano right from the pool.


Day 8: Zipline at Arenal

Today, we’ll head to Sky Trek in Arenal to experience Costa Rica’s premier zip line. Your tour will start with a ride on an open-air gondola from the ground to the heights where you’ll be dropped off at the observation area (with fantastic views). From here, you start riding down on a series of breathtaking zip line tracks stretching across canyons and in between treetops, zip lining down the mountainside, ultimately returning you to the starting point. This is the most thrilling zip line in the country! The balance of the day is free at leisure to enjoy the hotel’s hot springs or enjoy an optional tour.


Day 9: Depart San Jose International

After breakfast private transfer to Juan Santamaría International Airport in time for your flight home. Plan a departure from around 1:30 pm and later, otherwise plan to have an overnight in San Jose and depart the following day (anytime would be OK).

See All Costa Rica Tours >>

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NEW TRIP! 7-Day Los Glaciares National Park: Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre Trek

From north to south, trek to the basecamps of Mt. Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, camping at each and trekking to Paso del Viento with views of the second largest icecap outside the polar regions! Experience classic Argentine Patagonia landscapes – steep granite spires towering over vast glaciers, cerulean lakes, rivers and forests.

Patagonia

Cerro Torre. Patagonia

–Season: October to March

–5 days backpacking trek, 7 days total

–Difficulty: Intermediate – Must be physically fit; 6-8 hours trekking/day

–Requires backpacking experience (carrying 40-45 lbs/18-20 kgs backpack; sections of steep trail and scree, river crossings by zip-line and/or wading)

–Group size: 4 to 8 guests

Pataongia

Day 4 Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre

DEPARTURE DATES 2018:

–Jan 4-10

–Jan 28-Feb 3

–Feb 25- Mar 3

–Mar 25-31

Patagonia

Day 5 Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre Trek

ITINERARY IN BRIEF:

  • DAY 1: Arrival in El Calafate, Transfer to El Chalten
  • DAY 2: Start trek, Piedras Blancas Glacier & Laguna de los Tres
  • DAY 3: Laguna Torre & Mirador Maestri
  • DAY 4: Zip-line & Laguna Toro
  • DAY 5: Tunnel Glacier & Patagonian Ice Field
  • DAY 6: Return to El Chalten
  • DAY 7: Departure
Patagonia

Day 6 Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre Trek

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Towering view of the east face of Mt. Fitz Roy from Laguna de los Tres
  • Trek to Laguna Torre and Mirador Maestri to witness the mythical Cerro Torre and Glacier Grande
  • Zip-line across the Fitz Roy river and hike to a pass with the finest vista to Mt Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre from the south
  • Wade Tunnel River, hike up scree, and cross a section of glacier to Paso del Viento (pass of the winds) to view the Viedma glacier, part of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field

Want to book your next Patagonia adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Patagonia expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Argentina, Chile, Family Travel, Patagonia, Travel Advice, Trekking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Puritama Hot Springs: An Oasis in the Atacama Desert

Last month, our South America Program Director, Gretchen Traut, along with her husband, Diego Arelano, were traveling in Chile’s Atacama Desert and got to trek to the Puritama Hot Springs while staying Explora Atacama! Take part in their adventure with our newest video:

Video Credit: Diego Arelano

Read more about this adventure and others in and around the Atacama, in Gretchen’s post, Atacama: An Adventurer’s Playground

Check out more of our adventures in Chile HERE.

Don’t see what you want? Want to customize your trip? Contact us!

Your friendly Chile expert,

Gretchen

Posted in Chile, Family Travel, South America, Travel Advice, Trekking, Trip Journals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Atacama: An Adventurer’s Playground

From Salta, in northwestern Argentina, I planned to head east and visit Chile’s Atacama Desert. I had been there in 2014 for a week and was left completely mesmerized. The contrast of fiery-colored canyons, impressive dunes, enchanting hot springs and snow-capped volcanoes topped with the world’s best star gazing, was impossible to stop dreaming of- once I had a taste, I was dying to return to this playground of outdoor adventure!

Atacama

Driving in to the Atacama from Salta offers some of the most stellar landscapes

This time around I wanted to experience more of the desert and, in particular, attempt summiting a few more of the area’s impressive volcanoes. I would start with several desert hikes and then work my way up to a couple of the area’s mid-range volcanoes and finally, end with an attempt on South America’s tallest volcano, Llullaillaco.

Atacama

Atacama Desert

Crossing over the high Andes range between Salta and the Atacama Desert, was something I had been craving to do for years. After concluding several weeks in Salta, I decided that it was my time to experience this incredible overland journey. I boarded a double-decker, long-distance bus early in the morning in Salta and spent the next 8 hours winding through the massive peaks of the Andes range surrounded by epic salt flats, grazing guanacos, giant cacti and an endless blue sky.

Salta

Cardon cacti dot the ladscape

The border crossing consisted of us stopping at small cabin in the middle of nowhere in the high desert. There were two lines leading up to two windows right next to each other: the first window was to exit Argentina and the second window was to enter Chile. A few young men were working behind the windows and blasting Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law” which I found to be terribly ironic and incredibly entertaining. Stamp, stamp. We were flagged through to enter Chile.

Explora Atacama

Arriving at Explora Atacama

The road leading into San Pedro de Atacama, dips between two massive peaks: Licancabur Volcano and Cerro Toco. Upon arrival, I was greeted at the bus station by my host from the Explora Atacama Lodge, my base for the next four days. Explora Lodge is the ultimate adventure hub for travelers looking for incredibly knowledgeable guides (every single guide I had during my stay at Explora was a wealth of knowledge and passionately enthusiastic about the region- Explora Lodges have a knack for handpicking the best of the best!), an impressively wide variety of exclusive excursions (from trekking, to horseback riding, mountain biking, star gazing at their private observatory and even high altitude mountain expeditions) and total comfort.

Atacama

Puritama Hot Springs

My first excursion was trekking to the Puritama Hot Springs along the Ruta del Auga trail. In the morning, we departed by van from the lodge toward the north side of the Puritama Natural Reserve. We started hiking with views of the mountains, volcanoes and the Atacama salt flat basin. To get to the hot springs, we crossed several ravines, some of them deep and others shallow, filled with blooming flowers and cacti. Once at the hot springs, we enjoyed a light lunch and plunged into the glittering thermal pools. In the late afternoon, we continued along a ravine to finish our trek in Guatin, a rural village, where our transfer van was waiting for us with water and cold refreshments.

Explora Atacama

Heading out Saciel Volcano from Explora Atacama

 

Atacama

Incredible views from Saciel Volcano

 

Atacama

Photo of our team on the summit

 

Atacama

Peering into Bolivia from the summit of Saciel

 

The following day, I set out for my first volcano of the trip- Saciel Volcano (5,661 m.a.s.l / 18,615 f.a.s.l)! We departed from Explora (2 hours driving) until we reached an old sulphur mine located between Bolivia and Chile on the ridge of the Sairecabur Volcano (5,300 m.a.s.l. / 17,400 f.a.s.l.). The ascent was along a scree field leading to the edge of the volcano’s crater. From here, we continued to the summit where we experienced sweeping views of the neighboring Sairecabur peak and multiple aquamarine lagoons across the border in Bolivia. Here, our driver, a local mountaineer, who had decided to summit with us, broke out a ukulele that he had brought up with him and started strumming and singing; it was quite the summit celebration. We descended through penitente fields (swords of ice jutting up from the ground) and finally ended back at our Explora van where a luxurious picnic was waiting for us. This was definitely the highlight excursion for me during my stay at Explora!

Atacama

Heading to the summit from the Crater

 

Atacama

Success at the summit!

 

 

 

At night, I had the chance to visit the exclusive Explora observatory and have a guided class in astronomy and star gazing. The experience was magnificent. Through Explora’s telescope, we were able to see the craters on the moon and even the rings on Saturn!

Expora Atacama

Telescope in Explora Atacama’s Observatory

On my final morning, we set out, once again by van from Explora to the Salt Mountains, where we walked along the Kari ravine, a canyon formed by water erosion and surrounded by huge sedimentary walls of clay, gypsum, and salt. During the hike, we tackled different kinds of slopes, descending through a sand dune and two waterfalls (these only carry water during the rainy season and were dry when we passed them). We returned in time to enjoy a delicious lunch on the terrace of the lodge.

Atacama

The Sand Mountains around the Moon Valley

Atacama

Walking through the Valley of the Moon

 

Atacama

In the Moon Valley between ancient walls of salt and clay

Want to plan your next adventure escape to the Atacama?

Check out the following itineraries for the Atacama:

Want your own Explora experience? Explora has lodges in Atacama, Torres del Paine Patagonia, Easter Island and the Sacred Valley in Peru! Check out some of our Explora itineraries here:

Don’t see what you want? Want to customize your trip? Contact us!

READ THE OTHER PARTS OF MY SALTA + ATACAMA ADVENTURE HERE:

  1. Exploring Salta: Argentina’s Undiscovered Land of Adventure and Wine PART 1
  2. Exploring Salta: Argentina’s Undiscovered Land of Adventure and Wine PART 2
  3. Gastronomic Delights and Mummies in Salta, Argentina
  4. Trekking To The Clouds: An Inca Trail In Argentina

Your friendly South America expert,

Gretchen

 

Posted in Argentina, Chile, Family Travel, Luxury, South America, Travel Advice, Trekking, Trip Journals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NEW TRIP: 9-Day Costa Rica Hiking Adventure

Our new 9-day Costa Rica Hiking Adventure includes three distinct and compelling ecosystems:

This flexible adventure is designed for travelers who want to get out of a car and into nature while enjoying stays in comfortable hotels. While not too physically demanding, this trip is all about active nature exploration in the heart of Costa Rica’s most vibrant and readily accessible ecosystems with knowledgeable local resident guides.

You can start this trip any day of the year. While the best time of year for hiking is generally November through April, the rainy season has its own charms so if other times of year are better, don’t hesitate to go.

Day 1: Arrive San Jose, Costa Rica

Welcome to Costa Rica! Arrive at San Jose’s international airport (SJO) where your driver meets you and transfers you to your San Jose hotel this evening, the Hotel Presidente. If scheduling permits, try to arrive in mid-afternoon so you can enjoy a casual stroll along the downtown pedestrian mall to the beautiful National Theater, where delicious ice cream and coffee await, with wine an option too.

Day 2: Transfer to Arenal Volcano

This morning, transfer to La Fortuna, home of the towering Arenal Volcano. The balance of your day is free at leisure to enjoy the resident hot springs of the hotel and the gorgeous views all around. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to Sky Trek for their 3 pm Sky Trek zip line tour – it’s the best in Arenal and a total blast.

Day 3: Cerro Chato hike

Breakfast at hotel. This morning, enjoy the amazing Cerro Chato hiking tour, one of the best wildlife hikes in the country. For those who are looking for a physically demanding hike, Cerro Chato Volcano, which has had no volcanic activity for the past 3,500 years, is the perfect choice. One can appreciate the changes from rainforest to cloud forest while climbing the peak, measuring approximately 3,700 ft.

We will begin the tour in Fortuna and ride in a minibus around Volcano Arenal to the Hotel “Observatory Lodge”. A naturalist guide will accompany you during your hike and will teach you about the geological history as well as the surrounding nature that inhabits Volcano Arenal’s older brother. We will start the steep hike to the summit of “Cerro Chato” crossing a very compact, primary rainforest on our way. From the summit, we will walk down to the green lagoon (an old volcano crater) where we can take pictures, or simply enjoy our surroundings.

After another short climb, we will begin our descent. This will give us a beautiful view of Arenal and the valley of San Carlos. As we pass through the rainforest, we’ll hopefully see various birds and other wild animals (though viewing the enormous size plants alone make this tour worthwhile).  This tour includes 45 minutes van ride to our destination, while the ascent lasts about 3 hours.

Return to your hotel by this afternoon, with the balance of your day at leisure to enjoy facilities of hotel or reserve an optional tour.

Day 4: Arenal hiking

Today, enjoy a classic Arenal hiking tour. This tour offers an unforgettable hiking experience through trails marked with the remains of previous lava flows of the impressive and majestic Arenal Volcano. The main attraction of this place is, of course, the Arenal Volcano with its nearly perfect cone shape, and a height of 1,633 meters. Along the hike you will discover the abundant flora and fauna which inhabits the rainforest; your guide will explain the surprising history and activity of the Arenal Volcano and the different eruptive phases. After the hike, you can choose to visit the ever popular hot springs to relax and enjoy the water which is naturally heated by the volcano. Enjoy dinner at the hot springs.

Day 5: Scenic Lake Crossing to Monteverde

Pick-up at the hotel and transfer to the Arenal lake dock, boat ride across Lake Arenal to Rio Chiquito, which takes around 30 minutes. From Rio Chiquito, you will be picked up for a land transfer to your hotel in Monteverde in about 2.5 hours. This unique lake crossing takes 1-2 hours less than driving all the way around Lake Arenal to Monteverde.

The balance of your day is free to explore the area, which is rich in natural history exhibits – especially hummingbird feeding galleries – and famous for its cheese and ice cream.

Day 6: Monteverde Hike

This morning, enjoy a great Monteverde continental divide hiking tour. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve will astound you with its beauty, bounty, and the great amount of biodiversity. The view from the crest of the divide can be stunning, with a vista clear to the Pacific Ocean way down below. Wind-sculpted elfin woodlands give way to rainforests where tall trees – festooned with orchids, bromeliads, ferns, vines, and mosses – rise high into the sky. Bird species abound, and no one forgets the beautiful tree frogs and blue morpho butterflies that cross your path.

The balance of the day is free to enjoy the area.

Day 7: Transfer to Manuel Antonio on the Central Pacific Coast

Pick-up at your hotel for the air conditioned shuttle transfer from Monteverde to your hotel in Manuel Antonio, near Quepos, which usually runs about 5-6 hours. Overnight here at La Foresta, a wonderful property with great value. Nestled on 180 acres of virgin rainforest within the lowlands of Costa Rica is the stunning La Foresta Nature Resort, a boutique adventure resort. Uniquely developed in a striking natural setting, the resort offers exceptional, personalized service for those desiring to take part in an experience of a lifetime. Beautifully designed nature trails surround the resort, providing guests an intimate experience for observing over 50 species of mammals, 15 species of reptiles, and an exquisite butterfly garden. The resort also has the most exceptional bird watching spot in the area and is within 15 minutes from the Manuel Antonio beach.

Optional tours and activities available nearby include:

  • Whitewater rafting
  • Snorkeling trips by catamaran
  • ATV excursions
  • Mountain biking
  • Horseback riding
  • Ocean kayaking
  • Sport fishing
  • Sunset cruises
  • Scuba diving
  • Surfing and surfing lessons

Day 8: Manuel Antonio hike

Breakfast at the hotel. Early this morning, enjoy a guided Manuel Antonio National Park hiking tour. You will be picked up at your hotel to start your ride to the Manuel Antonio National Park. This national park is one of the most famous in our country due to its wide variety of flora and fauna. The park has 3 different trails that go from flat to moderately steep. On this tour a knowledgeable nature guide will walk you through the park, explaining the mysteries of the rainforest. The trail you’ll take with the guide is flat and picturesque and loops through the park making your course about 2 miles long. Throughout your hike, your guide will stop and teach you about the park’s natural history, which includes exhaustive descriptions of animals and plants that can be observed during the hike. Along the way, you can take pictures or just admire the view. One of the highlights of this tour is that Manuel Antonio hosts 3 of the 4 existing tropical primates (monkeys) living in Costa Rica. Half way through the hike, we’ll enjoy a leisure stop at the worldwide famous Third Beach. Once there you can rest on the beach or play with the waves.

Throughout the hike is common to see sloths, birds, and reptiles as well as admire orchids, butterflies, and tropical trees. Your guides are equipped with Pentax and Swarovski telescopes, so you can observe wildlife and take pictures from a different perspective. Once the tour is over, transportation will be provided and you will be taken back to your hotel but we advise you stick around the park and hike the other trails and spend some leisure time on the fantastic beach here. Bring a suit, a towel, snacks, a lunch, bottled water, sunscreen, and insect repellent and you’ll be all set!

* Note: The Manuel Antonio National Park is closed on Mondays.

Day 9: Transfer to San Jose Airport

Pick-up at your Manuel Antonio hotel for the approximately 3.5-hour road transfer to San Jose International Airport (SJO). Plan a flight departure no earlier than 1:30 pm. Otherwise, today on Day 9, we can arrange an afternoon shuttle back to San Jose, where you can overnight, allowing you to depart anytime out of SJO on Day 10. We can arrange whatever plan is best for your flight schedule.

9-Day Costa Rica Hiking Adventure >>

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Mountain Biking Maras and Moray

This past April, our South America Program Director, Gretchen Traut, along with her husband, Diego Arelano, were traveling in Peru and got to experience Maras and Moray, in the Sacred Valley while mountain biking! Take part in their adventure with our newest video:

Video Credit: Diego Arelano

Read more about this adventure and others in and around Cusco, in Gretchen’s post, Cusco: Peru’s Gateway to Adventure

Want to experience adventures in Peru around Maras and Moray yourself? Check out some of our following tours:

1-Day Maras and Moray Group Tour (Cusco)(Half Day)
1-Day Maras Salt Mines and Moray near Cusco (full day)
1-Day Mountain Biking: Chinchero to Maras near Cusco

Your friendly Peru specialist,

Gretchen

Posted in Family Travel, Peru, South America, Travel Advice, Trip Journals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment