Discovering La Pura Vida in Costa Rica

A 10 day trip to Costa Rica 
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Discover boutique luxury away from the well-trodden trails and the crowded resorts during your Costa Rica tour that will celebrate the splendors found far from the familiar paths. Your customizable Costa Rica vacation will introduce you to the divine landscape of cloud, rain, and lowland forests while staying at remarkable Zicasso featured hotels nestled into the abounding natural beauty. Whether you are interested in adventurous rafting excursions or are eager to perfect your lotus pose near twittering birds, or simply happy to lounge on a remote beach, you will find the perfect blend of relaxation and exploration in Costa Rica. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Views Outside of Macaw Lodge. Photo: Courtesy Macaw Lodge
An outdoor space at Bosque de Paz. Photo: Courtesy Bosque de Paz
Outdoor beauty at Bosque de Paz. Photo: Courtesy Bosque de Paz
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

San Jose, Quepos, Tenorio National Park, Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, Alajuela Province, Zarcero, Carara, Arenal, La Fortuna, Sarapiqui, Catarata del Toro, La Paz Waterfall Gardens 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Alajuela – Arrive at your Luxurious Resort in the Costa Rican Rainforest

Arenal Volcano towers over the landscape on the horizon, visible from the runway of La Fortuna Domestic Airport.  The conical peak of the volcano stands nearly 5,500 feet and shapes the skyline of the region, and offers visitors from around Costa Rica and the world a chance to see the majesty of nature and soak in the region’s natural pools heated by the geothermal activity.   Before you can take it all in, your private transfer will greet you at baggage claim to escort you to your hotel.

You will travel through the rainforest to reach the luxurious Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel, a small eco-friendly resort hidden near the edges of Tenorio Volcano National Park. The intimate accommodation is just one hour away from Arenal and has a secluded ambiance with gorgeous, spacious rooms. The restaurant encourages interactions with the floral aromas of the surrounding forest through an open-air dining room, allowing you to view the vegetation and relax listening to the trickling water from the koi pond.

The restaurant serves delectable international cuisine, as well as delicious traditional Costa Rican flavors. The lush gardens accentuate the remote atmosphere, concealing three hot tubs, a wet bar, and the inviting cool waters of a crystal-clear pool. The friendly staff will welcome you with a refreshing fruit drink, and you will be able to hear the birds twittering in the canopy that hangs over the cobbled walkways of the hotel. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure to indulge in the soothing comforts of the hotel, and you could even rejuvenate your body and mind with a yoga class in the open-air studio.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, dinner

Day 2: Alajuela – Explore the Delicate Ecosystems of Tenorio Volcano National Park

Over breakfast, you will find the scent of fresh Costa Rican coffee accentuating the sweet flavors of pineapple, mango, and strawberries. The delicious fruit brings a refreshingly sweet start to your day, and your guide will greet you after your meal eager to introduce you to the wonders of Costa Rica embodied in Tenorio Volcano National Park. The landscape encompasses nearly 50 square miles and connects to the Arenal Tilaran Conservation Area while the volcano crowns the park with four distinctive peaks and two craters, the tallest of which stands nearly 6,300 feet above sea level.

Your guide will lead you to the Rio Celeste, a body of water celebrated for its bright blue hue as the volcanic activity in the region deposits small amounts of sulfur into the water, which interacts with the calcium carbonate. Thermal springs steam in the area beneath the dangling emerald canopy while the trees around the peaks and craters create a dazzling cloud forest. The forests in the lower elevations receive plenty of rain, supporting the delicate ecosystems in which tapir and puma reside. The slight scent of sulfur fades beneath the herbaceous aroma from the trees, and you can bask in the view of the iridescent blue water that contrasts with the emerald grass and the dangling leaves from the trees along the banks of Rio Celeste before you return to the vast network of hiking trails.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Alajuela – Discover Fascinating Biodiversity in Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge

During breakfast, you will notice the hummingbirds fluttering around the different flowers that blossom near your table on the edges of the open-air dining room. You can meet your guide in the lobby after breakfast and travel to Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge to explore a portion of the 25,000 acres of wetlands, rainforest, and swampland that are celebrated for their spectacular wildlife sightings. The Cold River, the largest flowing river in the area, acts as the main water source to Cano Negro Lake, and the delicate ecosystem host more than 200 bird species including jabiru storks and the roseate spoonbill, along with an array of other species of animals like jaguars, turtles, and caiman.

In the early morning hours, you can hear the cacophonous call of howler monkeys, whose low, guttural growls echo for up to three miles. You will board your boat at Los Chiles and can float along the quiet waterway for a floating safari amidst the bordering tropical rainforest and marshland. Your guide can quickly point out a rosette spoonbill on the riverbank, as they can grow up to 35 inches tall with a wingspan of 52 inches wide. They feed in the shallow marshy water and swing their bill from side to side while grazing in the mud.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Zarcero – Experience Zip Lining and Hot Springs en route to Zarcero

At breakfast, you will recall the remarkable sight of a spectacle caiman poking their snouts out of patches of greenery floating in the river. You will remember the way monkeys a troop of white-headed capuchin monkeys scrambled through the tree branches as they reflected the untamed nature of the park and the protected landscapes of Costa Rica. You will soon say goodbye to the beauty of Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel and make your way towards Bajos del Toro. You will meet your guide ready for an adventure soaring through the treetops around the Arenal forest crossing seven zip lines, with the longest reaching nearly 2,500 feet.

The sunlight spreads across the jade hues of the rainforest canopy as you fly from platform to platform, enjoying the way the wind brushes against your cheeks. You can speed down the highest cable at an elevation of 656 feet above the forest floor, and you may notice a three-toed sloth clinging to the trees. The sloth may begin to move, confused by the whir of the zip-line. They move at an average speed at less than one mile per hour, so you will have time to enjoy your interaction in the trees. After exploring the treetops, you can continue to one of the local natural thermal baths to indulge in the relaxing ambiance of the hot springs.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 5: Zarcero – Relish a Day in Sarapiqui before Visiting Catarata del Toro  

At breakfast, you will sit in the stunning dining room of your luxurious and peaceful accommodations at Bosque de Paz. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlook a wide brook and hummingbirds flutter around the property at all hours of the day feeding on both natural wildflowers and on hummingbird feeders strung throughout the gardens. The scent of a traditional Costa Rican breakfast fills the dining room with the delicious flavors of tortillas, fried eggs, and pico gallo, a dish of rice and beans. Bosque de Paz provides boutique luxury with 12 spacious rooms and a commitment to the local wildlife and landscape.

A variety of trails winds through the mountainous terrain offering ample opportunities to view monkeys, birds, and selection of blossoming orchids. You could also indulge in a peaceful and harmonious ambiance from your room’s private balcony that overlooks a portion of the lodge’s 1,000 acres of private reserve, which hosts everything from little green herons to resplendent quetzals in the more than 330 species of birds found nesting on the protected grounds.

Venture to Sarapiqui, an area located in the province of Heredia where the remarkable biodiversity provides visitors with fascinating views to innumerable species of tropical birds, reptiles, insects, plants, flowers, and wildlife. The Sarapiqui River extends for almost 55 miles and contains some of Costa Rica’s most exciting Class III and Class IV rapids. You will put on your helmet and life-vest before stepping into your raft, and the river will carry you along the sleepy banks as you paddle with the current.

You can hear the whitewater splashing against the rocks as you rush forward and the whitewater splashes up from the river and soon covers your cheeks. The water will soon calm, and your guide will point to three toucans perching on the nearby branches. The keel-billed toucan is the most famous of its family, and it has a long beak that reaches nearly six inches in length while decorated with green, yellow, blue, and a bright red tip. The toucans prefer the canopies of tropical, subtropical, and lowland forested areas that reach up to 6,200 feet above sea level.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Zarcero – Indulge in the Comforts of your Lodge with a Day at Leisure

At breakfast, you will enjoy watching the hummingbirds zip around the grounds near the bubbling brook from the comforts of the enclosed dining room. You can watch leisurely, as the day is yours to bask in the splendors of Bosque de Paz at your preferred pace, be it following the trails inside the private nature reserve to exploring the vibrant artist market in the nearby town of Sarchi. The marvels of the landscape will beckon to you after your meal and may lead you to the head of the waterfall trail on the property.

The hike takes approximately three hours as you can ascend from more than 4,900 feet above sea level to above 6,200 feet above sea level. You may hear a sharp “pik” sound, which is the note of the slate-throated redstart; a slurred whistle will likely follow the shrill note. You will be able to hear the splashing waters of the cascade before you find a viewpoint.

Fatima Waterfall, which was named for the Virgin of Fatima, stands at approximately 180 feet, and the whitewater acts as a thin veil that spills between the thick emerald leaves and the branches that dangle from the cliffs. The water forms a cloud of mist as it hits the rippling pool below, and after savoring the incredible natural beauty, you can travel back to your lodge.  The rainforest on the reserve hosts a number of fruit trees, including fig and avocado trees that attract the rare but distinguished resplendent quetzal, and the bird’s dangling tail feather hands like a streamer reaching a length of 26 inches. The male’s plumage shines iridescent green, blue, and violet along the breast, back, and head to attract a mate.  After your hike, you may decide to spend time simply sitting amongst the incredible beauty that will surround you.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Carara – Enjoy a Coffee Tour and Fabulous Night Walk in the Rainforest

White-nosed coati searches the grasses outside the dining room at breakfast. The animal resembles a raccoon in its size and gait, and they can grow up to 43 inches long with their tail accounting for approximately half their length. You will venture southwest towards the city of Quepos after breakfast, stopping at an organic coffee plantation in near the town of Atenas en route. The plantation is located at 3,400 feet above sea level, which offers proper growing conditions to create dense and desirable beans. Your guide will lead you along the tiered landscape to view the coffee plants in their supportive environment. Coffee, like wine, absorbs the nutrients of the landscape in which it is grown accounting for the distinctive properties of beans cultivated in different areas around the world, along with around the different microclimates in Costa Rica.

The berries growing from the coffee plant have a sweet smell that will feel similar to cherries. The roasting facility fills with the aroma of dried and charred grains and will remind you of the decadent aromas of a familiar coffee shop back home. Your guide can explain the differences between light, medium, and dark roasts and the ways they attribute to the flavor of a coffee by releasing the natural oils. You will enter a tasting room at the end of your tour, and your guide will heat water to 195 degrees Fahrenheit and then brew samples of two different coffees.

You will inhale the aromas of both to find the differences, learning that a great cup of coffee will contain flowery, fruity, nutty, spicy, and even chocolaty aromas, while a burnt brew will contain hints of licorice and wet soil. After enjoying it all, you will continue to Macaw Lodge, a hidden oasis in the hills and lush forests of Cerros de Turrubares, located in the Central Pacific. The welcoming and attentive staff personify the lodge’s passion for sustainable and eco-friendly luxuries dedicated to protecting Costa Rica’s natural biodiversity through interaction with the greater community and even hosts a restaurant on property that utilizes ingredients such as produce, meats, and herbs sourced from the onsite garden.

The lodge encompasses 264 acres and accommodates a small number of guests for a private, relaxing, and adventurous stay. Solar power provides energy for the entire complex to add another layer to the sustainable-conscious efforts of the staff to protect and restore health to the surrounding forests and wildlife. After settling in, your guide will escort you through the trails around the wetlands, rivers, and ponds to search for glass frogs, red-eyed tree frogs, and the nightlife of Costa Rica.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Carara – Delight in a Chocolate Tour and Visit Relaxing Playa Blanca 

You will have a new appreciation for the delicious cuisine at Macaw Lodge as you find the caramel aroma of fresh coffee fading beneath the scent of refreshing watermelon juice blended freshly that morning. After yet another luxurious breakfast, you will follow your guide into the orchard where cacao trees grow. Cocoa was once the favorite drink of Mayan royalty, and your guide will lead you around the trees to see the giant pods that contain the famous beans that make chocolate.

Your guide will take a ripe pod and bang it against a nearby table, which cuts the pod in half. A milky, sticky coating covers the outer layer of the beans with a tangy flavor similar to cranberry but with a texture like yogurt. The beans dry for up to two weeks before needing roasting, and your guide can show you two different methods for deshelling the beans before crushing and grinding them to make a paste. You can sample the delicacy without sugar, noticing the bitter earthiness as opposed to a sweetness.  Your guide will then add sugar, and you can taste the significant difference in the sweetness as you enjoy the rich, creamy texture of the decadent treat.

After discovering the historical secrets of chocolate, you will travel to nearby Playa Blanca where the secluded white-sands hide behind a rocky outcropping only accessible by scrambling up the rocks at high tide or walking around the point at low tide. The fluffy, white sand leads into the clear turquoise water, and sporadic palm trees provide shade against the warm sun. You can dip your toes into lapping waves or watch for scarlet macaw as you appreciate the ocean waves.   

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Carara – Spend Time on a Sea Kayaking and Snorkeling Expedition 

You will set out early before the tropical sun beats down over the Pacific to begin your sea kayaking and snorkeling excursion. With over 800 miles of coastline, Costa Rica is a fantastic destination to enjoy kayaking, and you can carry your boat past the rolling waves and onto the water before stepping inside. You will paddle away from shore but can keep a constant view of the lush trees that are filled with elaborate wildlife. The water shines translucent turquoise, and it splashes onto your legs as you paddle, cooling your skin from the sun’s heat.

The dark sand of the beach fades behind the elaborate dense jungle, and your guide will soon have you anchor near a small reef that hosts an abundance of tropical fish. You can grab a mask and fins before splashing into the water, and the refreshing, cool temperatures will be inviting as the heat of the day rises. The salt content helps keep you afloat, and the visibility on a good day allows you to see 50 feet in the distance. A parrotfish might emerge from the rocky shoals near the coastline and can grow to the three feet long, while known for their stunning iridescent coloration. The teeth around their jawbones form a mosaic that resembles a parrot’s beak, which accounts for their name.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Carara – Depart for Home

At breakfast, you can choose to indulge in a cup of freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee, the scent of which drifts through the air, with a slight floral aroma giving way to layered flavors of chocolate and orange citrus. You will delight in toast covered in delicious homemade jams made from the fruits grown on the property, and you will take your time to enjoy every last moment before you depart.  After breakfast, your private transfer will greet you in your hotel lobby and escort you to Juan Santamaria International Airport for your flight home.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.