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The Northern Experience Selfdrive (7 days / 6 nts)

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Places Visited:
v/   San José
v/   Poás Volcano
v/   Boca Tapada
v/   Arenal Volcano
v/   Caño Negro
v/   Monteverde
Price from $373
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This trip is especially designed for first time visitors and includes the most important highlights of Costa Rica within 7 days. Active volcanoes, rainforest, jungle channels, cloud forest, animals, lowlands, mountains and very friendly people will give you the best possible overview of the country
Day 1:San José - Poás Volcano - Pedacito de Cielo / Boca Tapada
Day 2:Pedacito de Cielo / Boca Tapada
Day 3:Pedacito de Cielo / Boca Tapada - La Fortuna / Arenal Volcano
Day 4:La Fortuna - Caño Negro - La Fortuna
Day 5:La Fortuna - Lake Arenal - Monteverde
Day 6:Monteverde
Day 7:Monteverde - San José

Hotels used in this tour
(hotels can be changed on request for most tours)
Pedacito De Cielo
Pedacito De Cielo
Boca Tapada, San Carlos
Boca Tapada, San Carlos
7 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report Hotel website
Lomas del Volcan
Lomas del Volcan
La Fortuna de San Carlos
La Fortuna
47 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report Hotel website
300mts Oeste Gasolinera Monteverde
22 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report Hotel website
Day 1:  San José - Poás Volcano - Pedacito de Cielo / Boca Tapada
Via Alajuela, the second biggest town in Costa Rica, you drive to Poás volcano (entrance fee US$ 10. -- per person). You can park your car safely inside the large parking lot. After a short walk you reach the main crater of the volcano. With a diameter of 1, 8 km the crater of Poás Volcano is one of the biggest in the world. We recommend visiting this place before 10h00 in the morning, because later usually it is cloudy. After visiting this crater, you have the possibility to enjoy a 30 minutes walk to another old crater. On this small trip you’ll be able to observe a lot of nice flora and birds. Back to the car the real adventure begins, while driving through the most agricultural productive lands of Costa Rica for approx 4.30 hours. Drive south, and at San Pedro de Poas, turn right and continue to Grecia town. We recommend visiting the local church built out of metal. Continue to Sarchi which is the souvenir capital of Costa Rica and stop at the biggest oxcart in the world, where you will probably want a picture. Keep going until reaching the towns of Naranjo, Zarcero, until Ciudad Quesada, where you will find a variety of restaurants and groceries stores for your convenience.
Continue on the road to Aguas Zarcas, Pital and Boca Tapada, finally reaching the Lodge Pedacito de Cielo.

Total km today:  about 150 km
Total driving time today:  about 4.5 hours
Included meals today:  none
Day 2:  Pedacito de Cielo / Boca Tapada
A 300 ha protected rainforest is part of the lodge of which the name means “little piece of heaven”. Today you can enjoy a hike through this impressive ecosystem and observe animals and plants. Right next to the lodge you will find a lagoon reaching 900 meters into the jungle. You can use the kayaks to paddle silently through the rainforest - one of the best options to see animals. But also other tours can be reserved at the lodge for a reasonable price. Overnight at Pedacito de Cielo**(*).

Total km today:  none
Total driving time today:  none
Included meals today:  breakfast
Day 3:  Pedacito de Cielo / Boca Tapada - La Fortuna / Arenal Volcano
You drive back to Pital and reach La Fortuna via Aguas Zarcas and Muelle. A reservation is made for you at Hotel Lomas del Volcán***. In the afternoon we recommend a hike to the old lava fields of the volcano (entrance fee US$ 10.—per person for the national park). Enjoy an unforgettable view to the active volcano and over Lake Arenal. The hotel also offers a big choice on tours in the surroundings. Among others you can visit Ecocentro Danaus with its butterfly garden, the plantations of medicinal plants as well as the variety of tropical plants, trees and animals. Another worthwhile visit is the waterfall of La Fortuna where you can swim in the cold water below the waterfall. Especially at night and with good weather conditions we recommend driving closer to the volcano to observe its nocturnal activity. Return to Hotel Lomas del Volcán*** and overnight.

Total km today:  about 100 km
Total driving time today:  about 3 hours
Included meals today:  breakfast
Day 4:  La Fortuna - Caño Negro - La Fortuna
Today we recommend a visit to Caño Negro Wildlife Reserve. For that you will have to drive to Muelle and then up to Los Chiles, close to the Nicaraguan border. There are several tour operators offering boat trips on the Rio Frio to Caño Negro. Enjoy an interesting boat trip observing occasionally birds, crocodiles, sloths, monkeys and other animals. Return to La Fortuna and overnight at Hotel Lomas del Volcán***. But also other tours are offered in the area as a horseback riding tour to the La Fortuna Waterfall, Venado caves and more.

Total km today:  about 100 km one way, total 200 km
Total driving time today:  about 3 hours
Included meals today:  breakfast
Day 5:  La Fortuna - Lake Arenal - Monteverde
Once again you’ll pass by the volcano and continue along Lake Arenal. A beautiful part through tropical rainforest is following now. Sometimes you can see coatis, monkeys and a variety of colorful birds. Then the street is getting worse, and you reach the village Nuevo Arenal and continue around the northern part of Lake Arenal, where nearly the whole year round it is quite windy. From here you can see the windmills of the Guanacaste Mountains in the distance. In Tilarán you drive in direction to Monteverde / Santa Elena. The last part of the road is in a quite poor condition, especially after heavy rainfalls. A longer route first leads you to Las Juntas or Cañas and from there on over about a 35km bumpy road to Monteverde. Check-in at Hotel Belmar*** in Monteverde.

Total km today:  100 km on the direct road via Tilarán, 145 km via Las Juntas or Cañas
Total driving time today:  3 1/2 hours on the direct road via Tilarán, 4 1/2 hours via Las Juntas or Cañas
Included meals today:  breakfast
Day 6:  Monteverde
Monteverde offers many different excursions and tours. We especially recommend the visit of Monteverde or Santa Elena Reserve. Another very interesting tour is a tour of the hanging bridges of Selvatura or the SKYWALK, a system of suspension bridges in the canopy of the cloud forest. SKYTREK is an even more adventurous option to observe the jungle, gliding from platform to platform while hanging on steel cables. Santa Elena, a small village close to Monteverde also offers a butterfly farm, a snake museum, a hummingbird gallery, a cheese factory and much more. Overnight at Hotel Belmar***.

Total km today:  none
Total driving time today:  none
Included meals today:  breakfast
Day 7:  Monteverde - San José
In the morning you will still have some time to enjoy any activity or tour in the area. At around noon you should drive back to San José and will drop off the car.

Note: You have the option to drop off your car at any other destination at the pacific coast or to connect with another fly & drive program of this manual.

Total km today:  about 160 km
Total driving time today:  about 3 ½ hours
Included meals today:  breakfast
Trip type:
  Shared service
(can be done privately also)