Costa Rica is blessed with abundant nature, pristine beaches and immense biodiversity. In Guanacaste, explore a slice of Costa Rica rarely visited by expedition vessels. Discover the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Guanacaste Conservation Area and take to the warm waters by kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or snorkel among pristine coral. Hike in wildlife-rich rainforests and venture to volcanic peaks in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, where archaeological sites offer a glimpse into Costa Rica’s ancient past.
In San José, use the complimentary airport transfer service provided by the hotel to transfer to your hotel for check in. Once you have checked in, enjoy time at leisure.
After a leisurely buffet breakfast, transfer to Puerto Caldera (2-hours) where your vessel awaits. After boarding, you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before participating in important safety briefings. Afterwards, enjoy lunch on board as you sail to nearby Isla Tortuga (Turtle Island), where can snorkel, swim, paddle or relax. The water is teeming with a dizzying array of tropical fish, big pufferfish, turtles, sting rays, white tip reef sharks, and occasionally dolphins. Isla Tortuga we will do our kayak orientation and have our first introductory paddle.
This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners, expedition team and crew at a welcome dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure.
Bahía Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge was established in early 1995, with its primary purpose to protect the famous red and black mangroves and dry forest along the coast. The refuge is part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spanning 505-hectares along the north-western coast of Costa Rica, the refuge attracts visitors keen to explore the native wildlife as well as enjoying activities such as snorkelling, and hiking. The clear turquoise waters and 2-km powdery sand beaches are ideal for a swimming and relaxing.
With an average year-round temperature of 30˚C, spend a carefree morning snorkelling, swimming, padding or walking along the stunning beach. After lunch, embark on a shore excursion to Santa Rosa National Park, home to some of the last remaining tropical dry forest in the world. Guanacaste National Park was created in 1989 to connect Santa Rosa National Park with the high elevation cloud forest of Orosi and Cacao volcanoes, to the rainforests on the Caribbean coast. The overarching strategy being to conserve enough land to create sufficiently large habitats for wide-ranging species such as jaguars and mountain lions while simultaneously a corridor to make allow wildlife to migrate between the dry forest and the evergreen cloud and rainforest.
Santa Rosa may owe its early designation as a National Park to an attempted invasion by U.S. troops. The battle that occurred here and the historical significance of the park helped win its protection by executive decrees in 1970 and 1977. Visit La Casona Hacienda, the site of the epic battle of Santa Rosa in 1856, now converted to a museum. The building includes exhibits of military paraphernalia and objects from everyday life at a typical Costa Rican hacienda in the mid-1800s.
After visiting the hacienda, hike a short way to the ‘Tierras Emergidas’ lookout, followed by a walk on the “Naked Indian Trail” that forms a loop through the dry forest, along streams and waterfalls where we hope to encounter local wildlife. Return to the ship, which has repositioned to Cuajiniquil Bay, located in the Gulf of Santa Elena, around the headland south of Junquillal Bay. It’s a beautiful beach that’s perfect for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking – a great way to unwind after your excursion.
**Please note: We will sail to Nicaragua overnight where necessary immigration requirements will be completed prior to re-entering Costa Rica.
From Cuajiniquil, venture to Rincón de la Vieja National Park for a full day’s exploration. Rincón de la Vieja National Park is one of the parks in the UNESCO-listed Guanacaste Conservation Area, and where ecological diversity abounds. The national park spans more than 34,000 acres, is home to two volcanoes, 32 rivers and streams, and hosts an incredible variety of wildlife including rare emerald toucanets, blue-crowned motmots, pumas, various species of monkeys, sloths, tapirs, and jaguars. Vibrant fuschia, the purple guaria morada orchid, Costa Rica’s national flower, laurel and Guanacaste trees are some of the unique plants found in the park.
The park has an active volcano with nine eruption points, scattered array of boiling mud pits and steam vents, and waterfalls. Discover all these natural wonders as you hike though a unique ecosystem of both tropical cloud forest and tropical dry forest.
Anchored off Carillo Beach, you have the choice of one of the following two shore excursions offered today.
Monte Alto Nature Reserve
Monte Alto, located around 60-minutes’ drive from Carillo, is a nature reserve located 480 – 880 metres above sea level. A major attraction of Monte Alto is the orchid path which winds through the forest with tall trees festooned with a vast array of orchids. Around 80 species of native orchids and bromeliads thrive in the reserve, each displaying their own unique shapes and colours.
The reserve covers 924 hectares of low mountain forest and humid forest ecosystems that are home to small wildcats and other wildlife and insects including large blue Morpho butterflies, leaf-cutting ants, howler monkeys, agoutis and coatis, as well as over 200 species of birds. In addition to the orchid trail, five other trails can be explored at Monte Alto reserve. One trail leads to a waterfall, another to the Cerro Romo lookout – the highest point in the entire region, from which you can enjoy splendid panoramic views across to the Gulf of Nicoya in the east, the beaches of Samara in the west, and the plains of Guanacaste in the north.
Diria Coffee Tour
Costa Rican coffee is world-renowned. On this excursion, you will be guided through the full process of coffee production from growing, harvesting, drying, roasting, and packaging. Matambú is the name of the last indigenous community of Guanacaste and this tour offers you the opportunity to meet member of the Matambú community, learn about their lifestyle and traditions. At the end of the tour, you will enjoy some snacks accompanied by fresh Diriá coffee.
Curú National Wildlife Refuge is the first privately-owned refuge in Costa Rica offering over 3,700 acres of tropical forests, mangrove swamps, and grassy fields sitting right along the coastline. The area is teeming wildlife and hosts one of the most beautiful and protected bays on the Nicoya Peninsula, where we plan to paddle, snorkel and Zodiac cruise. 17 hiking trails wind through the varied terrain of the refuge, where you’re very likely to encounter white tail deer, or catch a glimpse of brilliant red from the plumes of scarlet macaws as they swoop between trees. Arboreal creatures such as coati and monkeys are prolific including the native spider, and howler monkeys.
Disembark in Puerto Caldera, farewell your expedition team, and transfer to downtown San Jose or to the airport