Saturday, March 17, 2012: Welcome to Costa Rica!
An ACTUAR driver will meet your flight and take you to Hotel La Rosa de América in Alajuela, about 15 minutes from the airport. Relax in a garden setting around the pool.
Sunday, March 18: Birds, butterflies, coffee and culture!
After breakfast, travel south of San José to Palmichal, a picuresque town at 5000 feet above sea level, where quality coffee has been produced for decades.
First you'll visit Nacientes Palmichal Lodge, where you will make the traditional almuerzo de hoja (lunch in a banana leaf) to take with you to the coffee fields. The lush gardens and rivers surrounding the lodge attract many birds and butterflies.
Learn about campesino life from Don Manuel and Doña Mery at their cerco and try your hand at making tortillas.
Next stop is the innovative Farmers Association of Acosta and Aserrí which counts 1040 families in its membership. Tour the greenhouse where they produce 15,000 trees a year, grown in compost made from the waste products of coffee production. ASOPROAAA has been recognized nationally and internationally for the high quality of its specialty coffees. Let yourself be carried away by the rich aroma as you learn about roasting, grinding and packaging coffee beans, then learn from a professional coffee taster how to discern a truly fine cup of coffee.
Have an afternoon snack at an organic café owned by local families, where you can buy organic produce, honey and jam.
To end the day, your guide will take you though the mountains of the Los Santos region to Copey de Dota, and the cozy El Toucanet Lodge. Their specialty is freshly caught trout, and they offer delicious vegetarian dishes as well.
Monday, March 19:Quetzals in the cloudforest and Cerro Biolley!
Wake up early to go in search of the Resplendent Quetzal, the sacred bird of the Maya. The quetzal is a magical sight, with its long graceful tail, iridescent green plumage, and bright red breast. The quetzal cannot leave in captivity and can only be seen in old growth oak forests at high altitudes. After your hike, you'll be ready for the hearty breakfast served in El Toucanet's mountain view dining room.
After breakfast, travel about 2.5 hours to Cerro Biolley Lodge. Get settled into your comfy rooms and have lunch, then get to know the village. That evening, enjoy great country cooking while the leaders of the local women's cooperative tell you how they created their prize-winning coffee plant and their rainforest reserve.
Tuesday, March 20: La Amistad International Park and organic farms!
After breakfast, drive about half an hour to La Amistad International Park, the largest park in Costa Rica, extending all the way into Panamá. Hike the Sendero Los Gigantes to see the giant trees and look for wildlife.
Have lunch in the village of Altamira at Restaurante Arco Iris, with its glowing floor-to-ceiling mosaics. Tour ASOPROLA's organic farms and be inspired by all the creative ways they do recycling.
After a full day, return to Cerro Biolley Lodge for a delicious country dinner.
Wednesday, March 21:To the Pacific!
Say goodbye to your friends at Cerro Biolley. Your guide will take you to the Dutch-owned Villas Gaia in Playa Tortuga, about 2 hours to the west. The rooms are surrounded by lush tropical foliage, monkeys gather in the trees near the pool in the mornings, there are nature trails to the beach.
Thursday, March 22: Parque Marino Ballena!
Explore the string of lovely, small beaches protected by Ballena National Marine Park. Each beach has its own unique personality. If you'd like, there are also a number of optional activities that you can do in the area: the Flight of the Toucan canopy tour at Hacienda Barú, snorkeling at Isla Ballena, birding and wildlife spotting at La Merced Wildlife Refuge.
Friday, March 23: Another morning on the beach!
Spend the morning relaxing, then wend your way north along the Pacific and east to Alajuela, where you will be welcomed back to La Rosa de América.
Saturday, March 24: Come back soon!
An ACTUAR driver will pick you up and take you to the airport three hours before your return flight. Fly home with happy memories of Costa Rica.
This tour is done in conjunction with the Organic Consumers Association. Minimum 6 participants. Ask about family rates!
To sign up for this tour or set up a travel consultation, write firstname.lastname@example.org