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Our 2016 Costa Rica Vacation

This year we decided to take a nature tour with Caravan Tours. The tour started with our arrival on Saturday, February 20th and ended with our departure on Sunday, February 28th. There were 44 guests on the trip, plus our Tour Director (Rebecca Gomez) and our bus driver (Edgar).

Click on the photo for each day to see more photos and to read more about that day.

February 20  
Saturday, February 20
This was our travel day. We flew from Charlotte, NC to San Josť, Costa Rica on American Airlines. We had an easy time getting through customs and we were met by a representative from Caravan ouside the terminal. Our shuttle bus took us to the Barcelo San Josť Palacio hotel, where we would stay for two nights. The only activities for the rest of the day were a welcome briefing and dinner.
February 21  
Sunday, February 21
After breakfast we went to Poás Volcano. The cloud cover made it almost impossible to see the crater - just like it did on one of our previous trips. Then we went to the Doka Estate coffee plantation where we learned about growing, harversting and processing coffee. We had lunch at the plantation and then headed back to the Barcelo San José Palacio hotel. After dinner we had time to relax and pack for our drive the next day.
February 22  
Monday, February 22
The agenda for today took us from San José to Fortuna. Our first stop was at the Zoo Avé (a wildlife rescue center). Then we continued on to Sarchi where we stopped to tour a factory that makes traditional oxcarts. We had lunch at the restaurant above the souvenier shop. Our next stop was in Zarcero where we could putchase ice cream and walk the paths among the topiary and view the Iglesia de San Rafael church. Then it was time to finish our drive to our lodging for two nights at Arenal Springs Resort. Our room at the resort had a view of Arenal volcano. The volcano has been inactive since 1992.
February 23  
Tuesday, February 23
We rode north this morning to Los Chiles where we took a cruise on a pontoon boat on the Rio Frio which runs through the Caño Negro wildlife refuge,down river to the Nicarguan border. The captain and tour guide were excellent at pointing out the wildlife and positioning the boat so we all could see everything including turtles, cormorants, anhingas, nothern jacanas, caimans, howler monkeys, green iguanas, and water-walking lizards. After the boat cruise, we had lunch in Los Chiles before the ride back to Arenal Springs Resort.
February 24  
Wednesday, February 24
We left Arenal Springs Resort after an early breakfast and headed toward Guanacaste province. Our first stop was at Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. A naturalist guide took us on a walking tour of the park which includes crossing a few suspension bridges. We saw birds, monkeys and a couple of Eyelash Vipers. After that we drove along Lake Arenal on our way to the Pan American highway (Route 1). Then we headed north to Liberia and turned west, heading to the Pacific Ocean. We stopped at a Leatherback Turtle Rescue site, but there were no turtles there. Apparently none of the last batch of eggs survived. We finally arrived at the J.W. Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa for a two night stay. The sunset was awesome!
February 25  
Thursday, February 25
We had free time today to enjoy the facilities at J.W. Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa. After breakfast we went on a short recreational walk with a loca guide to see some of the flora and fauna of the area. Guanacaste is a dry area much different than the tropical areas that we saw during the past few days an on our previous trips to Costa Rica. After lunch we spent some time in the pool, then took time to photograph the sunset before heading to dinner.
February 26  
Friday, February 26
This morning we were on the road again. Our first stop was at the Monteverde Cooperative where we sampled their cheeses and enjoyed some superb ice cream. We stoppped for lunch at a restaurant by the bridge across the Tarcoles River. The river is known for the crocodiles that like to sun on its banks. This is a familiar site for our boating friends as it is on the way to Jaco Beach. After lunch we went on a Jungle Crocodile Safari nature cruise on the same river, adjacent to the Carara Biological Reserve. During the cruise we saw several more crocodiles and lots of birds. The preserve is a tropical bird and wildlife sanctuary and a nesting site for the scarlet macaw. We then continued our drive to Hotel San Bada at the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park.
February 27  
Saturday, February 27
This morning we visited Manuel Antonio National Park and walked down the trail to their beautiful beach in a sheltered cove. On the way to the beach we saw several White-throated Capuchin and Squirrel monkeys and a three-toed sloth. Some of the group went swimming when we got to the beach. Nancy and I opted to take a leisurely hike back to the hotel. On the way we saw a White-nosed Coati. When we got back to the hotel Nancy discovered that she had already packed her swimsuit and it was already headed for the bus. Mine was still available so I cooled off in the hotel pool. Nancy cooled off in the shower in our room. Everyone boarded the bus around 11:30 am and we were taken to Rain Forest Adventures near Jaco Beach. We had lunch there and then went on an Arial Tram Ride. After that it was time to head to Santa Ana for our last night in Costa Rica. We had a nice farewell dinner before going back to our room to finish packing.

Sunday, February 28th was our travel day. After breakfast at the hotel we boarded the shuttle bus for the drive to the San José airport for the flight back to the USA.

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