Saturday, April 30, 2011

Haven Family Sample Adventure Itin

Day 1 ------ Arrive and Drive to Turrialba Area (Casa Turire)

Don't Look down!
We agree, with one week in Costa Rica, San Jose should not be first on the list. So your private guide and driver will meet you outside of the airport and drive you to just outside of Turrialba. Here you will see the beautiful smoking Turrialba Volcano from your hotel. The Casa Turire Hotel is a great spot for relaxing, great food, enjoying the pools, and best of all the nearby rivers for rafting. When you arrive dinner can be at the hotel. (Meals included: None)

Day 2 ------ Whitewater Rafting Adventure (Casa Turire)

Rafting with Kids 
Today we will take you to a nearby river for whitewater rafting. We will keep everyone nice and wet but we will also keep you in the boat. We operate this tour and it will be private that way we can go at your own pace. If you are up for it after the whitewater rafting we will visit a local village where you can meet Dona Fressy who often makes some of the best homecooked meals out of her home for our guests in one of Costa Rica's most beautiful mountain villages Sitio de Mata. If you're up for just relaxing, we can head straight back to the hotel after rafting.

Day 3 ------ Drive to Trogon Lodge (Trogon Lodge)

Kids sleeping behind the Waterfall
Today we will get an early start after breakfast and make our way to the top of Costa Rica's tallest mountain range. We will be staying in a lodge at 9,000ft where the kids can turn on a fire place and you will live the Costa Rican mountain life. There is a great hike to a waterfall that is nice and easy nearby the lodge. You will love this place it is surrounded by nature and a small and beautiful setting. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 4 ------ Enter the Cave (Sleep Behind a Waterfall)

Today is the day we head out of the lodge around 7am and make our way to the Cave where we will begin the intense hike but kids can do this. (The kids always love the cave and the wives always enjoy it but really love where you stay after the cave Arenas del Mar) We will go at our own pace and if absolutely needed we can get a horse to ride up but all should be ok. Once we arrive to the Cave we will have lunch and then get geared up for the rappel. Here we will rappel a 120ft waterfall back down into the cave of where we will be sleeping. This is an amazing adventure that if the kids like hiking, it is one of a kind. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Hola Haven's
Day 5 ------- Visit Diamante Waterfall, hike out of Cave, and Drive to Manuel Antonio (Arenas del Mar)


Today you will wake up to the sound of the waterfall. We will get some breakfast which will be cooked for us right in the Cave (it is actually more of a cavern then a cave). Then we will take a short little hike to give you a view from the top of the highest waterfall in Costa Rica which Diamante at 600ft high. After the hike we will head out of the cave and drive to Manuel Antonio which is just one hour away and you will be staying in Arenas del Mar which, one of our favorite place in all of Manuel Antonio. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 6 --------- Visit National Park Manuel Antonio (Arenas del Mar)

With still more monkeys than people, (just barely) we will be visting the National Park of Manuel Antonio. This is an easy hike and a great spot to see some wildlife. Your guide will walk you through and introduce you to many new wildlife friends. You'll also learn about the lowland tropical rainforest. It is here that after the hike you can enjoy some of the nicest beaches in all of Costa Rica or you can go back to the hotel and enjoy the beach there which actually has less people. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 7 --------- Day to Relax at the Beach and/or Zipline (Arenas del Mar)

Manuel Antonio National Park
Today is your day to finish the book you might not have even had time to start or just relax at the beach. If you wanted you could do the zipline adventure as a half day option today or on day 6 after visiting the park.  If you wanted to make this a 7 day itin you could plan your flight home today and we could have you at the airport in two hours using the new highway back to the San Jose Airport (SJO).  (Meals: Breakast)

Day 8 ---------- Transfer to the San Jose Airport and Fly Home!

Today is the day to make the trip back to the airport and start planning your second Costa Rica Adventure!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Scott Sample Itin 2011

July 18 .... Pick up and San Jose Hotel and Drive to Arenal Volcano Area & visit Danaus

Rossette Spoonbill Cano Negro
We will plan on picking you up after your breakfast and making the 2 1/2 hour drive to the Arenal area. Here we can check you into the hotel and then get ready to visit the Danaus. We went ahead and moved Danaus Reserve to this day just because of logistics it made more sense after a morning of travel. The Danaus will be a nice easy hike and a great first day educational stop as you will learn a little bit about everything in the area to make you experts for the coming days activities of things you might see. 

July 19 .... Hike to Cerro Chato 

The Cerro Chato hike will be an intense hike. This will be a morning departure after a nice fulling breakfast.  It is not the distance but the stairs that the kids will love you for. It is a not so touristy area and worth the hike. Your guides name will be Jheudy (who is very knowledgable and will be your personal guide for the week) and he actually took his son when he was 9 years old so kids can make it but we do ask that they enjoy hiking and are in good physical shape.

July 20 .... CaƱo Negro wild life refuge

Hanging Bridges
If you want to see some wildlife and enjoy some nice time on the water than this is the day for you. It is nicely placed after the Cerro Chato hike as today is a low-impact day with a lot of wildlife. Your guide will take you through some of the best spots of Cano Negro. This is just over an hour drive from La Fortuna towards the border of Nicaragua. Then it is a couple hours or more in the boat around the wetlands depending on how much wildlife you see which is usually a lot. We enjoy operating this tour in the afternoon as you avoid the crowds. It is a great time to see more wildlife and less humans. You can enjoy a few hours in the hotel in the morning.

July 21 .... Zip Line and visit to Silencio Reserve

Here is the day of adrenaline as you will enjoy what we consider the best zipline in the country. You will take a nice long bumpy road to the other side of the volcano where the views are spectacular from the cables and the Arenal lake. This zipline also includes a very nice gandola ride.  After the zipline you will visit Silencio Reserve where you get an up-close look at the lava flow from 1963.

July 22 .... Safari boat trip and Hanging Bridges

Safari Float
Today we will get an early start and take a float down another river but this time in a raft. The name of this river is Penas Blancas. Everyone will have a lifevest but not rough enough for helmets. We will also give you some paddles to help out if we are getting chased by a crocodile! Well that wont be the case but we should see plenty of wildlife. After the calm rafting it is time for the hanging bridges. This is a chance to get a whole entire new look at the canopy of the rainforest.

July 23 .... Transfer to your next hotel

Today you can sleep in and we will drive you to the next hotel which will be Los Suenos Herradura. The drive will be around 3 1/2 hours from the Arenal area to the beach.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pat McCool Sample Itin

Day 1 ---- Arrive and Drive to Turrialba Hotel (Hotel in Turrialba)

Today we will meet you at the airport and take you for a 2 hour drive through the capital city of San Jose. Your guide will give you a city tour from the bus and you will then be driving through rolling coffee and sugar-cane plantations until you arrive to the town of Turrialba. Here you will stay for the night and enjoy dinner at our Sitio de Mata project. Here you will experience the Costa Rican culture first hand some some of the best homecooked meals you will have all week. (Meals: Dinner)

Pacuare River Rafting
Day 2 ---- Rafting on Pacuare and Drive to Arenal (Casa Luna Lodge)

We will be leaving the hotel at 7:30am after breakfast and head to the Pacuare River put-in which is located just 35 minutes from the hotel. Here the students will be rafting one of the top five rivers on the planet and get a lesson on primary rainforest. The river run is around 18 miles and will take three hours where they will get lunch when they get out of the river.  After lunch we'll drive on a nice straight road to the Arenal Volcano.  Upon arrival dinner will be served at Casa Luna and its a delicious meal. The hotel is located with great views of the volcano from every room. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 3 ---- Organic Tour (Casa Luna Lodge)

Today the students will get a chance to rest in the morning and leave for the Organic tour around 9:30am. If the teachers or anyone wants to do a short nature hike after breakfast around the hotel grounds our guides are always ready. The Organic tour lasts around two hours and then lunch (prepared with foods from the garden) is served. We will leave the farm around 1pm and anyone who wants to do the optional zipline will be transported to the 3pm zipline and those that want to walk around town can do that or folks can relax in the pool at the hotel. (Meals:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 4 ---- Danaus Eco Reserve Tour and La Fortuna Waterfall (Casa Luna Lodge)

La Fortuna Falls
We will leave today around 8am to get to the Nature Eco Reserve early only because that is the best time to see animals. This is a very educational day and a chance to learn about reforestation, and the biodiversity of Costa Rica. You will get an upclose look at poisonous dart frogs, sloths, many different species of birds, and butterflies. After the reserve we'll go to the town of La Fortuna for lunch and then to the La Fortuna Waterfall which will involve some hiking. When we make it to the bottom of the waterfall wes can go swimming in the natural pools. We'll be back at Casa Luna in the evening  to relax. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 5 ---- Drive to Monteverde Night Walk (Monteverde Hotel)

Today we will leave around 9am after breakfast and drive to Monteverde area. Here the kids will be staying in the cloudforest and in the evening enjoy a night walk that will start at 6pm. This is a beautiful area and again a very educational opportunity. Some of the options for tours will range from cheese tours, to reptiles, visit the amphibian sanctuary, and a number of other nature hikes in and around the area.  (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Arenal Volcano
Day 6 ---- Monteverde Reserve and Drive to Manuel Antonio (Manuel Antonio Hotel)

Getting an early start is again best today if possible as the Monteverde Reserve is showing all it's glory at early morning. This is a completely different type of nature hike compared to the day before as the elevation is much higher and we're in a completely different part of the tropics. After the hike we'll get some lunch and then make the drive to the Manuel Antonio area. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 7 ---- Beach Day (Manuel Antonio Hotel)

Today is a day to relax and some optional tours will be discussed the evening before if they are interested in signing up for some. If not they can just relax on the beaches of Manuel Antonio (the most beautiful in Costa Rica). (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Manuel Antonio National Park
Day 8 ---- Hike to Manuel Antonio National Park (Manuel Antonio Hotel)

Manuel Antonio National Park is a unique treat of beauty and bountiful wildlife. Here you will see all the monkeys you ever wanted. As you hike with your guide, you'll observe and compare the differences in the three areas visited on hikes this week.  This hike takes around two hours and then you can stay and relax on the uncrowded beaches in the park until closing at 4pm. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Best lunch of the week at the Organic Farm
Day 9 ---- Beach in Morning and Drive to San Jose (Airport Hotel)

Today everyone can get in some final beach time and then it is back to the San Jose area to put us in a nice position to catch the flight on day 10. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 10 --- Transfer to Airport and Fly Home!

 Depending on flight time we will get you to the airport three hours before the flight. (Meals: Breakfast)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Liddia Morris: Sample Family Adventure

July 2nd ------- Arrive and Stay at Buena Vista (Buena Vista)

Today we will meet you at the airport and drive you to your first hotel located on the slopes of the Poas Volcano. (Meals: None)

July 3rd -------- Visit Poas Volcano and Waterfalls (Buena Vista)

July 4th -------- Drive to Arenal Volcano (Casa Luna Lodge)

July 5th -------- Zipline & La Fortuna Falls (Casa Luna Lodge)

July 6th -------- Hanging Bridges (Casa Luna Lodge)

July 7th -------- Drive to Casa Belmar (Casa Belmar)

July 8th -------- Visit Parque Ballena  (Casa Belmar)

July 9th -------- Ventanas Beach (Casa Belmar)

July 10th -------- Drive to Manuel Antonio and you will stay here for 3 nights (Villa Bosque)

July 11th ------ Manuel Antonio Villa Bosque (Villa Bosque)

July 12th ------ Beach Day (Villa Bosque)

July 13th ------ Drive back to San Jose area (Buena Vista)

July 14th ------ Fly Home!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Wasim Sample Itin Costa Rica 2011

Day 1 ---- Arrive (Grano de Oro)

Arenal Volcano
Today your guide will meet you at the airport and take you to one of San Jose's most beautiful hotel. This is a small hotel but one of the finest and without a doubt the best resturaunt in town. (Meals: None)

Day 2 ----- Poas & Drive to Arenal (Nayara)

Today you will leave after breakfast and make the drive to the Poas Volcano crater. Here when you arrive you will hike 6 blocks at the top of the volcano to look down into the crater. This is a beautiful stop and your guide will give you and introduction into the cloudforest which will be one of the many different ecosystems you see during your stay here in Costa Rica. After the view of the Poas Volcano crater you will enjoy a beautiful drive to your next hotel known as "Waterfall Alley". Here you will see a number of different waterfalls as you make your way through the cloudforest on your way to the famous Arenal Volcano. The hotel you will be staying in here is our favorite. I have to tell you Wasim I am getting married in August and it is at this hotel where my future wife wants to stay for our honeymoon. (Meals: Breakfast & Lunch)

Day 3 ----- Horseback & Danaus (Nayara)

Nayara Resort
Today you will horseback ride along side one of the most active volcanos on the planet. This ride opens up to beautiful views of the volcan and gives you a real feel for the low lying rainforest that will be surrounding you which is much different than the cloud-forest you were in the day before. After the horseback ride you will make your way to a little private reserve but an excellent spot to see some wildlife. This little reserve is also a great spot of what can be done when an area is reforested. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 4 ----- Birding Cano Negro (Nayara)

Here you will enjoy a very nice day on a calm boat as you travel to Cano Negro which are wetlands in the north of the country that make for some of the best birding in all of Costa Rica. Here you will have the chance to have you guide take you along the river for a few hours and get a chance to see many different species of birds and even mammals such as monkeys. The evening will be spent back in the Nayara Resort relaxing. (Meals: Breakfast & Lunch)

Day 5 ----- Drive Cuna del Angel (Cuna del Angel)

Cloudforest Leaves
Today is a travel day and we will make the drive to the Cuna del Angel hotel in the Central Pacific. This is a nice day of traveling as you will make some stops along the way to keep it interesting. You will be traveling with a private naturalist guide everyday and they can always make the traveling very interesting days. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 6 ----- Whale and Dolphin (Cuna del Angel)

Today you will head out looking for the whales and dolphins. This is a hit or miss type of tour but always a beautiful day on the water. The best part is often looking back on the shoreline from the boat and seeing how the mountain meets the sea. In the afternoon you will have some time to spend at the hotel or in the water or you can even go birding with your guide if you are up for some more birding. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 7 ----- Relax (Cuna del Angel)

Today is your day to relax. There are a number of optional things to do in the area from ATV riding to waterfall rappeling and it is just up to you. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 8 ----- Fly Home!

Today you will make the 2 1/2 hour drive to the San Jose airport and catch your flight home. This drive is on a new highway and a very nice easy drive. (Meals: Breakfast)

Liddia Morris: Sample Family Adventure

July 2nd Day 1 ------- Arrival (Buena Vista)

Zipline for all ages
Today we will meet you at the airport and you will meet your driver and guide and get an introduction to all the exciting adventures you will have during the week. You will be staying at a nearby hotel with time to rest up for the week long adventure. The hotel has amazing views of the central valley below. (Meals: None)

July 3rd Day 2 ------- Drive to Dominical & Zipline (Villa Rio Mar)

Today we will make our drive to Dominical but on the way we will be stopping to do the zipline. This is one of the best adventures in Costa Rica and a chance to enjoy flying through the air. After the zipline we will make our way to the Dominical area which is a beautiful Pacific beach and you will be staying at Villa Rio Mar.
(Meals: Breakfast)

Sleeping Behind a Waterfall
July 4th Day 3 ------ Snorkel in Parque Ballena National Park (Villa Rio Mar)

Today it will be a chance to snorkel in the amazing Parque Ballena. A boat will take you out and you will have the chance to see some different species of fish and marine life during your time in the water and maybe even some of the humpback whale. (Meals: Breakfast)

July 4th Day 4 ------- Enter the Cave (Sleep Behind a Waterfall)

This is one of the most amazing adventures you will ever experience. It is quite the hike to get into the cave and we have made the hike with kids at the age of 7 so we have no problem with taking an 8 yr old. It is around a 1 1/2 hour hike through beautiful forest and the final destination is one of Costa Rica's most beautiful and unheard of places. We will be sleeping behind a waterfall for the night with no bugs and just the perfect setting as everything is set up for you. It is not roughing it by any means. We supply all meals, there is a shower, and all your towels and linens. We will also do a rappel of the waterfall we plan on sleeping behind. All of your meals are included today. Take a look at the video for a better idea:

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July 5th Day 5 -------- Hike to Pools and then drive to Turrialba (Turrialba Lodge)

Today we will hike to the pools which make for the perfect swimming area under another beautiful waterfall. We will also see the tallest waterfall in Costa Rica which is the Diamante waterfall being at the top of this 600ft falls is quite the moment. Dont worry we have it roped off and no getting too close to the edge. After the hike out of the cave we will then drive to the Turrialba area over Costa Rica's tallest mountain range where we will cross an interesting area called the Paramo which is a high elevation area portion of the tropics. (Meals: Breakfast & Lunch)

July 6th Day 6 ----------  Whitewater Rafting and visit Local village and make crafts (Turrialba Lodge)

Today we will take you on a whitewater rafting trip you will not forget. We will visit the famous Pacuare which National Geographic has as one of the top 5 on the planet. We will raft a section that we use for families with small kids. We will not be rafting what they call the Pacuare canyon which has the larger rapids. Don't worry it is still a great adventure and everyone will get soaked. After the adventure we plan on making a stop in a local village where we will visit the famous "Dona Fressy" who is a master at making crafts out of recycled goods. The kids will love the visit and a great learning stop and a chance to spend some time with the locals. We will also enjoy dinner at Dona Fressy's as she is quite the cook. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Liddia, We have plenty of references also
July 7th Day 7 ------------ Visit Irazu Volcano Crater (Airport Hotel)

We will drive to the tallest crater in all of Costa Rica which is over 10,000ft. This is a great view of all of Costa Rica and a chance to see both coast. After visiting the Irazu volcano crater we will make the drive to the area of the airport. (Meals:Breakfast)

July 8th Day 8 ------------ Drive to the Airport and Fly Home!

 Well it is the last day to pack up your memories and make the trip home and start planning your second Costa Rica adventure!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Costa Rica Spanish School

About Us
Welcome to the Costa Rica Spanish School that you will not want to leave. Our Spanish School has been developed over the years and is now what many consider the best place to live in all of Costa Rica. Don't let the secret out though we like our life-style of living in the beautiful cool calm mountains with views of the smoking Turrialba Voclano in place you will never forget called Sitio de Mata.

Sunset view from Sitio de Mata
It started 10 years ago when Tom Ranieri started rafting the Pacuare River. His closest friend Marlon was from a nearby village called Sitio de Mata where Tom stayed during his rafting years.  It was here that Tom's future company Costa Rican Resource began bringing student groups to do homestays and show the kids some of the most amazing people on Earth. Tom describes one of the best moments in this village: "Every group we walk up to a ridge just 10 minutes from the houses and sit there with the groups students as a number of sloths look down on us and we all watch the sun set over the Turrialba Volcano lighting up the sky and seeing an endless row of mountains turn to darkness". Tom's partner Marlon has been running things in Sitio de Mata with no intention of making things bigger.  The idea of our project is to keep it simple with first class service from learning linguistics to being surrounded by the "real Costa Rica".

The "Dream Team" of Homestay Moms
The name of the village is Sitio de Mata and it is called the eternal Spring. Here you will notice there are no bars on the windows as in many parts of Costa Rica But you aren't out in the middle of nowhere either. You are just a 15 minute bus ride to the larger town of Turrialba and in the small village of Sitio de Mata you see the valley below and across the valley is a nice little or big treat of the smoking Turrialba Volcano. This is such a scenic area that even one of Costa Rica's smallest but finest hotels is in the area. The Hacienda Tayutic is just in front of your classroom. It is such the perfect setting that even George Clooney made the suprise visit to relax in this rural village of complete paradise just to get away from it all. But what makes for the perfect environment for a Costa Rica Spanish school is so much more as you can see in the video below:

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Got Candy?
Our idea is to show the value of living in a community and the importance to the young kids in the area and visiting students to experience the beautiful area of Sitio de Mata. This Costa Rica Spanish school is very limited on space and does not open itself up to large groups. You will often find just around 15 students in the total school and many times less.

What has made this Spanish school the huge success it has been is without a doubt the people of the village. Yes, it is located in one of the most beautiful parts of Costa Rica away from all the hussle and bussle but the real beauty of this village comes from it's people.

If you want to learn Spanish and be forced to talk it in all moments of the day then this is the school for you. If you want to experience a Spanish School in Costa Rica not only on a different culture level but experience it in making friendships that will last a lifetime then this is the school for you. Join us as we take you into the  village of Sitio de Mata and you can be a part of our Sitio de Mata Project which has been a positive influence on the village and more importantly everyone who visits can take some of the easy way of life back to their societies abroad.
Dona Fressy con Aranza
The idea for our Spanish School was to give more people visiting Costa Rica a chance to visit this amazing village and also to visit Dona Fressy. Dona Fressy is the mother of Marlon who was Tom's rafting buddy in the Pacuare. After Tom started bringing student groups and other families to visit Dona Fressy we started to see the impact these visits had on people. Some groups would do everything from sending Fressy beautiful gifts, cards, to returning year after year. It was the simplicity of living that got everyone's attention of how Dona Fressy not only got herself to a very comfortable simple style of living but also rallied up the entire village to be a village of constant social activities and improvements of everything from education to unique conservation projects. As a byproduct of sharing their culture with visitors, the young people of the village have developed into one of the best Costa Rica dance groups in the area.

The awareness of Dona Fressy did not go un-noticed. In 2009 Dona Fressy to nobodies surprise was honored with an award that is based on an international level for making a positive impact on the environment through her community work.


Last day of Classes
Your classes during your stay in Sitio de Mata are located with views of the valley below. The weather is perfect and the sounds of birds will fill the air as you try and get all those new verbs conjugated. Just like the village our goal is to try and make things simple for you. Your classes will be small never more than 5 students to a class.

Everyday classes will begin at 8am and go until 12pm; and you will get a break during your four hour sessions. Wednesday classes are the community class where we take you outside of the classroom and into the city to either visit a fruit market, stores, or many other daily activities that you might encounter.

The classes are also operated on the level of Spanish that you feel comfortable with. Upon arrival you will be placed into a beginner, intermediate, or advance level. We want you to feel as if nobody is holding you back or that you are not holding anyone else back in the class so comfort of being at the right level is one of our most important qualities when looking to place you into the right level.

Our teachers are all qualified University trained and Costa Rican natives. Don't worry we plan on filling you in on all the native slang of Costa Rica.



Homestay Room 
Tom Ranieri has been dealing with homestays all over Costa Rica for the last 12 years. Tom says he considers these families "...the Dream Team of Homestays, without a doubt these are the families everyone wants to be part of". The only problem is that student groups always want to go back and visit these families making the itineraries of student groups always stopping in Sitio de Mata year after year.

The average income of the families of Sitio de Mata is lower than those of the Central Valley and it is a nice economic boost to the family to have a guest in the house. What we like best about having this school here is that we can not only teach those interested in learning Spanish but we can also teach that living simple can be a good living.  You will notice so much fun and laughter filled with times of quietness and peace as you enjoy your homestay and this village. You will also see that the living simple can also mean living very clean and comfortable. You have all the community of family members around and also less noise and more space as compared to being confined to the city.

Another important note about our homestays is the food. There is much attention and time invested into making each meal a special meal and something that is not just there for a filler. You will enjoy some of the freshest fruit drinks and also some of the most amazing meals as you will want to bring your homestay family back in your suitcase.

Day Tours

Whitewater Rafting Costa Rica
Pacuare River
National Geographic has the Pacuare River as one of the top five rivers on the planet and just so you know, it is running in the back yard of the Sitio de Mata Village. So you can imagine that getting you rafting during your stay is not a problem. There are rivers for everyone in the area. If you are looking for adventure then we will take you on the Pacuare River Rafting Adventure or even more. If you just want an easier ride we will take you on the Pejibaye River.

Rappeling Waterfalls
There is also the tour of rappeling waterfalls which is quite the adventure. We will gear you up and get your ready for one of the most exciting adventures of your stay. This is a half day trip and we can have you back in the village before it is time for dinner.

Coffee Tour
When it comes to Costa Rica we all know it is time for coffee. There are a number of plantations in the Turrialba area and the process of learning how to get the coffee from the plant to your cup is quite interesting.

Dona Fressy Crafts
Every student visiting Sitio de Mata gets some activities included. The most unforgetable is always hanging out with Dona Fressy. She will teach you everything you need to know about living simple and making it work for you. Fressy has been awarded prizes on an international level for her recycling initiatives. She is also the one incharge of our included activities which is a 2 hour a week course on working with recycled goods. She could probably make the plane you plan to fly home on out of a milk carton if you asked her to. She also is quite the bag lover and most opt to learn how she makes bags and wallets.

Dance Classes
See you soon
There is much discussion of which Latin American country has the best dancers. That is a subject we will not even dare to bring up but we will say that in Sitio de Mata they do quite the job of giving you the basics on how to get that mojo going. Your dance lessons will be for one hour a week and you will learn the basics of Salsa and Merengue.

Cooking Classes

If you get hungry which never seems to be the case in the Sitio de Mata cooking classes because your homestays have amazing cooks, don't worry because you will be an expert tortilla maker after your one hour a week of learning how to make tortillas. Chances are your first tortilla will come out looking like the shape of Florida but after a few tries you will get it.

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We have to get back before dinner!!!

1-Week $290
2-Week $580
3-Week $870
4-Week $1160

Planning a Family Vacation to Costa Rica

When planning a family vacation it should not be the time when you build up so much stress in your life that you will feel you will need a vacation from your vacation. Here you can find some simple ideas for planning your vacation and some things you might not have thought about when visiting Costa Rica in comparing it to other parts of the world you might have visited.

Educate the Kids Before Arrival 

If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica you are not only visiting the beautiful beaches and fast ziplines but you are also visiting a biological playground where people from all over the world come to study and learn about the many wonders of our planet. It is a simple task to just break the ice with your kids and give them some basic info on the rainforest, biodiversity, volcanoes and many other wonders.

Tour Companies, Guides, & Hotels

First of all if you are planning a trip with young children,  you know they will want to stay active. This is an easy task in Costa Rica as there is much to do for kids of all ages. If you decide to choose some of the many adventure sports don't be afraid to go with the smaller outfitters as they are often much more personalized which is important when traveling with small kids. One idea is to do some research online or ask for references from past clients. You can find out online these days pretty quickly if a company is reputable and what the guides are like.

When you are not enjoying an adventure many parents like to have their kids be able to watch TV for a few hours in the afternoon and many hotels in Costa Rica do not have TV and I have seen in many cases that parents were not aware of that. Don't worry this is not a bad thing and it might actually be a good thing. When looking at the hotel make sure that they have a guide on hand. This is very important and many hotels will often have a guide literally on-call where nature hikes and simple educational things for the kids are always an option. If you have hired a personal guide for your entire week which is highly suggested but is an extra expense, then they will always find something for the kids to do. If you're doing a privately guided tour, just confirm with the company you are booking with that you will have the same guide throughout your trip. Do not get caught with thinking you have a private guide but really it is just on certain days.

Also when looking at hotels do not go by the website. We highly suggest using Trip Advisor. Hotels sites are not always what they appear. Costa Rica is the process of subduction of two tectonic plates and not to sound scientific, but in simple terms that means there are often a lot of stairs and hotels are often built in the side of a cliff. This is important to know if you have a stroller or small kids you have to carry. You do not want to be stuck in a room 200 steps down from where you will eat dinner. Ask where the rooms are located.

Transportation and Drive Time

Costa Rica is a place that is small but very rugid to get around. Even with the new modern highways there are still a lot of mountains and you will always find a dirt road. There are often tourism vans that can be rented and many companies use them. They may provide more room but slower travel times. If you are a family of 4 or 5 you can ask your tour company to use a large SUV which cuts drive time down in half and handle very well on the dirt roads.

Also if you really want to get travel time down, then the in-country flights are very reputable and have a perfect safety record. These airlines are Sansa and Nature Air. If your group is up to 7 people then it makes sense to even charter you own flight and you can leave at the time you choose. Plus this is a great way to see this beautiful country from above.

Also when the kids are young the drives are always twice as long. This is very important if you do not want to do your own driving. Make sure you are aware of driving distances. Many companies will try and do everything in the week long trip but not fill you in on drive time. The trip looks absolutely amazing but when you add in half of it being on a curvy mountain road with no dramamine for the kids it turns into a vacation from hell. Costa Rica is small country but don't make the mistake of looking at a map or asking for distances because that information is irrelevant, it is important that you ask for "drive time". Many tours often include a stop on the way which makes great sense and really breaks up a travel day. Costa Rica has boomed with tourism and you can almost always find something on the way and if a company tells you there is nothing on the way that might be your first indication to look for a different company.

The Beach and the Mountains

When planning a family vacation, I can imagine most might want to go visit the beaches. Keep in mind that Costa Rica is known for its surfing waves. This can be a good thing but there are many beaches where the waves are too rough for kids to play around in. You want to do your research and make sure that the beach you visit is safe for the kids.

When visiting the mountains of Costa Rica there are a number of different places to stay but not always a lot to do for the kids. A good guide can make a walk in the woods really interesting & safe for children. The mountains of Costa Rica are some of the most bio-diverse places on the planet when dealing with plants and animals and they get all this bio-diversity because of the rain. Always when traveling in Costa Rica be prepared for rain and if you visit the mountains two nights is usually all you need because it can sometimes be cloudy both days.

Costa Rica is the perfect country for a family vacation being a fun and safe environment that all kids can enjoy. It is the small details to every vacation that are worth paying attention to and if you have any questions we are always ready give you free advice.

Walter Sample Adventure Itinerary

July 18th ---------- Arrive to San Jose Airport (Hotel San Jose Area)

Sleeping Behind a Waterfall
Today your private guide will meet you at the airport and take you to your first hotel. I will start the tour on July 19th as I will be finishing a tour on this day the 18th so I will plan on meeting up with you on the morning of the 19th. (Meals: None)

July 19th ---------- Drive and hike into Cavern (Sleep Behind Waterfall)

Today I will pick you and the family up from your hotel early and we will plan on leaving the hotel around 6am. The reason for leaving early is because we will be driving south into the mountains between Dominical and San Isisdro. This is about a 3 1/2 hour drive but with the new highways on the coast it really isnt that bad. Everyone will get a good chance to stretch their legs on the intense hike to the top of the ridge. I have taken kids as small as 6 years old on this hike so it is nothing too strenuous. When we arrive we will have lunch prepared for you and then gear up for the waterfall rappel. This is a rappel of around 140ft. After the rappel we will take a short hike to the top of Diamante Falls which is a 600ft waterfall and an amazing place to be standing. Then in the evening we will light a camp fire and enjoy a nice dinner behind the falls. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

July 20th ---------- Hike to pools and then drive to Trogon Lodge (Trogon Lodge)

Pacuare Camp
Today we will wake up and have breakfast and then hike to another waterfall that has a great little jumping rock for everyone if they want to swim in the pools and jump from a rock. We will then make our way back to the cavern for lunch and hike out after lunch. We will get back into the car and make our way to the Cerro de la Muerte and stay at the Trogon Lodge. This is a great little rustic lodge up in the mountains at an elevation of 9,000ft so you will get a feel for a big change in tempature and elevation. I like this place for families because they have a little pond and the kids often like to fish for dinner. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

July 21st ------------ Enter Pacuare River Rafting Adventure (Pacuare Camp)

Pacuare River
Today we will take you to what National Geographic has listed as one of their top 5 rivers on the planet. I have been running this river for the last 12 years and it is still the most scenic place I have found in this country. We will spend the morning rafting and then stop for lunch and we will prepare a river lunch for you and just enjoy life on the river. After lunch we will raft for another hour and then arrive to our camp site. This is tent camping but it is not roughing it by anymeans. There are very nice bathrooms and dining area and it is surrounded by lush rainforest and makes for one of the most pristine settings.

July 22nd ------------ Raft Pacuare Canyon and Drive to Arenal (Arenal Hotel)

Today we will raft the remainder of the Pacuare River. It will be a private trip and depending on the water level we have no problem making this run. I will say though if the level is high then we will take out before the end of the river making it just the one day of rafting but chances are this will not happen but I do not like people to be suprised if it does. It is actually a fun drive out if we have to take out early which is a nice little adventure. After the river we will make the drive to the Arenal Volcano. (Meals: Breakfast and Lunch)

July 23rd ------------- Zipline & Danaus Reserve (Arenal Hotel)

Quetzal in Monteverde
Today it will be time for the best zipline in all of Costa Rica and also a private nature reserve that is one of my favorites. It is a great spot to show the kids reforestation and lots of wildlife in a small area. (Meals: Breakfast)

July 24th -------------- Visit La Fortuna Falls & Travel to Monteverde in the Afteroon (Montverde Hotel)

We will wake up this morning and make the hike to the La Fortuna Falls. This is a beautiful waterfall and a chance to enjoy nature and take a swim down below if you are up for it. In the evening it will be time to drive to the Monteverde area. (Meals: Breakfast)

July 25th --------------- Visit Montverde Reserve & Night Hike Monteverde (Monteverde Hotel)

Here you will visit the Monteverde Reserve. This is where nature lovers can get a real feel for life in the cloud-forest. After a hike in morning to the reserve we can also plan a night hike which kids absolutely love seeing all the different critters that come out at night. (Meals: Breakfast)

July 26th - July 30th ---------- Your Guanacaste Stay (Guanacaste Hotel)

From what I have seen it is best we we just drop you off at the hotels in Guanacaste. Economically it does not make much sense for you to have to hire a guide/driver for them to be on call. Let me know what you think?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Costa Rica Family Tour $825/person

Day 1 ---------- Arrive and Drive to La Condesa (La Condesa)

Raft Pacuare River
Your private adventure guide will meet you at the airport where you will make the short drive to the first hotel which is located in the mountains of Heredia on the slopes of the Barva Volcano. Here you will have chance to enjoy the relaxing grounds of the hotel and get some rest before the big adventures of the week. (Meals: None)

Day 2 ---------- Visit Irazu Volcano and Drive to Casa Turire (Casa Turire Hotel)

We leave the hotel after breakfast today and make the drive to Costa Rica's tallest volcano. This is an amazing hike that will literally put you at the top of the country and give you a bird's eye view of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Irazu Volcano is at around 11,000ft. Here we will make a short hike to the crater. After the Irazu visit we will drive to Casa Turire Hotel which everyone really enjoys. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 3 ---------- Raft Pacuare River and Drive to Arenal Volcano (Casa Luna Lodge)

Without a doubt the next adventure is my favorite thing to do in the off-seasons and chances are it will be your favorite part of the trip. The Pacuare River is one of National Geographic's top rivers on the planet and it is filled with waterfall and beautiful canyons. We will be on the river for around three hours and after the river we will take you to the Arenal Volcano which is Costa Rica's perfectly cone-shaped volcano and one of the ten most active volcanos on the planet. You will have a beautiful view of the volcano from your hotel. (Meals: Breakfast & Lunch)

Day 4 ---------- Zipline Costa Rica (Casa Luna Lodge)

If the rafting was not enough adventure then the 700ft high cable above the primary rainforest should do the trick. Here you will get the chance to enjoy the best zipline in all of Costa Rica. Out of all the ziplines in the country this is the best. Not only is it high and fast but the views of the volcano on a clear day and of the lake are just unmatched by other ziplines and makes you feel like you are something out of Jurrassic Park (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 5 ---------- Drive to Manuel Antonio (Beach Hotel)

Today I am going to drive you to Manuel Antonio and I will make some stops on the way to keep it interesting. This is a beautiful drive and the final destination is one of Costa Rica's most beautiful beaches. Actually I would have to say it is Costa Rica's most beautiful beach. The monkeys still out populate the tourist in this area. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 6 ---------- Visit National Park (Beach Hotel)

Manuel Antonio National Park
Today is your day to visit the National Park. This is a walk through the National Park and you will be on your own but it is very close to the hotel and simple hiking to the nearby trails that are filled with wildlife. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 7 ---------- Beach Day to Relax (Beach Hotel)

Today is your day to relax. There are a number of optional tours in the area to choose from or you can just enjoy the public beach that is just infront of the hotel. The waves are perfect and there is always the option of going back into the park to visit the beautiful beaches of the National Park. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 8 ---------- Transfer to San Jose Airport and Fly Home!

Today I will pick you up from the beach hotel and drive you back to the San Jose Airport area. This is a short drive of just around 2 hours on Costa Rica's new highway. (Meals: Breakfast)

Cost: $825/person (Based on Group of 4)
Includes: All private transportation with driver/guide, all meals listed, all lodging, all tours and adventur

Costa Rica Ultimate Family Adventure $950/person

Day 1 ------------- Arrive and Drive to La Condesa (La Condesa)

Sleeping Behind a Waterfall
Today your adventure guide will meet you at the airport. I will transfer you to the first hotel which is located in the mountains of Heredia just 30 minutes from the airport. Here you will get a chance to rest up and your guide will go over some instructions for the week to get you ready for the adventures. This is one of the best trips that every guide wants to be a part of as you will be visiting some of the most beautiful and nature filled areas of Costa Rica. (Meals: None)

Day 2 ------------- Drive to Dominical (Villas Gaia)

Today is a travel day to Dominical. It will only take a couple of hours and there will be some stops along the way to make it interesting. It is a beautiful drive and when you arrive you will have  time to visit the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. You will be staying in a very nice hotel on a river and in walking distance to the beach. There is an absolutely amazing view from the pool of the endless blue Pacific Ocean. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 3 ------------ Zipline, Tarzan Swing, & Visit the Beach (Villas Rio Mar)

Waterfall Rappel
Today you will be doing one of the better ziplines in Costa Rica. I have to put this one up there with my favorites. The cables for the zipline are high and fast but the best part about this adventure is the tarzan swing. Yes that is right you will be doing a tarzan swing that is on a ridge 1,000ft above sea-level looking out over the southern part of Costa Rica. One of the more scenic places you can possibly imagine in Costa Rica. After the tarzan swing we will take you to a beautiful beach called Ventanas which means windows and happens to be one of a kind when it comes to beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 4 ------------ Enter Cavern & Rappel Waterfall (Sleep Behind a Waterfall)

Well, let the adventure begin. We will take the car off-roading and arrive to the point where the car can go no farther. It is here where we begin to hike our way up the ridge and finally reach a place that you will never forget. This is truly one of the most beautiful places in the America's and you will be staying here for the night. When we arrive we will be setting up ropes and rappeling down a waterfall and then sleeping behind the same waterfall in a large cavern. Take a look at the video: Costa Rica Sleeping behind a waterfall in the Diamante Canyon (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 5 ------------ Hike to Pools and then drive to Turrialba (Turrialba Hotel)

Pacaure River Canyon
Today we will hike to the pools where you will get the chance to jump off a waterfall that is 20ft high into a beautiful pristine pool. This is a nice little hike and well worth the visit to even more and more beautiful jungle and waterfalls. After the hike we will head out of the cavern after a nice hearty lunch and then on to the next stop which is Turrialba. Here you will be staying in the town which is over looked by one of Costa Rica's tallest and smoking volcano--the Turrialba Volcano. (Meals: Breakfast  & Lunch)

Day 6 ------------ Enter Pacuare River 2-Day Rafting Trip (Camp Pacuare River)

Today we will start the day by doing some more off-roading and arriving to the top part of Costa Rica's most favous river the Pacuare River. I have been running this river for 10 years and it is still one of the things I enjoy doing in my spare time along with hanging out with my black Lab. When it comes to running the river there is nothing better than just spending the night on it. After our morning rafting trip down the river we'll enjoy a picnic lunch on the side of the river then wind up staying at a camp-site that is by no means roughing it. There are very nice bathrooms set up and all tents are above ground. Myself and some other guides will be preparing dinner for you and get everything set for another amazing night in the jungle surrounded by nature.

Day 7 ------------ Raft Pacuare Canyon and drive to airport hotel (Airport Hotel)

Pacuare Camping in the Jungle
Today is the serious day of rafting. We will be visiting the part of this river that makes it famous and it is called the Pacuare Canyon. It is filled with beautiful waterfalls and walls that run straight up where the river has carved its way through the jungle over million of years. After we make our way through the canyon we will then go through another beautiful national park called Braulio Carrillo which connects to the San Jose area.  Here you will be staying at an airport hotel for flight home on Day 8. (Meals: Breakfast and Lunch)

Day 8 ------------ Fly Home!

Today I will pick you up and drive you to the airport where you will catch your flight back and we can start planning your next Costa Rica Family Adventure as there is plenty more to see! (Meals: Breakfast)

Costa Rica Family Adventure $875/person

Take a look at an amazing and affordable private adventure to Costa Rica. We are running tours as low as possible so entire families can have a chance to experience the best adventures in Costa Rica.

Day 1 --------- Arrive and Drive to La Condesa Hotel (La Condesa)

Waterfall Rappel
One of the nicer hotels in the mountains of Heredia is La Condesa. You will be met at the airport with your private guide and driver. Today is a long travel day and we will get you to the first hotel with time to relax in the pool. (Meals: None)

Day 2 --------- Rappel 200ft Waterfall (La Condesa)

Today the adventure will begin and all we ask you to do is walk off a 200ft waterfall. Your guide will be taking you to one of the more beautiful waterfalls in all of Costa Rica and a chance to rappel down. This is an amazing adventure and a chance to get wet and get the adventure trip started. After the day of rappeling you will have some time back at La Condesa hotel. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 3 ---------- Visit Irazu Volcano Crater and Stay at Casa Turire Hotel (Casa Turire)

We will leave early in the morning and visit Costa Rica's tallest volcano. This is a chance to see both coast at the same time and get a cloud's view of the entire country of Costa Rica. After we make the short hike to look down into the crater which will have us at an elevation of around 11,000ft., we will end up at Casa Turire Hotel. Over the years Casa Tirire  has become one of my favorite hotels in all of Costa Rica. It is small and the setting is absolutely perfect. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 4 ----------- Raft Pacuare River and Drive to Arenal Volcano (Casa Luna)
Pacuare River Rafting Adventure

Today you will raft the Pacuare River which is listed by a magazine named National Geographic as one of the top five rivers in the world. I have been rafting this river for almost 10 years now and it is still to this day my favorite part about Costa Rica. Don't worry I will do my best to keep the family in the raft. We will be on the river for around three hours and we will even have some pictures of you from a kayak that you can take home as a souvenir. After the river rafting we will head to the Arenal Volcano where you will see one of the ten most active volcanos on the planet. From your room at the hotel of Casa Luna you will have an amazing view of the volcano and a perfect spot to relax until the next adventure. (Meals: Breakfast and Lunch)

Day 5 ----------- Zipline & Visit La Fortuna Falls (Casa Luna)

If you have not had enough adventure on the waterfall rappel or rafting then maybe zipping across the rainforest at 700ft. will do the trick. I remember when I first moved to Costa Rica in 1998 there were just a few ziplines and now they are everywhere. The one we plan to go to on this itinerary is without a doubt my favorite. It is a beautiful view of the voclano and the lake below and primary rainforest. After the zipline we will take a hike through some more rainforest and visit one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of the Americas. In the evening back to the hotel to relax in the pool with the volcano watching! (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 6 ------------ Drive to Manuel Antonio (Beach Hotel)
Manuel Antonio National Park

This is a travel day and you will get dropped off at the beach hotel of Espadilla which is a very nice hotel close to Costa Rica's most beautiful National Park of Manuel Antonio. Here you will have the chance to see more monkeys than you can handle and even the endemic squirrel monkey passes through everyday at around 4:30pm. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 7 ------------- Beach Day (Beach Hotel)

Today is your day to relax and enjoy the ocean. You have the option of going to visit the National Park or Manuel Antonio or you can just enjoy the pool at the hotel. Either way you look at it it will be just another day in paradise. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 8 -------------- Transfer to San Jose Airport 

Today your driver and guide will pick you up at the hotel and drive you back to the San Jose airport. This is not a bad drive as they have built a new highway that makes it very smooth and quick to get back to the San Jose airport from the Central Pacific. (Meals: Breakfast)

Cost: $895/person
Includes: All private transportation with driver and guide, all meals listed, all adventures and tours listed, all lodging.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pacuare 2-Day Rafting Trip

Pacuare Canyon
Ready for some adventure? Join us in a 2-Day rafting trip down the famous Pacuare River. This is a trip surrounded by nature in Costa Rica's most beautiful river. Your meals are prepared and you are waited on as if you were fine dining in the jungle. A great adventure to bring the kids on as they will love you for it. Take a look at the itinerary:

Day 1 ---------------- Leave San Jose 6am and stop for breakfast in Cervantes at 8am. After we finish breakfast we will make our way to the Pacuare River where we will gear up and start our rafting adventure. We will raft for two hours and then stop for lunch along the side of the river where your guides will prepare a river lunch for you. After lunch we will raft to the camp-site where everyone will have their above ground tent all prepared. Once we arrive to the camp site you can take some showers put some dry clothes on and then relax in the hammocks surrounded by jungle. We will have dinner for you around 7pm. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)
Hammock Area to Relax

Day 2 ---------------- We will wake up this morning with the sound of the river and jungle. After a few cups of coffee or tea and a nice hearty breakfast we will take off on the famous Pacuare canyon. This is the most scenic part of the river and one of the most scenic parts of Costa Rica as you will visit large canyons and beautiful waterfalls. We will finish rafting around 12noon and then have lunch and head back to the San Jose area arriving around 3pm. (Meals: Breakfast)

Cost: $210/person (Based on 4 or more)
Includes: Transportation to and from San Jose, all meals listed, guides and cooks, all rafting equipment and camping gear