Monday, October 31, 2011

Sample Itin Feb. 12th - 19th

Feb. 12th --------- Arrive (Grano de Oro)

Arenal Volcano
Today you will arrive and being a long day of travel I have you staying near the airport at a very nice hotel called Grano de Oro. This is a small hotel but one of the finest places to eat and a beautiful setting. It is sort of the pearl of San Jose because there is not much for kids to really enjoy in the city. If you arrived on mid-day or early afternoon flight I would say we make the 2 1/2 hour drive to Arenal to get the trip started which would give an extra day at the beach on the later end of the trip.  With this extra day at the beach we could do some rafting in a nearby river which is through the jungle and chance to see some beautiful waterfalls and enjoy a river lunch. (Meals: None)
Nayara Resort

Drive Time: 20 minutes from airport to Grano de Oro Hotel

Feb. 13th --------- Drive to Arenal Volcano (Nayara Resort)

Today we will make the trip to the famous Arenal Volcano. This is a perfectly cone-shaped volcano which is exactly what you picture a volcano to be compared to the many others volcanos in the country that just look like your average mountain. The drive is around 2 1/2 hours and we will check in to the hotel and enjoy the grounds and the view of the volcano. (Meals: Breakfast)

Drive Time: 2 1/2 hours from Grano de Oro Hotel to Arenal Volcano (Nayara Resort)

Feb. 14th --------- Zipline & Waterfall Hike (Nayara Resort)

Today we will zipline. There are many ziplines in the country but I feel this one will work the best. The little ones will not be able to take part but they can enjoy the ride in the gandola tram through the canopy with your naturalist guide while you guys ride the ziplines that have excellent views of the volcano and hang 700ft above the rainforest floor. In the afternoon we will take a hike to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Costa Rica. This is chance to swim at the bottom but you do have to hike 500 steps down and up. The little one can stay at the top with the nanny from the view point where they can see the waterfall from above. (Meals: Breakfast)

Drive Time: All tours are local today

Feb. 15th --------- Organic Farm/Canyoneering & HotSprings (Nayara Resort)

Visiting the Organic farm is fun because it is a farm that is run organically and has animals and the owner of the farm is a high energy guy with a machete that kids usually enjoy. Not to mention the meal is one of the best in the country. This would just be for a lunch visit. Another option would be to go canyoneering which even the 7 year old can take part in. This is a great adventure that I know the little guy will love but the 3 year old will have to stay with the Nanny at the hotel. In the evening we will make our way to the Hotsprings where you can enjoy the thermal waters. We will visit the hotsprings that have a slide which the kids love and even our guides enjoy. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Drive Time: All tours are local

Feb. 16th --------- Drive to Manuel Antonio (Arenas del Mar)

Today we will drive to Manuel Antonio. Although it is a long travel day it is not that bad. We will make some stops on the way and be to the Pacific Ocean by lunch time. The Manuel Antonio area is one of the finest beaches you will find in Costa Rica. It is home to where the mountains and rainforest meet the white sandy beaches. They say there are still more monkeys than people in the area. The place you will be staying at is Arenas del Mar which has one of the best views of the Pacific and you hear the waves crashing below and also have a private beach that is a nice option if you want to get away from the crowds. (Meals: Breakfast)

Drive Time: 4 1/2 hours
Hola Nick!

Feb. 17th --------- Visit National Park (Arenas del Mar)

Today we will all make our way into the National Park. It is located near the hotel and we will make the flat walk between two of Costa Rica's most beautiful and protected beaches. The park is filled with wildlife and a chance for everyone to see it up close. Your naturalist guide will keep you informed on the tropical rainforest and the different animals in the area. In the afternoon you can enjoy the beaches more or make your way to the beaches and just relax. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Manuel Antonio
Feb. 18th --------- Enjoy Beach (Arenas del Mar)

Today is a day to enjoy the beach. You can finish the book you were reading or we can take you down to do some snorkeling in the area as we discussed on the phone. It is not the best but some days you do get lucky and see quite a bit of fish so you never know and it is a great day of swimming in beautiful water  that is around 80 degrees and sunny during Feb. (Meals: Breakfast)

Feb. 19th -------- Fly Home!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

West Hills Camp Costa Rica

Surf Classes
Day 1 ---------- Arrive and Drive to Dominical (Beach Hotel)

Today we will meet you outside of the airport and make the drive to the Pacific coast. We will be staying in small little beach town called Dominical. This is a great place in walking distance to the water. It will be a long travel day and we will get you in the hotel and rested for the weeks adventure. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 2 ---------- Surf & Enjoy Beach (Beach Hotel)

Today you can sleep in and then it is up for some surfing after everyone gets rested. Your group will be privately instructed on how to surf and every kid will get a board. This is a great learning activity and a chance to spend the day on the beach. In the evening it is back to the hotel and enjoy a meal as a group. If you are interested in doing evening activities as part of West Hill curriculum we can do them during the evenings. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 3 ---------- Enter Cavern & Rappel Waterfall (Sleep in Cavern)

Today we will enter the cavern. This is one of Costa Rica's most beautiful areas and a chance to challenge the kids on a 2 hour hike that is a bit strenuous (nothing your average high school kid can not handle). When we arrive to the cavern we will eat lunch behind 3 waterfalls and then rappel the largest fall. This is a rappel of over 120ft and absolutely beautiful. We will then hike to a 600ft fall and have amazing views from the upper area. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 4 ---------- Hike to Pools & Drive to Turrialba (Casa Turire)

Today we will hike to the pools where you will have the chance to jump off a waterfall into the pools below. After we jump off the waterfall it will be time for lunch. We then will make our way over to the Turrialba area driving over Costa Rica's tallest mountain range. This is a beautiful drive. After sleeping in the cave we like to give everyone a good nights rest so we will be staying in the Casa Turire hotel which is a great spot close to the river for the next day of adventure. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 5 ---------- Raft Pacuare River (Camp on River)

Camp Pacuare
Today it is what we consider the best adventure of the week. National Geographic has this listed as one of the top 5 rivers on the planet. The world rafting championships were held here last month and we are proud to say our guides placed 9th in the planet (3 of our own river guides were on the Costa Rica National Team). Here we will put in the river and have a half day of rafting as we make our way to the campsite. This is a great camp site where everything is set up for you with tents above ground and we prepare the food for you. If you would like to do some evening activities this is a great place to do some games along side the river surrounded by primary rainforest. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 6 ---------- Raft & Drive to Arenal Volcano (Arenal Hotel)

The first 2 hours of rafting today are some of the best you will find on the planet. Not only are the rapids good but you get the most scenic part of the Pacuare River. Here you will see canyons and waterfalls that fall into the river. If the river was not enough beauty for you the day will end by driving to the pefectly cone-shaped Arenal Volcano. This is like nothing you have seen in NY and a spot worth visiting when in Costa Rica. When we arrive to the hotel we will have dinner waiting for you upon arrival. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 7 ---------- Zipline (Arenal Hotel)

If you are going to zipline in Costa Rica there are over 100 different ones to choose from. We highly suggest picking the one on the side of the Arenal Volcano. This is one of the highest (700ft), fastest, and not to mention it has a close up view of the volcano. In the afternoon the kids will have chance to do some souvenir shopping and enjoy their last night in Costa Rica. We will plan an evening farewell activity. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

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

Today we will make the drive to the airport and catch the flight home!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Round 2 from Chi-Town!

Hacienda Tayutic
Day 1 ------ Arrive & Drive to Turrialba (Hacienda Tayutic)

Today we will meet you at the airport and make the drive to the Turrialba area. You will be staying in the Hacienda Tayutic which is a beautiful Hacienda actually located in the village you visited the last time you were in the area. It is a beautiful place with amazing views of the valley below and the smoking Turrialba volcano. It will give you a chance to enjoy a "real experience" which I know you guys love. (Meals: None)

Day 2 ------ Duckies in Pejibaye River (Hacienda Tayutic)

I also know you guys love the water so it is another trip filled with plenty of water. Since you are the experts after having rafted some of Costa Rica's best this time we will be taking you on the Pejibaye river which is a smaller river of class II & III rapids but we will make it challenging by allowing you to be in your own private raft. This is a one person raft and you will have a kayak paddle as we play follow the leader down a beautiful river and a chance to stear your own boat. (Meals: Breakfast & Lunch)

Day 3 ------ Enter Pacuare River (Pacuare Lodge)

You know this river well and this year we will be starting about 5 miles higher up river than we did last time. We will have a nice day of rafting, hiking, and then a river lunch as we make our way to the half way point where you will be staying in the beautiful Pacuare Lodge. This place is amazing and one of the finest hotels you will find in the country and it just happens to be tucked away in the jungle on the Pacuare River. If you have to sleep in the jungle you mine as well treat yourself to a little luxury. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 4 ------ Leave Pacuare River and Drive to Caribbean (Almonds & Corals)

Today we will raft the famous Pacuare Canyon which is home to the class IV rapids and the most scenic areas of this river. We will make our way to the low land where we will then drive to the Caribbean Coast. Fortunately the Pacuare River drains to the Caribbean side so much of our travels was done in the river. Our final stop will be the Almonds & Corals which is a true eco-lodge. It is an amazing place that is covered in wildlife. It is more jungle and one of the only true beachfront eco-lodges I know of. It is of little to no impact to the environment with a very pleasant splash of luxury all around. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 5 ------ Snorkel Reefs (Almonds & Corals)

With over 35 different species of corals and 500 edemic fish species you will really enjoy snorkeling on the Caribbean side. This is a beautiful day in the water and some time to enjoy the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean. In the evening you can just relax at the lodge and enjoy the sounds of the many howler monkeys around your room.. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 6 ------ Visit Indigenous Tribe Bri-bri (Almonds & Corals)

If there is one group that I know would enjoy this visit it is you guys and it is a real experience as we make our way deep into the Bri-bri territory and experience a true ancient culture. We will spend the day with members of the indigenous tribe of Bri-bri as they introduce us into their culture, language, and food. In the evening it is back to the lodge to enjoy and relax at the beach. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 7 ------ Travel to San Jose (Grano de Oro)

Today you can spend the morning on the beach and then we will make the drive back to San Jose. You will be staying in the Grano de Oro hotel in San Jose which is one of my favorite hotels in all of Costa Rica. It is a great spot to stay after being jungl-fied for the last week. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 8 ------ Fly Home!

Back to Chi-Town and start planning for writing that blog!!!

Sample Itin Pacuare, Arenal, Manuel Antonio

Day 1 -------- Arrive & Drive to Turrialba (Casa Turire Hotel)

Today we will meet you outside the (SJO) San Jose airport and your private guide and driver will take you to the Casa Turire Hotel which is a beautiful hotel located in the valley of Turrialba. You will have excellent views of the smoking Turrialba volcano. (Meals: None)

Day 2 --------- Raft Pacuare River & Drive to Arenal (Casa Luna Lodge)

Rated as one of the top rivers on the planet for rafting the Pacuare River is a must do when looking for adventure and unmatched scenery. We will get an early start and spend the full day on the river. Your trip is privately run by our company allowing you to go at your own pace. After the rafting we will make our way to the Arenal Volcano where you will be staying in the Casa Luna Lodge which has excellent views of the Arenal Volcano. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 3 --------- Zipline, La Fortuna Falls, & HotSprings (Casa Luna Lodge)

There are many ziplines in Costa Rica and this is by far the best their is. It measures up to 700ft high and 1km long on 8 different cables. The best part is that you get an upclose look at the side of the Arenal Volcano. After a morning of zipline we will make our way to La Fortuna Falls where you can hike your way down to the bottom and take a swim. In the evening we will be making our way to the hotsprings where you will have a chance to relax in the thermal waters with views of the Volcano. (Meals: Breakfast & Dinner)

Day 4 --------- Canyoneering & Drive to Manuel Antonio (Beach Hotel)

A great trip and a chance to get wet, enjoy some adventure, and make your way down a canyon. We will make our way through the jungle on our hands and feet and then rappel 3 different waterfalls that measure up to 120ft each. It is a perfect morning that usually gets everyone sleeping for the afternoon drive to the beach. We will plan on trying to get to the beach before sunset so you can enjoy the view. If you want to stay in Manuel Antonio it is a touristy area and there are a number of places to stay but we do offer a place just 30 minutes south that is isolated and tucked away in the jungle it would be your own little private villa with breakfast served for you. It is really a unique place as you can see in the video. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 5 --------- Visit National Park (Beach Hotel)

Today no matter where you decide to stay an easy day trip to the Manuel Antonio National Park will be a must as you get a chance to see all the monkeys you can ever want to see. It is a beautiful park with some of Costa Rica's most pristine beaches. In the afternoon you will have the time to relax back at your hotel or just enjoy some more time in the sand. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 6 --------- Relax at Beach (Beach Hotel)

Today is your day to relax on the beach. An option might be to take on some surf lessons. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 7 --------- More Beach Time (Beach Hotel)

Another day of just relaxing by the beach or we can add some more activities. (Meals: Breakfast)

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

Today we will transport you back to the airport to catch your flight home. This would be the SJO San Jose airport and an afternoon flight would be best. (Meals: Breakfast)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Muir Itin Feb. 2012 #2

Day 1 ------- Drive to Villa Blanca Cloudforest (Villa Blanca)

Today we will pick you up at the airport an take you on a short drive just outside of the San Jose area to a beautiful cloudforest called Villa Blanca. Here you will be staying in a really neat hotel with views out over the cloudforest. The Villa Blanca hotel is a hotel that was a former home of an ex-president and now is made into a hotel that is very isolated but not far from the airport just over an hour. It is a bit chilly but not freezing and will give you a chance to see one of the most biodiverse area of the tropics. In the evening there will be a night hike where you will get the chance to see all the critters that come out at night! (Meals: None)

Day 2 ------- Visit Poas Volcano Crater (Villa Blanca)

Today we will visit the Poas Volcano Crater. This is a good starter day as it is a very easy access to the crater. We will drive to a flat short hike that is 9,000ft in elevation and is only 600mt hike on a flat service to look into the active crater of Poas. After the Poas Crater the best part of the trip is having lunch at Freddy Fresas. Here we will have the best plate of beans and rice you have ever had. We can also fit in a coffee tour on this day or just head back to Villa Blanca to enjoy the cloudforest in the afternoon. (Meals: Breakfast & Lunch)

Day 3 ------- Travel to Arenal (Manoa or Nayara)

Today we will make the short travel day to the Arenal area. Unlike the Poas Volcano the Arenal volcano we will have to look at from a distance. The drive for today is very easy and is just over one hour. You will be dropping in elevation and see the difference of the lowland tropical rainforest as compared to the cloudforest you will be coming from. Today we will arrive to the Manoa of the Nayara Resort. I put the two options because they are both very nice but if you wanted to cut cost for the trip then we could take out Nayara and replace it with Manoa. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 4 ------- Zipline & La Fortuna Falls (Manoa or Nayara)

Today we will do the zipline of the cables that run 700ft above the rainforest floor. Those that want to do the gandola ride and view the canopy will have the option along with just taking a short nature hike. In the evening we will visit the La Fortuna Falls where the older crowd can walk in and see the waterfall from a distance and the more adventurous can see it from down below if they want to hike the 633 steps down and up. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 5 ------- Canyoneering & Hotsprings (Manoa or Nayara)

Today will be the canyoneering and the hotsprings similar to the last itinerary. (Meals: Breakfast & Dinner)

Day 6 ------- Travel to Turrialba & Chocolate Tour (Casa Turire)

Today we will travel to Turrialba which is the long day of travel of around 4 hours. The good part is that it is on flat low land which makes the travel time not that bad as compared to the windy mountain roads of Costa Rica. We will stop along the way at a Cacao plantation and you will get the chance to learn about how chocolate is made and the impact it has had on the tropics.  When we arrive to Turrialba you will be staying in one of my favorite hotels Casa Turire which is a perfect spot especially if the Muir's have 7 rooms you will have half the place rented. (Meals: Breakfast & Lunch)

Day 7 ------- Raft Pacuare River (Casa Turire)

No doubt in my mind this is the best of Costa Rica. The Pacuare River is rated by National Geographic as one of the top 5 on the planet. It is truly a scenic area that is one of a kind even in Costa Rica. The rapids are great and the 3 hour run is something that you can say you did that the Mader's did not because Martha was too young. We will do a river lunch on the river. The older crowd will relax at the Casa Turire or we can have a side tour planned if they want but it is not a bad place to hang out. The Casa Turire also has amazing views of the smoking volcano of Turrialba. Also if we are in the Turrialba area we can take your for a local dinner in a nearby mountain village. This is an amazing experience where you kids can get the chance to see some local dance by kids there age that we have perform and meet the locals. The Mader's actually lived with one of the families in the village.  (Meals: Breakfast & Lunch)

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

Today we will catch the plan and fly home!

Muir Itin Feb. 2012 #1

Day 1 ----------- Arrive & Drive to Arenal (Arenal Volcano)

Today we will meet you outside of the airport. We will make it a full day of traveling as we continue to the Arenal Volcano. You will be staying in one of Costa Rica's most unique hotels called Nayara. This is a great spot that all will love which will have a great view of the Volcano from your room. (Meals: None)

Day 2 ----------- Zipline & Nature Reserve (Arenal Volcano)

The area around the Arenal Volcano has some of the best adventures in the area. During the first day we plan to start this trip off right doing a 700ft high zipline. It is run on 8 different cables and the Mader's can tell you about this one because they did it at night. They don't do it at night anymore I guess the Mader's were the only ones crazy enough to sign up for that tour. The best part about this zipline is that it has a gandola ride that the older couples can ride and get an upclose look at the canopy of the rainforest. In the evening we will take you to a nature reserve that is very easy hiking on a small reserve. This will allow everyone to get an intro to the rainforest and see some animals including the poisonous dart frogs which the kids always get a kick about. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 3 ----------- Canyoneering & Hot Springs (Arenal Volcano)

We will keep the adventure going as we make our way down the Canyon near the volcano. This is a great adventure and you will have the chance to rappel 3 different waterfalls during your trip down the canyon. You get soaked during this adventure and it is a great way to spend the day in the jungle. After the canyoneering we will head over to the hotsprings. The hotsprings basically are very luxurious pool area so you know but it is a nice place to spend the evening that the older couples can enjoy with a nice meal for eveyone. (Meals: Breakfast & Dinner)

Day 4 ----------- Travel to Manuel Antonio (Arenas del Mar)

Arenal Volcano
Today is a travel day. It wil be a great way to see the country as we will take you to the Manuel Antonio area. You will be staying in the beautiful Arenas del Mar. This is a place that has one of the best views of the Pacific in all of Costa Rica at one of it's most beautiful beaches. The Manuel Antonio area is a bit of a touristy area but the nice part about the Arenas del Mar is that it is hidden from it all. It might be a good fit for the variety of age where there is something for everyone in the area. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 5 ----------- Surf Classes (Arenas del Mar)

Today it is time to take on some waves. The waves of Manuel Antonio are great for learning how to surf and if you already know then it is a great spot to work on your skills. Today will be a day just to relax and we can take you out to eat at one of the many sunset places to eat in the Manuel Antonio area. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 6 ----------- Raft Savegre (Arenas del Mar)

Surf Classes w/ Luigi!
This happens to be my personal favorite activities in the country. Since it is where you met the Mader's on a rafting trip I figured I would include it on this trip also. The Savegre River is a great river for rafting and filled with some beautiful waterfalls and some nice rapids. It will be a day on the water and a chance to get back in time to enjoy some time in the ocean. (Meals: Breakfast & Lunch)

Day 7 ----------- Visit National Park (Arenas del Mar)

We will spend the morning doing a nature hike through one of Costa Rica's most fascinating National Parks. This is a chance to see more monkeys than people along with the perfect beach. This is a morning hike along with spending some time in the water. In the afternoon you can make your way back to the hotel to relax or enjoy the rest of the day on the beach.

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

Today we will make the 2 hour drive to the airport to catch your flight home. (Meals: Breakfast)