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Costa Rica Eco Friendly Selfdrive

San JosÚ - Iraz˙ volcano - San Gerardo de Dota - Golfito - Piedras Blancas - El Silencio - San Ramˇn - Villa Blanca Cloudforest (11 days / 10 nts)  From $N/A

Crater lake at Irazu Vulcano

Day 1: Arrival at San José - Transfer to the city hotel
Upon your arrival to Costa Rica, after passport control an agent of CANATUR will wait for you and accompany you through baggage claim and customs to the exit of the airport. Here, our English-speaking airport guide will wait for you. The transfer to your city hotel Gran Hotel Costa Rica***(*) takes approximately 30 minutes. You will receive your travel documentation on environmentally friendly banana paper including useful tips and information on Costa Rica and also on the topic of sustainability.
We chose the historic Gran Hotel for your stay, as it is located right in the city center of San José, allowing exploring the capital in a short time and by foot. On the opposite side of the hotel you find the National Theater and the “Plaza de la Cultura”, which accommodates in its basement the Gold Museum. At this museum you get an interesting insight or the country’s origins as well as on the culture and development of its natives.
Overnight: Gran Hotel Costa Rica***(*) /Standard Superior.
Sustainable criteria for this hotel: 4 CST leaves (out of 5)

Total km today: none
Total driving time today: none
Included meals today: none

Day 2: San José - Irazú volcano - San Gerardo de Dota
You start your roundtrip towards the former capital of Costa Rica, Cartago. Here, you may visit the magnificent church in the city center after heading up to the country’s highest volcano Irazú (entrance fee US$ 10.—per person). If the weather is fine, you may view the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean at once. For its high altitude of 3.432m it may get quite freezing up here.
Afterwards, you return to Cartago, from where you catch the Panamerican Highway. Soon, the road starts to ascend and winds towards the pass of Cerro de La Muerte. However, before reaching the peak, at the kilometer mark of 80km, you turn right towards the village of San Gerardo de Dota. In these heights the tropical cloud forest is growing. Apart from the rich flora, you may also observe a huge variety of rare birds, especially in the evening, before the sun disappears behind the horizon. This region is among the best places for example, to view the Quetzal bird.
Overnight: Savegre Lodge**(*)/ Junior Suite.
Sustainable criteria for this hotel: 4 CST leaves

Total km today: approx. 160 km (including the visit of the Irazú volcano)
Total driving time today: approx 4,5 hours (including the visit of the Irazú volcano)
Included meals: breakfast

Day 3: San Gerardo de Dota
Savegre Lodge maintains a huge private reserve, which you may discover today. An early birding tour to observe the Quetzal bird is also recommendable. The lodge is a family enterprise, granting work to the local population and communicating clearly its commitment to the protection of nature internally as well as externally. You may take notice of the detailed rotulation motivating to recycle, to save energy and water, there are solar cells, recycling programs, biodegradable soaps and shampoos and an elaborated waste management. On the lodge ground, typical fruits for cold climates are grown, such as apples, strawberrys and coffee. You can also observe their efforts for social aspects: Savegre Lodge supports the local school of San Gerardo, takes part in the maintanance works of the public road passing by and the employees involve in local tree plant campains. Furthermore, the lodge offers seminars to their neighbours educating them on sustainability in order to convince more and more families and companies to join them into their efforts.
Overnight: Savegre Lodge**(*)/ Junior Suite.
Sustainable criteria for this hotel: 4 CST leaves

Total km today: none
Total driving time today: none
Included meals today: breakfast

Day 4: San Gerardo - Golfito / Austrians’ Rainforest
The journey continues passing the „Cerro de la Muerto“ and descending via the town of San Isidro General to the Pacific Coast. At this point, you reach the modern coast line „La Costanera“ which you take further southwards. After Chacarita you turn right (exit Villa Briceño), pass the village of La Gamba and arrive at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.
Thanks to the help of the Austrian government and thousands of donators, large parts of untouched rainforest have been bought here and are now known as the Austrians’ Rainforest. Together with a biological station and the small lodge, this is an exemplary project for sustainable tourism. Thanks to this project, the population now earns its money from tourism activities and not as woodcutters anymore.
In the middle of this idyllic place, you spend the following two days. The afternoon is at leisure. You may relax at the cozy lodge or the swimming pool or visit the biologic station.
Overnight: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge**(*)/ Standard.
Sustainable criteria for this hotel: 3 CST leaves

Total km today: none
Total driving time today: none
Included meals today: breakfast, dinner

Days 5 - 6: Esquinas Rainforest / Piedras Blancas
During the following two days, you will have the opportunity to hike on the lodge’s own trails on your own without extra charge or together with the lodge’s biologist against a small extra charge. You may also visit the nearby Piedras Blancas National Park. Apart from that, the lodge offers a number of activities, such as a boat trip to the botanical garden “Casa Orquídeas” at Golfo Dulce, a kayaking or mountain bike tour. ARA Tours supports the Esquinas project with a donation of 10 USD.—for each guest who visits the Esquinas Rainforest within this sustainable roundtrip.
Overnight: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge**(*)/ Standard.
Sustainable criteria for this hotel: 3 CST leaves

Total km today: none
Total driving time today: none
Included meals today: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Esquinas Rainforest / Piedras Blancas - El Silencio
In the morning you still have time to enjoy the Esquinas Lodge, until you continue the roundtrip in the afternoon towards the North again. Shortly after Dominical, you reach “El Silencio”, a typical small village which joined forces in the cooperative Coopesilencio, in order to pursue environmental protection, rural tourism and sustainable agriculture. You will be accommodated in the simple hostel “Albergue El Silencio” and have different options during your stay: you may visit different nearby beaches, take a bath in a waterfall, visit palm plantations or book a horseback ride or a canopy tour.
Overnight at the simple Coopesilencio/ Bungalow.
Sustainable criteria for this hotel: Support to rural tourism, authentic cultural experience in Costa Rica

Total km today: approx. 100km
Total driving time today: approx. 2 hours
Included meals today: breakfast, lunch (at Esquinas Lodge with a p.m. departure)

Day 8: El Silencio
Albergue El Silencio is part of a protection zone with 150 ha of primary forest an 300 ha of reforested area. There are 2 walking trails available leading to a waterfall and giving you the possibility to hike some 3 hours in total. The entrance fee for the reserve is included in the rate.
As an interesting fact, the cooperative keeps its own currency, the UDIS in order to strengthen the domestic demand inside the cooperative. During your stay, you will learn some more on the advantages of this sustainable development.
Overnight at the simple Coopesilencio/ Bungalow.
Sustainable criteria for this hotel: Support to rural tourism, authentic cultural experience in Costa Rica

Total km today: none
Total driving time today: none
Included meals today: breakfast

Day 9: El Silencio - San Ramón
The road from Dominical to Quepos which was opened at the beginning of 2010 connects the two towns in only half and hour and allows you to pass quickly by the touristic centers of Manuel Antonio and Jacó. If you would like to make a stop at the Carara National Park, you may be lucky and observe a couple of the red Ara Macaws. Afterwards, you continue via Orotina and Atenas to San Ramón. Your today’s destination, Villa Blanca Cloudforest Eco Lodge is located only 10km behind the village and surrounded by the private reserve „Los Angeles“. The hotel is honoured with the highest possible certificated of 5 leafs.
Overnight: Villa Blanca Cloudforest Eco Lodge****/ Superior Casita
Sustainable criteria for this hotel: 5 CST leafs

Total km today: approx. 200 km
Total driving time today: approx. 3.5 hours
Included meals today: breakfast

Day 10: Villa Blanca Cloudforest
Today’s day is available for optional activities. You may book guided hikes, a horseback or canopy tour or a visit to the village San Ramon. For all guests, a sustainable tour is offered complimentary, where you get to know the different hotel projects and learn more on what exactly is the daily business of a sustainably managed hotel in Costa Rica.
Overnight: Villa Blanca Cloudforest Eco Lodge****/ Superior Casita
Sustainable criteria for this hotel: 5 CST leaves

Total km today: none
Total driving time today: none
Included meals today: breakfast

Day 11: Tag San Ramón - San José Airport or extention program
In the morning, you still may visit the „Espíritu Santo“ coffee plantation at Naranjo and get an insight on the cultivation and processing of the important export good. However, this depends on your departure time. Please calculate with an approximate driving time of 1 hour from San Ramón/ Naranjo to the airport at San José. Drop off of your rental car at the office of our rental car partner from where you will be taken to the Check-in terminal by a shuttle bus.
Alternatively, you may book an extention programm and/ or extend the car rental.

Total km today: approx. 55km
Total driving time today: approx. 1 hour
Included meals today: breakfast

Prices in US$ per person including breakfast.
Please note: prices do NOT include the car, the price for the small or medium sized 4x4 rental vehicle is between $465 - $486. We recommend the booking of a GPS system at an additional rate of $10p/day.

Please also note, Esquinas Rainforest Lodge is closed during May, June and September.