Last Modified: 22 May 2015
Costa Rica Jungle Adventure
Trip code: QPAC-C
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2015
Trek into the jungles of Costa Rica and relax in the comfort of a fully equipped lodge on the Pacuare River. Depart from the bustling Costa Rican capital of San Jose, sampling traditional cuisine en route to the wilds of the rainforest. Take advantage of a resident naturalist guide and learn the secrets of the tropical Central American ecosystem. Choose to embark on the Cabecar Indian Hike, take in the scenery from the rainforest canopy, search for wildlife as you ride on horseback to Bajo del Tigre or simply relax with a therapeutic massage at award-winning accommodation.
Table of Contents
- ‘Comfort travel’ means encountering all that the real world has to offer, but with an added degree of, well… comfort. We use more private transport, the travel pace more relaxed, the accommodation a touch nicer. And by paying a little more up front, you’ll be treated to more included meals, more leader-led activities and get a greater immersion in all things local.
Day 1 San Jose/Pacuare
Early morning pick-up in the lobby of your centrally-located hotel by a Costa Rica Nature Adventures representative. Transportation service (approximately 2½ hours) to our Pacuare River put-in including a typical Costa Rican breakfast in route. Get picked up by 4x4 and transferred to the lodge.
After lunch participate an optional canopy tour (not included in package price) or waterfall hike, or simply relax in your private bungalow or suite. After candlelight dinner visit our upstairs lounge for a cocktail or refreshment before retiring to a restful night’s sleep.
Jungle Lodge (1 nt)
Days 2-4 Pacuare Lodge
Wake up to bird song and the soothing sound of the river nearby. Then head over to the main lodge for a delicious breakfast of home-made bread, tropical fruits, yoghurt, eggs, pancakes, cereal and juice and coffee.
The lodge employs a resident naturalist guide who will provide you with unique insights into the plant and animal world. Choose from exciting optional tours that include guided hikes through an emerald rainforest, the Cabecar Indian Hike - where visitors may participate in a cultural exchange, our Adventure Canopy Tour – where visitors glide amid a tropical rainforest canopy or a therapeutic massage.
The next 3 days are free for you to choose the activities you wish.
INFLATABLE DUCKIES TOUR
After breakfast, cross the river in a cable basket and board a 4x4 vehicle for the drive to the Pacuare River. An experienced river guide will teach you how to paddle duckies and provide detailed safety information, ensuring that you are comfortable and capable of manoeuvring the kayak before you begin paddling downriver. You’ll then begin a nine-mile trip down that scenic waterway at a leisurely pace that allows you to admire the surrounding nature and paddle through small, but exhilarating rapids. There will be a stop en route for a snack and a short hike, for a closer look at the rainforest’s flora and fauna. You’ll be back at the Pacuare Lodge in time for lunch.
TROPICAL CANYONING TOUR
This tour lets you experience the adventure sport of canyoning, or canyoneering, which combines hiking, climbing and rappelling. The adventure includes a hike through the rainforest and exploration of El Tesorito Creek Canyon, where you’ll make several short rappels perfect for learning the technique before an exhilarating rappel down a 30-meter (90-foot) rock wall. The tour can be done just after breakfast, or lunch, and it begins with safety training and instruction in using the equipment.
You’ll hike for about 15 minutes through the rainforest from the main lodge to a point where you begin your descent into the narrow canyon of El Tesorito Creek. The canyon exploration provides a great introduction to rappelling, since it includes six short rappels of between 2 and 20 meters (6-65 feet) that will prepare you for a final rappel of more than 30 metres (90 feet). After that, you’ll continue hiking through the creek and the forest back to the lodge.
DAY BREAK ACTIVITY TOUR
After a cup of steaming coffee we begin a short session of stretching and relaxation exercises designed to aid us in our exploration of the grounds surrounding the lodge. Our naturalist guide will lead you from the Pacuare Lodge along a series of sites from which you can observe buzzing hummingbirds, dancing butterflies and exquisite tropical flowers. The guide will point out delicate bromeliads, like the lovely “sexy lady”, and answer questions about the wide variety of native ferns, lichens and orchids. See Mother Nature at her best as you spot the many birds and other wildlife that are indigenous to the area. Look and listen carefully for the Montezuma Oropendula, which nests far above in the towering trees. The area around the lodge is home to an extraordinary number of exotic bird species including a variety of colourful toucans. The tour lasts about an hour and a half, after which we will return to the lodge for a hot delicious breakfast.
Experience the energy of a tropical paradise with this relaxing, soothing, and rhythmic massage and reflexology. Performed in the privacy of your luxury bungalow, our therapeutic rainforest massage offers you a blissfully relaxing spa escape with treatments for the whole body. Other options such as hot stone massage and facials are also available.
PLANT A TREE
The OWE “Plant a tree program” was begun in honour of Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen, two renowned Polar explorers who completed the first ever trek to the North Pole in summer. Their goal was to create international awareness about the dangers of global warming as well as to collect scientific data to measure the effects of global warming in the Arctic. A few months after successfully completing their historic journey, Lonnie and Eric visited the Pacuare Lodge to offer a presentation detailing their gruelling expedition. On December 6th 2006, the day after their presentation, Lonnie and Eric planted a Mahogany seedling, thereby initiating this fund.
The cost per tree is US$14 which will be donated to the “Bajo del Tigre” elementary school located a 45 minute horseback ride away. Donations will be used to purchase materials, help with maintenance, and to educate the children about how they can protect the environment. Participants will take part in a tree planting event and your tree will include a small plaque with your name and date of the planting
To participate in the The One World Expedition “Plant a tree program”, make sure to inform one of our reservation agents at the time of your booking.
CABECAR INDIANS HIKE
The Talamanca Mountains are host to the Cabecar Indians, the largest indigenous group in Costa Rica, and one that retains many of its traditional customs and beliefs. From the Pacuare Lodge it is possible to visit an isolated family group to learn about their way of life, as well as enjoying the alluring tropical rainforest. The experience to walk to these families is a challenge due to the difficult conditions of the trails; nevertheless the trail offers a wonderful opportunity to discover many secrets of the forest, interact with the ecosystem, and hike the same trails the Cabecar Indians have for centuries. Sometimes there is the possibility to talk with the Shaman or medicine man, which is still a more enriching experience. After briefly visiting with a Cabecar family, we will begin our trek back down to the lodge.
As an indigenous people with little contact with the outside world, the Cabecar can sometimes be shy and reclusive; this will influence the amount of time and contact visitors will have with the Shaman. We urge our guests to request permission from our guide before taking photographs of any Cabecar people. The Cabecar do not like to be photographed, and we strongly respect this wish. A percentage of the tour cost goes directly to the Cabecar family and will be invested in sustainable projects with this community.
The tour takes 4-5 hours and is quite physically demanding.
- Cabecar Indians Hike - USD45
- Swedish Massage (45 mins) - USD65
- One World Expedition - Plant a Tree Program - USD15
- Day Break Activity Tour - USD20
- Pacuare River Inflatable Duckies Tour - USD120
- Horse riding - USD58
- Pacuare Tropical Canyoning Tour - USD45
Jungle Lodge (3 nts)
Day 5 San Jose
In the morning depart by 4x4, before being transferred by private minibus to back your hotel. Arrive back in San Jose between 5:30-6:30pm.
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
- Beautiful Costa Rica (QVKHC)
- Classic Costa Rica (QVSR)
- Costa Rica Experience (QVSS)
- Costa Rica Express (QVKR)
- Costa Rica Turtle Extension (QVKZ)
- Explore Nicaragua (QVKI)
- San Jose to Panama (QVKKC)
- Classic Costa Rica (QVSR)
- Costa Rica Experience (QVSS)
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Throughout the trip there are more adventurous optional activities that require some consideration regarding your physical abilities to complete the activity.
There are no activities included in this itinerary. For a list of optional activities available, please refer to the day-to-day itinerary.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Currency exchange rates often fluctuate. For the most up to date rates please refer to the following website: www.oanda.com.
The official currency of Costa Rica is the Colon (CRC).
Cash is the best form of currency to use at the lodge. ATMs are widely available in San Jose, or you can easily exchange US dollars. You should make sure you have enough cash for your spending needs before leaving San Jose..
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
Please allow US$26 for international departure tax from Costa Rica.
This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, Aventuras Naturales.
There is no minimum age on this trip however anyone aged under 18 must be accompanied by (and share accommodation with) a parent or legal guardian. You should be aware that some activities have a minimum age of 12, and child-sized equipment may not always be available.
COSTA RICA TOURISM INDUSTRY:
Costa Rica has done a great job of looking after its natural wonders yet maximising their potential as tourist attractions. As a result, you should expect to pay for nearly every optional activity available. This allows everyone to individually have the choice of deciding on which activities they particularly want to participate in - from white water rafting to hiking. This also means high standards of service, well maintained gear, clear paths and signalling and well trained local guides that allow you to make the most of every activity.
Please note that Hurricane season in this region is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors any situations that arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.
Jungle Lodge (4 nts)
We stay in spacious palm-thatched garden-view bungalows featuring a canopy king size bed, futon couch, hardwood flooring, private terrace, and a spacious private bathroom adorned with burnished copper fixtures, private alfresco shower with solar heated water, and a nearly 360º rainforest view. Upgrades to other bungalows are available on request.
Hot water is available, although as it is solar heated there may be occasions when the water is lukewarm. There is no electricity, and only a solar powered phone for emergencies. All rooms and facilities are non-smoking.
The standard room type on this trip is the Jungle View Suite. These rooms are located on the second floor and share a deck with another room. If you would like a private deck, we suggest you upgrade to a River Suite, which is a more private room.
5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 4 Dinners
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
Meals are served communal style in the main lodge. Breakfast is buffet style, and includes a healthy assortment of eggs, pancakes, cereal, tropical fruit, yoghurt, homemade bread, juice, coffee and tea. Lunch tends to be a pasta type meal such as pizza, pasta, couscous and salad. Dinner is the main meal at the lodge. Here you will enjoy a candlelit three-course meal that features a soup or salad entry, a choice of prime cuts of beef or chicken/fish with vegetable side dish, and desert.
Special dietary requirements can usually be catered for if advised in advance.
Minibus, 4x4, Chairlift
The transfers between San Jose and Pacuare Lodge will be done by mostly microbus and 4x4. At the end of the journey there is an open hanging gondola (like a chairlift) which carries you across the river via a 100 metre cable running from riverbank to riverbank. There is then a 300 metre hike to the lodge. Your equipment is transported by lodge staff.
Intrepid Short Break Adventures are not accompanied by an Intrepid group leader. Local guides may be used on some itineraries.
Your central San Jose hotel
Joining point instructions
You will be picked up from your nominated hotel early in the morning on day 1. Please provide your travel agent with the details of your pick up hotel at least 2 weeks before departure. Pick up will only be provided from hotels in the central city area of San Jose. If you have any arrival difficulties please contact our partner who operates this trip, Aventures Naturales, on +506 8824 4560.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Your central San Jose hotel
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
USA: Not required
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
Due to the limited capacity in our transportation, the maximum amount of luggage allowed per person is 11 kg (25 lb) with maximum dimensions of 55cm x 20cm x 40cm (22" x 8" x 16"). Luggage must fit in a drybag in order to be transported safely across rivers.
CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
Night time temperatures can be low in the height of the winter months and at altitude so bring a set of warmer clothes. Thermal underclothes, being small and light, can be very useful. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat essential.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Please note this trip operates in remote regions and as such medical facilities may be difficult to access. If you have any medical conditions or take any form of medication please provide full details & nature of condition. Please provide details of medication taken.
A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.
It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
All guides are trained in Standard First Aid, CPR, and Swift Water Rescue. They will instruct you on all safety measures before each activity and will advise you as the activity progresses. A fully stocked first-aid kit is standard equipment on every activity. However you should be aware outdoor and adventure activities can be physically demanding with inherent elements of danger beyond our control. Some activities are physically demanding and need some degree of skill, strength or experience in order to participate.
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader or local representative has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon Offset C02-e 42.00 kgs per pax.
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