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Fly and Drive Itinerary to explore Costa Rica's Wild South

Discover the southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica at your own pace, a region that remains unknown for most people. You will notice that many parts can be enjoyed in complete seclusion; consequently, those who love silence will be delighted. Some of the highlights of this trip are the drives and the stopovers by the bleak moors of Cerro de la Muerte; which means that you will drive surrounded by a variety of alpine tundra ecosystems. But before that, you will stop by a zone of oak forests where, with a bit of luck, it may be possible to get a glimpse of the alluring Resplendent Quetzal. Later, on your way to the South, you will be amazed by the rapidly changing weather patterns from the pretty cool biome of the tundra to the tropical warmth of the coast. With a little bit of luck, you may even see dolphins playing and leaping around in the waters of the gulf. Last but not least is the visit to Manuel Antonio National Park, a place known for its high levels of biodiversity and beautiful sandy beaches. Among the tropical lads you may run into while strolling around the park are the white-headed capuchin monkey, the shy squirrel monkeys, the crab-eating raccoon, basilisk lizards and the three-toed sloth.


Don't let this opportunity pass you by and remember the words of an old wise man who once said: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.

Type of car: we recommend a 4x4 vehicle at any time of the year.

Day 1: San José - Cerro de la Muerte - San Gerardo de Dota

You start your journey driving through the former capital of Costa Rica, the town of Cartago, where you can visit the Basilica, one of the most beautiful churches in Costa Rica. You continue then on the Panamerican Highway, where the road soon starts to climb the Talamanca mountain range. About 80 km later you will be at 3'000 metres above the sea level and turn right to San Gerardo de Dota. This small village is located at 2'200 metres above sea level and is surrounded by beautiful cloud forest. It is one of the best place in Costa Rica to observe the Quetzal, a shy and strikingly coloured bird, already worshipped by the Mayas and other aboriginal populations. Enjoy a walk through the jungle and observe the variety of exotic birds in the late afternoon.

Overnight at: Savegre Lodge**(*)/ Junior Suite.
Total km today: about 90 km
Total driving time today: about 2 hours
Included meals today: none

Day 2: San Gerardo de Dota - Golfito - Esquinas Rainforest Lodge

If you are into birding try to get up as early as possible; in the early morning hours, birding is excellent because this is when birds are usually most active. Make the most of this morning walk, because pretty soon you are to start a long drive to Golfo Dulce. Get back into the car and head off to the Panamerican Highway. In no time, you will find yourself crossing one of the highest mountain passes in Costa Rica, named Cerro de la Muerte and located at 3'400 metres above sea level. This mountain pass is widely known and its name means "Mountain of Death", but don´t be afraid; this place owes its name to the past when crossing the mountains meant a three or four-day journey on foot or on horseback, and many ill-prepared travellers perished in the cold. Later on, after many curves, you will reach San Isidro de El General, one of the most important towns near the southern Pacific coast. You continue on the Panamerican Highway, passing large pineapple plantations. Once reached the little village Villa Briceño turn to the left and soon you will arrive at the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge** or The Austrian Rainforest" how this place is called as well.

Overnight at: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge **(*), Standard Room
Total km today: about 280 km
Total driving time today: about 5-6 hours
Included meals today: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge

Golfo Dulce - Comfortable Jungle Lodge, Costa Rica

Today we recommend you a tour by boat to Rio Esquinas, where you have the chance to discover the beauty and peace of mangrove forests. By kayak is the best way to enjoy this adventure. Afterwards, you can choose to hike trough the jungle or do some bird watching.

Overnight a: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge**(*), Standard Room.
Total kms today: none
Total driving time today: none
Included meals today: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 4: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge - Dominical

The journey continues along the coast. With no rush you will pass several beautiful beaches and if you feel up to stop for a while and take a bath or just enjoy the tropical sun. In the late afternoon, you will finally arrive in Dominical., where your room is reserved at Hotel Villas Rio Mar***.

Overnight at: Hotel Villas Rio Mar***
Total km today: about 180 km
Total driving time: about 3-4 hours
Included meals today: breakfast

Manuel Antonio National Park, jungle and beaches, Costa RicaDay 5: Dominical - Quepos / Manuel Antonio

While staying in Dominical you could take advantage of a horseback ride to a beautiful waterfall. As they say: a ramble in the great outdoors is always good for body and soul. Alternatively, if you don’t feel like horseback riding, you could take a hike through the jungle at Hacienda Barú, or spend a couple of hours relaxing at the beach. Later, you will have to continue your journey driving north to Quepos and Manuel Antonio. Once there, you will find that many tours and activities can be programmed, e.g., horseback riding, jungle walks, or tours to palm oil plantations.

 

Overnight at: Hotel Karahe **(*), Beach Front Room
Total km today: about 70 km
Total driving time today: about 1-2 hours
Included meals today: breakfast

Endangered Titi Monkey, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica Day 6: Quepos / Manuel Antonio

You should definitively pay a visit to Manuel Antonio National Park (closed on Mondays, entrance fee US$ 16 per person). Apart from the beautiful beaches within the limits of the park, there are trails through the rainforest, where, with a little bit of luck, you have the chance to see different species of mammals. Almost for sure, you will have the chance to run into a couple of furry squirrel monkeys that call the park their home. Unfortunately, these funny little primates are listed as endangered. Even though Manuel Antonio is one of the smallest conservation areas in the country, the diversity of wildlife in its 6.83 km2 with 109 species of mammals and at least 184 types of birds is beyond compare.

Overnight at: Hotel Karahe**(*), Beach Front Room
Total km today: none
Total driving time today: about 30 minutes
Included meals today: breakfast

Day 7: Quepos / Manuel Antonio - Carara National Park - San José

On the way back to San José, you will have the possibility to visit Carara National Park. There, some rare species of orchids can be observed. Nevertheless, the main attraction is its large population of wild Scarlet Macaws. See this gorgeous bird in flight is something beautiful you will remember for a long time. 
Return to San José and drop off of the car.

Total km today: 180 km
Total driving time today: about 4 ½ hours
Included meals today: breakfast

Hotels Used for this Itinerary

Savegre Lodge Cabin, Gerardo de Dota
Savegre Lodge, Room, Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
savegre Lodge Garden, Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Savegre Lodge**(*)

Official category:

***

Total number of rooms:

29

Location:

Located on the grounds of a 400ha finca, of which 250ha consist of primary forest. Coming from San José via the Pan-American Highway you drive south and up to the Cerro de la Muerte pass on a very twisty road. At km 80 you have to turn right to San Gerardo de Dota. After about 9 more km you reach the village and the lodge.

Transfer time:

From San José about 2½ hours, from San Isidro about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Hotel facilities:

The family style, homely lodge has a restaurant serving local cuisine. There is a bar and a conference room. You can explore the rainforest on well maintained trails. Horses can be hired and the hotel offers various activities such as bird watching tours, guided hikes and trout fishing. Catch your dinner, a rainbow trout, yourself and let the chef prepare it for you!

Room facilities:

Standard Rooms: Simple but nicely decorated, with private bathroom, hot water and heating system.
Junior Suites: Large and nice rooms with luxury bathroom, hair dryer, bath tub, sitting area, open fire place, heating system and 2 terraces.

Our opinion:

An ideal place for bird watching and hiking. We recommend the Junior Suites! At this altitude it can get nippy. Bring some warm clothes.

Villas Rio Mar, Dominical, Costa Rica
Villas Rio Mar, Beach, Dominical, Costa Rica
Villas Rio Mar, Dominical, Costa Rica

Hotel Villas Rio Mar***, Dominical

Official classification:

***

Total number of rooms:

48 (22 Standard, 20 Superior, 4 Junior Suites, 2 Superior Junior Suites)

Location:

Hotel Villas Rio Mar is located next to the Barú River in a valley, 850 meters from the beach, 35 km from San Isidro del General and 500 meters from Dominical, a small village with some restaurants, bars and shops.

Transfer time:

4 - 5 hours by road from San José and approximately 1 hour from Quepos airstrip.

Hotel facilities:

Tastefully decorated with bamboo furniture and featuring a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, tennis court, small gym and souvenir shop.

Room facilities:

Standard: equipped with a private bathroom, hairdryer, mini refrigerator, telephone, ceiling fans, 1 king size bed, or two single beds and a large open terrace/living space. Standard rooms sleep up to 2 persons maximum.
Junior Suite: Same equipment as standard plus air conditioning and satellite TV. In addition to that, the rooms are larger and sleep up to 4 persons.
Superior Junior Suite: Same as Junior Suites but with bath tub and Jacuzzi.

Our opinion:

Ideal for nature lovers, who want to discover the south pacific coast. It's recommended to have a car in this area.



Hotel Karahé

Official classification:

***

Total number of rooms:

9 Villas, 8 Standard, 16 beach Front Rooms, 8 Beach Front Superior Rooms

Location:

Hotel Karahé is located at only 15 walking minutes from Manuel Antonio National Park in the province of Puntarenas.

Transfer time:

About 3 hours in car from San José, 20 minutes from Quepos airstrip and 3 minutes from the Manuel Antonio National Park.

Hotel facilities:

pool

Room facilities:

A/C, room safe box, TV, room fridge, terrace

Our opinion:

Its exclusive location directly on the beach is Karahé's main attraction and it will be difficult to find a similar hotel in the area. 

Sustainable Tourism Certificate:

 

Package Rate 2016 / 2017 per person

1 Nov 16 - 19 Dec 16 1 May 17 - 31 Oct 17 08 Jan 17 - 08 Apr 17
17 Apr 17 - 30 Apr 17
Double US$784 US$667 US$784
Triple US$682 US$528 US$628
Single US$1260 US$1065 US$1260


Notes:

For further information and booking inquiries please send us and e-mail.