Trek Hidden Costa Rica
About Costa Rica
Think you know Costa Rica? Trade in the same old settings for the real deal. Trek into the heart of the jungle to live with three families in a remote village. Discover the emerald core of a diverse land while bunking down behind a massive waterfall in a hidden cave. Learn about the medicinal plants native to these parts and how to make sugarcane candy. This is a spectacular country with opportunities for waterfall rappelling, surfing, and whitewater rafting. This is what adventure is all about.
Local Living: Bread Making, Piedras Blancas
Local Living: Chocolate Making, Piedras Blancas. Hiking excursion to Piedras Blancas (4 days). Overnight hiking excursion to Diamante Verde Cave. Waterfall rappelling. Whitewater rafting on the Savegre River. Trapiche demonstration. Ballena Marine National Park visit. Free time in Dominical and Uvita. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
Trek into a remote community to live with the locals, sleep in a cave behind twin waterfalls, make your own sugarcane candy, experience a traditional sauna and learn about medicinal plants, rappel down hidden waterfalls, whitewater raft on the Savegre River.
The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.
Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
Costa Rica will not be allowing anyone to enter the country without proof of a departure ticket (bus, airplane, boat, etc.). If you are travelling through a few countries in Central America, you will need to show proof of your itinerary and a departure ticket from your last destination. Please print the itinerary and voucher and bring it with you.
Group Leader Description
Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides
Group Size Notes
Max 16, avg 10.
4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners
Eating is a big part of traveling. Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally food is cheap. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other’s company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip. The above information applies to G Adventures group trips. For Independent trips please check the itinerary for details of meals included. For all trips please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets.
Local bus, pickup truck, private vehicle, raft, hiking.
We believe solo travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and solo travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
Hotels (5 nts twin-share, 2 nts triple-share), jungle homestay (3 nts, multi-share), cave camping (1 nt, sleeping bags, no electricity).
For details of your joining hotel please refer to your tour voucher, G Account, the G Adventures App or contact your travel agent.
If you have paid in advance for an arrival transfer, a G Adventures representative will be at the airport to meet you. If for any reason you are not met at the airport, please call our local support line. If you are unable to make contact for whatever reason, please make your way to the joining point hotel via taxi.
Please note that Day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned for that day other then your welcome meeting in the evening, so you can arrive at any time. Similarly the last day is a departure day during which no activities have been planned.
A G Adventures Representative will organize a short meeting soon after arrival, during which you will meet other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. A welcome note will be left for you in the hotel so you have all the necessary information regarding the meeting time. If you arrive late, s/he will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.
We don’t expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, as soon as possible please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your Chief Experience Officer (CEO). If you are unable to get in touch with your CEO, please refer to our emergency contact details. If you have pre-booked an airport transfer and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.
Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call either the G Adventures Local Operator (if one is listed below) or our G Adventures Local Office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
If you have purchased an arrival through G Adventures or if an arrival transfer is included in the cost of your tour, please note that:
Your arrival transfer has been arranged based on flight information provided to us. If you are advised of a flight schedule change within 48 hours of your scheduled arrival time, we will do our best to rearrange your arrival transfer however we cannot guarantee this. If your arrival transfer does not arrive within 30 minutes after you have exited the arrivals area please take a taxi to your start point hotel.
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Office San Jose, Costa Rica
During Office hours (Weekdays 9am-5pm Local Time): +506 2224 5560
After hours emergency number: +506 8322 9140
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local office, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0344 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 0800 365 1000
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999
What to Take
We recommend using a backpack for your convenience, or a medium-sized suitcase if you prefer. A daypack is also essential for carrying everyday items. Space is limited on transportation, so there is a limit of one main piece of luggage per person. You will be responsible for carrying your own luggage.
Costa Rica Water Activities:
• Drybag (Will help keep cameras and essentials dry)
• Sport Sandals or Water Shoes (if you plan to do waterfall rappelling and/or rafting)
• Flight info (required) (Printouts of e-tickets may be required at the border)
• Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)
• Passport (required) (With photocopies)
• Required visas or vaccination certificates (required) (With photocopies)
• Vouchers and pre-departure information (required)
• Binoculars (optional)
• Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
• Cash, credit and debit cards
• Day pack (Used for daily excursions or short overnights)
• Ear plugs
• First-aid kit (should contain lip balm with sunscreen, sunscreen, whistle, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, bandaids/plasters, tape, anti-histamines, antibacterial gel/wipes, antiseptic cream, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, water purification tablets or drops, insect repellent, sewing kit, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
• Flashlight/torch (Headlamps are ideal)
• Fleece top/sweater
• Locks for bags
• Long pants/jeans
• Outlet adapter
• Personal entertainment (Reading and writing materials, cards, music player, etc.)
• Reusable water bottle
• Small travel towel
• Toiletries (Preferably biodegradable)
• Watch and alarm clock
• Waterproof backpack cover
• Windproof rain jacket
• Hiking boots/sturdy walking shoes
• Hiking pants (Convertible/Zip-off and quick dry recommended)
• Snacks (Protein bars, chocolate, dried fruits, candies, energy sweets.)
• Socks (Trekking socks (woollen or synthetic, not cotton).)
• Thermal base layer (Woollen or synthetic, not cotton.)
• Walking poles (Highly recommended.)
• Shorts/skirts (Longer shorts/skirts are recommended)
• Sun hat/bandana
Note: Please bring a day pack large enough to fit two days worth of clothing.
Visas and Entry Requirements
All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy, or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO HAVE THE CORRECT TRAVEL DOCUMENTATION.
As of November 1st, 2007, the Costa Rica government, requires those entering Costa Rica from certain countries in South America and Sub-Sahara Africa, to have an International Certificate of Vaccination against Yellow Fever. Those affected countries are: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, French Guiana and Venezuela.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure.
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 and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
The currency in Costa Rica is the Colon (CRC).
Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances. Visa cards are the most widely accepted cards. While ATMs are widely available, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work in Latin America. Check with your bank.
You should be aware that to purchase products or services on a credit card a fee of 5%-10% usually applies.
Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of US dollars cash and cards is best. Always take more rather than less, as you don’t want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.
We do not recommend you bring travellers cheques, as it is very difficult to exchange them in Costa Rica.
CURRENCY EXCHANGE TIP: Please be advised that slightly torn notes, notes that have been heavily marked or are faded may be difficult to exchange. It is best to bring notes in fairly good condition, in denominations lower than 100USD (or equivalent).
As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com
Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an ‘emergency’ fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!
Costa Rica airport exit tax: $29USD
Please see the full itinerary for information on optional activities, descriptions and estimated pricing.
Safety and Security
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.
Petty theft, bag snatching and muggings have been on the rise in San Jose. Though not common, there are certain precautions you should take when visiting the city. Although the cities visited on our tours are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions, as they are the safest and easiest way to avoid any issues one might encounter on the streets after dark. In addition, always leave your passport (It’s better to carry a photocopy of it instead), credit cards and money that you won’t be using in the hotel. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes in the room, or a general one at reception, this is always the safest method of storing your valuables. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Remember that like in any other city, you should never leave your bags unattended, nor flaunt jewellery, cameras etc . A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your CEO has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
Your CEO will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Stick to the main streets only during the day, and after sundown, please take a taxi. Taxis can be organized from reception of your hotel. Also, take the address of the hotel with you.
Protests and Demonstrations- Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a good photo opportunity and leave the area immediately.
Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards) have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).
Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk.
We take all prudent measures in relation to your safety. For ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling, please visit:
Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, as a minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility’ is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our CEOs work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day’s activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.
The medical questionnaire can be found online at:
A Couple of Rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any 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 our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEOs have the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your leader, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency evacuation and repatriation. A minimum coverage of USD200,000 is required. G Adventures can provide you with the appropriate coverage. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Some tours include adventure activities that require extra coverage (e.g. crampon use); please review your itinerary and make sure that you are covered for all included activities. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.
Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation
The Planeterra Foundation planeterra.org is a Canadian non-profit organization that helps empower local people to develop their communities, conserve their cultures, and create humane and supportive systems for their endeavours. Planeterra provides capacity building and catalyst grants to get community social enterprises off the ground. These businesses address local challenges by providing benefits for indigenous people, empowering marginalized women, and granting disadvantaged youth access to education, employment, and brighter futures. Planeterra also works to ensure these businesses have a thriving customer base by integrating programs into G Adventures’ itineraries globally.
G Adventures is Planeterra’s largest corporate donor, covering all operating costs so 100% of your donation will bring opportunity to people in need.
G Adventures’ Dollar-a-Day Program provides travellers with the opportunity to give back to the people and places visited on our tours by donating one dollar for every day you are on trip. 100% of these donations go directly to support community development projects worldwide that are implemented by Planeterra.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us that we’ll give you 5% off the price of your next G Adventures trip if your feedback is completed on-line within 30 days of finishing your trip. Your tour evaluation will be e-mailed to you 24 hours after the conclusion of your trip. If you do not receive the tour evaluation link in the days after your tour has finished, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send it on to you.
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You must be 18 to travel unaccompanied on a G Adventures tour. For minors travelling with a guardian over 21 years old, the minimum age is 12.
Check-in times and baggage allowances/restrictions vary by airline and can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information for your flight, please contact your airline. We recommend checking in online in advance to avoid potential delays at the airport.
Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides.
PRODUCT_LINE: CRAC, ID: 22977
Day 1 San José
There are no planned activities during the day, so check into the hotel and explore the city. As it is located in the central highlands, San José enjoys a moderate climate.
Amid the hustle and bustle, San José has beautiful parks, museums and the ornate Costa Rica National Theatre downtown. Enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains from the downtown streets.
The central plaza is a good place to people-watch. A mime, juggler, marimba band, magician, or storyteller may be performing for whatever is collected when the hat is passed. Artisan booths are common, creating a regular arts and crafts fair atmosphere.
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Day 2 San José/San Isidro
Early morning departure to San Isidro de El General. Located near three rivers and Costa Rica’s highest mountain, Mt Chirripó, this region is well-known but few travelers stay to find out why.
Please note it will be necessary to repack your bags according to the packing list provided for our excursion to Piedras Blancas as it is an early departure on the morning of Day 3.
Local bus (3.00-4.00 hours)
Day 3 San Isidro/Piedras Blancas (1L, 1D)
Today we embark on a three-day, three-night excursion with a locally owned and operated adventure company to the community of Piedras Blancas, found in the heart of the Zona de los Santos region.
The journey is always half the fun, so we will leave town in the back of pickup trucks, traveling like the locals to find our trail head in the small town of Brujo.
We will be welcomed with open arms and a much needed home-cooked meal at the Lopez family home. Once home to 18 children (most of whom are now adults), there are plenty of beds for everyone all under one roof. The night will be spent eating, sharing stories of the day’s trek, and playing cards with the family members around the stove.
Jungle Trekking to Piedras Blancas
Pickup truck (2.00 hour(s))
Day 4 Piedras Blancas (1B, 1L, 1D)
Participate in various activities in and around the Lopez family farm. In small groups, make ‘dulce’ (candy) at the family’s traditional ‘trapiche’ (sugar cane mill).
Hike one hour to the Granados household and stay the night. While there, local guides and members of the family will explain how to make fresh cheese and breads.
Take a late-day dip in the river, enjoy tasty traditional Tico cooking and head to bed for a well-deserved rest.
Day 5 Piedras Blancas (1B, 1L, 1D)
Start the day with a delicious home-cooked breakfast and fortify for the two-hour hike through the rainforest to Los Fonseca’s retreat. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the rushing waterfall directly in front of the dining area. Watch wildlife and hummingbirds up close. Reward yourself homemade chocolate made from cocoa beans collected right from the garden.
Hike to the Fonseca family
Day 6 Piedras Blancas/Dominical (1B, 1L)
Today is a full, action-packed day. Set your alarm for an early morning start and a two-hour hike back to Brujo where we jump into rafts and head off on the Savegre River.
Paddle toward the Pacific coast, then take a van to Dominical. Spend the rest of the day at the local bungalows, in the swimming pool or walking along the beach.
Bags are taken to our overnight stop in Dominical, while the activities continue with a rafting excursion. While in Dominical, accommodation is triple-share.
Savegre River Whitewater Rafting
Private Vehicle (0.75 hour(s))
Day 7 Dominical
Enjoy a free day in beautiful Dominical. Take a surf lesson, hike to a local waterfall for a swim, go on a whale watching cruise, or kick back and relax.
Day 8 Dominical/Diamante Verde (1L, 1D)
Time to put the boots back on and hike to Catedral de Piedra (‘Cathedral of Stone’).
A free day for exploring the area, the local guides will plan a number of activities depending on the group’s interest and energy levels.
Options include a number of hikes to the surrounding falls, waterfall rappelling, cliff jumping and swimming in the natural pools.
Twin 85-foot waterfalls cascade over the cave accommodation. Don’t think tight spaces – this is what we call an open cave and you will have no trouble enjoying the surroundings. There are hand-crafted stone beds to sleep on, composting toilets and a fully working kitchen inside the cave itself.
Hike to La Catedral de Piedra
Day 9 Diamante Verde/Uvita (1B)
Wake up early and set off on foot back to Las Tumbas. At the trail’s end, hop in a private van and enjoy the ride to Uvita, a small beach town on the southwestern Pacific coast.
Take some much deserved time to rest and relax.
Rappelling near Diamante Falls
Hike from La Catedral de Piedra
Private Vehicle (1.00 hour(s))
Day 10 Uvita
This is a perfect day for some quality hammock time. Still need to move? There’s lots to do. Take a surf lesson, horseback ride, snorkel, SCUBA dive or take a trip to nearby Caño Island.
Ballena Marine National Park Visit
Day 11 Uvita/San José
Transfer back to the capital for a final evening with the group.
Local bus (5.00 hour(s))
Day 12 San José
Depart from San José at any time.