Includes tours from Villa Blanca Hotel, Peace Lodge, & El Silencio Lodge
The cloud forests of Costa Rica offer a range of activities from wildlife watching to forest exploration to cultural immersion.
Cloud Forest Tours from Villa Blanca Hotel:
Los Angeles Cloud Forest Hike
You will literally have your head in the clouds when you step into the heart of the cloud forest in this unique nature tour. With experienced nature guides, you’ll discover a secret world of tropical life along a 3 km user-friendly trail. Right on the hotel property, this trail was designed to showcase a variety to tropical flora and fauna as it winds its way through this diverse biosphere. This unique forest habitat is part of only 2.5% of the planet’s remaining cloud forests, and continues to amaze guests, guides, and trained research scientists.
Cloud Forest Bird Watching
Costa Rica boasts one-tenth of the species of the world’s total bird population – so no wonder bird-watchers delight in the approximately 850 species that have been spotted in the country! You’ll have amazing backgrounds to your quest to spot your share of the more than 250 local species – including both the gently hilly pastures and the nearby cloud forest. Some protected parts of the property feature species that face extinction or have disappeared from other areas. Thanks to Costa Rica’s dedication to conservation, rare birds such as the quetzal and scarlet macaw now have new hope in protected National Parks and nature reserves.
Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, & Sarchi
After breakfast, you’ll depart from Villa Blanca for a comfortable ride along the scenic route through the Canton of San Ramon before heading south on the Pan-American Highway. Along the way, your guide will discuss the history and politics of Costa Rica while identifying the different crops along the travel route. Once you arrive, you’ll enter Poas Volcano National Park and learn about the area’s history, vegetation, and past eruptions of the volcano. After exploring a bit, enjoy a typical Costa Rican lunch before heading to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where you’ll get to see some of the stunning and massive waterfalls. Next up is the town of Sarchi, which is home to some of the country’s favorite artisans. Visit an oxcart factory and enjoy souvenir shopping in town.
San Luis Canopy Tour
40 minutes from Hotel Villa Blanca, in the placid cloud forests of the Central Valley, the San Luis Canopy Tour will introduce you to a thrilling adventure through the canopy and across the majestic Rio Cataratitas. The system of zip lines are very safe, and you’ll soar through expanses of virgin forest. This tour has 12 cables with various lengths and altitudes ranging from 15 to 106 meters. There are 18 platforms, a Superman Cable, a Tarzan swing, and a variety of walking trails.
Nocturnal Jungle Walk
When the sun sets, the cloud forest becomes an entirely new world. The layers of sweet scents from nocturnal flowers is captivating, and the cloud forest pumps out higher concentrations of oxygen during the night. Starting at dusk, you’ll head out into the dark on the hotel’s comfortable trail system, guided by a nocturnal forest specialist guide. With flashlight in hand you’ll discover a world rarely seen by visitors to Costa Rica. Dozens of species come awake at night in this unique exploration, so keep an eye out for the creatures that call the night home.
San Ramon Cultural, Coffee Plantation, & Sarchi Tour
Travel along a scenic route to the Canton of San Ramon. Called the “city of poets,” San Ramon is the birthplace of three previous presidents. Most famous was Don Pepe Figueres, who abolished the military and established Costa Rica’s current democracy. There is a photo gallery in his honor, and the nearby church and Central Park are also a part of this popular tour. Next, head south down the Pan-American Highway to the Canton of Naranjo. Here, you’ll learn about the local agriculture – including the Espíritu Santo Coffee Plantation, where you’ll get a step-by-step explanation of the entire coffee producing process. From there it is on to Sarchi, home of the artists. Sachi’s most recognizable products are the beautiful oxcarts, which are representative of the country’s culture.
Arenal Volcano & Hot Springs Tour
You will depart from Villa Blanca this morning and travel along the continental divide onto the San Carlos Plains. After this roughly 2 hour drive, arrive at the town of La Fortuna. Tourism has been of growing importance to this area in the recent years. Weather permitting, you’ll next take a nature walk to observe the Arenal Volcano and discuss its history. After a photo opportunity, you’ll head to a private thermal hot spring to relax in the medicinal waters. Before heading back to Villa Blanca, you’ll stop at a local restaurant for a delectable campesino-style lunch.
Bird Watching Highlands & Quetzal Tour
(Quetzal season from Mid-February – May)
One of the most popular tours off-property at Villa Blanca, you will depart in the early morning for an approximately 45 minute drive to the Azahar Peak, near La Paz de San Ramon. At the summit, you’ll enter a private family-operated farm where the Quetzal nests. Explore the well-maintained trail, but keep an eye out for the wild boar and mountain cat tracks you might spot! There are also a variety of high-altitude birds. Once you spot the elusive Quetzal, you’ll understand why the indigenous populations across the region consider it a mystical creature.
Central Highlands Agro-Cultural Tour
Get a taste for the real rural life of Costa Rica. Starting out in the colorful town of Bajo Zúñiga, you’ll visit a working farm and coffee plantation. Explore various areas of the farm to see how the principles and practices of organic agriculture are combined with time honored techniques. Head to the Piedades Norte distract to tour an authentic sugar mill, and after you’ll taste the delicious homemade candies, the “Sobado.” Before heading back to Villa Blanca, experience the culture of cooking over Costa Rican gastronomy, including dishes like Olla de Carnes, Casados, and Pacadillo de Papa y Arracache.
Cloud Forest Tours from Peace Lodge:
La Paz Waterfall Gardens Tour
A staff member will guide you through the trails of this ultimate Costa Rican garden,which contains natural waterfalls, cloud and rain forests, safe hiking trails, an aviary with over 40 bird species, insect exhibit, butterfly exhibit, butterfly laboratory, toucan feeding, snake exhibit, hummingbird hand feeding, a petting zoo, a frog exhibit, orchid exhibit, bromeliad exhibit, and more. Let’s just say, the La Paz Waterfall Gardens can easily be a full-day family adventure!
Bird Watching Tour
This guided tour is perfect for any level of birder. Explore the trails of the Waterfall Gardens with an experienced guide who will help you find the shyer birds. La Paz Waterfall Gardens and the Peace Lodge are both home to a wide variety of birds.
Poas Volcano & Doka Coffee Plantation Tour
Today you’ll head to Poas Volcano, one of the four active volcanoes in Costa Rica. An experienced guide will happily tell you about how the beauty of Costa Rica was created by these sleeping giants! The blue sulfur pools of Poas will enthrall you as you view this beautiful landscape. After, head to another of the country’s trademarks: an authentic coffee plantation. This third-generation coffee plantation has been voted the best in the region, and is served by one of the oldest hydro-powered wet mills in the country. In fact, 90% of this plantation’s high quality coffee goes right to Starbucks! You’ll learn about how the coffee is grown, picked, milled, and ground, as well finding out first hand why Costa Rica coffee is so famous. And if you don’t get filled up on the coffee, you’ll return in time for lunch at Waterfall Gardens.
Hacienda Pozo Azul Rafting and Horseback Adventure
Today, you will transfer approximately 45 minutes on a scenic car ride to Hacienda Pozo Azul, where you’ll saddle up for an hour horseback ride along the Sarapiqui River. After your ride, hit the rapids for an exciting two and a half hour trip along the river! This tour has Class I, II, and III rapids, which makes it perfect for the whole family! Between May and December (the rainy season), rafting gets a bit more exciting with higher water levels. You’ll work up a hearty appetite on this adventure – good thing you’ll get to enjoy an authentic Costa Rican lunch after!
Hacienda Pozo Azul Canopy & Horseback Adventure
Combine horseback riding with a 12 zipline canopy adventure in this unique tour. You’ll begin with a horseback ride along the Sarapiqui River. This will bring you to the first platform of your canopy adventure. The 15-platform tour will soar you through the trees as you venture deep into the forest. After, enjoy a hearty lunch with a gorgeous view of the Sarapiqui River.
Cloud Forest Tours from El Silencio Lodge:
Los Bajos Cultural Tour
The thriving rural community of Los Bajos del Toro Amarillo is your destination for this tour, with its rich traditions, unsurpassed landscapes, and unique flora. Meet up there with local orchid enthusiast Don Martin Porras for a chance to see his private garden, which features more than 400 species! Check out the fun shoe-shaped specimens and the tiny variety of Lilliputian. A magnifying glass is provided for this micro-safari. Afterwards, visit the local school, church, and soccer field before a fun stop at Dona Olga’s Pulperia, where you will learn to make tortillas and can buy local pastries.
Bajos del Toro Waterfall Hike
A broad multi-colored canyon, where shades of red clay blend with moss and vegetation, opens up into a 400 foot drop. This natural masterpiece is unbelievable! Take a winding trail to the very bottom to enjoy the roaring mist. Bajos del Toro Waterfall (closed on Sundays) is located just 15 minutes away from El Silencio Lodge. *Minimum age for this hike is 8 years old.
Forest Pharmacy Tour
You’ll follow the legacy of local grandparents and great-grandparents, who saw the forests and gardens as a cornucopia of medicine. This guided experience will connect you to their ancient wisdom as you pay a visit to the medicinal plant pathway.
Tasty Tico Traditions
Learn about Costa Rica’s true culinary favorites on this fun tour! This is one of the best ways to connect with the culture and traditions of the country. Costa Rica’s home-style dishes have little secrets that bring out the flavors of the fresh ingredients. Pick organic veggies and herbs from the on-property garden, then join the chef for a fun cooking lesson!
Birdwatching Daybreak Hike
Depart from the main building at 6:00am to hit the trails! The trails at El Silencio run through the hot spots for feathered gatherings. Keep an eye out for the minute hummingbirds and the threatened black guans if you want to get that perfect photo! Lucky guests will spot the elusive quetzal. This tour is great for anyone who loves birds!
The best way to experience the rural landscapes around Bajos del Toro is via horseback! At a relaxed pace, you’ll have the chance to take in mist-covered mountain vistas, blue-tinted streams and waterfalls, and the heat-etched slopes of Poas Volcano. As you traverse through local farms along hidden trails, you’ll get the chance to meet and greet members of the local community! The general manager of El Silencio calls this his favorite tour and “a must live.”
Hidden Treasure Hike
The town of Toro Amarillo is embedded in a secluded region of Costa Rica’s central volcanic range. One of the most beautiful gifts to come from this area of the country is the Desague River. Tinted deep blue within the Poas Volcano, this stunning natural wonder flows across the landscape, revealing a myriad of blue and green variations. For extra adventure, you can take a soak in a refreshing cold water natural pool.
La Tirimbina Chocolate Tour
Embedded in the tick tropical forest, a former cocoa bean plantation is the backdrop for this delightful (and delicious) adventure. A guided hike through the property is followed by a hands-on chocolate making session! You’ll get to crack open the cocoa fruit, hand grind, and add your favorite extra ingredients. Each step is explained and the entire tour is peppered with fun historical tidbits. Perfect for kids and every adult’s inner child!
Hacienda Espiritu Santo Coffee Tour
The Naranjo County features some of the best coffee plantations in Costa Rica, thanks to the nearly ideal conditions. Just an hour away from El Silencio, Hacienda Espiritu Santo welcomes those who love java with a fascinating guide through everything from harvesting and roasting to brewing. With prior reservations, you can even enjoy a coffee tasting course.
Mercadito & Olla de Carne Tour
Perfect for cooking and shopping enthusiasts! Start off with a list of ingredients for a traditional stew. A photo guide will help you with your mission: find, select, and purchase the freshest produce at the community market. You’ll be given about $10 (5000 colones). In the process, interact with local farmers and learn about their daily lives and cultures. Back at the hotel, you’ll try out making a hearty Olla de Carne stew, to be enjoyed at dinner!
Sarchi Oxcart Painting
Your inner artist will come out during this local culture tour! Learn the traditional oxcart techniques from authentic artisans in Sarchi. Brilliant colors and bold strokes are needed to create one of the country’s emblematic crafts. For the remainder of the day, you can explore the property or just relax in the beauty of the nature reserve.
Forest Sundown Romantic Dinner
This is a stunning private dining experience. A suspended bridge over the river invites couples to enter the forests as the sun sets. Along a hidden path, an al-fresco wooden deck is your own private stage. With torches and accent candles, a romantic ambiance is revealed. You will be surrounded by lush greenery and serenaded by the nearby stream asyou sit at an impeccably laid-out table. The chef will delight with delectable cuisine, prepared and served on the spot.
Wine Tasting Experience
Take a wine-lover’s journey with sommelier Carlos! Learn about the origins of wine, different grape varieties, growing conditions, and the unexpected challenges. You’ll have a crash course on wine pairing, along with a fun tasting session comparing two reds and two whites against elemental flavors.
Arenal Volcano & Hot Springs Tour
Today transfer approximately 1 – 2 hours to the Arenal Volcano, an imposing landmark. On this tour, you’ll have the opportunity to see the volcano from an observation deck. After getting an eye-full, head to the natural volcanic hot springs to soak in mineral-rich water. This is an amazing relaxing experience! You’ll enjoy lunch before being transferred back to the lodge.