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Rainforest Adventures

Overview

Costa Rica's diverse and contrasting landscapes are perfect for exploring from horseback - misty cloud forests, active rainforests, dry savannahs, tropical mangrove swamps and beautiful coastlines. Whilst riding you can also witness the exhilarating and diverse wildlife which includes iguanas, croc…

Highlights

  • The glorious flora and fauna of tropical Costa Rica
  • Discover authentic, rural communities and landscapes
  • Many of the horses are ridden in bitless bridles
  • Some itineraries include wonderful beach canters
  • One itinerary is suitable for all abilities & non-rider

Essential Facts

  • 3 itineraries available
  • Max 12 riders per group
  • Average of 4 - 5 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 110 kg / 242 lbs / 17 stone 4 lbs however riders over 95 kg should check before booking to ensure suitable horses are still available

Description

Costa Rica's diverse and contrasting landscapes are perfect for exploring from horseback - misty cloud forests, active rainforests, dry savannahs, tropical mangrove swamps and beautiful coastlines. Whilst riding you can also witness the exhilarating and diverse wildlife which includes iguanas, crocodiles, numerous butterflies, egrets, toucans, macaws, sloths, howler monkeys and capuchin monkeys.

Our partners have been running horse riding tours since 1996 when the cattle farming and dairy businesses started to struggle and they diversified into offering riding holidays which support local farms and businesses. They have a number of different itineraries to suit all budgets and riders - from luxury in the wilderness to roughing it with a pioneering and adventurous spirit.

Rides are usually of slow to moderate pace to take account of the terrain however there are good canters where appropriate. You usually ride early and late to avoid the heat around the middle of the day.

There are two well marked seasons : the dry season from Mid December through to April, and the green season when it rains more, which lasts from May through to November (although July and August has less rainfall in this area). You will normally experience sunny mornings following by some rain in the afternoons/evenings, although days without any rain are also possible.

Horses & Riding

Tack

You ride in McLellan style stock saddles or modified Western saddles which are comfortable for long hours in the saddle. Both open and covered stirrups are used.

Most of the horses are ridden in Jaquima bridles, which have a 'bosal' - a type of bitless bridle made of leather and rope. All the horses are trained to this system and respond to neck-reining. One or two wear bits. You will be introduced to the style of riding on your first ride.

Horses

Costa Rican Criollo's or mixed breeds.

Costa Rica's Criollo's originate from small horses that were brought to Costa Rica by the Spanish explorers in the 16th century. These have been crossed with more imported breeds such as Andalusians, Peruvian Paso's, Quarter horses, Thoroughbreds, Arabians and Morgans to produce a remarkably calm, sure-footed, strong and agile horse.

All of the horses have been hand selected for their placid, obedient nature and easy-to-ride style. They range from 14 - 16 hands.

Riding

There are 3 itineraries:

  • Coast to Coast Ride is a trail ride
  • Rainforest Adventure Ride is a based ride
  • Wilderness Eco-Safari is a trail ride

Ages

Children over 12 years of age can join the trails if they are capable riders. Younger children can join the Rainforest Adventure as part of a private group.

Health

General good health

Weight

110 kg / 242 lbs / 17 stone 4 lbs however riders over 95 kg should check before booking to ensure suitable horses are still available

Food & Accommodation

Food

Costa Rican food is based on the wide variety of fruits and vegetables on offer and staples are rice, beans and cron tortillas. Costa Rican food is generally milder than that of its neighbouring countries and chillies are used more sparingly. Tuber such as sweet potatoes and cassava (known as yucca) are frequent accompaniments as well as plantains (like large bananas which need cooking before eating). Poultry, fish, beef and pork are also commonly used.

Breakfasts usually include eggs, tortillas, sour cream, coffee and fresh fruit juice. Some restaurants will offer more international options.

Lunches are typically 'casado" which is a mixture of rice and beans with one choice of meat, salad and fried plantain.

Dinners are varied. Fish and seafood is excellent and always fresh, as are the fruits and vegetables.

Special diets such as vegetarian, vegan and gluten free can be accommodated with advance notice.

Accommodation

Accommodations vary depending on the trail option you have chosen.

Generally speaking the accommodation in rural Costa Rica is quite basic but clean and comfortable. On the trails you sometimes stay in quite remote locations and accommodation options are limited - single rooms are not always possible on the trails

On the Rainforest Adventure ride and the first few days of the Coast to Coast there is a choice of two different accommodations - a comfortable eco-lodge hotel with private bathrooms, air conditioning, plunge pool, restaurant and WiFi (Cerro Lodge) or small dome-style bungalows with private bathrooms but no internet and suitable for those who prefer a more isolation location close to the horses.

Itineraries

Coast to Coast Ride Standard accommodation.

Rainforest Adventure Ride Standard accommodation.

Wilderness Eco-Safari Basic / Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

The Rainforest Adventure Itinerary includes some wonderful non-riding activities as well as riding days - zip lining, river boat tours and ocean kayaking with snorkelling. Non-riders can be accepted onto this ride.

On the whole, Costa Rica offers fantastic bird watching and general wildlife viewing opportunities.

Travel

The closest airport is the main international Juan Santamaria in San Jose.

Airport transfers are included in the packages and your first and last night is always in a San Jose hotel so there are no set times for arrival/departure.

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

Arrive at Juan Santamaria airport where you will be met and transferred to a hotel in San Jose. Dinner is not included tonight.

Day 2

Riding: 3 hours

After breakfast, at c. 8.30am, you'll be collected and transferred to the first stables which are located along the Trinidad river in the dry central pacific region. After horse assignment you'll set out across rolling hills and meadows into the Gallery forest alongside the Cuarros river - an excellent spot for wildlife encounters. Meander across the river following a country lane which passes through farm land and rural homes until reaching your overnight accommodation. You'll stay three nights here to experience typical Costa Rican life. Bathrooms may be shared.

Day 3

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Todays ride takes you to the Pacific coast following country lanes and an old ranch trail which leads to Tivives Crag. From this spot the Spaniards first started their conquest of the Central Pacific around 1561! Ride across the Cascajalillo Mangrove swamps and along the coast. Depending on tide times lunch will either be served at a local cafe or as a picnic on the beach. Depending on tides you'll then remount and climb towards Cuevas Crag, enjoying unique views of the Pacific ocean, or alternatively ride along the shoreline towards Guacalillo beach before returning to your lodge.

Day 4

Riding: 3 - 6 hours

Today you'll explore the 1000 acre private reserve of La Mariana estate, riding through rolling hills and savannahs towards the Transitional-Dry forest and lush Gallery forest. The terrain is picturesque and predominantly flat with gentle slopes and forested valleys. As you ride over the higher areas you'll gain excellent views of the Pacific ocean and perhaps spot some local wildlife too. Return to the hacienda for lunch. In the afternoon there's an optional ride to the southern areas with some gentle hill climbs to reach an ocean-view sunset point.

Day 5

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Your final ride in the central pacific region takes you to the Machuca River basin, passing Cascajal village and reaching the point where the river canyon broadens onto the plains. Heading towards the Jesus Maria River basin you explore the plains and forested valleys along the Machuca river canyon where the land is very fertile and used to cultivate melons.

In the afternoon you transfer c. 3.5 hours by vehicle to the northern region, home of Arenal volcano which last erupted in 1968 and remains one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Overnight in Arenal.

Day 6

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

This morning you take a ride through the Arenal countryside. Ascend a mountain and traverse both rainforest and cattle fields, stopping at a beautiful lagoon where the horses can take a drink and you can dismount and stretch your legs. Continue to a lookout point with marvellous views of Arenal volcano. This trail mainly crosses private land and was originally used by Don Tobias, a well-known horse breeder in the area.

In the afternoon, take a guided visit to Arenal volcano with free time to enjoy the hot springs and gardens. These thermo-mineral waters are claimed to have healing powers so should ease those aching muscles! Spend a second night in Arenal.

Day 7

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

An early start this morning as you'll be collected at c. 6am for a 5 hour shuttle (shared) transfer to the Caribbean coast. After checking into your room you have some free time to relax and unwind.

At c. 2.30pm you meet your new local horse guide and new horse for a short ride along a jungle trail and then onto the coast. A stop for swimming and resting on the beach is usually possible. Overnight in Cahuita.

Day 8

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Take a short walk to the stables and then ride out over scenic Playa Negra (black beach), then partway over the village road towards Playa Grande (long beach) - a quiet, secluded and deserted Caribbean beac ideal for some brisk canters. Enter a tropical forest where your guide will point out local flora and fauna - with luck you'll spot howler monkeys, sloths and a variety of exotic birds including toucans. Your guide may even show you how to open coconuts with a machete! As you return to the stables there are more opportunities for canters.

Lunch will be taken at a local restaurant and the afternoon is at leisure to take any local excursions or perhaps hire a bike or surf board (extra cost, payable locally).

Day 9

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

This morning's ride takes you along the beach and then up a mountain trail through local farmland to reach the trailhead. Dismount and walk on foot for 50mins following a forest trail to the secluded and enchanting waterfall where you can swim and enjoy a picnic lunch. Hike back to the horses and ride back to the stables in time for a refreshing shower.

Transfer by shuttle (shared) back to San Jose (c. 3.5 hrs) for your final night in a hotel. Dinner is not included this evening.

Day 10

Riding: No riding.

Transfer to Santamarie airport for your flight home.

Accommodation

3 nights at a farm lodge, 2 nights at a family eco-lodge, 2 nights in rustic cabanas and 2 nights in a hotel.

For nights 2, 3 and 4 you have a choice of accommodation: Cerro Lodge is a comfortable eco-hotel whilst Los Domos is smaller, rustic dome-shaped bungalows close to the horses.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You should be at least an intermediate rider, capable in all paces across varied terrain.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

Feb. 6, 2024 - Feb. 15, 2024

March 19, 2024 - March 28, 2024

April 16, 2024 - April 25, 2024

June 18, 2024 - June 27, 2024

July 23, 2024 - Aug. 1, 2024

Aug. 27, 2024 - Sept. 5, 2024

Sept. 3, 2024 - Sept. 12, 2024

Oct. 8, 2024 - Oct. 17, 2024

Nov. 5, 2024 - Nov. 14, 2024

Nov. 12, 2024 - Nov. 21, 2024

Nov. 19, 2024 - Nov. 28, 2024

Dec. 17, 2024 - Dec. 26, 2024

Jan. 14, 2025 - Jan. 23, 2025

Jan. 21, 2025 - Jan. 30, 2025

Jan. 28, 2025 - Feb. 6, 2025

Feb. 18, 2025 - Feb. 27, 2025

March 11, 2025 - March 20, 2025

April 8, 2025 - April 17, 2024

Pricing

2024/2025
Rider, sharing (Cerro Lodge)
£2170 $2750 €2565
2024/2025
Rider, sharing (Los Domos)
£1945 $2465 €2300
Included 9 nights twin/double room accommodation, all meals from breakfast on day two until breakfast on day ten excluding meals in San Jose, 7 days of riding, entrance fee to hot springs, one litre of drinking water per person, transfers as described, luggage transfer and guides.
Not included Flights, insurance, dinners in San Jose, personal expenses, drinks, tips

Extras

2024/2025 - Single Supplement (Cerro Lodge) £485 $620 €575
Paid to Far and Ride
2024/2025 - Single Supplement (Los Domos) £335 $425 €395
Paid to Far and Ride
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

You will be met on arrival at Juan Santamaria International airport in San Jose and transferred to your hotel to overnight. Dinner is not included this evening.

Day 2

Riding: 3 hours

After breakfast, at c. 8.30am, you are transferred to the stables which is a journey of about 1.5 hours. On arrival you are introduced to your guide, your horse, the ranch and its facilities and given the chance to acquaint yourself with the Costa Rican tack and riding style. Set off on your first ride along rolling hills and meadows and into the Gallery Forest alongside the Cuarros river - an excellent spot for wildlife encounters. Meander across the river following a country lane and passing farmland and rural homes.

After returning to the stables, you are transferred to your hotel to check-in and relax.

Day 3

Riding: 3 - 5 hours

Todays ride takes you to the Machuca River basin, passing Cascajal village and heading into the area where this river canyon broadens onto the plains. Head towards the Jesus Maria River basin and explore the plains and forests along the Machuca River Canyon, where the land is very fertile and most commonly used to cultivate melons. End the ride at a nearby hacienda and transfer back to your hotel.

Day 4

Riding: No riding.

Today you will have a break from riding and experience some of Costa Rica's best tropical adventures. Starting with a two hour Crocodile Boat Safari on the Tarcoles river which is home to one of the largest colonies of crocodiles in Costa Rica. The area where the river merges with the Guacalillo estuary and then the ocean is one of the best locations for viewing endangered birds such as the Mangrove Cuckoo, Mangrove Hummingbird, Mangrove Vireo and Panama Flycatcher. Other water birds are also commonly encountered such as herons, pelicans, egrets etc. (NB. The timing of this activity is scheduled to coincide with high tide).

Follow your boat safari with a forest canopy adventure on an Aerial Tram Tour. Featuring 18 gondolas with a capacity of 9 passengers plus a naturalist guide in each one, you'll tour the rich canopy of the rainforest. The transitional tropical rainforest to home to more than 50 species of native birds and an enormous amount of flora and fauna. You can also visit the Heliconias Gallery, Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Garden and Snake Exhibition in the middle of the forest.

Finally, you are invited to glide over the treetops on an exciting Zip Line Tour. Including 15 platforms and 10 cables covering a total distance of 1503m you can experience a unique view of Costa Rica's nature. You'll be accompanied by a naturalist guide who will point out the secrets of the rainforest around you.

Return to your hotel in the evening for dinner and to overnight.

Day 5

Riding: 3 - 5 hours

Back in the saddle today for a ride into the centre of the rural communities where you can visit and meet with the communities that have helped to host you this week. Nothing is 'staged' and what occurs is the natural exchange between people. On your way you'll pass through Santa Rita village, travel along old railway tracks which are now overgrown and returning to nature before finally arriving in La Ceiba town. Stop at a local venue for a short break and a drink John Wayne style!

Day 6

Riding: 5 hours

Your final ride takes you on a splendid journey following a route which was first used by the Spaniards as they began exploring and settling along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica nearly 500 years ago. Sights to be experienced include rivers, jungles, Gallery Forests and by following a rural road, Tivives Crag (which before a landslip into the sea was formerly known as the Port of Landecho). From here you have unforgettable views of the Pacific - this historic site was where the Spaniards first started their conquest of the Central Pacific in the late 16th century. Return to your hotel for dinner.

Day 7

Riding: No riding.

Todays non-riding day takes you to Punta Aguias only 20mins from Jaco Beach for an ocean kayaking experience. After a brief introduction and demonstration you will paddle on kayaks or Hawaiian style outrigger canoes past spectacular cliffs filled with frigate birds and pelicans, finally landing on a small barrier island in Playa Limoncito. Here you will have the chance to snorkle and view the spectacular sea-life in the warm Pacific waters. The beach is in a sheltered cove with a nearby coral reef with a variety of marine life. Enjoy a fresh fruit buffet before kayaking back to Playa Aguias. (NB. Snorkelling is from the beach rather than a boat so accessible to all, but also optional. Visibility depends on local conditions).

Later you'll be transferred back to San Jose. Dinner is not included tonight.

Day 8

Riding: No riding.

Morning at your leisure and then you'll be transferred to the airport for your flight home.

Accommodation

The first and last night is in a San Jose hotel which will be mid-range with a private bathroom.

During the ride there are two accommodation options:
1. Los Domos - dome style bungalows walking distance to horses but rustic with no internet - there is a plunge pool.
2. Cerro Lodge - comfortable hotel near the stables and are transferred to the horses each day. Rooms at the hotel have either mountain or garden views and private bathrooms. There is an outdoor pool and sun terrace, an onsite restaurant and free WiFi.

Experience Beginner / Intermediate / Experienced

All abilities can be accommodated. Beginners can be taken steadily whilst more experienced riders can canter where the terrain is suitable. Many of the trails are rocky and narrow and not suitable for a fast pace - the emphasis being on exploring the rainforest and environment - but there are canters on the beaches and some of the open grasslands.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 12
Departure windows

At any time during: Jan. 1, 2024 - Dec. 31, 2024  (Flexible departures available on request)

Pricing

2024
Rider (Los Domos), sharing
£1405 $1785 €1665
2024
Rider (Cerro Lodge), sharing
£1570 $1995 €1860
Included 7 nights accommodation, all meals from breakfast on day two to breakfast on day eight (except dinner on the final night in San Jose), San Jose airport transfers, 4 days riding, non-riding activities as described, drinking water (1 litre per person each day), sales tax and restaurant service charges.
Not included Flights, insurance, drinks, dinner on the two nights in San Jose, personal expenses, departure taxes, tips.

Extras

2024 - Single Supplement (Cerro Lodge) £390 $495 €460
Paid to Far and Ride
Payable by anyone in a single room
2024 - Single Supplement (Los Domos) £335 $425 €395
Paid to Far and Ride
Payable by anyone in a single room
2024 - Sole Rider Supplement (Cerro Lodge) £985 $1250 €1165
Paid to Far and Ride
Confirms the ride for one person but does not guarantee a private ride - as soon as other people join, this will be refunded. Single Supplement must be paid in addition to the Sole Rider Supplement.
2024 - Sole Rider Supplement (Los Domos) £825 $1050 €980
Paid to Far and Ride
Confirms the ride for one person but does not guarantee a private ride - as soon as other people join, this will be refunded. Single Supplement must be paid in addition to the Sole Rider Supplement.
2024 - Child Discount (11 years or under) USD 225 discount for children sharing with two adults
2024 - Non-Rider discount USD 385 discount for non-riders
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

Arrive at Juan Santamaria airport and transfer to a hotel in San Jose. Dinner is not included tonight.

Day 2

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

At c. 8.30am you'll be collected from your hotel and transferred to the stables located along the Trinidad river in the Dry Central Pacific region. Following horse assignment you'll take a short ride on the farm to ensure you're happy with your horse and the local riding style. The horses are then trucked to the starting point of the ride and you visit the local town for any last-minute purchases before heading onto more "off the beaten track" trails.

Reunite with your horses in the Turrubares Mountains lowlands and ride on trails adjacent to Carare national park to reach Galan. Overnight in a guesthouse.

*On this day it is recommended that you just bring a small holdall of luggage (8kg max) for these two nights and you'll be reunited with the rest of your luggage on day four, where you'll again pack a small bag for the rest of the trail, finally collecting all your luggage at the end.

Day 3

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Todays ride explores the neighbouring rainforest adjacent to Carara national park, which in indigenous Huetar language means "river of lizards". Carara is considered a must destination amongst wildlife enthusiasts and birders. Created as a biological reserve in 1978 and now considered a biological island because of the dense agriculture and livestock operations around it which date back to the pre-Columbus era. The 4700 hectare reserve occupies a unique position in the transition zone between tropical moist forest and tropical wet forest in the Pacific lowlands. Though most of the vegetation remains evergreen and is characteristic of the wet forest life zone, there are a number of species that lose their leaves during the dry season, showing thei affinity to the drier climate found north of the reserve.

Overnight at a local guesthouse.

Day 4

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Continue riding along the south eastern trail adjacent to Carara national park towards the remote village of Sur de Turrubares - a charming rural community tucked in a hidden valley surrounded by amazing tropical forest and mountains. Here you can unplug yourself from the rest of the world. During school times you may visit the local school (and are welcome to bring school supplies with you to gift them). You can also visit a local bar (if open) before continuing your ride towards Finca Galan. En route you will cross rivers and gain altitude as you head towards the Turrubares mountains. The views become more astounding and the cooler breeze increases until you reach 640m elevation. Tucked away in the foothills lies Finca Galan where you spend the next three nights. On clear days it is possible to see the ocean surf hitting the coastline.

Day 5

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

Today you have the option of riding towards the Potenciana mountains if weather conditions are suitable. The route offers spectacular mountain and distant ocean views as you climb through farmlands and along mountain trails of premontane and Oak forests. Turrubares and Potentiana are the only high coastal mountain ranges in Central America. As you continue to ascend you'll notice changes in the flora as the lower temperatures allows for more ferns, mosses and bromeliads.

If the weather is rainy or cloudy then you'll do a countryside ride instead visiting Lanas community which sits amongst the Lanas and Tulin river basins. This area is mainly dedicated to cattle raising and the little town is made up of houses dotted along a rural road with a catholic temple, football field and school. Return to Finca Galan to overnight.

Day 6

Riding: No riding.

Today is a rest day for the horses and a great opportunity to experience the real, rural Costa Rica. You can take a guided nature walk through the rainforest or help with farm work activities or just relax in a hammock! On the farm you can learn about how to produce seasonal crops, cultivation techniques and the challenges faced by local farmers. Amongst the crops produced in this area are corn, sweet potato, cacao, beans, yucca and sugar cane.

Day 7

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Mount up again and start your descent of the Turrubares mountains towards the Pacific coast lowlands, following a dirt road. You'll reach cattle raising lands in the villages of Delicias and San Gabriel before continuing on mountain farm trails to reach the Turrabaritos river which you cross a few times as it meanders towards the coast. Spend the night on the rivers edge at Mada de Platano - bring some swimming clothes for a dip in the river to cool off!

Day 8

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Final ride across the Turrabaritos river which joins with the Tulin river before finally reaching the Pacific ocean. Ride up through Fila Negra mountain ridhe with incredible views to the coastline and then down onto the lowlands ending at Playa Hermosa on the Central Pacific coast. About 3 miles south of Jaco this is one of the best surf beaches in the country for its consistent wave break throughout the year. After riding along the beach you say farewell to your horses and can enjoy some time in the shade of wild almond trees whilst waiting for your transfer.

The horses are trucked back to the ranch and you are transferred back to a hotel in San Jose. Or you could add an extension to Tortuguero, Arenal, Manuel Antonio etc.

Day 9

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast you'll be transferred to the airport in time for your flight.

Accommodation

2 nights at a local guesthouse, 3 nights at a farm guest house, 1 night at a local pub, 2 nights at a hotel in San Jose.

*The remote accommodation is rustic and you should be prepared for cool showers and a lack of modern amenities.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You should be at least an intermediate rider, comfortable in all paces in the outdoors.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

March 26, 2024 - April 3, 2024

April 26, 2024 - May 4, 2024

May 28, 2024 - June 5, 2024

July 16, 2024 - July 24, 2024

Aug. 20, 2024 - Aug. 28, 2024

Nov. 26, 2024 - Dec. 4, 2024

Dec. 26, 2024 - Jan. 3, 2025

Jan. 7, 2025 - Jan. 15, 2025

Feb. 11, 2025 - Feb. 19, 2025

March 25, 2025 - April 2, 2025

April 22, 2025 - April 30, 2025

Pricing

2024/2025
Rider, sharing
£1835 $2325 €2170
Included 8 nights accommodation, 5.5 days riding, all meals except dinners in San Jose, transfers as described, entrance fees, one litre of water per person per day.
Not included Flights, insurance, drinks, dinners in San Jose, personal expenses, tips.

Extras

2024/2025 - Single Supplement £355 $455 €425
Paid to Far and Ride
Payable by anyone in a single room.
2024/2025 - Sole Rider Supplement £1280 $1625 €1515
Paid to Far and Ride
Paid to guarantee the ride for one person. Single supplement still applies.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.