The Crown Jewels of Costa Rica
15-day holiday in Costa Rica from £2195pp
Costa Rica doesn't have a royal family, but if it did we like to think that their crown jewels would be the string of wonderful National Parks which make the country such an amazing destination for anyone with a love of amazing scenery and unmissable wildlife. Starting with the area around the iconic Arenal volcano, we'll take you down through the cloud forest of the Monteverde Reserve and on to the beaches and jungles of the Manuel Antonio National Park.
Saving the best 'til last, we'll end these trips to Costa Rica with several days in the Corcovado National Park, which has been described as the most biologically intense place on earth, and where you can find some of the densest populations of tapirs, jaguars and scarlet macaws in the world...
- Day One: Arrival in San Jose
- Day Two: Travel to Arenal
- Day Three: Waterfalls and Hot Springs
- Day Four: Hanging Bridges Park
- Day Five: On to Monteverde
- Day Six: Cloud Forest Reserve
- Day Seven: Canopy Walkway Tour
- Day Eight: Down to the Pacific
- Day Nine: Manuel Antonio National Park
- Day Ten: Free Day in Manuel Antonio
- Day Eleven: Travel to Corcovado
- Day Twelve: Caño Island
- Day Thirteen: Free time in Corcovado
- Day Fourteen: Back to San Jose
- Day Fifteen: Overnight flight back to the UK
Day One – Arrival in San Jose
We'll be waiting to meet you at San José airport today, as you touch down in one of the world’s most beautiful and peaceful countries, Costa Rica! Most international flights arrive in the evening, and we’ll take you straight to your hotel so you can freshen up and head out for dinner.
Day Two - On to Arenal
After breakfast this morning, we’ll pick you up and drive to the active volcano of Arenal. Your hotel for the next few days is at the base of the volcano, close to La Fortuna, so you’re perfectly placed to explore the area. (Breakfast Included)
Day Three – Waterfalls and Hot Springs
You’ll have some free time today to relax and enjoy the hotel, before we pick you up and take you into the national park to get a little closer to the volcano. Rising up at over 1,600 metres high, Arenal is a major part of the landscape here in Costa Rica, and has been active since the 1960s. We will follow a trail through the forest for approximately 500 metres which leads up to a 70 metre-high waterfall. We will then continue on to the lovely Baldi Hot Springs for a rejuvenating evening. Here, you can spend a few hours soaking in one of the 25 thermal pools, surrounded by tropical trees and waterfalls. We will be having dinner here too, so you can enjoy a sunset dip as steam rises from the glowing pools, which are lit up on a night. (B/D)
- There are some fantastic hiking trails around Arenal, and one of our favourite takes you to the stunningly beautiful Rio Celeste and waterfall. It’s a fairly challenging 7km hike, but you are rewarded with an ice-cold dip in the clear turquoise waters at the end, plus, if you’re lucky you might meet a monkey or two along the way!
Day Four - Hanging Bridges Park
Today you will have some more free time at your hotel, and this afternoon we will visit the Hanging Bridges Park, which is located in the corridor followed by birds migrating between North and South America. The trails and bridges of this project will bring the visitor as close as any person could ever imagine observing the birds, the flowers and the lush vegetation of the primary rainforest. The park covers 250 hectares, and is made of paths and bridges built to maintain the utmost harmony between man-made structures and nature. The area has impressive views to Arenal Volcano and to the lake that feeds the largest hydroelectric plant in Costa Rica. While walking along the trails, the fascinating world of the tropical forest will open to you. Along these three kilometres of trails, visitors will be immersed in the diverse fauna and flora of this rainforest admiring colourful birds and tropical plant species. More than 50 species of birds can be count at this site that offers one of the most productive bird watching walks of the region. (B)
- There are plenty of alternative tours on offer around Arenal, especially for the adventurous! So why not explore the area by quad, horseback, raft, kayak, zip-wire, boat, or bike? Just ask us for more information!
Day Five - On to Monteverde
We’ll pick you up after breakfast this morning and begin the short drive to the dam, where we’ll board a comfortable pontoon boat in order to cross Arenal Lake to Río Chiquita. The lake was manmade in 1974 to provide hydroelectric power for the country, but it has become a home for many different species of resident and migratory birds, as well as mammals such as monkeys and sloths. In addition, on a clear day there are fantastic views of the Volcano. From Río Chiquito we’ll continue on to your lodge in Monteverde. (B)
Day Six - Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world, having 4% of all the known species of plants and animals in only 0.04% the earth's surface! Due to its altitudinal variation and its exposure climatic factors that vary between the Pacific and Caribbean slopes, Monteverde is perhaps one of the richest regions in the country, where there are over 3,000 known species. One of the main attractions of Monteverde Reserve is its 13-kilometre network of trails (of course we won’t be covering them all today!). There are over 500 bird species here, including the majestic quetzal and the three-wattle bellbird, 120 species of reptiles and amphibians and more than 3,000 plants, among them the highest diversity of orchids in the world. Our naturalist guide will be on hand to point out the many smaller species we might otherwise miss, so don’t forget to bring your camera! (B)
- Many of Costa Rica’s most impressive (and dangerous!) species are nocturnal, so if you would like to add-on a night tour in the hidden valley, a privately owned protected forest, just let us know!
Day Seven - Selvatura Canopy Walk
Selvatura Park is a conservation project within the cloud forest, featuring zip lines and treetop walkways on hanging bridges, as well as a beautiful butterfly and hummingbird garden. Today’s tour will begin with a short safety briefing, before we are kitted-out for a thrilling zip-line ride through the forest canopy. It’s an incredible and exhilarating experience, and a unique way to explore the forest. We’ll then have a guided treetop walk along the 2 miles of suspended trails and bridges, before returning to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure. (B)
- Perhaps you’d like to see a different side of Costa Rica today? The country is a big exporter of coffee, and a tour of a coffee plantation, to learn about every stage of the production process, makes for an interesting morning.
Day Eight - Down to the Pacific Coast
After breakfast this morning we will pick you up and drive to the hot and humid central pacific region of the country. The long white sand beaches, blue-green waters, and beautiful cliffs make this some of the most picturesque scenery in Costa Rica. Your hotel for the next few days is located in a privileged position overlooking the beach and jungle, with 360-degree views of this beautiful coastline. (B)
Day Nine - Exploring the Manuel Antonio National Park
One of Costa Rica’s ecological gems and the second most-visited nature reserve in the country, Manuel Antonio National Park is no to be missed while visiting this beautiful area. Today we’ll take you for a tour into the park with experienced guides for an easy and relaxing walk over well-marked trails that will introduce you to the varied flora and fauna of this rich rainforests. Although many of the animals can be easily observed, the guide will always carry a high-powered telescopic lens that can be used to view resident wildlife obscured by the lush jungle. Beginning at the entrance of the park, the walk through the forest trails leads to the spectacular white sand beaches where a short break is taken to enjoy the sun and take a refreshing dip in the ocean. From here we can either return to the hotel for a free afternoon or you can stay on the beach and in the park for the rest of the day. (B)
Day Ten - Free time in Manuel Antonio
We're sure you’ll want to make the most of your stunning surroundings, so we’ve left today completely free. Of course, there is plenty to do here, and we can arrange another tour for today if you’d prefer. (B)
- Birdwatchers might want to consider a trip to Carara National Park, where you’ll spot a whole range of species, including macaws and toucans. Alternatively, perhaps you’d prefer something more active, such as rafting?
Day Eleven - On to Corcovado
This morning we will begin our journey to the jungle of Corcovado. There are no roads to the lodge, so we will first have to take a small plane before boarding a boat to travel down the Sierpe River, following the Pacific coast. Located on the Osa Peninsula, Corcovado is the "crown jewel" of a world-renowned national park system. Including thirteen separate ecosystems, almost one thousand species of trees and nearly a hundred species of birds, Corcovado has been called "the most biologically intense place on earth”. Here among the largest trees of Costa Rica, can be found the densest population of tapirs, jaguars and scarlet macaws in Meso-America. Upon arrival at the lodge, you will have some free time to unpack and relax, before enjoying a delicious welcome dinner on your first night. (B/D)
Day Twelve - Caño Island Tour
Today we will take a 40-minute boat ride to Caño Island, also known as the ‘coral garden’. We’ll hopefully spot some dolphins along the way, and at certain times of the year humpback whales can also be observed. We will drop the anchor in the marine reserve, which is the perfect place for snorkelling. If we’re lucky we’ll see a whole range of fish and marine life, including manta ray, turtles and white-tipped sharks. (B/L/D)
Day Thirteen - Free Day in the Corcovado National Park
We've left today free for you to enjoy the beaches of Corcovado. If you’re craving more wildlife, then we recommend visiting the Corcovado National Park, which can be arranged through the hotel. But as it’s approaching the end of your holiday in Costa Rica, perhaps you’d prefer to spend the afternoon relaxing in a hammock taking in the beautiful ocean views... (B/L/D)
Day Fourteen - Back to San Jose
It's time to say goodbye to the wilderness of Corcovado today, as we return by small aircraft to San José. Upon arrival we’ll take you to your hotel near the city of Alajuela, close to the international airport, for your final night here in Costa Rica. Your hotel for the night is set in a protected forest reserve, with waterfalls and trails, so this afternoon you could take a leisurely walk into the forest for some final wildlife-spotting. (B)
Day Fifteen - Last Day of your Costa Rica Journey
Sadly, today marks the end of your journey around Costa Rica! We’ll pick you up this afternoon and make sure your trip ends perfectly by getting you to the airport in plenty of time for your international departure. (B)
Our standard price for this trip to Costa Rica is £2195 per person, which is based on two sharing a double or twin room in our standard hotels and lodge.
That price includes all your accommodation, internal transport, transfers, tours, guides and entrance fees, plus all the specified meals.
We don't have any "local payments" or sneaky charges: everything you have read about on this itinerary is included in that price. And because everything we do is tailor-made, we don't have fixed departure dates or minimum numbers for our trips. Outside of national holidays or other special events, this price is valid for the whole of 2018.
So with the exception of a few meals, everything on your holiday is included. What we don't include as standard is your international flights, because with these you have a huge range of options depending on the date you want to travel, the route you want to fly, and your preferred departure airport in the UK.
We aren't tied to any particular airline, and we will be delighted to discuss all options with you, or you can even book the flights yourself if you prefer: it's totally up to you.
Our Holidays are rated 5 out of 5 on the Feefo Independent Review Site