Classic Costa Rica
In two weeks you travel from the Caribbean to the Pacific coast, taking in rainforest, cloudforest, a wealth of wildlife and an array of activities. Costa Rica in a nutshell!
Classic Costa Rica
15 days from £2,205 pp
(exc. international flights)
If you’re searching for the ideal introduction to the variety and abundance of Costa Rica, look no further! This 15-day holiday is a winning combination of locations, wildlife, habitats, activity and downtime, suitable for all ages.
The adventure begins in Tortuguero, a perennially popular park, where you cruise the waterways watching for crocodiles, birds, sloths and monkeys, and learn about the work of conservationists who protect the vulnerable turtles that nest along the beach.
From here you head inland to Arenal volcano, one of the country’s best known landmarks. Here you cross hanging bridges for close up views of the rainforest canopy and go for a hike along the forest floor, both great opportunities to observe the plentiful wildlife. Free time offers scope for more activities or relaxation by the pool, as you prefer.
The cloudforest is another world, misty and mysterious, filled with giant ferns and delicate orchids, where hummingbirds and butterflies catch your eye and monkeys dart among the tall trees. After your introductory tour you’re free to explore at your leisure, with opportunities for horse riding and ziplining as well as hikes in search of the resplendent quetzal.
It would be a shame to visit Costa Rica and not stay by the beach, so we include 3 full days on the Pacific coast in your chosen hotel either in the north, famed for its long sandy bays, or in Manuel Antonio, where coast and rainforest meet. There’s plenty to do, but no pressure to do more than relax and enjoy Costa Rica’s pura vida!
- San Jose 1 night
- Tortuguero 2 nights
- Arenal 4 nights
- Monteverde 3 nights
- Pacific coast 4 nights
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Your holiday starts in earnest when you land at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José. You are greeted by a representative who will drive you to the 18kms into town and your overnight accommodation at Hotel Presidente. The hotel with its bright murals is quite a landmark in San Jose and the rooftop bar is a great place to unwind after your journey and anticipate the holiday. There are many restaurants in the neighbourhood so you have a good choice of dining venues tonight.
After a good night’s sleep you are up in good time to depart the city on the drive to the northern Caribbean region. You cross the spine of the country, made up of mountains and volcanoes, and then descend to the plains and travel past banana plantations, noting the changes in temperature at different altitudes. Here you exchange the bus for a boat, cruising along the canals of Tortuguero National Park, watching animals and birds by the banks. You arrive at Evergreen Lodge, your home for the next 2 nights, in time for lunch. Later you accompany a guide to Tortuguero village for an insight into local life, and to learn about conservation projects, especially those linked to protecting the turtles who come ashore to lay their eggs here and after whom the park is named.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
A full day to explore Tortuguero National Park. This park with its many canals is best seen from the water. Your guide helps you identify different species such as spider, capuchin and howler monkeys, sloths and a wide variety of birds. Marine wildlife includes crocodiles and turtles, and among the plants are beautiful orchids and waterlilies. This is a good introduction to the richness of Costa Rica’s flora and fauna.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
This morning you have a second bite at the cherry as you once again travel along the canals spotting wildlife. You continue by land to Guapiles, where you sit down to lunch, and are then driven to the northern plains, passing through several towns. Keep your eyes peeled for the first sight of Arenal volcano, sure to impress with its almost perfect symmetry. The journey concludes at Lomas del Volcan, set on a private estate of 150 hectares close to Arenal. Settle in, maybe following the nature trail in the grounds and sipping a chilled drink in the bar. Breakfast, lunch
The hanging bridges await! Your guide takes on a thoroughly absorbing walk in the rainforest, incorporating a series of 16 hanging bridges, sturdy structures set at various heights from which you can look out into and over the forest at the base of Arenal. Birds, monkeys, reptiles and insects abound, and you come away with a great appreciation of life in the rainforest. The tour takes around 2 hours and the afternoon is free, and you have a number of optional activities or might prefer to rest by the pool with its feature waterfall, or on your private terrace taking in the rainforest views.
Best foot forward! After breakfast you set out with the guide on a hike along trails, for a different, forest floor perspective. All the while you watch and listen for the many creatures among the trees, as you make your way to a viewpoint from which you see centuries-old lava flows, a reminder of Arenal’s volcanic nature. You have the remainder of the day at leisure.
Take your pick of the many optional activities on offer. Take to the air aboard the Sky Tram, go for more forest hikes or explore on horseback. Thrill seekers will not want to miss ziplining, mountain biking, white water rafting, abseiling down waterfalls. There is almost too much choice!
Following breakfast you travel to Monteverde Cloudforest. This journey include a crossing of Lake Arenal, the largest lake in Costa Rica, and continues by land into the mountains. The scenery changes along the way and there is always plenty to see. On arrival at Trapp Family Lodge you are shown to your comfy room where you can relax. Later you can go for a walk in the gardens and private reserve, getting a feel for the cloud forest.
Kick start your day with a tasty breakfast before joining a guide for a tour of Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve. The cloudforest is higher in altitude to the rainforest, and is an atmospheric place, humid and misty, bursting with life and comprising 8 biological zones. Orchids, ferns and mosses thrive in this environment as do many reptiles and birds including the wonderfully named resplendent quetzal. The sharp eyes and expert knowledge of your guide are a huge asset as you get a feel for this unusual environment. No activities are planned for the afternoon, leaving you free to relax in the lounge-bar or take a walk in the attractive gardens.
A free day in Monteverde. There’s no shortage of options: explore by horseback, whizz down a zipline, cross hanging bridges or take to the sky tram for spellbinding views. There are chances to learn about chocolate and coffee production, too, with tasting opportunities thrown in, and to visit a women’s cooperative to see and buy home-made crafts. After a busy day you can relax in the lounge or take time to enjoy the attractive gardens.
Today you head for the coast. You journey takes you to either the Pacific coast at Guanacaste in the north, or to Manuel Antonio in the Central Pacific region. Either way, rest and relaxation are on the cards. It’s been a busy few days and you’ve earned a lazy afternoon sitting by the pool as you adjust to the new surroundings. The choice of hotels to stay at depends on you, but you could chose from either the Bahia del Sol, the Capitan Suizo or Si Como No. You have 4 nights here, so can afford to take it slowly.
Day 12 - 14
Three days to do as you please. Depending on your chosen location you might like to go horse riding in the rainforest or along the beach, take a cruise, go snorkelling, surfing or kayaking. You also have ample time to spoil yourself with a visit to the spa for pampering, soothing and revitalising treatments.
Feeling fully refreshed, it’s time to leave the coast and travel back to the international airport at San Jose, arriving in time to check in for the home-bound flight. Breakfast
2024 guide price from (pp for two sharing, excluding international flights):
Travel not recommended in September and October
January – April 2024 from £2,945
May – June 2024 from £2,545
July – August & November 2024 from £2,780
Upgrade to private services or upgraded accommodation is available – please ask for options.
Note: Dates including festive periods such as Easter and Christmas will attract a supplement on these prices.
Includes: Transfers, ground transport by land and water, 14 nights twin share accommodation, meals as specified Tours: village and boat tours in Tortuguero inc. entrance fee, half-day Arenal hanging bridges tour, half-day Arenal guided hike, half-day Monteverde Reserve tour inc. entrance fee.
Excludes: International flights, departure taxes, visas, travel insurance, meals not specified, drinks, optional excursions and activities at Arenal, Monteverde and on the Pacific coast, personal expenses, tips.
Getting there: This tour starts and ends in San Jose. Return flight prices from the UK start from around £900.
Departure dates: This is a private, tailor-made holiday and can begin on any day you choose, subject to availability.