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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

Prices from: £1,480pp for 15 days

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!

Summary

  • San Jose 1 night
  • Tortuguero 2 nights
  • Arenal 4 nights
  • Monteverde 3 nights
  • Pacific coast 4 nights
 Day 1: 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.

 

 

TurtleDay 2: 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

Spider monkeyDay 3: 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  

Day 4: 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

ToucanDay 5: 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. Breakfast 

Lomas del Volcan poolDay 6: 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. Breakfast 

ZiplineDay 7: 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! Breakfast  

ButterflyDay 8: Following breakfast you travel to Monteverde Cloudforest. This journey include a crossing of Lake Arena, 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 Monteverde Lodge and Gardens you are shown to your comfy forest view room where you can relax. Later you can go for a walk in the gardens, getting a feel for the cloud forest. Breakfast

CloudforestDay 9: 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 laze by the pool or in a hammock Breakfast

Day 10: 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 with a massage at the lodge. Breakfast

Day 11: Today you head for the coast. You journey takes you to either the Pacific coast at Guancaste 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. You have 4 nights here, so can afford to take it slowly. Breakfast

Beach viewDays 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. Breakfast  

Day 15: 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

 

Price from (pp sharing): £1,480 (ex. international flights)

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, Monterverde 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 £600.

Departure dates: This is a private, tailor-made holiday and can begin on any day you chose, subject to availability.

Hotel Presidente

Hotel Presidente

Located on Central Avenue in the heart of downtown San Jose, this hotel is a convenient base in the city, within easy reach of shops, bars and restaurants, and bicycles are provided of you want to explore further afield. Accommodation is comfy and includes spacious superior rooms and suites. Hotel facilities include a gym, free Wi-Fi and a roof terrace with great views over the city. A complimentary buffet breakfast is provided each morning to set you up well for the day ahead. 

Evergreen Lodge

Evergreen Lodge

Set in 2 hectares of grounds, Evergreen Lodge is just a few minutes from the entrance of Tortuguero National Park. Rooms are light and spacious and cooled by ceiling fans. All have private bathrooms with hot and cold running water. They are set among trees, so you’ll hear birds and monkeys and will feel surrounded by nature. Meals are buffets, giving you a wide choice of dishes, served in the restaurant which has windows on 3 sides allowing you to look out into the forest as you dine. The bar provides a selection of soft and alcoholic drinks and is a good place to mingle with other travellers, and has Wi-Fi access so you can keep in touch with friends and family. There’s a pretty outdoor pool in the shape of a turtle, a paved sunbathing area and gardens with benches where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. A massage at the spa is the perfect way to relax after spending time in the national park.  

Lomas del Volcan

Lomas del Volcan

This friendly hotel is located on a farm in the foothills of the famous Arenal volcano. As you would expect the views are spectacular, but they have gone one step further, each wooden cabin has two decks, one facing the volcano and the other with a view of the tropical rainforest. You can choose your view depending on your mood, what more could you ask for? The cabins are dotted about the beautiful landscaped gardens. From here you can access the private trails into the primary forest and explore at your leisure. Take a refreshing afternoon dip in the pool or relax in the Jacuzzi and then on to dinner in the hotel restaurant which serves up delicious meals, both local and international in style, to suit all tastes. 


Monteverde Lodge and Gardens

Monteverde Lodge and Gardens

Monteverde Lodge and Gardens makes the most of its gorgeous setting, favouring the sound of birdsong to background music, and ceiling fans to the hum of air conditioning. Rooms have picture windows or balconies, reminding you of the raison d’etre of the lodge: nature. The grounds contain orchids, ferns and bromeliads, and there are dedicated gardens where you can watch butterflies and hummingbirds. Relax by the solar-heated pool, in the outdoor lounge or a hammock, take part in yoga sessions and enjoy scrumptious food at El Jardin Restaurant. All this is just a 15 minute drive from the entrance to Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve.

Bahia del Sol

Bahia del Sol

With lovely views of Potrero Beach and the Pacific Ocean this hotel makes a perfect coastal retreat. All rooms are suites are well equipped, featuring air conditioning and fans, flatscreen TV, phone, Wi-Fi, minibar, hot drinks maker, iPod dock, safe, bathrooms and private terrace. Suites are more spacious still and have living rooms. Enjoy meals to the sound of the sea in the open air restaurant and relax in the lounge-bar. At the Nau Spa you can submit to therapeutic and pampering treatments, and the hotel has regular yoga classes in a pavilion by the beach free for guests to join. There is a lovely outdoor pool and sunbathing area, and the beach is just a few steps away, and at the end of the afternoon this s great place to watch the sunset.


Hotel Capitan Suizo

Hotel Capitan Suizo

The hotel is at the southern, secluded end of Tamarindo Beach, about a 15 minute walk from the town. The name derives from the small island called ‘El Captán’ in the bay, and the nationality of the owning family. The hotel faces the ocean, with buildings shaded by trees which teem with monkeys and birds. Accommodation is a mix of rooms, suites and bungalows, all built from local materials. They vary in size and layout, but are all en-suite and have a private balcony or terrace, Wi-Fi, hot drinks maker, small fridge, IDD phone, radio and safe. There is an outdoor pool, and kayaks, boogie boards and surfboards are available to hire, while the concierge can arrange additional activities and trips. Meals are served in the open air by the beach, with a buffet breakfast and a la carte lunch and dinner. 

Si Como No

The resort occupies part of the hillside above one of Manual Antonio’s gorgeous beaches. While here you can go hiking in the forest, take canopy tours, go snorkelling, surfing and cruising in a catamaran. Activities can be interspersed with visits to the spa where you can enjoy a therapeutic massage or cleansing scrub, and relaxed downtime by the pool. Sí Como No’s standard rooms provide comfort and amenities such as minibar, phone, air conditioning, ceiling fan, en-suite bathroom and views of the rainforest. Deluxe rooms and suites also have balconies. One of the restaurants specialises in seafood and has a terrace with views of the ocean, and the other is a more casual diner by the pool.

walking across lava flow rock

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