15 days from £1480pp plus international flights.
There's something for everyone in this two week holiday: captivating wildlife, photogenic scenery, a wide choice of activities and ample chill time on the coast. This trip appeals to adults and children alike, is perfect for couples and also for groups of friends. In short, it's a true classic!
Costa Rica is famous for its plentiful and varied plant and animal life and is widely regarded as one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet. You get to see why on this holiday. You cruise on the canals and waterways of Tortuguero by the Caribbean coast, home to caiman, otters, crocodiles, turtles, herons and kingfishers, get up close and personal with birds and monkeys in the rainforest from hanging bridges, and explore the misty, other-worldly cloudforest with its orchids, giant ferns, hummingbirds, butterflies and frogs. In each location there's an expert naturalist guide whose knowledge is invaluable in building your understanding and appreciation of all you see.
There is plenty of scope for adventure. Thrill seekers who crave some pulse-racing action such as mountain biking, zipling through the forest, abseiling down a waterfall or white water rafting will be in their element. Those who prefer something more sedate can ride a gondola to the top of Arenal and back again, go for nature walks, visit butterfly and hummingbird gardens and explore on horseback. On the coast there's time for swimming, snorkelling, diving and sailing. We've included plenty of free time, too, so if you feel like relaxing by the pool or enjoying a spa treatment, that's perfectly possible, too.
Good quality, rather than luxury, hotels and lodges, and shared transfers make this holiday excellent value for money, and for the beach stay you can choose between Bahia del Sol on Playa Potrero and Hotel Capitan Suizo in Tamarindo, both on the north Pacific coast, and Si Como No in Manuel Antonio, to round off this lovely holiday.
On landing at the international airport in San Jose you are greeted by a local representative and driven to your first night's accommodation, at Hotel Presidente in the city centre. The hotel has a rooftop bar-cum-restaurant where you can sit and sip a drink, and if you feel like to venturing out tonight there are plenty of eateries nearby for you to choose from.
It's an early start as you head out from the capital on the journey to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast. The drive crosses the mountain range that forms the spine of the country, and from the bus you should get some fine views of the landscape. After a breakfast stop you continue on to the plains and to the dock where you board a boat for the last part of the trip, arriving at Evergreen Lodge in time for lunch. Later you join a guide on a tour of Tortuguero village, learning about local life and hearing about the work being done to protect the vulnerable turtles that use the beach here as a nesting site. Return to the lodge for dinner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
You spend today exploring Tortguero National Park. This is best done from the water, and your boat awaits! Sit back and enjoy the changing scenery as you cruise along canals, with the guide advising you on both the flora and fauna of the area. Look out for caiman, crocodiles and river turtles in the water, and sloths, spider, howler and capuchin monkeys plus a wide variety of birds. It's a marvellous introduction to the biodiversity of the country. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
After breakfast at the lodge you are collected for the journey to Guapiles, travelling first by boat which gives you another opportunity to look for wildlife, and then by road. After a lunch stop the drive continues north, passing a number of towns. Depending on the weather you should soon get your first sight of Arenal Volcano. Your home for the next 4 nights is Lomas del Volcan, located near the base of the volcano. Breakfast, lunch
This morning you set off into the rainforest with a guide for one of the best known excursions at Arenal: the hanging bridges. The trail uses both stationary and suspension bridges, set at different heights, so traversing them allows you to view different parts of the forest canopy. This is one of the best ways to observe the plants and animals of the rainforest. The walk takes about 3 hours to complete and on conclusion you are driven back to Lomas del Volcan. The afternoon is at leisure. Have a swim in the pool or a soak in the jacuzzi and follow the walking trail looking for butterflies and hummingbirds. Breakfast
This morning's activity is a guided hike in the foothills of Arenal. Your trail leads through the rainforest and lets you pause to admire the many different plants that thrive here, and to see some of the animal life it supports. You emerge at a viewpoint where you can look out over a lava flow, a reminder of Arenal's volcanic nature. After the hike you are taken back to the lodge, and can spend the afternoon relaxing on your terrace or mixing with other guests over a drink in the bar. Breakfast
With nothing planned, the day is your own. You might like to head back in to the national park for another hike. Alternatively you can ride the Sky Tram, a gondola that carries you up the volcano with wonderful views over the forest and Arenal Lake. Once at the top you choose between a leisurely ride back in the same gondola or a more adventurous descent via a series of ziplines. Other possibilities include mountain biking, horse riding, waterfall abseiling and white water rafting. Plenty of choice! Breakfast
It's time for a change of scene as you travel to Monteverde. This journey includes a crossing of Lake Arenal, where you should see numerous birds against the backdrop of hills and the dominating presence of Arenal Volcano. One across you continue on land, ascending on dirt roads, giving you time to take in the mountain scenery. Finally you arrive at Monteverde Lodge and Gardens. Take time to settle in to your forest view room and maybe walk along the orchid trail as you explore the gardens, or simply take time out to laze in one of the hammocks. Breakfast
After breakfast you set off with the guide into the cloudforest. From the outset you appreciate the differences with the rainforest. Here you are at a higher altitude, the atmopshere is humid and mist often hangs in the air. Trees are shorter than their towering rainforest counterparts, and ferns, mosses and orchids abound. Reptiles, insects and birds are prolific, and, if luck is on your side, you may see the brilliant plumage of the resplendent quetzal. Mammals include cats, sloths, tapir, deer and monkeys. Your tour lasts about an hour after which you return to the lodge, and have a free afternoon. There are areas dedicated to both butterflies and hummingbirds for you to tour at your leisure, and hammocks where you can relax. Breakfast
A free day to enjoy Monteverde. Take another guided walk in the cloudforest, take to suspended bridges for views into the trees or go for thrills as you zipline above the canopy. Horse rides can be arranged, as can a tour of a local sugar cane and coffee farm, and you have the chance to visit a women's cooperative where crafts that make fine gifts and souvenirs are offered for sale. On top of all this you are welcome to rest at the lodge, enjoying some peaceful time by the pool and in the well-tended gardens. Breakfast
This morning you leave the cloudforest behind as you travel towards the Pacific coast. Depending on your chosen hotel you spend the next 4 nights on either the northen coast, famed for its fine beaches, or in Manuel Anotonio, a national park combining both land and sea. Whichever you choose, you soon adapt to your new surroundings, enjoying the ocean vistas, as you look forward to the next phase of your holiday. Breakfast
Three days to enjoy life by the ocean. At Bahia del Sol and Hotel Capitan Suizo you have access to watersports such as snorkelling, diving, kayaking, sailing and fishing, plus land pursuits including walking and horse riding. At Si Como No you have Manuel Antonio National Park on your doorstep and can go hiking and take canopy tours as well as snorkelling and surfing. Each of the hotels has an outdoor swimming pool, spa and restaurant so you have all you need without straying from the grounds if you crave total relaxation. Breakfast
The holiday is coming to an end. Enjoy breakfast by the coast and, bags packed, you are driven back to the airport in San Jose, arriving in time to check in for your flight home. Breakfast
Guide price from (pp sharing): £1480 (ex. international flights)
14 nights accommodation based on twin share, private guided transfer from San Jose airport to Hotel Presidente on day 1, shared transfers elsewhere, Tortuguero village tour, Tortuguero boat tour, Arenal hanging bridges half day tour, Arenal Volcano guided hike half day, Monteverde Reserve half day tour, meals as shown.
International flights and taxes, travel insurance, meals not specified as included, drinks, optional activities, personal expenses, tips
Getting there: This holiday starts and ends in San Jose. Return flight from the UK cost from around £600, depending on season and availability. We usually book these for you.
Departure dates: This is a private tailor made holiday that can depart on the day of your choice, subject to availability
With direct access to Potrero beach, a pool, spa and open air restaurant, Bahia del Sol offers great value for money on the north Pacific coast.
Evergreen Lodge is just 5 minutes from Tortuguero National Park so is an ideal base for boat rides, hikes and wildlife watching.
A welcoming beach-front hotel with spacious rooms, an open air restaurant, pool and gardens filled with flowers and wildlife.
This contemporary-style hotel combines a convenient location and comfy accommodation making it a popular choice for visitors to the capital.
This hotel has an envious location in the foothills of the Arenal Volcano with spectacular views of the surrounding area.
A welcoming lodge in lovely rainforest gardens, ideal for exploring and enjoying nature.
Si Como No is an eco-resort on a hill above one of Manuel Antonio's lovely beaches, offering land and water-based activities.
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Time: GMT -6
Flight time: The flying time is about 12 hours from the UK. There are now direct flights from the UK using British Airways. We work with all the major airlines and can offer flights from the UK or via the USA, Panama or a European hub. With the connection times you are looking at around 15 or 16 hours.
Language: Spanish is the official language. English is widely spoken throughout Costa Rica
Visas: Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.
Health: There are no compulsory vaccinations.