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Explore Costa Rica

US$ 2,450 US$ 2,328
  • No booking or credit card fees
highlights
  • Nature and wildlife - The opportunity to see sloths, monkeys and brightly coloured frogs, together with some of Costa Rica's spectacular birdlife
  • Volcanoes - Admire the classic cone-shape of Arenal and the vastness of Poas
  • Tortuguero - Cruise the jungle waterways and explore the rainforest in search of abundant wildlife in this 'mini Amazon'
  • Monteverde - Search for the beautiful quetzal in this remarkable cloudforest reserve
The Explore Costa Rica tour starts and ends in San Jose. The Explore Costa Rica is an Active And Outdoor tour that takes 15 days taking you through San Jose, Costa Rica and other destinations in Costa Rica.

On this journey through Costa Rica, we discover rich nature and unique wildlife as we explore the towering volcanoes of Arenal and Poas, the lush rainforests of Monteverde and Manuel Antonio, and the thriving waterways of Tortuguero. The birdlife is a particular highlight and we hope to spot the rare and beautiful quetzal, as well as colourful toucans, hummingbirds, kingfishers and parrots.
After arriving in San Jose, we will check-in to our conveniently-located hotel which will be our base for the next two nights.

San Jose lies in a fertile valley at an altitude of 1150 metres. Coffee and sugar cane are big industries here and coffee is even planted between new buildings and along the roadside on the outskirts of the city. The city is more cosmopolitan than other Central American capitals and is famed for its vibrant nightlife, which you may choose to sample this evening.
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Normally this day would be planned to visit the volcanic crater of Poas. However, due to recent activity at the Poas volcano, and the closure of the National Park, we'll now visit Doka Coffee Estate - the largest coffee plantation in Costa Rica. Here we'll be given a guided tour around the coffee plantation, which will include coffee tasting and a visit to the roasting room.

After our visit to the Doka Coffee Estate, we'll continue onto the town of Sarchi, well known throughout Costa Rica for its beautiful and intricate arts and crafts. It's famous for producing colourful and decorative oxcarts, which are a huge part of Costa Rican culture today, and even considered one of Costa Rica's national symbols. We'll have time to explore the artisan town, visit the largest and oldest oxcart factory, and see Sarchi's church unusually painted pink and blue.

Following our visit to Sarchi, we'll then visit the neighbour town of Grecia. A small farming town with beautiful mountain landscapes and rich scenery, Grecia is an important agricultural hub of the country, producing sugar cane, organic coffee and pineapples. The town is home to Cathedral de le Mercedes, a gothic style church made of metal pieces. This afternoon, an orientation tour of San Jose will help us to gain a feel for the city centre and main sights, including the National Museum.

Should the Poas Volcano stabilize and the Poas National Park reopens, then we'll revert back to our original plans on this day to visit Poas Volcano.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning, if the Poas Volcano is still closed we will have short visit to the old colonial capital of Cartago, before heading to the Irazu Volcano, where we'll visit the main crater viewpoint. If the Poas Volcano is reopened, we will not visit Irazu but instead continue straight on from Cartago to the town of Turrialba, where we will spend the next two nights. The fertile land around Turrialba makes it an important agricultural region for coffee, sugar and Macadamia nuts, as well as dairy production, with its cheese being popular throughout the country. On arrival, we will visit the excavated Indian ceremonial centre at Guayabo. Dating from 1000 to 1400, this is one of the country's most important archaeological sites. Here, uncovered paved streets and water channels help us to understand about village life in that era.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Today is left free for you to spend as you wish. You may choose to try white-water rafting on the Pacuare River. Regarded as one of the country's most exciting and scenic rivers, calm stretches between the Class III-IV rapids allow time to appreciate your passage through rainforest-topped canyons. Alternatively, you may choose to visit CATIE (Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigscion y Ensenanza) Research Centre. Recognised throughout the world as an important agronomic station, its environmental development projects seek to enhance human wellbeing and protect natural resources. Its botanic garden is a special place to relax, surrounded by the calls of birds, the whisper of the giant Guanacaste Tree and the imposing Ceiba. This evening, your Tour Leader may be able to organise an optional visit to a typical 'finca', where you can enjoy dinner prepared in a traditional family way.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning, our drive to Cano Blanco takes us through extensive banana plantations. From Cano Blanco, a boat will take us to our spectacular lodge in the Tortuguero National Park, where we will spend the next two nights. As we travel through a fascinating network of jungle waterways, it is easy to understand why this area is often described as a 'mini Amazon'. Its complex canal system and narrow lagoons link small isolated settlements and are rich in fish, including rainbow bass and grouper. They also support an abundance of birds, such as heron, stork and kingfisher. We will also take a short walking tour of the carless village of Tortuguero.

Our lodge is in an idyllic setting, perched on a small sliver of land between the Caribbean Sea and the waterway.
Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Accommodation
  • Standard lodge
Today we have the opportunity to explore some of this spectacular national park. To kick off our day, there is the option of a bird watching trip by boat at dawn, where we have the opportunity to spot some of Costa Rica's spectacular birdlife. This morning, water birds such as herons, egrets and kingfishers are among the birds that may be spotted, although other species of birds such as toucans may be found in the area.

Later this morning we will go on a nature walk to understand more about the area's unique ecosystem. This afternoon, we will take to the waterways for further exploration. On our travels, we may come across the howler monkey, aptly named by the way it noisily protects its territory. Much shyer animals in this area include ocelots, tapir and the incredibly elusive jaguar.

Throughout the year, you may be lucky enough to see different species of turtle nesting close to our lodge. Hawksbills nest from October to March, with leatherbacks taking over from April to November. The best time to see this spectacle is between June and September when over five-thousand green, leatherback and, occasionally, 700-pound loggerhead turtles come ashore to nest on Tortuguero's beaches. At this time of year, there is the option of an evening turtle walk to take in this spectacle.
Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Accommodation
  • Standard lodge
Leaving our lodge this morning, we travel by boat back to Cano Blanco. This afternoon, our drive skirts around the great central volcanic massif, passing through fertile farmlands, rich with tropical crops. Soon we catch sight of the famous Arenal Volcano. This classic cone, which rises to 1633 metres, is covered by a tangled mass of vegetation on one side, while the other is starkly barren. Having remained dormant for hundreds of years, it erupted unexpectedly in 1968, destroying the small towns of Tabacon and Pueblo Nuevo on its west side. After this, it was known for its regular explosions, which became a huge spectacle at night. However, since 2010, the volcano has gone quiet once more.

Our accommodation for the next two nights is in La Fortuna. The town was renamed after the 1968 eruption, when it was seen as being 'fortunate' that its location, on the volcano's eastern side, saved it from decimation. This evening, we can make the most of the local geothermal activity by enjoying an optional bathe in nearby hot springs.
Meals
  • Breakfast and Lunch
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Today has been left free to explore the area as you choose. There are local treks to waterfalls and along lava trails. Whilst those keen to relax can enjoy spa treatments with volcanic mud. Your Tour Leader will be able to provide information on all the options.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning we will explore the Arenal Volcano National Park, home to one of the most majestic volcanoes in Costa Rica. We will take a walk on the flanks of the volcano where your leader will point out interesting flora and fauna and provide more information about the science and history of the volcano. We will walk to a viewpoint for a closer view of the volcano. We will then travel around Arenal Lake up into the cloud forest region of Monteverde - one of the most well-known places in Costa Rica to see wildlife. The last part of our journey is on bumpy roads, but we are rewarded with a three-night stay here to enjoy all that this area has to offer.

Perched on the Continental Divide between the Pacific and the Caribbean, it is thought that there has been indigenous habitation in Monteverde since 3000 BC. However, the turning point in its recent history came in 1950, when a group of pacifist Quakers from Alabama moved here to avoid subscription in the Korean War. They sought a lifestyle in a country in which they could embrace their peaceful beliefs and continue to cultivate their dairy farms. These families went on to establish the community of Monteverde and some of its famed cloudforest reserves.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
We have the next two days to explore all that this area has to offer. The famous, but now very rare, resplendent quetzal is fairly commonly seen in this area, one of the last remaining places in Central America where its habitat has been preserved. Sacred to the ancient Maya and Aztec peoples, it is considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world and the best time to see it is during its breeding months of March and April.

This morning, we will have a guided tour of the Monteverde Cloudforest, walking the paths that wind their way through gigantic ferns and giant ferns and giant trees dripping with lichen and moss. The jungle floor is often littered with blossoms that fall from the high canopy providing a carpet of colour amidst the endless green.

The rest of our day is free to spend as you wish. Monteverde is regarded as offering some of the best canopy experiences in the world. This afternoon, you may choose to 'fly' through the dramatic scenery on a zipwire, or take a more sedate walk through the canopy on treetop walkways.

This evening, there is the opportunity to go on a guided night walk in search of nocturnal species, such as pacas and tarantulas.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Today has been left free to enjoy one or several of the many optional activities available in the area. You may choose to visit the local butterfly, or orchid garden. Alternatively, you may choose to enjoy a trek in one of the other reserves. Your Tour Leader will be able to offer advice on the options available.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Leaving the cloudforest behind us this morning, we descend to the Pacific Coast, enjoying staggering views over the Gulf and Peninsula of Nicoya. Heading south, we then pause at Carara Biological Reserve, famed for the scarlet macaws and abundant birdlife which populate this transitional forest. Finally, we continue along the Pacific Coast to Manuel Antonio National Park, where we will spend the next two nights.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning, we explore the Manuel Antonio National Park, famed for its beautiful beaches and rich wildlife. During our time in the park, we are likely to see white-faced capuchin monkeys, coatimundi (part of the racoon family) and the tiny squirrel monkeys. This is also one of the best places in Costa Rica to see sloths. The majority of a sloth's diet comes from buds and leaves. As leaves provide little energy, sloths move only when necessary and even then very slowly so they are easy to spot.

The remainder of the day can be spent relaxing on the white sandy beaches, enjoying a swim in the warm azure waters. The sunsets from this coast are spectacular and have to be seen to be believed.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
After a morning relaxing on the beach, we leave the Pacific Ocean at about midday. Our journey back to Costa Rica's capital will take about four hours.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Depending on your departure time today, you may wish to visit one of the several museums in town
Meals
  • Breakfast
what’s included
Accommodation
  • 12 nights standard hotel
  • 2 nights standard lodge
Meals
  • 14 breakfast, 3 lunch, 2 dinner
Transport
  • Bus, boat
Guide
  • Explore tour leader / driver, boat crew
what’s excluded
  • International Flights
  • Any international flights to/from San Jose are not included in this price. We always recommend that you arrive 1 day prior to your tour starting date.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel insurance is not included in this Explore Costa Rica tour. Travel insurance is mandatory to buy. We recommend purchasing it from World Nomads.
Tour details
Duration 15 days
Tour Type Group Tour - Max 17 participants
guiding method Live guide/instructor
Guide Language English
Starts/Ends San Jose, Costa Rica/ San Jose, Costa Rica
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Get a PDF file with detailed trip information: Download Trip Notes for Explore Costa Rica
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Good to know
Payment

A deposit of 233 USD is required to confirm this tour. The remaining balance will be charged 59 days before departure. For any departures within 24 November 2018 full payment is required.

Travel Insurance

The Explore Costa Rica tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.

Visa

For this Explore Costa Rica tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

CancellationNo additional cancellation fees apply for this Explore Costa Rica tour. You can cancel the tour up to 60 days prior departure and avoid paying the full amount, but your deposit paid is non-refundable. No refund applies for cancellations within 59 days of departure.
other information
Explore / Product Category: Active and outdoor
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