In Costa Rica every road seems to lead to another waterfall, a coffee plantation, a volcano, a lush rainforest or a stunning tropical beach. Everywhere you look, you are greeted by smiling faces who are immensely proud to live in a country whose happy motto is ‘pura vida’ - pure life!
13 nights from £2499pp
Call us on 01756 706505 (+44 1756 706505) to discuss this holiday
Costa Rica was named as the ‘rich coast’ by Spanish conquistadors who, as always, hoped to find gold and silver. Ironically, the opposite was true – not only were there no precious metals of any description, but the impenetrable jungles and lack of local inhabitants made it virtually impossible to farm the land. This why Costa Rica is not superbly endowed with the huge cathedrals, grand architecture and all the trappings of colonial administration.
The Costa Ricans, or Ticos, were not conquered like the Aztecs to the north or the Incas in Peru and the Spanish ruled in a more benevolent manner till 1821 when the country gained its independence. The long hoped-for riches finally came to pass when the country became the first one to export coffee directly to Europe and was also the first to farm and export bananas on a large scale.
Nowadays, Costa Rica is one of the few counties in the world not to have any armed forces and is rated one of the happiest countries on the planet.
Costa Rica has realised that its real riches come from its immensely fertile volcanic soils which have created a biodiversity of incredible range, variety and complexity – a veritable natural paradise! With more than 25% of the country designated as protected reserves or national parks, what can you expect to see here? One of its most well-known and likeable inhabitants is the three-toed sloth, but this is not even close to the tip of the iceberg. There are green iguanas, hundreds of varieties of brightly-coloured tree frogs, howler and capuchin monkeys, tapirs, elusive jaguars, toucans, scarlet macaws, hummingbirds a-plenty, crocodiles, leatherback turtles, whales – the list just goes on and on! One particularly extraordinary animal is the quetzal, the most breathtakingly stunning bird in Central America.
Our tour starts from the country's capital of San José before striking out for the Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica’s eastern Caribbean coast, a labyrinth of canals, rivers and lagoons covered in thick forest and mangroves. Tortuguero means ‘turtle catcher’ and the many species of turtles which lay their eggs on these beaches came close to extinction until the area was declared a national park. You can also expect to see caimans, several types of monkeys and a huge number of endemic and migratory bird species, including toucans, macaws and raptors. More rarely seen inhabitants include tapirs, jaguars and manatees.
We continue cross-country towards the Arenal volcano. With a perfect cone, numerous hot springs and surrounded by its own national park, roughly half the species of Costa Rica can be found here. We'll take an easy walk along one of the many trails nearby and see some attractive views of the peak. From our comfortable base we will also visit the Caño Negro reserve, close to the border with Nicaragua. The main access route here is along the Rio Frio and the best way to spot wildlife is our boat safari which gives you uninterrupted views along its banks. More than 300 bird species have been identified here, including kingfishers, ibis, toucans, storks and even a type of vulture, plus you are also likely to see caimans and monkeys.
Our next port of call is the renowned Monteverde Cloud Forest, a unique ecosystem created by the warm Pacific winds being pushed up and condensing on the mountain slopes. The trees here are covered in mist and mossy vines, bromeliads, ferns and the greatest diversity of orchids on the planet. We explore via system of hanging bridges so as to look down on the thick vegetation below. There's plenty of hummingbirds here and you may be lucky enough to spot a quetzal.
You may also choose to experience the incredible thrill of zip-wiring through the forest - this is one of the best places in the country to try this (at extra charge). Our final stay for three nights is at a five-star resort in Guanacaste on the Pacific coast. Known for its beautiful palm-fringed beaches, this is the perfect spot to take some time off, relax, find a nice restaurant or bar and watch the sun slowly sink into the mighty Pacific Ocean. With the new direct flights from London Gatwick to San José, we are sure you will come back from this surprising, amazing country with a real burning desire to go back. Pura vida!
Costa Rica Itinerary
Depart from London Gatwick on your direct British Airways flight to San Jose. On arrival you will be met and trasnferred to the four-star Crowne Plaza Corobici Hotel where we stay for one night with breakfast. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
After an early start, we leave the city behind, on our way to Tortuguero, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, passing by coffee and banana plantations and small farming communities. We arrive at the dock where we transfer on to our boat for the final part of our journey through the complex maze of natural canals to our home for the next two nights, either the Pachira or Evergreen eco-lodges, on full board basis. After lunch we visit the nearby small picturesque town of Tortuguero and the Caribbean Conservation Corporation museum dedicated to studying the thousands of Atlantic Green, Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles who come to lay their eggs on the protected beaches here between July to October every year. As the sun sets and the sounds of the tropical forest fill the air, you may look forward to sampling some typical Costa Rican cuisine in the hotel’s restaurant.
After breakfast we set off for a fascinating walk along one of the nature trails around our lodge. After some time to relax by the pool during the hottest part of the day, in the afternoon we continue our exploration by boat, along the lush green waterways of this unique eco-system.
This morning we set off westwards through the centre of the country towards Arenal, famous for the perfect symmetrical cone of the Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica's youngest volcano. After a stop for lunch we arrive in Arenal in the afternoon, staying three nights at the four-star superior Tabacon or four-star Arenal Manoa Hotel, with breakfast. Dinner is included tonight.
Today we head north, close to the Nicaraguan border, to the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. Here we embark on a boat to quietly float along the Frio River – your local guide will point out what’s considered to be some of the most abundant bird life in Costa Rica. Iguanas, caimans and numerous monkey species can also be spotted along the river banks. Lunch is included.
A day to take it easy at your hotel – after a sumptuous breakfast, settle down around the pool with its swim-up bar and wonderful views of the volcano. Just an easy walk around the grounds is sure to offer plenty of chances to spot some local wildlife. Tonight, why not enjoy an optional evening cooking class with dinner included.
In the morning, embark on a walking tour in the foothills of Arenal Volcano, enjoying more close-up scenic views of the Volcano.We turn south today to drive towards the Monteverde Cloud Forest, staying for two nights with breakfast at the four-star El Establo Hotel. Dinner tonight is included at your hotel.
This stunning Cloud Forest boasts an extraordinarily diverse ecosystem, being home to 120 species of reptiles and amphibians, 130 species of mammals and an astounding 500 species of birds, not to mention more than 3,000 species of plants. Possibly the best way to enjoy all this is from above: the Sky Walk Hanging Bridges are a system of walkways that offer a unique view into the jungle from up to 180 feet above the forest floor. If you’re feeling really adventurous (and at extra charge), this is where you can also enjoy what is considered to be the country’s best ‘zip-line’ experience. This afternoon enjoy lunch and a tour of a traditional Costa Rican coffee farm where you’ll see how one of Costa Rica's top exports is grown in this tropical region and its importance in the development of the country as a whole. Dinner tonight is included.
This morning we drive towards the shores of the striking Pacific coast to the region of Guanacaste, one of the most beautiful places in the country, with an exotic combination of exquisite beaches and an exuberant tropical forest. On the way, we stop at the bustling town of Liberia, for some free time to have a stroll and maybe sample some of the local cuisine. Our hotel for three nights with breakfast will be the five-star JW Marriott Resort & Spa, close to the charming seaside resort of Tamarindo, where it’s not unusual to see iguanas and white-faced monkeys on the beach! This evening we’ll take you into Tamarindo where there’s plenty of great food, music and friendly bars to choose from.
Today, we take a guided tour to Palo Verde National Park, one of Costa Rica's most popular conservation areas. Its wide range of land and marine biodiversity make this one of the Central America’s most impressive natural habitats. Your local guide will lead you by boat through the waterways of this tropical paradise to discover a unique combination of thick coastal forest, rivers and mangrove lagoons which are home to more than 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds. You’ll observe several species of monkeys, iguanas, and birds and possibly even the three-toed sloth.
Enjoy all the pleasures of your final day in your luxury hotel. You can take it easy on the beach or beside the hotel pool, with a pina colada or daiquiri in hand, play a round of golf, try out the spa or perhaps join the optional cruise along the coast with picturesque views and time for snorkelling. A farewell dinner in Tamarindo is included tonight.
Travel back to San Jose airport for your overnight direct flight to London Gatwick.
We arrive home this morning.
- Insightful guided tours and visits
- Local departures
- Financial protection
- Personal service
- Hand-picked hotels
- Breakfast and dining options
- Outstanding tour managers
- Free time to explore
- All local taxes and overseas transfers