Unearth the treasures of Mexico, learn the enthralling history of Cuba, then see forests, fauna and fireworks in Costa Rica

Discover the culture and landscapes of this fascinating region on a trip that takes you from Mexico City to Havana to San Jose – with a spattering of enticing stops along the way. In Mexico, discover Maya history and culture at the incredible Chichen Itza ruins, and visit traditional communities in the charming San Cristobal de las Casas, and snorkel in the brilliant Caribbean waters. Cuba's imminent political and cultural change makes it something to experience now before it evolves. Wander through Havana’s glittering colonial architecture, soak up the clear mountain air among Soroa’s vibrant mountain orchards, relax on Playa Ancon’s vast white beaches and admire Trinidad’s unrivalled ambience. Then onto the jewel of Central America, Costa Rica's environment is world-renowned for being diverse, vibrant and healthy. Visit San Jose’s colonial streets; La Fortuna’s hot springs and volcano; Monteverde’s cloud forest; and Manuel Antonio’s turquoise seas. From food to ruins, then old cars to fragrant cigars then onto intense volcanic landscapes and superb Pacific beaches, this Central American combination is a trip not to be missed!
 


Start
Mexico City, Mexico
Finish
San Jose, Costa Rica
Countries
Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico
Style
Comfort
Theme
Explorer
Code
QVKAC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • This is one of our most comprehensive adventures in Central America, rich in historical and cultural highlights. Start by getting up close and personal with the country's diverse heritage, from the magnificent Aztec temples of Teotihuacan to the brightly-dressed Maya folk of the hills of San Cristobal.

  • A guided walking tour of  Old Havana sheds lights on the difference between the lives of city and rural life in Cuba. Take in all the colours and aromas of Soroa, the stunning valley area known as the 'rainbow of Cuba'.

  • Stroll along the rural dirt roads of Vinales as tractors, vintage cars and horse-drawn carriages pass you by

  • Finally, experience the diversity of Costa Rica's environment, spot wildlife in the lush Monteverde cloud forest

  • and swim in the warm waters of Manuel Antonio National Park

  •  

Is this trip right for you?

  • There are a few long days of travel, as you'll be covering a lot of ground. You will, however, make stops at interesting locations to break up the longer drives.

  • The tropical climate of Central America means conditions can be hot and humid. Always carry plenty of water with you and stay hydrated, especially on walking tours. There will of course be plenty of chances to swim!

  • It's a good idea to learn as many Spanish words as you can. Locals are very friendly, but can be shy, so you'll need to make an effort to break the ice. It's a great way to show respect and involve yourself in their culture.

  • Due to increased activity by the Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque, some changes to your itinerary may be necessary for your safety.

  • The guesthouses (Casas) we use are much nicer than your average Cuban dwelling but keep in mind that each and every room is unique. Regardless of where you stay, power cuts and breaks in hot water are sometimes unavoidable, as in any developing country.

  • Funds can be difficult to access in Cuba. Ideally bring multiple credit cards from several different banks just to be sure.

  • Luxuries such as air conditioning, and even toilet seats, are often scarce. Part of the experience here is learning to appreciate everyday Cuban resourcefulness.

  • Some included activities such as the hikes in the Monteverde Cloud Forest and Manuel Antonio NP can be quite strenuous.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2017 to 31 December 2017. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Arrive at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport and be transferred to your hotel. A complimentary transfer is included with your trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised.

Settle in and, if you have time, take a stroll to get a feel for this vibrant and rapidly growing capital where the ancient and modern collide.

In the evening, usually around 7 pm, you will meet your leader and other members of your group for a pre-trip meeting. The exact time and place of the meeting can be found at the hotel reception. This meeting will be followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.

If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a guided city tour. You'll visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, Zocalo, National Palace and Museum of Anthropology. After that, the day is yours to spend as you please.

There are enough activities to do in Mexico City to keep you busy all day. Some of the most popular activities in Mexico City (apart from the ones included in this trip) are:

La Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo Museum) - for a deeper understanding of this renowned Mexican artist. Bear in mind that queues can be long to enter this museum, particularly on weekends. An Uber taxi from your hotel to the museum should cost approximately MXN 160.

Closer to your hotel (about 1km) you'll find Plaza Garibaldi, where for about MXN 200 you can get a Mariachi band to perform for you!

Anahuacalli Museum - In the 1930's Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo's set in motion the plan to "give back" to Mexico two museums: The first one, La Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo Museum) and second one Anahacalli which hosts more than 50 thousand Pre-Hispanic pieces collected by Diego Rivera.

Leon Trotsky Museum - Having come second best to Stalin on the race to the helm of the Soviet Union, Trotski was expelled and found refuge in Mexico City - where he was eventually murdered. The entrance fee includes free guided tours in English. Ask about it at the ticket box. An Uber taxi from your hotel to the museum should cost you approximately MXN 100.

If you prefer to get out of the city and escape the crowds, take a trip to the canals and gardens of Xochimilco. An Uber taxi should cost about MXN 300 to get there.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - City Tour
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - Leon Trotsky Museum - MXN40
  • Mexico City - Mariachis in Garibaldi Square (entry is free, price to hire a band for 2-3 songs) - USD8
  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum - MXN140
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we vist Teotihuacan, about 50 kilometres northeast of Mexico City. Here we'll discover the amazing Aztec ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline. This was once the Aztec capital, and one of the biggest cities in the world. Stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’  and see the clues to what life was like here nearly 2,000 years ago.

We return to Mexico City for one last night in town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we travel by private vehicle to Oaxaca. On route, we'll stop in Puebla, a town of palpable colonial heritage despite rapid development. Time permitting you'll have a chance to visit the local markets, where some excellent hand-paint tiles are available.

Continue on to Oaxaca, the beautiful colonial city known for its cuisine and lively art scene. It's also a great place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, with descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians selling an array of bright woven blankets and shawls.

Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the streets and take the opportunity to feast on some regional delicacies. From the delicious banana-leaf-wrapped ‘tomales’ to the spicy baked chilli and lime grasshoppers, there's no shortage of unique and delicious fare, usually sold by the lovely old ladies of the markets.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we'll take on a city tour of Oaxaca which includes a visit to Santo Domingo Church, Zocalo, and local art and craft galleries. The plan is to arrive to the colourful 20 de Noviembre market in time for lunch, where you can search through the many local restaurants for whatever you feel like – perhaps focus on the famous grilled meats hall.

In the afternoon we'll visit the nearby village of Teotitlán del Valle. The settlement is famous for its weaving, particularly of colourful rugs. Here you'll visit a workshop and see a weaving demonstration.

Finish up at an artisanal mescaleria for a taste of some of the best mescal in the area. Salud!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Leader led city tour
  • Oaxaca - Village tour, including Teotitlan
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
today is a free day for you to explore Oaxaca at will. Perhaps you want pay a visit to the archaeological site of Monte Alban. The Zapotec civilisation began construction of this city around 200 BC, and Olmecs and Mixtecs have inhabited it at different times. Have your camera ready to go, because up here you can get an amazing view across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca.

Season depending, a folkloric ballet performance is a also a great optional activity. There's also the Santo Domingo Cultural Centre which is worth a visit.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Folkloric ballet (seasonal) - USD10
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (entrance fee) - USD10
  • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - USD8
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we fly from Oaxaca to Tuxla Gutierrez and continue by private vehicle to San Cristobal de las Casas (1.5 hr drive)

Once in "SanCris" take a walk and soak up the strong old-world atmosphere of this town, which is due in no small part to the grand Spanish colonial architecture, prominent indigenous cultures and winding cobblestone streets.

Time permitting you may want to visit Sumidero Canyon, a gorgeous, 800-metre-deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River. It's roughly as old as the Grand Canyon!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon (inc. transport) - USD30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a tour around the Mayan villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan. Nestled in the highlands, these villages serve as marketplaces and religious ceremonial centres for the indigenous folk who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and can often be seen wearing their own distinctive, colourful costumes. As you explore these villages with a guide, we'll learn more about these mostly Mayan communities.

The rest of the time in SanCris is free for you to explore town. You may want to pay a visit to the Na Bolom Museum, a small museum/research centre which was the home of anthropologist and photographer Gertrude Duby-Blom and her archaeologist husband Frans Blom. While Frans explored Mayan sites all over Chiapas, Trudy studied, photographed and fought to protect the scattered Lacandon people. Today, apart from a hotel and a museum, the house provides free accommodation to Lacandon people that make their way to San Cristobal for work, studies or medical reasons.

Alternatively, you may want to visit the amber (jade) museum, which displays and sells beautifully carved items and insect-embedded pieces.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal - Bicycle rental (per hour) - USD30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Say goodbye to San Cristobal de Las Casas as you head for Palenque. On the way we'll visit Misol-ha – a fast-moving waterfall where water plunges 35 m, crashing into the pool below. Later, make tracks to the low and wide Agua Azul, which flows slowly over limestone rocks. Remember to pack your swimsuit for a quick dip in the afternoon. Otherwise, take a stroll around the beautiful surrounding area.

Once in Palenque, enjoy some free time exploring the town.

The local Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque has been quite active in recent months, occasionally holding protests or blocking roads. Our local operations team is constantly monitoring this situation to ensure the safety of our passengers and leaders. In some cases we might need to use an alternative route from San Cristobal to Palenque to avoid this activity - more so to bypass long traffic delays than any real danger. It's also possible that the Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls will not be accessible at the time we are scheduled to visit.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, early in the morning you will visit the archaeological site of Palenque. Located on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle, these are some of the most astounding Mayan ruins in the region, dating back as far as AD 600. Some of the ruins remain unexcavated and are hidden in the surrounding forest. Enjoy a guided tour of the site. As you explore this lost city keep an ear out for the strange calls of howler monkeys reverberating through the jungle.

In the early afternoon we drive north to Merida (approximately 7 hours).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Archaeological site guided tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, travel west out to the coast before taking a boat ride and visit the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve (approximately 1.5 hours). Here, near extensive beaches lined with coconut trees, you’ll likely be able to witness the magnificent sight of thousands of flamingos painting a pink streak across the landscape.

In the afternoon there’ll be some time to explore the many sights of Merida. Perhaps visit some of the museums, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan, and stroll the city streets which are alive with art and culture. Hang out in the green and shady Plaza Grande, with the 16th-century cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the other.

For a taste of Merida's 19th-century glory, go for a walk along the mansion-lined Paseo de Montejo. The outdoor market is another essential visit, with an array of hammocks and Mayan replicas for sale, plus a selection of enticing local cuisine, including the dish cochinita pibil ('little pig') or the mind-blowingly spicy El Yucateco hot sauce.

If you can't visit enough Mayan sites, you may want to head for the ancient ruins of Uxmal. Here you'll visit the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the best example of classic Mayan architecture. You'll also see the mystical Pyramid of the Magician, comprising five super-imposed temples
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Merida - Celestun Bird Sanctuary (entrance and transport)
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. transport and guide) - MXN111
  • Merida - Contemporary Art Museum - USD5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Chichen Itza is our first stop today. This is possibly the most famous Mayan site in Mexico. You'll see the marvellous Temple of Kukulkan standing over the ruins. Not far from the temple is the ‘ball court’, where many disputes are known to have been settled by way of a ball game that employed only the elbows, hips and wrists. Stone carvings depicting violence suggest it was not such a casual sport. Following a guided tour of the site, continue to the resort town of Playa del Carmen.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichen Itza - Entrance
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we spend the day exploring the Yucatan Peninsula. Travel out to ruins of Tulum (approximately 1 hour). This ancient Maya city was once an important trading port, protected against invaders by a high wall. Situated on a cliff overlooking a white sandy beach, it offers wonderful views and photo opportunities. Wander around the ruins with your guide, learning about the castle, temple and other structures within.

On the way back to Playa del Carman, we'll stop at a hidden cenote for a refreshing swim. These stunning natural sinkholes are filled with crystal clear fresh water and make for a memorable dip.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tulum - Archaeological site visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day for you to continue exploring the Riviera Maya or simply relax at the beach sipping a Margarita or two.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel to Cuba. Although the flight is not included, a complimentary departure transfer to Cancun Airport and a complimentary arrival transfer in Havana are included with your trip.

There will be a welcome meeting at approximately 6pm this evening. Please expect a letter from your leader in the afternoon of Day 1 to confirm the place of your meeting (if by 5pm you cannot locate this letter then please ask your guesthouse owner if one has been delivered, or ask to call our assistance line listed in the "Problems and emergency contact information" section of this document). We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. The tour briefing is generally followed by an optional group dinner.

If you arrive to Havana early in the day, please note most activities in Cuba can only be booked through the tourist desk in the lobbies of the larger hotels or direct with the venue. Otherwise, there are plenty of good museums to check out, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
Accommodation
  • Premium guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Havana - Buena Vista Social Club - CUC30
  • Havana - Cigar factory tour - CUC12
  • Havana - La Cabana Fortress canon blast ceremony - CUC8
  • Havana - Baseball game (Oct - Apr) - CUC3
  • Havana - Tourist bus day pass - CUC5
  • Havana - Ernest Hemingway tour - CUC70
  • Havana - Morro Castle - CUC3
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Please see "Joining instructions" for more information about exiting the arrivals hall and connecting with your arrival transfer driver. Please trust that your driver will know the address of your assigned guesthouse.

As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Enjoy a walking tour of Old Havana, a perfect first taste of the city. Your local guide will show you the cathedral, Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park. The entrance to the Camera Obscura is included. Later you'll make the drive to Soroa, a lush enclave nestled in a beautiful valley. You'll stop in for lunch and tour the orchid garden there. Continue to lovely Vinales, where tobacco and agricultural fields lie side by side and limestone outcrops dot the landscape. The scenery here is some of the most picturesque in Cuba. There are many ways to take it all in, including cycling, walking through tobacco fields and hiking to mountain caves (all optional activities).
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
  • Havana - Camera Obscura entrance
  • Soroa - Orchid garden tour
  • Vinales - Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Soroa - Hike to waterfall - CUC3
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
There are currently no Premium guesthouses in this area so you will be staying in a Standard guesthouse. Please be aware the comfort levels are much less in these rural towns than in the cities. Please see the accommodation section of this document for more information about what to expect.

Also note that Cave visits will require sturdy footwear, as they can involve walking across slippery rocks.
A walking tour of the farmlands and crops is included today. Learn more about the simple lifestyle here and see first hand the farmers who grow tabacco for some of the most expensive cigars. 

Vinales is a small and charming rural village. It's probably the easiest place to mingle with locals in Cuba, who are very sociable. Many of them love nothing better than to drink rum and dance the night away. An informal salsa lesson is included so you are confident to be involved. There are only three bars in this town, so you probably won't find yourself getting lost! Later head to an ecological farm for an included dinner. 

 
Accommodation
  • Standard guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Vinales - Guided valley walking tour
  • Vinales - Informal Salsa lesson
Optional Activities
  • Vinales - Santo Tomas cave visit & return taxi - CUC35
  • Vinales - Palenque Cave - CUC1
  • Vinales - Cueva del Indio (Cave visit with boat trip) - CUC5
  • Vinales - Live music venues - CUC2
  • Vinales - Bicycle hire (per day) - CUC5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Head towards Cienfuegos today, it is a long travel day. You will be stopping via the Bay of Pigs to learn more about the learn about the botched US Military counter-revolutionary invasion in the Giron Museum then stop at the bay itself, for a swim in the crystal clear water or simply enjoy the stunning surroundings.
Then the short drive to your destination for the night, Cienfuegos. This is the gem of the south, a seaside town of relaxing streets and dazzling buildings that strike a beautiful pose by the water. You will enjoy a photo stop at Palacio del Valle, which is Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy. Learn more about its history as you take in the beauty of its intricate carvings of Venetian alabaster. If you haven't done so already, perhaps try some Cuban coffee while you're here – it's served black, strong and super sweet.
Accommodation
  • Premium guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bay of Pigs - Visit & swim
  • Cienfuegos - Orientation Walk
  • Cienfuegos - Visit to the Palacio del Valle
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you will board the bus for a short drive to Trinidad. There's no doubt it's one of Cuba's alluring destinations, a great place to wander around, with almost every scene offering a photo opportunity. Watch as locals casually smoke their huge cigars on the doorsteps of their homes, and hear the old Chevrolets rumbling by. Kick things off by strolling along the cobbled streets and marvelling at some of the colourful colonial architecture on display (this town was put on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988 for good reason). During your orientation walk you visit the Santeria Priest to learn more about the unique religion followed in this area. At some point, your group can decide when they want to schedule their informal Spanish class.
Accommodation
  • Premium guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk
  • Trinidad - Santeria Priest Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy a day of free time. There are some great Spanish-style churches to see, and nearby is the Valle de los Ingenios, where sugar plantations stretch out as far as the eye can see. For some seaside fun, head down to Playa Ancon and stroll its long stretches of white sand. You can go for a snorkel too. Just be careful when you're in the water, as sea urchins can be a problem here. Back on the land, you can go cycling or hiking. If you rent a bicycle, be careful on the cobblestones, and remember your bike will be of the vintage variety. The trekking is great in the Sierra del Escambray, the local mountains. A folklore dance and music show in one of the open-air venues is highly recommended – a great chance to immerse yourself in Cuba's African, French and Spanish-influenced music and dance culture.
Accommodation
  • Premium guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Trinidad - Salsa Dance Lesson - CUC8
  • Trinidad - Live music venues - CUC5
  • Trinidad - Musical instrument lesson (guitar, double bass, tres, percussion - per hour) - CUC10
  • Trinidad - Bicycle rental (full day) - CUC5
  • Trinidad - Ancon beach shuttle bus - CUC4
  • Trinidad - Cayo Blanco island catamaran cruise - CUC45
  • Trinidad - Train ride (Steam train replica with electric engine) - CUC10
  • Trinidad - Trek to El Nicho Waterfall (taxi, entrance fee & guide) - CUC27
  • Trinidad - Massage - CUC25
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
On your way back to Havana, you'll stop in at Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial. In the museum you can get a rare insight into the legacy of the revolutionary leader, with some interesting ephemera and artefacts on display – letters, firearms, even medical devices. Upon arrival in Havana, stop by Revolution square and then take a stroll around the grounds of the infamous Hotel Nacional. Then prepare for a final night of celebrations. 
Accommodation
  • Premium guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
  • Havana - Visit to Plaza de la Revolucion
  • Havana - Visit to Hotel Nacional
Optional Activities
  • Havana - Jose Marti Memorial Tower - CUC2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Travel to Costa Rica. Although the flight is not included, a complimentary arrival transfer is included with your trip. There will be a welcome meeting at approximately 6pm this evening. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. 
Following the meeting, there is generally an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Costa Rica’s capital sits in the centre of a lush, wide valley which has a comfortable subtropical climate. The streets of the town are laid out along a grid iron pattern, with avenidas running east to west and callés running north to south. Many of the most interesting buildings are in the region of Avenida Central – the Teatro Nacional is an elaborate confection of marble staircases, statues, frescoes and mirrors.

There are a number of interesting museums in the city; the Museo de Oro has a good collection of golden pre-Columbian figurines. The Mercado Central is the main market which dates back to 1881 – there are some good food stalls here as well as countless artefacts for sale.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Orientation walk
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - Poas Volcano National Park (half-day tour) - USD55
  • San Jose - Poas Volcano National Park, Doka Coffee Tour & La Paz Waterfalls (full-day tour) - USD120
  • San Jose - Irazu Volcano, Ososi Valley & Lankester Botanical Garden (full-day tour) - USD90
  • San Jose - Butterfly farm - USD27
  • San Jose - National Museum - USD12
  • San Jose - Gold Museum - USD11
  • San Jose - Jade Museum - USD10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
A scenic drive by private minibus takes us to La Fortuna (approx 4-5 hrs).

La Fortuna is a small town situated just a few minutes away from Costa Rica's most famous volcano - the majestic Arenal. The views here are spectacular as the volcano is reflected on the lake for postcard perfect photos. Besides the panoramic views the town offers a range of other activities such as the 70 metre high La Fortuna waterfall, stunning lush forest, rare plants, animal watching and watersports on the lake.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • La Fortuna - Hot springs
Optional Activities
  • La Fortuna - Arenal hanging bridges - USD65
  • La Fortuna - Rio Celeste Safari Float tour - USD70
  • La Fortuna - La Fortuna Waterfall - USD10
  • La Fortuna - Nature hike around Arenal Volcano - USD50
  • La Fortuna - Tabacon Hot Springs (entrance, dinner and transport) - USD99
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is free for optional activities. Take a trip to the volcano, visit La Fortuna waterfall or take a canopy tour for a bird's eye view of the forest. Otherwise head out into the beautiful surrounds and explore by bike.

In the evening we include a visit to one of the hot springs in the area. Surrounded by lush foliage and naturally heated by the volcano, the springs are the perfect way to relax.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel by shared minibus and boat to the cool cloud forests of Monteverde (approx 4 hrs).

Monteverde was founded as an agricultural community in 1951 by a group of North American Quakers; they cleared virgin forest to create verdant pastures ideal for dairy farming. These environmentally aware settlers were conscious of the danger that unrestricted settling and farming could cause to this precious habitat. Consequently they established a small privately-owned wildlife sanctuary, which has since grown to become the internationally-renowned Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. These forests are similar to rainforests, but instead of relying on rain for essential moisture, adequate water comes from the semi-permanent cloud that covers the region. It is lush and full of wildlife. This is truly a nature lover's paradise. More than 2,000 species of plants, 320 bird species and 100 different types of mammals call Montverde home. Be sure to keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal, one of the most elusive birds in the world.

In the afternoon, your leader will take you on a walking tour through the protected reserve.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest hike
Optional Activities
  • Monteverde - Suspension bridges tour - USD35
  • Monteverde - Zip lining - USD45
  • Monteverde - Night walk - USD35
  • Monteverde - Coffee & Chocolate tour - USD35
  • Monteverde - Butterfly garden and insects farm - USD30
  • Monteverde - Serpentarium - USD15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you can choose from some great optional activities. Explore the forest canopy on a combination of suspension bridges and platforms built in the cloud forest. Another option is the Monteverde Butterfly Garden and the Hummingbird Gallery, a must for those with a penchant for these winged, coloured jewels of the forest.

At night you can choose to enjoy a night hike in Monteverde, hiking at dusk in the forest. Some of the wildlife you might see include porcupines, toucans and other sleeping birds, owls, agoutis, coatimundis, snakes, walking sticks, tarantulas, katydids, and an array of other cool insects. Of course, there are no guaranteed sightings, so don't expect all these creatures to be waiting just for you! Typically though this time of transition into night offers a good opportunity to view nocturnal mammals as well as diurnal animals as they prepare for night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel by private minibus to Manuel Antonio National Park (approx 4-5 hrs). Situated on the Pacific Coast, the area of mangrove swamps and beaches now known as the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio was first documented by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon in 1519 during his (unsuccessful) search for the Fountain of Youth.

Long, white beaches extending around the headland of Punta Catedral are set against an evergreen forest backdrop that grows right up to the high-tide line. Incorporating 12 small islands scattered just off the coast where migrating whales can sometimes be observed, the park is home to hundreds of mammal and bird species in a region of lagoons and fertile mangrove swamps.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - entrance
Optional Activities
  • Manuel Antonio - Surf/boogie board rental - USD10
  • Manuel Antonio - Mangrove tour by kayak (with lunch) - USD80
  • Manuel Antonio- Sunset sail - USD75
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Accommodation in Manuel Antonio is at Hotel Faro; this property is slightly below the standard generally used for Intrepid Comfort. We have chosen this property because it's one of the few hotels willing to accept our standard reservation policies and conditions yet still provides the most important requirements:
- An excellent location; meters from the beach, the National Park entrance, and local restaurants
- It's clean and comfortable
- A unique experience
Your time here is your own to enjoy some of Costa Rica's finest beaches or you can enjoy some of the fine hiking trails through the tropical forest.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
We'll spend the morning in Manuel Antonio before returning to San Jose and your centrally located hotel. You can enjoy one last night out to celebrate the end of your journey.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

29 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle, Shared vehicle, Boat

Accommodation

Premium Guesthouse (5 nights), Standard guesthouse (2 nights), Hotel (22 nights)

Included activities

  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Mexico City - City Tour
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
  • Oaxaca - Leader led city tour
  • Oaxaca - Village tour, including Teotitlan
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
  • Palenque - Archaeological site guided tour
  • Merida - Celestun Bird Sanctuary (entrance and transport)
  • Chichen Itza - Entrance
  • Tulum - Archaeological site visit
  • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
  • Havana - Camera Obscura entrance
  • Soroa - Orchid garden tour
  • Vinales - Orientation Walk
  • Vinales - Guided valley walking tour
  • Vinales - Informal Salsa lesson
  • Bay of Pigs - Visit & swim
  • Cienfuegos - Orientation Walk
  • Cienfuegos - Visit to the Palacio del Valle
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk
  • Trinidad - Santeria Priest Visit
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
  • Havana - Visit to Plaza de la Revolucion
  • Havana - Visit to Hotel Nacional
  • Orientation walk
  • La Fortuna - Hot springs
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest hike
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - entrance

Dates & availability

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Important notes

START AND END TIME:
On Day 1 there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at approximately 6pm. There are no activities planned for the final day.

FLIGHTS NOT INCLUDED:
The flight from Cancun to Havana on Day 15 and the flight from Havana to San Jose on Day 22 are not included in the tour cost and you must purchase them separately. When booking these flights, keep in mind there will be a group meeting at approximately 6pm so we recommend arriving prior to this.

COMPLIMENTARY TRANSFERS:
To book your complimentary arrival transfer you must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
- An arrival transfer in Mexico city
- A departure transfer to Cancun Airport
- An arrival transfer in Havana
- A departure transfer to Havana Airport
- An arrival transfer to San Jose

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
A Single Supplement to have your own room is available for purchase on this trip.

CUBA TOURIST CARD:
Tourists cards are required for all nationalities visiting Cuba. Travel Insurance is also compulsory, please refer to trip notes for further details regarding this.

CUBA:
There are unprecedented changes happening in Cuba right now. It is an exciting time but it also means some patience and understanding is required for the heightened demand of infrastructure, accommodation and crowds.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.