Volcanoes, forests and lakes – see the best Nicaragua and Costa Rica has to offer

Whether it’s the twin volcanoes reflected in the water of Lake Nicaragua, the smell of rich morning coffee in the streets of San Jose, or exploring the misty canopies of Monteverde's cloud forests – there’s an unmistakeable allure to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Discover this enticing pocket of Central America on an adventure where you can do as much or as little as you like. Grab a mountain bike and tackle the hills of Monteverde, swing through the trees on a zip-line, or simply soak in thermal springs heated by the impressive Arenal Volcano. Hedged in by sprawling forests filled with plenty of exotic wildlife, this is the greatest playground on Earth.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Granada, Nicaragua
Finish
San Jose, Costa Rica
Countries
Costa Rica, Nicaragua
Style
Basix
Code
QVRL
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Discover Central America, a land of active volcanoes, idyllic lakes and emerald jungles.

  • Volcanoes, wildlife-rich rainforest, stunning beaches and ancient rock carvings - Ometepe Island has it all. You'll have plenty of free time to explore the island, which is set into beautiful Lake Nicaragua.

  • Hike, cycle or zip-line through the steamy cloud forests of Monteverde in Costa Rica. Get up close to nature among the hundreds of mammal, bird and plant species that call this place home.

  • Encounter Costa Rica's famous Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna. Whether it's reflecting back at you in the lake or heating the thermal pools you're stewing away in, the magnificent volcano always makes its presence felt.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Central America is tropical, so expect a hot and humid climate. Make sure you protect yourself from the sun, wear comfortable, light clothing and stay hydrated - especially when out on walking tours.

  • There are many opportunities to get active on this adventure. Some of the optional activities, especially the volcano hikes, require a moderate level of fitness and sturdy walking shoes. If you'd prefer to take it easy, however, there are plenty of other things you can do instead.

  • While border crossings are usually straightforward, please prepare to be patient while local authorities process paperwork. 

Itinerary

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

Bienvenidos a Nicaragua! This adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. 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). If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

For dinner tonight, perhaps head out with your group and sample "solomillo a la pimienta" (pork loin in creamy pepper sauce), a local specialty.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is free to explore Granada's charming cobblestone streets. You can choose to join a guided tour of the city, bargain hard in the markets or wander the town snapping photos of the colourful buildings. Another option is to cruise the islets of Lake Nicaragua by boat. If you feel like something more active, perhaps hire a kayak or a bicycle and find your own way around, or hike out in the surrounding countryside. Alternatively, you could take a day trip out to Mombacho or Masaya Volcano National Park to get close to these steaming giants. Your friendly leader will be on hand to help you organise any or all of these activities. In the evening, perhaps visit the local restaurants and try 'gallo pinto', a traditional dish made with beans and rice. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Granada- Leader led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Granada - City tour - USD65
  • Granada - Mombacho Volcano hike - USD40
  • Granada - Masaya Volcano night hike - USD50
  • Granada - Laguna Apoyo kayaking tour - USD45
  • Granada - Kayak rental (per day) - USD30
  • Granada - Mi Museo - USD5
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take the morning to say farewell to Granada. At 2pm travel by local bus to Rivas (approximately 1.5 hours) and transfer to the port San Jorge to catch a 1-hour ferry across Lake Nicaragua to the island of Ometepe. Hourglass-shaped Ometepe Island is formed by two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua ('Ometepe' literally means 'two volcanoes' in the Nahuatl language). The island is home to fruit plantations, deep jungle and exotic wildlife such as monkeys and parrots. The world's only species of freshwater shark circle in the surrounding lake. A great experience is to sit on the shore and watch fishermen return from a long day on the water with their catch.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day to discover the island. Perhaps take a hike up to the summit of either the Concepcion or Maderas Volcanoes. Be warned - at 1,700 and 1,340 metres above sea level respectively, these treks are no walk in the park. You might prefer to splash around in the natural springs, soak up the sun on the beach or check out the island's petroglyphs (ancient rock carvings).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ometepe - Concepcion Volcano hike - USD45
  • Ometepe - Maderas Volcano hike - USD45
  • Ometepe - Ojo de Agua natural spring - USD25
  • Ometepe - Petroglyphs - USD20
  • Ometepe - Charco Verde tour (includes lunch, Ojo de Agua and Mirador lookout) - USD25
  • Ometepe - Charco Verde Reserve entrance fee - USD3
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a big travel day, with an early start beginning at 7 am. Take a 1.5 hour ferry to the mainland and then a 1.5 hour transfer to Penas Blancas before crossing the border into Costa Rica. Pease note a USD3 fee is required when exiting Nicaragua. Reaching the Costa Rican border requires a 1km/0.6mi walk carrying your luggage. Proof of onward travel is normally required to enter Costa Rica. If you're flying out of San Jose, bring a printed copy of your flight details in case the border officials ask to see them. Once in Costa Rica, travel by private minibus for 5 hours to Monteverde. After arriving in town and taking an opportunity to freshen up, your leader will take you on an walking tour of Monteverde.

Monteverde was founded as an agricultural community in 1951 by a group of North American quakers. These environmentally-aware settlers also established a small wildlife sanctuary, which has since grown into the internationally-renowned Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Cloud forests are similar to rainforests, but instead draw their water from a semi-permanent cloud covering the region. This is a nature lover's paradise, with more than 2,000 plant species, 320 bird species and 100 mammal species calling the reserve home. Be sure to keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal, one of the most elusive birds in the world.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Monteverde - Leader led walking tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Make the most of a full day free to explore the reserve. Perhaps take a hike through the cloud forest, go for a ride on a mountain bike, or fly over the canopy on a zip line tour. Another way to see the forest is on a Sky Walk tour, which takes you high through the treetops along a series of suspension bridges. You can explore the park on your own or arrange for a local guide to accompany you. The guides are very knowledgeable and happy to show travellers around the reserve. For a guaranteed wildlife encounter, visit the butterfly and insect gardens or the serpentarium. There are also several cooperatives worth visiting in the local communities. Your leader will be able to provide you with more details and help organise activities. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest hike - USD40
  • Monteverde - Suspension bridges tour - USD35
  • Monteverde - Zip lining - USD45
  • Monteverde - Coffee & Chocolate tour - USD35
  • Monteverde - Night walk - USD35
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest Train - USD60
  • Monteverde - Serpentarium - USD15
  • Monteverde - Butterfly garden and insects farm - USD30
  • Monteverde - Frog pond - USD15
  • Monteverde - Orchid gardens - USD12
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Monteverde at 2pm and take the scenic route to La Fortuna. Travel by shared minibus for 1.5 hours to the shores of Lake Arenal, which you'll then cross by boat - a further 1.5 hour journey. On a clear day you'll see fantastic views of the surrounding area. On the other side of the lake, re-board the minibus and continue on to your hotel. La Fortuna is a small town situated just a few minutes from Costa Rica's most famous volcano - the majestic Arenal. While you're here, make sure you take some photos of the volcano reflected spectacularly in the lake. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • La Fortuna - Leader led walking tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are plenty of optional activities to take part in today. Perhaps take a guided nature hike through the lush forest surrounding Arenal Volcano, keeping an eye out for rare plants and animals. You can also see the forest from a series of hanging bridges. Check out the 70-metre high La Fortuna waterfall, or get active with some water sports on the lake, such as stand-up paddle boarding. The volcano’s inner workings also mean that the area is home to several thermal hot springs, an ideal way to relax in the middle of nature. Alternatively, a boat safari down the Celeste River offers the opportunity to see lizards, crocodiles and tropical birds in their natural habitat.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • La Fortuna - Hot springs - USD25
  • La Fortuna - Arenal hanging bridges - USD65
  • La Fortuna - La Fortuna Waterfall - USD10
  • La Fortuna - Nature hike around Arenal Volcano - USD50
  • La Fortuna - Cano Negro boat tour - USD80
  • La Fortuna - Stand up paddle board - USD50
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Board a local bus for the five-hour journey to Costa Rica's capital, San Jose. Situated in the fertile Central Valley and home to over half the country's population, San Jose is filled with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere. Your leader will take you on a walking tour around the city's main highlights. A good place to start your exploration is the main plaza. Artisan booths are common here, so you never know when an art fair will pop up. The Gold Museum has an amazing collection of indigenous gold art. If you're in the mood for a bit of shopping, head to the outdoor market in the Plaza de la Cultura or the city's Central Market, where you can buy anything from handicrafts to seafood.

There are number of highly recommended Urban Adventures to choose from in San Jose. Ask your leader for assistance on how to book them or call locally on 4000 5730 or email info@sanjoseurbanadventures.com. You can also browse day tours by visiting www.urbanadventures.com/destination/San-Jose-tours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Jose - Leader led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - Cartago Bike & Train Tour - Urban Adventures - USD59
  • San Jose - The Art of Craft Beer in San Jose - Urban Adventures - USD68
  • San Jose - San Jose by Night - Urban Adventures - USD74
  • San Jose - Costa Rica Pura Vida Experience - Urban Adventures - USD63
  • San Jose - Tropical Rainforest and Chocolate Adventure - Urban Adventures - USD99
  • San Jose - San Jose Bites and Sights Tour - Urban Adventures - USD33
  • San Jose - National Museum - USD12
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today your adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned for the final day.

As there's a lot to see and do in and around San Jose, we recommend staying on for a few days to make the most of the city. If you'd like to extend your visit and need further accommodation, our reservations team would be happy to assist (subject to availability).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Private minibus, local minibus, boat

Accommodation

Hotel (9 nights)

Included activities

  • Granada- Leader led walking tour
  • Monteverde - Leader led walking tour
  • La Fortuna - Leader led walking tour
  • San Jose - Leader led walking tour

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.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT

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

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.