Travel to Costa Rica and experience its incredible natural attractions

Even in a region well known for its natural diversity, Costa Rica is still a stand out. Thanks to a longstanding tradition of preserving its natural assets, much of the country’s verdant rainforest still stands, opportunities for nature-based adventures abound and the beaches on both coasts are in exceptional nick. As a result, the nation’s cultural riches can oft end up overlooked – but here too the country has much to offer. Costa Ricans are widely regarded as some of the world’s friendliest people and on this trip – in between exploring the country’s most famous national parks –you’ll get to know them while lending a hand on a rural farmstay and kicking back in the rustic beach town of Quepos.

Start
San Jose, Costa Rica
Finish
San Jose, Costa Rica
Countries
Costa Rica
Themes
Explorer
Code
QVSS
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
140kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Wander through the artisan stalls of San Jose’s Plaza de la Cultura
  • Learn some home-cooked recipes on a visit to the Juanilama agricultural community
  • Hike the forested jungle trails of Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Take a soak in La Fortuna’s lava-heated thermal springs
  • Try to spy the resplendent quetzal in Monteverde’s cloud forest
  • Chill out amid Quepos’ blissed out surf town vibe

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Hola! Welcome to Costa Rica!

Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel 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 the 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.

With over half the country's population living within its parameters, San Jose is a bustling city with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere. A good place to start exploring is the main plaza, a fantastic place to get comfy and do some people watching. Artisan booths are common here and you never know when there'll be a spontaneous art fair. Have a look at the Gold Museum which has an amazing collection of indigenous gold art. If these cultural gems get you in the mood for a bit of shopping head to the out door market in Plaza de la Cultura or the Central Market where you can buy anything from handicrafts to seafood.
Travel by private minibus to Santa Rosa de Pocosol (approx 3 hours) where we spend the night in a homestay. Just down the road is the Juanilama agricultural community where we have the option to get to know the local villagers, help with farm chores or take a cooking lesson. Several villagers have built comfortable rooms for guests next to their homes. All rooms have shared facilities.

In order to make the most of this homestay experience, it may take a bit of effort from your side to break the ice first. Learn as many Spanish words as you can and get ready for some serious hand language signals.
Continue by private minibus to La Fortuna (approx 2 hours).

La Fortuna is a small town situated just a few minutes away from Costa Rica's most famous volcano - the majestic Arenal. 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 water sports on the lake.

The volcano’s inner workings also mean that the area has a number of thermal springs where hot, lava-heated water gushes to the surface. These springs have been turned into a number of thermal pools and waterfalls, often surrounded by foliage, an ideal chance to relax.
Today take the scenic route to Monteverde (approximately 4 hours in total). Travel by shared minibus to Lake Arenal, which we'll cross by boat. 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 our destination.

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 Cloudforest Biological Preserve. 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.
Your leader will take you on a walking tour through the Monteverde National Park. Alternatively, walk through the canopy on suspension bridges or watch butterflies at play in the specially created butterfly garden. The local guides are very knowledgeable about the area and passionate about conservation and in the local communities there are several cooperatives worth visiting. 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.
Travel to Quepos by private minibus (approx 5 hours).
Located close to the beautiful Pacific beaches and exotic wildlife of Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos is a laid-back town with a vibrant nightlife.
Spend your time here enjoying all that Manuel Antonio NP has to offer. Head out for a hike along its many trails, keeping one eye on the great views and the other looking for the abundant wildlife. Monkeys, armadillos, sloths and hundreds of birds are among the species you maybe be able to spot. The park also boasts turquoise seas and white-sand beaches, perfect for swimming, kayaking, sailing and fishing. It would be easy to spend your whole time here in, or by, the water.
Take a local bus back to San Jose (approx 4 hours). The buses in this region of the country are a little more basic but this is a great opportunity to mix with Costa Ricans and get a feel for local life.

Arrive back in time for you to pick up some last minute souvenirs at the city's colourful and vibrant markets. Then we can head out for an optional dinner and a final night on the town sampling the huge variety of nightlife. The perfect way to end our adventure.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Transport
Private minibus, Local bus, Boat
Accommodation
Hotel (7 nights), Homestay (1 night)
Included activities
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Agricultural tour
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest hike

Dates

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Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide 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.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Costa Rica Experience trips score an average of 4.66 out of 5 based on 59 reviews in the last year.

Costa Rica Experience , August 2016

Costa Rica Experience , August 2016