Discover volcanoes, rainforests and idyllic beaches on this cycling adventure through Costa Rica and Panama

From the deep rainforests of Panama to the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, witness all the natural splendour of Central America from your unique vantage point in the saddle. Costa Rica and Panama are the epitome of Central American and Caribbean living, with a diversity of wildlife and rich local cultures waiting to be discovered. This cycling adventure takes you off the beaten path for a journey that's not restricted to the mainland, with voyages to tropical archipelagos and isolated islands surrounded by active volcanoes.


Start
San Jose, Costa Rica
Finish
Panama City, Panama
Destinations
Style
Original
Theme
Cycling
Code
QZXC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 14
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Cycle through Central America, a land of mysterious ruins, active volcanoes, idyllic beaches and emerald jungles

  • See the sights and engage in a wide range of activities across two different countries

  • Chill out with Caribbean vibes in Puerto Viejo, a lively village with great food and even better music

  • Cycle the Panama Canal and marvel at the leviathans sailing through the water

Is this trip right for you?

  • To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.

  • This is a new trip - we have researched the itinerary and accommodation extensively but there is the possibility of some last minute changes if improvements can still be made.

  • While the cycling distances on this trip are relatively short, the terrain of Central America is naturally hilly with a warm, humid climate. You’ll need a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy the trip – but remember the support vehicle will be on hand if you need to take a break for an hour or a day.

  • Please note that many of the road we cycle on in Central America are not of the standard you may be used to riding on at home. To avoid riding on main roads with too much traffic, most of our riding is done on gravel/dirt roads (approx 75%) with the remainder on paved roads (approx. 25%).

  • The terrain also varies greatly as we make our way across 3 separate countries, but hills are a constant feature on this trip.

  • Cycling and driving distances may vary due to local circumstances.

  • There’s the possibility of a few hiccups along the way, perhaps a puncture here and there, but there’s no doubt this is an incredibly rewarding adventure.

  • The weather in this region varies seasonally. Be prepared to get sweaty, and even encounter the occasional rainstorm which may require a change of plans.

Itinerary

Hola! Welcome to Costa Rica. San Jose is a bustling city with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere. You'll meet the rest of your group at 6 pm this evening, but if you arrive early there's plenty to do in town. A good place to start exploring is the main plaza, where artisan booths are common, or at the Gold Museum containing an amazing collection of indigenous gold art. You could also hit the outdoor market in Plaza de la Cultura or the popular Central Market. Once you've met the other travellers, maybe join them for a group dinner or otherwise dine out by yourself. Remember, this is a cycling trip so carb-loading is absolutely encouraged.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
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.
Depart San Jose early this morning on a long driving day (approximately 230 km / 4 hours). The group will make their way to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca for a taste of the Carribean: think reggae bars and palm-fringed beaches. Once known only for the legendary Salsa Brava surf break, this town maintains its laid-back vibe while being the departure point for a range of activities like snorkelling, chocolate tours or the popular Jaguar Rescue Centre. Stop en route at the famous (and supposedly haunted) Cartago ruins. On arrival in Puerto Viejo, check into the accommodation then stretch your legs with a relaxed ride along the coast to the small beachside town of Manzanillo, returning to Puerto Viejo in time for a sunset beer.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Cycle away from the beach this morning and follow the peaceful Sixaola River that forms the border between Costa Rica and Panama. Enjoy a longer ride, passing rolling green farmland and the Gandoca Manzanillo National Park before returning to Puerto Viejo for a free afternoon. Hit the surf, rest your riding muscles on the beach or grab a cold drink at one of the town's bamboo bars.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Board a support vehicle this morning and cross the border into Panama, arriving in Caldera some 4 hours later (245 km). The area is home to beautiful pine forests, river valleys and streams, with the Baru Volcano serving as a stunning backdrop. Jump back in the saddle for a hilly ride with nice descents and amazing scenery. Once you reach the town of Caldera, board a special all-terrain vehicle that will take you up to the Boquete area, the spectacular mountain town serving as your home for the next two nights. Your hotel is located at nearly 1700 m above sea level, and the 7 km incline to the hotel door may be an appealing challenge for the more energetic cyclists in the group.

Cycling: riding distance is approximately 30 km / 3 hours on hill terrain with an elevation gain of approximately 530 m.

Vehicle transfer: approximately 3.5 hours.



Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take advantage of a free day to stretch your legs and take part in an optional activity, like a coffee tour or a visit to the nearby hot springs to soothe your muscles. Alternatively, take it easy and just enjoy the serentity surrounding this mountain gem. If you're keen to get back in the saddle, optional rides in the area can be arranged with your leader.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Transfer to Los Portrerillos for today's ride along the slopes of Baru Volcano, an active stratovolcano. There are some undulating sections before a long, fun descent on rarely-used roads and on a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean. Freshen up at the bottom before boarding your transfer to Panama City.

Cycling: Riding distance is approximately 32 km / 2 hours, on undulating then downhill terrain with an elevation gain of approximately 270 m.

Vehicle transfer: approximately 7 hours.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
See the highlights of Central America's glitziest capital on a short ride along the Panama Canal. Set out from the hotel, close to the Pacific end of the Panama Canal, and  transfer by bus (approximately 15 minutes) to the Miraflores Locks. Entrance to the Visitor Centre is included featuring a large interactive museum, multiple viewing platforms and a delicious buffet restaurant with views of the canal. Departing Miraflores, ride into Soberania National Park, which spans almost the entire width of the country along the east side of the canal. Take a quick side trip down the plantation trail deep into the jungle. Afterwards, continue to Gamboa, a town which was left deserted following the completion of the Panama Canal. See the remains of the town before ending your ride at the truly spectacular Rainforest Discovery Center, a non-profit organisation. One of the main attractions is a tower way above the canopy where it's possible to observe up to 14 species of hummingbirds. You may also see other other animals such as monkeys, crocodiles, coatis and butterflies. Enjoy lunch at the Discovery Center before heading back to town for some free time. Perhaps explore Casco Viejo, the historic old town of Panama City. This evening you have a special farewell dinner to celebrate the end of this cycling adventure. 

Cycling: riding distance is approx. 20 km / 3 hours, on mostly flat terrain with an elevation gain of approx. 190 meters
Vehicle transfer: approx. 1.5 hours
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
You can depart at any time as there are no activities planned for today.

Cycling distance: none
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

7 breakfasts

Transport

Bicycle, Support vehicle

Accommodation

Hotels (3 nights), guesthouse (4 nights)

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.
2. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitable sized bike.
3. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. We are unable to hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home.
4. Border crossing fees are not included in the trip cost

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.