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
Destination
Costa Rica
Style
Original
Code
QVSS
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • 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 2019 to 31 December 2019. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Hola! Welcome to Costa Rica! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm 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. If you arrive with time to spare, 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - Cartago Bike & Train Tour - Urban Adventures - USD59
  • San Jose - Costa Rica Pura Vida Experience - Urban Adventures - USD63
  • San Jose - San Jose Bites and Sights Tour - Urban Adventures - USD33
  • San Jose - Irazu Volcano, Orosi Valley & Lankester Botanical Garden (full-day tour) - USD90
  • San Jose - Butterfly farm - USD27
  • San Jose - Gold Museum - USD11
  • San Jose - Jade Museum - USD10
  • San Jose - National Museum - USD12
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
COMBOS:
Some departures of this trip are part of a combination trip. As such, some of your fellow travellers may have started their trip 13 days ago in Antigua on Guatemala & Costa Rica (QVSAC). Please contact our sales team if you wish to book or know more information on these longer combination trips.
Travel by private minibus to Santa Rosa de Pocosol (around three hours) where we spend the night in a homestay. Just down the road is the Juanilama agricultural community, where you have the opportunity to get to know the locals, help with farm chores, or take a cooking lesson. Several villagers have built comfortable rooms for guests next to their homes, and you will stay in one of them this evening. Please note that these rooms use 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. The reward for your efforts? An authentic slice of life in the Costa Rican countryside. 
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Agricultural tour
Optional Activities
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Cooking class - USD10
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Soap-making workshop - USD10
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Waterfall hike - USD10
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Continue by private minibus to La Fortuna (about two 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-based activities on the lake. The volcano’s inner workings also mean that the area has a number of thermal springs where lava-heated water gushes to the surface. These springs have been sculpted into a number of pools and waterfalls, making them the ideal place to relax. Spend the rest of the day as you please in this exciting town, perhaps getting active on a stand-up paddleboard or looking for monkeys and caimans during a boat tour of the Cano Negro area.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • La Fortuna - Hot springs - USD45
  • La Fortuna - La Fortuna Waterfall - USD15
  • La Fortuna - Arenal hanging bridges - USD56
  • La Fortuna - Cano Negro boat tour - USD67
  • La Fortuna - Stand up paddle board - USD65
  • La Fortuna - Tabacon Hot Springs (entrance, dinner and transport) - USD99
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today take the scenic route to Monteverde (approximately four 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. Perhaps start your exploration with a tour of the suspension bridges that hang in the trees, or head to the Serpentarium to see some crawly critters. More than 2000 species of plants, 320 bird species and 100 different types of mammals call Montverde home.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest (Entrance fee & Transport)
Optional Activities
  • Monteverde - Suspension bridges tour - USD47
  • Monteverde - Zip lining - USD90
  • Monteverde - Coffee & Chocolate tour - USD35
  • Monteverde - Night walk - USD35
  • Monteverde - Butterfly garden and insects farm - USD15
  • Monteverde - Serpentarium - USD15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Choose how you'd like to spend today in this beautiful area. Watch butterflies at play in the specially created garden, hire a local guide to show you around the area, visit a community cooperative or zip-line through the lush canopy! Whatever you do, be sure to keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal, one of the most elusive birds in the world.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel through the mountains to Quepos by private minibus (around 5 hours). Located close to the beautiful Pacific beaches and exotic wildlife of Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos is a laidback town with a vibrant nightlife. Perhaps get into the spirit with a sunset sail around the glorious coast, looking out for dolphins and whales which sometimes swim close by. Once the sun goes down, why not grab a spot at a waterfront restaurant and sink your teeth into some fresh seafood.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Manuel Antonio - Sunset sail - USD80
  • Manuel Antonio - Mangrove tour by kayak (with lunch) - USD80
  • Manuel Antonio - Surf/boogie board rental - USD10
  • Quepos - Local guided tour - USD25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend your time enjoying all that Manuel Antonio NP has to offer. Perhaps head out for a hike along one fo the many trails on offer, 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - (Entrance fee)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a local bus back to San Jose (around four hours). The buses in this region of the country are a little more basic than youo may be used to, 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, head out for an optional dinner and a final night on the town, sampling the huge variety of nightlife on offer. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time following check out. If you're not flying out today, why not hit the town with a local guide and sample some of the choicest drops from the city's growing craft beer scene. Check out this and more at urbanadventures.com/destination/San-Jose-tours
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - San Jose by Night - Urban Adventures - USD74
  • Home Cooked San Jose - Urban Adventures - USD39
  • San Jose - Tropical Rainforest and Chocolate Adventure - Urban Adventures - USD99
  • San Jose - The Art of Craft Beer in San Jose - Urban Adventures - USD68
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

1 breakfast, 1 dinner

Transport

Private vehicle, Shared vehicle, Public bus, Shared boat

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights), Homestay (1 night)

Included activities

  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Agricultural tour
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - (Entrance fee)

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
2. To have a private room on this trip, a single supplement is bookable; subject to availability.
3. Please be careful when booking flights to/from San Jose; make sure you fly into/out of Juan Santamaría International Airport [SJO]. Please do NOT book flights to/from Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport [SJC] as this is located in California, United States.
4. Hurricane season in this region is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors any situations that arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.

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.

Reviews

Our Costa Rica Experience trips score an average of 4.6 out of 5 based on 167 reviews in the last year.

Costa Rica Experience, September 2018

Adrian Knuesel

Costa Rica Experience, September 2018

Renee Gulliver