Mixing adventure with relaxation - and plenty of wildlife-spotting – this adventure through Costa Rica and Panama has it all.

Nature puts on a spectacular show on this adventure through Central America. Spend time exploring the cloud forests, jungles and marine environments of Costa Rica’s national parks and you’ll be rewarded with incredible wildlife-spotting. It won’t take long before you start recognising different sorts of monkeys, unusual Baird’s tapirs, and the bright crimson and green coat of the elusive resplendent quetzal. From the verdant hills and misty mountains of San Gerardo de Dota and Boquete, to the beachside town of Santa Catalina, the incredible landscape is an adventure-seeker's dream. Hike, bike, surf, zipline, rock climb or simply chill out on a hammock – the choice is yours. Then journey to energetic Panama City for a different sort of thrill.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
San Jose, Costa Rica
Finish
Panama City, Panama
Destinations
Costa Rica, Panama
Style
Original
Code
QBSP
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • A trip to Costa Rica wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of its famous cloud forests. Visit Los Quetzales National Park for a chance to see the cloud forest and the park’s namesake bird, the resplendent quetzal

  • Costa Rica boasts some of the most biologically diverse places on earth – Corcovado National Park being one of them. Spend time exploring its jungles, lagoons and swamps and be rewarded with incredible wildlife-spotting (including monkeys, sloths and Baird’s tapirs, to name a few)

  • Waterfalls, wildflowers, hot springs and mountains - beautiful Boquete has it all. Tour a coffee plantation, ride a bike along a river or take a relaxing walk through the forest, keeping an eye out for tricky monkeys and tropical birds

  • Explore the eclectic streets of Panama City and admire the engineering masterpiece of the Panama Canal

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip involves some travel by local transport, which can be basic and challenging, but is also a fantastic way to rub shoulders with the locals and get under the skin of a place.

  • While the border crossing between Costa Rica and Panama is usually straightforward, sometimes it can take a while, so please prepare to be patient. You're on Central American time now!

  • The Costa Rican and Panamanian climate is sultry and tropical, so it can get really hot and humid. Wear loose clothing and make sure stay hydrated, especially while out on walking tours.

Itinerary

Hola! Welcome to San Jose. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you’ll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. Continue the introductions with an optional group dinner after the meeting. San Jose is a bustling city with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere. Otherwise, a good place to start 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 Mercado Central (Central Market), where you can buy anything from kitschy souvenirs and handicrafts to authentic local cuisine. As this trip spends little time here, we recommend arriving a day or two earlier to see the sights or perhaps book an Urban Adventure with a local guide.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - Gold Museum - USD11
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive in time for today's welcome meeting, 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 have these on hand.
Depart around 8 am for the sleepy town of San Gerardo de Dota (the bulk of this three hour journey will take place on public bus), where crisp mountain air, lush cloud forests and some of the best bird watching in the country await. Nestled in the Savegre River Valley beneath the remote Talamanca Mountain Range, not many tourists venture to this hidden slice of paradise. On top of being a bird watchers haven – spot roughly 200 species of birds including hummingbirds, woodpeckers and the elusive resplendent quetzal – San Gerardo de Dota boasts pristine hiking trails and fantastic trout fishing.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Gerardo de Dota - Orientation walk
  • Los Santos - Don Cornelio Coffee Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Spend time at Los Quetzales National Park for a chance to see the cloud forest and the park’s namesake bird, the resplendent quetzal. The park contains eight trails of varying length and difficulty, and is usually blanketed in a cloudy haze. The crimson and green resplendent quetzal is notoriously shy, so if you’re really keen on spotting one, consider hiring a local guide. The park is also home to big jungle cats like pumas and jaguars, monkeys, Baird’s tapirs and a slew of other bird species. After some time in the park, travel to Corcovado. It’s a seven-hour journey to this reserve on Costa Rica’s south-west peninsula; spend this time brushing up on your Spanish via an informal lesson from your tour leader, taking in the passing scenery or simply catching some shut-eye.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Los Quetzales National Park - Cloud forest (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Visit the Corcovado National Park, the second largest national park in Costa Rica and one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. It has 13 different ecosystems within its boundaries including highland cloud forests, lagoons, mangrove swamps and marine habitats to name just a few. The day is yours to explore the park as you choose.
Optional Activities
  • Corcovado - Lagoon Kayaking - USD75
  • Corcovado - Early Birdwatching - USD35
  • Corcovado - Corcovado Hike - USD80
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Cross the border and journey to Boquete (about 6 hours). A picturesque town in Panama’s verdant highlands, Boquete is surrounded by mountains, rivers, forest reserves and colourful wildflowers, as well as coffee plantations and orange groves. Acquaint yourself with its breathtaking scenery on an orientation walk with your leader, followed by dinner in town with the group. Your accommodation is a rustic Tree Trek lodge five kilometres outside of town. Located in the hills at the edge of the forest, enjoy glorious views over the valley from the property.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Boquete - Orientation walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free day to explore Boquete. The area surrounding the town is famous for its coffee. Consider a visit to a local coffee plantation for an insight into coffee production, or perhaps kick back in town with a cup of local brew. Get active on a guided bike tour or hike through the mini canyons and hidden waterfalls outside of town. Boquete’s stunning scenery makes it a fantastic location for ziplining. Or for a more relaxing pursuit, soak your muscles at the Calderas hot springs.
Optional Activities
  • Boquete - Mini canyons - USD30
  • Boquete - Rock climbing - USD40
  • Boquete - Zipline - USD65
  • Boquete - Calderas hot springs - USD35
  • Boquete - Coffee Plantation tour - USD35
  • Boquete - Guided tour of hidden waterfalls - USD50
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel to Panama City, Central America's glitziest capital. Depart at 9 am for this five to six-hour journey by private minibus. Arrive late afternoon and explore the historic Casco Viejo (Old Town) on a leader-led orientation walk. The cobbled centre is an alluring mix of crumbling architecture and hip bars and boutiques. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy. You may choose to treat your taste buds to an evening food tour and sample local specialties like Panamanian coffee, craft beer and ceviche.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Panama City - Leader-led walk along part of the Cinta Costera (Causeway) including a visit to the Fish Market
Optional Activities
  • Taste of Panama City - Urban Adventures - USD65
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are no planned activities today, though we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. You may want to visit the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal or go wildlife-spotting at Soberania National Park.
Optional Activities
  • Panama City Jungle Experience - Urban Adventures - USD139
  • Panama City - Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks) - USD15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

4 breakfasts, 1 lunch

Transport

Private vehicle, Public bus, Shared boat

Accommodation

Hotel (5 nights), Lodge (2 nights)

Included activities

  • San Gerardo de Dota - Orientation walk
  • Los Santos - Don Cornelio Coffee Tour
  • Los Quetzales National Park - Cloud forest (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Boquete - Orientation walk
  • Panama City - Leader-led walk along part of the Cinta Costera (Causeway) including a visit to the Fish Market

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 Santamaria 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.