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 rainforests, jungles and marine environments of Costa Rica’s national parks and you’ll be rewarded with incredible wildlife-spotting opportunities. It won’t take long before you start recognising different sorts of monkeys, unusual 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 Drake Bay, the incredible landscape is an adventure-seeker's dream. Hike, bike, surf, paddle or simply chill out on a hammock – the choice is yours!


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

Why you'll love this trip

  • San Jose is Costa Rica’s home of culture and history. Wander through the main plaza, take an optional visit to the Gold Museum and wander through the outdoor markets at Plaza de la Cultura.

  • Corcovado National Park is a rainforest to trump all rainforests. Spend time exploring its jungles, lagoons and swamps and be rewarded with incredible wildlife-spotting, including monkeys, sloths and tapirs.

  • Waterfalls, wildflowers, hot springs and mountains - beautiful Boquete has it all. Perhaps ride a bike along a river, take a relaxing walk through the forest, or learn about coffee on an optional tour – it’s up to you.

  • Explore the eclectic streets of Panama City and wander through the Casco Viejo (Old Town), passing by the bustling fish markets.

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

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.
View the 2019 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 – your group leader will know some great places to eat. San Jose is a bustling city with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere, and so we recommend arriving a day or two early to see all it has to offer. 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - Gold Museum - CRC4490
  • San Jose - Cartago Bike & Train Tour - Urban Adventures - USD63
  • San Jose - San Jose Bites and Sights Tour - Urban Adventures - USD36
  • San Jose - Pura Vida Experience: Tapas, Traditional Masks and Escazu Visite - Urban Adventures - USD65
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place. 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).
Depart around 8 am for the sleepy town of San Gerardo de Dota (this three hour journey will be by private vehicle), 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. If you feel like getting caffeinated, you could head on an optional Don Cornelio coffee tour to learn about this renowned Central American export.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Los Santos - Don Cornelio Family Coffee Experience - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning, leave the Savegre Valley and travel to Corcovado. Take a private vehicle to the port, ready for an 11 am boat trip to the stunning Drake Bay, part of the Osa Peninsula and close to the Corcovado National Park. There is a bit of travel involved today, so spend this time brushing up on your Spanish with an informal lesson from your tour leader. You’ll know the difference between your buenos and banos in no time. Otherwise, make sure you grab a window take in the passing scenery, or simply catch some shut eye on the journey. With 13 major ecosystems, over 400 species of birds and all the monkeys, turtles and butterflies you’d ever wish to see, Corcovado is a nature-lover's dream, and you’ll have some time to explore tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, 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. You’ll undertake the San Pedrillo Station Hike today, where your guide will lead a 3-hour hike through primary and secondary forest and (hopefully) past unique species of bird, monkey, anteater and the crowd-favourite, sloths. After an included lunch at the ranger park station, take a shorter hike to a beautiful waterfall for a swim! Finishing up in mid-afternoon, you’ll have the evening back in Drake Bay, perhaps with a group dinner if you decide.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Corcovado - San Pedrillo Station Hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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 an optional dinner in town with your group. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Boquete - Leader-led 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. The best thing is, you decide!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
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 8-9-hour journey by public bus, changing bus in David and continuing on to the capital. 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 run by Urban Adventures, which gives you the opportunity to sample local specialties like Panamanian coffee, craft beer and ceviche.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (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
  • Panama - Taste of Panama City - Urban Adventures - USD76
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. If you wish to spend more time in Panama City, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Optional Activities
  • Panama - Panama City Jungle Experience - Urban Adventures - USD140
  • 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

  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Corcovado - San Pedrillo Station Hike
  • Boquete - Leader-led 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.

Essential trip information

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