Explore Costa Rica from the mountains to the sea

Every year thousands of tourists travel to Costa Rica but few get to experience this charismatic country's real way of life. On this Classic Costa Rica trip, stay with a local family in Santa Rosa de Pocosol and get your hands dirty on a nearby farm. Uncover jungle gems in Tortuguero and Monteverde; hot springs, waterfalls and a live volcano in La Fortuna; and white sandy beaches at Manuel Antonio - all set to a sizzling salsa beat. This adventure into the heart of tropical paradise will surely leave you wanting more.

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Save a space on your 2019 trip with only a €50 deposit until 31 August 2018.

Terms & Conditions

Start
San Jose, Costa Rica
Finish
San Jose, Costa Rica
Destination
Costa Rica
Style
Original
Code
QVSR
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Stroll through lively markets in San Jose

  • Explore the jungle in the Tortuguero National Park

  • Soak off the day in La Fortuna hot springs

  • Search for sloths in the sultry Monteverde cloud forest

  • Experience local life on a homestay in Santa Rosa de Pocosol

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

With over a third of the country's population living within its parameters, San Jose is packed with both people and culture. Your welcome meeting is not until 6 pm, so if you arrive early why not begin exploring? A good place to start 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. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at the evening welcome meeting, so please have these on hand. 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • 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.
Leave San Jose and descend to the Caribbean lowlands by local bus, a 4-hour scenic (though occasionally bumpy) journey that ends at the port of La Pavona. Hop aboard a small, open boat that will ferry you into the depths of the Tortuguero National Park. Enjoy an informal Spanish lesson on the water before arriving in the middle of this biodiverse area, where freshwater lagoons rest under the canopy of rainforest that borders the ocean. A walking tour is a good opportunity to look for some of the many animals that call the park home, amoung them jaguars and a plethora of turtles. Return to your jungle lodge for the evening and let the natural soundscape lull you to sleep.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Tortuguero - National Park (Entrance Fee)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
If you're woken by the chattering of the forests some 300 bird species, why not haul yourself out of bed for a sunrise canoe trip. It’s a magical way to see the interconnected maze-like canals of the park, and you can keep an eye out for the gleaming form of slippery otters and perhaps a manatee or two in the morning light. During the day, you might want to return to the parks walking trails or simply relax in your lodge. Tortuguero National park is famous for its turtles, and many species are particularly active at night. If you wish, you can head out in the evening on a turtle watching tour.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Tortuguero - Sunrise canoe trip around canals - USD25
  • Tortuguero - Turtle watching night tour - USD20
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Emerge from the forest and make the 3-hour journey to Santa Rosa de Pocosol by private minbus. You will be staying in guest rooms attached to family homes. The nearby Juanilama agricultural community is a good introduction to the way of life in this area, which is heavily focused on traditional and sustainable practices. You will option to get to know the local villagers, help with farm chores or take a cooking lesson. The locals here usually don’t speak English, giving you a good chance to test your Spanish and international signing skills.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Agricultural tour
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Homestay experience
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
This truly magical river awaits after a private minivan journey of around 2 hours. You have a free afternoon to explore the falls and streams, where the blue waters are so bright they look photoshopped.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is as clear as the Costa Rican air, though there are plenty of optional activities available. The light-blue waters of the Rio Celeste that exist within the bounds of Tenorio Volcano National Park are generally off-limits to travellers. However, you’ll have the opportunity today to float along the water with a guided tubing excursion. If you wish to be one of the few foreigners to see their feet beneath the surface of this otherworldly water, you can hop in an inflatable donut and spend the day lazing along. The cost of breakfast and lunch is included in the price. Thrillseekers will have the option to indulge in seven hours of guided rafting at nearby Rio Tenorio with a fruit snack and lunch included in the cost. Although you’ll tackle 20 rapids, there’s plenty of natural beauty to admire along the banks during the lulls. Those who prefer a nature tour with less adrenaline might like to take three-hour safari along the Rio Tenorio, with a guide who will help you spot howler monkeys, crocodiles, river otters and an abundance of tropical birds.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Tenorio River - Rafting Class 3 & 4 - USD99
  • Tenorio River - Safari Floating - USD65
  • Rio Celeste - Tubing Tour - USD70
  • Rio Celeste & Tenorio Park Hike - USD115
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Beneath the watchful eye of the Arenal Volcano lies La Fortuna, a sleep town with an abundance of hot springs and natural pools to enjoy. You’ll arrive by private minibus after a 2-hour drive and have the day to do as you please. Perhaps travel to La Fortuna waterfall and swim beneath the cascading waters.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Besides the spectacular views of the Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna offers a range of sights such as stunning lush forest, rare plants, animal watching and watersports 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. If youo would prefer to stay active there are heaps of options including stand-up paddle boarding and a boat tour of Cano Negro Reserve - just ask your leader!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • La Fortuna - Cano Negro boat tour - USD67
  • La Fortuna - Stand up paddle board - USD65
  • La Fortuna - Tabacon Hot Springs (entrance, dinner and transport) - USD99
  • La Fortuna - Hot springs - USD45
  • La Fortuna - Arenal hanging bridges - USD56
  • La Fortuna - La Fortuna Waterfall - USD15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
A morning of travel by bus and boat leads to verdant Monteverde. After 4 hours on a shared vehicle, you'll arrive at Lake Arenal. Cross the scenic lake by boat and then hop on the bus again to continue on to Monteverde. Settled by North American Quakers in 1951, the area was initially used as an environmentally conscious agricultural community and is now a biological preserve. The forest is kept moist by near-constant cloud cover, which also gives the area an enchanted vibe that makes exploring it a true delight. Spend the afternoon in the cloud forest, looking out for long-snouted Tapir’s and lazy sloths amoung the mist. You may even choose to return after dusk to seek the animals and insects that are largely hidden in the day.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest (Entrance fee & Transport)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The local guides are very knowledgeable about the area and passionate about conservation, and in the local communities there are several cooperatives worth visiting. Perhaps walk through the canopy on suspension bridges or watch butterflies at play in the specially created butterfly garden. More than 2,000 species of plants, 320 bird species and 100 different types of mammals call Monteverde home, and no matter what you choose to 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)
Optional Activities
  • Monteverde - Night walk - USD35
  • Monteverde - Butterfly garden and insects farm - USD15
  • Monteverde - Serpentarium - USD15
  • Monteverde - Coffee & Chocolate tour - USD35
  • Monteverde - Suspension bridges tour - USD47
  • Monteverde - Zip lining - USD90
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Wedged between the beautiful Pacific coast and the National Park, Manuel Antonio is a laidback town with a vibrant nightlife and exotic wildlife. After a 4 hour journey in a private vehicle, feel the soft crunch of foliage underfoot while you hike the trails of the national park. Keep 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 may be able to spot.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - (Entrance fee)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The beaches that the forest opens onto are clean and clear. Since the national park is closed to visitors today, why not hire a surfboard or boogie board and catch some waves at Playa El Ray? In the evening, you could take a sunset sail of the coast, watching the blue sky turn orange is a spectacular sight. Talk to your leader to organise this or other optional activities.
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
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
For just USD 16 you could return today to the Manuel Antonio National Park, and have a search for the solemn, white faces of the Capuchin monkeys who live in the trees. Alternatively, why not kick-off your shoes and feel the sands of Manuel Antonio Beach between your toes? It’s easy to spend a whole day on this calm shore. The towering green trees provide shade that's perfect to lie under with a good book.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Manuel Antonio National Park (Entrance fee) - USD16
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
A local bus will return you to San Jose, and you could spend the 4 hour journey trying out your Spanish on the locals sitting next to you. Arrive back in time to pick up some last minute souvenirs at the city's colourful markets. Then, enjoy an optional farewell dinner or strike out on your own. The nightlife here is legendary, but even if clubbing isn’t your thing there’s plenty to do. Maybe sip a local microbrew—the craft beer scene has exploded in Costa Rica during the last decade and there are tonnes of brew houses to choose from.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - San Jose by Night - Urban Adventures - USD74
  • San Jose - The Art of Craft Beer in San Jose - Urban Adventures - USD68
  • San Jose - San Jose Bites and Sights Tour - Urban Adventures - USD33
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
While your tour ends here, your journey doesn't have to.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

5 breakfasts, 1 dinner

Transport

Private vehicle, Shared vehicle, Public bus, Shared boat

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights), Lodge (6 nights), Homestay (1 night)

Included activities

  • Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Tortuguero - National Park (Entrance Fee)
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Agricultural tour
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Homestay experience
  • 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 Classic Costa Rica trips score an average of 4.62 out of 5 based on 263 reviews in the last year.

Classic Costa Rica, July 2018

Isabel Collings

Classic Costa Rica, July 2018

Min Tsing Chang