Explore the beauty of Costa Rica's mountains, volcanoes and valleys before kicking back in vibrant Panama City.

Nature's bounty is at your fingertips in this adventure through the lush, rugged landscaped of Costa Rica. Spend time exploring the cloud forests, jungles and marine environments of the nation'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-seekers 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.


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

Why you'll love this trip

  • San Jose is Costa Rica’s cultural heart. Spend time wandering through the artisan stalls of the main Plaza de la Cultura, with plenty of time to stop for a refresco (smoothie) and to do some people watching.

  • Lend a hand at a farmstay outside of Santa Rosa de Pocosol, and learn some home-cooked recipes and techniques from the locals on a visit to the Juanilama agricultural community.

  • Marvel at the size and stature of the Arenal Volcano on the horizon, perhaps taking a soak and relaxing in La Fortuna’s lava-heated thermal springs.

  • Try to spot the elusive resplendent quetzal when you’re exploring Monteverde’s steamy cloud forests. Better yet, why not consider a jungle zip-line to get high in the sky?

  • With plenty of time to chill out at your own pace, Quepos’ surf vibe is ideal for catching some waves, lazing on the white-sand beaches or hiking the lush trails of Manuel Antonio with your travel pals. 

  • 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

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!

  • Costa Rica & Panama are generally hot year-round, and from May to October can be pretty wet too. Of course, you wouldn't get that gorgeous, emerald-green rainforest without the rain, but please carefully consider which time of the year you'll feel most comfortable travelling.

  • There are many opportunities to get active on this adventure. Some of the optional activities require a moderate level of fitness and sturdy walking shoes. If you'd prefer to take it easy, however, there are plenty of other things you can do instead.

  • The homestay is a wonderful opportunity to witness everyday local life. A hearty homecooked dinner and breakfast will be served during your stay, which can be a lot more basic than what you're used to.

  • With so much to see and do, Costa Rica can sometimes be expensive. Expect to pay more than you would in other Central American countries for a lot of things.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.
View the 2019 itinerary
Hola! Welcome to Costa Rica. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. 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 – perfect for 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 outdoor market in Plaza de la Cultura or the Central Market – stocking anything from handicrafts to seafood.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - Cartago Bike & Train Tour - Urban Adventures - USD63
  • San Jose - San Jose Bites and Sights Tour - Urban Adventures - USD36
  • San Jose - Gold Museum - USD13
  • San Jose - National Museum - USD11
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 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).
Travel by private vehicle to Santa Rosa de Pocosol (approximately 3 hours) where you’ll 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 - Cooking class
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Homestay experience
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
Optional Activities
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Soap-making workshop - USD10
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Waterfall hike - USD10
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Today, continue towards La Fortuna – a small town situated just a few minutes away from Costa Rica's famous Arenal Volcano (driving time approximately 2 hours). Besides its 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 - CRC24874
  • La Fortuna - La Fortuna Waterfall - USD18
  • La Fortuna - Arenal hanging bridges - USD26
  • La Fortuna - Cano Negro boat tour - USD65
  • La Fortuna - Stand up paddle board - USD75
  • La Fortuna - Tabacon Hot Springs (entrance, dinner and transport) - CRC39573
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you’ll take the scenic route to Monteverde (approximately 4 hours in total). Travel by shared minibus to Lake Arenal, then cross the water by boat. On the other side of the lake, re-board a 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 - USD41
  • Monteverde - Zip lining - USD84
  • Monteverde - Coffee & Chocolate tour - USD35
  • Monteverde - Night walk through Cloud Forest - USD25
  • Monteverde - Butterfly garden and insects farm - CRC1696
  • Monteverde - Serpentarium - USD16
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 with your travel crew – this is the life.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Manuel Antonio - Sunset sail - USD20
  • Manuel Antonio - Mangrove tour by kayak (with lunch) - USD49
  • Manuel Antonio - Surf/boogie board rental - USD69
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend your time enjoying all that Manuel Antonio National Park has to offer. Perhaps head out for a hike along one of 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 4 hours). The buses in this region of the country are a little more basic than you 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 night on the town, getting a taste of the huge variety of nightlife on offer.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Jose - The Art of Craft Beer in San Jose - Urban Adventures - USD74
  • San Jose - San Jose By Night: Food and Culture - Urban Adventures - USD79
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day for you to explore. San Jose is a bustling city with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere. 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 - USD13
  • 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
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group will change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary.
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. Before departing, get your day pack ready with hiking sandals, boots or tennis shoes (waterproof recommended), hat, bathing suit, towel, sunscreen, insect repellent, water, snacks, toilet paper and a small garbage bag (there are no wastebaskets or bathrooms in the park). First, take a boat from the hotel and be prepared for a wet landing upon arrival at the park. 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 or at San Josecito beach, 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. Upon arrival in the late afternoon, your leader will take you on a walk along the waterfront and to the fish market. Take some time to also explore the historic Casco Viejo (Old Town); the cobbled centre is an alluring mix of crumbling architecture and hip bars and boutiques. 
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
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. If you wish to spend more time in Panama City, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). You may want to visit the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal or go wildlife spotting at Soberania National Park. 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. 
Optional Activities
  • Panama - Panama City Jungle Experience - Urban Adventures - USD140
  • Panama City - Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks) - USD15
  • Panama - Taste of Panama City - Urban Adventures - USD76
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

5 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

Transport

Private vehicle, Shared vehicle, Public bus, Shared boat

Accommodation

Hotel (12 nights), Homestay (1 night), Lodge (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Cooking class
  • Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Homestay experience
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Monteverde - Cloud Forest (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - (Entrance fee)
  • 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. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights on your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
3. To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures. Your leader and the composition of your group may change with the start of each adventure.
4. Please be careful when booking flights to San Jose; make sure you fly into Juan Santamaria International Airport [SJO]. Please do not book flights to Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport [SJC] as this is located in California, United States.

Essential trip information

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