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Highlights of Costa Rica with Beach Extension

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Our Price From 2,960 Per Person
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 Trip Length
10 Days
 Trip Starts
San Jose
 Trip Finishes
San Jose
10 Day Highlights of Costa Rica with Beach Extension Itinerary (Explore)
Countries Explored: Costa Rica
Trip Operator:
Accommodation
Comfortable
Max. Group Size
16
Pace
Moderate
Trip Style
Discovery
Trip Code
BCCB

Overview

Book online and enjoy exclusive savings on Explore's 10 Day Highlights of Costa Rica with Beach Extension. A perfect week's getaway for travellers in search of Costa Rica's natural beauty. From brightly coloured toucans to slow-moving sloths, the tropical forests of this tiny country teem with life. Volcanoes loom over wild rivers, and white-sand beaches nestle beneath a vivid green background, providing a wealth of rich and varied ecosystems for the wildlife lover.

Itinerary

Arrive in San Jose. The cosmopolitan Costa Rican capital lies in a fertile valley at an altitude of 1150 metres. Coffee and sugar cane are big industries here and coffee is even planted between new buildings and along the roadside on the outskirts of the city. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting, and for those that wish there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in San Jose at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into San Jose's Juan Santamaria International Airport (airport code SJO) which is 18km, around thirty minutes from our hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose head out to explore the city which is easy to navigate with a grid pattern of avenues and streets with a good choice of local eateries, which you may choose to sample this evening. The National museum (Museo Nacional De Costa Rica) is also well worth a visit. Stay: Autentico Hotel (Comfortable)

This morning, an hour's drive will take us to the Poas Volcano National Park, where the smoke from one of Costa Rica's most active volcanoes rises majestically from the tropical rainforest. At almost a mile in diameter, the main crater is one of the largest in the world. Due to recent volcanic activity, time at the crater viewpoint is restricted to 20 minutes. If activity increases again the authorities may choose to close the park, and in that case you'll visit the Doka coffee estate, including a tasting session of Costa Rica's finest export.

After our visit to Poas, we'll continue on to the town of Sarchi, well known throughout Costa Rica for its beautiful and intricate arts and crafts. It is famous for producing colourful and decorative oxcarts, which are a huge part of Costa Rican culture today, and even considered one of Costa Rica's national symbols. We're going to meet one of the town's hard-working artisans and learn to paint a traditional oxcart with some of the patterns and designs familiar to the area.

Finally, we travel to Arenal (approximately 2.5 hours), where we will catch our first sight of the famous Arenal Volcano. This classic cone, which rises to 1633 metres, is covered by a tangled mass of vegetation on one side, while the other is starkly barren. Our accommodation for the next two nights is in La Fortuna. The town was renamed after a big eruption in 1968, when it was seen as being 'fortunate' that its location, on the volcano's eastern side, saved it from decimation. This evening, we can make the most of the local geothermal activity by enjoying an optional bathe in nearby hot springs. Stay: Hotel San Bosco Inn (Comfortable) (B)

The Arenal area is well known for its diverse wildlife, and this morning we'll set out on a tranquil rafting safari to spot some of the most sought-after species. There is no white-water here, we'll simply be floating down calmly with our local guide, who will scour the water and the canopy to point out a variety of colourful creatures from toucan and sloth to jesus-christ lizard and caiman. We'll most likely see capuchins swinging from the trees, and a wide array of birdlife during the float trip.

In the afternoon we're free to explore Arenal as we choose. There are beautiful local hikes to waterfalls and along lava trails, whilst those keen to relax can enjoy spa treatments with volcanic mud. Our Tour Leader will be able to provide information on all the options. Stay: Hotel San Bosco Inn (Comfortable) (B)

Today we will travel around Arenal Lake up into the cloud forest region of Monteverde - one of the most well-known places in Costa Rica to see wildlife. Perched on the Continental Divide between the Pacific and the Caribbean, it is thought that there has been indigenous habitation in Monteverde since 3000 BC. However, the turning point in its recent history came in 1950, when a group of pacifist Quakers from Alabama moved here to avoid subscription in the Korean War. They sought a lifestyle in a country in which they could embrace their peaceful beliefs and continue to cultivate their dairy farms. These families went on to establish the community of Monteverde and some of its famed cloud forest reserves.

The drive takes approximately 5 hours from Arenal, and on arrival we are at our leisure to enjoy one or several of the many optional activities available in the area. One of the most popular activities in the area is to walk the hanging bridges that extend over the reserve, giving you the chance to take a bird's eye view over the canopy. Couple this with the thrill of zooming through the trees on a zip wire and it makes an exhilarating afternoon. For something less adrenaline-filled, choose to visit the local butterfly or orchid garden.

This evening we will have the adventure of a guided night walk in the cloud forest, in search of nocturnal species such as pacas and tarantulas. Stay: Hotel Heliconia (Comfortable) (B)

We leave Monteverde in the late morning. For those who wish, there is the option to revisit the cloud forest reserve. The paths here wind their way through gigantic ferns, underneath the lichen and moss that hangs from the giant trees. The famous, but now very rare, resplendent quetzal is fairly commonly seen in this area, one of the last remaining places in Central America where its habitat has been preserved. Sacred to the ancient Maya and Aztec peoples, it is considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world and the best time to see it is during its breeding months of March and April.

Leaving the cloud forest behind us, we descend to the Pacific Coast, enjoying staggering views over the Gulf and Peninsula of Nicoya. Heading south, we cross the Rio Tarcoles Bridge from which huge crocodiles are regularly seen. We then pause at Carara Biological Reserve, famed for the scarlet macaws and abundant birdlife which populate this transitional forest. Finally, we continue along the Pacific Coast to Manuel Antonio National Park, where we will spend the next two nights. Stay: Divisamar Hotel (Comfortable) (B)

Manuel Antonio National Park is famed for its beautiful beaches and rich wildlife. We'll spend the morning exploring the park, where white-faced capuchin monkeys swing from the trees, and poison-dart frogs hide under a protection of lush tropical plantlife. Coatimundi (part of the raccoon family), tiny squirrel monkey and howler monkey also make their home in the park - we may well see them on our exploration. Manuel Antonio is also one of the best places in Costa Rica to see sloths. As their diet of leaves and buds provides little energy, sloths move only when necessary and even then very slowly, making them very easy to spot. Our guides will know where they are most likely to be found.

The remainder of the day can be spent relaxing on the white sandy beaches, enjoying a swim in the warm azure waters. The sunsets from this coast are spectacular and have to be seen to be believed. Stay: Divisamar Hotel (Comfortable) (B)

This morning we say goodbye to the Tour Leader and the rest of the group, who will be travelling back to San Jose for their flight home today. Those of you who have chosen to extend your stay with some time at the beach will remain at your hotel here in the small town of Manuel Antonio. Please note that whilst the extension has been designed to complement the trip, we wish to point out that it may not a group experience and you may not be travelling with other customers. You'll have the next two days free to relax on the beach, or to spend your time exploring Manuel Antonio and its forest surroundings.

The National Park is closed on Tuesdays, but there are lots of other activities on offer as well as spending time at the beach. Catamaran tours, horse-riding trips and rafting are all available. Stay: Divisamar Hotel (Comfortable) (B)

You have another free day here in Manuel Antonio. You could choose to revisit the park, or spend the day on the beaches around the town of Manuel Antonio. Try white-water rafting or snorkelling excursions if you want to get out in the water. Stay: Divisamar Hotel (Comfortable) (B)

You have another morning free in Manuel Antonio to enjoy the last of your time here. In the early afternoon we'll leave the Pacific Coast, driving back inland to San Jose, a journey of approximately four hours. Stay: Autentico Hotel (Comfortable) (B)

The trip ends this morning at our hotel in San Jose.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Juan Santamaria International Airport (airport code: SJO), approximately a 30 minute drive from our hotel. (B)

Trip Inclusions

  • Discover Costa Rica's incredible nature and wildlife
  • Explore unspoilt tropical rainforest and look down into volcanic craters
  • Search for birdlife in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

  • Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a holiday which combines exciting activities and experiences with plenty of time to relax and unwind. Typically you'll be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries.

  • Accommodation, itinerary and inclusions subject to change.
  • Price is for land, cruise and internal flights as specified. Flights not specified are not included
About Explore!
About Explore!

Launching in 1981, Explore offer trips from over 130 countries - from classic small group tours. Read more

Explore Leaders
Explore Leaders

Explore's leaders are more than just your typical guide. They're your local expert are are passionate about sharing their expertise with you. Read more

Where do we Stay?
Where do we Stay?

The places Explore stay are every bit as important as the sights they visit and the things you do. Read more

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