Volcanoes, Cloud Forest & Beaches

A large, red, yellow and blue parrot of Costa Rica's Rainforest called Scarlet Macaw

INBio Parque educational and recreational centre; Soaking in Baldi Hotsprings; Horseback riding at Arenal Volcano; Monteverde Cloud forest walk; Manuel Antonio's spectacular beaches; Exploring the canals of Tortuguero; Hummingbirds, sloths & butterflies!


Dates & Prices

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Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Tue 22 Dec 2015Sun 03 Jan 2016 $2890
Sat 05 Mar 2016Thu 17 Mar 2016 $2690
Mon 11 Jul 2016Sat 23 Jul 2016 $2690
Tue 20 Dec 2016Sun 01 Jan 2017 $2890

Optional Single Supplement: $570 (number of singles limited).

Tour Overview

Despite being one of the most popular and most visited destinations in Latin America, Costa Rica manages to retain the features that first endowed it with a reputation as an unspoiled haven of natural wonder. This special two-week family excursion through this jewel of a destination in Central America encompasses horseback rides through nature trails of lush forest and cane fields in the shadows of Arenal Volcano, visits to biodiversity centres that showcase the country's complex ecosystems and vast spectrums and flora and fauna, wildlife-spotting tours through the enchanting Monteverde Cloud Forest and Manuel Antonio National Park, and riverboat cruises that allow us glimpses of fascinating sites that would otherwise be inaccessible. We hit the world-famous, paradisiacal beaches for some relaxation time and get a feel for the heritage and cultures in Costa Rica with stops in picturesque villages. Literally translated as 'rich coast', Costa Rica in no way fails to live up to its name.

Regions visited: Central America And Caribbean
Countries visited: Costa Rica

Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrival in San Jose
Today we arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Overnight in San Jose.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2 San Jose: INBio Parque
We have a morning departure to INBio Parque, an educational and recreational centre where visitors are exposed to samples of the vast world of biological diversity that can be found in Costa Rica. We visit the biodiversity centre, and the projection room in the company of an expert guide. We then walk one of the three interpretive trails, an excellent introduction to the country's natural marvels.

Overnight San Jose.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 San Jose - Arenal
Today we stop at Sarchi, a village renowned for its colourful oxcarts and wooden handicrafts. We travel through rolling hills covered with sugar cane fields to overnight near Arenal Volcano. We make a stop at the Baldi Hotsprings (located near Arenal and outside the Risk Zones established by the National Prevention of Risks and Emergency Commission). Here a geothermally-heated river flows through beautifully landscaped grounds featuring many plant and tree species and great birdlife. We will have time to relax in or around the various pools (bring a towel). The springs feature ten hot pools with different temperatures fed by individual springs and two swim-up bars.

Overnight in Arenal / La Fortuna area.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Arenal: Horseback Excursion
This morning we embark on a 2-hour easy horseback ride through the forests and hills near Arenal Volcano. Your leader will provide expert guidance with plenty of information on the plants and animals that live in the trees and underbrush. Bring your binoculars as birdwatching can be particularly interesting.

This afternoon you may elect to follow your Tour Leader on a lava walk, a hike in the rain forest, or a visit to Arenal Waterfalls.

Overnight in Arenal / La Fortuna Area.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Arenal - Monteverde Cloud Forest
Today we travel through a rustic rural countryside to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve area (+/- 4 hours).

Covered in a mantle of moss, ferns and orchids, this private reserve is home to over 400 species of birds and a great number of animals. The forest is created by the winds, particular temperature and moisture conditions, and mountainous topography which combine during the dry season to hold a steady cloud cover along the continental divide. The rains and the moisture in the air nourish trees and plants rooted in the ground, as well as many plants that live at the upper levels of the forest, and take their nutrients directly from the mist and dust that pass through the air. The result is an enchanted fairy-tale environment where trees are laden with orchids, bromeliads, mosses and ferns that obscure their branches, where the moisture and mild temperatures and sunlight filtered by the forest canopy encourage the exuberance of begonias, heliconias, philodendron and many other tropical plants in every available space on the ground.

This afternoon we have a guided tour of the "Butterfly Garden" where butterflies and other endemic insects are raised and protected in a controlled environment allowing scientists to study them -- their place in the food chain and their response to things like increased pollution and climate change.

Overnight at Monteverde.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Monteverde Cloud Forest
We have a full morning exploring the cloud forest reserve with the help of a local naturalist guide. There is more to the forest than the trees and lesser plants. Of over 320 bird species, the most notable is the quetzal with its long arc of tail feathers. Assorted trogons in addition to the quetzal inhabit the reserve, along with more than 50 varieties of hummingbird. About 500 kinds of butterfly are found at Monteverde. Among the more than 100 mammalian species are howler, white-faced and spider monkeys, coatis and their cousins, raccoons; as well as the rarely observed pumas, ocelots, jaguars, tapirs, and kinkajous.

This afternoon you may choose to go on an optional "Canopy Walk" excursion, located within the cloud forest. Suspension foot-bridges are strung across deep gorges allowing one to get a bird's eye view of the forest from a totally different perspective than we experienced this morning. At a leisurely pace, one can complete this easy and fascinating walk in about 90 minutes. Your Tour Leader can help you plan this activity (optional cost approx $25-40, subject to change).

REMEMBER: This can be a wet and windy place by definition. You should be prepared for varied conditions.

Overnight at Monteverde.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Monteverde - Quepos
Today we travel to Quepos, the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park, an unspoiled haven of natural beauty on the shores of the Pacific.

Overnight in Quepos area.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Manuel Antonio National Park
This morning we enjoy a leisurely walk through part of Manuel Antonio Park. While strolling the forest trails and the white sand beaches, we'll encounter monkeys, iguanas, sea creatures and bird life of infinite variety. After our morning walk we will have time to relax on one of the park's beautiful beaches before returning to our hotel around lunch time. If you like you can stay and enjoy the park and return to the hotel on your own (via taxi).

Manuel Antonio National Park is an area of sand curving around a bay strewn with islands of rock, and shaded by green bordering forests. All are backdropped by dramatic cliffs. Manuel Antonio beach is one of the few places in Costa Rica where unspoiled primary forest grows right to the high-tide mark, allowing visitors to bathe at times in the shade.

South Espadilla is the northernmost of the park's beaches, followed by calmer Manuel Antonio beach, offshore of which are some coral spots. Third Beach has tidal pools where brightly coloured fish and eels are temporarily stranded. Last is Puerto Escondido, access to which is made difficult by the bordering rocky promontory.

Overnight in Quepos. Hotel California or similar.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Quepos - San Jose
Today we travel back to San Jose after a leisurely morning. Upon arrival in San Jose we'll visit the famous Gold Museum.

Overnight in San Jose.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 San Jose - Tortuguero
This morning we travel by bus from San Jose through Braulio Carillo National Park, one of Costa Rica's largest. Later we visit a working banana plantation and pass through a region known for its cocoa production. We then board our riverboat and spend the afternoon journeying through myriad interconnecting rivers and canals that take us finally to the Caribbean coast and Tortuguero Park.

The park is a water thoroughfare which is a 160 km (100 mile) stretch of natural rivers, lagoons and estuaries, and connecting man-made waterways that run almost to the Nicaraguan border. The canal is the main "highway" of the northern coastal region, complete with directional signs and branches from the main trunk route.

As we go along the canal, keep a keen lookout for views of pastel-coloured toucans and monkeys of various type; if we're lucky, a lazy sloth hanging from a branch, and maybe a coati or two roaming the forest. Stands of mangroves and water hyacinth appear here and there. Scattered along the way are people, too -- fishers and farmers whose dugouts serve all the purposes of pickup trucks elsewhere. Mostly the banks remain wild, and the calls of monkeys and whistles of birds predominate over the noises of humans.

Overnight in Tortuguero.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 11 Tortuguero
Tortuguero Park is a fascinating place to explore. A jungle walk offers an opportunity to observe an awakening coastal rain forest full of lush vegetation and unique bird life. Keep your eyes open for the tiny red arrow frog-unique to this region. After lunch we visit the village of Tortuguero accessible only by river boat; you may choose to walk on the Caribbean beach where several turtle species lay their eggs each year. We will visit the Tortuguero Museum, with its excellent displays pertaining to the ecology of the area and an informative video presentation specific to turtle conservation in Tortuguero and the entire Caribbean region. Before returning to our lodge, we have time to challenge some of the local kids to a lively game of soccer, a favourite local pastime.

Overnight in Tortuguero. Laguna Lodge or similar.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 12 Tortuguero - San Jose
This morning we travel by boat and bus from the northeastern coast back to the central highlands arriving mid-afternoon with lunch en route.

Overnight San Jose. Hotel Balmoral or similar.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 13 Departure
Departure from San Jose.


Meal plan: Breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Sleep Inn

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: San Jose
Country: Costa Rica

The Sleep Inn San Jose conveniently located in the heart of the city, only fifteen kilometers from the Juan Santamaria
... Airport. It is only a short distance from tourist attractions like the Teatro Nacional, Museo de Jade, and Museo de Oro.

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Hotel Manuel Antonio

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Quepos
Country: Costa Rica

The hotel is conveniently located within minutes from the World Famous Manuel Antonio National Park and the small sport fishing
... of Quepos. All rooms feature well-appointed bathrooms, telephone, air conditioning, TV.

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Pachira Lodge

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Tortuguero
Country: Costa Rica

The lodge is strategically located only 5 minutes away from the extraordinary Tortuguero National Park, and right across the main
... facing the town of Tortuguero. Surrounded by a network of very scenic canals, this is considered one of the most exotic regions of the world, characterized by its rich in flora and fauna.

Read More.

Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


Family pricing: Age 12 and under at time of travel 30% off land price, based on sharing with 2 adults; sharing with 1 adult 15% off

Breakfast and dinner daily (hotels and local restaurants). All transport, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, hotel porters (if available). Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.


Tour Leader gratuity, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), departure taxes, and international air taxes (if applicable). Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on not included meal costs, shopping, and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered at Christmas, summer, and spring. In the Central Valley, where the main centres of population are located, the average temperature is 22C (72F). In the coastal areas the temperature is much hotter and humid. The "green" season runs May-Nov. The warm dry season is Dec-May, though temperature differences between summer and winter are slight. EARLY BOOKING ESSENTIAL FOR PEAK HOLIDAY PERIODS.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Suitability: Age 6 and up. Road transport by private air-conditioned motor coach, 12-30 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Costa Rica's roads are generally good though we do have some long (though scenic) road journeys. Numerous nature walks and walking tours on uneven surfaces.


Well-located, heated / air-conditioned, mid-range (3 star) hotels with en suite toilet and bath throughout (probably shower only). Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than doubles. Hotel porter service is sometimes available (see 'inclusions') though you should be independent with your luggage. Some hotels have outdoor swimming pools. Extend your stay at a resort.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader, driver/s, and local step-on guides at various locations.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)