Central America

Costa Rican Highlights Itinerary

11 Days Itinerary
USD $3,795 Dates/Prices
Day 1

San José

Welcome to the Costa Rican capital of San José, a picturesque city surrounded by mountains and tall volcanoes. Known locally as ''Chepe'', San José started out as a small village with fertile soils. The introduction of coffee has since transformed it into a prominent urban centre.

San José’s downtown is a popular attraction with the pedestrian-only Avenida Central and Plaza de la Cultura. It’s also the perfect people-watching spot that is home to cafés, flower shops, the National Theater (one of the Capital's finest historic buildings), and the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum.  

On arrival we transfer to our hotel before the evening group welcome dinner.


Day 2

Tortuguero National Park: Village Visit

Tortuguero National Park, located off the country’s northeastern Caribbean coast, is only accessible by boat or air. Its remote location has sustained many turtle habitats including hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback, and even the endangered green turtle. The variety of animal species is nearly endless as you also see manatees, caimans, crocodiles, jaguars, sloths, and more.

For the next two evenings we spend our time at an eco-lodge within the park. This provides the best place to explore the incredible habitats. After lunch we depart from the lodge and board a small boat heading toward the village of Tortuguero. Bordered by the sea and a river, there are no cars on the island. Therefore, we slow down and enjoy Tortuguero’s laid-back atmosphere. We tour the village then learn how to peel and open a coconut to extract the milk and make coconut oil.  Finally, we try our hand at making coconut candies over a small garden stove.

[Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner]

Day 3

Tortuguero National Park: Wildlife Spotting

We continue to explore the pristine beauty of Tortuguero National Park today. After breakfast we walk some of the trails surrounding the eco-lodge and visit Mawamba Park, a private facility at the lodge that features two butterfly farms, a frog garden, a bio-digester, and a river turtle area.

Special Experience

The waterways and canals of Tortuguero run through lush yet virtually untouched rainforest thus creating one of Costa Rica’s most secluded national parks. We connect with the vastness of the habitats on a relaxing boat ride along the canals. This offers us an ideal way to see the biodiversity that covers nearly 6,600 acres. We may see spider, howler, and capuchin monkeys frolicking in the treetops. We may see other wildlife such as tropical and migrant birds, sloths, crocodiles, caimans, river turtles, basilisk lizards, and iguanas as well. **From June to October visitors have the opportunity to see leatherback and green turtles nesting in Tortuguero.

[Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner]

Day 4

Tortuguero to Arenal: Volcanoes Abound

For close to 40 years, Arenal erupted near-daily, making it Costa Rica’s most active volcano. Dormant since 2010, the area around it and the nearby town of La Fortuna still buzzes with activity. This region of northern Costa Rica includes hikes to stunning rainforests with hanging bridges, views of crystal-clear waterfalls, and explorations into fascinating caves. La Fortuna is also a great spot for delicious food and a vibrant nightlife.

Today we depart the lodge and enjoy our time traveling through the Tortuguero area on our way to Arenal Volcano National Park and the town of La Fortuna.

[Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner]

Day 5

Arenal Volcano National Park: Hiking in Splendid Habitats

Arenal Volcano National Park contains 30,000 acres of verdant rainforest and savannas while housing two volcanoes—Arenal and Chato. The massive 1968 eruption of Arenal devastated vast swathes of this area, but nature has bounced back with a vengeance. The flora and fauna continue to create breathtaking experiences.

We embark on a half-day hike through the park, first along a sandy trail then across a lava field formed in 1992. Our guide tells us more about the geography of Costa Rica, the volcanoes, their past activity, and the lasting effects of Arenal. Our hike continues to the top of a cooled magma stream where stunning views of Lake Arenal lie before us.

Special Experience

Returning to our accommodation we have the afternoon to enjoy a well-earned rest after the morning’s hike. Enjoy the time to relax in the hotel’s stunning grounds and indulge in the thermal springs. The water is rich in minerals and naturally heated by the Arenal Volcano and its underground rivers.

[Breakfast and Lunch]

Day 6

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve: Forests and Fishing

Home to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the quaint township of Monteverde sits high atop the mountain. On a clear day, it is possible to see both the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines and a point along the Continental Divide.

We journey by boat from Arenal Volcano National Park to Monteverde today. Our boat ride affords us beautiful views of the mountains as well as the massive Arenal Volcano, which we pass on our way across the lake. Once we reach the other side of the lake, we transfer to a vehicle and continue to our hotel. Monteverde is a rugged area of cloud forests, rainforests and coffee farms which have seen a major development in eco-tourism since the 1950s. The flora of this reserve is particularly stunning with bromeliads and ferns as well as fauna including the endangered Resplendent Quetzal.

Special Experience

We visit the small town of El Dos de Tilaran today, enjoy lunch in the village, and try our hand at tilapia fishing.

[Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner]

Day 7

Selvatura Park: Hanging Bridges of Selvatura

This morning, on a guided walk, we explore the forest canopy.

Special Experience

The Hanging Bridges of Selvatura is an incredible trail connected by bridges suspended through and over the forest canopy. The view we experience from this perspective is incomparable as we see the forest from above. Our guide will describe and share the plants that are endemic to this part of the rainforest.


Day 8

Manuel Antonio National Park: Jungle River and Crocodile Adventure

Our group departs Monteverde this morning and travels to Manuel Antonio National Park. We stop along the way at the Estuary of Guacalillo and the Tarcoles River where we are able to observe one of the largest populations of the American crocodile, discover the mangrove area and its hidden gems, and see the important conservation efforts for the Scarlet Macaw. A slow boat ride takes us through these unique habitats.

We continue to Manuel Antonio National Park. Though one of Costa Rica’s smallest national parks, Manuel Antonio National Park sits like a jewel on the Pacific Coast. Its white sandy beaches are lined by a lush evergreen forest. Here it is possible to find the endangered white-faced capuchin monkeys, 184 species of birds, and the three-toed sloth. Manuel Antonio also houses 109 other recorded species.

[Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner]

Day 9

Manuel Antonio National Park: Sloths Aplenty

Manuel Antonio National Park is a favored destination for many travelers to Costa Rica. Along with wildlife, there are plenty of beautiful beaches to relax inside the park.

Special Experience

A hike through the national park gives us plenty of opportunities to spot sloths, monkeys, and exotic birds.

Our afternoon is at leisure to choose from a range of activities. These include river rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, or taking advantage of the hotel’s extensive facilities.


Day 10

Return Journey to San José

After a delicious breakfast, we depart Manuel Antonio National Park and travel the relatively short distance back to the capital, San José. We have free time and can explore the city with our guide or relax in the hotel. This evening we have a special farewell dinner with our new-found friends.

[Breakfast and Dinner]

Day 11

Depart San José

Our tour concludes after breakfast. We bid farewell to the simple, relaxed lifestyle of Costa Rica, its stunning wildlife, and its magnificent natural surrounds.


Other tours in Central America

View all

Guatemala Explorer

9 Days
From USD $2,595

Uncover the fascinating history and varied landscape of Guatemala. Discover ancient ruins at the famous Tikal National Park, meander through cobblestone streets lined with baroque-style architecture in Antigua, and recharge at the serene Lake Atitlan. From urban city streets, to lush green gardens and active volcanoes, the diversity of Guatemala is incredible.

Explore more