Natural Costa Rica Tour
This Costa Rica tour takes you through the country’s diverse natural wonders, visiting unique ecosystems and rural communities along the way, as you travel through the central and northern regions. You’ll get to know the stunning Monteverde cloud forest, before travelling to the land of volcanoes in Arenal and visiting the breathtaking Rio Celeste.
- Hike through the rich and unexplored Monteverde cloud forest
- Explore the nature-filled trails of the Arenal Volcano National Park
- Relax in natural hot springs and watch an amazing array of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, tropical birds and butterflies
- Adventure along primary and secondary rainforests to discover a blue river
- Enjoy delicious, traditional meals and the warmth of the rural people
This is a private tour, but you will have guided excursions that can be either private or as part of a small group. From days 8 to 11 you will be accompanied by an English-speaking local guide and driver. The price displayed is per person based on two people sharing. All the tours can be tailor-made to suit your interests and requirements.
Costa Rica is a relatively small country, making it easy to criss-cross by car. You’ll have to stop pretty often though, to take in its innumerable natural wonders as you go. On this Costa Rica tour, you will start by visiting San José, the capital city, before moving on to Monteverde Cloud Forest, where you will enjoy exuberant nature and wildlife. Next, you travel to the impressive Arenal Volcano, where you will take lovely hikes, kayak on a lake with great views over the volcano and enjoy its hot springs.
From there, you will travel to the nearby Tenorio Volcano National Park, where you will stay in a nice ecolodge and visit the unique Rio Celeste, a naturally blue river! Afterwards, you will be guest to the Juanilama rural community, to enjoy cultural activities while discovering more about the rural lifestyle in Costa Rica.
The grand finale is a stunning foodie tour in San José, to discover the best of Costa Rican traditional gastronomy with a modern and contemporary twist. Pura vida!
Day 1: San José (-/-/-)
Flight to San José. A guide will welcome you at the airport and drive you to your well located hotel in San José. The rest of the day is free for you to relax and settle in, then perhaps take a walk around the city. There’s plenty to do in the capital, from walking in its parks, visiting a museum, taking a food tour or browsing in the shops and the busy central market.
Day 2: San José to Monteverde (B/-/-)
After breakfast, a shared shuttle will pick you up and take you to the cloud forest of Monteverde (approx. 3 hours), where you will check in at a charming ecolodge. The afternoon is free for optional activities, among which we suggest a visit to a butterfly farm or the orchid garden. You can also opt for an organic coffee tour.
Day 3: Discover the Monteverde cloud forest (B/-/-)
Monteverde has one of the most exuberant cloud forest in Latin America. This primary forest is home to an uncountable number of plants and trees, insects, mammals and birds. One of its inhabitants is a highlight for birders in Costa Rica: the Resplendent Quetzal. Today you will go on a small-group, half-day excursion to the Monteverde Reserve, to explore this place with the help of a local naturalist guide. Free afternoon and evening back to the ecolodge.
Day 4: Coffee and cacao experience in Monteverde (B/-/-)
After breakfast, go on a small-group, half-day excursion to learn more about one of the best coffee producing zones in Costa Rica. Possessing volcanic soils, the necessary altitude and perfect weather to offer an exquisite cup of gourmet coffee. You will get to see all the process to produce coffee, from the seed to the delicious final product, the cup of coffee. A visit to a cacao plantation is also included in the tour, where you will learn about the process of producing chocolate, and taste it! Free afternoon and evening to relax or to take some optional activities.
Day 5: Monteverde to Arenal (B/-/-)
After breakfast, a shuttle van will bring you to the Lake Arenal, where you will take a boat ride to the other side of the lake. At this point another van will take you directly to a charming hotel near the Arenal Volcano (approx. 3 hours in total). The afternoon is free for optional activities, among which we suggest a horse-riding excursion or a visit to the hot springs.
Day 6: Arenal Volcano National Park (B/L/-)
After breakfast, get ready for a small group hike in the Arenal Volcano National Park. Here you will hike through secondary rainforest and former lava fields, discover the beauty that surrounds the volcano and if weather permits you will get stunning views of the volcano. After the hike, you will be taken to the natural hot springs where you can relax for a couple of hours. You will finish with a delicious lunch by the hot springs. Back to the hotel, the afternoon and evening are free to relax.
Day 7: Discovering the surroundings of the Arenal Volcano (B/-/-)
Today enjoy the beautiful view of Lake Arenal during a morning kayak tour (small group excursion). This adventure will take you to Costa Rica’s biggest lake, right at Arenal Volcano’s feet, and it gets amazing right from the moment you leave your hotel; sometimes surrounding the Arenal Volcano, sometimes through a tropical forest. Once in the shore, you will kayak with your guide for about 2 hours looking for local wildlife and enjoying the views. Free afternoon and evening.
Day 8: Arenal Volcano to Rio Celeste (B/-/-)
After breakfast, a guide/driver will take you to a charming lodge near Rio Celeste in a private transfer (approx. 1.5 hours). The English-speaking guide/driver will be with you during these 4 days. Rio Celeste is located near the small town of Bijagua, in the province of Alajuela. The virgin forest in this part of Alajuela is home to tropical species of animals such as pumas, tapirs, sloth bears, anteaters, coatis, giant butterflies and rare plant species, such as wild orchids. In the afternoon, go on a 1-hour hike through the trails of the lodge with your private guide. Free evening.
Day 9: The amazing Rio Celeste (B/-/D)
Today you will visit the Tenorio Volcano National Park. The guide will pick you up in the lodge to take you to the park. After approximately a 40-minute hike in the park through primary and secondary rainforest, you will see the breathtaking 21mt / 70ft Rio Celeste Waterfall. The rest of the hike includes a phenomenal lookout point, the area where the river gains its amazing light blue color, the unforgettable blue lagoon, as well as the steaming hot & cool springs and mineral mud pits. The duration of this excursion is about 4 hours. After time for lunch, transfer to Juanilama Rural Community and Reserve (approx. 2 hours), where you will spend the next two nights in a cosy homestay (private room and bathroom). In the year 2000, a group of neighbours decided to create an Agriculture Association with the aim of protecting the community’s primary forest. The group also launched a rural tourism project that offer activities in parallel with the people’s agricultural labours. In this way they provide the rural community with growth opportunities based on principles of environmental, socio cultural and economic sustainability. Upon arrival, we will have some time to relax and then have a traditional dinner.
Day 10: Juanilama Rural Community (B/L/D)
After an early breakfast, get ready for a milk and cheese tour. Here we will be able to learn first hand how the whole process of making cheese and milking a cow is done. A local milkman will teach us about the techniques that he uses to make delicious fresh cheese. Afterwards, we will take a tour of the Juanilama Reserve and waterfall, walking through 2 km of natural, marked trails of medium difficulty, to the La Leona waterfall to enjoy its scenic beauty, and perhaps take a swim in its crystal waters. After a home-made lunch, there will be a handicraft workshop. This activity adds an artistic edge to the sustainable practice of recycling, with one of our talented artists whose crafts and products are created from natural debris such as dried leaves and petals, twigs, tree fibres, eggshells, seeds, sawdust, etc. All these materials are available in the workshop. Participants will be stationed at a worktable, where they can watch and learn how to develop their own cards and frames and also take them home as a souvenir. In the evening, enjoy a home made dinner with your host family.
Day 11: Juanilama Rural Community to San José (B/-/D)
In the morning, we will have a short tour in the orchards of the community, to learn more about the products used by the local people for their meals. Throughout the walk, a local guide will provide information on what they produce, including some medicinal plants. Then it's time to say good-bye to your hosts and travel back to San José (approx. 3 hours), where you will check in at a well located hotel and also say good-bye to you guide/driver. In the evening, get ready for a stunning foodie experience. We will take you on a farm-to-table food tour in trendy Barrio Escalante, to discover innovative and traditional Costa Rican cuisine. During this 5-hour private walking tour, you will enjoy a 7-course dinner and visit 4 locations: a coffee shop for a coffee workshop, two restaurants, and a cocktail room for a mixology workshop. Each dish is prepared with fresh products that are all sourced from ingredients grown within the country, and the local chefs will explain to you the concept of each dish, as well as the modern twist they have added to the country's food scene with each of their restaurants. Note: You could take the foodie tour for lunch next day, instead.
Day 12: San José to Home (B/-/-)
At scheduled time, transfer to San Jose airport (approx. 1 hour) for your flight back home. End of tour. Consider adding a half-day city tour, a day trip to a volcano (Irazu or Poas) or a foodie tour.
- Trip duration: 12 days
- Countries visited: Costa Rica
- Level of difficulty: Low
- Accommodation: 2 nights in a hotel in San José, 3 nights in a ecolodge in Monteverde, 3 nights in a hotel in Arenal, 1 night in a hotel near Rio Celeste (Tenorio Volcano NP), 2 nights at a homestay at the Juanilama Rural Community (private room and bathroom)
- Transport: Mini-van, private car, boat
- Meals included: 12 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners
You will be greeted at the airport on arrival by a local guide who will take you to your hotel and will be able to answer any questions, make any additional arrangements and generally ensure everything goes smoothly.
No minimum number of passengers required. Prices quoted are per person and based on at least 2 people travelling. You should expect a cheaper price for bigger groups.
Your passport is required at time of booking. For information on visa requirements, immunisations and health formalities please visit the FCO Travel Advice Website (for UK citizens) and US Travel Advice website (for US citizens).
Information on money changing in each destination, as well as what it is customary to tip for various services, will be provided.
This tour of Costa Rica has a medium level of physical difficulty and participants can choose to do as much or as little as they like. If you have any concerns or require special arrangements please let us know when sending your travel request.
What to bring: Travel insurance, passport, binoculars, alarm clock, walking shoes, water bottle, daypack, sun protection, insect repellent, sun glasses and hat, swimwear, flip-flops, torch with extra batteries, comfortable light cotton shirts with long and short sleeves, comfortable trousers made of cotton or a light synthetic material (bring at least two sets of light clothes which can be washed and dried easily), shorts, rain coat, plastic ziplock bags, plastic bags for your luggage in case of rain.
- Best time to travel: Costa Rica has two seasons: Rainy Season (May - November) and Dry Season (December – April). December to April and July to August have very good weather. September to November is a great time to visit the Caribbean Coast.
- Extra budget recommended: Around £150 / $200 pp to cover meals and all other expenses not included in the itinerary.
- What is included: Welcome reception at the airport. Overland transport and transfers (some may be shared). Accommodation. Entrance fees to sites of interest, museums and national parks mentioned in the itinerary. Guided activities and excursions with English speaking guides (some private, some as part of a small group). Meals as stated in the itinerary (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner). Contributions to the social projects visited.
- What is not included: Flights from your country of origin. Travel insurance. Alcoholic drinks. Additional meals or snacks. Travel within and around each town. Visa fees (if any). Tips. Souvenirs. Airport departure tax.
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