A small, tropical country with a tradition of hospitality and a long history of peace – it has had no army for almost 60 years – Costa Rica is most renowned for its great natural beauty and astonishing diversity, with Pacific beaches stretching down its coastline, active volcanoes dotted throughout amazing cloud forests, turtle nesting sites, and an incredible flora and fauna in the numerous national parks and wildlife reserves.
Drake Bay, in the north of the Osa Peninsula on the southern Pacific Coast, is a perfect base from which to explore the adjacent Corcovado National Park. The park has been called “the most biologically intense place on earth” and is home to tapirs, peccaries, giant anteaters, jaguars and ocelots, as well as incredible birdlife. You can hike or horse-ride along the extensive beaches, snorkel or scuba-dive among volcanic rocks, and explore the tidal pools.
The Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica is a great place to enjoy water sports or to explore lowland rainforests. Manuel Antonio National Park, although the second smallest, has become Costa Rica’s most popular national park with its easy accessibility from the capital, San Jose, its well-maintained jungle trails and the unique mixture of mangroves, rocky headlands and jungle forests that come right down to the tropical beaches. Activities include hiking through the rainforest watching out for the prolific birdlife (more than 350 species reported in the park), several species of monkeys, and other wildlife like armadillos, peccaries and sloths; guided walks to learn about the abundantly varied flora; and swimming and snorkeling from the tranquil beaches.
Monteverde is mainly a dairy farming area, with a small community of Quakers who migrated there in the 1950s and live in the little village of Santa Elena at the entrance to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. This is one of the richest and most diverse cloud forests in the New World. It is perhaps best known as the home of the Resplendent Quetzal but also shelters hundreds of other bird, mammal and plant species, as well as reptiles, amphibians and insects.
Located on Osa Peninsula in a private nature reserve that spreads across 405 hectares of Central America’s last remaining lowland tropical rainforest, the Lapa Rios Eco Lodge overlooks the point where the Golfo Dulce meets the wild Pacific Ocean. Constructed to harmonise with the surrounding forest and beach environment, a wonderful mix of comfort and conservation, the lodge is set along ridges 90m above the sea to catch the cooling ocean breezes. The main building houses the bar and the restaurant and, like the 16 private bungalows with their intricately woven palm thatched roofs, is built of locally harvested materials; all are connected by walking paths and steps. And private wooden-decked garden terraces allow you to watch out for passing monkeys, toucans in the trees, and plenty of scarlet macaws – for which the lodge is named.
Close to the port of Quepos on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica and only a stroll away from the wildlife-rich Manuel Antonio National Park, this luxurious and sustainable resort hotel is beautifully situated on a cliff overlooking Espadilla Beach and the shimmering ocean. It is one of our favourites, combining the best of all worlds – deluxe accommodation, wonderful views, direct access to its own stretch of secluded white sand beach, and a setting that blends effortlessly into the surrounding rainforest without disturbing the wildlife, allowing you opportunities for up-close sightings of white-faced capuchin monkeys and perhaps even three-toed sloths.
Grano de Oro
San Jose, Costa Rica
Top class design and the finest facilities. Usually located in a spectacular setting it may be an exclusive hotel in a meticulously restored historic building, or recognised as the leading property of an international chain.
Lapa Rios Eco Lodge
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
A perfect alternative to the big brand hotels:
exclusive and independently-owned properties with a smaller number of rooms and highly personalised services.
Monteverde Lodge & Gardens
Moneteverde, Costa Rica
High quality with an excellent room standard, a full range of facilities and first-rate service; may be a new property or regularly refurbished with attention to ongoing maintenance.
South America Travel Centre can look after all aspects of your holiday, including flights and travel insurance.
We start by asking you what your interests are and where you are interested in, when, for how long, what standard and style of accommodation. Once we have a good understanding of just what you’re looking for, we can begin to create a holiday to meet your time and budget requirements and, most importantly, that will deliver interest and enjoyment in an experience to exceed your expectations.
Please book early. Many of the hotels, lodges and cruise vessels we recommend are relatively small. This exclusivity combined with high demand means they can be booked out up to 6-8 months in advance.
If you’re thinking of travelling during any major holidays like Christmas, New Year and Easter, or during any festivals, our advice is simply to book as early as you can, even 12 months or more, and we can add flights as soon as they become available.
Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter Peru. You will need to hold a valid passport and have a return ticket when you arrival. Visitors are allowed to stay up to 183 days in Peru.
It is strongly recommended that all travellers to Peru be vaccinated for yellow fever before commencing their trip.
Malaria is prevalent in some areas of India. Your Travel Doctor will be able to advise you whether prophylaxis is required. Vaccinations are advised for common diseases like Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid as well as Influenza. Japanese Encephalitis may also be a risk for some travellers. There are no compulsory vaccinations.
We advise you to consult a Travel Doctor specialist prior to departure to assess any health risks in relation to your medical history and travel plans.
We have access to a wide range of airfares and have excellent relationships with our key airline partners. Our two main airline partners in Latin America are LATAM Airlines, QANTAS Airlines and Air New Zealand. We can also arrange internal flights for you within Latin America.
Irrespective of whether you book directly with us or with your preferred travel agent, we’ll request the details of all of your fights to ensure if there are any changes your transfers and other arrangements are adjusted accordingly.
Best time – winter mid-December to late March, the driest time of year. Summer (Apr-Nov) is the rainy season, with a risk of hurricanes Jun-Nov. While all of Central America lies within the tropics, there is a lot of regional variation in climate. Lowlands are hot and humid, higher altitudes have spring-like weather, with cool to cold nights.
We found our itinerary absolutely perfect. By that I mean not only were our superb boutique hotels great, the guides in each city friendly, courteous, well-spoken and knowledgeable but the time in each city or location and the balance between site seeing “work" and leisure time “play” was also perfect. The most difficult question by friends on our return has been “what was the highlight”. An impossible question when considering the merits of, inter alia, Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, Christ the Redeemer, Inti Raymi Festival, Lake Titicaca. The purpose of our trip to South America, in truth, was to see as much as we could of the continent with a view to probably not returning as we explored other opportunities. I have to now say that the chance of us revisiting South America is extremely high.
I write to thank you for organising our recent trip to South America. Everything went like clockwork, and the arrangements were very satisfactory. The guides always turned up at the right time, and the people meeting us at the airports were always there. We had a wonderful trip, and we will have to plan another one now, so that we can see Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay and maybe more. But first it’s back to work to earn some more money! For me the greatest highlight was Machu Picchu; it far exceeded my expectations. Once again, thanks so much, Alistair Macindoe.
We had a fabulous time!! The countries we visited have such a rich and fascinating cultural & geographical diversity. We loved learning about the Incans and visiting the ruins in Peru, we loved seeing all the creatures of the Galapagos Islands and the volcanoes of Ecuador. We loved the magnificent scenery of the Atacama. What a fantastic palette at sunset! The adobe hotel, Altiplanico, was wonderful & San Pedro de Atacama was a funky place. We appreciated the structure of our holiday too, there was a nice blend of guided time and free time. It was nice to be in one place on the boat in Galapagos after moving to a different place each day through Ecuador. Some of the haciendas we visited would be lovely to stay for a longer time. Everything went very smoothly in terms of timely airport transfers & pickups, informative and friendly guides/drivers at all times. The local people were very friendly & were helpful with our attempts at speaking Spanish. We enjoyed the cuisine very much & look forward to trying some home-made Locro de papa soup & Pisco sour. Thanks for helping us with a great holiday. Kind regards Della & John