|Day 1||San Jose||Arrive for your adventure in Costa Rica’s capital|
|Day 2-3||Tortuguero National Park||Explore this National Park, known as Costa Rica’s “little Amazon”|
|Day 4-6||Arenal Volcano National Park||Arenal volcano, Arenal Hanging Bridges, thermal mineral pools|
|Day 7-9||Monteverde||Visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Curi Cancha Reserve, Coffee Farm Tour|
|Day 10-11||Osa Peninsula||Explore the Corcovado National Park|
|Day 12||Osa Peninsula to San Jose||Today fly to San Jose for your night before flying to Panama|
|Day 13||Panama City||Welcome to Panama!|
|Day 14-16||San Blas Islands, Panama||Relax in this slice of absolute paradise|
|Day 17-18||Panama City||Panama Canal, Panama old quarter, markets and Museum of Biodiversity|
|Day 19||Depart Panama||Your Costa Rica & Panama journey comes to an end as you fly home|
San Jose is Costa Rica’s capital, a bustling town of one million people and a pleasant mixture of traditional Spanish and modern buildings. With excellent hotels and restaurants, San Jose is a great base for many activities. It is close to attractions such as the Butterfly Farm and the Café Britt Coffee Tour, and to natural areas such as Braulio Carillo National Park and the Carara Biological Reserve.
Hotel Presidente is a great place to relax and unwind in the beautiful city of San Jose. All rooms feature comfortable beds, air-conditioners, complimentary Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs, private bathrooms with hair dryers and showers with relaxing hot water. The hotel is a proud recipient of a ‘4 leaf’ rating by the Costa Rican Tourist Board’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program.
Early this morning you will be picked up at your hotel in San Jose to take you to Tortuguero, which includes a boat ride. The Tortuguero National Park is known as Costa Rica`s “little Amazon”. There are no roads – travel is by boat along a series of rivers and canals or by foot on forest paths. The park consists of a network of waterways surrounded by a vast tropical rain forest and is one of the best places to observe wildlife in Costa Rica. Tortuguero is a must for visitors who want to experience the amazing wonders of the tropical rain forest!
During your stay here, enjoy the wildlife-rich Tortuguero, touring the navigable rainforest canals by boat. Enjoy time by the pool, walk a forest trail or simply just relax. In Tortuguero visitors will likely see 2 or 3 species of monkeys, iguanas, crested basilisk lizards (they look like miniature dinosaurs!), sloths, lots of water birds, toucans, parrots, parakeets, caiman (cousins of alligators), and possibly crocodiles, as well as colourful tropical forest birds.
Mawamba Lodge has a privileged location in the evergreen Tortuguero Canals and National Park. Nestled between the Caribbean Ocean and the Tortuguero Canals, the lodge blends in with their surrounds perfectly to ensure that you enjoy your time in this tropical sanctuary. Be as adventurous as you like in this Carribean style getaway suitable for all ages and interests. There is an onsite restaurant, a bar and lounge, coffee room, gift shop, pool and whirlpool, a private beach (swimming is not allowed) and Mawamba Park to be introduced to the local wildlife.
After breakfast, board the boat back to the port for transfer to the Guápiles meeting point. Stop for lunch at a local Restaurant on your way to your hotel in Arenal. Arenal is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica. The volcano, although inactive for the past few years, is a majestic site. The Arenal Volcano erupted violently July 29th 1968 destroying the region west of its base with hot gases, rocks and later, lava flows. Today the volcano steams quietly and heats local rivers that have been developed into popular hot springs and spas. Forest vegetation is quickly returning and covering the massive rock fragments and lava flows, and rain forest wildlife once again flourishes in and around the park.
This picturesque region offers natural beauty, amazing wildlife and plenty of outdoor activities for visitors including hiking trails, the famous La Fortuna Waterfall, zip-line tours, rafting, canopy bridge walks, waterfall Canyoning, organic farm tours and more. There are also a variety of relaxing hot springs with warm soothing waters heated by the volcano. Spend a day hiking around the Arenal Volcano. After the 1968 eruption, two different hiking trails formed by lava emerged. Trek through different scenarios including open lands, lagoon shore and the lava mountain trails. There is an incredible viewpoint close to the volcano as well.
Enjoy a half day tour of La Fortuna Waterfall. After descending a 500 meter trail you will encounter to 60 metre high crystal clear water falls. Along the trails, you can observe different species including plants, trees, toucans, butterflies and more! Besides taking amazing photographs, you can also swim or simply relax. At the end of the tour, enjoy a fruit break before heading back to your hotel.
*You are also contributing to the Community`s Support Development Association which goes towards Social Projects to benefit local schools, nutritional centres, the orphanage, roads maintenance and more.
Located just 15 minutes from downtown La Fortuna, the Arenal Manoa Hotel has stunning views of the Arenal Volcano and is a resort getaway unlike any other in Costa Rica. As a guest here, you will enjoy hot and cold spring freshwater pools with swim-up bars, superb cuisine at La Saca Restaurant and effortless access to eco adventures like white water rafting, rainforest canopy tours, volcano hikes and more. In addition to air conditioning and free wireless internet, all 96 Junior Suites and 6 Premium Suites at the hotel are equipped with private terraces that showcase volcano views.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, located north of San Jose, is one of the most diverse and richest cloud forests in the new world. It is best known as home to the resplendent quetzal and its grounds also protect hundreds of other birds, mammals and plant species, as well as reptiles, amphibians and insects. The Monteverde community is also an interesting place with a famous Cheese Factory, the Women’s Handicraft Co-op, the Butterfly Garden and Serpentarium, and other private reserves. For you first evening here, depart for a nocturnal tour of Curi-Cancha Reserve. Located in the heart of Monteverde, it protects 86 hectares (212 acres) of primary and secondary forest. Seven kilometres of natural trails allow visitors to explore the flora and fauna of the tropical cloud forest. Walking in the forest at night is a magical experience. Possible sightings include mammals, insects, and birds.
The following morning, visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. In the Puntarenas Province, the Reserve is one of the premier natural history destinations in Costa Rica. The forest is dominated by trees densely covered with mats of small plants known as epiphytes that include mosses, lichens, orchids, ferns and bromeliads. This cool, very green and often misty forest is home to a variety of wildlife. On your walk you may encounter monkeys, coatimundis, agoutis and numerous bird species such as Toucanets, Chlorophonias and seasonally the Bellbird and legendary crimson and green Resplendent Quetzal. In the afternoon, visit the Selvatura Park, a nature and adventure ecological park.
For your last day in the Monteverde region, enjoy a half day tour to The Don Juan Coffee Farm which offers the opportunity to learn about Costa Rican coffee and folklore. During the coffee tour, learn about the history, cultivation, and operation of a functioning coffee ‘beneficio’. You will have a chance to pick coffee and take part in the different steps involved in the coffee production.
Nestled in the mountains, adjacent to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the Hotel Belmar is owned and operated by the Belmar family. It is a beautiful mountain hotel, servicing 22 rooms, consisting of two Austrian Chalet style buildings with wood paneling and French doors. They offer spectacular views and personalized service in a comfortable, rustic, atmosphere combined with the beauty of the surrounding landscape which can be enjoyed on the properties walking trails.
Today leave from Monteverde and travel to Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. Drake Bay offers visitors a taste of a tropical wilderness along the coast and into the forests of nearby Corcovado National Park. One of Costa Rica’s most important ecological areas, Corcovado National Park was once described by National Geographic as ‘the most biologically intense place on earth’. This rich ecosystem stretches along the southern Pacific coast and encompasses beautiful ocean bays, tropical rainforest teeming with life, Central America’s largest wetland area, and the country’s biggest mangrove forest, sprawled over 20 000 hectares. Its myriad exotic creatures include jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, red macaws, quetzals and red-eyed tree frogs – not to mention the dolphins and humpback whales that breed in the coastal waters.
Nature and adventure lovers will be in their element here, with a host of outdoor activities on offer, including wildlife viewing, fishing, surfing, and jungle treks. During your stay here enjoy guided walks, into a wonderland of ancient, steamy forests dominated by huge trees, home to much wildlife including scarlet macaws, toucans, parrots, all four monkey species found in the country and jaguars-although these elusive cats are rarely seen. Also visit Caño Island National Park. It was once an important ceremonial site and burial ground for the pre-Colombian Indians. It’s possible they abandoned the area when pirates began arriving – the first, according to legend, being Sir Francis Drake back in 1579.
Transfer via boat and land to Drake Bay airstrip, to depart on your domestic flight to San Jose. On arrival at San Jose Airport, meet your driver and transfer to your hotel.
Be met at your hotel this morning for your transfer to the San Jose Airport, to depart on your international flight to Panama City. Panama City is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and Panama Bay. Founded in 1519, Panama City had an important and specific role in the world’s economy, as the bridge to South America. Originally a gold mine and a major trading point, Panama City rapidly grew into a city of wealth and fame, particularly when the Panama Canal – one of the world’s greatest engineering and scenic marvels – was later built. Upon your arrival into Panama City airport be privately transferred to your hotel.
Fly from Panama city by small plane to Playon Chico where a representative of Yandup Lodge will meet you. Enjoy your next few days relaxing and exploring the San Blas Islands. Enjoy tour options such as snorkeling, beach time, rainforest walks, sailing around the island in a typical Guna dug-out canoe or sailing in boat through mangroves near the island to an area that seems like a natural swimming pool due to the clear water and the fact that it’s surrounded by islands and coral reefs. Visit neighbouring Guna villages with an excellent opportunity to learn about the Guna way of life and their traditional ceremonies also visit a traditional cemetery or arts and crafts market. See the communal house of “Sahilas” (Guna chiefs) where decisions in favour of the community are made, advice on all aspects of life is offered and the local laws are enforced. Learn about the construction of the typical Guna house, the economy, the traditional “mola”, and the processing of sugar cane into the local drink.
Yandup Lodge is located about 15 minutes from the airstrip via dugout canoe in the center of the Guna Yala reserve. A thousand meters from the Ukupseni community or Playón Chico and 1.300 meters from the tropical forest and the airport. Yandup is a paradise island that has its own little beach and is surrounded by coral reefs and calm, crystal clear water. Yandup belongs to a small archipelago, where you can even go swimming from one island to the other, crossing channels of various depths. Owned and operated by a Guna family the accommodations are very basic but comfortable in traditional Guna-style huts with cozy beds, ceiling fan, private bathrooms and a hammock on the front porch. Family-style meals are served in the dining room overlooking the Caribbean. There is no hot water on the island. Electricity from solar panels is available 24 hours at 110V and small generators provide even larger electricity voltage.
Fly from San Blas Islands back to Panama City. Enjoy a tour of the city which includes a visit to the ruins of Old Panama and Casco Viejo. Visit the Old Panama Museum, climb up the Cathedral tower, and stroll among the stone walls and remnants of what was once considered the richest city in the Americas. Continue to Casco Antiguo, the old city compound which dates from the late 1600s. At the folk market you will have the opportunity to admire and obtain local and indigenous handcraft. Casco Viejo is home to monuments to Ferdinand de Lesseps and other Frenchmen instrumental in the ill-fated French attempt to construct a canal through Panama. A bilingual guide will describe the events in history leading up to the eventual movement of the capital city to its present location. The tour ends with a visit the Interoceanic Canal museum that is housed in the building that was the original headquarters for the French canal building effort in the 1880s.
The following day, depart early in the morning for a 15-minute drive to the Port of Balboa in the Pacific side of the canal, where you will board a comfortable passenger ferry. You will first sail under the ‘Bridge of the Americas’ that rises over 100m above sea level and reunites the land that was divided during construction of the canal, forming another link in the Pan-American Highway. Sailing northbound on the Panama Canal, the first stop is at Miraflores locks, the tallest in the lock system due to the extreme tidal variation of the Pacific Ocean, where it is lowered another 16.6m in two steps. A transition from to fresh water in the lake and the lock’s chambers to salt water in the Pacific Ocean takes place here.
Next, at the Pedro Miguel locks, the ship is raised in one step, this time an additional 9.4m. At this point the ship will be sailing in Gatun Lake (26m above sea level) and entering Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal. This 13.7km-long portion of the waterway was carved through rock and shale and is flanked by the backbones of the Continental Divide. To allow for the unrestricted two-way traffic of modern post-Panamax vessels, which are the largest ships that fit in the Panama Canal locks, the Panama Canal Authority recently completed the monumental task of deepening and widening the waterway to 192m in the straight sections and up to 222m in the curves. The Gaillard Cut opens up into Gatun Lake where the Chagres River flows into the waterway near the town of Gamboa, site of the Panama Canal’s Dredging Division.
Bristol Hotel is located in the heart of Panama City’s Financial District. Contemporary luxury, Panamanian cuisine and timeless design and architecture all coexist to bring you an unforgettable experience. The perfect base to explore this historical city the hotel is renowned for its gracious hospitality and style. The Bristol Hotel is acclaimed as the finest hotel in Panama City along with recognition among the top 10 hotels in Latin America.
After breakfast farewell Panama as you head to the airport for your flight home. Reflect on the time that you’ve had as you plan your next adventure.