Highlights of Costa Rica + Beach Extension

10 nights from £1697

Hanging bridges Monteverde
Manuel Antonio National Park
Scarlet macaws
In the cloudforest at Monteverde
Blue Jeans Dart Frog
Start:San Jose
Finish:San Jose Airport
Duration:10 Nights
Group size:0 - 16
Suitable for: Adult
Accommodation:Standard
Physical rating:Moderate
Meals:Breakfast: 10

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Overview

This trip showcases the main highlights of Costa Rica in only nine days including its diverse wildlife, imposing volcanoes and beautiful coastline. View the impressive Poas and Arenal Volcanoes, search for wildlife in the Monteverde Cloudforest including the mysterious quetzal and relax on the golden beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park.

Highlights
Nature and wildlife - The opportunity to see sloths, monkeys and brightly coloured frogs, together with some of Costa Rica's spectacular birdlife
Monteverde - Search for the beautiful quetzal in this remarkable cloudforest reserve
Volcanoes - Admire the classic cone-shape of Arenal and the vastness of Poas
Manuel Antonio - Share the stunning white-sand beaches with sun-bathing iguanas and Capuchin monkeys

Itinerary

Arrive in San Jose. The cosmopolitan Costa Rican capital lies in a fertile valley at an altitude of 1150 metres. Coffee and sugar cane are big industries here and coffee is even planted between new buildings and along the roadside on the outskirts of the city. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting, and for those that wish there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in San Jose at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into San Jose's Juan Santamaria International Airport (airport code SJO) which is 18km, around thirty minutes from our hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose head out to explore the city which is easy to navigate with a grid pattern of avenues and streets with a good choice of local eateries, which you may choose to sample this evening. The National museum (Museo Nacional De Costa Rica) is also well worth a visit.

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning, an hour's drive will take us to the Poas Volcano National Park, where the smoke from one of Costa Rica's most active volcanoes rises majestically from the tropical rainforest. At almost a mile in diameter, the main crater is one of the largest in the world. Due to recent volcanic activity, time at the crater viewpoint is restricted to 20 minutes. If activity increases again the authorities may choose to close the park, and in that case you'll visit the Doka coffee estate, including a tasting session of Costa Rica's finest export. After our visit to Poas, we'll continue on to the town of Sarchi, well known throughout Costa Rica for its beautiful and intricate arts and crafts. It is famous for producing colourful and decorative oxcarts, which are a huge part of Costa Rican culture today, and even considered one of Costa Rica's national symbols. We're going to meet one of the town's hard-working artisans and learn to paint a traditional oxcart with some of the patterns and designs familiar to the area. Finally, we travel to Arenal (approximately 2.5 hours), where we will catch our first sight of the famous Arenal Volcano. This classic cone, which rises to 1633 metres, is covered by a tangled mass of vegetation on one side, while the other is starkly barren. Our accommodation for the next two nights is in La Fortuna. The town was renamed after a big eruption in 1968, when it was seen as being 'fortunate' that its location, on the volcano's eastern side, saved it from decimation. This evening, we can make the most of the local geothermal activity by enjoying an optional bathe in nearby hot springs.

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we will explore the Arenal Volcano National Park, home to one of the most majestic volcanoes in Costa Rica. We will take a walk on the flanks of the volcano where we will learn more about the science and history behind the volcano, and we walk up to a viewpoint for a closer look. In the afternoon you\ re free to explore the area as you choose. There are local treks to waterfalls and along lava trails whilst those keen to relax can enjoy spa treatments with volcanic mud. For wildlife lovers there is the option to join a wildlife spotting tour, seeking the famous sloth, the poisonous blue jeans dart frog and the multi-coloured toucan. Your Tour Leader will be able to provide information on all the options.

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we drive around Arenal Lake to Nuevo Arenal where we visit a local family who own a small 'soda\ (typical restaurant). On the side of this, they train injured horses in the Costa Rican \ paso\ tradition (a sort of dressage step), and do equine therapy in the local community. We'll have lunch here with them and can learn a bit more about their life in this rural area of the country. Following this we will up into the cloud forest region of Monteverde - one of the most well-known places in Costa Rica to see wildlife. The last part of our journey is on bumpy roads, but we are rewarded with a two-night stay here to enjoy all that this area has to offer. Tonight we'll venture into the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve for a night walk, seeking out the night creatures that roam the undergrowth.

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning, we will have a guided tour of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, walking the paths that wind their way through gigantic ferns, ducking underneath the lichen and moss that hangs from the giant trees. The jungle floor is often littered with blossoms that fall from the high canopy providing a carpet of colour amidst the endless green. The famous, but now very rare, resplendent quetzal is fairly commonly seen in this area, one of the last remaining places in Central America where its habitat has been preserved. Sacred to the ancient Maya and Aztec peoples, it is considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world and the best time to see it is during its breeding months of March and April. The rest of the day has been left free to enjoy one or several of the many optional activities available in the area. One of the most popular activities in the area is to walk the hanging bridges that extend over the reserve, giving you the chance to take a bird's eye view over the canopy. Couple this with the thrill of zooming through the trees on a zip wire and it makes an exhilarating afternoon. For something less adrenaline-filled, choose to visit the local butterfly or orchid garden. Your Tour Leader will be able to offer advice on the options available.

Accommodation: Hotel

Leaving the cloud forest behind us this morning, we descend to the Pacific Coast, enjoying staggering views over the Gulf and Peninsula of Nicoya. Heading south, we cross the Rio Tarcoles Bridge from which huge crocodiles are regularly seen. We then pause at Carara Biological Reserve, famed for the scarlet macaws and abundant birdlife which populate this transitional forest. Finally, we continue along the Pacific Coast to Manuel Antonio National Park, where we will spend the next five nights.

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning, we explore the Manuel Antonio National Park, famed for its beautiful beaches and rich wildlife. During our time in the park, we are likely to see white-faced capuchin monkeys, coatimundi (part of the racoon family) and the tiny squirrel monkeys. This is also one of the best places in Costa Rica to see sloths. The majority of a sloth's diet comes from buds and leaves. As leaves provide little energy, sloths move only when necessary and even then very slowly so they are easy to spot. The remainder of the day can be spent relaxing on the white sandy beaches, enjoying a swim in the warm azure waters. The sunsets from this coast are spectacular and have to be seen to be believed.

Accommodation: Hotel

Today is free to relax in Manuel Antonio. You could choose to revisit the park, or relax on the beaches around the town of Manuel Antonio. There are also lots of other activities on offer if beach time isn't for you, including white water rafting or snorkelling trips.

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we say goodbye to the Tour Leader and the rest of the group, who will be travelling back to San Jose for their flight home today. Those of you who have chosen to extend your stay with some time at the beach will remain at the Hotel El Faro, with its fantastic location at walking distance to the beach, as well as the National Park and the golden sands contained within. The hotel is uniquely designed from shipping containers, built into the hills of Manuel Antonio. The views from the rooftop restaurant and infinity pool are unbelievable, looking over both the beach and the surrounding forest. There are also several bars and restaurants in the small village of Manuel Antonio to spend the evening. The National Park is closed on Mondays, but there are lots of other activities on offer if relaxing on the beach isn't for you. Catamaran tours, horse-riding trips and rafting are all available.

Accommodation: Hotel

Options today include another visit into the National Park for wildlife spotting opportunities, or you may wish to simply relax on the beach.

Accommodation: Hotel

Departing Manuel Antonio this morning we drive 160km, approximately four hours, back to San Jose's Juan Santamaria International Airport (airport code SJO), where we will arrive at about 11am and this is where our trip ends. If you are booking your own flights, the earliest your flight can depart is 1pm. For those on later flights a private transfer can be arranged at additional cost later in the day if desired, or alternatively it is a short taxi ride into San Jose city if you wish to leave the airport and explore further. It's also possible to extend your stay in Manuel Antonio if you would like some additional time at the beach.

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Reviews

5* Highlights of Costa Rica + Beach Extension
A brilliant trip - thank you Explore
Added By:
Date: 02-Oct-2019

5* Highlights of Costa Rica + Beach Extension
This was my first solo holiday and it was an amazing experience. The other people in my group were lovely. We saw loads of wildlife and even though it rained the first four days it couldn’t damper our enjoyment The highlight of the trip for me was the night trek in the rainforest where we saw plenty of frogs and a scorpion which glowed under a black light. I would recommend anyone who is considering solo travel to travel with Explore.
Added By:
Date: 27-Jan-2018

5* Highlights of Costa Rica + Beach Extension
Well I've been on two explore holidays with friends and ready to do the next one alone, as I can see what sort of people on this, and they always friendly and same nature as myself.
Added By:
Date: 02-Aug-2019

5* Highlights of Costa Rica + Beach Extension
I recommend to anyone to take a decent camera and zoom lens. Nature can be fickle and without my dSLR camera zoom lens I wouldn't havet half the beautiful photos I have.
Added By:
Date: 27-Jan-2019

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Touring with Explore

Explore have been creating award-winning adventures for over 35 years and are experts when it comes to unique travel experiences.

Their small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981 and today, Explore are one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 600 trips to more than 130 countries. At Explore, they are passionate about travel and have developed a wide range of unique activities and experiences which gives their customers an unforgettable adventure with a team of award-winning Explore leaders .

With Explore, you'll get to see your destination from a whole new perspective that takes you away from the typical well-trodden tourist track. You'll have the chance to meet, dine and stay with local people, rest in authentic accommodation with other like-minded explorers and travel to must-see destinations with a unique Explore twist.

From family trips to holidays for solo travellers; cycling tours to wildlife safaris; trekking on mountains or exploring miles of scenic coastline; self-guided holidays or small group trips; there is something for every kind of traveller with Explore. They will provide their expert knowledge, exciting itineraries and outstanding service as part of their sustainable travel experiences which take you under the skin of the country you're visiting for the adventure of a lifetime.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Explore!

10 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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Start:San Jose
Finish:San Jose Airport
Duration:10 Nights
Group size:0 - 16
Suitable for: Adult
Accommodation:Standard
Physical rating:Moderate
Meals:Breakfast: 10
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