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London – San Jose
Your direct flight from London lands in San José in the afternoon, Costa Rica’s capital city nestled in the Central Valley with volcanoes to the south and the Talamanca Mountains to the north. Whilst San José has some wonderful areas to explore, including the historic neighbourhood of Barrio Amon, the real treasures lie beyond in the Central Valley where you’ll find lush green hills, sprawling coffee plantations and even butterfly farms. You’ll be staying in a charming hotel amidst the coffee farms of Santo Domingo de Heredia, which happens to be just a stone’s throw away from the city centre.
On the second day you’ll take a guided excursion to the beautiful La Paz Waterfall, perhaps the most famous cascades in the country. Once there you’ll be able to explore the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, a rescue wildlife preserve home to marmoset monkeys, two-toed sloths, jaguars, pumas and an abundance of birds. There’s even a hummingbird garden featuring 26 different species.
Stay: Two nights in a junior suite with garden view at Hotel Bougainvillea – bed & breakfast
Early this morning you will set off for the next destination on your adventure – Tortuguero National Park. You will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to La Pavona dock where a boat will be waiting to take you to your lodge, fabulously located on a sandbar between the Tortuguero Canals and the pristine Caribbean Coast.
You will be perfectly situated to immerse yourself in the wonders of this unspoilt wilderness with its lush rainforest and immense network of canals. The park provides sanctuary to a wide variety of wildlife including over 300 species of bird, 60 mammals, 57 amphibians, 30 species of freshwater fish and over 100 types of reptile. During your stay you will enjoy boat excursions along the park’s winding canals whilst an expert guide will reveal the secrets of this epic rainforest ecosystem.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at Mawamba Lodge – full board
Leaving Tortuguero behind, you will board a flight to Arenal. You will be met and transferred to Lake Arenal where you will take a 30-minute boat ride to Rio Chiquito, followed by a road transfer to your lodge at Monteverde. This is a birders paradise with over 400 different species to tick off your list including the national bird of Costa Rica – the vibrantly coloured resplendent quetzal.
Bird watching excursions, canopy tours, zip-lining and following hiking trails are all part of your experience in this enchanting cloud forest. You’ll also be taken on a half day guided tour to the Curi-Cancha Reserve where, in addition to birds like the three-wattled bellbird and orange-bellied trogon, you’ll be able to spot mammals like such as coatis, armadillos, spider monkeys and ocelots.
Stay: Two nights in a forest view balcony room at Monteverde Lodge – bed & breakfast
Your journey now brings you to the magical Osa Peninsula, home to one of the last remaining Pacific lowland rainforests. You will be staying in a comfortable lodge superbly situated on the very edge of Corcovado National Park. Dubbed the “most biologically intense place on earth” by the National Geographic Society, you can expect to find tapirs, ocelots, jaguars, tanagers and scarlet macaws, as well as sparkling lagoons, deserted beaches, swampy marshes and some of Costa Rica’s largest trees.
During your stay you will also have the opportunity to go snorkelling on Caño Island, whose warm, crystal clear waters and protected coral reefs support a rich and diverse marine life. In season you may also be able to spot dolphins, humpback whales, manta rays, turtles and even white-tipped sharks.
Stay: Three nights in a deluxe bungalow at Casa Corcovado Lodge – full board
Now it’s time to kick back, relax and soak up some sunshine by the coast. You will be privately transferred to your beach side hotel in Esterillos, a laidback town on the shores of the Gulf of Nicoya.
When you tire of lazing on fine sand you can wander through the resort’s tropical gardens or take an excursion through the nearby Manuel Antonio National Park – a small but stunning wilderness defined by its rich forest, white-sand beaches, coral reefs and rocky coves. The forest itself has massive fig trees, two- and three-toed sloths, green and black iguanas, agoutis and nearly 200 species of birds. And because many of the creatures are used to encountering humans along the nature trails, you can see and photograph them at close quarters.
Stay: Three nights in a garden bungalow at the Alma del Pacifico – bed & breakfast
San Jose – Madrid - London
Your Costa Rica adventure comes to an end. You will be transferred to San José airport where you will catch your overnight flight back to London.
It was a complicated itinerary for 12 people and Tania got it spot on!- EM, South Africa