18 Days: "A Taste of the Tropics"

Duration: 18 Days/17 nights in hotels of middle (A) or upper price range (B)
Transportation: Rental Car or Personal Driver

We devoted the last 15 years to select Costa Rica’s most charming hotels and beautiful locations. The roundtrip offers a diversified programme. Dip into Costa Rica’s wonderful landscapes by rental car or with your own personal driver. As with all of our basic programmes we can adjust the itinerary to your personal wishes.

 

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DAY 1: San José

Arrival at San José airport and individual transfer to the hotel.

 

Alternative A:
Accommodation at the Hotel Fleur de Lys: Junior suite (B/B)

Alternative B:
Accommodation at the Hotel Fleur de Lys: Master suite (B/B)

 

 

DAY 2: San José

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Guided city tour on foot in the morning: from the Central Market with its colourful fruit and vegetable stands, through pedestrian and shopping areas near the Plaza de la Cultura, to the national theatre and museums. Distances are short and everything is close by.

National Theatre, Gold Museum, Jade Museum, National Museum with terraces and view over the city.

 

Alternative A:
Accommodation at the Hotel Fleur de Lys: Junior suite (B/B)

Alternative B:
Accommodation at the Hotel Fleur de Lys: Master suite (B/B)


DAY 3: San José – Tortuguero

Departure by van in the early morning towards Tortuguero National Park – one of the most established destinations. The journey has to be done in groups, which might feel like package tourism for some; but in order to preserve the fragile ecosystem it is inevitable to organise the excursions in groups.

 

 

Alternative A:
120 km drive + 40 km boat ride: 6h

The trip will lead you through the curvy road of Braulio Carrillo National Park with its cloud-draped forests and wonderful views. You will also pass the mystically two-coloured river Rio Sucio before eating breakfast (incl.) in a restaurant on the road to Puerto Limon.
The trip continues on a track to the Caribbean Sea from Siquirres to Caño Blanco, where you can visit a banana plantation. In Caño Blanco you will change to a motorboat that will bring you through the coastal channels to Tortuguero. The boat ride will lead you through luscious vegetation and dense forests. The fauna consists of monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, sloths, toucans, parrots and numerous sea birds. You will be received with a welcome-cocktail and lunch.

Alternative B:
45 min flight

Individual transfer to Tobias Bolaños Airport in Pavas. Departure at 06am with Nature Air flightNr. 070 to Tortuguero National Park.
Fly over the cloud forests and mountain peaks of Braulio Carillo National Park and its many streams and waterfalls. Witness the exciting change of vegetation when you reach the Caribbean plains and fly over vast banana plantations and mangrove forests. After 45 minutes flight time you will be picked up in the national park and transferred to the lodge, where breakfastis waiting for you. Time off until lunch for swimming in the pool, strolling around the premises or for a discovery trip of the channels by kayak.

 

Alternative A and B:

Guided excursion in the afternoon to the Caribbean town Tortuguero and its turtle museum or for a hike to cerro Tortuguero, which presents a splendid view over the national park and the channels. Depending on the weather a boat excursion will done instead: it will lead you through luscious vegetation and dense forests, inhabited by a rich fauna with monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, sloths, toucans, parrots and numerous sea birds.

Dinner and accommodation at the Evergreen Lodge:

or Pachira Lodge : Standard Room (F/B)

 

Note: The specified excursions are examples and will be adapted according to the weather situation and, whenever possible, to your wishes.


DAY 4: Tortuguero – Limón – Playa Cocles (Caribbean Coast)

120 km(from Siquirres) – 3.5h

 


Guided boat excursion in the early morning to explore the fauna at its awakening, followed by a breakfast (incl.) at the lodge. Return by boat to Caño Blanco and continuation to Siquirres by minibus. You will either get a packed lunch or eat lunch on the way. Your 4x4 rental car will be delivered to you in Siquirres at the restaurant Caribbean Dish around 11.30am (with or without driver, consult the chapter Car Rental).
Continuation to Puerto Limón. The provincial capital has a certain charm due to its Caribbean appearance and the colourful wooden houses. The Vargas Park and its splendid trees are worth a glimpse. The journey continues on a coastal road to Playa Cocles south of Puerto Viejo, not far from the border to Panama. Without a doubt this is the place with Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches!

 

Alternative A:
Accommodation at the Hotel Cariblue:

Standard Room (B/B)

Alternative B:
Accommodation at the Hotel Cariblue:

Bungalow (B/B)


DAY 5: Playa Cocles

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Day off for relaxing at one of the country’s most beautiful beaches or to explore the environs. If you are in a more active mood, there are the following options:
  • Visit Gandoca Manzanillo Natural Reserve - great snorkelling opportunities on the site.
  • Cahuita National Park also has a magnificent coral reef to offer. Snorkelling is also great here, although the Manzanillo reef is healthier.
  • Go see a native Bribri village
  • Cross the border to Panama on foot over the Sixaola river bridge
  • Or enjoy a fresh beer in Sixaola or Guabito.
As you see, the region provides for excellent variety!

 

Alternative A:
Accommodation at the Hotel Cariblue:

Standard Room (B/B)

Alternative B:
Accommodation at the Hotel Cariblue:

Bungalow (B/B)


DAY 6: Playa Cocles – Limón – Guayabo National Monument – Turrialba

230 km – 6h

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Drive to the Central Valley over Limón and Siquirres and continue over a beautifully winded mountain road with Turrialba volcano in sight.

Suggested visit of the Guayabo National Monument (Guided tours in English and Spanish on request). This is one of the rare archaeological sites discovered in Costa Rica and the country’s most important pre-Columbian excavation site. It is situated on 1000-1300m, about 20 km from Turrialba and was discovered in the late 19th century. The visit consists of a pleasant stroll following the traces of a mysteriously lost civilisation. Calculate 1-2 hours for this visit.
Departure for nearby Turrialba for your overnight stay.

 

Alternative A+B:
Accommodation at the Hotel Casa Turire: Standard Room (B/B)


DAY 7: Turrialba – Irazu Volcano – Cartago – Orosi

100 km– 4h

Breakfast(incl.) at the hotel. Explore the lovely Eastern Central Valley on the way to Irazu Volcano. The surrounding National Park stretches over an area of over 2400 hectares and features the country’s highest active volcano (3432 m). The peak is accessible by car. On a clear day you can see both oceans, the Pacific to the west and the Atlantic to the east.

Make a short visit of the former Capital Cartago and its main attraction, the basilica “Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles” which is dedicated to the dark virgin. The interior was exclusively constructed from precious exotic woods. Continuation to the Orosi Valley.


Alternative A+B:
Accommodation
at Hotel Rio Perlas: Cabinas (B/B)


DAY 8: Orosi – Ujarras – Paraíso – San Gerardo de Dota

110 km – 4.5h

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Departure for a visit of the town Orosi and its peaceful 17th century colonial church. This is the heart of the Central Valley, a rich agricultural zone with a pleasant climate. The first Europeans settled here. Drive around the lake, pass Cachi and enjoy lunch at the restaurant Casona del Cafetal. After lunch, we warmly recommend a visit of Ujarras. This enchanting village is home to the remains of the country’s oldest colonial church. A wonderfully romantic place!
If you have enough time, visit the exceptional orchid collection (around 800 species) at Lankester Botanical Gardens in Paraíso. The orchid is one of Costa Rica’s national symbols and grows wild in this area.
Continuation over the scenic, winded road through alpine landscapes towards Cerro de la Muerte to San Gerardo de Dota.

Alternative A+B:
Accommodation in the rustic Savegre Lodge: Junior Suite (B/B)


DAY 9: San Gerardo de Dota – Dominical – Manuel Antonio

120 km – 4.5h

Breakfast (incl.) at the lodge. We suggest a morning excursion to the primary and secondary forest (average alt. 2200-2400 m) with a personal ornithological guide ). Explore various plant and bird species, such as toucans, green woodpeckers, trogons etc. With some luck you will spot the mythical quetzal, whose feathers were used by the Mayas for the chief’s magnificent headdress. The best season to observe these birds is from January to June, during breeding time.At this moment the male birds get green and blue tail feathers that can grow up to 80 cm. (With our guides the likelihood of spotting a quetzal is over 90%!)
Trip to San Isidro de El General over a mountain road through the Cerro de la Muerte‘s spectacular scenery.Continuation through a lovely region with coffee, pineapple and sugar cane plantations to Dominical, a small bathing spot in a pristine region on the Pacific Coast. Continuation along the coastal road to Manuel Antonio.

 

 

 

Alternative A:
Accommodation
at the Hotel Casitas Eclipse: superior Suite (B/B)

Alternative B:
Accommodation
at luxurious Hotel Tulemar: First-class beach bungalow (B/B)

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DAY 10: Manuel Antonio

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Visit of Manuel Antonio National Park. This is one of the country’s most visited national park for its abundant wildlife, including 109 mammal species, among which are (titi and white-faced) monkeys, sloths, numerous iguanas and small deer. Birds, corals, crustaceans and fishes are also plentiful. The park is set on a peninsula and offers pretty paths along the seashore. Picnic and swimming are allowed. Pack a pair of shorts, swimming trunks and a towel for the beach.

 

Alternative A:
Accommodation
at the Hotel Casitas Eclipse

superior Suite with breakfast (B/B)

Alternative B:
Accommodation
at luxurious Hotel Tulemar: First-class beach bungalow with breakfast (B/B)

 

DAY 11: Manuel Antonio – Punta Leona

80 km – 2h

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Departure for Punta Leona. We suggest a visit of Carara National Park (8 $, Monday closed). The park lies in an interesting transition zone between (the humid) Southern Pacific and (the dry) Northern Pacific. The rainforest’s 4700 hectares shelter a rich fauna: there are parrots like the wonderful scarlet macaws, pink herons, toucans, white-faced monkeys and crocodiles amid an amazingly diversified flora with gigantic trees.
As an alternative, you can take a 1½-hour boat trip on the river Tarcoles. The ride will lead you through mangrove woods where you will be able to spot crocodiles (up to 600 kg) at an awfully close range. You will also find several bird species around and on the crocodiles…

 

 

 

Alternative A:
Accommodation at the Hotel Villa Caletas: Standard Room (B)

Alternative B:
Accommodation at the Hotel Villa Caletas: Villa (B)


DAY 12: Punta Leona (Pacific Coast) - Beaches of Manzanillo or Tamarindo

Alternative A:
160 km – 5.5h (1.5h ferry crossing)

Breakfast at the hotel. Departure to Puntarenas. Ferry crossing of the Nicoya Gulf to Paquera (duration: 1h30). Continuation to Manzanillo on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula.

Accommodation at the Hotel Ylang Ylang: Standard Room (B/B)

Alternative B:
180 km – 6h

Departure towards north on the Panamericana to Cañas to the new Puente de la Amistad for a quick crossing of the Nicoya Gulf. Traverse the Nicoya Peninsula and continue to Santa Cruz. Make a little side trip to Guaitil, which is famous for its traditional indigenous handicraft (pottery). Arrival at the bathing resort Tamarindo.

Accommodation at first-class Hotel Cala Luna: Standard Room (B/B)

 

 

DAY 13: Beaches of Manzanillo or Tamarindo (Pacific coast)

 

Alternative A:

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Free time on Nicoya Peninsula’s southern tip with various possibilities: fishing, boat trips, diving, canopy tour, several solitary beaches, hike through Cabo Blanco National Park. The "Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco" was founded in 1963. It is situated between sea and hills on the exceedingly wild and beautiful southern tip of Nicoya, facing the island Cabo Blanco. Walk through primary and secondary forest and discover the variegated flora and fauna (monkeys, birds, pumas, jaguars, ocelots). Swimming is allowed.

Accommodation at the Hotel Ylang Ylang: Standard Room (B/B)

Alternative B:

Free time on the Pacific coast: relax, swim, fish, or explore the environment.
Accommodation at first-class Hotel Cala Luna: Standard Room (B)

 

 


DAY 14: Beaches of Manzanillo or Tamarindo – Rincón de la Vieja

 

Alternative A:

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Cross the Nicoya Peninsula and continue to Santa Cruz. Optional side trip to Guaitil, which is famous for its traditional indigenous handicraft (pottery).
Continuation to Liberia, the capital of Guanacaste (with optional sightseeing of the “white city”).


After ca. 10 km on the Panamericana you turn right to the Volcan Rincon de la Vieja National Park (open 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday closed). The national park surrounds the volcano of the same name (alt. 1916 m) on an area of 14’000 ha. In this region you find the highest concentration of the orchid Cattleya Skinneri and many different mammals and birds. Geothermic activities can be observed in the park’s environs (small geysers, thermal springs and large steam expulsions).

Accommodation at the rustic Cañon de la Vieja Lodge: Standard Room (B/B)

Alternative B:

Departure to Liberia, Guanacaste’s capital (with optional sightseeing of the “white city”).

After ca. 10 km on the Panamericana you turn right to the Volcan Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The national park surrounds the volcano of the same name (alt. 1916 m) on an area of 14’000 ha. In this region you find the highest concentration of the orchid Cattleya Skinneri and many different mammals and birds. Geothermic activities can be observed in the park’s environs (small geysers, thermal springs and large steam expulsions). (Note for visitors planning to climb the volcano: the ascension is demanding and takes about 8 hours.).

Accommodation at Hotel Borinquen: Bungalow (B/B)
(In the hotel’s surrounding you will encounter remarkable geothermic activities: small geysers, thermal springs and large steam expulsions)

 

 

 

DAY 15: Environs of Rincón de la Vieja

 

Alternative A:

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Activity suggestion: fly over Rio Colorado by Canopy Tour in extraordinarily picturesque scenery. Experienced guides will lead you over platforms from one riverbank to the other. We guarantee an unforgettable experience on this river! Return by kayak through rapids, calm basins and a waterfall! Of course, swimming is also possible. We organise these activities for you and a local operator will carry them out. Another option is a horseback ride to explore the area and see thermal springs and mud baths.

Accommodation at the rustic Cañon de la Vieja Lodge:
Standard Room (B/B)

Alternative B:

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Activity suggestions: horseback tour, promenade to the waterfalls and hot springs (free), excursion by Quad-Bike, or "Canopy Tour" (experienced guides will lead you over platforms from one riverbank to the other … A great idea to explore the forest from above and an unforgettable experience!)

Accommodation at the Hotel Borinquen:
Bungalow (B/B)
(Geothermic activities can be observed on the premises)


DAY 16: Rincón de la Vieja – Cañas – Lake and Volcano Arenal

130 km – 5h

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Return over the Panamericana to Cañas, in the Guanacaste province. We recommend a visit of the nearby animal orphanage "Las Pumas", which shelters pumas, jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, etc. Lunch suggestion: a few steps away from Las Pumas is the restaurant Hacienda la Pacifica, offering local food in a rustic ambience.
Turn left towards Tilaran along Lake Arenal, which offers splendid panoramas. When you arrive in the lush San Carlos Valley you will behold the silhouette of Volcano Arenal (1600 m). Arenal is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Since its explosive awakening on July 29 1968, it regularly emits lava streams and volcanologists have been studying it closely for over 25 years. Observe the volcano after dusk and marvel at its glowing lava streams!

You will also find opportunity for relaxing in the area’s thermal springs (particularly the hot springs of Baldi and Tabacon).

 

Alternative A:
Accommodation
at the Hotel Arenal Linda Vista del Norte: Junior Suite (B/B)

Alternative B:
Accommodation
at the Hotel Arenal Paraiso: Deluxe Bungalow (B/B)


DAY 17: Arenal Volcano – “Little Villages” – Poas Volcano

150 km – 5h

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Suggestion for (an early) activity: departure to the „little villages“ of Naranjo (with a pretty colonial church), Sarchi – which is known for its handicrafts, particularly the hand painted ox-carts (one of Costa Rica’s national symbols) – and Grecia (with its curious church).
Continuation to Poás Volcano on an altitude of 2700 m. Poas is famous for having one of the world’s biggest craters (1.5 km diameter, 300 m deep). Many fumaroles are around the crater and geyserlike eruptions occur frequently (one of the water fountains can rise over 100 m).

 

Alternative A:
Accommodation at the Poas Volcano Lodge: Junior Suite (B/B)

Alternative B:
Continuation towards Alajuela,
Accommodation at the Xandari Spa & Resort: Room „Prima“ (B/B)

 


DAY 18: Alajuela, Airport

Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Rental Car return at the airport in the morning (or end of your driver’s service). Expect a car rental for 14 days duration if returned before 12 p.m.

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