2 Weeks in Costa Rica: "Land of the Quetzal"
An authentic budget roundtrip
Duration: 2 Weeks (12 nights)
Transportation: rental car or personal driver
This roundtrip introduces you to some Costa Rican highlights. Naturally, we can adapt the tour according to your own wishes. The suggested accommodations are reasonable, very comfortable and well-tended. This roundtrip can be arranged for 1 or more persons
If you desire upscale accommodation, compare with this programme.
We guarantee or the same retail prices for hotels, rental cars and activities as direct suppliers. As we only cooperate with approved and reliable partners, the quality of hotels is assured. We assist you in planning, booking and provide English-speaking travel assistance around-the-clock.
Day 1: San José
Arrival at San José airport. Individual transfer.
Accommodation at the Hotel Colonial: single, double, triple standard rooms, junior 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.
Accommodation at the Hotel Colonial: (B/B)
Day 3: San José – Cartago – Volcan Irazu – Orosi
95 km – 3.5h
Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Your 4x4 rental car will be delivered around 8 a.m. (with or without driver; consult our chapter Car Rental).
Free day to explore the Eastern Central Valley: 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.
Drive to the active Irazu Volcano (3432 m) and the surrounding National Park on an area of over 2300 ha (the volcano’s 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.
If desired, we can book a coffe tour for you this day.
Continuation to Orosi and its 17th century colonial church in a quiet atmosphere. 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!
Accommodation at the charming Orosi Lodge: (B)
Day 4: Orosi – San Gerardo de Dota (Cerro de la Muerte)
150 km – 4.5h
Departure over the scenic, winded road through alpine landscapes towards Cerro de la Muerte to San Gerardo de Dota. We suggest an 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 95%!).
Accommodation at the Trogon Lodge: (B)
Day 5: San Gerardo de Dota – Dominical
90 km – 3h
Trip to San Isidro de El General over a mountain road through the Cerro de la Muerte‘s spectacular alpine landscapes. 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.
Accommodation at the rustic Hacienda Barú: (B/B)
Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Departure for Manuel Antonio. Drive along palm plantations along the coastal road, over single-track bridges and through small villages. Visit of Manuel Antonio National Park.
This is one of the country’s most visited national parks 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 andfishes are also plentiful. The park is set on a peninsula and offers pretty paths along the seashore. Picnic and swimming are allowed. Pack apair of shorts or trousers to tuck up (to cross the ford), swimming trunks and a towel for the beach.
Accommodation at the Hotel Villa Teca: (B/B)
Day 7: Manuel Antonio – Jaco – Playa Carillo (Pacific Coast)
250 km – 6.5h
Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel.
Departure to Punta Leona via Quepos. Suggestion: Visit of Carara Biological Reserve. The park lies in a particularly 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 a diversified flora with gigantic trees. Alternatively, you can take a 1½-hour boat trip(35 $) 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…
Cross the Puente de la Amistad for a quick passage over the Nicoya Gulf. Pass Nicoya (and its colonial church) and Playa Samara, a small beach resort. Arrival at Playa Carrillo, a beautiful volcanic beach on the Pacific coast.
Accommodation at the charming Sueño Tropical: (B/B)
Day 8: Playa Carillo (Pacific Coast)
Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Day off for fishing, diving, swimming or relaxing…
Accommodation at the charming Sueño Tropical: (B/B)
Day 9: Playa Carillo – Liberia – Rincón de la Vieja
150 km – 3.5h
Breakfast (incl.) at the hotel. Departure towards Santa Cruz, with a small side trip to Guaitil. Guaitil is renowned for its traditional indigenous handicraft (pottery). Continuation to Filadelfia and Liberia, Guanacaste’s capital (with optional sightseeing of the “white city”).
After ca. 10 km you turn right to the Volcan Rincón 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).
Accommodation at the Casa Rural Aroma del Campo: (B/B)
Day 10: Rincón de la Vieja
Breakfast (incl.) at the lodge. 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. The operator Hacienda Guachipelin also offers horseback and canopy tours.
Accommodation at the Casa Rural Aroma del Campo: (B&B)
Day 11: Rincón de la Vieja – Cañas – Arenal Volcano (La Fortuna)
130 km – 5h
Breakfast (incl.) at the lodge. 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. Close to the riverside, lies the pleasant restaurant Rincon Corobici.
After lunch, turn left towards Tilaran along Lake Arenal, offering 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. 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).
Accommodation at the rustic Hotel Arenal Linda Vista del Norte: (B/B)
Day 12: Arenal Volcano (La Fortuna) – “Little Villages” – Poas Volcano – Sarchi – Santa Ana (San José)
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).
Continuation to Alajuela and Santa Ana.
Accommodation at the charming Posada Canal Grande: (B/B)
Day 13: Santa Ana (San José) – 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 9 days duration if returned before 12 p.m.