Classic Costa Rica

Intrepid Travel Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4.6 . Excellent
94%
Travel Style: Array Mixed
Physical Level: Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment. 2- Easy
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value (3*)
15 days
From: $ 1,952 $ 130 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • Swap the concrete jungle for real jungle on this trip into the rainforests, waterways, hot springs and palm-lined beaches of Costa Rica.
  • Long-nosed tapirs, white-faced capuchin monkeys, elegant ocelots and three-toed sloths – Costa Rica is home to exotic animals, and this trip puts you in the perfect position to spot them all.
  • Go deeper than the average tourist with a homestay in a quiet agricultural community; the perfect opportunity to experience local life and practice your Spanish.
  • Refresh after jungle hikes spotting endemic wildlife in the rejuvenating hot springs of volcanic La Fortuna.
  • Visit the indigenous Maleku community to share a traditional meal and learn about their way of life – this small tribe has big ambitions for regenerating local forests and natural habitats.

Short Description

Discover incredible, lush Costa Rica, and understand why this part of the world is called the ‘rich coast’. This 15-day adventure, beginning and ending in lively San Jose, will provide you a comprehensive journey through the jungles, farmlands, beaches and cities of this pure Central American location. Stay with a local family in Santa Rosa de Pocosol and get your hands dirty on a sustainable farm. Soak in springs that get their heat from an active volcano in La Fortuna. Spot three-toed sloths in the thickets of the Manuel Antonio National Park, then relax beneath swaying palms on the nearby beaches. This adventure takes you into the heart of a country whose people are all about a ‘pura vida’.

Style Small group tour
Off the beaten track trips will stretch your comfort zone. They don't always feature tourist highlights, but dive deeper into local life and culture.
Itinerary Focus Off the Beaten Path
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value (3*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions All internal ground transport
Start City San Jose
End City San Jose

Itinerary

Day 1 San Jose

Hola! Welcome to Costa Rica. With over a third of the country's population living within its parameters, San Jose is packed with both people and culture. Begin with a welcome meeting at 6 pm at your hotel; a good chance for you to meet your group leader and fellow travellers. If you arrive earlier in the day, why not visit the National Museum? This canary-yellow building houses everything from exhibits on pre-Colombian history to a garden filled with native butterflies, giving you an overview of the country before your adventure begins. Early bird history buffs might be interested in the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum or the Jade Museum, both of which display a wealth of indigenous artefacts.

Day 2 Tortuguero National Park

Leave the hotel this morning and descend to the Caribbean lowlands on a 4-hour scenic (and a bit bumpy) public bus journey that ends at the port of La Pavona. This rustic port is your entry point to Tortuguero National Park. Hop aboard a small boat and journey for around 1.5 hours into the depths of the Costa Rican wilderness. Arrive in the middle of this biodiverse area, where freshwater lagoons rest under the canopy of rainforest bordering the ocean which many animals call home, including jaguars and turtles.

Day 3 Tortuguero National Park

Today you're free to explore the park at your own pace. If you're woken by the chattering of the forests’ some 300 bird species, why not haul yourself out of bed for a sunrise canoe trip? It’s a magical way to see the maze-like canals of the park, and you can look out for otters and manatees in the morning light. Tortuguero National Park, established in 1970, is now home to 13 of Costa Rica’s 16 endangered mammals. Among them are manatees, ocelots and jaguars, as well as over 300 bird species. First and foremost, however, it is the nesting ground of the green turtle, which comes ashore between July and October to lay its eggs on the sandy beaches. Lesser numbers of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, plus loggerheads, and giant leatherback turtles also nest within the park at different times of the year. During the day, you might want to return to the park’s walking trails or simply relax in your lodge. Many species are particularly active at night, so if you wish, you can head out in the evening on a turtle watching tour, with part of the cost supporting a program aimed to patrol the beach for poachers. Be ready for all seasons – waterproof clothing and shoes are recommended.

Day 4 Santa Rosa de Pocosol Homestay

Bid farewell to the evergreen rainforest this morning and make the 4-hour journey to Santa Rosa de Pocosol by private vehicle. Enjoy an informal Spanish lesson during the drive. Tonight is a memorable homestay experience, but as the family you'll be staying with doesn’t speak much English, it might useful to brush up on some Spanish phrases on the drive. The community is centred around agriculture, and on arrival you will head to your homestay for a small cooking lesson. You'll prepare a couple of dishes, making up part of your dinner! Alternatively in the afternoon, you might want to take a soap-making workshop or a guided hike to a nearby waterfall. This evening, you will be staying in guest rooms attached to family homes.

Day 5 Tenorio Volcano National Park - Rio Celeste

After breakfast, a truly magical river awaits. Drive for 2 hours to Tenorio Volcano National Park, where you’ll visit the Rio Celeste: a river fed by two different water sources, and when they collide, the water takes on a distinctive light blue colour. On the way, stop off to visit an indigenous Maleku community, where you'll meet the locals and share a traditional Maleku meal with them. Hear stories of their history, culture and the challenges the community face in modern Costa Rica. With only 650 people left, the Maleku Indian tribe is the smallest in Costa Rica. The community and the country share a common goal in reforestation, both working to regenerate forests and plant fruit trees which encourage animals back to their natural habitats. On arrival to the Tenorio Volcano National Park take a leader-led hike around Rio Celeste, and spend the afternoon exploring the sky-blue falls and streams – it must be seen to be believed! The surrounding forest is full of wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for tapirs, monkeys, anteaters and more hiding in the jungle canopy.

Day 6 Rio Celeste

Today is as clear as the Costa Rica air, and with plenty of optional activities available, how about a guided tubing excursion at Rio Celeste? The light-blue waters of the river are generally off-limits to travellers, however you’ll have the opportunity to float along the water in an inflatable donut and spend the day lazing along the river. If you’re a thrill-seeker, there’s the option to embark on a 7-hour guided rafting tour at nearby Rio Tenorio. You’ll tackle 20 rapids and there’s plenty of natural beauty to admire along the banks during the lulls. Those who prefer a nature tour with less adrenaline might like to take a 3-hour safari cruise along the Rio Tenorio, with a guide who will help you spot howler monkeys, crocodiles, river otters and an abundance of tropical birds.

Day 7 La Fortuna

Beneath the watchful eye of the immense Arenal Volcano lies La Fortuna, a sleepy town with an abundance of hot springs and natural pools to enjoy. Departing at 8 am, you’ll arrive by private vehicle after a 2-hour drive and have the rest of the day to do as you please. Perhaps grab some fresh fruit in town, hop in a taxi to the entrance and then hike to La Fortuna waterfall for a swim beneath the cascading waters that spill out of the towering jungle. In the evening, why not grab a classic local dinner with your travel buddies? Chifrijo (fried pork, salsa, beans and tortilla chips) is a great dish to try.

Day 8 La Fortuna

Enjoy a free day to explore La Fortuna as you wish. The region offers a range of sights such as stunning lush forest, rare plants, animal watching and water-based sports on the lake. The volcano’s inner workings also mean that the area has plenty of thermal springs where hot, lava-heated water gushes to the surface. These springs, often surrounded by foliage, make the ideal place to relax. Active types could try stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Arenal with the incredible backdrop of the volcano and rolling green hills. Animal lovers will have a good chance of spotting sloths, monkeys, crocodiles and basilisk lizards skipping across the water on a boat tour of Cano Negro Reserve. Have a chat with your leader about the options available.

Day 9 Lake Arenal - Monteverde

A morning of travel by bus and boat leads to incredible Monteverde. Depart at 8 am and arrive at a port on Lake Arenal in the afternoon. Cross the lake by boat (45 minutes) and then hop on a bus again to continue on to Monteverde (2 hours). There are options in town for lunch on arrival. Settled by North American Quakers in 1951, the area was initially used as an environmentally conscious agricultural community and is now a biological preserve. The forest has near-constant cloud cover, providing consistent rainfall, which also gives the area an enchanted feel. Spend the afternoon in the cloud forest on a leader-led nature walk, looking out for hummingbirds, quetzals and even lazy sloths among the mist later in the day. You may even choose to return after dusk to seek the animals and insects that are largely hidden in the day.

Day 10 Monteverde

Make the most of your time in lush Monteverde and organise a local guide to take you on a nature walk. There also several local communities that operate cooperatives worth visiting. You may wish to get a different perspective on the forest by walking through the canopy on suspension bridges, or perhaps watch butterflies at play in the Butterfly Garden. More than 2000 species of plants, 320 bird species and 100 different types of mammals call Monteverde home, and no matter what you choose to do, be sure to keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal, one of the most elusive birds in the world.

Day 11 Manuel Antonio

Wedged between the beautiful Pacific coast and the national park, Manuel Antonio is a laidback town. After a 4-hour journey in a private vehicle you will make a stop in Quepos; a laidback town with a vibrant nightlife. Head to a local family home where you'll enjoy a cooking class and lunch. The dishes will be based on traditional Costa Rican cuisine. After lunch arrive at your accommodation and enjoy some downtime. Perhaps head to Espadilla Beach to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Day 12 Manuel Antonio

Today, feel the soft crunch of foliage underfoot while you hike the trails of the national park on a leader-led Nature hike. Keep one eye on the scenic views and the other looking out for the abundant wildlife. Monkeys, armadillos, sloths and hundreds of birds are among the species you may be able to spot. Later, spend some time on the beaches surrounding the national park, and perhaps hire a surfboard to catch some waves at Playa El Ray. If you want to spot wildlife and keep active at the same time, consider paddling through the mangrove forest on a guided kayak tour. It’s not unusual for curious monkeys to climb right onto the boat to say hello, and you’ll likely see snakes, crocodiles and plenty of birdlife too. Just remember your insect repellent! In the evening, perhaps take a sunset sail off the coast, watching the blue sky turn orange is a spectacular sight. You’re in Costa Rica, the ‘rich coast’, so soak up the shores as much as possible.

Day 13 Manuel Antonio

Today is free for you to do as you please. If you wish, you could return to Manuel Antonio National Park and continue your search for the solemn, white faces of the capuchin monkeys who live in the trees. Alternatively, why not kick-off your shoes and feel the sands of Manuel Antonio Beach between your toes? It’s easy to spend a whole day on this calm coastline. The towering green trees provide that line the coast provide solace from the sun, and a great place to sit by with a book (and maybe a guaro sour).

Day 14 San Jose

Bid farewell to the coast and return to San Jose via public bus. In the evening, you could head for dinner with your fellow travellers and group leader.

Day 15 San Jose

With no activities planned for the day, you are free to depart at any time.

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 1,952
Price Per Day: $ 130 per day
Checking price
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Feb-06-2023Feb-20-2023$ 2,345Sold Out Reserve
Feb-09-2023Feb-23-2023$ 2,305Sold Out Reserve
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4,209 Intrepid Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings

94%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 3,181
Great 669
Average 132
Disappointing 67
Terrible 160
Value
4.6
Guide
4.6
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.6
Transportation
4.6
Meals
4.6

Classic Costa Rica

warning

2.0
Details
Value2.0
Guide2.0
Activities2.0
Lodging2.0
Transportation2.0
Meals2.0
Do not book any extra nights or transportation to the airport with Intrepid. If you have a change of plans they will not refund your money if you don't cancel 30 days in advance.
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Our guide was absolutely lovely and managed

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Our guide was absolutely lovely and managed the group in a professional but relaxed and friendly way. The hotels chosen were very good quality. The balance and flexibility of free time with activities was perfect.
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Overall I think the trips are well

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Overall I think the trips are well planned and offer interesting and diverse experiences that you wouldn't normally have the opportunity to experience if you were travelling on your own. Only negative is that some of the additional activities can work out to be somewhat expensive.
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I would say it was Excellent from

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
I would say it was Excellent from the point of view of the commitment from the guide, and very good in terms of the overall result._x000D_
I would suggest Intrepid to my friends that are prepared to rough it a bit, like myself, but not to the ones who look for comfort and luxury.
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A really good experince with a good

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
A really good experince with a good guide (Randy) with lot knowledge of the nature, animals, the country, etc. Small, cool,group._x000D_
_x000D_
Magic moments included, that i will never forget. thanks.
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Company Reviews

Annapurna Circuit with Intrepid, starting 27/11/22

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Quite simply, this was a once in a lifetime and truly amazing experience. The scenery, the food, the culture, the weather, all splendid! Our group were all fantastic, and we were expertly guided and supported by the entire Intrepid team (guides and porters), led by Parbati Joshi. If you ever get a chance, DO THIS TREK!
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Details

Flight & Transport Inclusions

All internal ground transport Private vehicle,Public Transportation,Boat

Group Size

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 16

Accommodations

Hotel (7 nights),Lodge (6 nights),Homestay (1 night)

Guides

All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you are interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

Age Notes :

Min. Age: 15

Max Age: 99

Additional Information

Finish point

  • Autentico Hotel
  • Calle 40 with the corner of Avenida 5
  • San Jose
  • 10108
  • COSTA RICA
  • Phone: +506 22225266

Trip ID#:

intrepid-QVSR

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