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It is not without reason that Costa Rica is such a popular destination. For us, this represents a challenge: how to present all the incredible things the country has to offer without relying on the same set of overdeveloped places as everyone else? This trip is an antidote to that, a snub to the crowded paths, instead linking a series of real highlights, which remain wonderfully out of the gaze of most visitors.
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On arrival in San José you are met and taken to your boutique hotel overlooking the central valley. Your first taste of the Costa Rica wildlife will be in the cloudforest surrounding the lodge, an idyllic place to recover from your journey. International flights are quoted separately for this trip.
Today is free to relax at your hotel. The hotel is set amid 40 acres of coffee and fruit plantations and has a number of self-guided trails. Otherwise simply relax and enjoy the facilities, which include three swimming pools. If you wanted to get out and explore, nearby are the Poas Volcano and the Doka Coffee Estate.
This morning fly from the domestic airport in San José to the Golfo Dulce down in the south, Costa Rica’s last wilderness. Whilst you are in this region you have an excellent chance of seeing several species of monkey and a host of birdlife. The more elusive jaguar, ocelot, and tapir also make the forest their home. On arrival you have the afternoon free to settle into your beautiful jungle lodge. This evening you might like to join the night walk to give you your first taste of the local wildlife.
Each day you have a menu of guided hikes and excursions to chose from in the surrounding area, as well as a network of self-guided trails to explore. All of the excursions are led by the excellent staff of English-speaking naturalist guides, most of whom are from the local area. Choose from hikes to waterfalls, wildlife spotting and kayaking in the deep blue waters of the bay.
You have another full day to enjoy this spectacular natural area. You might like to consider taking a boat out to spot the various species of dolphins which are frequently sighted. In June to September you also have the splendid sight of migratory humpback whales. For a more active day, you might like to try out Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), it's a fun way to explore the waterways and coastline.
You leave the jungles of the far south this morning and fly back north to San Jose to stay overnight, this time in a lovely boutique hotel in the centre of town. You should have some time to explore independently this afternoon. Although not the most enchanting of cities, the Gold Museum and theatre are worth a look, and there are some very good restaurants.
Today you will be met and taken in to your lovely lodge in the Pacuare rainforest. A stop for breakfast is made along the way, after which you will arrive at the embarkation point. You will then travel by raft, experiencing some exhilarating waves, as you make your way through lush tropical vegetation.
You have a full day today to explore the surroundings of Pacuare Lodge. The setting is absolutely beautiful, on the banks of the river looking along the high valley sides. It’s often possible to see monkeys directly from the lodge, and there is abundant birdlife. As well as hiking in the vicinity of the lodge, you can also choose to hike to a local indigenous settlement and learn about their way of life.
Raft out of the jungle on a thrilling and scenically stunning journey. Shooting through tropical humid rainforest, you will be surrounded by steep forested hills and plunging canyons, often enshrouded in mist. After the rafting is finished and you are dry, you will collect the keys to your 4x4 and set off on the two hour drive to the Bajos del Toro cloudforest area to the north of San José.
Today is free to explore the fascinating flora and fauna of the cloudforest. The lodge has a system of well-maintained forest trails of varying length and strenuousness. Guides are on hand to suggest routes that would be most suitable for you. The cloudforest canopy is extremely rich with humming birds, colourful butterflies, exotic frogs and orchids.
Head north today, up to Rio Perdido in the Guanacaste province. Your lodge is set deep within its own 600-acre private reserve, where the waters from two rivers meet in converging canyons. Explore and walk up to the lodge's thermal springs, tucked away in the gorge.
The lodge has a first rate series of zip lines, swings and hanging bridges which run between platforms suspended high on the canyon walls, and this morning we include the canopy adventure. Tubing is another option on offer here, climb into a large inflated inner tube and let the river take you.
Set off from your hotel this morning and drive to the Pacific Coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. There are various options for hotels during this part of your holiday; here we describe the most remarkable of them, Nosara. Set among the trees overlooking the sweeping golden sands of the Pacific coast, your lodge is the perfect hideaway.
Today is free to relax or perhaps try something more adventurous. During the day you can take surfing lessons, ride horses and mountain bikes, go zip-lining in the forest canopy, walk, kayak on the local river or relax on the beach. No activities are included but the following is a suggestion of what you may like to do each day. This is equally a place where it is very easy to just be still.
Another day at leisure. You may want to try your hand at surfing today – the hotel can point you towards the best spots. If you’re a beginner you can also book a private surfing lesson. These take place on the local beach which is quiet and uncrowded – perfect for getting your confidence up.
As this is your final day you may just like to relax and soak up the sun. The sunsets on this stretch of the Pacific coast are particularly spectacular.
Head off from your hotel after breakfast back to San José airport to check-in for your chosen international flight home. If this quick summary has whetted your appetite for a tailor-made trip to Costa Rica, we'd love to talk to you about tailoring something that is just right for you. See below for various ways to get in touch or request a full PDF itinerary for more details of this trip.
Note: This is just an itinerary idea and we'll therefore tailor everything to you.
This holiday is primarily conceived of as a journey for lovers of wildlife and the great outdoors who don't want to compromise on their home comforts either. That does mean that you will be out and about in these different places but the degree of activity tends towards relaxed nature walks. The exception is the rafting down the Pacuare River. This takes you east towards the Caribbean coast over the course of two days - staying in a gorgeous jungle lodge as a half-way reward. As long as you can swim, the trip is safe for anyone - the river teams are great at their job.
Saying that, this is a tailor-made holiday which we can adapt to suit you. As such, the level of exertion is determined by you and you alone. Costa Rica has landscapes which are incredibly varied given how small it is. This variety feeds through to the activities, everything from hiking to sports fishing, rafting to canopy walkways, horse rides to bike rides is on offer here. What we provide for you is local information based on our first hand experiences to help you create the best possible trip. Sometimes it makes sense for us to include structured activities at the planning stage, other times you are better off waiting until you get to Costa Rica.
It is part of our job to get to know you, what you like or don’t like doing and any particular interests or requests that you have. We then advise you what we think is the best way to approach your trip, working with you to tailor it to you. It’s possible that what you have seen here is ideal for you, but equally we can tinker with it to get it just right if not.
Departs any day to suit you, from December through August.
The weather in Costa Rica is defined by the dry season (December - April), and the 'green' season (May - November). However, this is not particularly helpful given the sheer range of micro-climates in the country. It's pretty much always wet and cool in the cloudforest for instance, and it's pretty much always hot on the south Pacific, which has roughly opposing rainy patterns to the Caribbean side. The only time of year that constant heavy rain will impact the Pacific side is likely to be late September through to early December, although this time can often be quite nice over on the Caribbean. December generally is hit and miss, you could be lucky and have great weather on both sides, though equally it's not unknown to start getting pretty wet on the Caribbean side, which continues into January.
In early May you have the transition from dry to wet season, and this can bring heavy rains and storms on the Pacific side, so somewhere in May there is usually a week of dramatic weather in the west. It can also be somewhat grey/damp in the east, so on balance probably not the optimum month. The best months, therefore, are February through April, when it should be largely dry in most places. July and August are typically drier than the months either side, so while you will see some rains, there will be plenty of sunshine too.
The price is per person based on two people sharing and includes:
First-class accommodation with breakfast and some lunches and dinners
Large 4x4 vehicle with GPS delivered to your hotel
Guided excursions as described
Transfers to and from San José airport with welcome briefing
Costa Rica Holiday Guide with personal recommendations
Costa Rica driving guide
Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best routing is into and out of San José (SJO).
Over the course of this trip you stay in a series of first-class lodges and small hotels. In Costa Rica we choose our accommodation very carefully, particularly premium lodges and hotels can quickly become faceless - places where 'luxury' rules the roost to the detriment of personality. On this holiday you stay in a selection of the very finest lodges and hotels, finest in the sense that they are very, very comfortable. They are also in the right places, peacefully and splendidly engaged with their surroundings.
For more details, please get in touch to request a detailed PDF itinerary.
With much of Costa Rica suffering somewhat under the weight of growing visitor numbers, we instead direct you towards some of the quieter unspoilt areas that we fell in love with. As well as bringing a share of the economic benefit to places where fewer people stay, this approach eases the burden on the famous sights and helps protect other areas through thoughtful eco-tourism. Everyone wins; the destination, the wildlife, the locals and you, the traveller.
Costa Rica is a country of farmers, a friendly place which, combined with its huge biodiversity and variety of ecosystems, makes it a very natural magnet for tourism. But it’s easy to leave without any real sense of place or the way people live here. That is why we are so passionate about helping you stay in the right places and travel with as much good information as possible to help you to stop and meet people, see something of daily life. You’ll also have an insight into the meeting of economic reality and conservation, a tricky balance which Costa Ricans seem to manage so much better than most parts of the world.
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