Costa Rica is a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds. Howler monkeys, tropical birds, lush rainforest, lava-spewing volcanoes, hot springs, and crescent shaped beaches provide memories to last a lifetime. This tour offers an ideal mix of active exploration with an experienced naturalist guide, opportunities to observe an immense diversity of wildlife, and time to simply relax on tranquil beaches while soaking up the pura vida!
We begin our adventure in Arenal Volcano National Park, located in the middle of a lush tropical rainforest surrounded by hot springs, abundant wildlife, and plenty of hidden waterfalls. Next, we head to the colonial city of San Ramon, the perfect springboard for visiting the Los Angeles Cloud Forest, where we’ll find many species of migratory birds as well as crocodiles, monkeys, deer, coati, and jaguarondi. Finally, we culminate our exploration in Costa Ballena, a stretch of coastline on the southwestern Pacific Coast. This area is known for its mangroves, ocean cliffs, jungle-clad foothills, and all-but-deserted beaches—the perfect place to round out this unique and exciting adventure.
Arrival in San José
Our trip begins upon the arrival of your flight into San José. After clearing customs, you are met by your Boundless Journeys guide, who will introduce you to the country during the transfer to your hotel in Arenal Volcano National Park, about a 3-hour drive. To unwind from your travels, you may enjoy a swim, walk in the beautiful gardens, or a spa treatment. This evening, your guide will meet you for a welcome dinner.
Arenal Springs Resort & SpaLa Fortuna, Costa Rica
Hotel Arenal Springs Resort & Spa is a 4-star property surrounded by exotic gardens, and beautiful views of Arenal Volcano. Set in the middle of the rainforest, guests can enjoy a restaurant offering a variety of national and international dishes, swimming pools, free yoga, and private hot springs. Each room has a terrace with rocking chairs for ultimate leisure and bird viewing.
Arenal Volcano National Park
This morning, we dive right into Costa Rica's incredible nature as we explore Arenal Volcano National Park on foot. In 1968, the volcano erupted violently and destroyed the region west of its base. Today, the volcano steams quietly and heats local rivers that have been developed into popular hot springs and spas. Forest vegetation is quickly returning and covering the massive rock fragments and lava flows, and rainforest wildlife once again flourishes in and around the park. More than 400 birds have been recorded around the lush rainforests and open areas, including 6 species of hummingbirds, 5 species of toucan, and 3 species of motmot. Other animals we may see include three-toed sloth, collared peccaries, white-nosed coati, tamandua anteater, and howler, white-faced capuchin, and spider monkeys.
For lunch, we visit Vida Campesina, a family-owned farm that grows coffee, cacao, and other traditional crops using newer sustainable agricultural techniques. Our traditional lunch includes a hands-on demonstration on tortilla making.
This afternoon, we discover the rainforest from a new perspective on suspended bridges through the forest canopy. We may see many different birds in the surroundings, such as the white hawk and great curassow, reptiles like the boa and basiliscos lizards, as well as monkeys.
Returning to our hotel you may choose to take a dip in the hot springs or swimming pool on-site before we enjoy dinner together.
Ziplining & Sloth Trail
We start our day at the Sloth Watching Trail in Arenal. Here, we learn about Costa Rica's most beloved animal and see sloths in their natural habitat. As we walk through the forest, our guide points out some of the other incredible animals that make their home here, including a variety of birds, snakes, insects, and frogs.
After observing the slow-movements of the sloths, a thrilling adventure is in store on a treetop zipline tour. We start with a tractor ride into the jungle and an ascent to an observation platform. From here, we sail along zipline cables offering us spectacular views over the Pino Blanco and La Fortuna waterfalls, Arenal and Cerro Chato volcanoes, and the jungle canopy below. If time allows, or for those who prefer a more relaxing afternoon, we can visit the Maleku Culture Center and its frog and butterfly garden.
We then depart for San Ramon a laid-back colonial city located in the Alajuela Province and surrounded by coffee and sugar cane fields. We arrive at our hotel outside of town by late-afternoon with the rest of the day to spend at our leisure before dinner.
Hotel Villa Blanca LodgeAlajuela, Costa Rica
This beautiful 19th-century recreation of a mountain farm village is one of the few places where you can enjoy an upscale boutique hotel in one of the most unique and endangered types of tropical forests — a cloud forest. Rooms feature vaulted cane ceilings, handcrafted furniture, and amenities including in-room wood-burning fireplaces and private garden porches. Villa Blanca is a renowned model of sustainable hospitality, where exceptional Costa Rica experiences are in harmony with conserving nature, culture, and the quality of the community.
Los Angeles Cloud Forest; San Ramon
This morning, we enjoy a hike through the Los Angeles Cloud Forest Reserve. Located on land once owned by former Costa Rican president Rodrigo Carazo, the reserve is one of the country's best-kept secrets. Adjacent to the better-known Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Los Angeles is a private park that offers a section of cloud forest rarely visited resulting in a serene, secluded area reknowned for its birdwatching. At least 258 bird species reside in the cloud forest, among them several unique to the area. The reserve's moss-covered hills are shrouded in clouds and its verdant canopy echoes with the sounds of howler monkeys, foraging coatimundis, and the melodic song of trogons.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we head to downtown San Ramon for a cultural tour. The town has been dubbed the 'City of Presidents and Poets' for having been home to many local literary heroes and political leaders. Our guide takes us around explaining some of the history and highlighting the church, market, and local square.
Transfer to Uvita
Although we have a bit of a drive today, the scenery makes it worthwhile as we make our way along the Pacific coast to Uvita, our home for the next three nights. En route, we stop at the house of Doña Miriam for a traditional, home-cooked lunch as we enjoy views of the ocean and observe the scarlet macaws flying above us.
Upon arrival at our hotel, situated between the ocean and the mountains, we have the remainder of the day to relax and explore the property.
Hotel Cristal BallenaUvita, Costa Rica
This 4-star boutique hotel is pleasantly situated on a hill between the Pacific Ocean and rainforest-covered peaks allowing breathtaking ocean views (and sunsets!) while a cooling breeze sweeps in from the mountains. Enjoy the swimming pool, gourmet restaurant, park grounds, spa, and well-appointed and comfortable ensuite rooms.
Boat tour and spheres tour
After breakfast, a 40-minute drive brings us to the start of our mangrove boat tour. We explore the beautiful maze of canals, rivers mouths, and estuaries that flood the largest untouched mangroves in Central America. As our guide introduces us to this unique ecosystem and its importance and benefits, we have ample opportunities to spot and photograph tropical wildlife such as 40 different types of birds, boa snakes, corals, squirrel monkeys, white face monkeys, caimans, crocodiles, and Jesus Christ lizards, among other species.
After lunch in Sierpe Village, we explore the famous stone carved spheres of the Osa Peninsula. These impressive pre-Columbian orbs date back between 300 and 1,000 CE. Carved from volcanic rock, they range in size from a couple of inches to over six feet in diameter. They remain a mystery of Costa Rican archaeology and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We return to the tranquil ambience of our hotel in time to view the sunset from our hilltop location.
Ballena Marine Park & Barú Forest
Today, we head to the beach for a sea kayaking adventure. No experience is necessary, as our guide provides basic instruction and a safety briefing. While paddling in the gentle surf, we keep an eye out for humpback whales, all manner of seabirds, bottlenose dolphins, sharks, starfish, sea turtles, and more. The marine park protects more than 19 square miles of ocean and coastline. Costa Rican waters are famous for the humpback whales that migrate to the region from late July to September (heading north from Antarctica) and from late December to early April (heading south from Alaska), each year. If the tide is low, we may be able to explore the Punta Uvita Tombola, known as "The Whale Tail," a rock and sand formation that appears about .6 miles from the shore.
In the afternoon, a short drive brings us to the Hacienda Barú Rainforest for an easy hike in the dense jungle. This forest is part of a 815-acre national wildlife refuge that forms a mosaic of habitats, including wetlands, mangrove forests, secondary rainforests, primary rainforests, highland coastal ridges, beach coastline, orchid gardens, and butterfly gardens. More than 350 species of birds have been identified at Barú, and we may also see howler and white-faced monkeys, three-toed sloths, tayra, agouti, prehensile-tailed porcupine, and collared anteaters going about their daily lives.
This evening, you may enjoy a cool drink poolside before dinner.
Transfer to San José
We say farewell to the Pacific Coast and the incredible nature that we've experienced over the past several days and drive to San José, stopping for lunch at a local restaurant along the way. Once at our hotel, well-located for its proximity to the airport, the rest of the day is at our leisure to enjoy the outdoor pool or prepare for departure. We gather for our final dinner to toast our adventures and the incredible beauty we have seen in this country.
Park Inn HotelSan Jose, Costa Rica
This hotel features comfortable rooms, an outdoor pool, gym, and restaurant. Located three blocks from San Jose’s main avenue of Paseo Colón and 11 miles from Juan Santamaría International Airport, making it a great option for our last evening in Costa Rica.
After breakfast, you are transferred to the San José airport (15 minutes) for your departure home or continued travels.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Dec 3-11, 2022
From $4,695 Per Person
First two reserved:$685
See single supplement policy below.
Feb 18-26, 2023
Apr 16-24, 2023
Dec 2-10, 2023
$5,295 Per Person
First two reserved:$795
MAKE IT PRIVATE
9+ Guests: $5,295 per person
5 to 8 Guests: $5,795 per person
Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Additionally, some trips have minimum group sizes. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. This trip is rated 1+, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The activities on this trip range from 1-3 hours. The walking terrain is usually gradual, although you may encounter occasional steep sections. Most walks are on unpaved paths and trails, with minimal vehicle support. Trails, at times, may be wet and slick with mud.
San José, Costa Rica
Most Convenient Airport:Juan Santamaría International Airport (airport code: SJO)
Meeting Time and Place:Your guide(s) will meet you on the first day at the airport upon your arrival.
Departure Time and Place:Your guide(s) will provide drop-offs at the airport after breakfast.
The temperature in Costa Rica is influenced by altitude, and varies little over the course of the year. In San José, average temps are between 59 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. When cold fronts move in, as they can at any time of year, the weather can turn cooler and wetter, typically for a few days. The coastal areas are typically much warmer, with average lows in the mid to upper 70s and highs in the mid 90s. In the afternoons, humidity is in the mid-to-high 60 percent range.
You may obtain more detailed weather information by visiting www.weatherbase.com.
The dry season is from December to April. The highlands are truly dry at this time of year, typically with only one or two rainy days per month (although if a cold front comes in, a rainy pattern can prevail even during the dry season). The Caribbean coastal region tends to have more consistent rainforest weather patterns, and can have rain year-round, usually limited to afternoon showers in the dry season.
The rainy season (or green season) begins in May and lasts until late October. During the day, skies are generally sunny, though they often give way to afternoon showers.
It is important that you come prepared for a variety of weather conditions regardless of the time of year. Over the course of your trip, you will likely encounter both cool, rainy weather and warm, sunny weather. Please be prepared with clothing for both.
Costa Rican cuisine is simple, and chefs use few spices. Comida tipica, or native dishes, rely heavily on rice and beans, the basis of many Costa Rican meals. Gallo pinto, the national dish of fried rice and black beans, is commonly served as a breakfast staple, and eggs, fruit, and meats are available as well. At lunch, gallo pinto becomes casado: rice and beans supplemented with cabbage-and-tomato salad, fried plantains, and meat. Vegetables are not a large part of the diet; food staples primarily include carne (beef), pollo (chicken), and pescado (fish). Although a variety of seafood is not widely available, you will find sea bass and farm-raised, freshwater tilapia on some menus. Vegetarians can be accommodated with advance notice, though choices tend to be more limited.
Although Jimmy is now mostly settled in Costa Rica, he has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Latin America. His travels have helped him acquire a unique understanding of other cultures that he has been able to apply as a guide. Jimmy admits that Italy is his favorite destination (after his native Costa Rica) and is where he discovered his talent for Italian cooking.
Jimmy is fluent in English, Italian, and French and has been guiding since 2000. With an exceptional sense of humor, he excels at sharing his knowledge of Costa Rican culture and nature with others.
A native "Tiko" (as Costa Ricans are called), Nancy was studying advertising when she was asked to train and guide in Tortuguero National Park. This experience led her to follow her childhood dream to work in nature, and she is proud to celebrate over 20 years of leading groups in her country and abroad.
Nancy has taken extensive courses in natural history, botany, ornithology, and archaeology, among many others. Along with her husband Glenn, she enjoys nature walks, bird watching, photography, music, traveling, and cooking.
Nancy is a gifted guide who always has a smile on her face and instills confidence in her group. Her knowledge and easy-going manner makes Nancy a favorite guide for family tours!
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Walking, hiking, & kayaking 1-4 hours per day (no boating experience necessary)
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
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