Costa Rica Coast to Coast

14 days
from
£3,219
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Traveller ratings
4.3 / 5 from 4 reviews >
Moderate
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Trip code: 
TAL
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Walking & Trekking Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
6–16

From the Caribbean to the Pacific, the best of Costa Rica on foot 

Follow handpicked walking trails in search of wildlife, waterfalls and outstanding views. From emerald rainforests, smouldering volcanoes and tropical savannah, to steam-fed springs and bubbling mud pools, vibrant Costa Rica is a destination that always delivers. Country tracks or forest trails lead us to a number of waterfalls, where mineral rich water provides the perfect refresher after a day's walking.

Highlights

  • Travel from the Caribbean to the Pacific coast
  • Day walks to waterfalls through diverse scenery
  • National parks, forests and volcanoes
  • Comfortable eco-friendly lodges and hotels

Key information

  • 5 daywalks and 3 shorter walks with vehicle support
  • Altitude maximum 1916m, average 230m
  • 12 nights in a mixture of standard and comfortable hotels and eco-lodges

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners included
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations

8

Pace:

Moderate walks of approx. 2 - 6.5 hours 

Terrain:

Walking is typically on good, well marked trails with a max altitude of 1916m

Day by day breakdown
Day 24.0km/2.0miles
Day 43.0km/1.0miles
Day 510.0km/6.0miles
Day 616.0km/9.0miles
Day 77.0km/4.0miles
Day 816.0km/9.0miles
Day 99.0km/5.0miles
Day 1014.0km/8.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Fly to San Jose.

    Those on group flights will arrive in the evening and be transferred from the airport to the hotel. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon/evening. This evening's welcome briefing is the perfect opportunity to meet your guide and get to know your fellow travellers.

    Accommodation: Hotel Balmoral (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    To Tortuguero N.P.; short coastal walk.

    Our adventure begins early this morning, leaving San Jose behind as we travel to the north-east of Costa Rica to Tortuguero National Park. Accessible only by boat or light aircraft, Tortuguero's vast network of waterways, canals and swamps is remarkably tranquil, unspoilt and devoid of noise pollution. On reaching the pier at La Pavona we board a small motorboat for the one hour fifteen minute journey to our lodge, which is nestled on a small strip of land between the Caribbean Sea and the main lagoon. This afternoon we visit Tortuguero village (which lies on a thin strip of land between the sea and the main canal) and take a short walk following a pathway parallel to the coastline. Tortuguero is probably most famous as a nesting site for the endangered Green turtle, which can be seen arriving onto the beach to lay eggs from late July to October (as part of an optional excursion). Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Giant Leatherback turtles also nest in this region, and during November to January baby turtles start to hatch and make their way towards the ocean. Today's travel time will be in the region of six hours including a break for breakfast.

    Total walking distance: 4km. Time: approx. 1 hour.

    Accommodation: Laguna Lodge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Boat tour of Tortuguero; kayak the waterways.

    An early morning boat trip enables us to discover the extraordinary flora and fauna of Tortuguero, passing serenely along the waterways. At this time of day wildlife is usually at its most active and with the help of our expert guide we are likely to encounter monkeys, caiman, iguanas, butterflies and many of the 300+ bird species recorded here. We return to the lodge for a hearty breakfast by the river. This afternoon we take a kayaking tour through the jungle lagoons to have a different perspective on the forest, navigating the streams, canals and rivers. Alternatively the lodge is a tranquil spot to relax if you want to take some time out to enjoy the facilities this afternoon.

    Accommodation: Laguna Lodge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    El Toro Waterfall walk; to La Fortuna near Arenal Volcano.

    We leave Tortuguero the same way we arrived by taking a small boat to the pier. Our bus will be at the pier waiting to drive us to the region of La Fortuna, passing huge banana, pineapple and sugar cane plantations. On the way we stop for a short walk in the area of Bajos del Toro, where the highest and most impressive waterfall of the country is located. Our walking trail takes us all the way to the bottom of the waterfall, which empties at a height of 90 metres into an old extinct volcanic crater. There are several fantastic viewpoints on the first 500 metres of the trail, which is generally flat and surrounded by forest. Over 27 species of hummingbird have been recorded here! The second part of the trail is steep, following concrete steps with hand railings which lead all the way to the base of the waterfall, where the striking rock formations and colours will leave you in awe. We continue our journey to Arenal, reaching the Arenal Volcano National Park in time for a short walk. Following a massive eruption in 1968, Arenal was Costa Rica's most active volcano until recently when it entered a resting phase. As well as the volcano, this region has much to offer, including thermal waters, waterfalls and dense vegetation.

    Total walking distance: 3km. Time: approx. 2 hours.

    Accommodation: Arenal Montechiari, Casa Luna or Lomas del Volcan (or similar)
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Cerro Chato Volcano hike; walk to La Fortuna Waterfall; optional visit to Ecotermales Hot Springs.

    Flanking the south east side of Arenal Volcano is Cerro Chato, a dormant volcano that has been inactive for 3,500 years. One of the first eruptions of Chato Volcano resulted in a lava flow which paved the way for La Fortuna Waterfall. As well as it's two peaks, there is a 500 metre wide former crater filled with water that has a mirror-like surface. Our hike will pass through dense rainforest and alongside the crystaline waters of the crater lagoon, where we can stop for a paddle. There are plenty of viewpoints across the San Carlos Valley and back towards Arenal Volcano, as well as the chance to see some of the regions plentiful wildlife. Our walk ends at La Fortuna Waterfall, where we can have a refreshing swim before returning to our accommodation. After today's hike there is an optional visit to Ecotermales Hot Springs to relax any aching muscles!

    Total walking distance: 10km. Time: approx. 6.5 hours.

    Accommodation: Arenal Montechiari, Casa Luna or Lomas del Volcan (or similar)
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Walk in the Tenorio region, surrounded by forest, pasturelands and plantations.

    We depart towards the Tenorio region, where the famous Rio Celeste National Park is located. We begin in Nuevo Arenal and from here taking country roads our walk encompasses pasturelands, cattle farms, patches of secondary forest and wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. Our overnight location is in Tenorio, where we stay for the next two nights.

    Total walking distance: 16 km. Time: approx. 5 hours.

    Accommodation: Celeste Mountain Lodge or Rio Celeste Hideaway (or similar)
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    Walk along the river in Rio Celeste National Park.

    After breakfast we travel to the Rio Celeste National Park where we join a hiking trail along the river towards 'Tenideros'. After merging with a small creak this section of the river takes on a striking blue turquoise colour, the result of components such as copper and sulphur reacting together. There is a legend that says the colour was created when God washed his paintbrushes in the river after painting the sky. It's a beautiful trail, leading towards the magnificent Rio Celeste Waterfall. This afternoon we return to our hotel and have the afternoon at leisure to rest and enjoy the hotel facilities.

    Total walking distance: 7km. Time: approx. 4 hours.

    Accommodation: Celeste Mountain Lodge or Rio Celeste Hideaway (or similar)
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 8

    Hike from Miravalles Volcano to Aguas Claras with views of Rincon de la Vieja N.P.

    We depart early towards the area of Rincon de la Vieja, an area that combines dry forest with enchanting waterfalls and is best known for its bubbling mud pots, steaming vents in the earth, hot springs and a whole host of wildlife. The starting point of our hike will be close to the Miravalles Volcano, from which we walk towards Aguas Claras town along a gravel road. Taking in pasturelands and patches of secondary forest, we have great views of the tropical savannah and the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. At the end of today's walk we continue by bus to our hotel, which we should arrive at later this afternoon.

    Total walking distance: 16 km. Time: approx. 5 hours.

    Accommodation: Hacienda Guachipelin (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Follow walking trails to the 'cauldrons' and waterfall in Rincon de la Vieja N.P.

    Covering some 14,804 hectares, Rincon de la Vieja National Park is full of geological features and has the active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano (1895m) within its boundaries, as well as a series of other craters and volcanic peaks. This region is still relatively undiscovered but is starting to attract more visitors. This morning we walk inside the national park, widely regarded as one of Costa Rica's hidden gems. We have a one and a half hour hike through the park along a pre-defined trail, the highlight of which is likely to be our visit to Las Pailas, the bubbling mud pools that flank the volcanic crater. Steaming fumaroles and hot springs are also found in park, attesting to how active the volcano is! This afternoon we take La Cangreja Waterfall trail walking through tropical forest and Guanacaste savannah. If we are lucky we may see Howler monkeys, White-faced Capuchin monkeys or any of the 257 species of birds present here. The waterfall is spectacular, plunging 40 metres and forming a clear blue pool at its base as a result of the dissolved copper minerals from the volcano.

    Total walking distance: 8.5 km. Time: approx. 6.5 hours.

    Accommodation: Hacienda Guachipelin (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Hike in Guanacaste Conservation Area; to Samara beach on the Pacific coast.

    We drive towards the Horizontes Dry Forest Experimental Station this morning, located in the Gulf of Papagayo and connected to the Santa Rosa National Park. Once a cattle ranch, the area was rescued by the Guanacaste Conservation Area for protection of the dry forest ecosystem. Our hike will take us through the forest, following the river and leading us to another fantastic waterfall. After today's walk we transfer around 2.5 hours to the Pacific coast and Samara beach, our home for the next two nights.

    Total walking distance: 14 km. Time: approx. 5.5 hours.

    Accommodation: Samara Beach Hotel (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Free day to enjoy Samara beach or sign up for an optional activity.

    Samara beach is one of the best kept secrets in Costa Rica! The broad, shady bay stretches for 4 km and is backed by coconut palms. The water is calm and safe for swimming thanks to a coral reef just out to sea on which the normally large, Pacific waves break before reaching the beach. There are plenty of facilities in Samara but there's a noticeable absense of big resort hotels, which makes for a nice atmosphere. Today has been left free for you to spend at your leisure. Spend time relaxing on the beach or join one of the optional excursions available in the area such as a boat tour to see dolphins, kayaking tour or mountain biking.

    Accommodation: Samara Beach Hotel (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Free morning at Samara; to San Jose.

    This morning is free to enjoy Samara beach before we leave the Nicoya peninsula and transfer back to San Jose, a journey of approximately 4.5 hours.

    Accommodation: Hotel Balmoral (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Depart San Jose.

    The trip comes to an end today after breakfast and it's time to bid Costa Rica and the rest of the group goodbye. Those on the group flights will be transferred back to the airport, whilst land only clients are free to make their own arrangements.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Arrive London.

    Those on the group flights arrive back into London today.

Essential Info

Visas

Costa Rica

Holders of British, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and most EU passports can enter Costa Rica for a stay of 90 days without a visa. Proof of onward travel may be required when entering Costa Rica - we suggest you take a print out of your flight details in case officials ask to see them.
All passengers flying via the USA will have to clear immigration during transit. Prior to travel you must apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (USD14) under the Visa Waiver Programme. Please see www.exodus.co.uk/USVisa for more information. If you are not a UK citizen please check with your local U.S. Embassy.

Vaccinations

Costa Rica

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. The symptoms and impact of the disease is not serious, but a significant risk to foetus development has recently been highlighted. Therefore, if you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant you should seek additional advice from a health professional. The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up‐to‐date information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners are included.

Hotel breakfasts are normally buffet style. Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests.

Costa Rican specialities include 'Gallo Pinto', a black bean and rice dish considered to be a staple part of the local diet. Soups and stews are also common, and fresh fruit is abundant and will no doubt be one of the highlights of your time in the tropics.

Weather

Costa Rica is located 10º north of the equator and has a tropical climate. The average temperature range is 10ºC - 13ºC in the highlands, and from 22ºC - 26ºC in the lowlands. There is a rainy season from May to November when there are daily downpours, though these are usually quite short and there is still plenty of bright sunshine, so midsummer is not necessarily a bad time to go. December to April is the driest time of the year but you should still expect some rain.

Is this trip for you?

This trip has been graded 3, Moderate.

There are 5 daywalks and 3 shorter walks. Walking is typically on good trails leading to viewpoints of volcanoes or waterfalls. There are some opportunities to swim in natural pools and waterfalls. As the climate in Costa Rica is fairly humid, a reasonable level of fitness is recommended for this trip. We reach a maximum altitude of 1916m and the average altitude is 230m. There is only very limited walking available in Tortuguero due to it being a region of vast waterways and canals. Tortuguero is included as this is such an iconic highlight when visiting Costa Rica.

Accommodation

Hotels & lodges

12 nights in a mixture of standard and comfortable hotels and eco-lodges, all with en suite facilities.

From a rustic wooden lodge set in tropical gardens to a hotel overlooking the Pacific ocean, most of the properties that we use are small, family run establishments offering a warm welcome and relaxing surroundings.

Optional single supplement available, please see Dates & Prices.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed May 2017
    Marilyn Boyce
    This is a wonderful trip with so much wildlife to see and hear! .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Like the other reviews, kayaking in Tortuguera was my favourite part. It's one of those 'good for the soul' things where you feel at one with nature. Seeing a troop of monkeys crashing through the trees with a baby in tow was very special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pedro and Katia were excellent and attentive guides. Both are keen birdwatchers with a keen eye and encyclopedic knowledge. Pedro often organized an extra early-morning stroll to maximize our bird-spotting.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't underestimate how draining the humidity and heat can be. A couple of the walks are on open rolling hills and the duration meant we were out at midday so take heaps of water. A camel pack is easer than water bottles.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This really was an excellent trip and the accommodation far surpassed my expectations.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Mary Mckean
    A fantastic experience with a great group of people. Loved most activities , especially seeing all the wild life while kayaking in Tortuguero Natioal Park. Climbing Cerro Chato was a challenge due to humidity, but very self - satisfying to have reached the summit. As a break from the hiking, getting a chance to do canopying and horseback riding, for me, was a must - do activity while in Costa Rica.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Kayaking in Tortuguero, watching beautiful birds flitting from branch to branch, seeing three species of monkeys clinging from branches (some moms with babies on their back), being woken by the howl of the howler monkeys, climbing a volcano, walking in the rain and cloud forests to waterfalls and turquoise ponds, admiring the beautiful fauna, relaxing at beautiful lodges. I could go on and on.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pedro was fantastic- very knowledgeable about all flora and fauna and passionate about his country. Great personality.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take lots of sunscreen, a water bottle, a hat, insect repellant and expect to be challenged.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Costa Rica is a beautiful country with amazing wildlife. A must see!S
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Cheryl Mulholland
    If you are from the northern hemisphere this is a trip that verify the wonderful pictures one sees of the tropics.. Also, it will introduce you to the unknown -- for me -- a cashew tree or a pineapple plant growing. All very exciting.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Early Morning (6-8AM) boat tour at Tortuguera. We saw so much wild life & vegetation. What a wonderful start to our tour. Also at Tortuguera being educated about the green turtles was wonderful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Friendly, helpful, engaging, knowledgeable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Big hats or umbrellas -- breathable clothing -- good sunscreen. If you do not regularly walk hills -- train before you do this tour.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Try to get early start to your activities to avoid the mid day heat (as much as possible).
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Philip Arthur
    A brilliant 12 days, with a feast of wildlife, walking, and relaxing in the company of our very convivial group of 7 plus excellent guide.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The start of the trip in Tortuguero..including the river journey to get there. The place is a real feast of new and exotic birds and animals; it set the bar really high for the rest of the trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pedro..he was really excellent. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the plants, birds and animals, not to mention his country and it's history and geography. He also had a terrific sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you take plenty of water on walks. Very hot and humid.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do go! An unmissable feast of wildlife.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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