Coatimundi crossing a jungle road with cyclist, Costa Rica

Cycle Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama
Programmes:
Cycling
Trip Code:
MUC
Activity Rating - Moderate/Challenging
Moderate / Challenging

You are moderately fit and have an interest in remote or challenging environments. Some previous experience is required for activity based trips.

17 Days Flight Inclusive
15 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

Starting in the graceful colonial city of Granada and ending in bustling Panama City, our route takes us into Costa Rica's steamy rainforests, alongside active volcanoes and to the tropical island paradise of Bocas del Toro. We explore the island of Ometepe at Lake Nicaragua, search for Howler monkeys whilst rafting on the Tenorio River, and ride through rural villages along the Caribbean coast. Our journey ends with a cycle near the Panama Canal, following our visit to the famous Miraflores Locks. 

At a Glance

  • 11 nights comfortable hotels, 3 nights standard hotels all en suite
  • 12 days cycling with full vehicle support
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader and staff. Min age 16 yrs.

 

Trip Highlights

  • Cycle through three different countries in two weeks
  • Relax on the Pacific beaches and the idyllic Caribbean islands of Bocas del Toro
  • Discover the dramatic Ometepe Island, with its twin volcanic peaks
  • Ride along the Panama Canal, see the colossal Miraflores Locks in action
  • Look out for wildlife in Costa Rica’s national parks

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is classified Road.
Activity Level: 4 (Moderate/Challenging).
Please see the introductory pages of the cycling holidays brochure or our website for more important information on classification and grading.
Average daily distance: 44km (27 miles)
Number of days cycling: 12
Vehicle Support: 100%
Terrain and route: surface 80% tarmac, 20% unpaved track, some hills and generally rolling terrain.

Our routes follow quiet back roads where possible. In Costa Rica, as we make our way from the Northwest corner of the country to our exit at the Southeast corner, there will be sections where we will use roads with heavy traffic. This is because in some regions they are the only paved roads available.

This tour covers some remote parts of the region. Though many of the roads are in good condition, there can be potholes and poor road conditions in some sections. The roads are generally free of heavy traffic until we reach towns. In the harder areas there are some longish climbs, requiring good fitness, (particularly as the region is invariably hot and humid) and also some steep descents.

This is a busy itinerary as we cover 3 countries, but we do so in the comfort of a private air-conditioned minibus. There are some long journeys, the longest being on Day 13 (approx. 5-6 hours) and Day 9 (approx. 4-5 hours). The driving is broken up as much as possible with rest stops, and our wonderful tour leaders use this time to talk about everything and anything relating to their country!

Occasionally it may not be possible to follow the itinerary exactly as planned. Leaders will always watch for hazardous traffic situations, road closures, ferry cancellations etc. and look for alternate routes/solutions whenever required. In all such cases that involve shortening a cycling stage, every effort will be made to recover lost mileage (or missed visits) later in the trip.

Proof of a Yellow Fever vaccination is required in Nicaragua if arriving from a Yellow Fever country which includes a number of Latin American and African countries. 

Please note it is now compulsory to produce a Yellow Fever certificate if you spend more than 24 hours in Panama before flying into Nicaragua. 

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

Full groups will be accompanied by a leader, driver and two additional guides/bike mechanics.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
4
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Granada
End City:
Panama City

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Granada.

    Those on the group flight land into Managua and will be transferred to Granada (approx. 1 hour). Those on land only arrangements should make their own way to the start hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.

    Hotel Patio del Malinche, Granada (or similar)

  • Day 2

    Ride along shore of Lake Nicaragua; visit Masaya Volcano N.P.

    After breakfast, we have an overall tour briefing as well as indications for the initial cycling stage. Any last-minute adjustments to the bikes are made before we set off towards the shore of Lake Nicaragua. As we reach the lakeshore, we enter into the Asese Peninsula recreation area, a beautiful protected area, where the traffic is kept to a minimum and several species of exotic birds can be spotted. Our lunch stop offers stunning views of the large volcanic mass of Mombacho.

    Upon arrival back at our hotel, we’ll have time for a swim or stroll along La Calzada, Granada’s main pedestrian street. In the late afternoon we will head for the popular Mirador Catarina, overlooking pretty Laguna Apoyo. Our Sunday visit will allow us to experience the local people enjoying the wonderful view while being entertained by strolling marimba bands and souvenir vendors. Afterwards we will head for the Masaya Volcano National Park for a night visit to observe molten lava bubbling away in the depths of the huge crater. It may also be possible to spot the 'Chocoyos', a sub-species of parakeet which nests in the crater walls, having evolved to become resistant to the constant emissions of sulphuric gas. Due to safety concerns, the visit to the crater is limited to 15 minutes (and occasionally the park is closed altogether). We then return to Granada for dinner.

    Gradual descent down to the lakeshore, then virtually flat (but bumpy) out to the tip of the Asese Peninsula. The roads are 65% paved, 35% dirt/rock.

    Hotel Patio del Malinche, Granada (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 26 km / 16 miles
  • Day 3

    Transfer to San Jorge; ferry to Ometepe Island and cycle to fresh water spring.

    After breakfast we transfer (approx. 1.5 hours) south to the port of San Jorge on Lake Nicaragua, where we will board the vehicle ferry for the 1 hour trip out to fantastic Ometepe Island, with the twin volcanoes of Concepcion and Masaya dominating the view. Upon arrival at busy Moyogalpa, we start our cycling with a stretch around the west face of Concepcion, the active volcano on Ometepe. We then continue with a climb up and over the isthmus which leads out to rainforest clad Maderas, the extinct volcano on Ometepe. Our destination is lovely Ojo de Agua fresh water spring ($5 entry fee), where we will have lunch, and enjoy a swim in the cool, crystal-clear spring water, a welcome respite on a hot day. Afterwards we get back on our bikes to head for the wildlife-filled Charco Verde Lagoon, where our hotel is set. The west facing location right on the lake allows for some spectacular tropical sunsets, as well as the possibility to take a dip in the warm waters of Lago Cocibolca, the Indigenous name for Lake Nicaragua.

    The roads are all paved except for the final half mile to Charco Verde.

    Hotel Charco Verde, Isla Ometepe (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 37 km / 23 miles
  • Day 4

    Ferry to mainland; ride to San Juan del Sur.

    Today we depart the hotel around 10:30am, which gives us some free time beforehand to hike the trails around the lagoon to spot more wildlife or relax on the beach and admire the view. For keen cyclists looking for a challenge, an early morning ride along the single-track trails within the Charco Verde Reserve ($2 entry fee for hotel guests) is a great start to the day. Those looking for a hike can do the same trails; make sure to bring your camera as the reserve is full of wildlife, best seen in the early morning. 

    Departing the hotel, we cycle to Moyogalpa and get the ferry back to the mainland. We then hop on the saddle again for a ride to Rivas, the largest city in southern Nicaragua, and then along La Chocolata Road towards San Juan del Sur, a Pacific beach town. The road takes us through dry forest where we may see (or hear!) Howler monkeys and spot large iguanas. We also pass through several small villages which experience no tourism other than our biking groups. If you plan to bring any gifts for local people, the children and teachers in the small rural schools along the way really appreciate pencils, pens and crayons. After finishing the mild climb which then drops us onto the Pacific side of Nicaragua, we ride just a bit further west to the beautiful beach ‘Playa Marsella’, in time for a late afternoon swim. Our hotel for this evening is close to the main San Juan del Sur beach, a great place to watch the sunset or simply enjoy the hotel pool.

    Along mostly level roads with some mild climbs. The road is 60% well-groomed dirt and 40% paved.

    Hotel Gran Oceano, San Juan del Sur (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 45 km / 28 miles
  • Day 5

    Ride from Pacific to Lake Nicaragua; transfer to Costa Rica.

    Starting early to avoid the heat, we cycle over the continental divide and down to a backroad (subject to road/weather conditions) near La Virgen, which then take us on to Sapoa, close to the border with Costa Rica. We then have a 5 minute transfer which will take us to Peñas Blancas where we will exit Nicaragua. After clearing immigration on the Costa Rica side, we will stop for lunch near La Cruz and then continue south along the Pan Am highway to just outside Cañas, another good sized town. Our arrival will be late in the afternoon due to ongoing highway constructions.

    Initial climb departing San Juan del Sur, then gradual descent to near La Virgen. Back road to Sapoa is mild rolling terrain, graded dirt. 40% paved / 60% dirt

    Hotel Hacienda La Pacifica, Cañas (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 44 km / 27 miles
  • Day 6

    Wildlife trip on Tenorio River; Bijagua valley ride; ride to Lake Arenal.

    This morning we get out of the saddle early in the morning for a 2 hour float down the Tenorio River, a haven for birds and wildlife. As our raft takes us gently along the river, we can expect to see several species of monkey, iguanas, coatis and a wide range of birds. There are also crocodiles along the lower stretch of the river and our experienced guides will not only handle the oars but will also point out as many species as possible. This is likely to be a big wildlife highlight of the trip! Afterwards, we transfer up to near Bijagua, then cycle back down to the Pan American Highway before lunch. After our meal we head up to the hilly region surrounding Lake Arenal where our afternoon biking stage will begin. This is quite a challenging section and although the distance is short there are several climbs and it can also be rather windy. The rewards are the spectacular views of the lake with the surrounding hills and Arenal Volcano off to the east.

    Morning stage is fast downhill after climbing out from Bijagua but can be pot-holed. Afternoon stage from outside Tilaran to Mystica includes several fairly steep climbs through rolling hills. 100% paved.

    Mystica Resort, Lake Arenal (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 50 km / 31 miles
  • Day 7

    Cycle to La Fortuna.

    After breakfast we set off on our bikes towards La Fortuna. This is one of the most spectacular cycling stages, starting in lush agricultural land which gradually gives way to thick rainforest as we approach the dam which forms Lake Arenal. Watch out for monkeys, toucans and the amazingly colourful neon-blue Morpho butterflies as we cycle. If it's clear the dam is a great place to take a break for a wonderful view of Arenal Volcano. The town of La Fortuna is a major tourism destination within Costa Rica, so those looking for souvenirs will be well satisfied.

    Mostly on rolling hills with some short but fairly steep climbs, followed by fast downhill to La Fortuna. The road is 95% paved and 5% dirt or gravel.

    Hotel San Bosco, La Fortuna (or similar) 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 61 km / 38 miles
  • Day 8

    Ride up from tropical lowlands with views of Arenal volcano; visit thermal springs.

    Today’s ride follows a circular route through the region surrounding La Fortuna, taking in a great variety of terrain and ecosystems. Starting from the hotel, we head south toward Chachagua, then divert to a backroad leading to El Bosque where we pass through agricultural land devoted to bananas and sugar cane before heading into a rugged hilly zone leading back towards rainforest near the small town of La Tigre. Toucans are especially common here and there are some incredible views of the jungle and Arenal Volcano. As we approach La Fortuna again, there is one final steep climb before we reach our hotel. This evening we include a visit to the Eco-Termales Hot Springs to soothe any aching muscles – the best hot springs in the area!

    Paved roads, mostly level for the first half, followed by several challenging climbs.

    Please note: Traffic can be heavy near La Fortuna; a modified route may be selected.

    Hotel San Bosco, La Fortuna (or similar) 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 53 km / 33 miles
  • Day 9

    Morning easy ride; short afternoon cycle near the Caribbean coast.

    We have another early start today as we head east into the rolling terrain of the San Carlos plains, riding through rich agricultural zones, sugar cane and pineapple plantations and rural villages. We are generally descending on this leg, which levels off as we get closer to Muelle where we conclude the morning stage. Have your cameras handy upon arrival, as there is a population of large iguanas posing while the staff will load the bikes for the transfer out to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. As we will be crossing a large portion of Costa Rica, this is a long transfer (approx. 4-5 hours). Just outside the busy port of Limon we put the bikes back into use for a short ride using a more tranquil back road which will take us to the main coastal highway at Rio Banano, we then have a short transfer to the southern zone of the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Our destination is bustling Puerto Viejo, a popular destination on this coast of Costa Rica.

    Morning stage fast descent leaving La Fortuna, then level out to Muelle. Afternoon stage fully level  100% paved for both stages.

    Hotel Escape Caribeño, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (or similar) 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 43 km / 27 miles
  • Day 10

    Ride to Panama border; boat to Bocas del Toro islands.

    Today we begin riding south at the base of the towering Talamanca Mountains. We follow the main coastal road at first before turning off to the indigenous community of Bri-Bri, home to members of the Guaymi tribe. We may see some of the traditionally dressed women in flowing embroidered dresses as we pass through this area. The ride continues through vast banana plantations to the border crossing on the banks of the Sixaola River. After a quick lunch we leave Costa Rica and cross to Guabito, the Panamanian port of entry. After the border formalities, we board the bus through the frontier town of Changuinola, and then through steep rainforest hills which are inhabited by indigenous people. We hit the coast and embark on a private boat transfer to cross into the Caribbean to the wonderful Bocas del Toro Islands, our home for the next two nights.

    Mostly flat roads, although there are some climbs as we head to Bri-Bri. The roads are paved although there are often potholes and washouts close to the border.

    Hotel Gran Bahia, Bocas del Toro (or similar) 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 47 km / 29 miles
  • Day 11

    Free day in Bocas del Toro.

    We enjoy a free day today to explore the beautiful Bocas del Toro Islands, which are rapidly becoming a popular destination in the Caribbean. Today you will get a chance to see why: spectacular palm-shaded white sand beaches, crystal clear water, wonderful snorkelling and diving, lots of wildlife, kayaking and even great surfing are all available! It's also possible to take boat trips to the other islands, or go on dolphin-watching tours. All of these optional activities can be arranged through the hotel or nearby tour agencies whom we have long-established relationships with.

    For those who want to ride today, biking is available on the island and the 32km round trip to Bocas del Drago on the island's western tip is recommended. Our bikes will stay on the mainland at Almirante, but other bikes can be hired locally.

    Hotel Gran Bahia, Bocas del Toro (or similar) 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Jungle ride; descent to Pan-Am Highway; transfer to Pacific coast.

    After taking a private boat back to the mainland, we drive to Punta Robalo for a ride through beautiful jungle scenery. After lunch we transfer (approx. 1.5 hours) through the mountains that separate Panama's two coastlines after which we begin our second ride of the day. The change in temperature, humidity and eco-systems are significant as we gain altitude. At the top of the pass we find beautiful Lago Fortuna, set in a rainforest-clad tropical valley. We then have a fast downhill ride with great mountain views and several river crossings to Gualaca and the Pan-Am Highway beyond. Upon meeting the Pan American Highway junction, we board the minibus for the drive down to Las Lajas, an isolated Pacific beach which stretches for miles. Here we can enjoy a great tropical sunset while relaxing under the shade of a palm thatch palapa. 

    Some moderate hills near start, then level AM / Fast downhill to Pacific plain then some short climbs near finish PM. 100% paved.

    Las Lajas Beach Resort, Playa Las Lajas (or similar) 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 60 km / 37 miles
  • Day 13

    Tropical lowland forest ride; transfer to Panama City.

    We have an early start today as we avoid the heat and traffic on our ride through the Panamanian countryside. We take a short drive to Guabala, a customs/passport control point on the Pan Am highway, and once our documents have been checked, we will offload the bikes for a fairly challenging ride through a quite remote and hilly section of the western portion of Veraguas Province. Some of the morning's ride takes us along remote backroads past large sugar plantations and through dry tropical forest. We finish cycling close to the town of Jorones, where we start our transfer to Panama City (approx. 5-6 hours), with a quick lunch stop in Santiago, the main city in this part of Panama. We cross the famous canal where we're very likely to see huge ships as they make the journey between the Caribbean and the Pacific. Our hotel is located in the suburb of Albrook, where many opulent residences are a testament to the days when US military officers and Canal Authority officials lived in the city.

    Level start but becoming increasingly hilly during the middle section. The last stage is level again and the road is fully paved.

    Please note: A different stage may be selected if the weather conditions are very hot.

    Hotel Holiday Inn Panama Canal, Panama City (or similar) 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 38 km / 24 miles
  • Day 14

    Ride alongside the Panama Canal.

    Our final day is truly memorable, as we travel along a stretch of the Panama Canal to observe some of the highlights. Starting from our hotel which overlooks the Pacific entrance to the canal, we transfer to the Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre (entry fee to museum and video presentation included) to view the process of raising and lowering the ship traffic. We then have a short transfer to the entry point of the Soberana National Park, where we will enjoy a final biking stage through lush rainforest. Our biking concludes with lunch at lovely Los Lagartos, set over Lago Gamboa, with the canal as a back-drop. This offers a great photo opportunity as ships pass by during their transit. After lunch we transfer back to our hotel for some free time or a swim. In the afternoon we visit the World Heritage Site of Casco Viejo, the historic old portion of Panama City. We will have our final group dinner in the Casco Viejo this evening. 

    This is mostly level along the canal, but with some climbing within the Soberana Park. The main road is fully paved.

    Hotel Holiday Inn Panama Canal, Panama City (or similar) 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 13 km / 8 miles
  • Day 15

    End Panama City.

    Our trip ends after breakfast this morning, and those on group flights will be transferred to the international airport for the return journey to the UK.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

Accommodation

Hotels

14 nights in a mixture of comfortable and standard hotels, with two-night stays at four of the properties used.

Nicaragua:

In Granada, we usually stay at Hotel Patio del Malinche which is a restored Colonial house located in the centre of this historical town. Rooms are arranged around a pretty courtyard with a swimming pool, and all have aircon and WiFi. On Isla Ometepe our accommodation is usually the Hotel Charco Verde, situated on the shore of Lake Nicaragua and in the protected area of the natural reserve with amazing views of the Concepcion volcano. In San Juan del Sur, we usually stay at the Hotel Gran Oceano, just a short walk to the beach and again with rooms set around a courtyard garden. There is a swimming pool, air conditioning and free Wifi available.

Costa Rica:

Our first night in Costa Rica will be at the Hotel Hacienda La Pacifica, in the area of Cañas. The rustic style hotel is located in a tranquil area with a good chance of seeing exotic birds in the garden. When we visit Lake Arenal we usually stay at the Mystica Resort. The lodge sits atop a rolling green hill and is surrounded by lush gardens. The rooms don't have TV or WiFi, but there is free WiFi in the reception and restaurant area. In La Fortuna our accommodation will be Hotel San Bosco, located right in the centre of La Fortuna which is a lively town with plenty of great restaurants to choose from. In Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, our accommodation will normally be at the Hotel Escape Caribeño. This peaceful hotel is a short walk away from the beach and a 10 minute walk away from the town.

Panama:

In Bocas del Toro we usually stay at the Hotel Gran Bahia for two nights, set in an antique wooden building that is located opposite the beach. It also has free WiFi. Our accommodation at Playa Las Lajas is the Las Lajas Beach Resort. The resort is located directly on the beach with a beach front pool and bar/restaurant, as well as hammocks. For the last two nights of the trip we usually stay at the Hotel Holiday Inn Panama Canal. The hotel has comfortable rooms, an outdoor pool and is located very close to the Panama Canal locks.

We can arrange single rooms throughout the trip (subject to availability). Please check with your sales consultant for availability and prices.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £595.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts included.

The trip price includes all breakfasts throughout the trip. Restaurant stops for lunch and dinner are selected throughout the itinerary to allow you to try out good quality local cuisine. Expect to see a lot of the Costa Rican speciality 'gallo pinto' and a lot of rice, beans, fruit and grilled meats.

Most days we are on a fairly tight timing schedule, especially at lunchtimes when we have cycling stages and transfers in the afternoon. In order to help us save time and hassle when we are dining as a group, the leader will take a note of people's orders and settle the total group bill him/herself. The leader will then ask clients for individual payments at a convenient time before leaving Nicaragua and then again before leaving Costa Rica. We find that this method is the most efficient, however if you object then you are of course free to opt out.

Transportation

The support vehicle will carry all your luggage and personal belongings. The vehicle will follow the riders all of the time, allowing you to cycle as much or as little as you like.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama lie between 5º and 15º north of the equator, and have an almost perfect tropical climate. The average temperature is 10-13ºC in the highlands, and 22-28ºC in the lowlands. There is a rainy season from May to October when there may be daily downpours, though these are usually quite short and there is still plenty of bright sunshine. November to April is the driest time of the year but you should still expect some rain, particularly in the cloud forests. August offers moderate temperatures.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive

17 days, normally depart London Fri, return Sun

Itinerary Start

The group flight from London is an overnight flight.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Avianca (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up-to-date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only

15 days, normally start Granada Sat, end Panama City Sat

Taxis can be arranged through our start hotel 'Patio del Malinche' and will cost around US$60. Telephone: +505 2552-2235

Alternatively, there are plenty of taxis available at MGA airport which will cost around the same amount. These can be booked and paid for upon arrival at the terminal.

 

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it. 

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight ‐ please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

Location start:
Granada
Location end:
Panama City

What to Take

Essential Equipment

  • Cycling helmet (compulsory on this trip)
  • Cycling shorts
  • Waterproof jacket
  • High factor sun cream
  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand sanitiser

You must take your own helmet and ensure that you wear it at all times when cycling. The tour leader will not start a day's ride unless all clients comply with this legislation. Driving standards can be poor and it is sensible to avoid unnecessary risks. It tends to get dark at around 6pm all year round, but our rides will always be finished before this time.

Other recommended equipment or clothing:

  • Long sleeved shirts and light trousers – good for helping to keep mosquitoes off during the evenings
  • Mosquito repellent containing DEET 
  • Waterproof rain poncho or waterproofs
  • Warm sweater (for cloud forest)
  • Malaria protection

Please note that transit police in Nicaragua now request ownership documents for all bikes on this trip. If you are bringing your own bike from the UK, you should take a receipt or guarantee document for your bicycle with you to prove that you are the owner. If you cannot provide this, then a repair or service invoice from your bike shop should be sufficient to establish ownership. If the group is stopped by the police and this documentation cannot be provided, you may be liable for an on-the-spot fine.

On this trip we cross several borders. In order to ensure a smooth passage it is essential that you have proof of your onward travel arrangements – please take a printed copy of your flight itinerary, along with 3 copies of your passport.

At the start of the trip, our local staff will provide you with a print-out which features a much more detailed version of the daily itinerary. Two water bottles are also provided for each rider, and two holders are installed on the bike frames.

Optional Equipment

  • Your own saddle
  • Your own pedals
  • Cycling gloves
  • Water bottle (2 per person are provided)

Equipment Hire

Local Bike Details: Trek 3900 mountain bikes with front suspension (on Nicaragua rides), Scott Aspect 740/750 mountain bikes with front suspension (on Costa Rica and Panama rides).

Discount for bringing your own bike: £150.

A quality local hire bike is now included in the overall price of our cycling holidays. At the time of booking we will take your height in order to reserve equipment. There may on occasions be insufficient bikes available in the correct size; we will endeavour to find suitable alternative equipment but this cannot be guaranteed. We will tell you before you book whether suitably sized bikes are available.

Conditions

1. The equipment remains the property of the supplier and you may not sell, hire out or part possession with the equipment.

2. You must not misuse the equipment and must return it in the same condition as when received (ordinary wear and tear excepted). The supplier is entitled to charge for any damage caused to the equipment during the period of hire.

3. You must ensure that the equipment is adequately secured when not in use. In the event of the equipment being lost or stolen, you may be liable for the replacement value of the equipment

4. You must not use the equipment whilst under the influence of drink or drugs and should immediately notify the Supplier in the event of breakdown or loss.

Bringing Your Own Bike

If you prefer the familiarity of your own bike, you may, of course, bring it along. Please advise us at the time of booking and you will receive a discount off the price of the holiday, as specified above. You will be responsible for any extra baggage charges, please speak to our Sales team for individual airline fees. You will also be responsible for assembling and disassembling your bike as well as bringing along spare parts and any tools specific to it. Our cycling team only carry the relevant spares for the hire fleet. Any clients bringing their own bike should ensure they have adequate cover for loss, damage or theft under their travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy. If Exodus is confident that we have taken all reasonable care to ensure the safety of your bike, in the rare event of loss, damage or theft you will need to claim under your own insurance policy.

Extra Bike Bits

You may like to bring your own pedals and saddle (excluding the seat post) or gel saddle cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it is your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle/pedals at the end of the trip. We cannot guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.

Exodus Policy on Cycling Helmets

Wearing a helmet is mandatory for anyone taking part in any guided Exodus cycling holiday. Group members must bring their own helmets, as they are not available for hire, even if they are hiring a bike from Exodus.

For self-guided cycling holidays wearing a helmet is highly recommended. Customers who choose to ignore our advice do so entirely at their own risk and on the understanding that it may affect the validity of their travel insurance. It should also be noted that in some countries we travel to wearing a helmet is already a legal requirement.

Cycling of all kinds has its dangers and accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that you are properly prepared for the riding you are going to undertake.

Recommended Cycling Clothing

Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof/windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting daysack.

Reading List

The Rough Guide to Central America Various authors (Rough Guides) Popular and well-informed guide with extensive practical advice and information.
Pedalling to Panama Clive Parker An interesting account of a solo ride through Central America, including Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
Central America & Mexico Handbook Peter Hutchison (Footprint) Another informative and handy general guide to the region.
Costa Rica Handbook Christopher. P. Baker (Moon Publications)  An excellent and comprehensive guide.
A Guide to Birds of Costa Rica F.G. Stiles & A.F. Skutch (Cornell University Press) Although expensive (c. £40) it is the most comprehensive guide available for keen birdwatchers.

Practical Information

Passport

Costa Rica

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Nicaragua

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Panama

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

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 here for more information. The same applies to travel via Canada which also requires an Electronic Travel Authority. If you are not a UK citizen please check with your local U.S. Embassy. 

Nicaragua

Holders of British, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and most EU passports can enter Nicaragua without a visa - there is a charge of USD10 on entry for a tourist card.

Panama

Most nationalities, including Holders of British, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and most EU passports can enter Panama for 90 days without a visa.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

If you are travelling via the USA and are eligible to transit under the Visa Waiver Programme (most British and western European citizens with a machine readable passport are), you are now required to register in advance for an Electronic Travel Authority (ESTA). There is a US$14 charge for the ESTA, which is only payable online with a credit card. Please see our website www.exodus.co.uk/usvisa for further information. All other nonresidents passing through the US must get a visa in advance. Check with your local embassy or consulate for more details on how to obtain a visa.

Vaccination

Costa Rica

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements, however, if you have travelled to a country at risk of Yellow Fever prior to arriving in Costa Rica you will be required to have a valid Yellow Fever Certificate with you. 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, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Nicaragua

No vaccinations are compulsory, but vaccination against typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A are recommended.

The risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your doctor or travel health clinic.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, 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, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Proof of a Yellow Fever vaccination is required if arriving from a Yellow Fever country which includes a number of Latin American and African countries. 

Please note it is now compulsory to produce a Yellow Fever certificate if you spend more than 24 hours in Panama or Colombia before flying into Nicaragua. 

Panama

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements for this trip. Recommended vaccinations for this trip are: Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

The risk of malaria on this trip is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, 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, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

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. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Costa Rica's Timezone:
America/Costa_Rica CST (GMT -06:00)
Nicaragua's Timezone:
America/Managua CST (GMT -06:00)
Panama's Timezone:
America/Panama EST (GMT -05:00)

Electricity

Costa Rica's Electricity:

120 volts AC, 60Hz. 

Nicaragua's Electricity:

120 Volts. Plug types A & B; establishments often take two flat parallel pin plugs.

Panama's Electricity:

110V. Same plugs as the US. 

Money

Costa Rica's Currency

The national currency of Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Colon (CRC), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (October 2020) of approximately 785 to the GBP, 603 to the USD, 459 to the CAD, 647 to the EUR, 428 to the AUD and 400 to the NZD.

Nicaragua's Currency

The national currency of Nicaragua is the Nicaraguan Cordoba (NIC), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (June 2017) of approximately 38 to the GBP,  30 to the USD, 23 to the CAD, 33 to the EUR, 23 to the AUD and 22 to the NZD.

Panama's Currency

The national currency of Panama is the US Dollar (USD), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 1.6 to the UK£.

We recommend that you bring your money in US Dollars only, as Sterling and Euros are difficult to change and usually attract a poor rate.

ATM Availability

We recommend that you bring your money in US Dollars only, as Sterling and Euros are difficult to change and usually attract a poor rate.

ATMs are increasingly available in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama and are now present in most major towns, although are generally difficult to find in rural areas. A flat fee of up to US$3 and a small commission usually applies with debit card withdrawals. Credit card withdrawals generally attract a 1% charge. You should check with your bank before departure to ensure your card will be accepted in ATMs.
Mastercard and Visa are the most widely available cards, although please note that there are government taxes payable on some credit card transactions in Nicaragua.
Travellers' cheques (GBP and US dollars) can be quite difficult to change throughout Central America and Thomas Cook's cheques are very often not accepted. It is certainly much more convenient to carry cash in dollars, so long as you are security conscious. We recommend that you bring some small denomination notes ($1 and $5 notes) since getting change is often a problem when paying for small items and taxi drivers often do not have change.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

As the majority of meals are not included, you should bring sufficient funds with you to pay for food and drink. You should budget for a minimum of US$20-25 per day for meals (not including alcohol). Soft drinks are usually around US$1 per bottle and beer between US$1.50 and US$2. Prices can be higher in more remote areas. Please be aware that Costa Rica is considerably more expensive than both Nicaragua and Panama, and is one of the most expensive Latin American countries. Lunch $10-$15+; dinner $25-$30+, drinks/beer $2-$4.

Please note from March 2018 onwards you will have to pay a port tax of $1 in San Jorge. This is where you will catch a ferry to Ometepe Island.

Optional Excursions

Bocal del Toro

Kayaking approx US$25

Dolphin watching and snorkelling boat trip approx US$25

Turtle observation excursion (June - January) approx US$25 - Please note this could involve a very late night! 

Tipping

It is usual for groups to tip guides and drivers and it would be reasonable for each group member to contribute about US$3-4 per day.

Responsible Tourism

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… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. Swimming results in more tourists deaths than any other activity. All customers should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim, and are requested to treat the sea with extreme caution if they choose to enter the water. Details on how to keep yourself safe while swimming are shown here.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.