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Private Journeys

Explore and Relax Costa Rica and Panama Coast: Pacific route

13 days from £2,940pp

Costa Rica / Panama

ANCON EXPEDITIONS ©

Essentials

Transport

2 domestic flights, 2 road journeys.

Accommodation

This trip combines friendly mid-range hotels with well-equipped rooms with private bathroom and comfortable but not luxurious wildlife and beach lodges. Throughout Costa Rica and Panama accommodation is of a high standard.

Meals

Breakfast daily, full board days 3-5.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by clients on their return.

Summary Of Nights

13 days, 12 nights: San José 2;  Puerto Jiminez 3; Boquete 2; Boca Chica 4; Panama City 1.

Currency

The unit of currency in Costa Rica is the colón; in Panama, the balboa is interchangeable with the US dollar.

How To Take It

Cash machines are available in San José taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip and in many shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency in San José. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can exchange sterling but the rate may be unfavourable and there are fewer outlets providing this service.

The national currency in Panama is at parity with the US dollar, and only US banknotes are used. (There are some local coins equivalent to US cents). There are ATMs in most towns,where you can use a UK credit or debit card. You may have ask your bank to authorise withdrawals before you leave the UK, and amounts may be limited, and vary from bank to bank. Notes can be obtained from exchange houses and also from banks which will supply advances on a debit or credit card.

Daily Spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$40  per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

Tipping

Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 – 12% in restaurants.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. 

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport Taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Climate

Those travelling between May and October should encounter high temperatures (around 35°C) and high humidity in the lowlands. The ‘official’ rainy (green) season is May to November. 

December to April visitors will still encounter high temperatures in lowland areas, but cool evenings around San José with temperatures falling to around 5°C. Rainfall and humidity will be much lower at this time. 

It’s cooler and less humid at Boquete in the Chiriquí highlands of Panama. 

For your beach wind-down on the Panamanian coast and islands good weather is a priority, so most visits are in the dry season December to April when there is plenty of sun. It’s hot all year round (often over 30°C). The busy times for visitors are the dry season months, especially weekends and Easter week. The green (i.e. rainy) season is much quieter.

Journey Grade

Generally this holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit, visitors including families with children.

If you have a disability or special considerations, please contact our office.

Clothing And Special Equipment

Bring plenty of light cotton clothing and good, comfortable walking shoes.  A waterproof jacket and/or umbrella are also advisable. We suggest that you plan to ‘layer’ your clothing; it is easier and more efficient to put on a couple of light layers than one thick jumper, and sensible to have long sleeves for areas where mosquitos may be lurking. Sandals are a good informal option for evenings. Protection against the sun (sunblock, sun hat) and mosquito repellant are essential and you should bring swimwear. A daypack is useful for carrying sunblock, guidebook, water and any extra layers.

Note that luggage on the domestic flights is limited to 14kg. 

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. 

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following; typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Country info

When's the best time to visit Costa Rica?

Despite its small size, Costa Rica has a number of distinct microclimates. The Caribbean coast is humid all year round with the driest months being Sep-Oct; wildlife lovers, however, might prefer to visit this region from Jul-Aug to watch nesting turtles. The rest of the country experiences a dry season from Dec-Apr, when there is plenty of sun and temperatures are high, and a rainy season from May-Nov. However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule for all regions: for example, the rainy season starts a month earlier in the south Pacific, while the northern areas, including the Guanacaste coast, are not as affected by the seasons and are generally much drier. The highlands and cloud forests have warm temperatures during the day but the high altitude means evenings are much cooler.

For more detailed information visit our When To Go section.

What's the official language of Costa Rica?

Spanish.

What's the national currency of Costa Rica?

Colón. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. There’s at least one in most main towns. You may have to authorise your bank first, and withdrawals may be limited to amounts lower than in the UK. US dollars cash can be exchanged in banks too. US dollars themselves are widely accepted.

What's the time difference between Costa Rica and UK?

GMT -5 hours.  

What places combine well with Costa Rica?

A visit to neighbouring Nicaragua or Panama. There are land crossings to both, as well as international flights.

How do I get to Costa Rica?

There is a direct flight from London Gatwick to San José (11 hrs) as well as non-direct flights via US and European hubs.

What are the cultural and sport events in Costa Rica?

International Arts Festival: San José, March. Music, dance, film art exhibitions.
Monteverde Music Festival: Monteverde, Jan - Feb.

Country info

When's the best time to visit Panama?

The best time to visit Panama is from mid-December to mid-April. As it is situated well within the tropics, Panama has a typical tropical climate with high temperatures (30°C) all year round at low altitudes. Temperatures are significantly modified by altitude – higher up it can be very cool at night. Mid-December to mid-April is the best time to visit Panama as it is the dry season. Apr-Nov is rainy season, with the Caribbean side receiving more rainfall than the Pacific. There’s a small risk of tropical storms on the Caribbean coast but the country lies outside the main hurricane belt.  

What's the official language of Panama?

Spanish is the official language of Panama.

What's the official currency of Panama?

Balboa is the official currency of Panama. The national currency is at parity with the US dollar, and only US banknotes are used. (There are some local coins equivalent to US cents). There are ATMs in most towns where you can use a UK credit or debit card. You may have to ask your bank to authorise withdrawals before you leave the UK, and amounts may be limited, and vary from bank to bank. Notes can be obtained from exchange houses and also from banks which will supply advances on a debit or credit card.

What is the time difference between Panama and the UK?

The time difference between Panama and the UK is GMT -5 hrs.

What countries does Panama combine well with?

Combine your holiday to Panama with a visit to neighbouring Central America countries, such as  wildlife-rich, slickly organised Costa Rica; and Colombia, with the northern coast of which Panama shares a swashbuckling history.

What are the festivals, cultural and sporting events in Panama?

The festivals that take place in Panama are:
Carnival in Feb-Mar. Celebrated with much gusto in Panama City, costumed revelry, music and dancing culminate into a big Shrove Tuesday parade.
Semana Santa is celebrated at Easter. It is celebrated throughout Panama with religious processions.
Kuna festivals, San Blas Islands. There are several festivals throughout the year, all of which feature dancing, traditional sports and feasts.

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport in Costa Rica
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • San José: Guided excursion to Doka, Poás vocano and La Paz waterfalls
  • Osa Peninsula: Activities at the lodge
  • Boquete: Guided coffee farm visit
  • Boca Chica: Activities at the beach resort

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • International flights to and from the UK
  • Meals other than specified
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport in Costa Rica
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • San José: Guided excursion to Doka, Poás vocano and La Paz waterfalls
  • Osa Peninsula: Activities at the lodge
  • Boquete: Guided coffee farm visit
  • Boca Chica: Activities at the beach resort

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • International flights to and from the UK
  • Meals other than specified
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Expert

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

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    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.

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    Millie Davies - Travel Expert

    Having caught the travel bug as a child, Millie has travelled all over Latin America before making her home in Buenos Aires for 3 years.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Expert

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.

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