Private Journeys

Explore and Relax in Costa Rica: Volcanoes to the beach

11 days from £2,730pp

Costa Rica

Itinerary

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Day 1

Arrive in San José and transfer to countryside resort..

You will be met at the airport by our local representative who will take you to your hotel in the attractive fertile countryside of Costa Rica’s Central Valley.

Day 2

At leisure on the property.

At leisure at the property: Xandari Resort & Spa is more than just a hotel –the private forest reserve, with five waterfalls and many of trails for bird-watching give you an introduction to Costa Rica’s abundant wildlife and rich tropical landscapes. Enjoy the well tended gardens, the orchid house, and the farm. The Spa provides ample opportunity to unwind and to relax.

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Day 3

By road to Arenal volcano area.

Drive to the Arenal volcano region. As the sun begins to set, you might hike across a barren landscape dotted with rocks and shrubs, from which you may see the flows of molten lava being discharged from Arenal’s fiery cone (although the volcano can be dormant for months so there is no guarantee of its activity and there hasn’t been any for some years). 

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Day 4

Excursion to the hot springs at Ecotermales

Today you have an excursion to the hot springs at Ecotermales. These waters provide a more off-the-beaten-track experience than their better known and more overcrowded cousins. Set well back from the road that runs between the lake and the town of La Fortuna the farm has only recently been opened to the general public. The springs, five free-flowing pools, set in a natural river gorge vary in temperature from 38ºC to 43ºC depending on the pool.

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Day 5

Optional hanging bridges, lake kayaking or Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge.

Today you have a free day to explore the region. Maybe walk the 3km long canopy trail through primary forest linked by 6 hanging bridges and 8 fixed bridges, some measuring up to 22m in length. Along with the region’s diverse wildlife and plants you can expect good views of the volcano.

Alternatively, kayak on lake Arenal at the foot of the volcano or explore Caño Negro Wildlife Reserve.  Tours operate along Río Frío a slow-flowing river that winds through canyons on its way to the Caño Negro Lake. Along the shores of the river and in the trees you’ll be able to spot birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. There are howler, spider and white-faced monkeys, three-toed sloth, caimans, turtles, and lizards. Keep your eyes on the river, too – there’s the chance of spotting the fin of a freshwater shark as it slices above the water’s surface.

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Day 6

Drive to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve; twilight tour.

Travel inland by road into highlands mantled by the woodland of Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which lies in the rugged, rolling hills northwest of San José. You'll be driven through the Central Valley along the Pan American Highway, a decent paved road then take the turn off for Monteverde, and here the adventure begins - for up to 90mins the dirt road is bumpy with volcanic rocks, winding up through the hills to the cloud forest at 1,400m. You can expect it to be dusty in the dry season and muddy in the wet. However you should be diverted by wildlife you spot along the way - sloth, monkeys and tropical birds - keep your binoculars handy.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the most fascinating wildlife sanctuaries in the Americas; it protects more than 400 species of bird and 100 species of mammal. It has many well-marked trails, amidst dense, dripping foliage, sheltering the resplendent quetzal, with its vivid red belly and long green tail, as well as the endangered bellbird and the emerald toucanet. 30 species of hummingbird also reside there.

On your 2hr night walk at El Refugio, a private wildlife refuge, you’ll look out for nocturnal animals such as olingos, kinkajous, two-toed sloths and opossums, as well as tarantula spiders and snakes. During the rainy season some species of frogs might be spotted. It's not uncommon to see migrant and resident birds sleeping. Regardless of the wildlife you may see, the experience of walking in the forest at night is very special.

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Day 7

Guided exploration of Santa Elena Reserve.

Santa Elena Reserve sits at a slightly higher elevation (over 1,500m) than the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. It was founded in 1992 by a group of Canadian volunteers to preserve the cloud forest which hosts quetzals, deer, sloths, ocelots and howler, and capuchin monkeys. There are around 12 km of trails, three lookout points and an observation tower from which on a clear day you can spy five volcanoes. It's an atmospheric place with mosses, ferns and flowers embellishing the trees, while vines dangle over the trails. Your adventure is led by a local guide.

In the afternoon there’s an optional visit to a coffee finca. Don Juan Cruz was born to one of the first pioneering farming families to arrive in the Monteverde area and welcomes visitors to his small farm. You’ll you'll learn about the entire coffee- and chocolate-making processes using authentic techniques which date back several generations.

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Day 8

Transfer to beach resort hotel on the Nicoya Peninsula, Pacific coast.

Travel by road (5hrs) to the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific coast. Equally denuded of forest as the adjoining mainland, it is culturally and physically cut off from the rest of the country: inland, dotted with small, modest towns far removed from the beach resorts on the bay-pocked coastline. You’ll be staying one of these, within reach of yawning beaches attacked by crashing Pacific rollers.

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Days 9-10

At leisure on the beach.

Many activities can be arranged form the resort if you don’t want to spend all your time sunning yourself beside the pool or watching tangerine sunsets over the ocean with a cold beer in your hand. Golf and hiking, horse-riding, snorkelling and mountain biking expeditions are all available.

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Day 11

Transfer to airport for international flight home.

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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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

  • Jamie Swan
    Jamie Swan - Travel Consultant

    Jamie backpacked across Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil before joining us; he has a degree in politics and is also a keen sportsman..

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Consultant

    It’s hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    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 Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant

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

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

Meet the team