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Family Costa Rica: Jungle walks and turtle spotting

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This compact country is bursting with an extraordinary diversity of landscapes, flora and fauna, and this family journey explores its well-organised national parks in an active way, with the children wowed by canoe trips, suspended bridges and a beachside camp where monkeys roam free.

Begin with a guided waterborne exploration of the Caribbean jungle channels and mangrove forests to see wildlife in the Tortuguero reserve. Later, scramble over hanging bridges suspended over waterfalls and forest and recover with a bathe in naturally heated thermal springs in the shadow of the picture-perfect Arenal Volcano. Move on to another wildlife experience in a Pacific-coast fixed safari camp, and end the holiday on the sunny beaches of popular resort at Manuel Antonio. 

Costa Rica is one of the most peaceful and stable countries in the world:  and the people are among the friendliest in Latin America. The comprehensive network of national parks with their extensive trails is always very accessible.  In line with its love and respect for the great outdoors, Costa Rica also has been at the vanguard of adventure tourism, with lots of activities on offer from zip-lining to white-water rafting. 

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in San José. Transfer to hotel.

Day 2

Drive and boat to Tortuguero Jungle Reserve.

Day 3

Wildlife-spotting excursion and village visit in Tortuguero.

Day 4

Fly and drive to Arenal volcano area.

Day 5

Guided river rafting expedition.

Day 6

Guided adventure to the hanging bridges.

Day 7

Transfer to rainforest safari lodge, Savegre.

Day 8-9

At leisure; optional activities

Day 10

Transfer to Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast.

Day 11

Kayak to Damas Island.

Day 12

Guided exploration of Manuel Antonio National Park.

Day 13

Optional Midworld Adventure.

Day 14

Transfer to San José airport for international flight home.

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What our experts say

Costa Rica is a very family-friendly destination: it’s safe, the people are very friendly and the wildlife-spotting and adventure activities are some of the best in Latin America. If you’ve got children who love the outdoors, wildlife and being active, then this would be a fantastic, fun-filled family trip to remember!

Jamie

Jamie Swan

Travel Consultants

Places visited on this holiday

Family Costa Rica: Jungle walks and turtle spotting

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San Jose, central highlands and central valleys
Central San José
Costa Rica’s busy capital, San José, is a city on the move, where the choking traffic and crowds are mitigated by the eager friendliness of the people. There are some good museums and excellent restaurants but no colonial core: it’s a modern place, full of offices, North American style bars and malls - many US citizens visit or are resident in the country and their cultural influence is strong. The landscapes around however are delicious, both in the rolling coffee country of the highlands and in the fertile central valley, watched over by the smouldering Poás and Irazú volcanoes.
When's the best time to go to San Jose and central highlands?

If good weather is your priority, choose the dry season Dec - Apr when there is plenty of sun. The green (i.e. rainy) season is quieter in terms of number of visitors. San José, at 1,150m, has a pleasant climate with temperatures averaging 15-25°C.

What's the official language of San Jose and central highlands?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in San Jose and central highlands?

Colón. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. 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.

What's the time difference between San Jose and central highlands?

GMT -5 hours.

What places combine well with San Jose and central highlands?

A visit to the Caribbean or Pacific coasts for a beach wind down; Arenal, in the north, the most spectacular volcano; Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, for excellent bird watching. There are light aircraft flights from San José airport to many destinations. Costa Rica is a tiny country so road journeys, even winding ones through the highlands, are relatively short. Some roads are in good condition while others are poor and  require 4WD vehicles

How do I get to San Jose and central highlands?

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 events in San Jose and central highlands?
International Arts Festival: San José, Mar. Music, dance, film art exhibitions.
Independence Day: San José, 15 Sep. music and dancing in the streets starting the evening before.
El Tope: San José, 26 Dec. A horse parade through the city is followed by fairs, fireworks and bull-running south of the city.

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Caribbean coast
Costa Rica Caribbean Coast
Eastwards from San José and the coffee-growing highlands sprawl the banana plantations of the sultry coastal plains fronting the Caribbean Sea. Long isolated from the rest of the Latin-influenced country, this region has a predominately English-speaking, Afro-Caribbean culture: a very informal, relaxed atmosphere pervades. Here there are exquisite volcanic beaches at Cahuita and Puerto Viejo. 

Accessible only by boat is the partly submerged Tortuguero National Park, with its network of canals, lagoons and swamps defined by a profusion of tangled tropical vegetation. It’s alive with several species of monkey, iguanas, sloths, river otters, poison dart frogs and hundreds of species of birds.

When's the best time to visit Costa Rica's Caribbean coast?

It’s hot all year round (often over 30°C). It rains here on and off all year round, with drier periods in Feb - Mar and Aug - Oct. Turtle watching season at Tortuguero is Mar - Oct. 

What's the official language of Costa Rica's Caribbean coast?

Spanish, English.

How do I get local currency in Costa Rica's Caribbean coast?
Colón. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. 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. There are ATMs in Limón but not elsewhere along the coast.
What's the time difference between Costa Rica's Caribbean coast and UK?

GMT -5 hours.

What places combine well with Costa Rica's Caribbean coast?
Arenal, in the north, the most spectacular volcano; Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, for excellent bird-watching. Costa Rica is a tiny country so road journeys, even winding ones through the highlands, are relatively short. Some roads are in good condition while others require 4WD vehicles. 
How do I get to Costa Rica's Caribbean coast?

There are light aircraft flights to Tortuguero from San José. Otherwise travel is by road (and boat to Tortuguero); and along Highway 32 to Limón on the Caribbean coast, 115 km. 

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Arenal and the north
Arenal Volcano
The pleasingly conical volcano Arenal rises from a skirt of thick forest and the waters of Lake Arenal. Once famous for its eruptions of molten lava, it erupts infrequently nowadays (nothing since 2010) The landscape here is ruggedly beautiful and comprises one of Costa Rica’s many conservation areas, protecting a territory of amazing biodiversity which contains half the known species of birds, mammals and reptiles in the country. It is also popular among adventure-activities enthusiasts, and visits are serviced in the formerly dozy town of La Fortuna. Cloud forest, waterfalls, caves and thermal pools – this is a diverse and captivating region.
When's the best time to visit Arenal?

If good weather is your priority, choose the dry season Dec - Apr when there is plenty of sun. The green (i.e. rainy) season is quieter in terms of number of visitors. La Fortuna, at 1,150m, has a pleasant climate with temperatures averaging 15-25°C.

What's the official language of Arenal?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Arenal?

Colón. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs in La Fortuna using a UK credit or debit card. 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. If you are not going to the town of La Fortuna, bring your cash with you from San José.

What's the time difference between Arenal and UK?

GMT -5 hours.  

What places combine with Arenal?

A beach wind-down at Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast, or Nosara on the Nicoya Peninsula: each 5hrs by road; Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, for excellent bird watching, 3 hours by boat and bumpy road. Costa Rica is a tiny country so road journeys, even winding ones through the highlands, are relatively short. Some roads are in good condition while others require 4WD vehicles.

How do I get to Arenal?

Fly by light aircraft from San José or travel by road from the capital, 3.5 hours.

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Pacific coast
PAcif
The Pacific coast, unlike the sheltered volcanic beaches of the Caribbean, is lashed by foaming Pacific waves, much beloved by surfers.  The wide golden beaches are extremely beautiful, made more so by the shade of the tropical vegetation and coconut groves which tumble down to and fringe them.

Halfway down the coast is Manuel Antonio National Park, a tropical fairy-land of palms, creepers and mangrove swamps, where monkeys scamper down to the sweep of ochre beach at sunset. Hotels and other properties punctuate the hills beyond and sit along the shoreline that leads to the protected national park. There’s also a growing resort complex at Herradura.
When's the best time to visit Pacific coast of Costa Rica?

To enjoy the beaches, good weather is a priority so most visits are in the dry season Dec - Apr when there is plenty of sun. It’s hot all year round (average temperatures range from 22-25°C, rather higher in the dry season). The busy times for visitors are the dry season months, especially weekends and Easter week. The green (i.e. rainy) season is much quieter.

What's the official language of Pacific coast of Costa Rica?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency on Pacific coast of Costa Rica?

Colón. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs in San José using a UK credit or debit card. 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. There are ATMs in Quepos, but stock up with your local currency needs before travelling to Manuel Antonio.

What's the time difference between Pacific coast of Costa Rica?

GMT -5 hours

What places combine well with Pacific coast of Costa Rica?

By light aircraft from San José to Quepos, from where it is a 30mins road journey over the cliffs to Manuel Antonio. Flights take less than one hour. By road, the journey to Manuel Antonio from San José takes about 2.5 hours.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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