Overview & Highlights
We’ve picked the best natural highlights of two friendly neighbouring republics: discover them on an adventurous holiday with river trips, lake ferries, volcano visits and an island stay. Wildlife abounds in luscious tropical landscapes.
These two central American neighbours have a lot in common: rugged volcanoes and fertile landscapes, luscious rainforests, prolific wildlife and a friendly, relaxed tropical vibe.
But there are big differences too: the heritage of Nicaragua’s colonial and revolutionary history is still very much in evidence, while Costa Rica has become one of the world’s top eco-destinations and hub of active adventures. On this holiday we introduce you to the best highlights of both countries.
We’ve put together a range of adventurous yet undemanding experiences which include a tropical river trip and an island stay on Lake Nicaragua, you get to peer down into an active volcanic crater, clamber over a Spanish colonial fortress once besieged by Nelson, and go spotting exotic birds and spider monkeys swinging through trees where iguanas laze. You’ll be staying in independent simple and hospitable lodges and small hotels carefully selected to complement a holiday where you’ll come to know and love the gentle pace of life. If you've time to linger longer, both nations offer palm-flecked Caribbean and Pacific beaches which invite relaxation.
- Arenal: Sky Tram and hanging bridges
- Caño Negro Wildlife Reserve
- Rio San Juan: Nature trail in Indo Maiz rainforest reserve
- Granada: Guided city tour and las Isletas boat trip
- Granada: Night-time visit to Masaya volcano crater
- Ometepe Island: Guided cultural and landscapes tour
THE UK’S № 1 SPECIALIST IN TRAVEL TO LATIN AMERICA
Transfer to your hotel in central San José.
Transfer to lodge close to Arenal lake and volcano.
The Skytram and Hanging bridges in Arenal Volcano National Park.
Optional opportunity to luxuriate in natural hot springs at Ecotermales
Visit Caño Negro Wildlife Reserve; boat on Rio San Juan to El Castillo, Nicaragua. Night-time caiman spotting.
Jungle nature trail in Indio Maíz reserve; guided discovery of the fortress.
Boat to the port of San Carlos; by road to Granada.
City tour and boat trip on Lake Nicaragua to las Isletas.
Night-time visit to active Masaya volcano’s crater.
Transfer to Ometepe Island on Lake Nicaragua.
Guided tour of the island’s cultural and natural top sights.
Ferry to the mainland and transfer to Managua airport for international flight.
Things to do
We proudly offer the widest range of activities, excursions and one-of-a-kind experiences across all our destinations, tried and tested personally by our travel experts.
Browse our unrivalled portfolio of accommodation . Every option has been carefully chosen by our team of travel experts, so you can rest assured that you’ll relax in utter comfort.
What our clients say
97% of our clients rated their experience with us as Excellent or Good.
Would be wrong to say a most memorable. Everyday was amazing. Machu Picchu was my fave. That's because I've always wanted to go there. 100's of memories all good. From places to even just having dinner with the group. Had some one in a million moments.SW, Crewe
Riding a horse back up the track at Karajia when it started to rain and the frogs started to sing! Never heard anything like it. Travelling through spectacular country & seeing the local people. The mummies at the museum at Leymebamba.CE, Halesowen
I'm very much a novice when it comes to traveling and I love history & culture. I chose this trip with that in mind. As someone who is not an experienced traveller, some of the journeys are long but they are always worth it. Seeing these wonderful sites with often very few people about is great. This is a beautiful country and this is a wonderful trip that I would highly recommend to anyone with a love of history and a desire to learn more.
Climbing Villarica Volcano on a beautiful sunny day. Reaching the summit to see incredible views over the Andes and Lake District, the skyline peppered with snowy cones of of the volcanos, then peering into the gently smoking crater to see lava bubbling beneath us. Totally awesome!!!AP, Norwich
“One of my favourite moments on the trip was in Trinidad, listening to the music and dancing with the locals – with the tour leader’s guidance or walking around Havana, just taking everything in.”KSM, Luxembourg
Seeing the people on the Uros islands demonstrate how they cook, the amazing Iguassu Falls, seeing a toucan close up (at Iguassu), all the different Inca sites, seeing the traditional dress and witches market in La Paz, the herbal drinks being explained in Asuncion, sunset on sugarloaf mountain and chilling out on Ilha grande.PW, Leatherhead
We enjoyed an excellent tour with a special tour leader. We chose this tour because it took us to a lot of places we had dreampt of visiting and it certainly lived up to expectations. We expected to do a significant amount of walking and enjoyed all the walks that were offered. For us the balance between walking and other activities was ideal.CHJ, Aberdeen
The day we visiting the Frida Kahlo and Trotsky museums and also the canal. As well as all the wonderful pyramids and the Copper Canyon extension were among my highlights. We were very impressed with our first experience of travelling with JLA. We have been to several Central and South American countries before and had underestimated the impact that Mexico would have on us. It had such a variety of experiences to offer, the colour, the music, the many different and dramatic archeological sites and political history. The ethnic mix added to the diversity and the people were all a delight to meet. JLA allowed us to experience this in its selection of places, accommodation, excursions and especially the tour leader.JD, Buxton
Difficult to say as it was a trip of contrasts - two cities and some beautiful landscapes. I achieved two ambitions which was to visit the Torres del Paine National Park and to see the Perito Moreno glacier. Torres del Paine was glorious and Perito Moreno was breathtaking. All internal transfers were seamless and check in and check out of hotels were easy. The small group made the holiday feel almost personalised.TW, Hook
Overall an absolutely fantastic holiday. Arranged at last minute, there is no way that we would have been able to organise something like this on our own. Everything ran smoothly, the group leader was extremely helpful and the group got on very well together, in spite of a large age range. Thanks very much!RB, Kettering
This trip offers so many breathtaking moments. Overall it is the variation of landscape and wealth of history that impresses and spotting varied wildlife.WK, Shoreham-by-Sea
There were many highlights: Machu Picchu of course, also the Uyuni salt flats was unworldly, unique. La Paz, crazy city. Lake Titicaca beautiful. Great food almost everywhere. Stunning landscapes.MC, Ely
The overall experience was friendly and efficient, seeing the most amazing places from high up in the desert to the wilds of Patagonia.CB, Beckenham
Thank you for a wonderful trip! We will return to South America in the future and JLA will be our first choice.GW, Rickmansworth
Well organised brilliant holiday. It felt like 2 holidays in one as each week was so different from the other.PS, King's Lynn
The holiday was all we expected and when asked we would recommend it to friends with reservation.EC, Taunton
I can't think of anything to improve on the itinerary. As I had an extra five nights at the beginning and three nights at the end, I was able to do many extra things and visit many extra places, which I'm really glad I did.JC, Birmingham
Highlights? "Where to start? Angel Falls, Kaieteur Falls, the Iles de Salut, sleeping in a hammock, flying in small planes - just loved everything. The range of hotels from very high quality to pretty grotty was what we expected. The trip was exactly as described = we loved every minute!
This is our third trip - Cuba in 2000, Central America in 2009 and this one. I think the general feeling about JLA is that it is slightly more expensive than other companies offering small group tours but I think this reflects the effort which goes into providing travel experience which, in all three cases, has been both enjoyable and memorable."PS, Bolton
This trip was an unqualified success. The hotels were charming , the itinerary sensible , the excursions interesting , and the guide was the best possible person to ensure an efficient and happy holiday.PK, London
"Overall, the party gelled very well, the tour leader was a great guide and travelling companion we saw some wonderful sights - Machu Picchu and the other Inca sites especially. The geography of the Andes, the Salt Flats, the desert and moon valleys were stunning”JT, Ashford
It was, in short, an unqualified success in all important ways. The local guides set a remarkably high standard in being knowledgeable, articulate and generally helpful, two or three of them outstandingly so. None of the hotels was less than comfortable and/or notable for its outlook and general amenities; those in Nicaragua and El Salvador were probably the best, while the Guatemalan and Belizean accommodation was betrayed only at times, mainly by the food it served. We took away an enormous variety of impressions, ranging from the sense of insecurity and awe created by all those volcanoes; through the surprise at the comparative sophistication and well-being superficially apparent in El Salvador and the interest in seeing potters, weavers, farmers and conservationists at work; to the ultimate satisfaction experienced through that artful blend of the natural with the man-made worlds characterising the Mayan sites of Guatemala and Honduras, most notably at Copán and Tikal which were the obvious highlights of the tour.TD, Oxford
The Iguazu Falls were awesome. We enjoyed all the places we visited. I was recommended JLA from someone who had used them before. We were not disappointed. We have had a really good time, seen so much and had the best tour leader. I am certainly going to use them again, and really hope we have Max again. Thank you JLA.CG, Stevenage
The Jungle was just fabulous, didn't quite know what to expect but it exceeded expectations!...Having travelled with you before and receiving excellent treatment & value we returned and you once again lived up to your reputation and promise. Exceeded our high expectations...the experience of a lifetime.GH, Morpeth
So well organised and efficient, yet personal, easy-going, fun. Felt looked after and well-informed throughout. Also particularly enjoyed being on the less touristy Tico Tico tour – an excellent recommendation of Carrie’s.DS, Invergordon
Excellent as usual! I like the small groups, the local guides and drivers, the home stays, private home restaurants.MP, Seaton
An excellent specialist company with great attention to detail, abundance of local knowledge and great customer care. I have travelled twice with this company and will certainly travel with them again.AL, London
"I was particularly impressed with the scenery in Bolivia. I had expected the salt flats but the rest of the country was a real bonus. On the optional excursions, I particularly enjoyed Chacaltaya and the star gazing in San Pedro."GP, Northwich
I had a brilliant trip. The experiences were varied the people great company and the tour leader exceptional. What’s not to love!HL, Newcastle
Most memorable experience: “Many on this journey, however main ones include :- Both the optional visits / flights - over Angel Falls & day excursion /flight to Kaieteur Falls . Time at Rock View Lodge & seeing the Coq of the Roq in the forest on the journey to Atta Lodge. The catamaran visit to Iles du Salut. Also enjoyed the atmosphere while wandering around Paramaribo.”SN, Belper
“Everything, from the planning, through to the actual journey, was excellently arranged. All connections were smooth and punctual and there was detailed information disseminated at every stage.”DH, Tufnell Park
This isn't a specific part of the trip, but I do think that the variety of locations and activities available is excellent. It is a busy tour but, personally, I enjoyed this and am pleased that the coverage is as good as it is of such large countries as, travelling that far, I do want to see and do as much as possible. I also found the extension I did suited my requirements well.JP, Holmfirth
Tailor made holiday
Our specialists have been expertly crafting award-winning tailor-made holidays to Latin America for 40 years. We would be delighted to create a truly personalised trip which perfectly matches your wishes and requirements.
Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert
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.
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.
Your edit for Latin American inspiration
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.View Extraordinary Inspiration
Real Latin America Experts
Sophie Barber - Travel Expert
Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.
Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert
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.
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.
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.
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.
Charlotte Daubeney - Travel Expert
Charlotte's fascination with Latin America began with a family holiday to Belize. She went on to study Spanish in school and at university before spending a year living in Santiago, Chile.