Signature Costa Rica and Panama: The Caribbean route
Overview & Highlights
Visit two contrasting Central American countries. Costa Rica is a treasure trove for the nature-lover with many divine national parks, while Panama is a cultural melting-pot where you'll discover the Canal by boat.
- Arenal Volcano & Ecotermales Hot Springs
- Tirimbina trails and hanging bridges
- Tortuguero village & canals
- Coffee finca & coffee farm tours
- Cruise down the Panama Canal
This sunlit holiday combines natural riches with one of the greatest feats of human engineering, the Panama Canal. Relax in soothing hot springs in the shadow of the picture-perfect Arenal volcano then visit the Caribbean jungle waterways and mangrove forests of the wildlife-rich Tortuguero reserve. Cross into Panama to spend time on Bocas del Toro, white-sand islands off its Caribbean coast, and in the lush forests of the rugged interior at Boquete. After this, travel to Panama City to sail through the Panama Canal.
Costa Rica has an extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna and its people are extremely welcoming. 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 activities on offer from zip-lining to white-water rafting.
Panama has a different rhythm, and is a real melting pot of cultures as a result of being at the crossroads of oceans. The Panama Canal, one of the world’s most crucial transport corridors, is a stunning piece of engineering. You will pass through some of the locks on a launch and explore the historic capital, with its history of pirates and naval battles.
Arrive in San José and transfer to your hotel.
Transfer to Arenal volcano area.
Excursion to Ecotermales hot springs.
Transfer to Sarapiqui via Tirimbina and the hanging bridges.
Transfer to Guapiles and Tortuguero
Explore Tortuguero National Park.
Transfer by road and water to Bocas del Toro.
At leisure at Bocas del Toro.
Transfer to Boquete via Oreba Chocolate Farm.
Coffee finca excursion.
Transfer to Panama City.
Panama Canal partial transit.
Transfer to the airport for your 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.
Soak in Arenal’s hot springs
Nature trail across Arenal’s hanging bridges
Visit the national parks and private reserves in Central Highlands
Tortuguero kayaking and wildlife-spotting trip
Go snorkelling in a Panamanian marine reserve
Take a Panamanian coffee tour
Visit the Panama Canal
Explore Tirimbina Nature Reserve
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.
Costa Rica / San Jose, central highlands and central valleys
Costa Rica / Arenal and the north
Costa Rica / San Jose, central highlands and central valleys
La Quinta de Sarapiquí Country Inn
Costa Rica / Caribbean coast
Turtle Beach Lodge
Panama / Bocas del Toro and The Caribbean
Panama / Boquete and the Chiriquí Highlands
Boquete Tree Trek Mountain Resort
Panama / Panama City
Tryp by Wyndham
What our clients say
97% of our clients rated their experience with us as Excellent or Good.
Boat ride through the canyon (just what we needed to blow the cobwebs away after an early start and a long journey). Palenque took my breath away - literally, I climbed to the top of the pyramid! The trip to the two indigenous villages was extremely fascinating.
This is my third trip with JLA after a gap of 7 years - and they continue to deliver! A great trip and I cannot wait to go back. Excellent local knowledge, sensitive to local customs and cultures; my only complaint is that it went too quickly!SV, Dundee
This is our 3rd trip with JLA and we look forward to our 4th. The best place to start planning holiday in South America, incredible wealth of knowledge and experience.LG, Richmond
Our most memorable moments were the views in Rio, the Iguassu Falls, the initial impressions of La Paz, Copacabana and Puno (especially the hotel in Puno with its views of the Lake), the Andean Explorer and Sacred Valley train journeys and the magnificence of the Andes and Macchu Picchu.MH, Sherborne
The whole trip was memorable - it's impossible to pick just one part. The Cuban people I met were friendly and warm - it was good to practice my Spanish, and their love of music and dance, and care for each other is an example for us all.LA, London
Most memorable experience? - Boat trip at Tortuguero. Watching a falcon catch and eat a snake! Seeing Honduran White tent-building bats roosting under a Heliconium leaf.ST, York
A superb holiday for those with an interest in wildlife and environment. It is intense, but this results in a highly rewarding experience. The whole holiday was greatly enhanced by having a single guide throughout, who had extensive local knowledge and experience.
It was a wonderful adventure which we enjoyed with a very nice group, all of us led by an excellent guide.WD, Greenford
Overall the Nandu tour was a wonderful experience. We have seen some stunning scenery, done some reasonably tough hiking and had some fabulous meals. The JLA staff and their representatives have been first class and the food was excellent. The accommodation was mostly very good too. It is a full-on tour so people going on the tour may want to chill-out somewhere at the end of the tour to relax as we did!VJ, London
There are so many memorable parts of the trip it would be difficult to pick out one. Our overriding memories will be the totality of what we saw of South America - heat of the cities, colour, rhythm, vastness, scenery - lakes, mountains, glaciers and the meadows and condors of Chile and the albatross in the Beagle Channel.AP, Bridgwater
So many things - wonderful birds, Leon was very interesting, Copan was fascinating. This is our 4th trip with JLA and we have never been disappointed.LP, Honiton
This was our fourth holiday with JLA, all have been wonderful experiences, different in their own ways, all with excellent tour leaders, different characters each with a passion for the countries they takes us into. Your Tour leaders are your assets do value them.HW, Bury St. Edmunds
Every day was memorable for some reason - the reason for being there was to see Aisen - so the cities perhaps less memorable - but our tour leader made these interesting for us with visits to Tigre and Valpariso Advice for future travellers would be to venture into the undiscovered and be prepared to enjoy the majestic, varied, beauty of Aisen. A great trip made into a superb trip by the participation, laughter and respect of all involved!CR, Isle of Mull
Every place we visited is just so different, it's hard to pick the most memorable. I loved it all.SB, Ilkley
This was my first visit to South America and although I realise we only scraped the surface of this vast continent,I feel that i have had the most amazing experience and very much hope to visit again.
So many great memories, it is impossible to pick one.... The mix of landscapes, cultures and activities was amazing. Probably the best holiday I have been on and certainly won't be my last to South America!LN, Billericay
I was so impressed by the service JLA provided - both beforehand in helping me to organise the perfect holiday to suit me and my interests and then in making sure everything worked smoothly during the trip itself. It all ran like clockwork. I have fallen in love with South America and will definitely be going back!
Amazing trip, fab group, experienced guide and definitely value for money. Would highly recommend.AB, London
Looking over Machu Picchu from a high point on the site, Watching the stars from the hot spring baths in Colca, the alpacas, drinking pisco sours!HS, Borehamwood
Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams? (Tennyson). I had long dreamt of travelling to South America, so I booked and went, and my dreams came true. The dreams were wondrous while they lasted and although now inevitably they start to fade, into their place comes a welter of brilliant, enduring, magical memories. And so the theme of this letter is thank you JLA!PM, Hampstead
Hotels - Quirky mix of old and modern, loved the contrast. Seaman Journey Galapagos boat was superb, cabin larger than expected. Crew and guide outstanding.LO, Ascot
Lived up to my expectations of seeing 3 countries in one holiday.PM, Arundel
I had travelled on a small group tour to Peru with JLA previously, so was fully expecting to be able to completely relax, safe in the knowledge that everything would be taken care of. I was not disappointed and the tour leader had everything running superbly. My three days extension on my own also worked like clockwork.SP, Aberdeen
Jam packed itinerary with so many great places and sights in such a short time! Iguacu Falls, Rio, La Paz, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu- it really had it all. We had a great tour guide; informative, knowledgeable and extremely personable, with a wealth of knowledge and a genuine passion for South America. Logistics were seamless- first time travelling to South America, first time travelling solo- highly recommend it!LM, London
Another very interesting and well organised Journey Latin America trip.HM, Nuneaton
"Nigh on impossible to pick out just one memory but the vastness and emptiness of the salt flats, Machu Picchu in the mist, rain and finally sun, being photo bombed by a llama, sunset over the Attacama, causing a desert traffic jam by breaking down."JH, Staines-upon-Thames
Amazing itinerary. Great group that bonded well and the best tour leader. All the places made it a memorable holiday. Machu Picchu, the train from Puno to Cusco and the flight of the condors added even more.DP, Hinckley
Surpassed expectation. The excellent itinerary was enhanced by the tour leaders excellent knowledge and company.PM, Corsham
Many good memories - arriving at Macchu Picchu was something we had wanted to do for many years, so was probably the most memorable.CA, Wembley
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
Everything was memorable, Chilean landscapes are so different...Patagonia (Torres del Paine) was my favourite because it's just stunning. Valparaiso: wonderful colourful city, Atacama Desert: incredible landscapes, and so varied from one another, Lake District: superb. Seeing so much wildlife was fantastic (penguins, vicunas, guanacos...). And great food too - fish is amazing.EG, Hove
The whole trip was excellent and the tour leaders knowledge and personality enhanced it.VH, Torpoint
Machu Picchu was amazing and exceeded our expectations. But the trip was full of other great highlights, which came as more of a surprise - Arequipa and Cusco were lively cities with impressive colonial architecture and plenty of things to do. The trip to the Uros Islands was magical and it was amazing to see how people live on islands made of nothing more than reeds. The train journeys were wonderful.DL, Twickenham
This was our second trip with JLA and, as with the first, we had a fantastic trip and a wonderful experience. JLA's knowledge and experience of Latin America shone through in the organisation of the trip as a whole, and all the individual trips and options. We would whole-heartedly recommend JLA to anyone contemplating a trip to Latin America and we will definitely be booking another tour with JLA in the future.
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.
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.
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
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.
Evie Oswald - Travel Expert
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.
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.
Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert
A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.
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.
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.