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15d/13n:

Costa Rica self-drive incl. Manuel Antonio National Park

Highlights of this tour:

San José, Tortuguero National Park, La Fortuna, the hot springs of Arenal, Monteverde cloud forest and Manuel Antonio National Park.

This package holiday includes the following:

  • Return flights from the UK to San José, with transfer(s) en route
  • Transfer from and to the airport (in small international groups)
  • Bus: San José – Tortuguero – Guapiles
  • 8 days’ car hire, including free mileage, GPS and insurance
  • 10 nights’ accommodation in good hotels incl. breakfast
  • 3 nights’ accommodation at Mawamba Lodge incl. full board
  • 1 x dinner (day 7)
  • Individual round trip, however, all excursions are in small international groups with local, English-speaking guides
  • Emergency hotline staffed 24/7 throughout your trip
  • ATOL certificate included
  • Departure guarantee – the tour will take place regardless of the number of participants
  • Daily departures

The following package of excursions are included:

  • Boat trip in Tortuguero rain forest
  • Excursion to the hot springs at Arenal
  • Hike through the Monteverde cloud forest on the hanging bridges
  • Admission tickets to the attractions mentioned, excluding Tortuguero National Park and Manuel Antonio National Park (to be paid on site)

Single room supplement: £900
Discounts are available for groups of 6 or more people

Choose this tour because…

With its long sandy beaches, dense rainforest, conical volcanoes, verdant cloud forest, exotic animals, tall waterfalls, roaring rivers and hot springs, Costa Rica is a world unto itself. If you prefer to explore new sights and attractions for yourself, this self-drive holiday is the perfect way to experience this wonderful country. Your trip starts in San José, the capital city, from where it continues to Tortuguero National Park, famous for its 11 different habitats, birds, monkeys, sloths, turtles and a host of other creatures. It is then time to embark upon the self-drive section of the holiday. The first stop on the itinerary is La Fortuna, where you have the chance to visit the waterfall of the same name and the famous Arenal volcano. A trip to the hot springs of Arenal is included, giving you the opportunity to relax in amazing surroundings. Next on the list is a visit to ‘the forest in the clouds’, also known as Monteverde, where you can look forward to a guided tour along the hanging bridges high up in the tree tops – a truly extraordinary experience. Your route then takes you to the absolute highlight of the trip: Manuel Antonio National Park, with its white sandy beaches, coral reefs, waterfall, verdant rainforest and magnificent wildlife. There are all kinds of activities to try both on land and in the water.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Flight to Costa Rica

Departure day, where you will fly to San José with connecting flights along the way. You will land in the capital city, San José, which is located in the central region of the country, 1,150 m above sea level, and enjoys a beautiful spring-like climate all year round. On arrival at the airport in San José, you will be met by a driver who will convey you to your hotel – a drive of around 30 min.

Overnight stay: Hotel Sleep Inn

Day 2: San José

To start the day, you will be met at your hotel and driven to our partner’s office to review the programme, receive information about collecting and returning the car, and handle other practical issues. The rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish, giving you the opportunity to experience the delights of the capital at your own pace.

The centre of San José is not overly large, so it is relatively easy to find your way around. For example, you could visit the local market, call in at the National Museum or take a stroll along the pedestrian street that runs through the centre of the city. Here you will find all kinds of restaurants, shops and charming pavement cafés where you can enjoy a cup of genuine Costa Rican coffee while watching everyday life unfold on and around the delightful squares.

Overnight stay: Hotel Sleep Inn

Day 3: San José – Tortuguero National Park

Early in the morning, you will be picked up from your hotel for a trip to the Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast. You will pass by huge, green banana plantations that are crucial to the Costa Rican economy. After the coach trip, you will board the boat that is to convey you and your luggage to Mawamba Lodge, where you will be spending the coming three nights. The lodge enjoys a magnificent location with Tortuguero’s canals running through the front garden and the Caribbean Sea at the back. The sailing trip to the lodge will take you along rivers and canals bordered by thick rainforest that is home to Tortuguero’s exotic wildlife. Once you have arrived and checked in, lunch will be served and you can then do as you wish for the remainder of the day.

Tortuguero National Park covers an area of 77,032 hectares, comprising 35 km of coastline and 11 different habitats, including mangrove swamps, marshes, beaches, lagoons and areas of tropical rainforest containing lakes, rivers and canals. The biological diversity and ecosystems of the national park provide excellent opportunities to experience a rich variety of plants and animals. The region is home to more than 300 species of bird, 30 different types of freshwater fish, three species of ape, tapirs, jaguars, frogs, sloths, manatees, crocodiles and caimans, as well as four of the seven species of turtle indigenous to Costa Rica, after which the national park has been named. The green sea turtle can be seen here between July and October, while the loggerhead turtle visits between May and October – when the hawksbill turtle can also be spotted here – and the leatherback sea turtle frequents the area between March and July.

Overnight stay: Mawamba Lodge

Days 4-5: Tortuguero National Park

The visit to the park includes a guided canoeing trip, which is an excellent way to experience the sights and sounds of the rainforest. The guides are skilled at spotting the various animals, and you are sure to learn a lot about the rainforest plants as well.

The rest of the time at the lodge is yours to do with as you wish: relax by the pool, stroll through the rainforest, or make your way to the beach where you may well be able to watch sea turtles bury their eggs in the sand before disappearing into the waves – a remarkable sight that you are most likely to encounter between July and September. It is important not to disturb the sea turtles when they emerge from the sea to lay their eggs. So please keep quiet and make sure not to use torches or flash photography, as bright light may startle them.

You can also book a number of special excursions at the lodge.

Overnight stay: Mawamba Lodge

Day 6: Tortuguero National Park – Guapiles – La Fortuna

The time has now come to leave Tortuguero National Park and take the boat and coach to Guapiles. Here, you will be handed the keys to your rental car and can start the self-drive part of the trip. From Guapiles, head for the small town of La Fortuna. The town itself is not all that well known – but the surroundings are outstanding! La Fortuna is located at the foot of the most famous volcano in Costa Rica: Arenal, which towers to a height of 1,657 metres. Arenal was the most active volcano in Costa Rica until 2010, but has not produced a severe eruption since 1968, when it suddenly erupted and caused extensive destruction. Close by is the La Catarata de la Fortuna waterfall and a number of natural hot springs, and the area is very popular for activities such as riding, rafting, zip-line rides, ATV trips, cycling and kayaking.

The day’s driving distance: approx. 145 km.

Overnight stay: Hotel Monte Real

Day 7: La Fortuna - The hot springs of Arenal

The day is yours to do with as you wish. Relax at the lodge, drive to the north-western part of Arenal volcano to take a stroll in Arenal Volcano National Park – where you have every chance of spotting colourful birds, reptiles and monkeys – or head off to the famous waterfall called La Catarata de la Fortuna, which is located close to the foot of the dormant volcano Chato. The waterfall stems from the Tenorio River, which runs through the Arenal mountains and rainforest before crashing 70 metres down into a lagoon that is a delight to swim in. The walk from the car park to the waterfall takes around 20 minutes, leading you across a bridge and down steps through the verdant rainforest. As you walk, you may well spot some toucans, monkeys and other tropical animals.

Towards the end of the afternoon, you will be picked up from your hotel and driven to Arenal’s hot springs – which you simply must experience during your visit to Costa Rica. The natural volcanic hot springs have created five pools where the water temperature ranges from 37 to 41°C. There is also a freshwater waterfall and pool. Remember your swimwear. This is an excellent place to relax and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Enjoy a cocktail from the pool bar while you wait for dinner to be served.

Overnight stay: Hotel Monte Real

Day 8: Arenal – Monteverde cloud forest

After breakfast, it is time to leave Arenal and set out on a beautiful drive around Arenal Lake to the town of Monteverde. In recent years, Monteverde has transformed into an ‘adventure town’, as there are so many different activities to try in the immediate vicinity. Close to the town lies a stretch of cloud forest of the same name, and this is your destination for the next day.

The day’s driving distance: approx. 112 km.

Overnight stay: Hotel Poco a Poco

Day 9: ‘Tree-top hike’ in the cloud forest at Monteverde

After breakfast, you will be picked up at the hotel and driven out to the cloud forest. The forest grows at an altitude of around 1,440 metres and is therefore known as ‘the forest in the clouds’. The warm Caribbean winds blow in from the sea and towards the tall mountains, and when the moist sea air is forced up to these heights it is cooled rapidly, forming low clouds between the tree tops. This also means that the days can be decidedly chilly.

As soon as you arrive, you will head off on a thrilling 3-km hike. You will notice how the mist generates a very special, almost mystical ambience as you make your way along the hanging bridges in the tree tops, negotiating the giant tree trunks that are covered in moss, ferns and orchids. The trees and plants absorb the moisture from the mist, so conditions are perfect for the 2,500 species of plant – including 420 different types of orchid – that grow here. As you walk, you are sure to encounter some of the exotic wildlife, that features 100 species of mammal, 400 species of bird and 10,000 species of insect.

After a few hours here, you will be driven back to the hotel where the rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish. Kick back by the hotel pool – with its 30°C water – or explore the local area for yourself.

Overnight stay: Hotel Poco a Poco

Day 10: Monteverde – Manuel Antonio

Today, you will be driving to Manuel Antonio. It is a small town with a few restaurants and shops, but the surroundings and the remarkable climate make it an extraordinary place to visit. Here, you will be spending three nights at the Hotel Costa Verde, which is less than 300 metres from the beach.

The day’s driving distance: approx. 190 km.

Overnight stay: Hotel Costa Verde

Days 11-12: Manuel Antonio

The next two days are yours to do with as you wish.

Located on the Pacific coast, Manuel Antonio is probably best known for the nearby national park of the same name, which, although the smallest of the 25 parks in Costa Rica, is the most famous and best visited in the country. It has been named one of the 12 most beautiful national parks in the world, and comprises white sandy beaches, coral reefs, waterfalls and lush green rainforest that runs right down to the beaches – which are some of the finest in the country. The forest itself is home to a host of different plants and 293 species of animal, including squirrel monkeys, white-headed capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys, howling monkeys, sloths, raccoons, lizards, toucans, butterflies and many, many more. The animals are generally used to people, so visitors often have the chance to see them right up close.

Manuel Antonio is also a wonderful place to visit if you enjoy diving, snorkelling, kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking and sailing; and while out on the waves, you may also spot turtles, dolphins and whales.

Overnight stay: Hotel Costa Verde

Day 13: Manuel Antonio – San José

The itinerary for today takes you back to San José to return your car. You will spend your last night in Costa Rica here before starting your return journey to the UK.

The day’s driving distance: approx. 170 km

Overnight stay: Hotel Sleep Inn

Day 14: Return flight

The time has now come to bid farewell to Costa Rica. You will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport in San José to catch your flight to the UK, which will include connecting flights along the way.

Day 15: Return trip

Arrive back in the UK after a wonderfully eventful holiday.

Highlights of this tour:

San José, Tortuguero National Park, La Fortuna, the hot springs of Arenal, Monteverde cloud forest and Manuel Antonio National Park.

This package holiday includes the following:

  • Return flights from the UK to San José, with transfer(s) en route
  • Transfer from and to the airport (in small international groups)
  • Bus: San José – Tortuguero – Guapiles
  • 8 days’ car hire, including free mileage, GPS and insurance
  • 10 nights’ accommodation in good hotels incl. breakfast
  • 3 nights’ accommodation at Mawamba Lodge incl. full board
  • 1 x dinner (day 7)
  • Individual round trip, however, all excursions are in small international groups with local, English-speaking guides
  • Emergency hotline staffed 24/7 throughout your trip
  • ATOL certificate included
  • Departure guarantee – the tour will take place regardless of the number of participants
  • Daily departures

The following package of excursions are included:

  • Boat trip in Tortuguero rain forest
  • Excursion to the hot springs at Arenal
  • Hike through the Monteverde cloud forest on the hanging bridges
  • Admission tickets to the attractions mentioned, excluding Tortuguero National Park and Manuel Antonio National Park (to be paid on site)

Single room supplement: £900
Discounts are available for groups of 6 or more people
ENQUIRE NOW
15d/13n: Costa Rica self-drive holiday incl. Manuel Antonio National Park
Adults  Chd. u/12 y.

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