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HomeTours to Central and South AmericaCosta RicaCosta Rica, Nicaragua & Tortuguero
19 days/17 nights:

Costa Rica, Nicaragua & Tortuguero

Highlights of this tour:

San José, the lowland region of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, visit to a pineapple farm, La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano and the hot springs of Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Rincon de la Vieja volcano, Granada, sailing trip on Lake Nicaragua, Isla Ometepe, Charco Verde lagoon, Ojo de Agua, Playa Samara, Tortuguero National Park.

This package holiday includes the following:

  • Return flights from the UK to San José (enquire regarding direct flights)
  • Transfer from and to the airport (in small international groups)
  • Bus: San José – Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí – La Fortuna – Rincón de la Vieja – Nicaragua – Playa Sámara – San José
  • By bus and boat to Isla Ometepe
  • 15 nights’ accommodation in good hotels incl. breakfast
  • 2 nights’ accommodation at Mawamba Lodge incl. full board
  • 1 x dinner (days 5)
  • Welcome meeting in San José
  • 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:

  • Guided tour of pineapple farm
  • Excursion to Arenal volcano and the hot springs
  • Boat trip on Lake Nicaragua
  • Tour of the city of Granada
  • Visit to the volcanic island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua
  • Boat tour and guided walk in the Tortuguero rainforest
  • Admission tickets to the attractions mentioned, excluding Tortuguero National Park (to be paid on site)
Single room supplement: £1200

Choose this tour because...

If you enjoy nature, wildlife and adventure, you will absolutely love this trip. Look forward to waterfalls, sandy beaches, fruit plantations and active volcanoes. These are just some of the delights awaiting you; others include brightly coloured frogs, monkeys, toucans, coatis, armadillos and butterflies in all colours of the rainbow. Costa Rica does not have any old, Spanish colonial buildings like most other countries in Central and South America – but Nicaragua certainly does! Your trip includes a visit to the Granada, a gem of colonial architecture, located on the shores of the gigantic Lake Nicaragua. Here, you will sample the country’s fantastic landscape with a visit to the hourglass-shaped, volcanic lake island of Isla Ometepe, famous for its rich pre-Colombian history, the lagoon of Charco Verde and the Ojo de Agua oasis. You will then have time to relax at one of the finest beaches in Costa Rica, before your fantastic journey comes to an end in the rainforest at Tortuguero, home to a rich variety of wildlife and all kinds of plants.

Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Flight to Costa Rica – San José
Day 1: Flight to Costa Rica – San José

Departure day, where you will fly to Costa Rica 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 take you to your hotel – a drive of around 30 min.

Overnight stay Hotel Sleep Inn

Day 2: San José – Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí
Day 2: San José – Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí

You will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the office of our partner, where you will attend a welcome meeting and run through your itinerary together. This will also be an opportunity for you to obtain answers to any questions you may have about travelling in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
From here, you proceed by car to Costa Rica’s beautiful lowland area, Sarapiqui. En route, you will pass Braulio Carrillo National Park, famous far and wide for its volcanoes and tropical forest. Your destination is the town of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, which is located 30 km from the border with Nicaragua. It is a beautiful town surrounded by verdant forest and plantations where bananas and sugar cane are grown. Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí was once a small harbour town, but has since transformed into a popular tourist/adventure holiday destination that provides the opportunity to try white water rafting.

The afternoon is yours to do with as you wish; for example, you can explore the local area, relax by the hotel pool, or stroll through the delightful hotel grounds, where you may well spot birds, butterflies and colourful poison dart frogs, which use their strong colours to ward off predators. It is believed that the poison these frogs produce comes from their food (ants, termites and maggots), whose natural toxins are concentrated in the frogs’ skin. The indigenous people have long been aware of the peculiar properties of these frogs, and generation after generation has used the poison to tip their arrows.

Overnight stay Ara Ambigua Lodge

Day 3: Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui
Day 3: Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui

The morning is given over to a visit to a pineapple farm, where you can find out more about this fascinating fruit and visit the packing department, where the produce is prepared for export. Naturally, you will also have the opportunity to taste the fruit at its freshest.

The afternoon is yours to do with as you wish.

Overnight stay Ara Ambigua Lodge

Day 4: Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí – La Fortuna
Day 4: Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí – La Fortuna

The time has now come to depart from the lowlands and head for the little 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.

Overnight stay Hotel Monte Real

Day 5: Arenal Volcano and the hot springs
Day 5: Arenal Volcano and the hot springs

The morning is yours to do with as you wish. For example, you can simply relax at the hotel or take a taxi out to the famous waterfall 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.

In the afternoon you are picked up at the hotel and driven to a private reserve right up next to the Arenal volcano. A short path, approx. 1 kilometre, takes you to a lookout point from which you have an excellent view of the volcano, Laguna Verde and Lake Arenal. Your guide provides you with exciting information on the active volcano.

Afterwards, you take a hike in the forest areas at the foot of the volcano. The guide tells you about the flora and fauna you may be lucky enough to spot, including toucans, peacocks, snakes and monkeys on your short hike.

The next stop is the hot springs of Arenal, which are naturally heated by the volcanic activity of the area. Here you can relax in the different pools, whose temperature is between 37-41 degrees. Remember your swimwear. There is also a small pool bar, where you can enjoy a drink before dinner is served.
After dinner, you are driven back to your hotel.

Overnight stay Hotel Monte Real

Day 6: Arenal – Rincón de la Vieja National Park
Day 6: Arenal – Rincón de la Vieja National Park

After breakfast, you will be picked up from the hotel and transported to Rincón de la Vieja National Park – a drive of around 3 hours. Rincón de la Vieja National Park covers an area of 14,084 hectares – constituting one of the most unspoiled and least visited areas of Costa Rica. The park was established in 1973 to protect the water supply to the area, and it features a fascinating combination of volcanic geological wonders and undisturbed tropical forest that is home to remarkable wildlife.

Overnight stay Cañón de la Vieja Lodge

Day 7: Rincón de la Vieja
Day 7: Rincón de la Vieja

Early in the morning, you will set off on a 3-km hike through the national park, which lies at an altitude of 600–1,916 masl and therefore presents an impressive variety of flora and fauna. In addition to its numerous waterfalls, the dense tropical forest is known for its rich and varied wildlife, which comprises monkeys, birds, ring-tailed coati, armadillos, lizards, iguanas and many other species. It is also here that you can find the greatest number of Cattleya Skinneri orchids, the national flower of Costa Rica. The biggest attraction, however, is surely the fire-ravaged stratovolcano Rincón de la Vieja, which consists of nine interlinked craters, including Santa Maria – which has the highest peak at 1,916 masl. These craters are the most active in the Guanacaste mountains, and you can watch gases and steam rising from the Von Seebach crater.

After the morning hike, the rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish. You can relax by the lodge’s pool or explore the park on your own, either on foot or on horseback. If you choose to visit the park, remember to take plenty of fluids with you along with a packed lunch, which you can order at the hotel. At the entrance, you will be given a map of the park, marked with the lengths and approximate timings of the various walks.

Please note that the national park is closed on Mondays.

Overnight stay Cañón de la Vieja Lodge

Day 8: Rincón de la Vieja – Granada, Nicaragua
Day 8: Rincón de la Vieja – Granada, Nicaragua

Today, you will be collected from your hotel and taken to Nicaragua, the biggest country in Central America. You will be driven to the border at Peñas Blancas before walking the last 100 metres or so to the Nicaraguan border post. Having crossed the border, you will be met by a guide who will accompany you to your hotel. The drive takes you alongside the enormous Lake Nicaragua; covering an area of 8,150 km² – 1,000 km² more than the Danish island of Zealand – this is the largest body of fresh water in Central America. The lake is also the habitat of the only species of freshwater shark known to man. It is connected to the Caribbean Sea by the navigable San Juan River, and on its banks stands the charming, accommodating colonial city of Granada, where you will be spending the next two nights. The city is well-known for its thriving cultural life featuring open air concerts and small galleries, as well as for its colonial churches, beautiful squares, colourful markets and tall palm trees. You will soon appreciate that the city has its own special atmosphere, which reflects its proud colonial past.

Overnight stay Hotel El Almirante

Day 9: Sailing trip on Lake Nicaragua – guided tour of Granada
Day 9: Sailing trip on Lake Nicaragua – guided tour of Granada

The first activity today is a trip on the waters of Lake Nicaragua, where you will sail among ‘Las Isletas’, a chain of 365 islands that were formed when the nearby Mombacho volcano erupted around 20,000 years ago and blew much of its cone into the lake. These islands are archaeologically and historically fascinating.

More treats await in the afternoon, when you will be taken on a tour of the city of Granada, partly in a horse-drawn carriage. The city was founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, and is named after the older city of Granada in Spain. The Spanish connection is also clearly highlighted by the urban architecture. As you pass through the streets, you will be able to see the magnificent old colonial buildings, the central square with its mango trees, and the churches of San Francisco (1529) and La Merces (1534).

The rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish.

Overnight stay Hotel El Almirante

Day 10: Isla Ometepe
Day 10: Isla Ometepe

Today’s highlight is a sailing trip to the figure-eight-shaped island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua. The name Ometepe means ‘the two mountains’ in the language of the indigenous people, and the island is indeed made up of two conical volcanoes: La Concepción, which rises to a height of 1,613 m and Maderas, whose peak is at 1,394 m. Maderas is a dormant volcano, which has shown no sign of activity for 1,000 years. It is heavily clad in lush rainforest, and features rivers and waterfalls, while the gravel slopes of the still active La Concepción are largely barren, with lush plant growth only commencing around its base. The early indigenous people considered Ometepe to be their Promised Land – Maderas was the sacred place of the Sun, while Concepción was brother to the Moon.

In addition to its peculiar shape and two volcanoes, Ometepe is famous for its rich pre-Colombian past, and in the area around your hotel, you can still see a number of rock paintings and engravings from this period.

After checking in at your hotel, the rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish.

Overnight stay Xalli Ometepe Beach Hotel

Day 11: Isla Ometepe
Day 11: Isla Ometepe

On the agenda for today: a guided tour of the island, where you can find out more about the fascinating local history, visit the green lagoon Charco Verde, which is famous for the richness of its flora and fauna, and stop off at Ojo de Agua which features two swimming pools that are half natural and half artificial. The source of the water is natural, but the pool itself is made of concrete and stone and has a sandy base. You will naturally have time to enjoy a refreshing dip in the water before heading back to the hotel.

Overnight stay Xalli Ometepe Beach Hotel

Day 12: Nicaragua – Playa Sámara
Day 12: Nicaragua – Playa Sámara

Today it is time to say goodbye to Nicaragua and head back to Costa Rica. You will be picked up at your hotel, sailed over to the mainland, and driven to the relaxing Costa Rican coastal town of Sámara, which is located on the western shore of the Nicoya peninsula. You will be spending the next two nights in this town, which has a fine range or restaurants and shops, as well as a small number of bars. Sámara is particularly well-known for Playa Sámara – its long, broad, sandy beach, which is one of the safest beaches in Costa Rica. The beach is bordered by palm trees and tropical plants – and by a 5 km stretch of coast where the water is home to live coral and colourful fish, making it a wonderful place for snorkelling and diving.

Overnight stay Hotel Giada

Day 13: Playa Sámara
Day 13: Playa Sámara

The day is yours to do with as you wish: stroll through the town, relax by the hotel pool, or laze the hours away on the beach.

Overnight stay Hotel Giada

Day 14: Playa Sámara – San José
Day 14: Playa Sámara – San José

You will be picked up from your hotel and driven to San José – a journey of approx. 4 hours. After checking in at your hotel, the rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish.

The centre of San José is not overly large, so it is relatively easy to find your way around. You could, for example, take a stroll along the pedestrian street, which 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 15: San José – Tortuguero National Park
Day 15: 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 two 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. After your arrival and check-in, lunch is served. In the afternoon, you visit the small village of Tortuguero with a guide.

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

Day 16: Tortuguero National Park
Day 16: Tortuguero National Park

Your stay here includes a guided walk in the area as well as a boat trip on the canals, which is a great way to experience the life and many sounds of the rainforest. The guide is good at spotting animals, and you will also learn about the flora of the rainforest.

The rest of the day 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.

It is possible to purchase extra excursions at the lodge.

Overnight stay Mawamba Lodge

Day 17: Tortuguero National Park – San José
Day 17: Tortuguero National Park – San José

Today, you will sail back to Guapiles, where lunch will be served. It will then be time to head back to San José for a final night in Costa Rica before your trip home.

Overnight stay Hotel Sleep Inn

Day 18: Return flight
Day 18: 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 to catch your flight to the UK, which will include connecting flights along the way.

Day 19: Return trip
Day 19: Return trip

Arrive back in the UK after a wonderfully eventful holiday.

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