Boutique small group tour to Costa Rica and Panama
Eco Paradises in Central America
Fully escorted 20 days, 19 nights
4th – 23rd February 2020
No single supplement.
This boutique small group tour to Costa Rica and Panama will take us from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea. Costa Rica occupies only 20 thousand square miles but whilst it might be small in landmass, it’s within the top 20 richest countries in biodiversity on earth in terms of species density.
It offers almost limitless possibilities that include extensive rain forests, volcanoes, rivers travelling through mountains, beaches and natural resources all safeguarded by national parks and reserves. Working with our local guide for this boutique small group tour to Costa Rica, we have selected some very special locations and experiences for you to enjoy.
Panama, known for its famous canal also provides a vibrant lesson in biodiversity. A spectacular number of mammal and bird species can be found in its tropical forests, pristine islands, highland cloud jungles and coral reefs. We’ll visit an Embera Indian village and the San Blas Islands, an archipelago comprising 365 island managed in a semi-autonomous zone by its traditional owners thus gaining a genuine insight into the ways in which they are working to protect their culture and heritage.
3 nights Hotel Presidente, San Jose. Enjoy the rooftop patio and bar of this perfectly located hotel.
3 nights Arenal Springs Resort & Spa. Unbeaten views of the Volcano and an opportunity to enjoy the natural hot springs.
2 nights El Establo, Monteverde. A stunning setting with balconies overlooking the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
3 nights Shana, Manuel Antonio. Between the beach and the National Park the location is perfect as is the Spa.
6 nights Panama City – 4 nights on arrival and 2 nights before departure.
2 nights San Blas Islands Yandup lodge. On its own private island. An opportunity to experience this remote region.
- Meet and greet at San Jose Airport for individual transfers
- English speaking guide for the entire tour
- 19 nights’ accommodation
- 19 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 9 dinners
- Comfortable air conditioned transport for transfers and excursions
- Visit to Cartago and Lankester Gardens with its 800 species of orchids
- Visit to Poas Volcano National Park and La Paz Waterfall Gardens
- Walking tour of San Jose and the Central Market
- Cable car and walking tour of Arenal Volcano
- Discover the 4 eco-systems in the Monteverde Cloud Forest
- Night walk in ecological sanctuary
- Nature walk at Manuel Antonio Park with its sloths, monkeys, anteaters and iguanas
- Group transfer to San Jose International Airport for flight to Panama
- Panama City and Canal tour
- Chagres National Park home to an abundance of tropical plants, 114 mammals and 396 bird species
- Traditional Embera Indian village tour
- Return flights to San Blas Islands
- Group transfer to Panama City airport for onward flights
- Entry fees for scheduled visits
- Tips for drivers and guides
Boutique small group tour to Costa Rica Itinerary
Itinerary: Days 1 – 11
Day 1: Arriving in San Jose, Costa Rica you will be met individually and escorted to the waiting driver for the transfer to your hotel. Meet your fellow travellers over pre-dinner drinks. D
Day 2: This morning we’ll explore the city of San Jose, discovering its history, culture and markets. First we’ll visit the splendid and historic Teatro Nacional and the city’s gustatory crossroads, its Central Market. Not only is the central market a fantastic food and craft market it’s also the place to discover local life. After lunch there will be time to further explore the delights of the city. BL
Day 3: We’ll commence our day with a visit to Cartago. When Spanish Governor, Juan Vasquez de Coronado founded the city of Cartago in 1563, he claimed that he’d never seen a more beautiful valley. To say nothing of the most majestic colonial buildings the Spanish constructed to complement its location. Lush green fields encircle the city, coffee seems to grow everywhere on the steep mountain slopes and in addition it forms the gateway to Lankester Botanical Gardens with its 800 species of orchids. B
Day 4: Checking out of our hotel this morning we’ll head to the Northern Plains home to the impressive Arenal Volcano. Keep an eye out for toucans overhead and sloths in the trees. Enjoy seeing how some of your favourite tropical fruits and vegetables are grown as we pass pineapple and banana plantations, fields of papayas, and rows and rows of yucca.
With an early afternoon arrival at our hotel we’ll have ample time to settle in and enjoy the hotel facilities including the mineral hot springs. BL
Day 5: A cable car tour will take us through the rain forest providing endless views. Uniquely, we can stop the cable car at any time to capture magnificent photographs and observe the bird species which abound in the tropical forest. We’ll take a walk on the wild side via the famous hanging bridges of Costa Rica. This 3km trail has 16 state-of-the-art hanging bridges accessing the forest’s rich biodiversity and looping through the mountainous area. Here we’ll both hear and see the animals nestling in the tree tops. BL
Day 6: After a leisurely breakfast we’ll take a walk to La Fortuna Waterfall Reserve where we can cool off before lunch in the freshwater of the Fortuna River. This afternoon, we’ll hike to the Arenal Volcano across recent lava flows into the foothills of this colossus. BL
Day 7: It’s chocolate time with the best chocolate in Costa Rica! In this 2-hour “hands-on” program, we’ll participate in all the production processes of the traditional drink of Central American ancestors, not to mention, enjoying a tasting of this high quality product.
After lunch we’ll continue our journey into the Monteverde Cloud Forest and our hotel where there will be time to relax before dinner. BLD
Day 8: Here in the Monteverde Biological Reserve we’ll discover the 4 distinct eco-systems home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles as well as a variety of plants, vines and trees. Having worked up an appetite we’ll exercise our skills in a cooking class using open-air wood burning ovens to prepare a traditional Tico meal.
After dinner it will be time for a night walk in the Ecological Sanctuary to see fireflies shine and phosphorescent mushrooms. BLD
Day 9: Travelling back down the mountains we’ll head for the warm Central Pacific Coast and Manual Antonio. En-route we’ll stop at the famous Tarcola River Bridge to observe the giant crocodiles. The afternoon is free to enjoy the facilities of the hotel and its surrounds. B
Day 10: Beautiful beaches and the Manual Antonio National Park with its numerous species of monkeys, anteaters, iguanas resting in the rain forest guarantee a great combination and a relaxing way to enjoy the day. The park was listed by Forbes as one of the 12 most beautiful parks in the world and therefore one to be savoured. B
Day 11: Back on the beach we’ll take a catamaran tour not only to go snorkeling but also to head to one of the best locations to spot hunchback whales and many other marine species in this beautiful part of Costa Rica. Lunch is included and dinner tonight will provide a farewell to the first stage of our journey to the eco-paradises of Central America. As they say in Costa Rica, “Pura Vida”. BLD
Itinerary: Days 12 – 20
Day 12: After check-out we’ll head to the airport in San Jose for our short flight to Panama City. Our local Panamanian guide will meet us at the airport for the transfer to our hotel and the start of our adventures in Panama. BD
Day 13: A full day tour will take in the site where the city was built after the destruction of old Panama. We’ll visit the San Jose church with its golden alter, the Bourdas (jail of the Spanish era) and the old Panama Ruins founded by the Spaniards in 1519 and destroyed in 1671 by English Pirate, Henry Morgan. After enjoying a typical local lunch we’ll head to the famous canal via the Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side of the canal. BL
Day 14: Today we’re heading into Chagres National Park. It’s home to an abundance of tropical plants and animals with 114 mammal species including whitetail deer, Geoffroy’s spider monkeys and all five species of big cats. The Chagres River was dammed to form the Panama Canal and the water flowing from the Chagres park comprises nearly 40% of the water in the Canal.
At the mouth of the Chagres River we’ll be met and transported by dugout canoes to a traditional village of the indigenous Embera Indians. A wonderful opportunity to learn more about their culture and share a traditional meal. BL
Day 15: A drive of 120ks out of the city will have us arriving in El Valle, a beautiful mountain village located on the side of an extinct volcano. It’s the largest inhabited crater in the world. El Valle enjoys a cool climate year round and, as such, has become a weekend retreat for many wealthy Panamanians, who have built beautiful villas and country homes here. Equally, it’s also a land of history and legend. Inhabited for hundreds of years by several Native American tribes, the area is also famous for some rare petroglyphs which have not yet been deciphered. B
Day 16: Today is a free day to further explore the city of Panama. This evening we’ll come together to enjoy a folkloric dinner and dance show. BD
Day 17: A morning departure for our flight to San Blas Islands. The islands of the San Blas Archipelago are strung out along the Caribbean coast of Panama from the Golfo de San Blas nearly all the way to the Colombian border. San Blas is a series of 378 islands of which only 49 are inhabited by the fiercely independent Kuna Indians. Although only a 20-minute plane ride away from Panama City, a trip to the San Blas islands will transport us 20 centuries into the past.
The Kuna Indians run all the islands as an autonomous province with minimal interference from the national government. They have maintained their own economic system, language, customs and culture, similarly, a distinctive dress, legends, music and dance and thus have avoided traditional tourism development. The economy of the islands is based on coconut sales, fishing and tourism. Facilities are few and simple, as equally is the food.
Our accommodation will be in Yandup Lodge. The rooms are kuna style (wooden cabins over the water or ocean front) and have Orthopedic mattresses, ceiling fans, balcony, solar powered electricity, hammocks, private bathroom, mosquito nets and closets. BLD
Day 18: San Blas is famous for one of its arts and crafts, the mola. Kuna women make rainbow colored fabrics, emblazoned with fish, birds, jungle animals and geometric designs that would impress Picasso himself. The men still fish from canoes as they did before Columbus came. They still run up to the corner coconut palm trees for something fresh and cool to drink each morning, just as they have for untold centuries.
Today we’ll have an opportunity to visit a neighbouring island and learn more about the Kuna and their traditions. BLD
Day 19: Time to leave island life to return to the city. An early morning departure and the rest of the day free for any last minute shopping or sightseeing before our farewell dinner this evening at one of Panama City’s finest restaurants. BD
Day 20: Checking out of the hotel a group transfer will be provided to the international airport for your onward or homeward journey. B
Customized Tours: This tour can be customized and operate on any date for a group of minimum 6.
Boutique small group tour to Costa Rica and Panama(Per person)
- Reductions available for twin share. Not included: International airfares into San Jose, Costa Rica and out of Panama City, Panama