Costa Rica

Land of Natural Wonders

January 2022 • 10 Days • Approx $3500

Costa Rica is an explosion of life! With a seashore to mountaintop topography, a tropical climate, and a geographical identity making it a land bridge between the Americas, it boasts a hospitable 12 ecological zones and 30 types of rain forests.

This trip is “under construction”. JOIN THE LIST to get your name on the Traveler Interest List. This entitles you to updates between now and when we officially launch the Adventure. AND you get a week bonus time to study the itinerary and make up your mind before we announce open registration to the full mailing list.

Tour Type: Classic Curated

No other country on the planet has a greater number of species per square mile or offers so many fun and educational pursuits for the traveler in such a small package!

Our outstanding itinerary is filled with long-tested WAI favorites such as the central highlands coffee experience, a fun and educational chocolate tour (the 6th food group!), a visit to the colorful butterfly conservancy, an early morning canal ride and walk in Tortuguero National Park, Cahuita jungle walking with howler monkeys, and several other Costa Rican “pura vida” (full of life) adventures!

Our hotels in particular on this tour are rural delights, with expansive gardens and beautiful locales, providing a wonderful retreat after a full day’s activities and a relaxing spot to observe the wildlife Costa Rica is so well known for.

Highlights:

  • Central Highlands – with a coffee tour and lunch at a remote, family-owned coffee plantation. Coffee is the bean that raised Costa Rica from Central American poverty!
  • Cahuita National Park – boasting a memorable “dry jungle” trail along the Caribbean in the company of howler monkeys
  • Tortuguero – two days to explore this jungle haven for iguanas, monkeys, sloths, and toucans. Cruising through rain forest canals at dawn on the lookout for critters is a once in a lifetime experience!

This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with finalized dates and pricing will be made available!

Including:

  • Airport to hotel group transfers on first and last day
  • All land travel by motorcoach as outlined
  • Tourist-class hotel accommodations or better in remote, uniquely Costa Rican settings (all facilities en suite)
  • 23 meals: 9 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 9 dinners as listed (BLD)
  • 6 walk routes
  • Walking fees for those collecting IVV credit (pending sanction approval)
  • Cultural & historical expertise of a local guide throughout
  • WAI guide service throughout
  • All tipping for local guides, coach drivers and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy; a limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement. We also provide a roommate matching service for those interested.

Activities/Visits to:

  • Rojas Coffee Plantation
  • Sarchi Town
  • Arenal Sky Tram
  • Butterfly Conservatory
  • El Silencio Mirador Reserve
  • Tirimbina Rainforest Center Chocolate Tour
  • Jungle river cruise to Tortuguero
  • Tortuguero wildlife canal cruise
  • Tortuguero National Park
  • Cahuita National Park
  • Escazú Encanto de la Piedra Blanca Sugar Cane Mill and Mascarade visit
  • More fun stops than we can list!

Optional Excursions:

  • San Jose City Tour (Day 1)
  • Arenal Sky Trek zipline experience (Day 3)

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

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Important Info

Group Size

Approximately 24-28 travelers

Hotels

Tourist-class hotel accommodations or better in remote, uniquely Costa Rican settings (all facilities en suite)

Meals

23 meals: all breakfasts, 5 lunches and 9 dinners as denoted in itinerary (BLD)

Airfare

Not Included. Official start and finish point is the Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica (airport code SJO).

Transportation

Included. We use motorcoaches seating 40+.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Itinerary

This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with finalized dates and pricing will be made available!

Click on each day to reveal more details. (BLD) refers to meals included – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Day 1: Arrive Costa Rica (D)

Our Costa Rica Adventure begins today as travelers arrive into Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaría International Airport. Our hotel is set beside a lovely pool amidst tropical vegetation in nearby La Garita. Information on our first group activity will be provided once all travelers’ flight itineraries have been received.

Travelers who opt to arrive a day early into this Central American paradise are invited to join us for an exploration of the highlights of the capital city, San Jose. Our time is spent in the core of the historic city visiting and walking between three primary attractions: the National Theater, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, and the National Museum.

National Theater: Considered the finest historic building in San Jose, the National Theater harkens back to the golden years of coffee production in the late 19th century. Coffee was the economic engine that pulled Costa Rica out of the poverty that has typified Central America, and Ticos (Costa Ricans) are justly proud of this icon of their country’s hard work and growing status.

Pre-Columbian Gold Museum: “Pre-Columbian” simply refers to the period before Columbus and the incursion of European colonizers. The museum displays over 1600 gold artifacts dating from the 15th century back to AD 500. Though we don’t hear as much about gold motivating conquistadors in Central America as in Mexico and South America, you may be surprised at the collection, and the workmanship on display.

National Museum: Located in a converted early 20th century fortress, the National Museum provides a good historical overview of Costa Rica.

This excursion will start at 9 am and return to the hotel about 4 pm. Price TBA

Day 2: La Garita – Arenal area (BLD)

A morning drive takes us through panoramas of the Central Highlands to the Rojas Family Coffee Plantation. Here, we learn about the potent little bean that revolutionized Costa Rica’s economy in the 19th century, then share lunch with our hospitable hosts in their pleasant plantation home, a delightful cultural connection! After stopping in the village of Sarchi to observe traditional methods of crafting wooden coffee carts, we continue along more scenic, rural roads to a charming lodge in the vicinity of Arenal Volcano, one of the more active volcanoes on the planet.

Day 3: Activities in Arenal area (BD)

El Silencio Walk – 5 km, rated 3B

El Silencio Rainforest Walk takes us into thick tropical jungle that opens onto breathtaking views of Lake Arenal and the volcano! Along the trail, watch for raucous howler monkeys, curious coatimundis, tiny whizzing hummingbirds, and brilliant Blue Morpho butterflies. Following a break for lunch, the afternoon activity takes us into the jungle canopy on the Sky Tram and Trek excursion—an excellent aerial tram/zipline experience. All of us ascend through the Arenal jungle on the slow-moving Sky Tram, enjoying expansive views and up-close-and-personal connections to the rainforest canopy. At the far end of the tram line, those ready for an adrenaline rush return via Sky Trek—whizzing through the jungle on ziplines with hearts pumping. Those preferring the more sedate pace of the Sky Tram have time to enjoy the views before returning by Sky Tram over the same route to the bottom station, there to be reunited with the Sky Trekkers. The Sky Tram experience is included; the Sky Trek zipline is an optional activity.

Day 4: Arenal – Sarapiqui (BD)

Chocolate Rainforest Walk – 4 km, rated 2C

Today we also have the opportunity to visit a butterfly conservatory that houses the largest exhibition of butterflies in Costa Rica.  Here we learn about the butterfly lifecycle, see butterflies from all four of the Arenal region’s climate zones, and learn about butterfly, amphibian (i.e. frog), and rainforest regeneration research being done at the center. Late morning, we board the bus for a drive to Sarapiqui, a region in northern Costa Rica boasting some of the country’s richest pockets of untouched forest. After time for lunch, the first afternoon activity is an enchanting visit to Tirimbina Rainforest Center. Here, on a plot of land that was once a cacao-growing plot, our guide shares the intriguing process of transforming cacao into chocolate, with the tantalizing possibility of sharing a few samples! Following this fascinating hands-on demonstration, the Chocolate Rainforest Walk takes us through a rainforest nature reserve, crossing several bridges and introducing us to multiple ecosystems.

Day 5: Sarapiqui – Tortuguero (BLD)

Tortuguero San Francisco Village Walk – 3 km, rated 1B

Following a morning drive through the luxuriant rain forests of Braulio Carrillo National Park, we board a jungle riverboat that winds through a labyrinthine network of canals and rivers to Tortuguero National Park. Our boat provides an idyllic viewing platform to spy on monkeys, crocs, and a seemingly limitless array of colorful birds. Our home for the next two nights, Pachira Lodge, is nestled in the Caribbean jungle, accessible only by boat or plane. This little strip of land sandwiched between the Caribbean and a watery world of lagoons and canals is caught in a time warp—no cars, no streets, and very few signs of post 19th century life.

Day 6: Activities in Tortuguero area (BLD)

Tortuguero Town Walk – 4 km, rated 1B

An unforgettable morning wildlife cruise takes us in pursuit of toucans, sloths, iguanas, monkeys, and other local residents. Following lunch and a siesta, join us for a walk into Tortuguero village to visit the sea turtle conservancy.  The 35 kilometers of black sand beach next to the tiny hamlet of Tortuguero is the nesting site of more endangered green sea turtles than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere (nesting season is later in the summer). Later this afternoon, enjoy a stroll through the gardens and jungle surrounding our lodge in search of lizards, leafcutter ants, more of our feathered friends, and any other Costa Rican critters parading through this wildlife wonderland!

Day 7: Tortuguero – Cahuita (BD)

We leave Tortuguero this morning for a return journey downriver. Images of Humphrey Bogart on the African Queen come to mind as we float through this otherworldly tropical environment. We rendezvous with our bus, stop for lunch, then continue further south along the Caribbean. Our final destination is the funky, laid-back Jamaican village of Cahuita, gateway to Cahuita National Park. Our lodging tonight is unsurprisingly rustic and laid-back as well. Time moves even slower in this isolated corner of Costa Rica – it’s a great spot to unplug and unwind by the pool!

Day 8: Activities in Cahuita (BD)

Cahuita National Park Walk – 10 km, rated 1B

The wide, palm-lined trail takes us through a completely different kind of Costa Rica jungle – a “dry rainforest”. The path through Cahuita National Park parallels a crystalline, sapphire sea offering opportunities to spot a menagerie of slinking sloths, brilliant butterflies, curious coatimundis, mischievous white-faced capuchin monkeys, and any number of winged citizens of the park. The afternoon is free to enjoy the laid-back vibe in town (the food is delicious) or lounge around the pool at our equally laid-back hotel, directly across the dirt road from the beach.

Animal Rescue Center: Travelers who complete just a portion of the walk for the day will have time to visit an animal rescue center and join a public tour. The local animal rescue center is a place where staff and volunteers spend their days retrieving sick, injured, or orphaned animals and assisting with their rehabilitation. At any time this non-profit rescue is home to up to 200 animals including sloths, monkeys, birds, snakes, turtles, crocodiles, and large cats. 

Day 9: Cahuita – La Garita (BLD)

We leave the Caribbean today to return to the Central Highlands. The day’s main activity offers cultural connections in the colorful mountain town of Escazú. A sugar cane mill visit here provides a demonstration of traditional sugar production in Costa Rica. Don Gerardo’s mascarade workshop then opens a fun window into Costa Rican culture by demonstrating the process of creating these colorful traditional “puppets” used to celebrate festivals and parades. This evening, we’re back in the same lovely hotel in which we started the Adventure. Join us tonight for a Farewell Dinner to reminisce about our explorations throughout captivating Costa Rica!

Day 10: Depart Costa Rica (B)

We leave Costa Rica this morning on a return flight to the USA with fond memories of our adventures in this land of breathtaking beauty, diversity, and wonder!

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

If pricing or dates are not yet available for a tour, you can express interest by hitting the Join the List button on the right-hand side of this webpage. Getting your name on this list gives you priority notification when dates are finalized and pricing is ready. You’ll receive an email a week before the completed brochure is posted on our website and registration is open to the public.

To register, a transferable $200 deposit is required to hold your spot. This amount is non-refundable; however, up until 60 days before departure, it can be transferred to a different tour.  A final payment is due 60 days before departure and you will receive a prompt email from us a week or two in advance.

An email with critical information on flight arrangements will be sent soon after registration, with important details about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email.

Please follow this link to read our full General Tour Conditions.

What's a Curated Classic Tour?

With help from local experts and walking guides, these itineraries are hand-crafted with extensive on-site planning by WAI tour planners.

When planning Classic Curated Tours, our objective is to capture the essence of a destination–the history, culture, and natural wonders unique to that part of the world. We then build activities and walks that take us inside these characteristics.

Yes, these tours are educational, but they are also interactive and immersive; walking gets us off the bus and penetrates local cultures to not only see but touch, smell, and feel these special spaces.

Along the way, local walking guides amplify the experience by sharing insights into the magic of that particular location.

Walk Ratings

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. Because these are group walks, the success of the walks is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness in order to ensure that we are walking at a somewhat similar pace. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

How is airfare arranged?

The official start and finish point for this Adventure is Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica (airport code SJO). More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided after this tour has been finalized.

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. This is now especially true in the era of COVID-19, which is typically treated like any other illness for travel insurance purposes. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler and Sharon Mitchell of World Travel Inc. are travel agents who provides air travel and insurance services to many WAI travelers.

Check out Insurance Tips from World Travel for a short introduction to travel insurance. (NOTE: WAI receives no commission or financial remuneration from World Travel Inc.).

As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the SquareMouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options include:

  • Allianz
  • Betins
  • Travel Guard
  • Travel Insured International

NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). Travelers interested in purchasing “cancel for any reason” insurance coverage should be careful to check pricing and terms BEFORE they register for a tour. Recent changes in the international travel landscape has caused changes in the policies of some insurance companies, and made the purchase of this particular type of policy even more time-sensitive.

Tour Cancellations

Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel this tour departure with fewer than 12 participants, in which case registered participants will receive a 100% refund of payments received. This refund policy contains one exclusion related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many suppliers require non-refundable deposits as a condition of booking services. Unforeseen circumstances linked to the virus can force us to cancel a tour. Due to these supplier’s non-refundable policies, WAI intends to retrieve as much of these deposits as possible, but cannot guarantee a 100% refund. In cases where full refunds cannot be obtained for a cancelled tour, we will do our best to transfer unrefunded money as traveler credits to be applied to a future tour to that destination.

View our full Coronavirus FAQ for more details.

COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

The Our Approach to Fun but Prudent Travel document identifies and explains Covid-19 mitigation policies and procedures WAI is using as a starting point for our 2021 tours. Because the knowledge base about COVID-19 changes daily, we review these policies and procedures on an ongoing basis, and will, of course, notify travelers on tour of updates as we approach the departure date of your tour.

Contact our office with any questions at 360.260.9393 or [email protected].

COVID-19 Travel Waiver

During this age of COVID-19, WAI evaluates worldwide reports and conditions on an ongoing basis. Please read our COVID-19 Policies and Procedures document before signing the COVID-19 Travel Waiver. Participation in this tour requires your signature on the COVID-19 Travel Waiver.

Contact our office with any questions at 360.260.9393 or [email protected].

What Happens Next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome email and initial invoice notifying you of your tour balance and due date. You will be able to make that payment online or over the phone as well. Any other payments necessary for optional services or one-off decisions can also be made this way.

An email with critical information on flight arrangements will be sent soon after registration, with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email.

About 10 weeks before departure, you will receive a final statement reminder about the final tour payment, which is due 60 days before departure. Around 2-3 two weeks before departure, you will receive a final email packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

Take a few minutes to peruse the enclosed itinerary. In the end, we think you will agree that walking is still and always the best way to experience our world. Join us for this memorable Walking Adventure program through the Costa Rica—Land of Natural Wonders!