Costa Rica

Land of Natural Wonders

March 24-April 2, 2020 • 10 Days • $3650**

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.

**Traveler Rewards Program: New Travelers receive a $200 discount on the Costa Rica tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. Check out our Traveler Rewards page for more details.

Reserve your spot on this tour with a $500 Registration Deposit! Check below for more details.

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!

Arenal, home of one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, has become a centerpiece of our Costa Rica Adventure. We spend two nights here in a lovely lodge that provides a base for outstanding walks and activities throughout the Arenal area.  Our hotel really is a rural delight, with expansive gardens and its own hot springs, providing a great place to unwind after hiking through the rainforest with our naturalist guide – or consider participating in the optional zipline adventure.

Our time in Arenal is complemented by an outstanding itinerary filled with long-tested WAI favorites such as the central highlands coffee experience, fun and educational chocolate tours (the 6th food group!), early morning canal rides and walks in Tortuguero National Park, Cahuita jungle walking with howler monkeys, and several other Costa Rican “pura vida” (full of life) adventures!

Highlights:

  • Arenal Volcano – with a rainforest walk to see wildlife, along with breathtaking views of Lake Arenal and the volcano
  • 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!

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 (2 guides)
  • 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 of $525. We also provide a roommate matching service for those interested.

Activities/Visits to:

  • Rojas Coffee Plantation
  • Sarchi Town
  • Arenal National Park
  • Arenal Sky Tram
  • 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)
  • Sloth Sanctuary Visit (Day 7)

Featuring

  • Group Size: 24-28 Travelers

  • A 1:9 guide to traveler ratio

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

  • 6 Walk Routes

  • 23 meals: all breakfasts, 5 lunches and 9 dinners

  • 2 Walking Adventures Guides

  • 1 Local Guide

  • 3 National Parks

    • Arenal National Park

    • Tortuguero National Park

    • Cahuita National Park

  • Transportation in 40+ pax motorcoaches

And so much more! Check out the Daily Itinerary for more details. Traveler discounts available. See the More Details section for info.

Adventure Pace

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

Important Info

Group Size

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!

Your Guides

Walking Adventures Guides Todd & Chris JonesTodd and Chrissy Jones guide trips mainly during the summer. They have traveled in Asia, Europe, and North and South America, and are immensely grateful for opportunities to discover and appreciate new environments and cultures. During the school year, Chrissy works as a physical therapist supporting students with physical disabilities, and Todd teaches high school history, government and economics. Todd & Chrissy will be joined by a local guide throughout the Costa Rica tour. They look forward to sharing this land of natural wonders with you!

Itinerary

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

Day 1-Mar 24: 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. Cost, with a minimum of 10 travelers, is estimated at $90 per person

Day 2-Mar 25: La Garita – Arenal Volcano 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-Mar 26: Activities in Arenal Volcano area (BD)

Arenal National Park Walk – 6 km, rated 2B

This morning’s walk takes place in Arenal National Park and provides a stimulating mosaic of rainforest walking, wildlife sightings, and walking on lava flows. Vistas of Arenal Volcano can be had (weather permitting) multiple times during the walk. 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 for an estimated price of: $60

Day 4-Mar 27: Arenal – Sarapiqui (BD)

El Silencio Walk – 4 km, rated 3B
Chocolate Rainforest Walk – 4 km, rated 2C

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. 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-Mar 28: 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-Mar 29: 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-Mar 30: 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!

Sloth Sanctuary Visit: Travelers are invited to join us for an optional afternoon visit to a nearby sloth sanctuary! More details will be available soon.

Day 8-Mar 31: 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.

Day 9-Apr 1: 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-Apr 2: 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?

To save yourself a spot on this Adventure, contact us to register with a $500 deposit as soon as possible! We’ll take 24-28 travelers on this tour, with 2 Walking Adventures guides and our local guide accompanying, offering a guide to traveler ratio of 1:9.

Traveler Rewards Program

New Travelers receive a $200 discount on the Costa Rica tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. See the Traveler Rewards page for more details or contact us with any questions at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].

General Tour Conditions and Registration Forms

To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!

Tour Cancellations: Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel any tour departure with fewer than 15 participants, in which case registered participants will receive a 100% refund of payments received.

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).  We recommend that you contact Laura Pfahler, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided by email after you register for the Adventure.  Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us!

Optional Excursions

Three optional excursions are available during this Adventure: San Jose City Tour (Day 1), Arenal Sky Trek Zipline Experience (Day 3) and the Sloth Sanctuary Visit (Day 7).  If you would like to join us for any of these excursions, we have limited space available.  To guarantee your place, please let us know your decision at the time you register.

What about the walks?

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 at 1.800.779.0353.

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.

Other Planning Considerations

More information to help you plan will be included in the much longer Tips & Tidbits factsheet that is mailed out about four months before the trip.

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. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (email: [email protected] -OR- phone: 503-434-6401).  For those of you who purchase airfare through Laura, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. 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). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.

What happens next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter and initial invoice. An email with critical information on flight arrangements and the Adventure Advice flyer will be sent soon after, 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. Final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 3 weeks prior to that point, along with a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final 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.  Envision yourself lounging in geothermal hot springs beneath the shadow of Arenal Volcano, standing eye to eye with a chattering capuchin monkey on our Cahuita National Park Walk, or marveling at the multi-hued bill of a toucan in Tortuguero! Give us a call and talk to one of our Adventure Consultants about how to join us for this unforgettable Walking Adventure program in Costa Rica!