Costa Rica #1
Land of Natural Wonders
January 23 – February 1, 2022 • 10 Days • $3690
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.
NOTE: This is the first of two 2022 departures to Costa Rica. The itinerary for both are the same. Costa Rica #2 is from January 23 – February 1, 2022.
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 a central highlands coffee experience, a fun and educational chocolate tour (the 6th food group?!), a visit to a 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 haven from which to observe the wildlife Costa Rica is so well known for.
- Central Highlands – with a coffee tour and lunch at a family-owned coffee plantation. Coffee is the bean that raised Costa Rica from Central American poverty! NOTE: We will be in the Central Highlands for several days, but the coffee tour is an optional activity on Day 1 for travelers who arrive a day early on Day 0.
- Arenal – A picturesque, perfectly conical volcano whose slopes have provided a haven for an astonishing number of species
- 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!
- 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)
- 21 meals: 9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 9 dinners as listed (BLD)
- 12 walk routes
- Walking fees (6 stamps) 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 $675. We also provide a roommate matching service for those interested.
- Sarchi Oxcart Shop
- Butterfly Conservatory
- 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!
- Central Highlands Coffee Tour (Day 1)
- Arenal Sky Trek zipline experience (Day 3)
Click on each day to reveal more details. (BLD) refers to meals included – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
Day 1-Jan 23: 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. The timing of our Welcome Orientation meeting and dinner 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 a coffee plantation tour! A morning drive takes us through pastoral panoramas of the Central Highlands to a small, local 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 setting, a delightful cultural connection!
This excursion will start at 9 am and return to the hotel about 4 pm. Price TBA
Day 2-Jan 24: La Garita – Arenal area (BD)
Arenal Waterfall Walk – 3.5 km, rated 1B
More scenic Central Highlands driving takes us north for a stop in the village of Sarchi to observe traditional methods of crafting wooden coffee carts, and browse during of the rare shopping opportunities on this trip. From Sarchi, we continue towards Arenal Volcano, stopping for lunch in one of the small towns en route. Our home for the next two evenings is an eco-lodge tucked away in secondary rainforest in the shadow of one of the planet’s more active volcanoes. Upon arrival, a walk through the grounds to Danta Waterfall is available. Trail takes us from the lodge grounds to the Danta River to view the waterfall, and back through rolling farmland to the lodge.
Day 3-Jan 25: Activities in Arenal area (BD)
Lodge Rainforest Walk – 2 km, rated 1A
Butterfly Conservancy – 1 km, rated 1B
Sky Tram Walk – 3 km, rated 2B
After breakfast this morning, a wildlife walk guided by lodge staff is shows us more about how much life is hidden in plain sight in a Costa Rican rainforest. Later this morning, we 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.
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-Jan 26: Arenal – Sarapiqui (BD)
El Silencio Walk – 5 km, rated 3B
Chocolate Rainforest Walk – 4 km, rated 2C
On the opposite side of Arenal Volcano, 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 the walk, 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 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-Jan 27: Sarapiqui – Tortuguero (BLD)
Tortuguero Village Walk – 5 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 doubles as a viewing platform to spy on monkeys, crocs, and a seemingly limitless array of colorful birds. Our home for the next two nights 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.
Following lunch, join us for a walk into Tortuguero village. Tortuguero is hiding on the north Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica shrouded in its own isolated reality, interrupted only by visitors from the outside eager for a glimpse into their watery paradise! The 35 kilometers of black sand beach next to the tiny hamlet is the nesting site of more endangered green sea turtles than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere (nesting season is later in the summer). Our walk includes a short visit to the humble yet interesting Sea Turtle Conservancy.
Day 6-Jan 28: Activities in Tortuguero area (BLD)
Pachira-Aninga Tortuguero Nature Walk – 2 km, rated 1A
Cerro Tortuguero & San Francisco Walk – 3 km, rated 3B
An unforgettable morning wildlife cruise takes us in pursuit of toucans, sloths, iguanas, monkeys, and other Costa Rican critters parading through this wildlife wonderland! A late morning walk through on our lodge’s nature trail provides another intriguing window into the vibrant life, sometimes lethal, waiting to be discovered in these Caribbean rainforests.
Later this afternoon, an ascent of Cerro Tortuguero on a new, easy-to-navigate walkway finishes with a stroll through the humble settlement of San Francisco, housing immigrants from nearby Nicaragua drawn to tourism jobs in Tortuguero.
Day 7-Jan 29: Tortuguero – Puerto Viejo (BD)
We leave Tortuguero this morning for a return journey downriver. We rendezvous with our bus, stop for lunch, then continue further south along the Caribbean. Our final destination is the laid-back south Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo near Cahuita National Park. 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-Jan 30: Activities from Puerto Vieho (BD)
Cahuita National Park Walk – 9 km, rated 1B
Today’s trail begins with a delightful couple of kilometers on a boardwalk through deserted rainforest. The remainder of the path then winds along a palm-lined trail through a completely different kind of Costa Rica jungle – a “dry rainforest”. The route 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 denizens of the park. Late afternoon is free to enjoy the laid-back vibe in town or lounge around the pool back at our lodge directly across the road from the beach.
Day 9-Jan 31: 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-Feb 1: 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!
How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?
To register, a $200 deposit is required to hold your spot. This amount is non-refundable. A final payment is due 90 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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
- 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 Cancellation by WAI
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 frequently, 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 90 days before departure. Cancellations received in writing 89 to 60 days before departure will receive a 50% refund. No refunds are possible for cancellations received less than 60 days before departure. No refunds are possible for any unused or cancelled services once the tour has commenced.
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. 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!
Chrissy Jones is one of several WAI guides who does double duty with a day job. During the school year, she works as a physical therapist in the local school district. Chrissy has traveled in Asia, Europe, and North, Central, and South America, and is immensely grateful for opportunities to discover and explore our planet! Along with veteran guides Dan Friesen and Pat Lemmon, Chrissy took a deep dive into the cultures, climes, and the critters of Costa Rica in January 2020, helping to develop the walks and itinerary she will now be leading!
Ruth Burk has been sharing the world with Walking Adventures travelers for the past several years, offering highlights of European and American destinations, as well as WAI’s inaugural tours to Cuba, with fellow Adventurers! Always on the lookout for the best viewpoint or hole-in-the-wall café, Ruth’s enthusiasm for travel is contagious, and delights in finding hidden treasures along paths less traveled. When not traveling, Ruth operates her own business as a writer consultant for high tech companies.
Chrissy and Ruth will be joined by Oscar Vargas, a local guide, throughout the Costa Rica tour, and both look forward to sharing this land of natural wonders with you!
Twenty years ago, Dan Friesen, WAI owner, met Oscar Vargas on the first WAI adventure in Costa Rica. On that tour, he provided excellent service as our coach driver. Oscar has since expanded his skills as a tour guide and offers this window into his love of sharing Costa Rica. “Growing up with the most incredible number of species of flora and fauna gave me a unique passion to share Costa Rica with visitors. For more than 25 years I have helped people explore the special culture, history, gastronomy, national parks, volcanos, and all the magic of the ecosystems. As an ambassador of the land of “Pura Vida”, I love to call visitors ‘amigos’.”