Costa Rica Tour Plan

Costa Rica is among countries that start with C listed on Geographically, the tropical paradise of Costa Rica can be divided into five areas: 1.) the volcanic mountains of the Cordilleras, the highest peak of which, the Chirripó Grande, rises 3,840 m above sea level; 2.) the central highlands with the capital San José, in which about 400,000 of the more than 4 million residents of Costa Rica live; 3.) the alluvial plains on the Caribbean coast, 4.) the Pacific coast and 5.) the dry Guanacaste peninsula in the northwest. Visit for other countries that start with C.

Costa Rica 1

  • Day 1: Arrival in San José
  • Day 2: Irazú Volcano – Prussia Park – San José
  • Day 3: Gulf of Nicoya – Isla Chira – Mangroves – Monte Alto
  • Day 4: Monte Alto forest reserve, orchids and nature conservation
  • Day 5: Dream beaches in Carillo and Sámara
  • Day 6: Discovery day in Sámara: beach, boat tours, turtles
  • Day 7: Nicoya – Monteverde Cloud Forest – Night hike in the children’s rain forest
  • Day 8: Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve
  • Day 9: Lake and Arenal volcano – hike on lava fields – La Fortuna – thermal springs
  • Day 10: Rio Celeste
  • Day 11: Sarapiquí – Pozo Azul
  • Day 12: Sarapiquí – Cahuita
  • Day 13: Cahuita National Park
  • Day 14: Return to San José
  • Day 15: Adiós, Costa Rica!
  • Day 16: Hello, Europe – Welcome home!

He’s a strange bird: When the green male Quetzal with the bright red belly is on courtship, it first rises in a wavy flight and calls upwards. Then it’s down again in a dive. We are in the cloud forest of Monteverde, the cradle of Costa Rica ecotourism. You can also encounter hummingbirds here, as well as hundreds of species of butterflies and black howler monkeys. With a view of the bedroom, they dangle from long arms from trees, until suddenly someone starts playing in the highest notes. Whether we’re walking on the ground or over swaying suspension bridges, it’s green as far as you can see. Perhaps we can already see the pointed volcano Arenal, which we visit on its cooled lava rocks: It is impressive how nature recaptures this habitat that was destroyed in the 1968 eruption.

Costa Rica is a lush natural paradise with turtle beaches and bays with colorful fish. We witness a rare phenomenon on the Rio Celeste: its sky-blue color is created when two rivers with completely different chemical properties meet.

We keep talking to Ticas and Ticos, as the Costa Ricans call themselves: The women’s cooperative CASEM feeds us, on the fishing island Isla de Chira we visit the ecotourism project of Damas de Chira. At the port of Palito we board the boat with which we glide through the mangrove forests. Herons, frigate birds and pink spoonbills live here. That night we go to sleep in the middle of the jungle; if you want, you can even do so in the half-open “Rancho”.

Meals: B = breakfast / L = lunch / packed lunch / D = dinner

1st day:

Arrival in San José

Today our journey begins in Costa Rica. Our guide awaits us at the airport and takes us to our hotel in San José. There we have the rest of the day to get to know the city better. How about a trip to the Escalante district? There have been numerous, colorful and inviting restaurants and bars for a few years now. You can also enjoy your first cocktail here!

Travel time: 30-45 min.
Overnight stay in a hotel (Hotel Fleur de Lys or similar)
(- / – / -)

2nd day:

Irazú Volcano – Prussia Park – San José

Today we drive to the “vegetable garden” of Costa Rica on the slopes of the Irazú volcano. Here potatoes are still grown at an altitude of 3,000 m! In the indigenous language the volcano Iaratzu – rumbling mountain – is called and with 3,432 m it is the highest and most active volcano in Costa Rica. At the summit you can see both seas on a clear day, the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific. Following a serpentine road we wind our way up into the treeless Páramo vegetation of the national park. Once at the starting point, we take a walk in the lunar landscape on the edge of the turquoise shimmering sulfur lagoon of the 1,050 m wide and 300 m deep main crater. Then we go on a hike in the mixed forest of Parque Prussias, which is also part of the national park. Pine, eucalyptus and other trees tower high above our heads. The park also provides habitat for numerous different species of birds, and we might discover some of the more than 40 different species. We have our lunch in Cartago, the capital of the province of the same name, where the first Spanish settlement in Costa Rica was founded in 1563. Afterwards we go back to San José where we end the evening with a meal together.

Driving time: approx. 2 hours.
Hike: approx. 3 hours (10 km, +/- 400 m)
Overnight stay in a hotel (Hotel Fleur de Lys or similar)
(B / – / D)

3rd day:

Gulf of Nicoya – Isla Chira – Mangroves – Monte Alto

The day starts early this morning. Over the highlands of Puriscal – shaped by coffee, tobacco and sugar cultivation – you go down into the lowlands to the Pacific to Puntarenas, the country’s old seaside resort and Pacific port. A very special experience begins here: We cross the Gulf of Nicoya and land on Isla de Chira. The world seems to have stopped on this fishing island. We get off the bus at Playa del Muerto and enjoy the quiet of the mangrove forests. At low tide we hike on the beach to Montero to the Lodge La Amistad and at high tide on paths along the road. Afterwards we visit the women’s project Damas de Chira, which brought sustainable tourism and environmental awareness to the island. After lunch, continue to Palito port, Starting point for a boat trip through the mangrove forest of San Pablo, the habitat for countless herons, pelicans, sea eagles, frigate birds, the pink spoonbill and many other animals. With a little luck, you can also see a crocodile. Back on the Nicoya Peninsula, we continue to Hojancha in the nearby Monte Alto forest reserve. Here, a citizens’ initiative is protecting existing forests and reforesting the surrounding mountain slopes in order to secure the water supply of the place and the biodiversity of the Rio Nosara. Dinner and overnight in a beautiful lodge in the middle of the forest. There is the possibility of sleeping under mosquito nets in the half-open “Rancho” – a very special one
Nature experience!

Driving time: to the port of Costa de Pajaros 2.5 hours / from San Pablo to Monte Alto 45 minutes.
Boat trip: approx. 2 hours.
Hike: approx. 2 hours (6 km, +/- 50 m)
Overnight in a Lodge (Monte Alto Lodge)
(B / L / D)

4th day:

Monte Alto forest reserve, orchids and nature conservation

After a bird concert at dawn – one is often woken up by howler monkeys – we enjoy a typical breakfast with “Gallo Pinto” in the middle of the forest. Then our guide brings us closer to the biodiversity of the forest reserve and we get to know the diverse orchid species of the Nicoya Peninsula on the orchid trail. In a visual lecture at the end of the morning we receive information about the history of the citizens’ initiative, which is supported by the German tropical association Tropica Verde. We also receive information on initiatives on the subject of environmental protection. Together with the surrounding schools, the local farmers and the university in Nicoya, environmental education takes place with the aim of raising the awareness of the local population. In the afternoon we hike to the “Ceiba” (Kapukbaum) halfway to the highest point of the reserve, the Mirador (viewpoint). Those who want can continue to hike to the highest point, from where we have a view of the entire area. We also have the opportunity later to track down and observe the animals in the reserve on our own – just like the next morning before breakfast. Perhaps we will also discover a group of howler monkeys on the way, whose roaring gets louder the closer we get to them, high up in the treetops. We also have the opportunity later to track down and observe the animals in the reserve on our own – just like the next morning before breakfast. Perhaps we will also discover a group of howler monkeys on the way, whose roaring gets louder the closer we get to them, high up in the treetops.

Morning hike: approx. 1.5 hours (approx. 2 km, +/- 200 m)
Afternoon hike: approx. 3 hours (approx. 6 km, +/- 400 m)
Overnight in a lodge (Monte Alto Lodge)
(F / M / A)

5th day:

Dream beaches in Carillo and Sámara

After breakfast we leave Hojancha for the Pacific: Vamos a la Playa!
We drive past the Camaronal wildlife sanctuary, along a hilly landscape overgrown with palm trees and extensive teak plantations. On the way there is a fantastic view over the Bay of Carillo. In Sámara we move into our hotel, which is only a few minutes’ walk from the town’s palm beach, and can already imagine how we will spend the next day and a half individually. The beach invites you to go for a walk and, when the weather is nice, inhale the sun’s rays and fresh pinch. The beach bars and cafes on the beautiful Pacific coast also invite you to enjoy life – Pura Vida!

Travel time: approx. 1.5 hours
overnight stay in the hotel (Hotel Belvedere or similar)
(B / – / -)

6th day:

Discovery day in Sámara: beach, boat tours, turtles

Today’s day is individually designed according to your mood: you can swim in the bay of Sámara, take a walk on the beach or enjoy a cocktail. Optionally, a guided boat tour on the Pacific to watch dolphins (with a bit of luck you can also see turtles and whales), a kayak trip to the island of Chora for snorkeling, canoeing and cycling, horseback riding, paragliding or a canopy tour can be booked. At night, turtles can be seen in the Camaronal wildlife sanctuary, a beautiful natural beach. Once a month there are also numerous turtle baskets in Ostional, the second most important turtle beach in the world.

Overnight stay in a hotel (Hotel Belvedere or similar)
(B / – / -)

7th day:

Nicoya – Monteverde Cloud Forest – Night hike in the children’s rain forest

We leave the Pacific coast and drive past the second oldest colonial church in the country, which can only be admired from the outside due to renovation work. Then you continue over the Tempisque Bridge in the Palo Verde National Park back to the mainland. In Limonal we take a break to stretch our legs and watch the red and blue macaws high up in the treetops. It continues via the former gold rush town of Las Juntas de Abangares along cattle pastures and coffee plantations to the central Cordillera and Monteverde. The cloud forest region of Monteverde is the cradle of ecotourism in the country and has an enormous biodiversity. Clouds of fog surround the dense jungle and create a mystical atmosphere in the midst of this complex ecosystem full of colors and smells!

Driving time: approx. 3.5 hours.
Hike: approx. 3 hours (10 km, +/- 200 m)
Overnight in hotel (El Bosque or similar)
(B / L / -)

8th day:

Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve

Today is entirely dedicated to the cloud forest, we hike through the primary and secondary forests of the Santa Elena Reserve. With a bit of luck you can watch the Aztec bird of the gods, the Quetzal, here. This bird was hunted in pre-Columbian times because of its magnificent plumage, which the priests used as headdress. However, since he was worshiped as a deity, he was not killed, only captured and released. Whoever killed a quetzal was punished with death himself. There are many myths about this magnificent animal. Monteverde is the first private sanctuary in the country – founded by the US Quakers who settled here, who wanted to secure the water supply for their dairy industry.

After lunch together, the rest of the day’s program is freely available to us. We can choose one of the other hiking trails in the reserve. You can also visit the various facilities in Santa Elena. In the butterfly garden, for example, numerous different insects await us next to the fluttering creatures that can be found in the different layers of vegetation in Costa Rica. The frog garden and the serpentarium are also recommended. If you want to make your free afternoon a little more adventurous, you can take a canopy tour.

Driving time: approx. 50 min.
Hike: approx. 3 hours (3 km, +/- 300 m)
Overnight in hotel (El Bosque or similar)
(B / L / -)

Day 9:

Lake and Arenal volcano – hike on lava fields – La Fortuna – thermal springs

Early in the morning we drive along a panoramic Cordillera road through coffee plantations and cattle pastures to Tilarán and to the large Arenal reservoir. During the trip we have a view of the entire lake and in the distance we can already make out the volcano. We continue through the increasingly lush tropical vegetation to the active Arenal volcano. From the dam wall there is a unique view of the volcano’s lava fields. The vegetation that is presented to us here only emerged after the historic eruption in 1968. It is amazing to see how nature takes back this once destroyed habitat and fills it with life. We hike on the “Silencio Trail” to the cooled lava rocks. Then we continue to the lodge at La Fortuna, which is east of the volcano. The afternoon is free and the small place invites you to stroll. In the evening we visit the hot thermal springs in Arenal Paradise together, which invite you to relax.

Driving time: to the Arenal volcano approx. 4.5 hours, to La Fortuna approx. 20 minutes.
Hike: approx. 3.5 hours (5 km, +/- 200 m)
Overnight in the hotel (Arenal Oasis or similar). Ä.)
(F / – / A)

10th day:

Rio Celeste

Today’s day trip takes us into the rainforest in the Tenorio National Park and to the shimmering light blue Rio Celeste. The sky-blue river owes its name to the light, almost turquoise-blue, somewhat milky color that is created by a natural chemical reaction at a point where two rivers converge, which have completely different chemical properties and whose reaction causes the color. This place is called Färberplatz and is hidden in the middle of the dense rainforest. Then we return to La Fortuna, where the afternoon is at leisure.

Driving time: approx. 4 hours.
Hike: approx. 3 hours (6 km)
Overnight in a hotel (Arenal Oasis or similar)
(B / – / -)

11th day:

Sarapiquí – Pozo Azul

Strengthened by breakfast, we start our onward journey towards the Caribbean coast, but before that we go to the Pozo Azul recreational area in the Sarapiqui Valley. There you have the opportunity to learn more about organic production in Costa Rica and to try various delicacies. 80% of the processed products are produced regionally.
We move into our simple huts (including a private bathroom) in order to perceive the nature around us again with all of our senses. Then we lace our hiking boots and hike to a small waterfall.
In the evening a little surprise awaits us accompanied by salsa rhythms.

Driving time: approx. 2 hours.
Hike: approx. 2.5 hours (15 km)
Overnight stay in a hacienda (Pozo Azul Tent Suites)
(B / – / -)

12th day:

Sarapiquí – Cahuita

Today we continue our journey to Cahuita. The path leads us past numerous pineapple and banana plantations. We are slowly approaching the small fishing village, where we can get to know the delicious and rich Caribbean cuisine!
In the afternoon we have some time to go to the beach. There is an exuberant atmosphere here that invites you to relax. In the evening we can indulge in one of the numerous restaurants. How about a freshly caught grilled fish in a Caribbean sauce.

Travel time: 4 hours.
Hike: approx. 4.5 hours.
Overnight stay in a hotel (Hotel El Encanto or similar)
(B / – / -)

13th day:

Cahuita National Park

This morning we will hike through the Cahuita National Park along beautiful Caribbean beaches, where we can observe capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, sloths and many other animals. Afterwards, the palm beach invites you to bury your feet in the sand and let your mind wander.
The afternoon is free: If the visibility is good, you can go on a snorkeling tour on the National Park Reef. With a little luck there are numerous marine life to discover, including fluorescent fish species, rays, turtles and much more. A trip to the nearby sloth hospital is also highly recommended. A small boat tour through green carpets of water plants is also included here.

Travel time:
Hike: approx. 1.5 hours (6.5 km) or approx. 3 hours (14.5 km)
Overnight in a hotel (Hotel El Encanto or similar)
(B / – / D)

14th day:

Return to San José

In the morning we still have some time to say goodbye to the Caribbean coast and start our journey back to San José. We cross the second largest national park in the country, Braulio Carillo, which extends over 450 square kilometers. The national park was founded in the 1970s and offers a habitat for a wide variety of animals and plants. It can happen that saying goodbye to the green heart of Costa Rica is difficult.
In San José there is still some time in the evening to walk along the Alter Zoll cultural center to the old Caribbean train station in the parliamentary district or to see the National Theater, a replica of the Paris Opera.

If you want to stay a few days on the beach, you can extend your stay in Cahuita, Puerto Viejo or Bocas del Toro in Panamá. For more information, please contact us.

Driving time: approx. 4.5 hours
overnight stay in the hotel (Fleur de Lys or similar)
(B / – / D)

15th day:

Adiós, Costa Rica!

Today it’s time to say goodbye to Costa Rica. We will be taken to the airport where we will take the flight back to Europe.

Travel time: approx. 30-45 minutes
(B / – / -)

16th day:

Hello Europe – welcome home!

Today we arrive in our European homeland and should give each other some time to arrive and acclimatise.

Costa Rica 2