This small group tour offers a fantastic introduction to some of Costa Rica's highlights without compromising on comfort. It's packed with immersive nature experiences — explore La Fortuna's tropical rainforest and the mighty Arenal Volcano, before heading to the misty mountains and cool cloud forest of Monteverde, with incredible scenery and diverse wildlife ranging from hummingbirds to howler monkeys along the way.

• San José: 2 nights
• La Fortuna: 3 nights
• Monteverde: 2 nights

8nights Escorted Small Group Tour
NATURE
CULTURE
ACTIVE

This tour is great for first timers looking to discover the diverse wildlife of Costa Rica, who don’t want to compromise on comfort. It takes in two of the country's main tourist areas – Arenal and Monteverde, as well as two national parks – Carara and Caño Negro, for spotting the famous natural inhabitants. The tour’s short length lets you experience more of Costa Rica independently, from discovering more of the national parks to relaxing in one of the country’s all-inclusive resorts.

• San José: 2 nights
• La Fortuna: 3 nights
• Monteverde: 2 nights

8nights Escorted Small Group Tour
NATURE
CULTURE
ACTIVE
 
 
ITINERARY

Day 1: UK to San José Depart from the UK on your daytime flight to San José. Upon arrival in the capital, transfer to your hotel for two nights. Stay: Hotel Alta Las Palomas (or similar).

Day 2: San José Begin your exploration with a visit to Irazú Volcano. Drive east, passing through the city of Cartago, Costa Rica’s first capital, and enjoy views over the Central Valley from the volcanic peak. If it’s a clear day with no clouds then you can even see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans! The weather can be very changeable here, quickly switching from sunshine to wind and rain. The colour of the lagoon varies from emerald green to bright turquoise, depending on the mineral levels. Return to San José and discover the city’s highlights on a tour which includes visits to the Metallic School and Morazán Park. Learn about the social developments during the government of President Guardia as you drive through the eastern section of the city before stopping at the National Park and its monument. Pass the National Museum and cathedral before enjoying a guided tour of the early 19th-Century National Theatre. This evening you’ll have the opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers during a welcome dinner at a traditional restaurant. Enjoy authentic Costa Rican cuisine made with fresh, locally-grown vegetables and learn about the origins and recipes of your meal. This is also a great opportunity to ask your tour leader any questions you may have about the adventure ahead. Approx. journey time: 1½ hours, 62 miles. Stay: Hotel Alta Las Palomas (or similar). B, D.

Day 3: San José to La Fortuna This morning, journey northwest to the tranquil town of La Fortuna which is set beneath the impressive Arenal Volcano and surrounded by mountains. Stop off en route in the small picturesque town of Zarcero which is renowned for its incredible topiary gardens, pretty turreted church and organic produce. Upon arrival in La Fortuna, soak up the beauty and tranquillity of the rainforest during a two-hour chocolate tour. Enjoy views of the magnificent volcano while discovering the ancient secrets of cocoa, from its discovery and uses, to the creation of the chocolate products that we know and love today. You will have the chance to get hands on as you participate in the production process, from the harvesting of the fruit, to the drying and grinding of the seed. And the best part is that you’ll get to enjoy your high quality organic chocolate bar. Transfer to your hotel. Approx. journey time: 3½ hours, 90 miles. Stay: Arenal Kioro Suites & Spas (or similar). B.

Day 4: La Fortuna Today is a treat for wildlife lovers. Rise early and drive to the small town of Los Chiles, close to the border of Nicaragua. From here your full-day nature adventure begins with a boat tour on the Rio Frio and in the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, considered to be one of the most biologically diverse regions in Costa Rica. It is home to three species of monkeys and more than 200 bird species including the roseate spoonbill, black-necked stilt and anhinga. You could also spot sloths, caimans, turtles and iguanas. This evening, enjoy a relaxing soak in the hot springs of your hotel. Approx. journey time: 5 hours, 110 miles. Stay: Arenal Kioro Suites & Spas (or similar). B, L.

Day 5: La Fortuna Rise early for a hike along the Arenal 1968 trail which follows a network of trails along the original 1968 lava flow. Learn about the transition of primary to secondary forest and take in the views of the volcano and emerald lagoon. Keep an eye out for glass frogs, pacas, sloths, white-faced monkeys, eyelash pit vipers and over 200 species of birds including the crimson-fronted parakeet. This afternoon you can admire the region’s beautiful landscapes during a sunset bird-watching boat tour on Lake Arenal, Costa Rica’s largest lake. The surrounding forested hills and pastureland are dominated by the volcano and you may spot wading birds such as great blue herons and snowy egrets, as well as toucans, coatis and howler monkeys on thw shores. Dinner will be served at your hotel. Stay: Arenal Kioro Suites & Spas (or similar). B, D.

Day 6: La Fortuna to Monteverde Drive along the northern shore of Lake Arenal and through the charming town of Tilarán before heading along a bumpy track that will take you up into the mountains and cool cloud forests of Monteverde which are 1400 metres above sea level. This afternoon, visit a local coffee plantation and learn how the beans are grown, milled and roasted. Enjoy tastings as you discover the history and traditions of coffee-growing in Costa Rica on this family farm which grows coffee, cocoa and sugar cane. Learn about the family’s history from your host as well as the important role that chocolate and sugar cane play in Costa Rica’s rich culture. Approx. journey time: 5½ hours, 137 miles. Stay: Monteverde Lodge & Gardens (or similar). B.

Day 7: Monteverde Today you can experience a thrilling rainforest adventure with a visit to the Hanging Bridges in Selvatura Park. Walk right into the heart of the rainforest canopy on the Tree Top Walkways which consist of a 1.9 mile trail that crosses through the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Make your way across eight different bridges of various lengths with heights of up to 60 metres above the forest floor. Enjoy incredible views of the forest and look for exotic birds. You will also visit the hummingbird garden to see over 100 of these iridescent birds darting around tropical flowers. There are a number of optional tours available here, including a butterfly garden and a reptile and frog garden. This evening enjoy a farewell dinner at your hotel. Stay: Monteverde Lodge & Gardens (or similar). B, D.

Day 8: Monteverde to San José Enjoy one last fix of wildlife with a visit to Carara National Park. Along the way, stop off at Tárcoles River Bridge – also known as Crocodile Bridge, to see groups of large crocodiles swimming in the river or sunbathing on the muddy bank. Spend two hours exploring Carara National Park, home to monkeys, sloths and scarlet macaws. The forest’s mix of humid and mildly temperate climates is an ideal environment for orchids. Transfer to San José for your overnight flight to the UK. If your rainforest adventure has left you in need of some relaxation time you can choose from two beach extensions, both in four star hotels, either set above Manuel Antonio National Park or on the Papagayo Peninsula. If you extend your stay with time in Papagayo then you will travel directly to the resort this morning instead of visiting the national park. Approx. journey time: 4½ hours, 120 miles. B.


Stay longer

Manuel Antonio National Park 3 nights
Head to the coastal resort town of Quepos, gateway to the Manuel Antonio National Park. Relax on the secluded coves that dominate the area or head into the National Park for more opportunities to spot Costa Rica’s famous wildlife.

Papagayo Peninsula 3 nights
Journey north to one of the all-inclusive resorts on the Papagayo Peninsula, where you can relax on secluded beaches or continue the adventure in the wildlife-rich forests. If you extend your stay with time in Papagayo then you'll travel directly to the resort on Day 8 instead of visiting Carara National Park.

Day 1: UK to San José Depart from the UK on your daytime flight to San José. Upon arrival in the capital, transfer to your hotel for two nights. Stay: Hotel Alta Las Palomas (or similar).

Day 2: San José This morning head out of San José through the lush landscape of the Central Valley to the volcanic peak of the Irazú Volcano. It reaches a height of 3432 metres, so on a clear day you can see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The weather can change quickly at this altitude, switching from sunshine to freezing rain and wind. Weather permitting, you may be able to peer into the crater and at the lagoon below, whose colour changes from emerald green to bright turquoise depending on the level of minerals in the water. Afterwards you’ll head back to San José for a walking tour of the main historical sights, starting at the Metallic School. This is one of the city’s most historic buildings and was built in the 19th Century as a primary school – it's made entirely out of 1000 tonnes of metal shipped from Belgium, an emblem to the country's liberal education revolution. Next you’ll drive around the city and pass by the National Library, the National Museum and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, before heading for the National Theatre. Here you'll get a tour of another Costa Rican national treasure – this architectural and cultural gem was funded with money earned from the coffee trade as a place for wealthy plantation owners to enjoy the finer things in life. Constructed from Italian marble and French glass, the hand-painted ceiling frescos rival those found in many European capitals. Before leaving the capital you’ll be taken to one of the best restaurants in the city for a welcome dinner of traditional Costa Rican cuisine. This is your opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers and tour leader while dining on fresh locally grown produce. Stay: Hotel Alta Las Palomas (or similar). B, D.

Day 3: San José to La Fortuna This morning you’ll leave the city behind and head for La Fortuna, one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destinations at the foot of the imposing Arenal Volcano. Stop in the small town of Zarcero, renowned for its topiary gardens, pretty turreted church and farms specialising in organic produce and fresh cut flowers. On arrival in La Fortuna you’ll head into the rainforest for a two-hour hands-on chocolate experience. Discover the ancient secrets of cocoa, from its discovery and uses, to the creation of the chocolate products that we know and love today. You'll have the chance to participate in the production process, from the harvesting of the fruit, to the drying and grinding of the seed, before enjoying your chocolate drink creation. Continue to your hotel where the rest of the day is at leisure – soak in your own personal hot tub while enjoying views of the Arenal Volcano and landscaped gardens. Approx. journey time: 3½ hours, 90 miles. Stay: Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa (or similar). B.

Day 4: La Fortuna Following an early breakfast, you’ll journey two hours north to the little Town of Los Chiles, close to the Nicaraguan border, for a wildlife adventure through the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. This is one of the most biologically diverse regions in Costa Rica, home to three species of monkeys and more than 200 bird species including the roseate spoonbill, black-necked stilt and anhinga. You’ll tour the reserve by boat, travelling along the Río Frío River where you'll have the chance to spot sloths, caimans, turtles, iguanas, monkeys and migratory birds. Return to your hotel in the evening and make the most of the hot spring pools. Stay: Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa (or similar). B.

Day 5: La Fortuna
Rise early for a two-hour moderate hike along the Arenal 1968 trail, which follows a network of trails along the original 1968 lava flow that destroyed three towns and changed the landscape of the area. Keep your eyes peeled for the huge variety of wildlife that lives in the forest, including frogs, sloths, monkeys and over 200 species of birds; and then discover the diverse landscape of the old lava fields. Weather permitting, you could have amazing views of the volcano from the viewpoints that line the route. In the late afternoon you’ll head out for a sunset birdwatching cruise on Lake Arenal, Costa Rica’s largest lake which was built to provide hydroelectric energy. From the water you can take in spectacular views of Arenal Volcano and the Tilarán Volcanic Mountains in the distance – you may spot wading birds such as great blue herons and snowy egrets, as well as toucans, coatis and howler monkeys on the shores. Stay: Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa (or similar). B, D.

Day 6: La Fortuna to Monteverde Drive along the northern shore of Lake Arenal and through the charming town of Tilarán before heading along a slow and bumpy track that will take you up into the mountains and cool cloud forests of Monteverde, 1400 metres above sea level. The climate here is much cooler, resulting in a change in the flora and fauna from what you’ve seen before. This afternoon you'll have a highly authentic experience, visiting a local family-run coffee plantation which grows coffee, cocoa and sugar cane. Learn how the beans are grown, milled and roasted, enjoy tastings and discover the family’s history from your host, as well as the important role that chocolate and sugar cane play in Costa Rica’s rich culture. Approx. journey time: 5½ hours, 137 miles. Stay: Ficus Sunset Suites (or similar). B.

Day 7: Monteverde Today you can experience a thrilling rainforest adventure with a visit to the Hanging Bridges in Selvatura Park. Walk right into the heart of the rainforest canopy on the Tree Top Walkways which consist of a 1.9-mile trail that crosses through the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Make your way across eight different bridges of various lengths with heights of up to 60 metres above the forest floor. Enjoy incredible views of the forest and look for exotic birds. You will also visit the hummingbird garden to see over 100 of these iridescent birds darting around tropical flowers. There are a number of optional tours available here, including a butterfly garden and a reptile and frog garden. This evening enjoy a farewell dinner with the group. Stay: Ficus Sunset Suites (or similar). B, D.

Day 8: Monteverde to San José Enjoy one last fix of wildlife with a visit to Carara National Park. Along the way, stop off at Tárcoles River Bridge – also known as Crocodile Bridge, to see groups of large crocodiles swimming in the river or sunbathing on the muddy bank. Spend two hours exploring Carara National Park, home to monkeys, sloths and scarlet macaws. The forest’s mix of humid and mildly temperate climates is an ideal environment for orchids. Transfer to San José for your overnight flight to the UK, or extend your stay at one of Costa Rica’s coastal resorts. Approx. journey time: 4½ hours, 120 miles. B.


Stay longer

Manuel Antonio National Park 3 nights
Head to the coastal resort town of Quepos, gateway to the Manuel Antonio National Park. Relax on the secluded coves that dominate the area or head into the National Park for more opportunities to spot Costa Rica’s famous wildlife.

Papagayo Peninsula 3 nights
Journey north to one of the all-inclusive resorts on the Papagayo Peninsula, where you can relax on secluded beaches or continue the adventure in the wildlife-rich forests. If you extend your stay with time in Papagayo then you'll travel directly to the resort on Day 8 instead of visiting Carara National Park.

ABOUT THIS TOUR

Is this for you?

This introductory tour is ideal if you’re a wildlife-lover with a sense of adventure. You don’t have to sacrifice any creature comforts, either – you’ll stay in some of the best available hotels in each destination.

Good to know

• For guests over 16 (unless travelling on a private journey)
• Average group size of 14 guests
• A maximum of 16 guests.

What to expect

• Some early starts
• Easy to medium level jungle and forest hikes of up to 2½ hours
• Driving times are approximate
• Some of the roads are quite rough and bumpy
• Insect repellent, warm clothes, waterproofs, comfortable walking shoes and layers are essential as you will experience varying climates (hot, steamy rainforests and cool, misty cloud forests)
• If you choose to extend your stay with a visit to Papagayo then you will travel directly there on Day 8 instead of visiting Carara National Park.

Accommodation on tour

We’ve selected comfortable hotels of a good standard that have a boutique feel. The San José hotel is set in the mountains overlooking the city while the hotel in La Fortuna has hot springs and views of Arenal Volcano. The simple but elegant lodge in Monteverde’s cloud forest has an excellent restaurant and you can immerse yourself in nature by spending time in the butterfly and hummingbird gardens.

Single travellers

Single room supplement from £890

Is this for you?

This tour is perfect for first timers that want a taste of Costa Rica, as well as time to explore independently.

Good to know

• For guests over 16 (unless travelling on a private journey, where the minimum age is 10)
• Average group size of 10 guests
• A maximum of 16 guests
• Journey times do not take into account stops or local traffic conditions
• We recommend travelling with no more than one suitcase and one day bag
• A good level of fitness is required.

What to expect

• Weather conditions in Costa Rica can change rapidly – being covered in rainforest, it can rain at any time. Waterproofs are therefore essential
• Sturdy footwear and light coloured clothing is recommended for all outdoor activities
• Temperatures can vary and drop dramatically at altitude, so warm layers are recommended
• Mosquito repellent is a must for visiting jungle and forested areas
• If you extend your stay in Papagayo, you will travel directly there on Day 8 instead of visiting Carara National Park.

Accommodation on tour

We’ve selected good quality hotels for a comfortable rainforest adventure. The hills outside the city of San José have stunning views across Sun Valley and the San Jose region. Your La Fortuna hotel sits at the base of the Arenal Volcano, with amazing views of the volcano and surrounding forests. Your room has a private hot tub and the hotel has hot spring pools – perfect after a day of sightseeing. While a little more rustic, the hotels in Monteverde blend into the cloud forest environment, making the most of local natural materials. Your hotel is set into the hillside, with views over the Gulf of Nicoya.

Single travellers

Single room supplement from £890

DATES AND INCLUSIONS

Tour dates

2019 Jan 22; Feb 05, 19; Mar 05, 19; Nov 26

Included in price

• Quality accommodation
• Insightful local tour leaders
• Hand-picked itineraries
• Flexible arrival times
• Small groups and a relaxed approach
• Porterage and guide tips
• Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner), or the freedom to explore local restaurants independently
• All specified flights.

Upgrade your tour

Private tour Upgrade to a private tour with a local tour leader on the same itinerary, departing on the date of your choice from £1075 per person

Tour dates

2020 Feb 15; Mar 14; Apr 15; Nov 07; Dec 05

Included in price

• Quality accommodation
• Insightful local tour leaders
• Hand-picked itineraries
• Flexible arrival times
• Small groups
• Porterage and guide tips
• Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
• All specified flights.

Upgrade your tour

Private tour Upgrade to a private tour with a local tour leader on the same itinerary, departing on the date of your choice from £1075 per person

Highlights of Costa Rica

Kuoni highlights

This introductory tour offers a wonderful flavour of Costa Rica. It includes plenty of immersive local experiences including a chocolate making tour and a visit to a family-owned coffee plantation, as well as lots of opportunities to view the incredible wildlife. For the best of both worlds, combine it with a blissful beach extension.

Kuoni highlights

This tour lets you experience the best of Costa Rica’s stunning wildlife and natural scenery, including visits to two of its most popular (and contrasting) national parks – in comfort and at a relaxed pace. There’s a variety of wildlife viewing opportunities from life on the river in Caño Negro to the jungle paths of Carara National Park, the unique flora and fauna of Monteverde and birdlife in Arenal. Enjoy learning more about two of Costa Rica’s most important exports, coffee and chocolate – and of course trying them – on included experiences.