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Two Countries: Costa Rica + Panama


RRP16S
16 NIGHTS
FROM £2,798
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
This holiday combines the highlights of Cost Rica, with Panama City & the magnificent Caribbean beaches of Bocas del Toro. Start your holiday at Tortuguero National Park & visit the spectacular Arenal Volcano & hot springs. Then fly to the Panama Canal to see this engineering marvel, before relaxing on the beaches of Bocas. English speaking guides, all transfers & park fees included.
Costa Rica and Panama Canal Holidays Bocas Del Toro Arenal Volcano
• 
San Jose
• 
Gold Museum
• 
Tortuguero National Park
• 
Turtles
• 
Arenal Volcano
• 
Hanging Bridges
• 
Panama City
• 
Panama Canal & Railway
• 
Bocas del Toro
• 
Snorkelling in Caribbean
• 
San Jose
• 
Gold Museum
• 
Tortuguero National Park
• 
Turtles
• 
Arenal Volcano
• 
Hanging Bridges
• 
Panama City
• 
Panama Canal & Railway
• 
Bocas del Toro
• 
Snorkelling in Caribbean
Day 1
You will be met at San Jose Airport and transferred to your hotel in this capital city in the Central Valley, surrounded by the Talamanca Mountains to the south and the volcanoes of Poas, Irazu and Turrialba.
 
On arrival enjoy a short tour of the city, starting with a drive through Sabana Park. We then visit the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum, situated beneath the Plaza de la Cultura. This small art museum has an intriguing collection of over 2,000 artworks and artefacts relating to the pre-Columbian era (500 AD to 1500 AD) and a large collection of coins, including the Media Escudo - Costa Rica’s very first coin.
 
Day 2
An early departure this morning, with 06.30 pick-up from your hotel for your shared 4.5-hour transfer to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean Coast - known as the 'Amazon of Costa Rica'.
 
This remote wetland system covers an area of over 300 square km. Meaning 'Land of the Turtles', it is the largest nesting site for endangered Green Sea Turtles in the western hemisphere and supports a wide range of threatened flora and fauna. It is also a RAMSAR birding site of international significance.
 
After travelling 3-hours by air-conditioned coach, we stop at Guapiles around 08.00 for a Costa Rican breakfast, before continuing to the docks at La Pavona or Cano Blanco. Here we board the boat for our 1.5-hour ride along the La Suerte River and the wider Tortuguero River, to your lodge in the heart of these lush waterways.
 
On arrival check into your lodge and enjoy a buffet lunch. In the afternoon there is the opportunity to visit the local village with a guide, to observe their way of life. We walk back to our lodge along the beach trail, with balance of afternoon at leisure.
  
Note: As turtle tours book out quickly, on arrival we recommend you immediately book your tour at reception, as this cannot be booked in advance (approx. $35 per person).
Day 3
This morning is devoted to exploring the waterways of Tortuguero National Park on a shared excursion by boat with a local guide. At sunrise these rainforests come alive with wildlife - including sloths, monkeys, caimans and over half of all the bird species found in Costa Rica.
 
Tortuguero is also a critical breeding ground for four species of vulnerable and endangered sea turtles, which lumber up these beaches in their thousands each year to nest, with their hatchlings emerging two months later - an unforgettable sight. The best times to see this remarkable natural phenomenon are as follows:
Green turtles - July to mid October (peak = Aug/Sept)
Loggerheads - May to August
Leatherbacks (the largest of all sea turtles) - February to June (peak = March/April)
Hawksbills (critically endangered & found only in smaller numbers) - September to October.
 
With eleven different habitats - including rainforests, mangroves, swamps, beaches and lagoons - this park sustains a wide range of bio diversity and is teeming with birds, reptiles, small mammals and insect life. You may see alligators, tapirs, anteaters, ocelots, peccaries and more. But be aware that it will be very hot and humid, with the park receiving up to 250 inches (6,400 mm) of rain a year.
 
Return to your lodge for lunch, after which you can join a guided walk along the pathways of your hotel or simply relax by the swimming pool.
 
In the evening we recommend an optional Turtle Tour (must be booked locally). To ensure you do not disturb the turtles, you must wear dark clothing - blue, black or grey - and closed shoes. Cameras are strictly prohibited.
 
Note: Take rain gear and a windbreaker for your boat ride, as showers can always be expected in the rainforest.
Day 4
Check out early this morning to depart after breakfast (07.00) and travel 1.5-hours by boat to Guapiles, where we stop for an included lunch.
 
After lunch continue 3-hours by shared shuttle transfer across a large agricultural and cattle area to the Arenal Volcano - one of the most active in Central America.
 
Check into your hotel in La Fortuna and enjoy the surrounding national park and thermal hot springs.
Day 5
Today transfer to the rainforests of Arenal National Park, which offers wonderful views over Arenal Volcano and the lake.
 
A great variety of plants, wildlife and lava rock formations are found in these rainforests, as well as abundant tropical birdlife. Ascend for 20-minutes on the Sky Tram gondola, following a beautiful cloud forest ridge where you can observe plants and wildlife. After spending some time on the observation platform, which is situated in the highest part of the park with panoramic views, enjoy the thrill of riding seven high-speed ziplines from mountain to mountain until you reach the bottom.
 
Note: If you do not wish to take the ziplines, you can travel down on the gondola.
Day 6
This morning transfer to the Hanging Bridges - a series of suspension bridges offering wonderful views of Lake Arenal and the Arenal Volcano. The bridges form part of a 2-mile (3 km) self-guided interpretative trail, allowing you to enjoy the great diversity of flora and fauna inside this mountainous zone, as well as outstanding bird watching.
 
In the afternoon you will be collected from your hotel for an included shared tour of Arenal Volcano, which rises to 5,250 ft (1,600 m) and towers over the village of La Fortuna. On the morning of 29 July 1968, after having been inactive for three thousand years, it erupted in the most spectacular way. The earth started shaking, clouds of ashes rose into the sky, women washing clothes by the river felt the water becoming hot, and lava started pouring down the side of the volcano.
 
Your tour of the volcano starts with a drive to its active northwestern side, followed by a guided walk along either the Toucan Trail through the rainforest and across a large lava flow, or along the El Silencio Mirador Trail (depending on weather conditions). Your guide will explain the great variety of plants, wildlife and lava rock formations found in this region. Once on top of the lava flow you will have a beautiful view of the lake. The hike ends at a lovely viewing area.
Day 7
This morning transfer from La Fortuna to the lake for a 1-hour boat crossing to Monteverde Cloud Forest.
 
Monteverde was founded by a small group of conservation-minded Quakers who were looking for a peaceful place to live. Shrouded in mist for most of the year, this primary rainforest comprises six different ecological zones spread over 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres) at different elevations - 90% of which is virgin cloud forest. As a result, it has exceptionally great biodiversity and is one of the most outstanding wildlife sanctuaries in the tropics.
 
On arrival you will be collected from the boat and transferred to your hotel. Check in and enjoy beautiful views over the Gulf of Nicoya.
Day 8
Today enjoy a shared tour exploring with a naturalist guide the Monteverde Cloud Forest, set on Costa Rica's continental divide and a magnet for flora and fauna thanks to its high rainfall and constant veil of mist. Woodlands give way to rainforests and tall trees – festooned with orchids, bromeliads, ferns, vines and mosses – rise high into the sky. In other parts you will find swamp forests and deep gorges with numerous streams creating waterfalls, rapids and pools.
 
This high elevation cloud forest offers miles of trails, with excellent opportunities for wildlife spotting & birding. It sustains over 2,500 different plant species (including the highest number of orchid species in the world), more than 100 mammals, over 400 birds, 120 reptiles and amphibians, as well as thousands of butterflies and other insects.
 
In Monteverde Cloud Forest you may spot an adorable sloth - a tree-dwelling animal that sleeps for over 15 hours a day, whilst hanging from the branches of trees. The two-fingered sloth is largely nocturnal, so you are more likely to see the three-fingered sloth, although both species have excellent camouflage so can be hard to spot. These cute creatures move so slowly that algae grows on their fur. Other wildlife you may see here include the jaguar, ocelot, tapir, white faced monkey, spider monkey, toucan, hummingbird, three-wattled bellbird and bare-necked umbrella bird. The resplendent quetzal is best seen during the dry months from January to July.
 
If you wish you can walk 1.9-miles (3-km) along the Hanging Bridges of Selvatura that pass through the treetop canopy at heights ranging from 40 to 200 ft (12 to 60 m). There is also the option to take a ride in the Sky Tram, and experience a thrilling Sky Trek Zip Line across the forest canopy (pay for these three activities locally).
Day 9
Today depart from Monteverde Cloud Forest and travel 3-hours by shared shuttle through beautiful Costa Rican scenery to San Jose.
 
Check into your hotel in this capital city.
Day 10
Transfer to San Jose Airport for your onward flight.
 
Please note there is an airport tax of approx. $29 per person payable on departure.

You will be met at Panama City Airport and transferred to your hotel in this capital city, situated on the Pacific Coast at the entrance to the Panama Canal and surrounded by tropical rainforest.
 
Check into your hotel in this modern city that was the starting point for the Spanish expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru, and is today a centre for international banking and commerce.
Day 11
Today enjoy a tour of Panama City, including a visit to the famous Panama Canal.  
 
We start with a visit the Miraflores Visitors Centre, where you will learn about the history and operation of this engineering wonder, with an audiovisual display and four floors of exhibits about the Panama Canal that cuts through Central America, linking the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean. From the observation deck you can enjoy 180 degree views of the southern locks and the Pacific. Depending on shipping transit schedules, you may even see a ship manoeuvre through the locks.
 
Afterwards we drive along the Amador Causeway, built as a wave-breaker during the construction of the canal and now linking four small islands to the mainland. From here you have panoramic views of the modern city skyline, the old Colonial City, Panama Bay, the Bridge of the Americas, Taboga Island and ships transiting through the canal. You can also enjoy some duty free shopping (passport required).
 
Our tour continues with sightseeing in the old Colonial City, which is today a UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally founded in 1519, it was burnt down in 1671 on the orders of its governor, to prevent the city falling into the hands of the pirate Henry Morgan. It was rebuilt a few years later. Here you will see many beautiful baroque, colonial and neo classical churches and monuments. Among the best preserved are the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption, Casa Alarcón (a massive private residence) and the church and convent of Santo Domingo. The restored Old Quarter (Casco Viejo) is vibrant, with many outdoor dining venues, bars, handcraft markets. In the evening you can enjoy live music here.
 
Note: The ruins of the Old City and Canal Museum are closed on Mondays.
Day 12
Request a breakfast box from your hotel this morning, as you will be collected early (around 06.00) and transferred to Panama Canal Station in good time to board your train to the city of Colón on the Atlantic coast.
 
The Panama Canal Railway is one of the great train journeys of the world, travelling for 1-hour along a  picturesque route that crosses the Isthmus of Panama from 'Coast to Coast'. As the train proceeds from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, it follows the Panama Canal with its astonishing locks - passing through lush tropical jungle, the Culebra ('snake') Cut and across Gatun Lake.
 
You will be met at Colón Station on arrival and driven along a jungle track to Fort San Lorenzo on the Caribbean coast. At this World Heritage site you can see some interesting 17th and 18th century military fortifications built by the Spanish to defend their transatlantic trade.
 
Afterwards we visit the new locks at Agua Clara, which were put into use following an expansion of the Panama Canal in 2016. Enjoy an included lunch, with some time to enjoy beautiful Lake Gatun, before returning to Panama City by road at the end of your tour.
Day 13
Transfer to Panama City Airport for your flight to the coral reefs of Bocas del Toro.
 
You will be met at Bocas del Torro Airport and will see many colourful clapboard houses, as you are driven to your hotel on this spectacular archipelago. Check in and absorb the Caribbean vibe, whilst relaxing on some of the best beaches in Central America.
Days 14 To 15
At leisure to relax and enjoy the Caribbean atmosphere of Bocas del Toro and the paradise beach at Boca del Drago.
 
You can search for colourful star fish, swim or snorkel amongst beautiful coral reefs and mangrove isles. If you wish to explore a litle futher afield, a network of water taxis can take you to remote beaches and pristine snorkelling sites for only a few dollars.
Day 16
Transfer to Bocas del Toro Airport for your flight to Panama City.
 
You will be met at Panama City Airport and transferred to your hotel.
Day 17
Transfer to Panama City Airport for your flight home.
 
Note: International airport departure tax of $50 per person payable locally.

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