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We may need to adjust the cost of your trip to reflect any seasonal differences. Sometimes non-refundable deposits are required by local suppliers, which would be specified prior to booking. If you are unable to travel, we would secure a credit note for future travel from these suppliers, but you would not get a cash refund for these items. Flights that have already been issues will be subject to the rules of your airline & therefore may not be refundable or changeable. All other terms and conditions remain as standard.
 
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Claire Farley, Managing Director
2by2 for holidays that will change your life
2by2 for holidays that will change your life
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Holiday: Panama Canal + Costa Rica - Coast to Coast Railway + San Blas Islands

Costa Rica Highlights + Panama Canal
RRJ12S
12 NIGHTS
FROM £2,298
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
Holiday Panama Canal Costa Rica Coast to Coast Railway San Blas Islands

This holiday to the Panama Canal & Costa Rica combines the pristine rainforest wildlife of Cost Rica with the engineering marvels of the amazing Panama Canal. Enjoy a tour of Panama City & the opportunity to ride the Coast to Coast Railway. You can also take day trips to visit local tribes or the beautiful San Blas Islands. All transfers & specified sightseeing included.

Holiday Panama Canal Costa Rica Coast to Coast Railway San Blas Islands
• 
Holiday: Panama Canal & Costa Rica
• 
Tortuguero Wetlands
• 
Sloths, Birds & Sea Turtles
• 
Arenal Volcano
• 
Hanging Bridges & Hot Springs
• 
Manuel Antonio
• 
Panama City Tour
• 
Panama Canal
• 
Coast to Coast Railway
• 
San Blas Islands
• 
Holiday: Panama Canal & Costa Rica
• 
Tortuguero Wetlands
• 
Sloths, Birds & Sea Turtles
• 
Arenal Volcano
• 
Hanging Bridges & Hot Springs
• 
Manuel Antonio
• 
Panama City Tour
• 
Panama Canal
• 
Coast to Coast Railway
• 
San Blas Islands
Day 1
You will be met at San Jose Airport and transferred to this capital city in the Central Valley, surrounded by the Talamanca Mountains to the south and the volcanoes of Poas, Irazu and Turrialba.
 
Check into your hotel and relax in this modern city.
Day 2
An early pickup from your hotel this morning for your scenic shared 4-hour coach transfer to the flooded forests of 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 1.5-hours by air-conditioned coach, we stop at Guapiles for a Costa Rican breakfast, before continuing another 1.5-hours to the dock. Here we board the boat for our 1-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 book your turtle tour in season (see below). After a buffet lunch we visit the local village, with balance of afternoon at leisure.
  
Note: Nocturnal turtle tours are run from July to October, as this is when green sea turtles nest and lay their eggs, with hatchlings emerging 45 days later. The timing of your tour (8-10pm or 10-12pm) and the beach zone you will visit are allocated by the park authority and must be booked 24 hours in advance, so it is essential to book your tour with hotel reception on arrival, as it cannot be pre-booked (approx. $40 per person).
Day 3
Today you will explore the waterways and rainforests of Tortuguero National Park on a shared boat ride, accompanied by a lodge guide.
 
Tortuguero is a critical breeding ground for vulnerable Green Turtles, which lumber up these beaches in their thousands from July to October each year to nest, with their hatchlings emerging 45 days later - an unforgettable sight. Leatherback turtles - the largest of all sea turtles - nest here in March & April and a few Loggerhead turtles nest here in June & July. The critically endangered Hawksbill turtle may be found here in very small numbers in September and October.
 
Although these beaches are best know for their sea turtles, Tortuguero is also an excellent place to see two and three-toed sloths, mantled howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, basilisk lizards, green iguana, red-eyed tree frogs, spectacled caiman, black river turtles and over half of all bird species found in Costa Rica. These include the Great green macaw, Keel-billed toucan, Boat-billed heron, Blue heron, Laughing falcon, Bare-throated tiger heron, Yellow-crowned night heron, Green-backed heron, Osprey, Snowy egret, Northern jacana, Anhinga (snakebird), Green ibis, Green kingfisher, Southern mealy parrot, Turkey vulture, Social flycatcher, Montezuma oropendola and many more.
 
With eleven different habitats - including rainforests, mangroves, swamps, beaches and lagoons - this hot and humid park has a rainfall of up to 250 inches (6,400 mm) a year. As a result it sustains a wide range of wildlife and is teeming with birds, reptiles, small mammals and insects. Occasionally bottlenose dolphins swim up the river from the sea and you may also see crocodiles, anteaters, ocelots and more.
 
Your boat ride will either be in the morning or afternoon, depending on the scheduling done by the ranger station. Your second activity for the day is a shared guided walk through the grounds of your lodge - looking out for frogs, birds, sloths, butterflies and other wildlife.
 
In the evening, if you join an optional turtle tour, wear dark clothing to ensure you do not disturb the turtles, closed shoes and long trousers to protect your feet & legs from mosquitos. Flashlights are not permitted.
 
Note: As the park receives up to 250 inches (6,400 mm) of rain a year, it is very likely that it will rain during your visit - so bring rain gear with a hood and expect to get wet. Wear sports clothing that will dry quickly (not jeans, which take too long to dry).
Day 4
This morning depart after breakfast and transfer 1-hour by boat to the La Pavona docking area. From here you will be transferred 1.5-hours by coach to Guapiles, where we stop for an included lunch.
 
After lunch continue 2-hours by shared shuttle transfer towards the Arenal Volcano - one of the most active in Central America, with a perfect cone that on a clear day is visible from almost anywhere in the area. Your route crosses a large cattle and agricultural area, where chocolate is grown. Cacao was very important in the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations and today it is enjoyed throughout the world.
 
Check into your hotel in La Fortuna, where you can relax surrounded by rainforests, waterfalls and thermal hot springs.
 
Note: When travelling by shuttle, your luggage is restricted to one suitcase and one item of hand luggage.
Day 5
This morning enjoy a shared visit to the Arenal Hanging Bridges - a series of nine fixed and six suspension bridges, located in a natural corridor followed by migratory birds travelling between North and South America and offering wonderful views of the lake and volcano.
 
This 2-mile (3-km) self-guided trail will allow you to enjoy the great diversity of flora and fauna inside this mountainous zone, as well as outstanding bird watching. Keep an eye out for howler monkeys, sloths, anteaters, coati, racoons and other rainforest wildlife. Birds you can hope to see include the Yellow-throated toucan, Crested guan, Grey-headed chachalaca, Baltimore oriole, Clay-coloured thrush and Red-throated ant tanager, amongst others.
 
In the afternoon relax at the magnificent Tabacon Hot Springs, with its many natural waterfalls and pools, as well as a large swimming pool with swim-up bar. Dinner at the hot springs is included this evening.
 
Note: Group size 2 to 12 per guide. This trail is not suitable if you have a fear of heights. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring binoculars & raingear. Also sun hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, swimwear and water shoes.
Day 6
This morning you will be collected from your hotel for a shared half day excursion, walking for 3-miles (5-km) along one of the trails around the base of the volcano.
 
Arenal Volcano 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 guide will explain more about this eruption as you walk along one of the trails through the rainforest, where you can see large lumps of sandy lava rock and view the many plants now growing here, as the rainforest has recovered. At the top of the trail, on a clear day you will have beautiful views over Lake Arenal. There is also a deck at the end of the trail, with postcard views of the volcano.
 
In the afternoon take a shared transfer to La Fortuna Waterfall, which plunges down nearly 250 ft (75-m) from a cliff outside the town. Surrounded by lush foliage, the climb down to the waterfall is tough (500 steps) but the view once you get there will be worth the effort. At the bottom there is the opportunity to swim in the cold waters of the surge pool and shallow river at the bottom.
 
Note: Group size 2 to 14 per guide. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring binoculars & rain gear. Also sun hat, sunscreen and insect repellent. Bring swimwear, towel and water shoes for the waterfall climb, which is not suitable for anyone with mobility issues.
Day 7
Today transfer 5-hours through beautiful countryside from La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio, a busy tourist town known for its sandy Pacific beaches surrounded by lush coastal rainforest.
 
Along the way we stop at the bridge over the Tarcoles River, one of four rivers flowing out into the Nicoya Peninsula and home to one of the world’s largest populations of American crocodiles, with some up to fifteen feet long. There are also over 50 different bird species here, including the rare scarlet macaw and a great variety of resident and migrant waterfowl, iguana and Jesus Christ lizards.
 
On arrival in Manuel Antonio, check into your hotel and relax in your verdant surroundings.
 
Note: Your driver will only speak Spanish today.
Day 8
Rise early this morning to avoid the heat of the day for a 2-hour privately guided hike with a naturalist, through the tropical humid rainforest of Manuel Antonio National Park - the oldest and most visited national park in the country.
 
Situated on the Pacific Coast, this wildlife sanctuary consists of four protected white sandy beaches bordered by verdant tropical jungle. A series of boardwalks offer two main routes - either a direct 2-mile (3.2 km) hike to the main beach, or a longer 3.5-mile (5.6 km) circular hike that includes a second spectacular beach.
 
Over 100 mammals can be found here, as well as over 350 different bird species. You can hope to 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. Look out for white-faced capuchins and cute squirrel monkeys and listen out for howler monkeys calling across the trees. You should see hermit crabs scurrying across the sands, halloween crabs (with their bright orange & black colouring) and may even see a bull frog, Jesus Christ lizard (the brown basilisk that 'walks on water'), helmet basilisk, black spiny-tailed iguana, green anole lizard, caiman, American crocodile, wish moth, wax-tail hopper, rainbow grasshopper or spectacular blue morph butterfly.
 
Birds you can hope to see include the Brown pelican flying in formation over the sea, Yellow-throated toucan, Tendin fruit bat, Long nosed bat, Mangrove hummingbird, Yellow-crowned night heron, Crowned woodnymph and Bananaquit, amongst many others.
 
At the end of your hike you will be given the opportunity to relax on the beach for about an hour, before returning to your hotel. Your afternoon is at leisure.
 
Note: Manuel Antonio Park is closed on a Monday. Wear swimwear, comfortable walking shoes, shorts & T-shirt, as it will be very hot & humid. Bring water, binoculars, raingear, sun hat, sunscreen, towel & insect repellent and expect this park to be very busy.
Day 9
Transfer 3.5-hours to San Jose Airport for your onward flight.
 
Note: Your driver will only speak Spanish.

You will be met at Panama City Airport and transferred to your hotel in this modern city, situated on the Pacific Coast at the entrance to the Panama Canal and surrounded by tropical rainforest.
 
Panama was the starting point for the Spanish expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire of Peru, and today it is a major centre for international banking and commerce.
Day 10
Today enjoy a shared 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.
 
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 11
An an optional activity, we suggest you request a breakfast box from your hotel this morning and take an early transfer (around 06.00) to Panama Canal Station in good time to board the 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 12
At leisure to explore more of Panama City independently.
 
There are many optional excursions available - such as a partial navigation through the Panama Canal, an excursion to visit the Embera Quera tribe living in Chagres National Park, a day trip to the Gamboa Rainforest or a full day visit to the Guna Yala tribe living on the magnificent San Blas Islands.
Day 13
Transfer to Panama City Airport for your flight home.
 
Note: International airport departure tax of $50 per person payable locally.