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Walking in Costa Rica (self drive)


RCW14S
15 NIGHTS
FROM £2,396
Per person sharing
International flights + car hire quoted separately
Explore the cloud & rainforests and the volcanoes of Costa Rica on foot, on this fabulous walking holiday. Combine 6-hour guided hikes along some of the most famous trails in the country, with self-driving to explore the attractions. Visit Arenal Volcano, the Pacific Coast town of Dominical & the Central Valley. Specified guided walks included. Transfer option available on request.
• 
San Jose
• 
Arenal Volcano
• 
La Fortuna Waterfall
• 
Bagaces
• 
Diamante Waterfall
• 
Dominical
• 
Nauyaca Waterfalls
• 
San Gerardo
• 
Buena Vista Mountain
• 
Turrialba Volcano
• 
San Jose
• 
Arenal Volcano
• 
La Fortuna Waterfall
• 
Bagaces
• 
Diamante Waterfall
• 
Dominical
• 
Nauyaca Waterfalls
• 
San Gerardo
• 
Buena Vista Mountain
• 
Turrialba Volcano
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
This morning enjoy a short tour of the capital city of San Jose.
 
Afterwards we visit the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum, situated beneath the Plaza de la Cultura. This small art museum has an intriguing collection of over 1,600 artworks and artefacts relating to the pre-Columbian era (500 AD to 1500 AD), including the Media Escudo, Costa Rica’s very first coin.
 
Balance of day is at leisure to explore the city independently.
Day 3
This morning your hire car will be dropped off at your hotel. After taking delivery of your vehicle, drive 3.5-hours from San Jose through beautiful Costa Rican scenery to the Arenal Volcano - one of the most active in Central America.
 
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 and enjoy the surrounding national park and its thermal hot springs.
Day 4
This morning drive yourself to the Hanging Bridges (entrance fee included) - a series of suspension bridges offering wonderful views of Lake Arenal and the 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 guided tour of Arenal National Park, with its volcano and hot springs. Arenal Volcano rises to 5,250 feet 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 Lake Arenal. The hike ends at a viewing area where, weather permitting, you may be able to see red hot lava rolling down the side of the volcano.
Day 5
Today enjoy a full day of hiking with a guide, exploring Chato Hill and walking to La Fortuna Waterfall.
 
Chato Hill is a domant volcano, known locally as Arenal's brother. We hike up its west side and down into the crater, which has a beautiful lake. From here we hike up out of the crater, and then down the east side to La Fortuna Waterfall.
 
Note: Boxed lunch is included today. You need to be fit to undertake this strenuous hike.
Day 6
Today drive 2.5-hours from Arenal and travel westwards towards San Bernardo de Bagaces, situated on the PanAmerican Highway in the province of Guanacaste.
 
Here you will find the Rio Perdido (meaning 'Lost River'), a thermo-mineral gorge that draws energy from deep magma flows. Along the riverbed there are 8 active hot springs that produce dozens of soothing pools of varying temperatures.
Day 7
This morning enjoy a guided hike from Las Tumbas to the magnificent Diamante Waterfall. You can either walk the shorter 5 km route, or add on the 10 km loop for a more challeng hike.
 
As you walk through this primary rainforest you will learn more about the flora, including the medicinal plants of the forest. You may also see monkeys and many different birds, including toucans. On arrival at the waterfall, enjoy a picnic lunch in the cave behind the falls. The eroded volcanic rock formations in this area are amazing.
 
Day 8
Leave San Bernardo de Bagaces today and drive 4.5-hours to the Pacific coast town of Dominical, popular with surfers because of its year-round waves.
 
Check into your hotel and explore the town and its splendid beaches.
Day 9
Today enjoy a 6-hour guided hike through the dense jungles of Dominical to the impressive Nauyaca Waterfalls.
 
Walk through a canyon surrounded by tropical rainforest, to the point where the Barucito River plunges down in a series of waterfalls, into a spectacular deep swimming pool. The highest waterfall is 148 ft (45 m). You can swim in the largest natural pool, or relax in one of many smaller pools and enjoy this stunning environment.
 
Note: Boxed lunch is included today. You need to be fit to undertake this strenuous hike.
Day 10
At leisure to relax and enjoy the surfing beaches of Dominical, but beware of the strong riptides that can make swimming here dangerous.
 
Marino Ballena National Park is within easy reach (10 miles / 16 km south of Dominical) and offers wonderful beaches and snorkelling along the largest coral reef on the Pacific side of Central America. This is also an excellent location for whale watching, as Costa Rica has the longest whale watching season in the world - with southern hemisphere humpback whales travelling from Antarctica from August until early November, and northern hemisphere whales travelling from Alaska from late October until March. In October and November it is common for both sides to pass through Costa Rica at the same time, increasing the likelihood of a sighting.
 
Other optional activities include walking trails to nearby waterfalls, a treetop canopy tour, horse riding, deep sea fishing, sea kayaking, scuba diving and a boat ride to see the marine life of Ballena Island.
Day 11
Drive 3.5-hours today, travelling inland from Dominical to San Gerardo de Dota in the beautiful Savegre River Valley.
 
This small high-altitude community is part of an area known as the Los Santos Forest Reserve, a biological corridor for a large number of wildlife, some of it in danger of extinction. It is also close to the cloud forest of Los Quetzales National Park, a haven for bird watchers and walkers.
Day 12
Today enjoy a 6-hour guided hike down Buena Vista Mountain.
 
Your morning starts with a drive to the top of the mountain, where a stunning panorama awaits. On a clear day it is possible to see the central and southern Pacific, as well as some of the volcanoes of the Central Cordillera. You will feel as if you are looking down on a life-size map.
 
From the mountain high point of 11,450 ft (3,492 m), the trail drops downwards through the cloud forest to 7,220 ft (2,200 m). At first you are surrounded by sub-alpine forest, known as páramo, where the vegetation does not grow higher than a metre. As the hike progresses, the eco-system changes until you are immersed in the cloud forest with its huge oaks and perpetually green vegetation. This hike is a unique experience that will stay with you forever.
 
Note: Boxed lunch is included today. You need to be fit to undertake this strenuous hike.
Day 13
This morning drive 2-hours from San Gerardo de Dota to Turrialba in the cental valley region of Cartago - the gateway to Tuirrialba Volcano National Park.
 
Check into your hotel in this beautiful but lesser known region of Costa Rica.
Day 14
Spend 6-hours today on a guided hike along the Turrialba Jimenez Biological Corridor on the Finca Monteclaro estate.
 
Discover many hidden spots unreachable by car and enjoy beautiful views of the valley and meadows below filled with cattle. Keep an eye out for the flora and fauna of the forest, before enjoying an included box lunch on the banks of the Reventazon River, with its abundant bird life.
 
On the way back, we stop at the bottom of a lovely waterfall for some natural refreshment before completing the day walking through an organic coffee farm and lush sugar cane fields.
Day 15
At leisure to enjoy walking and birding in the cloud forests of Turrialba, within site of its beautiful volcano.
 
With over 450 recorded species, bird watching is outstanding in this region, where you can see many endemic species - including the Snowcap hummingbird, one of the smallest birds in the world.
 
Optional excursions include a visit to the little visited but charming Turrialba Volcano National Park or the pre-Columbian ruins in Guayabo. If you are adventurous, you can also enjoy thrilling white water rafting.
Day 16
Drive 2-hours to San Jose Airport for your flight home.
 
Please note there is an airport tax of approx. $29 per person payable on departure.

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