Cookies

At Journey Latin America we use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website.
Find out more


Active Costa Rica and Nicaragua: Rivers and volcanoes

16 days from £3332pp

Book Holiday Enquire online

Active Costa Rica and Nicaragua: Rivers and volcanoes

16 days from £3332pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in San José. Transfer to your hotel.
 
You will be met at the airport by our local representative who will take you to your hotel in the centre of San José. Founded in 1737, the capital was built on the profits of exporting coffee, produced from the fertile soils of the surrounding Central Valley. These days little remains of the city’s colonial or indeed agricultural heritage. It does though have some fine museums and restaurants as well as a lively nightlife. 

Day 2

Rainforest aerial tram zip-line adventure.
 
It is approximately an hour's drive from San José to the Rainforest Canopy, next to Braulio Carrillo National Park. Jump on a series of 10 zip lines (between 80-140m long) with 6 platforms in between, which provide 360° views of the surrounding forest. The ride takes you 3 times whizzing across the magnificent Molinete River. Below, walking trails allow you to experience  the rainforest at ground level. Return to San José afterwards.
Ziplining in Central Valley, Costa Rica

Day 3

White-water rafting on the Pacuare river.
 

Depart San José early in the morning, heading towards the Caribbean and passing through Braulio Carrillo National Park. After an orientation and safety talk, you take to your raft for the 60-90min trip to Pacuare Lodge, riding rapids which are great run for beginners and experienced rafters alike (class II - III).

River Pacuare is celebrated world-wide for its natural beauty. You pass through a vertiginous river gorge flanked by steep, lushly vegetated walls. You see waterfalls cascading into the river from both sides while tropical birds fly right overhead. Enjoy views of virgin tropical rainforest. The white-water expedition is not overly challenging, but you’ll ride 52 rapids over 30km, giving you a real adrenaline high. There is plenty of calm water for you to sit back and enjoy the surrounding forest and its wildlife; herons, toucans, blue morpho butterfly and monkeys are all common sights. Have a breather to enjoy a picnic lunch on the river bank.

Later, arrive at Ríos Tropicales Lodge where the afternoon is spent at leisure.

White Water rafting Pacuare river , Costa Rica

Day 4

White-water rafting; drive to Arenal.
 

After breakfast and loading the rafts, prepare to paddle down the Pacuare Gorge past waterfalls, serene pools and pounding rapids. A snack stop by the riverside allows time to explore nearby waterfalls and natural waterslides. The afternoon is spent running some serious rapids: you are tossed and turned as if on a roller coaster but if you follow the captain’s orders you’ll love every minute.  Returning to Ríos Tropicales you can take a shower and pride yourself on your navigating achievement over a drink.

Leaving the lodge mid-morning, you’ll head back up to the main road by 4WD vehicle.  From here you'll continue to San José in a mini-bus, stopping for lunch on the way and continue to Arenal.

A modest 1,674m high, Arenal volcano was until recently very active but now lava flow and volcanic eruptions are infrequent (nothing since 2010).  The region is considered to be one of the highlights of a visit to Central America and there is a plethora of excursions and thrilling activities to be enjoyed in the surrounding countryside.

 

White water rafting

Day 5

Hike to Rio Celeste in Tenorio Volcano National Park
 

You will leave La Fortuna early and drive for 90mins to the Tenorio Volcano National Park, to begin the 7 km hike (approximately 4 hours) through tropical rain forest, eventually arriving at Los Teñíderos of Rio Celeste, the place where two streams of water come together and create the vivid light blue colour which gives the river its name.

As you return along the park trails, you may opt for a quick dip in natural hot springs. Further along the hike, you will see the Rio Celeste waterfall. The final reward for the journey is a typical Costa Rican lunch served at the end of your experience in the rainforest. The adventure takes around 7-8 hours, and is of medium intensity. 


Hiking through trees to crater lake in Costa Rica

Day 6

Mountain-biking in Arenal volcano area.
 

Having zipped, rafted and hiked, today’s the day to get on your bike! This 30-45km (575m altitude gain) cycling trip is along a mostly paved road around the north shore of Lake Arenal. This lane has very little traffic and offers a relaxing ride over rolling hills and through tropical forest full of monkeys, birds and the views of the lake, as well as a chance to observe the unhurried rural life of this remote part of Costa Rica.

New trails of differing levels are being developed at the moment so there may well be the possibility to experience alternative routes, which you can discuss locally with the guide.

Cycling in Costa Rica

Day 7

Drive to El Castillo in Nicaragua. Night-time caiman spotting.
 

Drive to the frontier with Nicaragua at Los Chiles, passing through pineapple and sugar cane plantations. You cross the border and here you are met by our representatives; the rest of the journey to Nicaragua is by boat. Head down the river to San Carlos and then continue for 90mins to El Castillo. The little town is dominated by a huge fortress built by the Spanish to protect the affluent city of Granada from attacks by pirates. Your hotel is in town.

After dark, go searching for caimans under the moonlight, accompanied only by a specialist guide. As you glide through the darkness, a journey orchestrated by the nocturnal sounds of the rainforest, the guide will be using a spotlight to reflect the beady red eye of watchful caimans as they rest in the tropical vegetation along the water's edge. Once spotted, the caiman may be approached so that you can appreciate its delicate markings and maybe even get a glimpse of its razor-sharp teeth. The baby caimans are particularly endearing, and could fit into the palm of your hand.

 

El Castillo town on rio San Carlos

Day 8

Trekking in Indio Maíz reserve; guided fortress tour.
 

A marvellous jungle experience awaits you today. Just 3km downstream from El Castillo you come to the Indio Maíz Biosphere Reserve. This area of rainforest is bursting with wildlife, including huge scarlet macaws and big cats. , On your guided tour of the small part of the reserve open to visitors you might spy a tapir, a manatee, a Harpy eagle and American crocodiles: jaguar and puma lurk here but are rarely spotted.

The trail is 2km long and you’ll take over 2hrs to follow it, pausing to observe the profusion of exotic birds while enjoying the company of watchful lizards and lithe spider monkeys swinging from branch to branch. You’ll also be taken on a guided tour of the fortress.

Day 9

Transfer to Granada.
 

By road to Granada on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. Founded in 1524, Granada is the oldest city in the New World and lies at the foot of  Mombacho volcano. At its height it became very prosperous on the back of the gold trade. The city was regularly plundered by pirates and completely razed by American mercenary William Walker at the beginning of the 19th century.  However, Granada has since been wonderfully restored and its colourful colonial houses and cobbled streets that run down to the shores of Lake Nicaragua are a delight.

Mombacho Volcano overlooking Granada in Nicaragua

Day 10

At leisure in Granada area.
 

Day at leisure to explore the city with its colonial churches, narrow streets and colonial mansions and convents. The historic core is so compact that you can experience much of it on foot with many of the sites within the vicinity of the main square. You might opt for an optional day trip where, in addition to a guided tour of the city, you head off for a boat ride around some of the islets formed by eruptions of the looming bulk of the waterside Mombacho volcano.

The vast lake, more like an inland sea, with surf-tipped waves and reflecting fiery sunsets, is the largest body of freshwater in the Americas after the Great Lakes. Climb by vehicle to the summit of the cone-shaped Masaya volcano. Walk a few steps towards the sizzling, steamy Santiago crater, active since 1946, and explore the surrounding area, dotted with other volcanic formations. Finally. head to the nearby Masaya arts and crafts market which specialises in ceramics, leatherwork, wooden furniture and hammocks before heading back to Granada.

Cathedral in Granada, Nicaragua

Day 11

Transfer to Ometepe Island; guided biking tour.
 

You’ll be driven to San Jorge port, also sitting on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. The road takes an inland route through farmed fields and countryside, and half the distance covered is on the fast Pan-American Highway. From there embark on a ferry to Ometepe Island dominated by its twin volcanoes. Ometepe is a serene and as yet totally undeveloped island. Even in comparison with the rest of Nicaragua, the infrastructure is basic with only rough roads and simple accommodation.

Much of the island is still covered in primary rainforest and home to many different species of monkeys and parrots. It is also famous for its pre-Columbian stone statues and petroglyphs, carved by the Chorotega indians centuries ago.

Upon arrival you’ll be whisked off on a guided cycle tour, visiting a couple of museums en route. The island’s roads are virtually empty so pootling along on a bike is a delight.

Cycling Ometepe   costa Rica

Day 12

Guided hike up Maderas volcano.
 

The two volcanoes, looming dominantly over the island, are just begging to be climbed. You’ll set off on an invigorating mountain trek which takes most hikers (you have to be fit) 4hrs to summit and 2-3 to get back down. Theforest-cloaked Maderas volcano - the smaller of the two - reaches 1,394m above sea level.

The climb is relatively steep and muddy all the way, especially near the peak, but you are rewarded by the sight of more species of the plants and animals which inhabit the tropical forest than anywhere else on Ometepe, These include a plethora of butterflies (including blue morphos), white-faced and howler monkeys and dozens of species of bird.  At the top you may be able to enjoy views over the emerald-hued volcanic crater lake, although it is usually shrouded in mist.  

Day 13

At leisure on the island.
 

At leisure on Ometepe with your guide. You might visit one of many coffee cooperatives on the island. Horse-riding and fishing are also options here. Owing to heavy rainfall in recent years there are few beaches on the island, however, there are many spots to sit back and enjoy the views across the lake and possibly take a dip in its warm waters.

Ometepe coastline, Nicaragua

Day 14

By boat and road to lodge on Pacific coast.
 

Return to San Jorge and continue by road to San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast. San Juan del Sur was until recently a peaceful fishing village but has now been discovered by developers and has a lively tourist scene, while still retaining some of its former rustic characteristics.

North and south of the buzzing town you find a clutch of crescent shaped bays harbouring soft golden sand, slapped by surf-tipped rollers and backed by rugged hills and cliffs smothered in emerald rainforest.

Boat to Ometepe  Island Nicaragua

Day 15

At leisure on the Pacific coast.
 

Here you have time to hang out on the beach or in the town bars and restaurants, musing over all the excitement of the previous 2 weeks.

San Juan del Sur , Nicaragua

Day 16

Transfer to Managua airport for international flight home.
 

16 days from £3332pp

Book Online

Other holidays you may be interested in

View all holidays
Costa Rica car hire

Self-drive Costa Rica: Coast to coast adventures

14 days from £2015pp

Tree frog

Explore and Relax Costa Rica and Panama: Wildlife, rainforest and beaches

13 days from £2595pp

Costa Rica wildlife

Costa Rica Wildlife Discovery

15 days from £3679pp

Poas

Value Central America: Costa Rica, Guatemala and Belize

15 days from £3155pp

About Private Journeys

Private Journeys are pre-planned holidays crafted by our experts, featuring routes and combinations that are proven to work well.


Journey with the UK's NO1 specialist in travel to latin america

Experience

  • The pioneers in travel to Latin America since 1980
  • The UK's no.1 specialist – nobody knows it better

Knowledge

  • All our staff are in-depth Latin America specialists
  • Get the inside track with expert advice based on first-hand experience

Passion

  • Our love of Latin America runs through all we do
  • We take pride in providing a genuinely personal service

Protection

  • Unbeatable and secure financial protection
  • Book with confidence, knowing every penny is secure

Flexibility

  • The widest range of travel options to Central and South America
  • The journey you'll love, in a style to suit you

Expertise

  • Award-winning holidays, endorsed by our clients and the press
  • Exclusively dedicated to 
    Latin America – it's all we do


Wanderlust

Wanderlust Reader's Travel Awards - Top Ten Tour Operator 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015

Latin American Travel Association – Award for Customer Service 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Specialist Tour Operator 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Best Value Tour Operator 2011

Sunday Times Travel Magazine - Editor's Award2013

British Travel Awards – Best Small Tour Operator Central & South America 2011, 2012

Condé Nast Traveller – Top Ten Specialist Tour Operator: 2010, 2011, 2012

Guardian and Observer Travel Awards– Top Ten Small Tour Operator: 2009, 2010, 2012

Page Full Path: /sitecore/content/JLA/Home/destinations/costa-rica/holidays/active-costa-rica-and-nicaragua-rivers-and-volcanoes/itinerary

Page ID: {5C185CEA-015B-48B8-BE4F-A7F0EB2CF6D7}

Page Name: itinerary

Page Display Name: Itinerary

Page Template Name: T014-DetailedItinerary

Page Template ID: {F63DBF6A-16F3-494E-B6C8-1964F3FA4454}

Parent ID: {66C7EF67-4A85-4570-89D9-E444603764A8}

Parent Name: active-costa-rica-and-nicaragua-rivers-and-volcanoes

Parent Display Name: Active Costa Rica and Nicaragua: Rivers and volcanoes

Parent Template Name: T013-Tour

Parent Template ID: {9701B79C-85FD-4A45-8072-3FFF55338F72}