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Luxury adventures in Costa Rica

8 days from £1969pp

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Luxury adventures in Costa Rica:
Trip Dossier

This short but utterly exhilarating holiday packs in the cream of Costa Rica’s  world-renowned portfolio of outdoor activities, and is guaranteed to thrill all the senses. As you aren’t away from home for long and your feet will hardly touch the ground from start to finish, you’ll be glad of the level of comfort and luxury of your accommodation in a country which prides itself on its excellent infrastructure for visitors.

You set off on a water-borne adventure rafting the effervescent rapids of the Pacuare river, travelling through a near-vertical canyon darkened by the tropical foliage which clings tenuously to the scarred cliffs. Following two nights at one of the world’s leading ecolodges, you continue downstream in your raft. Next you have a couple of days at a luxury lodge in the cloud forest rising from the slopes of the gently smoking Póas volcano and finally stay in an adventure-packed, top-of-the-range resort enveloped in wildlife-rich woodland dotted with thermal pools.

Each property we stay in has been hand-picked to combine a wide range of wellness options and outdoor activities in exceptional comfort.  We leave these open to you to book when you are there, allowing the flexibility to choose the experience that takes your mood.

For those with more time, we strongly recommend the Punta Islita active beach extension on the Pacific coast: there are different activities to indulge in, and also the chance to relax on the sand and unwind after your exertions.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in San José, transfer to your hotel

Day 2

Transfer to Pacuare river and raft to Pacuare Lodge

Day 3

Activities at Pacuare Lodge

Day 4

Further rafting; transfer to lodge in the shadow of Póas Volcano

Day 5

Activities around El Silencio Lodge & Spa

Day 6

Transfer by road to Rio Perdido

Day 7

Activities in and around Rio Perdido

Day 8

Transfer to Liberia airport, or add a few days of activity on the beach

Detailed itinerary

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. However, your well-appointed hotel has what is probably the best restaurant in San José.

Central San José

Day 2

Transfer to Pacuare river and raft to Pacuare Lodge
 

Dawn will hardly have broken before you are whisked away by road, heading towards the Caribbean and passing through Braulio Carrillo National Park before enjoying breakfast with a spectacular view en route.  You may spot watchful sloths lounging in the trees before you arrive in Turrialba.

After an orientation and safety briefing you take to your raft for the trip to Pacuare Lodge. There is plenty of calm water where you can sit back and observe the surrounding forest and its wildlife; herons, toucans, blue morpho butterflies and monkeys are commonly sighted here.You’ll have plenty of time to have a dip in jungle rock pools on the way.

It’s not only the excitement of negotiating the swirling eddies and split curtains of agitated water foaming over the rock-strewn river bed which defines this experience. It’s the towering, sheer walls of rock composing the canyon through which the river cuts a fathomless path, looming either side of you the craggy cliffs mantled in a scramble of emerald green tropical foliage cling for life in tiny cracks in the rock.

This stretch of rapids is a great run for beginners and experienced rafters alike (class II - III). There’s a full lunch to be enjoyed en route, and when you arrive at your accommodation exhilarated, the magic of this welcoming, top quality property will make all your efforts worthwhile as you’re given a welcome cocktail before a sumptuous lunch with ingredients grown on site.

White Water rafting Pacuare river , Costa Rica

Day 3

Activities at Pacuare Lodge
 

You have a day at leisure to enjoy the facilities and the tropical ambience in the orchid-studded grounds of the lodge. You might embark on optional activities including a canopy tour, zip-lining through the jungle at tree-top level eyeballing the toucans, take a guided wild-life spotting trek, or visit remote indigenous communities.

Tree Top Abseiling at Pacuare Lodge

Day 4

Further rafting; transfer to lodge in the shadow of Póas Volcano
 
In the morning you will continue to explore the river, with a few class III - IV rapids testing further your rafting skills and with the opportunity to make lateral hikes penetrating the dramatic landscapes of the canyon. A natural waterslide provides the perfect opportunity to relax. There are changing facilities at the river take-out for you to dry off before boarding the minibus back to San José.

Continue your adventure moving on to the stately silence of misty cloud forest carpeting the volcanic landscape around Póas National Park. It’s a picturesque drive to Bajos del Toro and the el Silencio Lodge, a very eco-conscious but upmarket retreat with boutique-style polished wood and glass cabins.

El Silencio Lodge

Day 5

Activities around El Silencio Lodge & Spa
 

Enjoy a day at leisure in and around El Silencio Lodge & Spa.  A raft of optional activities are on offer, all supervised by enthusiastic guides, including forest walks, horse riding, zip lining and even kayaking - if your appetite for the thrills and spills on the water has not yet been quenched. To unwind following your exertions, you can indulge yourself with the relaxing treatments of the onsite spa. Since you’ll have earned it by now, why not enjoy a wine or coffee tasting session at the lodge.

Horse Riding

Day 6

Transfer by road to Rio Perdido
 
Travel by road to Rio Perdido (4hrs), a private natural dwarf forest reserve with a backdrop of lava-mantled Miravalles volcano in Guanacaste province. The lofty trees along the river, perched above thermal pools and jangling streams, create the perfect habitat for monkeys, other mammals and exotic birds, which enliven the forest with their spirited calls. The rugged hills around are covered, with varying degrees of density, with low dry forest with high populations of reptiles.

Your slick and sophisticated accommodation here is in first class, contemporary-style cabins nestled in the youthful woodland.

Rio Perdido

Day 7

Activities in and around Rio Perdido
 

While the level of comfort offered in Rio Perdido may tempt you to simply relax and enjoy the facilities, the main focus of the property is outdoor adventure. There is a copious choice of optional activities on site, the most dramatic being a ride on a sky-high zipline strung across a deep rocky canyon. Scenic jogging and cycle trails, canyoning and tubing will get your heart pumping but there are more relaxing options such as unwinding in the natural spa where you can immerse yourself in volcanic mud, and early morning bird watching tours.

Rio Perdido

Day 8

Transfer to Liberia airport, or add a few days of activity on the beach
 

Transfer to Liberia airport for a flight to connect with your international flight home.  For those with more time, we recommend the Punta Islita active beach extension where surf lessons, snorkeling and kayaking are among the land and watersport activities you might enjoy.

Essential information

Transport

4 road journeys.

Accommodation

On this holiday you will be staying in luxurious eco-friendly countryside lodge-style resorts with extensive grounds and on site adventure activities. Throughout Costa Rica accommodation is of a high standard.

Meals

Breakfast daily.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by clients on their return.

Summary of nights

8 days, 7 nights: San José 1; Pacuare 3; Bajos del Toro 3; Rio Perdido 2.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• White water rafting to and from Pacuare Lodge
• Full access to all hiking trails and thermal pools at Rio Perdido
• Self-guided activities at the lodges (other activities may be charged for locally)

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities.
• Meals other than specified.
• International flights from the UK.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket.
• Excursions and activities from the lodges.

To help you plan ahead, here is a list of just some of the experiences available from the lodges, with approximate prices:

Pacuare Lodge
 • Horse riding with naturalist guide US$80 per person
 • 90 minute hike to visit local indigenous Indian reserve US$55 per person
 • Abseil into a deep canyon and hike US$65 per person
 • Spa treatments vary but average cost US$100 per person 

El Silencio Lodge
 • Exhilarating zip line track US$40 
 • Community food shop and cook up US$85
 • Guided waterfall Hike US$85 

Rio Perdido Lodge
• Mountain Biking – different levels  US$25 per hour , per person 2 hours minimum 
 • Canyon Adventure US$60 

Currency

The unit of currency in Costa Rica is the colón.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$75 per person per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. See what's included for additional tour costs.  

How to take it

Cash machines are available in San José taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.
We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency at San José airport. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can exchange sterling but the rate may be unfavourable and there are fewer outlets providing this service.
At the lodges you can pay for extra services including meals buy credit card or in US dollars cash.

Tipping

Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for guides, chambermaids, taxi drivers etc. It is common practice to leave 10 - 12%.
Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential.

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

Generally this holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit visitors, including families with children.

Transport is by private road transfer.

The rafting is appropriate for beginners but bear in mind that you must obey the instructions of the pilot at all times and should have reasonably quick reactions.
Activities at the lodge are geared for participants of all skills and levels, Bear in mind the properties you stay at have active adventures at their heart and you will get more out of your experience if you participate, although nothing is compulsory.

Climate

The trip covers climates ranging from tropical lowland to more temperate zones in the highlands. Those travelling between May and October journeys should encounter high temperatures (around 35°C) and high humidity in the lowlands. The ‘official’ rainy (green) season is May to November.

December to April visitors will still encounter high temperatures in lowland areas, but cool evenings around San José with temperatures falling to around 5°C. Rainfall and humidity will be much lower at this time.

If you opt for the beach wind-down extension on the Pacific coast good weather is a priority, so most visits are in the dry season December to April when there is plenty of sun. It’s hot all year round (often over 30°C). The busy times for visitors are the dry season months, especially weekends and Easter week. The green (i.e. rainy) season is much quieter.

Clothing and special equipment

Bring plenty of light cotton clothing and good, comfortable walking shoes. A waterproof jacket and/or umbrella are also advisable. We suggest that you plan to ‘layer’ your clothing; it is easier and more efficient to put on a couple of light layers than one thick jumper, and sensible to have long sleeves for areas where mosquitos may be lurking. Sandals are a good informal option for evenings. Protection against the sun (sunblock, sun hat) and mosquito repellant are essential and you should bring swimwear. A daypack is useful for carrying sunblock, guidebook, water and any extra layers. Although guides may carry binoculars we recommend you take your own.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following; typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to, or via, the USA, you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online. This costs $14 per person, and must be done by you personally.

Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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