Private Journeys

Value Costa Rica: The essential highlights

12 days from £1,613pp

Costa Rica

iStock ©

Essentials

Transport

5 road journeys, 2 boat transfers.

Accommodation

This trip combines friendly mid-range hotels with well-equipped rooms with private bathroom and comfortable but not luxurious wildlife and beach lodges. Throughout Costa Rica accommodation is of a high standard.

Meals

Breakfast daily, full board days 2, 3.

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

12 days, 11 nights: San José 1; Tortuguero 2; San José 1; Monteverde 2; Arenal 2; Pacific Coast 3.

Currency

The unit of currency in Costa Rica is the colón.

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 and in many shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. 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 in San José and possibly some travellers’ cheques, though these are increasingly falling out of use. (American Express cheques are the most widely accepted). 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.

Daily Spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$40 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir.

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 hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 – 12% in restaurants.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential.

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

Airport Taxes

Departure tax from San José is normally included in the price of your airline ticket. 

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Journey Grade

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

Transport is by regular fixed-route and fixed-time shared minibus, which will nevertheless collect you from and deliver you to your hotels.

Bear in mind it is a relatively active trip. On the whole trails are good, and paths are linear, so you can turn back if you feel that you do not want to carry on. 

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 Arenal and San José with temperatures falling to around 5°C. Rainfall and humidity will be much lower at this time.

For your beach wind-down 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 is also necessary. 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 repellent are essential and you should bring swimwear. A daypack is useful for carrying sunblock, guidebook, water and any extra layers. If you have your own binoculars we strongly recommend taking them.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in Central America.

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.

Country info

When's the best time to visit Costa Rica?

Despite its small size, Costa Rica has a number of distinct microclimates. The Caribbean coast is humid all year round with the driest months being Sep-Oct; wildlife lovers, however, might prefer to visit this region from Jul-Aug to watch nesting turtles. The rest of the country experiences a dry season from Dec-Apr, when there is plenty of sun and temperatures are high, and a rainy season from May-Nov. However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule for all regions: for example, the rainy season starts a month earlier in the south Pacific, while the northern areas, including the Guanacaste coast, are not as affected by the seasons and are generally much drier. The highlands and cloud forests have warm temperatures during the day but the high altitude means evenings are much cooler.

For more detailed information visit our When To Go section.

What's the official language of Costa Rica?

Spanish.

What's the national currency of Costa Rica?

Colón. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. There’s at least one in most main towns. You may have to authorise your bank first, and withdrawals may be limited to amounts lower than in the UK. US dollars cash can be exchanged in banks too. US dollars themselves are widely accepted.

What's the time difference between Costa Rica and UK?

GMT -5 hours.  

What places combine well with Costa Rica?

A visit to neighbouring Nicaragua or Panama. There are land crossings to both, as well as international flights.

How do I get to Costa Rica?

There is a direct flight from London Gatwick to San José (11 hrs) as well as non-direct flights via US and European hubs.

What are the cultural and sport events in Costa Rica?

International Arts Festival: San José, March. Music, dance, film art exhibitions.
Monteverde Music Festival: Monteverde, Jan - Feb.

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport within Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Half day guided canal tour in Tortuguero National Park
  • Guided excursions to the hanging bridges at Arenal

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • International flights to Latin America
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport within Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Half day guided canal tour in Tortuguero National Park
  • Guided excursions to the hanging bridges at Arenal

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • International flights to Latin America
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

Papagaio

Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

View Extraordinary Inspiration

Real Latin America Experts

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Expert

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Expert

    It's hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

Meet the team