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Natural Costa Rica

from £3150
Exploring the rainforests, volcanoes, waterfalls and wildlife of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is an enlightened place. More than a quarter of the country’s landscape is protected, and a variety of distinct climatic zones caused by high mountains separate its Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The forests are alive with a multitude of brilliantly coloured creatures. Take your time; there’s certainly no need to hurry when sloth watching. We include a good mix of walks, wildlife watching and travelling.

A local guide will accompany us during our time in Costa Rica. We travel down the Caribbean Coast, pass through cloud forest and the Tilaran Mountain range, plus observe Arenal volcano, waterfalls and an endless array of coloured birds and wildlife. Experience the Caribbean coastline in Cahuita National Park, see chocolate made in Sarapiquí, go on a crocodile cruise in Manuel Antonio, explore the coastal trails and wind down in this paradise of tropical sandy beaches backed by forests and with wonderful sunsets. We'll walk through some of the most natural vistas on earth. Pura Vida!

We have a highly trained and knowledgeable local guide to accompany us. Feel free to discuss any aspect of ‘Tico’ life with our guide. From the birdlife to the education system our guides are a mine of information which they love to share.

By travelling with us, in addition to experiencing the joy of visiting new places, you can make a difference in the communities you visit. With your help Heart & Sole is able to make a positive impact to communities in need and in less developed countries.

Holiday Highlights

  • Experience lush Monteverde Cloud Forest on foot.
  • Explore Manuel Antonio National Park for wildlife and swimming.
  • Locally guided opportunities to see sloth, birdlife and monkeys.
  • Look out for stunning blue Morpho butterflies at Cahuita.
The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What's included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

      Return flights from Gatwick to San Jose (British Airways)
      Airport transfers
      Half board accommodation
      Dinners taken at the hotel or at local restaurants
      Services of an English speaking local naturalist guide
      All local transport costs.
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised programme, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

This departure: Grade SS/4

  1. Day 1

    We fly direct from London to Costa Rica. On arrival in San Jose, we travel about 30 minutes to arrive at our hotel for a night. Our group leader will arrange and pay for a snack for those who would like it.

  2. Day 2

    We have a morning's drive down to the Caribbean coast at Cahuita. There should be time for an afternoon stroll into town to soak up the atmosphere. We stay in Cahuita for 2 nights.

  3. Day 3

    We will walk in the Cahuita National Park through lush rain forest and along tropical white sand beaches. The walk is about 7km and will be taken at a slow pace with plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities on the way. It is likely you will immediately notice stunning blue Morpho butterflies. Also look out for monkeys, sloths and varied birdlife, all have been spotted on this walk previously. There are two rivers to cross on the way, one shallow and one often knee deep, so be prepared to take your boots off. Later in the day there will be free time to perhaps take a dip in the Caribbean.

  4. Day 4

    After breakfast we depart to Sarapiqui in the heart of the former chocolate growing area. On arrival we will enjoy an introduction to the chocolate production process. The tour begins by walking into the rainforest to a former cacao-tree plantation. During the tour you will get a learn the natural and cultural history of the cacao tree and the secrets of transforming cacao fruit into chocolate. We stay 1 night in Sarapiqui.

  5. Day 5

    Breakfast will be held at the hotel’s restaurant. After breakfast the group will hike the trails of La Selva Biological Station. Later we head northwest along the misnamed 'central valley'; (more accurately the 'Meseta Central' or Central Tableland) into coffee plantation country. After various stops, including hopefully seeing tree dwelling iguanas, we arrive at the pleasant tourist centre of La Fortuna where we spend 1 night just under the imposing silhouette of the Arenal volcano. On arrival there will be time to enjoy the town and the views of Arenal volcano. La Fortuna is one of the best places to shop on this tour.

  6. Day 6

    After breakfast we will have a walk on the slopes of Arenal. The volcano has only recently become dormant and signs of volcanic activity are everywhere. We can walk up to the lava fields with plenty of stops to learn of the flora and fauna from our local guide. The walk takes approx. 2hrs 30mins. We will return to Arenal for lunch and shopping before transferring about two hours to Rio Celeste. On arrival at our hotel at Rio Celeste (2nts) we can take a little time to relax in these peaceful surroundings.

  7. Day 7

    This morning we visit Rio Celeste waterfall, dyed a bizarre blue colour by natural minerals. The trail is about 4km return but progress can be slow as the trail is often muddy. It is possible to rent wellies but your own walking boots are often better as they offer more grip.  We will return to the hotel or lunch and later enjoy a stroll through the extensive hotel grounds through beautiful primary forest which offers excellent wildlife viewing. Anticipate seeing at minimum birds, butterflies, monkeys and all manner of plant life.

  8. Day 8

    After breakfast we drive out to start with a walk through rural countryside hopefully with views of the Miravalles volcano. Later we drive to Rincon de la Vieja. The area is known for its bubbling mud pools, steam vents, hot springs and abundant wildlife.

  9. Day 9

    We will walk the Las Pailas Trail visiting assorted volcanic activity areas of steaming sulphuric hot rocks and bubbling mud pools.  The terrain undulates with various streams to cross and some muddy sections.  The walk takes about 2hrs 30mins. In the afternoon the group will visit Santa Rosa National Park, one of the largest and oldest national parks (established in 1971) in the country.

  10. Day 10

    We travel southeast to Monteverde (2 nights), settled relatively recently, in 1951, by a group of 44 Quakers. Monteverde, 'Green Mountain' in Spanish, is nestled high in the Tilaran mountain range and is one of the most beautiful areas of Costa Rica, with large tracts of forest still untouched.

  11. Day 11

    A morning visit to the 26,000 acre Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, preserved and protected as a result of the Quakers' foresight. The forest is home to a myriad of plants, insects and over 400 species of birds - a birdwatcher's paradise. The park authorities control the number of hikers on the forest trails to minimise the impact of visitors, which may affect the direction, routes taken and start times of walks within the reserve. During the afternoon we can enjoy a coffee tour. It includes an overview of the history of Costa Rican coffee and its importance in the development of the country. During the tour, we will learn about other aspects of Costa Rican culture and its traditions.

  12. Day 12

    We depart for Manuel Antonio National Park (2 nights), on the Pacific coast, with a cruise on the Tarcoles River en route. The cruise offers excellent viewing of the crocodiles that live here, the mangrove swamps and the birdlife.

  13. Day 13

    We spend the day in Manuel Antonio National Park, the smallest and possibly the most beautiful in the park system, and take the opportunity to enjoy the diverse wildlife and the tropical white sand beaches. The 'Third Beach' (or Gemelas Beach) is almost exactly how you imagine a tropical beach should look.

  14. Day 14

    We have some free time to relax on the beach and stroll in the local area before our transfer to San Jose. On the way back to San Jose there will hopefully be time to stop off at a nesting site for Scarlet Macaws. We will arrive back in the capital later in the day.

  15. Day 15

    After breakfast we have a walking tour of San Jose city with a local guide. We will pass the Gold Museum, National Theatre and handicrafts market. Entrance are not included but there will be plenty of time to go back and visit any attractions you might choose. We have also the opportunity to visit the foster home Ramblers Walking Holidays supports as part of our “Heart and Soul “charity project. The visit is entirely optional. Later we transfer to the airport for our flight home.

  16. Day 16

    Arrive UK.

Travel Details

  • Flights: Gatwick-San José, British Airways.
  • Arrival transfer by road (c20mins).
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.

Trip Map

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Our Accommodation on this holiday

Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday. If you are on a multi-centre holiday, these are highlights of the places where we stay. Please refer to your Holiday Information sheet (which can be found under View Departures & Book), for your departure date and for all your accommodation details.

Celeste Mountain Lodge

An accommodation list confirming hotels will be sent to you with your air tickets, but a hotel we definitely use, and a highlight of the tour is the Celeste Mountain Lodge. The Lodge is a beautifully designed and unique eco hotel run by friendly and knowledgeable owners. There are amazing views from its hillside perch over a valley of rainforest, and the Tenorio and Miravalles volcanoes. The lodge embraces responsible tourism and has respect for the incredible environment and biodiversity of the surrounding jungle. It has its own 2km jungle trail and is surrounded by protected rainforest, with the chance to spot passing wildlife a real possibility. The interior design is contemporary and innovative, yet with rustic touches, with many glass windows and spaces to allow the light and outdoors to become part of the experience. Very well reviewed gourmet standard food is served in the restaurant, where we take breakfast and dinners. It is called Tico Fusion Cuisine, where French gourmet techniques are applied to dishes inspired by traditional Costa Rican recipes made from fresh local produce. All bright and clean rooms face the same way to take advantage of the magnificent views and come with en-suite facilities. The hotel comes with free Wi-Fi throughout.