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Natural Costa Rica

from £3299
Exploring the rainforests, volcanoes, waterfalls and wildlife of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is an enlightened natural paradise. 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 Caribbean coasts. We have developed this holiday over twenty years to encapsulate the country’s diverse natural ecosystems perfectly. Steamy jungle, mysterious cloud forest, the white-sand beaches of the Pacific & Caribbean coasts, volcanoes and thermal areas, mangrove swamps, waterfalls, coffee plantations, lazy rivers… this is an itinerary which has it all.

The highly trained and knowledgeable local guides we have worked with through the years always receive rave reviews. They help us spot and enjoy the endless array of exotic birds and wildlife… white faced Capuchin Monkeys, the Resplendent Quetzal, hummingbirds, sloths, caiman & crocodiles and Scarlet Macaws. With walks taking us further into Costa Rica’s natural riches than most visitors to the country have the opportunity to do, we will of course see more.

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 in Costa Rica’s high central meseta, 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 east coast at Cahuita where we stay for two nights. This is a laid-back Caribbean town more like Barbados than the other places we will visit; the perfect place to unwind and relax. In the afternoon we will stroll around town to soak up the atmosphere with our tico guide.

  3. Day 3

    Today we walk in the Cahuita National Park through lush rain forest and along tropical white sand beaches – this is scenery straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean. Listen out for Howler monkeys, as well as spotting white capuchins. Watch out for sloths and toucans in the treetops and on the water ibis, herons and kingfishers. Our sharp-eyed guide should be able to spot a variety of tropical frogs, spiders and insects. 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 take a dip in the Caribbean.

  4. Day 4

    After breakfast we depart to Sarapiqui, where we stay for one night, in the heart of the former chocolate growing area. The cacao tree, from which the raw material for chocolate comes, is a rainforest tree. We walk into Sarapiqui’s classic 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.

  5. Day 5

    Don’t be surprised if a collared Aracari (a small toucan) provides breakfast entertainment. Our hotel sets up a feeding table which this and many other exotic birds visit. Today’s tropical adventure starts with a hike in the forest of La Selva Biological Station. This is one of the world’s most important sites for tropical ecosystem research, holding over 450 bird species and 70 species of bats. Later in the day we head northwest through the Central Tableland into coffee plantation country. After various stops during which we should see tree dwelling iguanas we arrive at La Fortuna, spectacularly situated under the imposing silhouette of Arenal volcano. La Fortuna is an excellent place to shop for brightly coloured ethnic artefacts.

  6. Day 6

    This morning we walk on the slopes of Arenal. The volcano has only recently become dormant and signs of volcanic activity are everywhere. We walk up to the lava fields with plenty of stops to learn about the flora and fauna from our local guide. The walk takes about 2 ½ hours In the afternoon we transfer to Tres Rios by the Rio Celeste. On arrival at our hotel at Rio Celeste (2nts) we can take time to relax in these peaceful surroundings.

  7. Day 7

    The Rio Celeste is one of Costa Rica’s natural highlights. Natural mineral deposits give the river a bright turquoise colour, made only more spectacular as it runs through lush green vegetation. We walk to a beautiful waterfall and also to where the turquoise waters meet clear river water. Later we enjoy a stroll through the extensive hotel grounds’ beautiful primary forest which offers excellent wildlife viewing. Anticipate seeing a wealth of birds, butterflies, monkeys and all manner of plant life.

  8. Day 8

    Today we continue northwest to Rincón de la Vieja passing more volcanic scenery en route. We stop in Liberia for lunch to get a taste of an authentic Costa Rican colonial town. Early afternoon finds us at our hotel. The Cañon de la Vieja where we normally stay is the perfect place for a free afternoon. It has the best swimming pool of the holiday, a spa, a suspension bridge and offers various activities… however what you’ll probably remember best are the wonderful cane toads which appear after dark.

  9. Day 9

    This morning we 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 2 ½ hours.  In the afternoon we visit Santa Rosa National Park on the Pacific Coast which contains some of the last remaining tropical dry forest in the world, home to spider monkeys.

  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. An amazing 50% of the county’s flora and fauna in here.

  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 crocodiles, hawk-like caracaras and osprey as well as the mangrove swamps.

  13. Day 13

    We spend the day in Manuel Antonio National Park on the central Pacific Coast, 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. There are kingfishers, five species of monkey and iguanas amongst many other creatures in this Garden of Eden. The 'Third (or Gemelas) Beach' with its coconut palms and white sands 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 we will 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 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.