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Top Trip Memories

  • Exploring miles of off-the-beaten-track beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and perhaps chancing upon nesting sea turtles.
  • Glimpsing rare tropical birds and butterflies on a tramp through the rainforests.
  • Viewing both coasts from atop 11,200-foot Irazu volcano while gazing into massive craters that look like they were scooped out for some gargantuan ice cream cone.
  • Cooling off in the mountainous cloud forests while in search of monkeys, sloths, and other wildlife.
  • Revelling in the colors of wildflowers and trees: orchids, bougainvillea, jacaranda, and flame and poro trees, which paint the landscape with purples, oranges and scarlets.
  • Coming upon a forest waterfall and taking a dip in the waters below; or relaxing in a secluded hot springs at Arenal Volcano National Park.
  • Riding a zipline high over a forest canopy, rappelling down a waterfall canyon, kayaking on a clear mountain lake -- or all three in one day.
  • Reeling in a big catch on a sport fishing cruise in a quest for tuna, wahoo and marlin.
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Tour Tips

  • Allow at least seven to ten days for a tour that will hit many of the highlights.
  • Costa Rica tour operators cater to a wide variety of travelers, including couples, singles, and families; whether you’re looking for hard or soft adventure, Stride can help you find the right tours.
  • If you have a special interest -- birding or fishing, for instance -- look for tours that emphasize those activities; you’ll be able to find them.
  • Don’t be put off by reports of civil strife elsewhere in Central America; Costa Rica has been safe and peaceful for decades.
  • The dry season runs from December to April or May in San Jose (the capital) and the Pacific Coast and from January to April along the Caribbean.
  • Some parts of the country can get rain year-round, and temperature is swayed more by altitude than season, so pack an umbrella and visit any time of year.
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Costa Rica Travel Reviews & Ratings

4.7 out of 5

99%

recommend

911 Reviews

  • Excellent 680
  • Great 217
  • Average 10
  • Disappointing 1
  • Terrible 3

Rating Details

  • Value
    4.7
  • Guide
    4.7
  • Activities
    4.7
  • Lodging
    4.7
  • Transportation
    4.7
  • Meals
    4.7

Tour Reviews

Costa Rica was shown to us in a wonderful way by our guide, Danny Alvarado.

Natural Highlights of Costa Rica

5.0
December 2016
G Adventures
Recommend: No
We had a wonderful time with G Adventures. Our guide, Danny, was excellent. He knew everything about the country and the wildlife and he organised our events without any problems. Danny was very pleasant and knowledgeable and was an excellent ambassador for G Adventures worldwide.

We enjoyed the tour. The events were great and the guides chosen by Danny were excellent. We will use G Adventures for future holidays
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Cycling nicaragua, costa rica and panama

Cycle Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama

5.0
November 2016
G Adventures
Recommend: Yes
What an amazing adventure. I have been on several Exodus trips - hiking and cycling - and this was my favourite so far. Three countries in 2 weeks - brilliant guides/mechanics; great bikes, beautiful scenery and locations.... all you could ask for and more.
The cycling is moderate/challenging - good roads throughout and the bikes are excellent. The bikes have speedometers which show your speed, distance covered etc which is really helpful. There are a few challenging hills but overall it is manageable. The group has a leader at the front and one at the back of the group (I was at the back!) so you can take whatever time you need! Plenty of stops for water and fresh pineapple and biscuits.. It was very warm and humid so be prepared to be very sweaty!
All three countries were beautiful. Plenty to see and do whilst you cycle - our guide - Roberto- was extremely knowledgeable about everything (don't think there wasn't anything he couldn't answer) so the cycling was interspersed with breaks to show us wildlife, views, swim at a beach...
The hotels were good - some more basic than others- but all decent. Some of them were fantastically located, right on a beach or on a beautiful hillside.
Food was very good - lots of seafood; those who were vegetarian found it harder to find choices in some places though
On a free day, 10 out of our group went zip wiring in Costa Rica- brilliant fun and I would definitely recommend it if you are okay with heights
Too many to mention! Sunrises and sunsets, the views, the camaraderie ...
One to mention was actually completing all the cycling and hill climbs and not having to get off the bike! This is thanks to Steve (one of the leaders/guides) who cycled at the rear of the group. He was great fun, professional, friendly, and incredibly helpful - not being a regular cyclist (I know - why choose a cycling holiday?!!), he helped me with picking the right gears and getting my pacing right so that I was able to complete it all which was a great achievement for me. What a star!

Roberto was the main leader and he was just fantastic - he gave us more detailed trip notes on the first day outlining each days distances, climbs, activities which was very useful. He was always available to answer any questions and did so with a smile! He was extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of the trip - wildlife, cycling, countryside, traditions, foods, anything and everything. Great fun and great guy.
The other leaders, mechanics and drivers (Steve, Paul, Luis and Ronaldo) were also fabulous and also helped make the trip an unbelievable one!

Yes - book it! You won't regret it!

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Cycling in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama

Cycle Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama

5.0
November 2016
G Adventures
Recommend: Yes
This was the best cycling trip I have done with Exodus. In fact, this is my fifth cycling trip with exodus.The organization and leadership of Roberto made all the difference in experiencing a wonderful trip. His team including Steve, Paulo, Luise and Rolando worked effectively and efficiently together and interacted very well with all the clients. Though they all worked extremely, they had fun with each other and with us. It was a privilege to be on the trip with them. This is caliber of staff Exodus needs to support and hire.
I think for me was accomplishing the cycle on the Queen route in Costa Rica. It was the most difficult of all the routes and I managed at my age to be with the top portion of the cyclists. I also believe how Roberto and the other members of the team motivated all of us to keep going made a difference.

I think I have already indicated how Roberto functioned as the group leader. He brief us every evening about the next route and in the morning before we cycled he showed what we had already accomplished and then indicated what was the next route. He also warned about the difficulty of the specific route and the safety precautions we need to consider.
He always made sure that everyone was alright, was willing to answer our questions and suggested places to eat, tours to take and where to obtain money.

Make sure you are fit to do this type of trip especially in dealing with the heat and humidity. The heat and humidity makes the cycling more difficult. I have cycled three times in India and the heat and humidity in Central America was worse that in India.

Roberto took many photos of our trip which is being shared with all the clients. This is an added bonus.

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5.0
November 2016
G Adventures
Recommend: Yes
This is a whirlwind tour of the three countries. A lot is packed into the 2 weeks. The itinerary is fast moving and most days are either cycling or travelling to the next destination. The cycling has some steep hills, so it's best if you are reasonably fit, but you don't necessarily have to be. All in all, a great way to see Central America, the beautiful scenery and the different cultures
Roberto took us to a remote school in Panama, where he told us that because the children did not watch TV they were completely innocent, and very rarely saw people from other countries. For me, this was one of the highlights, especially seeing how Roberto talked to the children, and how he got all of us to introduce ourselves to the children in Spanish!

Roberto is a top leader in every way. He is very passionate about his country (Costa Rica) and gave us all sorts of information about each of the countries as we travelled through. He was always concerned for our safety when cycling and gave us clear instructions at the beginning of each ride so that we stayed safe

I would travel a day early to get over the jet lag when you arrive. Make sure you have high factor sun cream, especially for your arms (The cycle leaders put sleeves on their arms for the long rides)

Try to be as fit as you can before you go, you will enjoy it better.

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Father and son bonding

Cycle Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama

5.0
November 2016
G Adventures
Recommend: Yes
Great trip with my 19 year old son,great companions , Roberto was like a mother hen and kept us all safe ( despite my sons best efforts ) .
Met up with other son 21 who was in Panama for a month in Bochas del Toro volunteering with Floating Doctors.
Looking into the active volcano at night.
I was a bit cynical at first about the school visit but it is the real thing , Roberto truly loved those children and made a meaningful interface between us and the children so that they and us gained without patronising the children.

Roberto and Steve who took over on last days were both great and went beyond anything expected.

Do some hill training before you arrive as there are some steep climbs.I had only prepared on the flat .
No sure I ever will hear the word "undulation " again without wincing

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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


Classic Itineraries

Natural Costa Rica in 1 Week

Day 1-2, San Jose: Braulio Carrillo National Park, Atlantic Forest Zipline

Day 3-4, La Fortuna: Tour fruit plantations, bird watching, Arenal Volcano National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest, La Fortuna Waterfall

Day 5-6, Tortuguero National Park: observe incredible wildlife, in particular the Green Sea Turtles in their natural egg laying habitat.

Trips that follow this itinerary:

Costa Rica Volcanos & Cloud Forest with G Adventures - 6 Days, premium trip

Family Costa Rica with Abercrombie & Kent - 7 Days, luxury trip

Nature & Adventure Package with Project Expedition - 7 Days, basic trip

Or see All Costa Rica in One Week Trips

Highlights of Costa Rica in 2 Weeks

Day 1-2, San Jose: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca village, zipline in Atlantic forest, Braulio Carrillo National Park

Day 3-5, La Fortuna: Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna Waterfall, whitewater rafting, Baldi Hot Springs, Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

Day 6-7, Monteverde Cloud Forest: stunning views of the Gulf of Nicoya, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve & National Park, catch a glimpse of a Quetzel, zip line through the canopy

Day 8-10, Tortuguero National Park: Sea Turtle Museum, observe the famous Green Sea Turtles who live here, wildlife walks

Day 11-13, Manuel Antonio: Pan-Am Coastal Highway, see multiple species of monkeys through the trees, horseback riding on the beach

Trips that follow this itinerary:

Explore Costa Rica with G Adventures - 14 Days, premium trip

Classic Costa Rica with Intrepid - 15 Days, value trip

Costa Rica Encompassed with Tucan Travel - 14 Days, basic trip

Or see All Costa Rica in Two Weeks Trips 

Adventure Tour in Costa Rica

Day 1, San Jose: Braulio Carrillo National Park, Atlantic Forest Zipline, birdwatching cruise

Day 2-4, Pacuare River: whitewater rafting, wildlife viewing, hiking in Pacuare Nature Reserve among dense forest and to waterfalls. Zip line among the canopy

Day 5-6, Tortuguero National Park: Kayak through the many canals and lagoons in the park. Observe the famous Green Sea Turtles who live here, take a guided wildlife walk

Day 7-8, Manuel Antonio: Sky tram, hike to Cathedral Point for spectacular views of the ocean

Trips that follow this itinerary:

Costa Rica Kayaking Adventure with G Adventures - 9 Days, value trip

Costa Rica Adventure with National Geographic Expeditions - 9 Days, premium trip

Costa Rica Summer Getaway with Adventures Within Reach - 8 Days, premium trip

Or see All Costa Rica Adventure Trips

Costa Rica Trips & Tour Advice

Few adventure travel destinations are as hot as Costa Rica, one of the most stable countries in Central America and home to mountains, cloud forests, beaches (on two coasts -- the Pacific and Caribbean), wildlife, and some great eco-lodges as well. While small, Costa Rica packs a punch for travelers, and is family friendly with plenty of “soft adventure” opportunities. 

Costa Rica is a leading contender for the title of eco-tourism capital of the Americas, and for good reason: not only does it have mountains, forests, rivers, coastlines, wildlife, and more, but it has adopted sustainable development as its ruling principle. Costa Rica is set to become the world’s first carbon neutral country, with virtually all of its energy derived from geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind power.

Costa Rica is a natural wonderland that in its own way is as unusual as the Galapagos or Madagascar. Though smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia, Costa Rica harbors enormous biological diversity. The country contains nearly four percent of all the species on the planet -- more than 500,000 different plants and animals -- well over 100 times what its land mass would normally be expected to hold.

Switzerland of Central America

A full quarter of Costa Rico’s land is devoted to national parks, and it’s long been known as the Switzerland of Central America because of its peaceful, democratic, politically neutral government (not to mention its often dramatic scenery). Compared to much of the Americas, it has a high literacy rate, a high standard of living, and a high life expectancy for its people (health care is free). The country doesn’t even have a military.

That doesn’t mean everything is Swiss-neat and efficient: the roads are often in disrepair and government and private corruption are periodic threats. Nor are things as neat or on-time here as they are in Switzerland; ticos and ticas (Costa Rican men and women) can be quite casual about tidiness and punctuality.

Friendly, Eco-Minded People

But the people are incredibly friendly, so much so that saying “no” to anything is considered the height of rudeness (though they have developed dozens of ways of couching their “no’s” in various shades of “si.”)

Meanwhile, the prevailing eco-mindedness of the government and people has resulted in significant reforestation projects on once depleted lands, and the benefits of a thriving eco-tourism business to the economy have largely trumped the old practices of illegal logging, burning, and poaching.

From Coast to Coast

Costa Rica features two separate coastlines -- the Caribbean and the Pacific -- that are just 185 miles away at its widest point, making it possible to swim on both coasts in the same day.The regional terrain and climate can differ dramatically, and throughout the country you’ll find a remarkable mix of lush jungle rainforests; cool, verdant cloud forests; volcanic mountains and deep valleys; wild rivers; and arid, flat desert-like sections as well. All have their own separate kind of beauty and appeal, making it a one-country atlas. A good tour guide can help you turn the pages efficiently.

Attractions include visiting coastal beaches, surfing, whitewater rafting, hiking through rain- and cloud forests, birding trips and other wildlife viewing, driving up volcanoes and coastal cliffs for memorable scenic views, gazing at wildlfowers, touring towns and cities (such as the capital, San Jose), and staying in eco-lodges or taking a break from all the action at posh resorts.

Things Not to Miss

Among must-see’s and do’s are the Monteverde cloud forests, situated in the central part of the country amidst a number of volcanoes; it’s said to contain nearly as many animal and plant species as the United States and Canada combined. Besides waterfalls, panoramic views of both coasts and little mountain towns, you’ll have the opportunity (albeit chancy) of spotting the elusive red-and-green resplendent Quetzal, which tops many a birder’s life list.

The Arenal volcano is the dramatic centerpiece of a national park where you can go hiking or kayaking on a lake, visit hot springs and waterfalls, or go ziplining over the forest canopy (keeping in mind that the volcano is active). Whitewater rafting on one of several rivers is another priority for adventurous travelers -- try the class III-IV Pacuare River in the central part of the country.

All these and much more are best seen on guided tours, so let Stride be your guide through the maze of activities in the Switzerland of Central America.

Related Guides

Continent:

Central America & the Caribbean

Local Attraction:

Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Rincon de la Vieja, Santa Teresa and Many More

Top Acitivities:   

Nature Sightseeing, Wildlife Viewing, Birding & Wilderness walk 

Similar Destinations:                       

Ecuador, Belize

 

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