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Fancy one of our fantastic adventures but only want to travel with people you know? Do it your way as a private group. We make private group trips for everyone, from big families to scouts and cadets.
- Activity Holidays – all action adventure
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- Wildlife Holidays – global wildlife encounters
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Feature adventure holidays
We’ve developed a range of dedicated solo holidays & solo travel packages; exclusively for people booking on their own. Around 40% of all our passengers are solo travellers.
Costa Rican Adventure
Transport - Minibus or small bus, boat, taxi, in country light aircraft, on foot.
Accommodation - Small hotels and lodges (14nts).
Meals - 14 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
After your flight, you transfer to your first night’s accommodation and check in. Hotel - 2 nights
Please meet your tour leader in the hotel reception at 08.00. San José (1150m), the capital, stands at the heart of the nation in the fertile central valley, where the majority of its population are concentrated. In the morning you are taken on a tour of the city including a visit to the National Museum. The rest of the day is for you to explore or to relax. (B)
Today you head towards the country’s oldest city, Cartago, much damaged over the centuries by earthquakes and the eruptions of Irazu Volcano, which dominates the town. The fertile soils, now intensely cultivated in a patchwork of fields, bear witness to a period of extreme volcanic activity during the last century. The drive up to Irazu’s bleak, lunar summit (3432m) passes through stunning scenery before you walk the short distance to see its deep, smoking crater. Next you explore the National Monument of Guayabo, Costa Rica’s sole archaeological site which contains the extensive remains of a settlement abandoned in the 15th century and was thus unknown to the Spanish. From here it’s only a short distance to your overnight stop, close to the town of Turrialba. Total driving time today is approximately two hours.
Lodge - 2 nights (B)
Turrialba - River Rafting
A change of activity today - an early morning drive (approximately 1½ hours) takes you to the start point of your river-rafting excursion. You start with a riverbank briefing about raft-handling and safety before taking to the river with the experienced raft captains. The river Pacuare drops over 1000m from the Cordillera Central to the plains of the Caribbean, offering several fine, adrenaline-raising stretches of white water. On the more gentle sectors, you can sit back and watch the verdant rainforest slip past as you ride the current; there’s lots of bird life to see, including several species of hummingbird and possibly toucan. You may even see the ‘Jesus’ lizard or basilisk running across the water. On the riverbank at lunchtime you sate your appetite, which will have been whetted by all the activity and excitement. You reach the take out point later in the afternoon and from there make your way back to the lodge (1½ hours transfer) where you have time to relax and dry out in the sun. (BL)
Puerto Viejo de Limon.
Today you follow the Reventazon River and head down a road of dramatic switchbacks through magnificent scenery to the hot and steamy coastal plain. Turning south-east, you drive parallel to the coast, through flatlands given over almost entirely to banana cultivation. You pass Puerto Limon, where Columbus made landfall on his fourth and final voyage, thinking he had found the East Indies!
The influence of the Caribbean is immediately obvious; the population is largely black, much English is spoken, the music is predominantly calypso or reggae and the pace of life distinctly more laid-back than in the cool of the mountains. From Puerto Limon south, you skirt a succession of sandy beaches en route to your destination, the low-key town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, which attracts many surfers due to its legendary waves. Approximately four hours driving today.
Rustic lodge (shared facilities) - 2 nights (B)
Puerto Viejo De Talamanca
This morning’s short drive, approximately 30 minutes, takes you to the lovely but almost unknown Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, close to the Panamanian border. On one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica - a 9km stretch of crescent white sand and fringed with palm trees - turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. The estuary of the Gandoca River is a mangrove swamp (the only intact one on this coast), where manatee, crocodile and caiman live. There is also a large freshwater lagoon, one of Costa Rica’s last living coral reefs, plus a number of different and highly specific inland habitats. You can walk trails through low-lying tropical rainforest in search of wildlife including over 350 species of bird. You hope to see tapir, chestnut-mandibled and keel-billed toucan (with their implausibly large and gaudy beaks), manakin, hummingbird and brightly coloured poison-dart frogs. Approximately two to three hours walking today. (B)
Tortuguero National Park
Retracing your steps northward past Puerto Limon, after a two hour drive, you board a launch to navigate the waterways into the Tortuguero National Park. Los Canales were dug during the 1960s to connect the coastal lagoons and a maze of natural channels to transport lumber by boat. They now form a 100km long highway through dense rainforest. Every now and then the thickly-forested banks are broken by a clearing where settlers eke out an existence from slash-and-burn agriculture and fishing. The riverbank lodge stands amidst Caribbean rainforest; tonight you fall asleep to the unearthly cry of the howler monkey, and wake in the morning to the screech of toucan and oropendula. The boat trip lasts approximately two hours.
Lodge - 2 nights (BLD)
Tortuguero National Park
This area has long been associated with the catching of turtle (tortuguero means turtle-catcher). The original indigenous inhabitants used turtles as a sustainable resource, but the arrival of Europeans led to major exploitation. Tortuguero National Park, established in 1970, is now home to 13 of Costa Rica’s 16 endangered mammals. Among them are manatee, ocelot and jaguar, as well as over 300 bird species, including the threatened great green macaw. First and foremost however, it is the nesting ground of the green turtle, which comes ashore between August and October to lay its eggs on the sandy beaches. Lesser numbers of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, plus loggerhead, and giant leatherback turtle also nest within the park at different times of year. You will make excursions by boat and on foot, using the experienced eyes of the boatman or guide to maximise the opportunities of spotting wildlife. (BLD)
Your morning flight by small plane crosses the volcanoes of the Cordillera Central to arrive at San José, where you rejoin the bus. You depart immediately to drive up Poas Volcano (2708m) for a short walk to the rim of its mile-wide smoking crater; the second largest and one of the most active in the world. The trails of this national park pass through interesting dwarf cloud-forest where the rich bird life includes several species of hummingbird and Costa Rica’s national bird, the clay-coloured robin - whose song is particularly melodious. After admiring the wonderful views (weather permitting), you descend through the agricultural heartland to Fortuna de Arenal. This evening you can bathe in waters (optional) as Arenal Volcano (1633m) looms broodingly over the town. Total driving time today is approximately five hours. Hotel - 1 night (B)
Monteverde National Park
On departing Fortuna de Arenal you drive to Monteverde National Park. The journey by road is spectacular. The Laguna de Arenal funnels the prevailing wind along its length, making it something of an unusual Mecca for wind-surfers. You skirt its blustery shores and continue through the flat, dry region at the southern end of Guanacaste province. Many large haciendas here have huge areas of land dedicated to cattle rearing, and fields which are irrigated to allow cultivation. Its name is derived from the Guanacaste, the national tree, large examples of which dot the plain. Having rounded the lake, you turn southward on gravel roads climbing into the Cordillera de Tilaran. The rough road affords spectacular views back down toward the Pacific coast and the Nicoya Peninsula before you arrive at the idyllic community of Monteverde. In the afternoon there may be time to visit a Butterfly Farm (optional). Total driving time today is approximately five hours. Hotel - 2 nights (B)
Monteverde National Park
Monteverde was founded as an agricultural community in 1951 by a group of North American Quakers; the verdant pastures they cleared from virgin forest were ideal for dairy farming. These environmentally-aware settlers were wise to the danger that unrestricted settling and farming could cause to this precious habitat and established a small privately-owned wildlife sanctuary, which has since grown to become the internationally-renowned Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve. Variation in temperature and rainfall creates eight distinct habitats covering both Atlantic and Pacific slopes of the mountains.
After a 30 minute transfer you spend this morning exploring the forest trails which are home to the reclusive resplendent quetzal, the blue-crowned motmot, the emerald toucanet and some 30 species of iridescent hummingbird - to cite but a few of the 400-odd bird species recorded here! If this is not enough, more than 100 mammal species, 1200 amphibian and reptile species, and many thousands of insect species live here, in addition to an astonishing variety of plant life. Total walking time is approximately three hours. This afternoon is free for optional tours which your guide will tell you about. (B)
Quepos/Manuel Antonio National Park
On departing Monteverde you descend to the Pan-American Highway which you follow southward across the flat coastal plain. After crossing the Rio Tárcoles, a favoured haunt of the American Crocodile, you stop and begin a short walk on a rainforest trail within Carara Biological Reserve in the hope of seeing the rare scarlet macaw and the black and green poison frog.
Carara’s position between the dry tropical forest of the north and the wet rainforest of the south endows it with a uniquely high diversity of flora and fauna. From here to your destination, the coastline is formed by a string of fine sand beaches separated by the occasional area of mangrove. The road becomes increasingly rough as you travel through the ranks of apparently endless plantations of African palm. Eventually you arrive at Quepos, a sport-fishing centre and the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park. Total driving time today approximately four and a half hours. Hotel - 2 nights (B)
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park stands a few kilometres south of Quepos (30 minute transfer) on the shores of the Pacific. Its magical beaches and abundant forests make a stunning finale to your trip. There is a very good chance of seeing white-faced Capuchin and the increasingly scarce red backed squirrel monkey, as well as lethargic iguanas on the beaches. You have a full day to walk the trails within the park, or simply to relax on one of its idyllic palm-lined bays with the ocean crashing in on the beach. (B)
Return to San José, a journey of about three to four hours. You retrace your steps northward along the coastal road to Carara, and then turn inland to follow the main Pacific highway through the agricultural towns of Orotina and Atenas back to San José for your final night. Hotel - 1 night (B)
San Jose; fly home
Today you transfer to the airport for you flight home. (B)
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The cloud forest was amazing, the Caribbean coast was superb, the Pacific reserves and beaches were excellent and the flora and fauna out of this world. I think it's fair to say that there was one highlight - the entire trip!