Explore Costa Rica

National Geographic Journeys, San José to San José
Image by G Adventures

Information from G Adventures

Tour description

With a quarter of its land covered in national parks and wildlife refuges, Costa Rica is a dream for the nature lover and adventure buff. On this unforgettable journey, discover the country’s diverse and breathtaking landscapes, from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific. Explore the lush waterways of Tortuguero National Park, where thousands of sea turtles come to nest every year; assist in a tree-planting program in the cloud forests of Monteverde; and cap off your journey on Manuel Antonio’s pristine beaches, experiencing the true meaning of “Pura Vida”—the Costa Rican way of life.

What's included

  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Sea Turtle Conservancy Experience, Tortuguero Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Tortilla Making and Home Dinner, La Fortuna Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Monteverde Institute Lecture & Reforestation Project Your G for Good Moment: Mi Cafecito Coffee Cooperative Tour, Sarapiquí Your Discover Moment: La Fortuna Your Discover Moment: Monteverde Your Discover Moment: Manuel Antonio
  • Arrival transfer
  • Boat tour and wildlife viewing in Tortuguero National Park
  • Guided nature walk in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve
  • Guided excursion to Manuel Antonio National Park
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities

Highlights

  • Hear a lecture from a researcher at the monteverde institute
  • Learn how to make tortillas during a visit to a local family home
  • Spot wildlife while cruising the canals of tortuguero
  • Enjoy spectacular volcano views while soaking in hot springs
  • Learn all about sea turtles with an expert from the sea turtle conservancy

Itinerary

Day 1: San José Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included.

Day 2: San José/Tortuguero Travel by land and motorized canoe to Tortuguero National Park. Located on the Caribbean coast, Tortuguero—translated as “land of the turtles”—is one of the world’s most important nesting sites for the endangered green sea turtle. Settle into our secluded lodge, then enjoy a guided boat trip along Tortuguero’s tropical waterways. Later, opt for a nighttime boat excursion to spot some of the park’s nocturnal creatures—such as the caiman.

Day 3: Tortuguero This morning, we’ll explore the wildlife-rich canals of Tortuguero National Park once more, seeking out howler, spider, and capuchin monkeys, sloths, and a variety of birds. Afterward, visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy, the world’s oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting sea turtles. Founded in 1959, the organization was inspired by the work of pioneering conservationist and National Geographic Grantee Archie Carr. Later, enjoy time to relax at the lodge pool, take a stroll along the beach, or head out on a kayaking excursion.

Day 4: Tortuguero/La Fortuna Depart early for the town of La Fortuna, situated at the foot of the majestic Arenal Volcano. En route, visit a G Adventures–supported coffee cooperative to gain insight into the process of coffee production, from bean to cup. After a typical lunch—accompanied by an aromatic cup of coffee—continue to La Fortuna. Check in to your hotel and unwind by the pool, taking in views of the surrounding jungle, the verdant hills, and the dark silhouette of the volcano.

Day 5: La Fortuna Spend the day exploring La Fortuna and its surrounding areas on your own. In 1968, the Arenal Volcano erupted after centuries of laying dormant, converting this quiet agricultural town into a hot spot for adventure travel. This evening, visit a local home to learn how to make tortillas. Chat with your welcoming hosts and dig into a traditional Costa Rican meal of black beans, plantains, and your own handmade tortillas.

Day 6: La Fortuna Enjoy a full free day in La Fortuna. Choose to go stand-up paddleboarding on the tranquil waters of Lake Arenal, or venture into a world of stalactites, stalagmites, and subterranean species on a visit to the Venado Caves. Take a boat tour of the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, one of the world’s most important wetlands; rappel down a rushing waterfall on a canyoning excursion; and relax in the shadow of Arenal Volcano at a naturally heated outdoor spa.

Day 7: La Fortuna/Monteverde From La Fortuna, we make our way by road and boat to the misty mountain region of Monteverde. Spend two days exploring this charming little town and the nearby cloud forest reserve—a nature lover’s paradise.

Day 8: Monteverde Set out on a hike in the stunning Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, treading past giant ferns and vibrant orchids. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the resplendent quetzal—a sacred bird in Maya and Aztec cultures. In your free time, embark on a zip-lining adventure, gliding high above the treetops and zooming through the misty foliage; or experience the astonishing biodiversity of the forest canopy on a walk across hanging bridges.

Day 9: Monteverde Pay a visit to the Monteverde Institute, a research and educational organization supported by National Geographic. Hear from a researcher about some of the institute’s conservation initiatives, including a successful reforestation project; then roll up your sleeves and head to the nursery to help plant trees and collect data for the project. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, opting to visit the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens to see dozens of local species, explore forest trails on horseback, or go zip-lining.

Day 10: Monteverde/Manuel Antonio Leaving the cloud forest behind, travel to Costa Rica’s sweeping Pacific coast and settle into your hotel in the seaside village of Manuel Antonio. Soak up the laid-back atmosphere of the area, and opt to go surfing, horseback riding, or dolphin watching on a catamaran. Or, spend the remainder of the day relaxing on the beach.

Day 11: Manuel Antonio Discover the lush tropical forests and white-sand beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park on a guided day trip. Costa Rica’s smallest national park—yet one of the most spectacular—boasts an abundance of wildlife, including monkeys, armadillos, sloths, iguanas, and countless species of birds. Hike through the dense forest, climb up to rocky outcrops for views of the dazzling Pacific Ocean, and go swimming in the park’s lovely lagoons and tidal pools. Later, enjoy some free time at the beach.

Day 12: Manuel Antonio Spend a full day exploring Manuel Antonio on your own. Ride along lush jungle trails on horseback, looking for toucans in the treetops. Opt to take a surfing lesson, or head out for a snorkelling excursion on the nearby reef. Kayak amid the coastal mangroves or in the open sea, or set sail on a catamaran, keeping an eye out for dolphins and whales.

Day 13: Manuel Antonio/San José Return to San José. Tonight, choose to join the group for a farewell dinner at a popular local restaurant.

Day 14: San José Depart at any time.