Costa Rica is a country of wild rainforest and untouched coastline, and by leading you off the beaten track, this exciting 8-day adventure will include hiking, rappelling, ziplining, dancing, cooking, and snorkeling. Discover the majesty of the jungle, indigenous communities, Caribbean reefs, and Afro-Caribbean histories. Including La Amistad Biosphere Reserve and the Caribbean coast, this is a journey that will expose you to the Pura Vida beneath Costa Rica’s surface.
San Jose – Laid-Back Arrival
After landing at either Juan Santamaria International Airport or Tobias Bolanos International Airport, you will be met by a guide and transferred to your boutique hotel that will be set in tropical gardens just outside of the city. After some downtime at your hotel, you will be led a short, walking tour through the old colonial center. Barrio Amon is home to the mansions of former coffee plantation owners, and the hip Barrio Escalante is an excellent place to stop for a street-side cafe. Teatro Nacional is Costa Rica’s most revered building and will be your final stop before you meet your guide for dinner in a converted, late 19th-century townhouse.
La Amistad Biosphere Reserve – Rainforest Wildlife
After your transfer from San Jose, you will explore Braulio Carrillo National Park in a six-person, aerial tramcar. These tramcars will carry you more than a mile through an area where indigenous wildlife really thrives. Capuchin monkeys are the most abundant monkey species, and it is rare not to see them here. Other monkeys can be found, but these require a little fortune, which is true of all wildlife encounters. After your tour and lunch, you will continue by road to La Amistad Biosphere Reserve, which is a three and a half-hour transfer that must be completed on some rough dirt roads.
La Amistad Biosphere Reserve – Hiking and Rappelling
An inspirational day of hiking awaits you when you set off into the rainforest this morning. The journey will lead you over more than 60 river crossing and will take the entire day. It is one of the finest single-day hikes in Costa Rica, and the good news is that not many people know about it. Soon, you will need to switch to your water shoes as you trek along rivers and jump into a multitude of blue pools. Learning about rainforest ecology will be part of your journey as you hike to rainforest waterfalls. You can admire the cascades from down below but also feel the adrenalin of a waterfall rappel.
La Amistad Biosphere Reserve – Ziplining and Horseback Riding
Today, you will begin the day with a ziplining adventure high above the forest floor. Some of the lines are more than 100 feet above the ground, and all of them offer a beautiful perspective of canopy life. After ziplining, you will transfer to a different jungle lodge. From here, you will spend the afternoon on horseback, trotting and cantering through an untouched rainforest realm. It is worth noting that the areas that you will explore are completely inaccessible by other means, so you cannot drive to the different waterfalls or find a shortcut that does not involve pure Costa Rican adventure.
Puerto Viejo – Snorkeling and Cooking
By traveling south, you will venture through large swathes of virgin rainforest in addition to passing areas that are slowly recovering from the plantation days. Today’s destination will be Puerto Viejo, and you will be staying out of the town at the lovely Cocles Beach. For the next three nights, you will literally be perched on the sand at one of Costa Rica’s most off-the-beaten-track beaches. Before transferring to your accommodation, you will stop at Cahuita National Park, which is a coastal reserve that protects many miles of coral reef. Here, you will go snorkeling in the coral gardens. After some time on the beach beside your accommodation, you will complete your day with a Caribbean-style cooking lesson.
Puerto Viejo – Visiting Local Communities
Indigenous communities can be visited in various parts of Costa Rica, and some of the most remote and unvisited are the Bribri Indians that live around the Yorkin River. They live in a protected, indigenous territory, and you can only visit them by riding a motorized canoe for an hour and a half downriver. After being introduced to the Bribri Indians, you will take a walk through the rainforest to learn about medicinal plants and the landscape that these people call home. This tour will be all about personal interaction, and during the afternoon, you will learn about the local culture, customs, mythology, and history. An authentic lunch will be included, and you will eat with the community.
Puerto Viejo – Beach Time and Dance Lesson
After some adventurous days across Caribbean Costa Rica, this morning will provide you with some time to relax and lounge around the beach. After lunch, you will venture into Puerto Viejo town for an afternoon with Afro-Caribbean descendants. A local guide will lead you to sites that can explain slave history in the area, and most of the people living here are descendants of escaped slaves. You will be able to experience their vibrant rhythm on your historical tour before participating in a dancing lesson with a Caribbean youth group.
Aviarios del Caribe – Sloth Refuge and Departure
A visit to Aviarios del Caribe will break up your journey back to San Jose and the airport. Here, you can witness a sloth conservation program in action and meet some of these peculiar creatures. Dayroom use at an airport hotel will be arranged, so you can freshen up before flying.
- Explore the ocean with a morning of Caribbean snorkeling in Cahuita National Park
- Delight in a day in Talamanca-Bribri indigenous territory, meeting local communities and visiting ecological plantations
- Discover lowland wildlife by riding an aerial tramway through Braulio Carrillo National Park
- Hike through the spectacular La Amistad Biosphere Reserve, which will be a full day that will include over 60 river crossings and intimate rainforest ecology
- Uncover Afro-Caribbean history and dance during an afternoon in Puerto Viejo
- Admire rare three-toed sloths in Aviarios del Caribe among other intriguing wildlife
- Immerse yourself in San Jose’s culture with a relaxed first evening in the Costa Rican capital
- Taste your way through indigenous, Caribbean-style food during a cooking class with a Puerto Viejo matriarch
- Horseback ride and zipline through the tropical rainforest in a biosphere reserve that remains far off the beaten track
Majestic landscapes will set the scene as you venture off the beaten track with eight days in Costa Rica. Focused on La Amistad Biosphere Reserve and the Caribbean coast, this 8-day tour is privately guided and features a wonderful range of adventurous activities. While destinations like La Fortuna and Guanacaste only grow in popularity, this excursion will celebrate a Costa Rica that remains completely free of crowds. You will travel through the mist to explore the Talamanca Mountains, which is where wildlife hides away and seclusion is guaranteed, before taking to the river to explore indigenous territory, where local communities will welcome you with smiles and waves. You will then connect with Afro-Caribbean history, including gastronomy and dance.
As with all Costa Rica vacations, there will be plenty of activities and many different ways to explore the rainforest. You will be rappelling down waterfalls, riding ziplines and aerial tramways, crossing rivers on jungle hikes, and visiting communities that are only accessible by river. Along the coast, you will be snorkeling pristine reefs, learning to dance and cook with community matriarchs, and relaxing on private beaches. This 8-day adventure will not just be about the places you visit but the journey that you must make to get there. After every day in the rainforest, you will be staying at a boutique lodge perched above the world, where you can wallow in the country’s serenity.
After flying to San Jose, you will spend the first night in Costa Rica’s capital. The city center imparts a certain colonial charm and is an excellent place to meet your private naturalist guide. The same guide will accompany you throughout your eight days, and the first evening will help to ensure that you know exactly what is happening and where you will be going. Braulio Carrillo National Park is a lovely stop en route to La Amistad, where you can search for rainforest wildlife and ease into the Costa Rican adventure. You will check-in to your lodge in the biosphere reserve, where you can enjoy sublime views over the rainforest, and when the mist clears, you can even peer into Panama.
La Amistad is an international biosphere reserve that spans two countries and more protected hectares than anywhere else in Central America. With two full days in this uninterrupted wilderness, you can really immerse yourself in an adventure. Day three will involve a full day’s hike, crossing countless rivers and jumping into river pools along the way. On day four, you will go from the canopy zipline to horseback riding on the rainforest floor, which are the two perspectives that are likely to produce intimate encounters with some of Costa Rica’s rare species. Three nights is a minimum for this biosphere reserve because it can be challenging to get around. Now is an excellent time to enjoy the reserve before its accessibility is improved and the crowds arrive.
On day five, you will venture to the Caribbean coast, beginning with a morning of snorkeling in Cahuita National Park. The reefs and coral gardens are home to a fabulous variety of marine life from snappers and groupers to elkhorn coral and enormous sea fans. Puerto Viejo is your destination, and you will be staying on Cocles Beach, where the sand is quiet, and you can watch the sun rise from the sea. After snorkeling on day five, you will learn some Caribbean-style recipes during a cooking lesson with a community matriarch.
Connections with local culture and history will continue over your final two days. The Talamanca-Bribri indigenous territory can only be reached via a one and a half-hour motorized canoe trip down the Yorkin River. Deep in this territory, you will meet with local communities and learn all about the Bribri Indians, including their customs and mythology. These native communities contrast the culture of former Afro-Caribbean slaves, and on day seven, you will learn about their history before an afternoon of traditional dancing and laid-back beach time. That will still leave you with time to stop at a sloth refuge en route back to San Jose and your outbound flight.
Most Costa Rica vacations revolve around volcanos and the Pacific coastline. By going off the beaten track, you will discover nature that remains untouched and cultures that continue to be forgotten or overlooked. On this side of Costa Rica, you can still find luxury, and the lodges are spacious and sublime with their premium bring on location. They will immerse you in the rainforest, coastline, and in areas where there are very few other accommodation options and visitors. You will also be provided with a private and naturalist guide, so you can customize this itinerary to your energy and interests, including options to switch activities or to make each activity longer or shorter.
$1,435 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.
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