Adventure - 8 days
The following itineraries are examples of what you can do independently or through a Travel Agency.
A Day 1: Arrive at Juan Santamaría Airport and travel to Arenal
B Day 2: Explore the Arenal Volcano National Park (trails and hot springs)
The Arenal Volcano National Park is one of the most popular places to visit, and one that should be scheduled into your next trip. It is considered a living laboratory due to the complexity of biological processes carried out within it. It also provides 70% of the water within the watershed of the Arenal dam, the main source of hydroelectric energy in the country. It is located in the northern part of the country, about 7 km northeast of La Fortuna de San Carlos. Here, you can enjoy a variety of activities such as: ziplining, horseback riding, suspension bridges, hiking, and bathing in hot springs, among others. For a long time, the volcano remained inactive until a strong eruption took place in 1968. Its altitude goes from 500 to 1,633 meters above sea level, beautifully projecting its near-perfect conical shape that makes it stand out from the rest of the country's volcanoes. Hours: Every day from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
C Days 3-4: Lake Arenal (water sports, hiking)
You can’t leave the Northern Region without visiting Lake Arenal. It is one of the largest artificial lakes in Central America, and has an area of 85.5 km2. Its water level has increased three times as a part of a hydroelectric project. It is famous for the wide variety of water sports that can be enjoyed on it, such as windsurfing, fishing, kayaking and paddle boarding. Also, it is a connecting point between other tourist cities such as Monteverde, Tilarán, and La Fortuna. In the area surrounding the lake, you can see birds like the hummingbird and the woodpecker.
D Day 5: Fortuna River Waterfall (hiking, swimming, horseback riding)
The waterfall is located in a 210-hectare biological reserve, is a part of the Arenal Volcano National Park, and is the source of Fortuna River’s headwaters. Cerro de los Perdidos, the Placas de Mayo and Cerro Chato are also in this area, resting upon rocky foundations of great interest to geologists, and are surrounded by lush vegetation and beautiful scenery. To see this splendid 70-meter-high waterfall, you have to go along a path with approximately 530 steps - with comfortable resting and hydration areas - through a forest made up of native trees. It has a viewpoint where you can take pictures, and afterwards you can take a swim in its crystal clear waters.
E Days 6-7: Monteverde Cloud Forest (ziplining, hiking, suspension bridges)
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is made up of a tropical jungle with a great variety of flora and fauna and an ever-present mist, hence its name. It is located between the province of Alajuela and Puntarenas and has an elevation of 1,600 meters above sea level. One of the most exciting ways to see the forest is through the ziplining tours that take place in the area. Here, you can find one of the longest ziplines in the country, which spans over 770 m. Enjoy incredible views through the hanging suspension bridges, which extend through canyons and connect to the hiking trails, giving you the same canopy experience. It also offers 13 km of trails that will make for a great day of hiking.
F Day 8: Departure from Juan Santamaría Airport
A Day 1: Arrive at Juan Santamaría Airport
B Day 2: Tortuguero National Park and community visit
In the northeastern part of the country, one of the greatest national emblems can be found in the province of Limón: Tortuguero National Park. It is internationally recognized for protecting the largest green sea turtle nesting site in the Western Hemisphere. It is one of the most iconic tourist attractions, sought after for its lush flora and fauna, in addition to an extensive network of rivers and canals where small boats pass through, as this is the only access available to explore this impressive park. 99% of the park land is used for conservation and only 1% is used for tourism. The marine area is 100% dedicated to conservation. Prepare yourself for spectacular natural sights, visit the nearby communities and their shops, and don’t forget the incredible Caribbean cuisine. Hours: Every day from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
C Days 3-4: Canal visit and departure to Siquirres for rafting on the Pacuare River
Tortuguero National Park and its canals During the tours among the Tortuguero canals, you will have the opportunity to appreciate the wonder of its biodiversity. Among the most outstanding species found in the area are the green sea turtle (the original reason the park was created), the green macaw, and the black river turtle. Caimans, snakebirds, and jacanas (a very colorful bird species) are commonly seen, among others. If you want to visit the canals, take into consideration that July and December are the rainiest months and the least rainy are March, April and October. Hours: Every day from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
D Day 5: Turrialba City (rappelling, cycling, hiking, and rafting)
A small community located in Cartago with impressive scenery and nature. Famous for its cheese, dairy farms, cold climate, and adventure tourism. Here, you can enjoy hiking, ziplining, canyoning, mountain biking, and rafting tours. In fact, it’s a strategic spot to go down the Pacuare river - for about 4 hours you can enjoy rafting while admiring the surrounding canyons. Take the opportunity to visit the pre-Columbian ruins of the Guayabo National Monument, and enjoy the small businesses that produce a variety of cheeses in the vicinity of the Turrialba volcano.
E Days 6-7: Tapantí and Irazú Volcano National Parks (hiking and bird-watching).
Ready to continue the adventure? This time, head towards a wonderful park located about 15 km southeast of the town of Orosi de Cartago: Tapantí National Park. It is known for being one of the rainiest places in the country, and for conserving more than 45 species of mammals, notably, the tapir, ocelot, jaguarundi, lowland paca, and tigrillo, in addition to about 415 species of birds such as the black guan, the quetzal, and the goldfinch. It has an area of 58,495 hectares and is divided into two sections: Tapantí and Macizo de la Muerte. Due to the heavy rainfall, we recommend that you always bring an umbrella or rain jacket, comfortable clothes, a coat, insect repellent, sunblock and a hat. Hours: Every day from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The last entry is at 3:00 p.m.
Irazú Volcano National Park Here you’ll find the tallest volcano in Costa Rica, with an elevation of 3,432 meters above sea level. It is easily accessible and is close to Cartago city, only 31 km from downtown. The volcano has five craters, but the most visited is the main crater, which has a iridescent green lake within it. Don’t forget your coat and a rain jacket in case of a drizzle. On clear days you can see both the Pacific and the Atlantic from its summit. Sometimes the lake is very small or it cannot be seen at all - it is normal for it to disappear in the dry season. Remember to visit the Prusia Sector, perfect for hiking and taking pictures while surrounded by yellow flowers (turnip flowers). Hours: Every day from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 pm.
F Day 8: Departure from Juan Santamaría Airport