Costa Rica: From Sea to Mountains

Destination: San Jose, Costa Rica

| Activities: Hiking, Kayaking, Horseback Riding

Costa Rica, a pioneer in the field of ecotourism, is known both for the diversity of its ecosystems and for the government's efforts to protect those ecosystems in National Parks. In fact, Costa Rica has managed to protect a larger proportion of its land than any other country in the world, with 25% receiving some form of protection. This is a country of many unique ecosystems: rainforests, beaches, jungles, and even snow capped mountains. Costa Rica's flora and fauna, particularly birds and flowers, are amazingly rich. In this land of jewels, we have picked out the three best places that you have to visit to appreciate just how diverse this country is. After arriving in San Jose we travel to Tortuguero National Park with its system of jungle canals on one side and the Atlantic Coast on the other. We then visit the Arenal area, best known for its volcano and hot springs. Finally we end in the lush cloud forest of Monteverde. We haven't seen it all, but in 10 days we've seen a ton! Maximum group size: 12


  • Kayaking through the jungle canals and lagoons of Tortuguero National Park
  • Rafting through the rainforest on the Sarapiqui River
  • Soaking in the hot springs in Arenal
  • Learning about the unique Cloud Forest Ecosystem
  • Soaring through the air on a zipline or enjoying the scenery from horseback
  • Enjoying Costa Rican cuisine and hospitality

Departures and Prices

January 22 to January 31, 2022
$3695.00 - Limited Availability
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  • A naturalist Costa Rican guide and an AGC guide (If there are fewer than 8 on the trip there will not be an AGC guide)
  • Nine nights double occupancy lodging
  • All activities specified on the itinerary
  • Private transportation within Costa Rica
  • All meals from dinner the first night through breakfast the last
  • Airport transfer to and from San Jose (on day of arrival and departure at scheduled times)
  • Gratuities for drivers and incidental guides
Not included:airfare to San Jose, guide gratuities, departure taxes ($29), alcoholic beverages, insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Intro

This trip is rated 1 and is designed for active women who want to immerse themselves in the natural history of this fascinating country. While the trip is active, none of the activities are strenuous and all are designed to give you different perspectives on the flora and fauna. Rating: [1] 2 3 4 5

This trip includes hiking, walking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, and ziplining (optional) Lead by a local naturalist guide, we will immerse ourselves in the natural history of this country that is small in size and amazingly diverse.

We are staying at a variety of accommodations, from a well-situated and modern hotel in downtown San Jose to smaller family owned lodges in other places. Every place we stay is clean and comfortable, with double-occupancy rooms and ensuite bathrooms. Four single rooms are available for an additional cost.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Pura vida! It’s time to shake off those winter blues and revel in the wonders of the tropics. Plan to arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica and be through customs by 4 PM local time. Upon arrival you will be welcomed by our team of friendly leaders; our AGC guide and local partner. From the airport, we’ll drive 30 minutes to our hotel in the bustling Capital. During our group orientation at 5:30 PM we’ll learn more about this incredible country that hosts more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity and then we’ll learn about the delicious cuisine over a shared group dinner. Overnight at the Radisson. (D)
Costa Rica’s 801 miles of stunning coastline touch both the Pacific and the Caribbean, and we’ll drive approximately 2 hours to the Caribbean side to check out Tortuguero National Park - our home away from home for the next few days. On the way, we’ll drive through Braulio Carrillo National Park and then on to Caño Blanco for a scenic boat ride to our hotel. Once we get settled in, we’ll learn some kayaking basics and then explore the serene waterways to spot wildlife. Here you can bask in the quiet river tributaries while on the lookout for monkeys, sloths and an abundance of birds like the red-lored parrots, hummingbirds, herons, yellow-billed caciques and more! Overnight at Mawamba Lodge. (B, L, D)
This morning, we will board a small private boat with a local naturalist and venture deep into the canals of the park to explore the extensive network of freshwater creeks and lagoons. These lush areas are replete with seven species of river turtles, Spectacled Caiman, Southern River Otters, a number of crustaceans, and over 50 species of freshwater fish. If we are lucky, we might spot an endangered West Indian Manatee! In the afternoon we’ll stretch our legs with an easy walk on a nature trail to look for more wildlife. The rest of the day is free; you can relax at the swimming pool or hang out at the beach. Overnight at Mawamba Lodge (B, L, D)
Get one last stroll on the beach if you desire before we continue back inland by boat and private bus. Our landing spot today is the Sarapiqui Rainforest, which has been described as “an adventure seeker’s dream destination.” Sarapiqui is one of the few remaining areas in Costa Rica where the endangered Green Macaw lives. As one of the last areas of primary rainforest in Costa Rica, Sarapiquí houses over half of the country’s total species of birds. The species diversity is astounding, with more than 1,850 plants, 448 birds, 70 species of bat and five of Costa Rica’s six felines. This region is also a major agricultural producer because the land is very fertile due to the consistent flows of the Rio Sarapiqui and the mild year-round climate. On the drive we’ll see fields of coffee, cardamom, cacao, corn and banana with a stop at the Pierrella Ecological Butterfly Garden where we’ll take a tour and have a delicious lunch. Then we’ll continue on to our lodging for the night at Selva Verde. Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge. (B, L, D)
Buckle up your lifejacket and grab your paddle, we are going white water rafting on the Sarapiqui River! The Sarapiqui River is perfect for first time paddlers looking for a safe adventure with Class II and III rapids (depending on water levels and recent rainfall). We’ll float past dense trees and abundant wildlife, alternating paddling through calm waters and paddling through fun liquid “mini roller-coasters.” After lunch we will continue traveling northwest for approximately an hour to Arenal Volcano, one of the most notable land features of Costa Rica. This impressive volcano is located within the nearly 30,000 acre National Park that serves to protect it. Though the volcano is estimated to be 3,000 years old, it is considered “young” geologically. Arenal began its last and current period of activity in 1968 but has been “sleeping” since 2010 with decreased lava flow and seismic activity. Our hotel for the following 2 nights is located right in front of the volcano, with an unparalleled view of the mountain. Rejuvenate your paddling muscles with a nice long soak in the healing waters of our hotel’s natural hot springs. Overnight at Los Lagos hotel. (B, L, D)
Another beautiful day in the rainforest! Today we dive deeper into the flora and fauna of our surroundings on a guided nature walk over the famous Mistico Hanging Bridges. Extending nearly two miles in length when added together, the 14 hanging bridges offer a unique glimpse into the wildlife that inhabit the canopy of the rainforest. We’ll see birds like the White Hawk and the Great Curassow among others. Did you know that Costa Rica is considered a “hummingbird capital” because there are 52 unique species of hummingbirds here? This afternoon we can rest and relax in the hot springs. Overnight at Los Lagos hotel. (B, L, D)
We start the day by boating across Lake Arenal, the largest lake in Costa Rica. It was enlarged to its present size in 1979 as part of a hydroelectric project to bring electricity to rural areas. There are two primary species of fish in Lake Arenal, machaca and bass. The ecosystem that encompasses the lake includes over 120 mammals, including jaguar, tapir and quetzal. Get your cameras ready for absolutely picturesque views of the volcano as we cruise across the lake in an open air boat! We will be picked up by the bus on the other side of the lake and continue on to our afternoon hiking point. (1.5 hours drive) The Cloud Forests of Monteverde Costa Rica are often described as Mother Nature’s playground, and is home to a stunning diversity of plant life. The tropical science center of Monteverde’s Cloud Forest Biological Reserve was the first private area for the conservation of wildlife in Costa Rica and hosts half of all the wildlife in the country and where we will continue to learn about the natural ecosystems. After dinner we’ll venture out again for a nocturnal tour to meet the other half of Costa Ricans diverse animal populations. Overnight at El Establo Mountain Hotel. (B, L, D)
This morning we hone our wildlife spotting skills with another wonderful guided tour of the cloud forest. Get ready for adrenaline in the afternoon as we fly between trees in harnesses! Unleash your inner Tarzan as we soar through the canopy, eye level with the birds we have been admiring all week. The tour has 14 ziplines, 1 rappel and 1 Tarzan swing. After soaring, we’ll saddle up for a fun horseback ride. See the magnificent countryside from atop a gentle horse, crossing plantations of coffee, banana, sugar cane and forest. Enjoy panoramic views of the Nicoya Gulf on one side and the hills of the cloud forest on the other. Overnight at El Establo Mountain Hotel (B, L, D)
The best part of waking up is learning about the coffee in your cup! This morning we will take a tour of an organic farm where coffee, sugar cane, bananas, tubers, oranges and more are grown. Learn about the entire coffee production process from pod and ride in an authentic Costa Rican oxcart. We’ll even get to see how a “trapiche” or traditional sugarcane press works. After a delicious lunch in a local restaurant, we will drive back to San Jose. Tonight we will toast to our incredible adventure and the new friends we’ve made over a celebratory dinner. Overnight at Radisson San Jose (B, L, D)
DAY 10
Adios! Today we bid farewell to the tropics and head home. We will be transferred as a group to the international airport at 9 AM and you can plan to leave any time after 11 AM. (B)

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.


(19 reviews)
4.4 Food
4.4 Lodging
4.7 Safety
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Most Recent

Loretta J.
2 years ago

Sue W.
2 years ago

All of the activities such as kayaking and ziplining, the opportunity to learn about Costa Rica, the wonderful group of women, and the great guides.

Michelle T.
2 years ago

Great itinerary. Well taken care of by our guides.

Libby D.
2 years ago

Zip lining in jungle canopy. Kayak in river

Mary S.
2 years ago

The guides were fabulous, the trip was organized . My highlights are numerous. The rafting, kayaking and of course zip lining were a few. Seeing as much of Costa Rica by boat was a great highlight.

Bonny M.
4 years ago

More cat time than expected.

Linda M.
4 years ago

Seeing the toucans, rafting, zip line, kayaking rain forest, everything was awesome.

Mary H.
4 years ago

Both the AGC guide and the local guide did outstanding jobs making all comfortable. The interactions with local Costa Ricans and being introduced to interesting and valuable projects in ecotourism went a long way toward developing good will.

Dianne B.
4 years ago

Catherine B.
4 years ago

I very much enjoyed to experience the nature of the rain forest flowers, plants, and wildlife. Enjoyed the food, the culture, etc.

Ellen O.
4 years ago

Highlights: Tortuguero National Park: kayaking, wildlife watching, walking along the ocean; La Fortuna: Hot Springs, swimming in the pools at Selva Verde and the Tortuguero National Park Lodge. Also, the butterfly farm, night hike, cashew tree, and orchid gardens. Difficulties: Had hoped to spend more time in the Cloud forest. Would have liked more time to explore the wildlife at the lodges, Selva Verde in particular. The rafting trip was too commercialized and rowdy--although a lot of the women enjoyed that. I could have done with less shopping too. Meals at restaurants were far too long and complicated -- I often found myself isolated at long tables with loud people talking all around me but not in actual conversation.

Julie B.
4 years ago

I loved the Mawamba Lodge. The variety of food was amazing. I loved the diversity of activities there. The local guide, Cat, brought us to very special places. Some of these places I don't believe would be places you would find on trip adviser. Cat was very knowledgable. I appreciate having a guide who is so passionate about their country.

Marianne V.
4 years ago

zip line, wildlife

Margaret G.
4 years ago

I so enjoyed being out with nature and still having the amenities near by.the nature hikes were great kayaking, rafting, visiting farms and learning the.culture of the area people.

Margaret G.
4 years ago

I so enjoyed being out with nature and still having the amenities near by.the nature hikes were great kayaking, rafting, visiting farms and learning the.culture of the area people.

Margaret G.
4 years ago

I so enjoyed being out with nature and still having the amenities near by.the nature hikes were great kayaking, rafting, visiting farms and learning the.culture of the area people.

Margaret G.
4 years ago

I so enjoyed being out with nature and still having the amenities near by.the nature hikes were great kayaking, rafting, visiting farms and learning the.culture of the area people.

Margaret G.
4 years ago

I so enjoyed being out with nature and still having the amenities near by.the nature hikes were great kayaking, rafting, visiting farms and learning the.culture of the area people.

Margaret G.
4 years ago

I so enjoyed being out with nature and still having the amenities near by.the nature hikes were great kayaking, rafting, visiting farms and learning the.culture of the area people.

  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts will be buffets at the hotels where you're staying. Dinner is in restaurants with typically a choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian entree. Lunches may either be picnics or in restaurants.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we'll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.