Nature- 8 days
The following itineraries are examples of what you can do independently or through a Travel Agency.
ADay 1: Arrive at Juan Santamaría Airport and travel to the Irazú or Poás volcanoes
BDay 2: Explore the Irazú and/or Poás volcanoes
Visit the highest volcano in Costa Rica and enjoy the incredible fresh air. It has an elevation of 3,432 meters above sea level, and is easily accessible at only 31 km from downtown Cartago. It has five craters, but the largest is the most sought-after because of the iridescent green lake within it. Be careful when you’re in the picnic area as raccoons and coatis may visit you and try to take your food. This is a place where you will be surrounded by low vegetation and a cool, humid climate. Although most mornings are foggy, you’re more likely to be able to look out over the landscape – and with some luck, see the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans – during this time of day. Hours: Every day from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. From the highest volcano in the country, continue onwards to the volcano with one of the largest craters in all of Central America, making it one of the hottest tourist destinations. It is located in Alajuela and also offers great tourist attractions around it, such as Fraijanes, Poasito, Vara Blanca and San Pedro de Poás. Don’t forget to buy strawberries and cheese, and stop for lunch at one of the roadside restaurants – you will not regret it. Tickets: You must make a reservation in advance at https://serviciosenlinea.sinac.go.cr/ in the "Buy and reserve online" section, where you will create an account, enter the names of the people who will be visiting, and pay for the tickets with a debit or credit card. Hours: Every day from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
CDays 3-4: Explore Savegre
Fill your day with nature, forest, quetzals, waterfalls and plenty of biodiversity. The Savegre River starts in the Cerro de la Muerte and runs through San Gerardo de Dota, Tarrazú, Pérez Zeledón (San José province), and Quepos (Puntarenas). The heights of San José province boast a variety of accommodation options, trout fishing, hiking, and suspension bridges. Los Quetzales National Park is a mandatory stop in this area. If you want to follow the river’s path to the river mouth, you should go to Quepos in Puntarenas and visit Manuel Antonio National Park.
DDays 5-6: Tortuguero (canal tours, turtle tours, hikes)
Tortuguero National Park is one of the most popular and iconic tourist destinations, known for its lush flora and fauna. Another main attraction is its extensive network of rivers and canals where small boats float through, as this is the only access to explore this impressive park. 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. Don’t forget to visit the colorful town and taste their Caribbean dishes. Hours: Every day from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
EDay 7: Sarapiquí (river tour, waterfalls, horseback riding, bird watching)
Sarapiquí is the largest district of Heredia, comprising more than 80% of the entire province. It is known for its wealth of biodiversity and as a destination for adventure sports such as ziplining, kayaking, rafting, rappelling, horseback riding, and hiking. It is also a hotbed for research and bird watching. It is an easily accessible location – you can make your visit by taking route 32, or you can reach it by highway 126, which connects Vara Blanca-Cinchona, or from San Carlos de Alajuela. It is the land of national parks, nature reserves, rivers, waterfalls, and humble people who will welcome you with open arms.
FDay 8: Departure from Juan Santamaría Airport
ADay 1: Arrive at Juan Santamaría airport and travel to Sarapiquí
BDays 2-3: Boat tour on Sarapiquí River
When visiting Sarapiquí, another option to consider is taking a boat tour through its waters. For 3 hours, you’ll travel along the river and see sloths, water birds, lizards, monkeys, and more. Visit one of the longest suspension bridges in the country in the Tirimbina Biological Reserve or learn about cocoa processing, and take a night walk and surprise yourself with the rich biodiversity. Enjoy its rivers and waterfalls.
CDays 4-5: Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge (River tour)
If you want more evidence of Costa Rica’s beauty, it’s time to visit the Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge. Take a boat trip through this wetland and admire its biological richness. Declared a Ramsar Site in 1991, it has international recognition for the natural resources it protects. It is located in the northern part of the country near the Nicaraguan border, and spans 9,969 hectares. It is home to a large number of migratory birds and mammals, such as: jaguars, pumas, tapirs, and ocelots; white- and red-furred howler monkeys; tayras, two-toed sloths, otters, skunks, and deer. In addition, the wetland supports an abundance of fishes such as the tropical gar, the Atlantic tarpon, and the false yellowjacket cichlid.
DDays 6-7: Tenorio Volcano National Park and Celeste River
Another one of the most visited destinations in the country, it’s famous for the photographs of its trails, a waterfall, a sky-blue river, and abundant natural surroundings. This park belongs to both Alajuela and Guanacaste provinces - in fact, the Tenorio Volcano is on the dividing line between the two provinces. Take a tour to explore the tropical forest, take in the flora and fauna, admire the Celeste River waterfall, walk near the fumaroles (volcanic cracks where sulfurous gases escape), the “teñidero” (the point where the river takes on its light blue color), and its thermal springs. We recommend you wear comfortable clothes, shoes for mountain hiking and plenty of water for your travels through this wonderful park.
EDay 8: Departure from Juan Santamaría Airport