9 Days from San Jose to San Jose
Discover a region of natural diversity, cultural riches and laidback vibes on a nine-day jungle jaunt through Costa Rica. Thanks to a longstanding tradition of preserving its natural assets, much of the country’s primary rainforest still stands, opportunities for nature-based adventures are endless and the beaches on both coasts are nothing short of picturesque. Kick back in the rustic beach town of Quepos, explore the steamy cloud forests of Monteverde, and get to know the locals by lending a hand on a rural farmstay near Santa Rosa de Pocosol. Explore the depths of this colourful and vibrant country with plenty of time to make this trip your own.
Why you'll love this trip
- San Jose is Costa Rica’s cultural heart. Spend time wandering through the artisan stalls of the main Plaza de la Cultura, with plenty of time to stop for a refresco (smoothie) and to do some people watching.
- Lend a hand at a farmstay outside of Santa Rosa de Pocosol, and learn some home-cooked recipes and techniques from the locals on a visit to the Juanilama agricultural community.
- Marvel at the size and stature of the Arenal Volcano on the horizon, perhaps taking a soak and relaxing in La Fortuna’s lava-heated thermal springs.
- Try to spot the elusive resplendent quetzal when you’re exploring Monteverde’s steamy cloud forests. Better yet, why not consider a jungle zip-line to get high in the sky?
- With plenty of time to chill out at your own pace, Quepos’ surf vibe is ideal for catching some waves, lazing on the white-sand beaches or hiking the lush trails of Manuel Antonio with your travel pals.
Is this trip right for you?
- Many of the activities (both included and optional) on this trip take place in the great outdoors. This means you'll need to be prepared to deal with insects and occasionally rustic conditions. It's all part of immersing yourself in this natural paradise.
- Costa Rica is generally hot year-round, and from May to October can be pretty wet too. Of course, you wouldn't get that gorgeous, emerald-green rainforest without the rain, but please carefully consider which time of the year you'll feel most comfortable travelling.
- There are many opportunities to get active on this adventure. Some of the optional activities require a moderate level of fitness and sturdy walking shoes. If you'd prefer to take it easy, however, there are plenty of other things you can do instead.
- The homestay is a wonderful opportunity to witness everyday local life. A hearty homecooked dinner and breakfast will be served during your stay, which can be a lot more basic than what you're used to.
- With so much to see and do, Costa Rica can sometimes be expensive. Expect to pay more than you would in other Central American countries for a lot of things.
Meals: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Transport: Private vehicle, Shared vehicle, Public bus, Shared boat
Accommodation: Hotel (7 nights), Homestay (1 night)
~ Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Cooking class
~ Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Homestay experience
~ Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
~ Monteverde - Cloud Forest (entrance fee and transport)
~ Manuel Antonio National Park - (Entrance fee)
Day 1: San JoseAccommodation: Hotel (1 night)
Hola! Welcome to Costa Rica. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. With over half the country's population living within its parameters, San Jose is a bustling city with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere. If you arrive with time to spare, a good place to start exploring is the main plaza – perfect for some people watching. Artisan booths are common here and you never know when there'll be a spontaneous art fair. Have a look at the Gold Museum which has an amazing collection of indigenous gold art. If these cultural gems get you in the mood for a bit of shopping, head to the outdoor market in Plaza de la Cultura or the Central Market – stocking anything from handicrafts to seafood.
Day 2: Santa Rosa de PocosolAccommodation: Homestay (1 night) | Meals Included: Dinner
Included Activities: Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Cooking class; Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Homestay experience; Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
Travel by private vehicle to Santa Rosa de Pocosol (approximately 3 hours) where you’ll spend the night in a homestay. Just down the road is the Juanilama agricultural community, where you have the opportunity to get to know the locals, help with farm chores, or take a cooking lesson. Several villagers have built comfortable rooms for guests next to their homes, and you will stay in one of them this evening. Please note that these rooms use shared facilities. In order to make the most of this homestay experience, it may take a bit of effort from your side to break the ice first. Learn as many Spanish words as you can and get ready for some serious hand language signals. The reward for your efforts? An authentic slice of life in the Costa Rican countryside.
Day 3: La Fortuna / Arenal VolcanoAccommodation: Hotel (1 night) | Meals Included: Breakfast
Today, continue towards La Fortuna – a small town situated just a few minutes away from Costa Rica's famous Arenal Volcano. Besides its panoramic views, the town offers a range of other activities such as the 70-metre-high La Fortuna waterfall, stunning lush forest, rare plants, animal watching and water-based activities on the lake. The volcano’s inner workings also mean that the area has a number of thermal springs where lava-heated water gushes to the surface. These springs have been sculpted into a number of pools and waterfalls, making them the ideal place to relax. Spend the rest of the day as you please in this exciting town, perhaps getting active on a stand-up paddleboard or looking for monkeys and caimans during a boat tour of the Cano Negro area.
Day 4: MonteverdeAccommodation: Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities: Monteverde - Cloud Forest (entrance fee and transport)
Today you’ll take the scenic route to Monteverde . Travel by shared minibus to Lake Arenal, then cross the water by boat. On the other side of the lake, re-board a minibus and continue on to our destination. Monteverde was founded as an agricultural community in 1951 by a group of North American Quakers – they cleared virgin forest to create verdant pastures ideal for dairy farming. These environmentally aware settlers were conscious of the danger that unrestricted settling and farming could cause to this precious habitat. Consequently, they established a small, privately-owned wildlife sanctuary, which has since grown to become the internationally renowned Monteverde Cloudforest Biological Preserve. Perhaps start your exploration with a tour of the suspension bridges that hang in the trees, or head to the Serpentarium to see some crawly critters. More than 2000 species of plants, 320 bird species and 100 different types of mammals call Montverde home.
Day 5: MonteverdeAccommodation: Hotel (1 night)
Choose how you'd like to spend today in this beautiful area. Watch butterflies at play in the specially created garden, hire a local guide to show you around the area, visit a community cooperative or zip-line through the lush canopy! Whatever you do, be sure to keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal – one of the most elusive birds in the world.
Day 6: QueposAccommodation: Hotel (1 night)
Travel through the mountains to Quepos by private minibus (around 5 hours). Located close to the beautiful Pacific beaches and exotic wildlife of Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos is a laidback town with a vibrant nightlife. Perhaps get into the spirit with a sunset sail around the glorious coast, looking out for dolphins and whales which sometimes swim close by. Once the sun goes down, why not grab a spot at a waterfront restaurant and sink your teeth into some fresh seafood with your travel crew – this is the life.
Day 7: Quepos / Manuel Antonio NPAccommodation: Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities: Manuel Antonio National Park - (Entrance fee)
Spend your time enjoying all that Manuel Antonio National Park has to offer. Perhaps head out for a hike along one of the many trails on offer, keeping one eye on the great views and the other looking for the abundant wildlife. Monkeys, armadillos, sloths and hundreds of birds are among the species you maybe be able to spot. The park also boasts turquoise seas and white-sand beaches – perfect for swimming, kayaking, sailing and fishing. It would be easy to spend your whole time here in, or by, the water.
Day 8: San JoseAccommodation: Hotel (1 night)
Take a local bus back to San Jose (around 4 hours). The buses in this region of the country are a little more basic than you may be used to, but this is a great opportunity to mix with Costa Ricans and get a feel for local life. Arrive back in time for you to pick up some last-minute souvenirs at the city's colourful and vibrant markets. Then, head out for an optional dinner and a night on the town, getting a taste of the huge variety of nightlife on offer.
Day 9: San Jose
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time following check out. If you're not flying out today, why not check out the town with a local guide and sample some of the choicest drops from the city's growing craft beer scene. Check out The Art of Craft Beer in San Jose and other Urban Adventures at urbanadventures.com/destination/San-Jose-tours. If you would like to spend more time in San Jose, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).