Day 1: Arrival in San Jose, Costa Rica 🛬
Upon arrival at the airport, you will be transferred to your hotel in the center of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. You can choose to have an optional dinner near the hotel. The hotel options are in the Oroya/Aranjuez district, which is close to the famous Jade museum and just a 10-15 minute walk north and east of downtown.
3-star Eco-Hotel Aranjuez - Offers a delicious buffet.
Note: If you need to arrive a day early or need a final night at the end of the trip, we can offer an extra night for a supplementary cost.
Day 2: San Jose City Tour and Transfer to Monteverde. Sunset horse ride 🌅
In the morning, you will have the option to take a free walking tour of the city, which will give you the best insight into the country and its capital, San Jose. The tour is free, and transportation costs are covered, but the guides work for tips. Some of the places you will visit include the National Theater, High School for Ladies, China Town, Democracy Plaza, National Museum, and National Park.
After lunch, you will take a 3.5-hour transfer by comfortable private van through the valleys north of San Jose, passing by many coffee plantations. Monteverde, also known as the "green mountain," is another place boasting many outdoor activities.
In the evening, you will have the option to participate in a sunset horse riding tour, with incredible photo opportunities and a chance to see nocturnal animals and insects. If you're not comfortable riding a horse, we can offer you a night walk instead.
Accommodation: Treetop House
This unique accommodation is located in a quiet area of nature, surrounded by peaceful surroundings, but still within close proximity to the main village. The house is rented out exclusively for you, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in nature. The accommodation consists of 3 floors, with different bed configurations in each room, and can accommodate up to 14-15 people. Note: Most of the rooms share several bathrooms, and there are no en-suite facilities.
Day 3: Full Day in Monteverde with various optional activities 🌿
What to do in Monteverde on your full day?!
In the morning, you will have the option to visit one of two natural reserves full of wildlife, Santa Elena or Monteverde. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve has numerous trails for trekking, which can take between 1.5-3.5 hours. The entry fee is included, and a nature guide can be hired on the day at an additional cost.
In the afternoon, you have the option to try zip-lining or canopy adventures through the nearby cloud forests. Monteverde is known as the "Ziplining and Canopy Mecca of Latin America" with several companies offering these activities. Prices range from $50-90 USD, depending on the routes taken.
If you don't want to try the zip-lines, you could take the canopy walkways and hanging bridges instead. A combination of half-day hiking in the reserve and an afternoon at a canopy tour park is also possible.
There are also the reptile ($10 US) and butterfly ($18 US) farms walking distance from the town.
Accommodation: Treetop House
Day 4: An Adventure to Ometepe Island 🇳🇮 🏝️
3.5 hour van to border, 1 hour to port/Ometepe Island boat crossing
Get ready for a journey of a lifetime! At 8am, we'll set off to the border (Peñas Blancas – 3 hours). We'll have to leave our vehicle and go through the customs checks and border control, and then walk to the Nicaragua side and get our stamps before taking private transport to our first destination in Nicaragua. After another hour, we'll reach the port of San Jorge and take the ferry to Ometepe Island.
Embark on an exciting boat or ferry journey to cross the middle of Lake Nicaragua (known locally as Lago Cocibolca) in just an hour. We'll arrive at the port of Moyagalpa on one side of the island and travel to the other side where our accommodation is located.
Don't forget to grab some snacks for the journey! 😋
OMETEPE ISLAND: A Nature Lover's Paradise
Ometepe Island is shaped like a figure 8 and is formed by two volcanoes: the active Concepcion (last eruption in 2009) and the extinct Maderas. The island is surrounded by subtropical cloud forests and is known for its farming and crops, including Cacao, Beans, and Plantains.
Overnight accommodation: Totoco Eco-Lodges, Ometepe Island
Stay at the cozy and luxurious Totoco Eco-Lodges on Ometepe Island at the foot of Maderas Volcano. We've chosen this accommodation for their eco-ethics in conservation and support for their local community. The toilets are self-composting, the showers are heated ecologically, and the cabins are made from ecological and organic materials. The entire complex runs on 100% solar power and is considered off-the-grid.
Totoco Eco-Lodges also have their own organic farm using reforestation techniques (with 2000 re-planted trees! 🌳) and a foundation that supports local projects such as children's education and health. And, there's a swimming pool too! 🏊♀️
Find out more about Totoco Eco-Lodges here.
Day 5: Full Day on Ometepe - Maderas Volcano Climb 🌋
Today is the day we summit the island by trekking one of its beautiful volcanos, Maderas! This 8-hour trek is 11 km (6.5 miles) in total and is a slightly easier hike compared to Concepcion, with most of the way shaded and offering the chance to see black howler monkeys, Cacao plantations, and other wildlife. And if you make it to the top, you'll even get to swim in the crater lagoon. Our local expert guide, who speaks English, will be with us every step of the way.
Note: If it has rained a lot, the hike may be more treacherous due to the mud and trek boots will be essential!
If you'd rather skip the hike, there's also the option to visit the waterfalls of San Ramon or the ancient petroglyphs. The bay areas and beaches here may be pretty at sunset, but they're not the pristine white-sand beaches you'll find in the Caribbean.
Overnight Accommodation: Totoco Eco Lodge, Ometepe Island
Day 6: From Ometepe to Granada 🚆🚕
After a delicious breakfast, we'll take the boat back to the port of San Jorge (1 hour) and then a short taxi to Rivas, before catching a local chicken bus to the colonial town of Granada (1.5 hours). After checking into our hotel, we'll have lunch and then take an orientation walk around the central area.
Welcome to Granada, the oldest colonial city in Latin America! 🌴
Overnight Accommodation: Con Corazones, Granada 🏠
Day 7: Full Day in Granada with Optional Trips 🌄
Today, we have several options to choose from depending on our interests. Let's explore what we can do!
Option 1: Transfer to Laguna Del Apoyo Beach Club 🏊♂️
This is a relaxing trip where we just need to hire the transport and hire the kayaks. We will pay an entry fee when we get there. For lunch, we can either bring it with us or purchase it at a lakeside restaurant. The lake is quite shallow and can be warm due to volcanic activity underneath the bed. On the way there (or back), we can stop in the village of Catarina for a viewpoint over the entire lake and also visit a local workshop where they showcase artisanal pottery. The cost is $40 per person depending on the number of people.
Option 2: Lake and Island Tour, San Pablo Spanish Fort and Masaya Artisanal Market/Volcano 🚣♂️
This half-day tour is a 3-4 hour boat tour that gives us the chance to spot local wildlife such as spider monkeys and various species of birds like Cormorants. There are around 350 small islands on the lake, some of which host large private mansions of the wealthiest Nicaraguans. The boats take us up close to some islands where the only inhabitants are Spider Monkeys swinging from the branches of the trees. On one island, we can visit an old colonial fortress called San Pablo from the 17th century. There will also be a stop at one of the islands with a restaurant where we can have lunch or purchase refreshments. The cost is $35 per person without the volcano visit and $50 with the volcano visit.
Option 3: Visit Masaya Volcano 636m (day or night tour) 🌋
This includes a guide, entry, and return transport. The cost is $30 per person.
Option 4: Hike Mombacha Volcano 1570m 🧗♂️
This is a 6-hour tour with a private guide, transport, and entry fee. The hike is 5 kilometers up and 5 kilometers down and takes 3-4 hours. The cost is $55 per person depending on the number of people.
Overnight Accommodation: Con Corazon, Granada 🏠
Day 8: Transfer to Popoyo (Beach Town on the Pacific Coast) 🌊
After breakfast, we travel to the Pacific coast and retreat where we will be based for the next week. The transfer time takes 1-1.5 hours. During the day, we can find a restaurant to eat in along the beachfront. If we are interested in surfing and surf lessons, we are at the best spot. We can arrange for a board and lesson on the same day if we like.
Overnight Accommodation: 3* Hotel Casitas Pacific at Popoyo Beach
We have chosen Casitas Pacific because of its perfect location for the beachfront, its exquisite bungalow designs, and its environmentally-friendly policies. They protect the turtles during hatching season (February-March), clean the area of the beach surrounding the hotel, and have a 100% zero-plastic waste policy.
Day 9: Free Day for Optional Activities in Popoyo 🌴
Today is a free day for us to enjoy optional activities in Popoyo. The area is popular for all-year-round surfing classes or we may just prefer to rent a board ($15 USD for the day) or take a lesson ($30 USD per hour and up.
Aside from surfing at the nearby beaches there is also horse riding along the beach-
Overnight Accommodation: 3* Hotel Casitas Pacific at Popoyo Beach
Day 10: Journey to La Fortuna 🌋
After a delicious early breakfast, we'll hit the road at around 7.30am for a 2-legged shuttle to our next stop in Monteverde. We'll cross back through the border and arrive in La Fortuna town, at the foot of the Volcano Arenal, around 2pm. Our hotel is located in a peaceful area just a 5-10 minute drive away from town.
Once we arrive, we can decide on the fun activities we want to do the following day. 😊
Our hotel, Cataratas Eco Lodge, is near a natural plunge pool and rope swing that's just a 25-minute walk away. We chose this hotel for its eco-friendly focus, beautifully cultivated gardens, outdoor pool, and a stunning view of Volcano Arenal!
Accommodation: Cataratas Eco Lodge, La Fortuna
Day 11: Free Day for Excursions in Arenal and Fortuna 🌱
From the town of La Fortuna, the possibilities for water and adventure activities are endless! Some options include:
Proyecto Asis Animal Conservation Program
If you're interested in visiting the nearby rescue center, we'll need to pre-book either a morning or afternoon visit. The tour is about 2 hours and there's a donation fee per person, which goes directly to the project. You can either walk 2 kilometers from town or take a taxi.
During your visit, one of the trained naturalists will give you a brief introduction to Proyecto Asis. Then, you'll have the chance to explore the reserve with a friendly guide who will engage you and help you think about conservation in a new way. If you want to spend more time helping to care for the animals, you can arrange this for an additional donation fee.
More info here.
For our final evening, we'll visit some amazing hot springs and then head out for dinner - entrance to the hot springs, dinner, and transport there and back are included!
Accommodation: Cataratas Eco Lodge
Day 12: Transfer to San Jose or the airport - 3 hours
We'll travel back to Costa Rica's capital by van and either head directly to the airport for our flight home or spend one more night (optional for an extra $50 USD for a shared room).
END OF SERVICES! 🎉