London – San Jose
Your direct flight from London takes you to San José. You’ll be driven 15 minutes from the airport to your luxury hotel set amidst coffee plantations overlooking the San José Valley. Flanked by imposing mountains and volcanoes, Costa Rica’s unassuming capital is the gateway to the lush hillsides, coffee farms and mighty peaks of the Central Valley.
The following day you’ll set off to see the La Paz Waterfall – Costa Rica’s most iconic set of cascades – where you can hike along 3.5km of walking trails through verdant rainforest. The La Paz Waterfall Gardens, a rescue wildlife preserve, supports a wide variety of species including marmoset monkeys, two-toed sloths, pumas and ocelots, plus an abundance of birds and exotic plants.
Stay: Two nights in a prima plus room at the Xandari Resort & Spa – bed & breakfast
A short flight will take you from San José to Puerto Jimenez and the wonderful world of the Osa Peninsula. Your lodge is nestled on a 1,000-acre private reserve poised between Golfo Dulce and the mighty Pacific Ocean.
The Osa Peninsula, half of which is encompassed by the Corcovado National Park, is famed for its undisturbed rainforest and wealth of exotic wildlife. This vast expanse of tropical lowland forest is home to thousands of different types of trees and plants, as well as endangered species like jaguars, ocelots and tapirs. Keen birdwatchers can spot over 300 species, whilst photographers will revel in eye-stretching landscapes and cascading crystal waterfalls. When you’re not exploring the reserve’s quiet hiking trails you can also experience sea kayaking and snorkelling, and between August and November you will also have the opportunity to spot travelling humpback whales.
Stay: Three nights in a deluxe bungalow at Lapa Rios – full board
Bajos del Toro
Today you fly back to San José where you will be met and transferred to Bajos del Toro, a little-known paradise hidden away between two volcanoes. You will be staying in lodge deep in a private cloud forest reserve with beautiful views into the canopy. Boasting one of the finest spas in the country and an open yoga deck, this is a wonderful place to relax surrounded by the pristine natural world. Those who want to explore can head out in search of rainforest birds, go horse riding, river rafting, zip lining and mountain biking. Don’t miss out on excursions to local wonders like the Poás Volcano or the hot springs of Arenal.
Stay: Three nights in a luxury suite at El Silencio Lodge – full board
Day nine of your Costa Rica adventure sees you travelling to Arenal, where you will be staying in a hotel with stunning views of the iconic volcano. As well as unforgettable scenery, Arenal presents you with relaxing hot springs and the famous Hanging Bridges. You can go canoeing and kayaking, or take nature walks to view plants and magnificent lava rock formations. The Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge offers the opportunity to meet indigenous creatures like three-toed sloths, caiman, lizards and turtles as well as howler, white-faced and spider monkeys.
The next day you will enjoy an exciting and immersive rainforest experience. Accompanied by a naturalist guide you will stroll through the verdant cloud forest and zip line across canyons and in between the canopy, admiring panoramic vistas and discovering beautiful waterfalls along the way. You will also board the Sky Tram to get a superb view of the jungle and its inhabitants from above.
Stay: Two nights in a spring villa at Nayara Resort Spa & Gardens – bed & breakfast
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe casita at the Nayara Hotel Spa & Gardens – bed & breakfast
Time for some well-deserved relaxation at a plush resort on the Gulf of Papagayo. The North Pacific coast of Costa Rica has some of the country’s finest beaches, swimmable bays and clear, warm waters.
You can spend your days here stretched out on deserted shores, indulging in luxurious spa treatments and trying your hand at a wide variety of water sports such as deep sea fishing, snorkelling, kayaking, paddle boarding and surfing. You can even venture inland in search of Costa Rica’s famous flora and fauna.
Stay: Three nights in a cielo room at the Four Seasons – bed & breakfast
San Jose – London
Today you’ll be transferred to Liberia airport for your flight to San José, where you will meet your connecting flight to London.
It was a great experience and now I have dipped my toes in the Ultimate waters I shall be back for more.- JE, October 2014