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Central America Costa Rica Land Tour

Costa Rica Coast to Coast

Traverse from coast to coast on this 9-day land-based tour, exploring premier rainforest ecosystems in Tortuguero Costa Rica, a national park on the Caribbean coast, as well as the Osa Peninsula on the Pacific coast, where your home base is Lapa Rios Eco Lodge. Custom designed by AdventureSmith, this trip includes daily excursions guided by expert naturalists in search of wildlife. 

Explore the rivers and canals of Tortuguero by small skiff and by kayak while taking time to visit the local village and help teach English to young students. Tortuguero National Park was originally established to protect an Atlantic green sea turtle nesting beach, and it now covers 77,032 acres, making it one of Central America’s largest tropical rainforests. 

On the Osa Peninsula, expert guides lead hikes to waterfalls and biodiversity hotspots in search of monkeys, sloths, toucan and other exotic birds. A menu of activities lets you choose your own included adventure each day, or opt for add-on activities like zip lining, horseback riding or dolphin-viewing boat rides. 

The Coast to Coast adventure uses efficient private transfers by van and small plane to make efficient use of precious vacation time. Accommodations are in upscale eco-lodges intimately connected to the nature and wildlife around them, and devoted to sustainable tourism. Experience Tortuguero National Park and the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica as few do, by land, water and air.

Read on for details about this trip, or view all of AdventureSmith’s Costa Rica adventure tours.



Itinerary

Costa Rica Coast to Coast Itinerary

Traverse from coast to coast on this 9-day land-based Costa Rica tour that begins and ends in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Coast to Coast route map.
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Day 1
Arrive San Jose, Costa Rica

Arrive at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, where you will be met by a local representative and transferred to your hotel.

Accommodations

Hotel Grano de Oro, or similar

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Day 2
Tortuguero National Park

Transfer by land three hours to the Northern Caribbean coast, where you will board a boat for the hour ride into Tortuguero National Park. View wildlife along the creeks and head for Tortuga Lodge and its private rainforest reserve for a late lunch. Tortuga Lodge is surrounded by botanical gardens, so take advantage of your time here by joining one of the complimentary morning birdwatching tours.

Accommodations

Tortuga Lodge, or similar

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 3
Tortuguero National Park & Sea Turtle Conservancy

Wake early to the sounds of the jungle and enjoy breakfast at the lodge. Embark on a full-morning boat tour with your naturalist guide to explore Tortuguero National Park’s many creeks and wildlife. Rain gear is provided, and be sure to pack your binoculars and a field guide. The early-morning hours are prime for wildlife; be on the lookout for howler monkeys, river otters, caiman, iguanas and birds like the Northern jacana, Montezuma oropendola and colorful toucans.

After lunch at the lodge, visit Tortuguero Village and the Sea Turtle Conservancy Center. Tortuguero is translated as “Land of Turtles.” Every year, from June through October, thousands of Atlantic green sea turtles arrive at Tortuguero Beach to lay their eggs. In town, visit the local school (when in session), the Park headquarters and the general goods store, as well as chat with locals among their colorful Afro-Caribbean homes.

Next visit the museum founded by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, which began studying the sea turtles here in 1959, making it the longest-running continuous study of its kind in the world. The Conservancy’s work has greatly improved the survival outlook for several species of sea turtles and it has had a profound effect on the community of Tortuguero. The organization began its work in Costa Rica, but has since expanded its research and conservation efforts throughout Central America and the wider Caribbean.

Accommodations

Tortuga Lodge, or similar

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 4
Tortuguero National Park Kayaking

Today, kayak the backwater creeks and lagoons of Tortuguero National Park. Intimately experience the rainforest from water level. Beginners are welcome, as instruction can be provided. Another opportunity today is to visit the school in the town of San Francisco de Tortuguero to help teach English to the local children. This optional activity is just 5 minutes away by boat and offers a meaningful way to connect with the local community.

Accommodations

Tortuga Lodge, or similar

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 5
Puerto Jiménez to Lapa Ríos

Set off in the morning by boat, crossing the Tortuguero River then boarding a small plane flight to San Jose then Puerto Jiménez on the Osa Peninsula. From here it’s 45 minutes by land to the famed Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, your home for the next three nights.

Set in a private nature reserve spread over 1,000 acres of Central America’s last remaining lowland tropical rainforest in Costa Rica, Lapa Rios Eco Lodge overlooks where the Golfo Dulce meets the Pacific Ocean. The main lodge and bungalows line three ridges connected by walking paths and steps, all built in harmony with the surrounding forest and beach. The main lodge, housing the restaurant and bar, soars 50 feet. Climb up to view the forest canopy and ocean.

Accommodations

Lapa Rios Eco Lodge

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 6 - 7
Osa Peninsula & Lapa Rios

At Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, numerous guided excursions are offered to get you out exploring the Osa Peninsula. Or you can opt to arrange for off-site added-cost activities like dolphin tours, surf lessons, mangrove kayak tours, horseback riding, zip lining and more. At Lapa Ríos, choose your favorites from the list below to custom-create your perfect Costa Rica adventures on the Osa Peninsula. Many travelers opt to extend their time here to take advantage of the many offerings; contact AdventureSmith for more information on trip extensions.

Bird Watching

At sunrise or sunset, head out with a guide to look for some of the 319 bird species inhabiting the Osa Peninsula. For keen birders and animal lovers, this guided tour guarantees numerous species of birds, morpho butterflies and other mammals. Expect an easy-level walk, 2 hours.

Local Medicine Tour

Follow local guides through the rainforest as they explain traditional medicinal uses of plants and seeds – a great look into the indigenous culture and customs of Costa Rica. Expect a medium-level hike with hills, 3 hours.

Wild Waterfalls

Hike through virgin rainforest to pristine waterfalls along the Carbonera River. This excursion is for hardy hikers looking for a challenge (wet walking and some climbing involved); swimming under the waterfall is encouraged! Expect medium to difficult hiking, 3 hours.

Starfish Walk

Learn about the marine biology of the Golfo Dulce, one of only four tropical fjords in the world, as you tour pristine waters and coconut-shaded beaches, looking for land crabs, starfish and sea cucumbers. Expect an easy to medium walk on this tide-dependent tour, 2 hours.

Night Walk

Use your flashlight, and the help of a guide, to uncover unusual nocturnal creatures and their habitats. Look for bats, insects, kinkajous and other wonders of this hidden, nocturnal world. Expect a medium-level walk, some hills, 1.5-2 hours.

Plant a Tree

Contribute to the Lapa Rios reforestation program by transplanting a primary rainforest seedling to an area of secondary growth. Participants will learn about their tree, its role in the ecosystem and receive a certificate to commemorate their efforts. Gift certificates can be purchased on behalf of others and the trees can be planted in their honor. Planting usually takes place in the early morning or late afternoons when soil is cool. Expect to do easy tree-planting work, for 10-20 minutes.

The Carbonera School

Tour a local primary school built and sponsored by Lapa Rios Ecolodge. This is an excellent opportunity to share and learn with the local community and is highly recommended for children travelers. Expect an easy excursion, 1 hour.

Twigs, Pigs & Garbage

This highly recommended tour winds around the lodge grounds, giving firsthand witness to the lodge’s greener and more sustainable way of life. From renewable building materials to the biogas produced by onsite pigs, learn why Lapa Rios is an award-winning sustainable property. Expect an easy outing, 1.5 hours.

Rainforest Ridge Walk

Hike down along the cool ridges of Lapa Rios’ most impressive primary and secondary forest as your guide highlights the hidden treasures of the rainforest. An excellent opportunity to see rare and unusual flora and fauna, and a great hike to truly immerse yourself in the wonders of the rainforest. Expect a medium to difficult hike, 3-3.5 hours.

Matapalo Tour

Hike along nearby beaches and secondary forest as your guide points out some of the most lively and active creatures of the rainforest. A great tour for wildlife lovers who also want to explore nearby beaches. Expect an easy walk, 2 hours.

The Osa Trail

This complete rainforest experience descends through the reserve’s most remote and pristine forest filled with enormous trees and breathtaking views. Expect a medium to difficult hike, some hills, 3.5-4 hours.

Accommodations

Lapa Rios Eco Lodge

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
Return to San José, Costa Rica

Spend a final morning enjoying Lapa Rios, then return to Puerto Jiménez for your charter flight to San José. Upon arrival in San Jose, a guide awaits to transfer you to your hotel.

Accommodations

Hotel Grano de Oro, or similar

Meals

breakfast

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Day 9
Depart San Jose, Costa Rica

Today, a transfer is provided to the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), from where you can continue your Costa Rica travels or return home.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Accommodations, meals as indicated, domestic flights on days 5 and 8, naturalist guided activities as indicated, national park entrance fees and transfers.

Exclusions

Airfare to Costa Rica, airport departure tax, excess baggage charges, taxes and port fees, gratuities to Naturalist Staff and crew, items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, and insurance of any kind. Holiday supplement may apply Christmas, New Year’s and Easter weeks; contact AdventureSmith for pricing and availability.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $500 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 91 days – 50% of deposit
90 to 31 days – 50% of total trip cost
30 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The Costa Rica Coast to Coast adventure begins and ends in San Jose, Costa Rica, at the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. Plan flights to arrive to San Jose any time on day 1 and depart any time on day 9. Hotel to airport transfers are provided. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Internal Flights

There is a 40 lb. weight limit for your checked baggage on all flights within Costa Rica (with an additional 10 lb. allowance for carry-on luggage). AdventureSmith Explorations suggests packing a small empty duffel bag inside of your checked baggage. Use this smaller bag for the segments of your trip where you will be flying. The remainder of your baggage can be left in a secure office in San Jose.

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the guides can tailor most excursions to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include birdwatching, boat tours, wildlife observation, visits to local schools and museums, kayaking, a local medicine tour, hiking, swimming, beachcombing and tree planting.

Room Configuration

Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy room may do so at a $1,525 supplement (2019) in addition to the per-person listed rate in select rooms upon availability. Otherwise single travelers may request to share a room with the same sex. If another single traveler is assigned, then the single supplements will be waived. Triple rates may be available in select room categories; contact AdventureSmith for details.

Families & Children

Child rate applies for age 11 and under and valid if sharing room with two adults, maximum two children per room with adults.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 15 or 21 days of booking (depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, National Park regulation or at the guides’ discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of adventure travel unique.

Rates & Dates

Trip Rates & Details

Departures available daily, year-round. Contact us for current rates and availability.

Accommodations

Learn About the Lodges & Hotels on Your Itinerary

Hotel Grano de Oro

The Hotel Grano de Oro in San Jose, Costa Rica, is a renovated, elegant, Victorian mansion that houses 32 unique rooms.

Lodge
Tortuga Lodge

The Tortuga Lodge, situated on 50 acres of private land on Costa Rica's northeast Caribbean coast, reflects the essence of Tortuguero’s slow-moving tropical rivers.

Lodge
Lapa Rios Eco Lodge

Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, is located on Costa Rica's beautiful Osa Peninsula, in the southern part of the country near Panama. The property and its 17 luxury bungalows overlooks the point at which the Pacific Ocean meets the Golfo Dulce.

Hotel
Hotel Bougainvillea

The unique and comfortable Hotel Bougainvillea is a place where guests can truly experience the world-famous beauty of Costa Rica, just ten minutes from San José.

Hotel
Hotel Heliconia

Hotel Heliconia in Costa Rica's famed Monteverde region is located on a stunning 6-acre property surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. The lodge offers panoramic views of Monteverde and hundreds of exotic birds and animals onsite.

Expert Review

Reviews from Our Experts So You Know What to Expect

Todd Smith • June 19th, 2015
Expert Review: Costa Rica Coast to Coast Family Adventure

AdventureSmith Founder Todd Smith shares lessons and adventure from a family trip to Costa Rica's premier rainforest parks in Tortuguero and the Osa Peninsula.

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

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