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Take off on your own to discover what makes Costa Rica one of the world's premier ecotourism destinations. This Costa Rica ecotour offers the flexibility to choose between a budget or upscale hotel alternative, following a fixed route so you can tailor your Costa Rica adventure to your preference. You'll visit one of the Western Hemisphere's most active volcanoes, hike in the treetops, encounter exotic wildlife and relax on Costa Rica's famous white-sand beaches. What more could you ask of a trip to paradise?

Itinerary
Day 1 ARRIVE SAN JOSÉ

After arriving at the San José International Airport, a Southern Explorations guide will meet you outside the Customs area of the terminal and transfer you to your hotel for the night.

Day 2 SAN JOSÉ - ARENAL

After breakfast, your rental car will be waiting at your hotel for the trip to the Arenal Volcano area, about a three-hour drive from San José. Your Costa Rica adventure begins with an overnight stay at a local hotel in the vicinity of the volcano. (B)

Day 3 ARENAL

You have a free day to enjoy the many activities in the area. There's the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, a Costa Rica ecotourism paradise for birders interested in waterfowl. Go horseback riding or relax in several 102-degree F. thermal pools fed by the Tabacón River at the Tabacón Hot Springs, a Spanish style bathing resort in an idyllic setting of lush tropical gardens. The area's biggest attraction is the Arenal Volcano, which was in constant activity for more than thirty years, where you'll be able to take an unforgettable guided canopy tour of interpretive trails that crosses fifteen hanging bridges. You'll end this day of your Costa Rica ecotour with another night at the hotel. (B)

Day 4 ARENAL - MONTEVERDE

Today's four-hour drive takes you around Arenal Lake, passing by picturesque small towns before reaching your destination, the rural community of Monteverde, nestled in the highlands of the Tilaran mountain range. Overnight at a local hotel in Monteverde. (B)

Day 5 MONTEVERDE

Free day to explore the area's main attraction, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, a 6,200 acre wildlife sanctuary established by an American Quaker community. One of Costa Rica's richest ecological habitats, the reserve contains Sky Trek, an extensive system of trails, canopy platforms, a treetop platform and a suspension bridge in the tropical vegetation of evergreens, vines, orchids and bromeliads. Those looking for extra thrills on their Costa Rica ecological tour may take an adrenaline-pumping zip-line flight deep into the forest, a highlight of most everyone's Costa Rica vacation. Another night at the hotel in Monteverde. (B)

Day 6 MONTEVERDE - MANUEL ANTONIO

After breakfast and check-out, it's a four-hour drive to the Manuel Antonio National Park area. On the way, you may visit the Carara National Park, an ideal spot to observe where tropical forests and dry forests meet. Surrounded by agricultural land, this reserve is teeming with crocodiles, monkeys, sloths and scarlet macaws. Balance of the day at leisure in Manuel Antonio. Overnight at a hotel near the park. (B) NOTE: Manuel Antonio National Park open every day Dec 1 – June 30 and closed on Monday July 1 – 30.

Day 7 MANUEL ANTONIO

Explore the sights of Manuel Antonio National Park, an important habitat for the endangered squirrel monkey and home to 350 bird species, and an essential stop of your Costa Rica tours. This park has something for everyone. Magnificent white sand beaches surrounded by tropical forests, rafting trips, guided walks, hiking and fishing are all possibilities. Overnight at your park area hotel. (B)

Day 8 MANUEL ANTONIO - SAN JOSÉ - HOME

After breakfast, drive to the San José International Airport where you will drop off the rental car before taking your flight back home. (B)

Weather

When to Visit
  • jan
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  • dec

Costa Rica has a mild, tropical climate with average annual temperatures for most of the country ranging between 70°F (22°C) and 85°F (27°C), with warmer temperatures on the moderately humid coasts and cooler temperatures in the mountains and Central Valley. The coolest months are from November to January and the warmest from March through May. Traditionally, the country's climate has been divided into two major seasons: dry (December to April) and rainy (May to November); however, this description is too simplistic for the complex climate of Costa Rica, which varies locally according to elevation, location, and other topographical influences. With more than a dozen complementary climate zones, Costa Rica is a pleasant place to visit any time of year.

Although rainfall patterns in Costa Rica are seasonal, they vary greatly throughout the country due to the mountain ranges that run from the northwest to the southeast and divide the nation into the Pacific and Caribbean slopes, and the central highlands. The wonderful thing about the Costa Rican rain is that it often comes later in the day, offering at least about 5 hours of daily sunshine, and when one coast receives more rain, the other coast tends to be far drier so even the "rainy" season is not what one might expect.

The Pacific coast of Costa Rica is generally a few degrees warmer and less humid than its Caribbean counterpart, receiving most of its rain from May through November. The North Pacific Region is often called the "Gold Coast" due to its sunnier and much drier climate, which averages around 89°F (32°C). During the dry season, no rain may fall for several months in this microclimate. The Central Pacific is greener, due to more rainfall, and gets increasingly humid as you head south.

While the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica tends to receive more rain than the Pacific coast, these showers give the coastal micro-climate more lush vegetation and less crowds. This humid coast is a bit cooler, with an average temperature of 82°F (28°C), and experiences its driest months during February and March. Annually in July and August, you can also expect the predictable, dry veranito, or little summer, to break up the green season.

The Central Valley and highlands, including the capital city of San Jose, are prized for their relatively mild temperate climate, with a mean annual temperature of 70°F (22°C). The higher altitude of this area makes for the pleasant weather year round that the locals call the "eternal spring."
 

SAN JOSE

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN58-750.3
FEB58-760.4
MAR59-790.5
APR62-793.1
MAY62-8010.5
JUN62-7911.0
JUL62-777.1
AUG61-7810.9
SEP61-7914.0
OCT60-7713.3
NOV60-775.3
DEC58-751.3

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

PUERTO LIMON

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN73-8112.6
FEB72-827.9
MAR74-837.6
APR75-8511.3
MAY76-8411.1
JUN77-8510.9
JUL76-8416.1
AUG75-8311.4
SEP77-856.4
OCT77-867.8
NOV76-8311.4
DEC74-8215.8

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

QUEPOS

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN69-872.8
FEB69-871.4
MAR71-892.4
APR71-896.6
MAY71-8915.4
JUN71-8717.0
JUL69-8718.1
AUG69-8618.8
SEP71-8320.8
OCT71-8625.3
NOV71-8615.3
DEC69-866.6

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches

LIBERIA

Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN74-900.0
FEB76-910.0
MAR76-940.3
APR79-950.9
MAY79-949.2
JUN77-8812.3
JUL77-885.3
AUG76-898.1
SEP75-8812.8
OCT75-8611.2
NOV75-874.1
DEC75-890.5

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches
 

Maps

Classic Fly and Drive

Pricing
Per Person
$1,380

Single Supplement:
Low season: $445
High season: $485
Single Supplement is the additional cost of a single traveler not sharing a room in double occupancy. 

Included in tour cost
  • Private transportation
  • Rafting equipment
  • Rental Car
  • All airport/hotel transfers
  • All hotel accommodations
  • English-speaking certified guides
  • Meals as indicated
  • Southern Explorations pre-departure services
Excluded from tour cost
  • Airport taxes, international and local
  • Domestic airfare within South America
  • International airfare to and from Central & South America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Medical & travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Rental Car Insurance
  • Hiking boots and other necessary sports gear
  • Optional activities

Classic Fly and Drive

Trip Dates
This trip is only offered by Private Departure. Please contact us for more information.
Available
Arenal
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Manuel Antonio
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Monteverde
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
San Jose
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
costa rica travelI have dreamed about going to Costa Rica for years and this trip exceeded all of my expectations! The pre-trip planning by the Southern Explorations was exceptional. With short notice, your team pulled out all of the stops to put together a customized, self-guided itinerary for us during one of the busiest times of the year. Your flawless attention to detail ensured that everything ran like clockwork, from the moment we were met at the airport and delivered to our first hotel to the final day when we dropped off our rental car at the airport before flying home. Each location on the itinerary offered a different type of scenery (and weather!) and an endless variety of activities to pursue, all of which were spectacular. Overall, it was a fascinating adventure and we will always treasure the memories. We look forward to booking our next adventure with Southern Explorations. - Lisa & Geoffrey Marsden, Canada (Costa Rica)

costa rica travelWhat a beautiful country and your company helped plan a seamless trip that flowed for us from place to place and let us experience Costa Rica in all its natural beauty- Gracias. Pura Vida. - Carol & Barry Berger, Florida (Costa Rica)

We absolutely enjoyed travelling with you. It was a great introduction to Costa Rica, the friendly Ticos and their beautiful country. The quality of your tour, the guides, the lodges & hotels, transportation and wide variety of activities was just perfect. This was certainly a grand way to have a celebration with my Canadian nursing class on the occasion of our 45th graduation anniversary! Thanks for making it an experience we will always remember fondly! ‘Rainforests & Volcanoes’ was a great tour. Thanks to all of your excellent staff in Seattle & in Costa Rica for making it so very interesting & exciting!  - Flo & Vic Boyko, Canada (Costa Rica)

Excellent trip, very well organized an choreographed by SE! Will most definitely recommend you to friends that may wish to plan similar trips. Thank you all, and best wishes to you.  - Lee Schultz, Maryland (Costa Rica)


Wonderfull trip, every day exceeded expectations. Thank you for the last minute work to get this organized, all went well. - Ken Stead (Custom Costa Rica)

We had a wonderful trip to Costa Rica. All of the accommodations were better than expected and the food was terrific. The Costa Rican people are warm and friendly. We had a bridge wash out , due to the rainy season, which caused a major detour to get to our final destination. But that ended up being the most fun adventurous part of the vacation. We had a great time and will try to go back in the future.  - Les & Deb, Louisiana (Costa Rica)


We loved pretty much all of the excursions. Some of our favorite excursions included - Tabacon hot springs, Cloud forest hike, zip line and hike, and white water rafting. At Monteverde, we went to a local farm and had a tour of the coffee and sugar cane produced - it was fun, and very interesting. The accommodations were very nice, they all were immaculate and had wonderful surroundings. Our favorites were the Trapp family lodge (very bed and breakfast like, in the woods, close to the cloud forest) and the Costa Verde in Manuel Antonio (huge studio with kitchen, view of the ocean from the room's deck and walking distance to the national park and beach). I think the guide team of Roxana and Antonio was a huge part of what made this a fantastic trip. Everybody's need was a priority and attended to with a lot of thought. Roxana was well educated and articulate in an interesting way about Costa Rica, all the places visited and everything seen along the way. They were both very friendly and welcoming - this created a fun vacation atmosphere and all activities were very enjoyable.  - Janet Murphy, Connecticut (Costa Rica)


There wasn’t a guide that I wouldn’t recommend on this trip. They were all very knowledgeable and enjoyable to talk to and ask questions. They seemed to enjoy being with travelers and we would recommend them to future travelers. Thank you for all your help for our memorable trip. After giving our comments we want to say that we did enjoy the trip very much and would love to go back down to Costa Rica in the future. A special thanks to Jonathan for his help in arranging the tour and helping to get things set up. - David and Jennifer Watt (Costa Rica)ica in all its natural beauty- Gracias. Pura Vida. - Carol & Barry Berger, Florida (Costa Rica)


I just wanted to let you guys know what an amazing time we had in Costa Rica. The itinerary you set up for us was outstanding and the guides were superb. The support and help we received from Jonathan (Borgida) booking our trip at your office was first class. We enjoyed everything about the trip, the accommodations, food, guides, everything was perfect. Thank you so much and we will definitely use you again and recommend your services to anyone who is planning a trip to Costa Rica.  - Josh Cook, Colorado (Costa Rica)


Our tour guide, Pedro Bollannios was terrific. He was a true naturalist genuinely interested in passing on his knowledge of the environment to us, as well as providing a sense of adventure. Overall, an excellent trip. I definitely plan to return to Costa Rica in the future for a more in depth exploration of the culture and rain forests. Thanks! - Vishal Patel (Costa Rica)

 

Costa Rica - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I choose an itinerary?
A: We offer both active and cultural tours that take you from volcanoes to beaches, with all of the natural beauty, wildlife, and adventure found in between. These itineraries vary in length and level of accommodation. Our Adventure Travel Coordinators would be happy to chat with you to help you find the itinerary that best meets your needs and interests.
Q: Can I make changes or additions to these tours?
A: Yes! We are happy to put together a custom Costa Rica tour for you if our current itineraries are not quite what you are looking for. We can also add extensions onto any of our existing tours.
Q: When is the best time to go to Costa Rica?
A: Costa Rica is best visited during the dry season, which runs from December to May, with the busiest times of year being around Christmas, the New Year, and Easter.
Q: What is the weather like?
A: Costa Rica’s mild, tropical climate makes it a great destination most of the year. From November to May you can expect temperatures in the low-70s to upper-80s, depending on the region you’re exploring, and little rainfall. The rainy season (May to November) offers similar temperatures with frequent afternoon rain storms. May and November are transitional months and can offer nice weather. Please see the weather tab on your specific trip for more details.
Q: What is a typical day like on a Costa Rica tour?
A: A typical day in Costa Rica will vary from tour to tour, but you can generally expect to start your excursions right after breakfast, with a full day of scheduled activities or sightseeing. A lunch break is included and you’ll retire to your accommodations in the late afternoon, with evenings free.
Q: How physically fit do I need to be to enjoy a trip to Costa Rica?
A: Our Costa Rica trips vary in level of activity, so the requirements differ based on itinerary. Please check our physical ratings for each itinerary to see what may be required of you when assessing your ability to enjoy a trip. If you have any specific questions, please contact your Adventure Travel Coordinator. We have personal experience with these activities and can help you decide whether a trip is right for you.
Q: How much time do we need to visit Costa Rica?
A: Most of our Costa Rica trips are between seven and 10 days, depending on how much of the country you would like to see.
Q: How far in advance should I book?
A: For the best guide availability and selection in hotels, we recommend booking three to six months in advance. December through April are especially popular times for Costa Rica travel, so more advance planning is ideal. For the Christmas holiday season and the week prior to Easter, we recommend booking a year in advance.
Q: What are your booking and cancellation policies?
A: Click here to see our booking and cancellation policies.
Q: Do you use certified guides?
A: Our guides have been carefully selected for their knowledge, professionalism, experience and ability to effectively manage groups with finesse. We only hire guides who are native to the destination and licensed or certified in accordance with the government regulations of their country. All are fluent in Spanish and English. Most have advanced degrees in tourism, biology, native culture or other related field. All guides are experienced in the outdoors and trained in basic first aid.
Q: What kind of accommodations can I expect?
A: In major cities we offer a variety of hotels including boutique properties and larger business-style hotels. Throughout the rest of the country we work with a combination of resorts, small traditional hotels, and remote lodges. The majority of the properties are family-run or locally owned. All of our accommodations are clean and comfortable, with private bathrooms and hot water. We offer basic or luxury options in many locations, depending on taste and budget.
Q: Do tours include airfare?
A: Travelers are responsible for their own international airfare. Internal flights are quoted separately from our base trip costs. We will include any necessary internal flight pricing in your quote.
Q: How many people are on your tours?
A: Eight travelers is the maximum for our Costa Rica trips, but the majority of our departures are private.
Q: Will I get more information on packing, vaccines, currency, electricity, etc.?
A: After booking you will receive a link to our online trip portal, which includes all of the need-to-know information that is specific to your itinerary. This includes packing lists, restaurant recommendations, tipping guides, FAQs, vaccine recommendations and currency information. Your Adventure Travel Coordinator will also be a great resource for any other information you may need.