Costa Rica

With some 25% of the country’s land protected in National Parks, Costa Rica is arguably the most eco-friendly country in the world. And this little slice of tropical paradise certainly packs a lot into its relatively narrow borders. Boasting both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, rainforests, volcanoes, highlands and astounding wildlife, Costa Rica is a nature lovers dream.

Costa Rica has earned its well-deserved eco-tourism reputation and stands apart from its Central American neighbors in many aspects: from surfing and other adventure activities, farm-to-table restaurants, wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism. Its infrastructure is well supported by green energy such as wind and hydro. One of the world's most biodiverse countries, with half a million species – from insects to the giant anteaters that devour them – it also protects one-quarter of its wild lands for future Costa Ricans to enjoy.

The country has a lot of different areas to explore, many of which can be reached by short, easy flights on light aircraft, allowing you to see and do a huge amount in a relatively short space of time.

The Central Valley
Costa Rica’s heart and soul can be found on its quiet, coffee-cultivated hillsides of the Central Valley. This is not only the geographical center of the country but also its cultural and spiritual core. It is here that the Spanish first settled, here that coffee built a prosperous nation, and here that picturesque highland villages still gather for centuries-old fiestas. It is also here that you’ll get to fully appreciate Costa Rica’s country cooking including its delicious artisanal cheeses, corn cakes and freshly caught river trout.
San Jose, the capital, lies right in the centre and is surrounded by traditional coffee plantations, which makes it a great place to start your trip after a long flight. It is also where you will find one of A2A’s favourite lodges. Accessible only by white-water rafting the rapids or taking a hanging basket over the river after some off-roading in a 4x4, this superb lodge epitomises what Costa Rica does best – eco-friendly luxury.

The northern plains and cloud forest
To the north of San Jose, the perfectly conical Arenal Volcano should not be missed. Although you can’t climb it, there are lots of excellent walking trails in the area as well as other adventurous pursuits such as zip-lining, mountain biking, rafting and horse riding. Not far away, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve admits only 160 people a day, so fragile is the environment here. You’ll not only find the world’s largest orchid collection here and thousands of plant species, but it is also one of the best chances you will have of spotting the Resplendent Quetzal, one of over 400 bird species found in the park.

The rainforest and Carribean coast
Tortuguero National Park sits on the Caribbean Coast and is one of the largest areas of rainforest in Central America. It is a hotspot for endangered green turtles which come to lay their eggs between June and October, but the tropical rivers are also home to other species including otters, caimans, monkeys and several exotic birds such as parrots and toucans.

The jungle and Pacific coast
It comes as no surprise that the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is no different went it comes to nature. The Osa Peninsula in particular nothing short of a natural paradise, home to almost half of all the species found in Costa Rica. There are countless rare and endangered species roaming the Corcovado National Park which takes up much of the peninsula, including Baird’s tapir, jaguars, giant anteaters and the harpy eagle just to name a few. Although hard to get to, in true Costa Rica style, the region still offers fantastic accommodation in luxury eco lodges so you can enjoy the true wilderness in comfort. 
Recent studies show that many Costa Ricans live longer, healthier lives compared to the rest of the world, due to its 'pura vida' (meaning 'pure life') philosophy, a term used everywhere around the nation. These two words can mean hello, goodbye, cool, and many things good. We guarantee after a week in this beautiful paradise you will be saying it, too - pura vida.

Peru has over 1600 species of orchid, almost a third of which can be found close to Machu Picchu. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo, one of the area’s top luxury hotels, has South America’s largest privately owned collection of the flower, with almost 400 varieties on display.

Sample Itinerary for Costa Rica

Our Costa Rica
Experience this friendly country and its exceptional biodiversity and abundant wildlife. From the fertile central valley, head to a rural retreat on the Pacuare river, witness the perfectly conical Arenal volcano and end on the incredible Osa Peninsula.
11 NIGHTS / 12 DAYS • FROM US$9,750 per person
Days 1 & 2: Alajuela

Upon arrival in San José, you will be met and transferred to Alajuela, Costa Rica’s second-largest city. Your stunning resort and spa is located in the hills above the city, offering stunning views of the surrounding Central Valley. The following morning you will be met by your specialist guide, a picturesque journey through rural towns and agricultural fields of cattle, coffee, strawberries and flowers leads you to Poás Volcano National Park. You'll hike the gently sloping, paved trails to the volcano`s main crater with its steaming fumaroles, crater lakes Laguna and Lake Botos, and the cloud forest trail. You will stop in at La Paz Waterfall Gardens before returning to your hotel.

Days 3, 4, 5 & 6: Pacuare River

Departing early you will be driven south-east by road to the Pacuare river. After a safety briefing a two hour rafting adventure begins (grades 1-3, no previous experience is needed) ending at your base for the next three nights, a remote, tranquil lodge set on the banks of the Pacuare river. The jungle-chic bungalows have been constructed from native wood and perfectly designed to merge into the natural environment. Three nights allows time for activities such as trekking, canopy tours, riding or a visit to a local village. On-site spa services are offered so at the end of your tiring day you can relax with a massage.

Days 7 & 8: Arenal

After breakfast on your final morning at Pacuare you will depart the lodge as you entered – by river, rafting. From the drop-off point you will be met by your local guide and driven north to La Fortuna. Stay in a luxury tented camp in the middle of a tropical rainforest. The beautifully manicured grounds are perfectly situated to take in the jaw-dropping views of nearby Arenal volcano and the surrounding jungle. Enjoy a private hike in the Arenal National Park. A guided tour on the Sky Tram will take you to an observation deck at the highest point of the Arenal Reserve. The excursion continues with a bird's-eye view: soaring through the treetops on the thrilling Sky Trek zip-line circuit (not for the faint hearted!).

Days 9, 10, 11 & 12: Osa Peninsula

You will be driven back to San José in order to catch the short scheduled flight to Puerto Jiménez, the largest town on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica's magnum opus in terms of eco-adventure. You will spend your final three nights in a private nature reserve comprising more than 405 hectares of wild, tropical rainforest. Designated as one of National Geographic's Unique Lodge of the World, the property is a magnet for lovers of wildlife and nature. Enjoy guided activities at the property, its jungle trails may reward you with views of monkeys, scarlet macaws, crocodiles, myriad bird species, even endangered wildlife like anteaters and tapirs. On the final day you will fly back to San José to connect with your flight home.

Recommended Extension: Nicaragua

A short drive along the Pacific Coast, or a quick flight from the capital San Jose, will bring you to Costa Rica’s cultural neighbour, Nicaragua. After the stunning nature, birds, and wildlife in Costa Rica, embrace the richly cultural cities of Leon and Granada. Visit the mysterious Ometepe Island with its stunning landscape and ancient rock carvings. If you are wanting some beach time and marine life, head to San Juan del Sur in the Pacific Coast or, for a picture-perfect island getaway, visit the Corn Islands off the Caribbean coast. Expect stunning white-sand beaches, vibrant coral reefs, crystal clear turquoise waters and some of the best sunsets imaginable.

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We do not subscribe to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy. Sample itineraries and cost estimates are meant purely as a guide. To find out more, please contact one of our expert travel consultants to plan a customized itinerary based on your budget and interests.