Picture a jungle canopy alive with white-faced capuchins, howler monkeys, toucans and macaws; a forest floor where jaguars and pumas roam; a dense mangrove swamp home to caiman, crocodiles, herons and egrets; or a shimmering sea of sharks, rays, whales and dolphins. This is Costa Rica, whose stunning natural world is the focus of this tailor-made driving holiday. Departing the capital, San José, you'll travel past farmlands, forests and lakes to the cloud forests of Monteverde and iconic volcano of Arenal. Then, after taking in the diverse landscapes and wildlife of of Bijagua, you'll end your holiday with the palm-fringed bays of Guanacaste on Costa Rica's North Pacific Coast.
Day 1: UK/San José
With airport lounge access included, you'll begin your holiday in suitably relaxed fashion before your overnight flight to San José, where you'll be met for a private transfer to your hotel. Costa Rica's capital is a treasure trove of historic neighbourhoods, home to faded colonial gems, boutique art galleries, interesting museums, colourful street art and a quirky culinary mix of refined restaurants and charming local eateries. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, exploring the city at your own pace.
Days 2-3: Monteverde
To make life easy, we'll arrange for your hire car to be delivered to your hotel before you set off on the next leg of your journey, that sees you head to the town of Monteverde, located at the southern edge of the Monteverde Cloud Forest. This small Quaker settlement is the jumping off point for one of Costa Rica's most important and precarious ecotourism projects. A battle to keep developers at bay and protect the precious ecosystem of the cloud forest has been raging for more than three decades, but for those who brave the region's rugged dirt roads, the rewards are huge, with an astonishing 2.5% of the world's biodiversity held within its borders. You'll spend two nights here, giving you a full day to explore the reserve's walking trails and to learn about some of the vital scientific work, taking place. We recommend a private tour in the cloud forest reserve (supplement applies) for a fascinating walk through the trails, spotting up to 500 bird species and the myriad wildlife for which Costa Rica is so well-known.
Days 4-5: Arenal
Today you'll set off to the canton of San Carlos and the imposing cone-shaped peak of the Arenal Volcano. The landscape here is exceptionally beautiful, a sea of forests, lakes and fields, dotted with palm, pineapple and citrus farms. Check into your chosen hotel for a two-night stay, and spend the following day exploring the mesmerising landscapes, beautiful waterfalls and volcanic hot springs of the Arenal National Park. It's well worth heading on a private tour of the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges, one of the country's best eco-tourism projects, that will see you walk among 250 hectares interlaced with wooden paths and bridges, alongside stunning volcano views and an extraordinarily diverse range of flora and fauna.
Days 6-7: Bijagua
After breakfast you'll head on a scenic two-hour drive to Bijagua and the rural town of Pueblo Nuevo nestled in the jungle-framed mountains. Check in to the newly-built Origins Luxury Lodge, with just six villas that vaunt private terraces and fire-heated baths. The next two days will spent enjoying the likes of wildlife tours, nighttime nature walks, birdwatching, horseback riding and even yoga and meditation on the jungle-view deck. Return each evening to stunning French-Costa Rican fusion gastronomy alongside dips in the wood fired-heated infinity pool and Jacuzzi.
Stay: Origins Luxury Lodge (Deluxe)
Days 8-11: Tamarindo Beach or Papagayo, Guanacaste
The final stop on your self-drive tour will be the beaches of Costa Rica's north Pacific Coast. The landscape here, made up of a series of beautiful forest-fringed bays, is truly breathtaking. Enjoy four nights here, with plenty of time to relax on the gorgeous golden sands, or dip your toes in the warm, tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean. If you opt for the deluxe choice, you'll enjoy full-board accommodation in a wellness-focused luxury tented camp, enjoying everything from beachfront adventures like paddle-boarding and snorkelling to more serene activities like cooking classes and spa treatments.
Stay: Cala Luna (Superior) or Kasiiya Lodge (Deluxe)
Days 12-13: Depart for UK
Your self-drive adventure through Costa Rica comes to an end today. After breakfast at your chosen hotel, drive to San José's international airport in time for your onward flight, arriving on day 13.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
** If you see this next to a price, a specific price in your currency has not been provided, this is an estimated-only price based on a currency conversion, the price you pay may be different to that shown
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