Costa Rica Walking Tour10 days / Walking Tours
About This Experience
Home to rumbling volcanoes, thriving rain forests, sky-blue waters and colorful creatures, Costa Rica is definitely wild at heart. This is a country that truly teems with life, from its diverse landscapes all the way down to its vibrant Pura Vida culture. On treks through Manuel Antonio National Park, down the legendary Arenal Volcano and along the hot springs of Rincon De La Vieja, you’ll experience the biodiversity that makes this region of the world like none other. Discover why there’s traveling in Costa Rica and then there’s walking in Costa Rica.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
9 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 9 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
6 escorted walks
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
The massive, rumbling Arenal Volcano
Sipping guaro sours & sampling ceviche
Birds of all feathers, from toucans to kingfishers
Trailing the phosphorescent waters of Rio Celeste
Yachting on Costa Rica’s largest lake
Relaxing on white-sand beaches & walking lava fields
San José2 nights - hotel info
Churros to cloud forests—get ready to experience Costa Rica up close
Your journey begins in Costa Rica, a country known for its natural beauty and biodiversity. In addition to a dizzying variety of landscapes and opportunities for active pursuits, Costa Rica also boasts a laid-back vibe and commitment to “Pura Vida.” It’s no wonder Costa Ricans are ranked among the happiest people in the world. A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport as you clear customs and then escorts you to your hotel in San José. A light dinner is included upon arrival in your room.
Hiking down an active volcano beats the average morning routine
Irazu National Park
This morning, make your way to Irazú National Park and kick off your adventure by descending the slopes of an active volcano. Surreal scenery surrounds the peak of the volcano, with gnarled trees and charred ground decorating the barren landscape. Farther down the mountainside, lush fields and thick forests come into view. On your way back to San José, stop to explore Cartago, the oldest existing Spanish settlement in the country. Tour the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels, home to the Black Virgin statue that draws pilgrims from around the country. In the evening, head back to the hotel for your group dinner.
Manuel Antonio Park2 nights - hotel info
Discover why Carara is one of Forbes’ most beautiful national parks
Carara National Park
On the drive from San José to Manuel Antonio, stop in Carara National Park. A birdwatcher’s paradise, the park hosts an array of colorful species and one of the largest concentrations of the rare Scarlet Macaw. As you continue walking through the evergreen forest, you’ll come face to face with the local wildlife. Spider monkeys, crocodiles, armadillos, anteaters and margay cats are just a few of the area’s permanent residents. Later, travel on to Manuel Antonio, named one of the world’s most beautiful national parks by Forbes magazine. Dinner is included this evening.
Fix your eyes on the bustling treetops and sink your feet in the sands
Manuel Antonio National Park
Thriving jungles, serene beaches and rocky bluffs—a wide variety of landscapes make Manuel Antonio one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations. Wandering through the network of rainforest trails, discover some of this region’s most impressive sights: Cathedral Point, the blowhole at Escondido Port and an underwater turtle trap dating back to pre-Columbian times. Be sure to pack a bathing suit, so you can go for a refreshing swim or lounge on the beach between walks. Afterward, recap the day’s events over an included dinner.
Arenal Region2 nights - hotel info
Looming against the local greenery stands the smoking Arenal Volcano
This morning, drive through the beautiful Costa Rican countryside to Arenal. Passing the lush green hills and peaceful Lake Arenal, it’s easy to see why people are drawn to these parklands. Look out for Arenal Volcano looming over the local landscapes. The volcano, which erupted in 1968, is still active today. Following your arrival in Arenal, take a soothing soak in the local hot springs before dinner.
Retrace the 1968 eruption as you trek across blackened lava fields
Optional Excursion - Ziplining Tour
Arenal National Park
Take to the Los Tucanes Trail, walking along forested pathways and lava fields created after the 1968 eruption. The region is now in the process of regeneration, offering a rare glimpse at a landscape coming back to life. Later, soar above the jungle floor during our optional ziplining excursion in the cloud forest canopy. Dinner is included tonight.
Ziplining Tour $49* pp
Today's ziplining excursion adds a bit of adrenaline to your Costa Rican vacation. The longest ziplines on this course cover nearly half a mile, and the tallest are almost 600 feet off the ground; in short, you've never traveled like this before! You'll fly silently above the treetops and come home with a renewed sense of adventure.
Tenorio1 night - hotel info
Ride the waves, soaking in views of the rolling, forested hills
Arenal Lake Cruise
Give your legs a rest as you cruise picture-perfect Lake Arenal. Floating on the blue waters of Costa Rica’s largest inland lake, soak in views of farms, forested hills and the profile of Arenal Volcano. Back on dry land, relax on your drive to Tenorio Volcano National Park, where dinner awaits.
Rincon de la Vieja2 nights - hotel info
The farther you move upstream, the deeper the blue becomes
Tenorio National Park
Today, explore Tenorio Volcano National Park, a region rich in biodiversity and natural beauty. In addition to vibrant flora, such as palms, ferns and orchids, the park is home to incredibly diverse wildlife. Howler monkeys, agoutis, tapirs, pumas, and not to mention, countless bird species, all make their homes here. Walk along one of the park’s most sought-after sites—Río Celeste, a phosphorescent-blue river winding through the rainforest. The trail comes to a tranquil ending at one of the area’s colorful waterfalls. Take some time to wind down by the falls before driving through the volcanic landscapes of Rincon de la Vieja. Later this evening, join your group for an included dinner.
Bubbling mud pits and even the occasional sloth accompany your walk
Optional Excursion - Horseback Riding
Rincón de la Vieja National Park
Start your day walking in the shadow of a volcano as you follow the path along Las Pailas Loop. Pass small solfataric lakes and soffioni (holes that expel clouds of steam) as you trek toward the Las Pailas Loop Hot Springs. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for the area’s slow-moving sloths. During the afternoon, opt to ride on horseback through the region’s hilly landscapes and farmland pastures. Then, cap off your stay in Costa Rica at your group’s farewell dinner.
Horseback Riding $39* pp
Take in some of Costa Rica’s most breathtaking landscapes on horseback. Cross over hilly terrain and through tranquil farm pastures with beautiful views of Guanacaste’s Pacific coastline and the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano mountain range. Along the way, look out for birds, monkeys and other fauna peeking out through the brush. After dismounting, venture on foot to two secluded waterfalls: the Mystery (approximately 165 feet high) and Hidden (approximately 65 feet). This ride is appropriate for beginners, and helmets are provided.
Passport & Visa
In order to enter Costa Rica, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, contact the Costa Rican consulate for your particular entry requirements.
Travelers should be reasonably fit (see the “Walking on Tour” section for more information) and take proper care for sun exposure. There is also some risk of mosquito-born diseases, especially in the rainforests and national parks. Consult your doctor at least eight weeks prior to departure about possible preventive measures and personal travel requirements.
Round-trip flights arrive in San José and depart from Guanacaste (Liberia). When you first arrive in San José, a Go Ahead representative will meet you at the airport once you clear customs and collect your luggage. Included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach. Destinations on tour are all easily walkable, although some local buses may be available.
Walking on tour
Will I be able to keep up?
While this is a moderately demanding walking tour, all walks can be carried out at your own pace. Travelers should be able to walk comfortably over hilly or uneven terrain while carrying water, and should be prepared for some moderate inclines and challenging walks. We strongly recommend bringing hiking boots or sturdy, comfortable athletic shoes. Walking sticks are also recommended.
What happens if it rains?
The day-by-day itinerary is an outline of daily activities. This kind of program requires maximum flexibility, and events are likely to be rearranged as local conditions demand. If you experience inclement weather, we will arrange more activities in town and fewer in the countryside.
Who is my guide?
Go Ahead Walking Tour Directors have been trained on how to lead a program of this kind. They not only have a comprehensive knowledge of the region, but also a genuine enthusiasm for Costa Rica. All tour directors are bilingual.
Clothing & Packing Tips
Your Costa Rican itinerary focuses on the outdoors, so your clothing should be casual and appropriate for outdoor use. Loose-fitting, layered clothing that can accommodate varying temperatures will be most comfortable. A sun hat, sunglasses and a bathing suit will also come in handy, and sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots will be crucial to your experience. Occasional rain showers are common in the areas you will be visiting, so be sure to pack light rainwear. Binoculars will be very useful for bird- and animal-watching, along with a field guide for specifics about the different species you’ll spot. Insect repellent is highly recommended for visits to the rain forests.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
The Costa Rican colón is the currency you’ll be using on your tour, but U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere. Better rates of exchange are usually available at your destination, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We strongly advise that you take a combination of debit/bank cards and credit cards, which may be exchanged at local banks for cash as needed. You can use most debit/ credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
Most Costa Rican cuisine originates in the country’s Indian roots and is similar to what you’d find in many Central American countries. Entrees are often based on rice, black beans, corn, beef, chicken or fish. Fresh, locally grown fruit, such as bananas, mangoes, pineapples and avocados are readily available and an integral to many dishes. Traditional desserts include custards, puddings and simple cakes. Locally grown coffee is served very strong and black, though it may be served with hot milk upon request.
At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/ CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
Bring good binocs. Bring good footwear. Bring a hiking pole. Our tour guide, Julio, was an expert birder and naturalist. Some of these hikes can be demanding.