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Highlights of Central...
 

Highlights of Central America: Costa Rica & Panama

12 days |  15 days with Cartagena extension
12 days |  15 days with Cartagena extension
Group size1222 travelers
Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

43
Physical activity
a smiling woman selling vegetables in boquete panama
a keel billed toucan sitting on a tree branch
people walking along beach lined with palm trees with crystal clear blue water
OverviewItineraryDates & pricesReviewsTraveler photosHotels, flights & FAQ
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Central America offers a feast for the senses.

Experience the best of this vibrant region as you spot wildlife in the magical Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, sip flavorful Panamanian coffee at a local farm, and watch ships pass through the Panama Canal. Whether you’re snapping photos of sloths in Costa Rica or strolling the historic streets of Panama City, the verdant landscapes and irresistible culture of these two nations will shine on this small group Wildlife Tour.

Your tour package includes

  • 11 nights in handpicked hotels
  • 11 breakfasts
  • 3 lunches
  • 5 dinners, some with beer or wine
  • 2 food tastings
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Included highlights

  • Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve
  • Heliconia Ranch tree planting
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Gesha coffee tasting
  • Chitré artisan workshops
Read more
Start planning today

An expert specializing in tours of this region is here to help.

Talk to a Tour Consultant

Day-by-day itinerary

Print itinerary
San José1 night
Day 1: Arrival in San José
Included meal: Light dinner

Welcome to Costa Rica! Settle in to your hotel and enjoy an included dinner.

Please note: Travelers arriving at the hotel late this evening will have an informal dinner.

Monteverde2 nights
Day 2: Transfer to Monteverde & hiking tour of Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve
Included meals: Breakfast, Welcome lunch

Leave the city behind and head to the mountainous town of Monteverde, where you’ll sit down with your fellow travelers for a welcome lunch at a local, family-owned ranch.

Join your Tour Director for an afternoon hike through Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, a haven for birdwatchers.

  • Learn about variety of flora and fauna, including orchids and ferns
  • Walk through the misty forest as you explore this rare ecosystem, which gets its name from the constant cloud coverage
  • Try to spot toucans, hummingbirds, resplendent quetzals, and more

Please note: Travelers should be able to hike around two miles over wet, and potentially slippery, pathways.

Day 3: Heliconia Ranch
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Learn about Costa Rica’s diverse ecology and vibrant culture today.

  • Help with reforestation efforts by planting a native tree at Heliconia Ranch
  • Enjoy an included lunch as you watch traditional Costa Rican dances performed by children from the community

Spend a free afternoon in Monteverde or add an excursion.

Sky Walk

From $65 per person

Manuel Antonio2 nights
Day 4: Manuel Antonio National Park
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Make your way south to the country’s smallest national park, popular for its breathtaking beaches and scenic hiking trails. Uncover it’s incredible biodiversity and postcard-worthy beaches on a guided tour.

  • Keep an eye out for some of the 109 mammal species and 270 bird species that call the park home
  • Walk to the top of rocky Cathedral Point to view the park from across the Pacific
  • See the blowhole at Escondido Beach
  • Survey the saw cliff and sea caves at Serrucho Point
  • Relax on the beach or take a dip in the Pacific Ocean

Sit down for an included dinner this evening.

Day 5: Tárcoles River cruise
Included meal: Breakfast

Travel to the quiet town of Tárcoles and set out on a riverboat tour of the Tárcoles River led by a local guide.

  • Soak in views of lush mangrove forests and jungle scenery
  • Look out for wildlife such as crocodiles, iguanas, lizards, monkeys, and birds

Enjoy a free afternoon in Manuel Antonio or add an excursion.

Manuel Antonio Catamaran Cruise

From $115 per person

Boquete2 nights
Day 6: Transfer to Boquete
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Cross the border into Panama today and meet up with your Panamanian Tour Director as you make your way to the town of Boquete, which is located in the mountains and known for its year-round temperate weather.

Then, enjoy an included dinner at a local restaurant this evening.

Day 7: Coffee farm & factory tour
Included meals: Breakfast, Tasting

Spend a free morning in Boquete or add an excursion.

This afternoon, take a guided tour of a local coffee farm and factory to learn about the region’s connection to the flavorful beverage.

  • Explore the farm to learn about the process of growing and harvesting coffee beans
  • Walk through the factory to see how the beans are roasted
  • Sample award-winning Gesha coffee, a rare type of coffee made from beans that are only grown in a few countries across the globe

Cloud Forest Nature Walk & Bird Watching

From $65 per person

Chitré Region1 night
Day 8: Transfer to the Chitré Region & sightseeing tour of artisan workshops
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Travel south to the Chitré Region to discover why this area is considered the cultural cradle of Panama. You’ll take a guided tour after an included lunch to get to know four local craftspeople located in Chitré and the picturesque town of Parita.

  • Meet a drum-maker and learn how the artisan creates this popular instrument as you enjoy a musical demonstration
  • Step inside a pottery workshop to meet a potter who will demonstrate how to make ceramics in a handmade oven
  • Visit a family of mask-makers to hear how they research and design the traditional Diablico Sucio masks
  • Interact with a family of textile workers who specialize in creating polleras, colorful Latin American skirts, which can take years to complete
  • See the colorful designs, as well as the threading and sewing techniques, as the artisans talk about the history and significance of the skirts

Enjoy an included dinner this evening.

Panama City3 nights
Day 9: Transfer to Panama City, Panama Canal cruise & Miraflores Locks
Included meal: Breakfast

Travel to Panama City and spend the day exploring the legendary Panama Canal —a feat of engineering.

  • Board a covered boat in the town of Gamboa and float alongside commercial and private boats as you sail along Gatun Lake
  • Learn about the manmade lake, which plays an essential role in helping ships pass through the Panama Canal
  • Try to spot wildlife including Panamanian tamarins, green iguanas, crocodiles, and birds along the lake’s jungle-lined shoreline

After your boat ride, head to the Miraflores Locks and enjoy exclusive access to one of the most important areas of the Panama Canal.

  • Step inside the Miraflores Visitor Center to discover how the canal was built
  • Stand within a few feet of incoming ships and watch as they cross through the locks

Please note: On some departures the Miraflores Locks may be replaced with entrance to the Miraflores Museum due to closures.

Day 10: Sightseeing tour of Panama City
Included meals: Breakfast, Tasting

Meet up with a local guide and spend some time exploring Panama’s capital city.

  • Pass the Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo and view the city’s modern architecture as you drive down Amador Causeway
  • Take a walking tour of the UNESCO-listed Casco Viejo neighborhood
  • Visit the Plaza de Francia, a memorial dedicated to the French laborers who lost their lives in the first failed attempt to dig the Panama Canal
  • Visit Plaza de la Independencia to see where Panama declared independence from Colombia
  • Step inside the Church of San Jose to marvel at the ornate Golden Altar and see the Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Stop at shop to sample local chocolates and rum
  • Walk through Parque De Santa Ana and past the historic La Avenida Central shopping street
  • Learn about the culture in El Chorrillo neighborhood, which was bombed during the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989
  • Enjoy free time for lunch in the Casco Viejo neighborhood

Spend a free afternoon in Panama City or add an excursion.

Casco Viejo & Cinta Costera Bike Tour

From $55 per person

Day 11: Chagres National Park & Emberá community visit
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Farewell dinner

Leave Panama City behind and head into the lush rainforests of Chagres National Park.

  • Board a traditional dugout canoe for a ride up the Chagres River, soaking in the jungle scenery as you go
  • Head to a village where the indigenous Emberá people, known as the keepers of the rainforest, have lived for thousands of years
  • Learn about the Emberá community and way of life, including lessons in traditional medicine and cultural dance
  • See how their culture exists in harmony with the surrounding rainforest
  • Enjoy an included lunch in the village before returning to Panama City

Head to a local restaurant and celebrate your trip during a farewell dinner with your fellow travelers.

Flight Home
Day 12: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home or continue on to Cartagena, Colombia.

Extension to Cartagena
Fly to Cartagena, one of the Caribbean's most historic spots, to continue your adventure. You'll explore the UNESCO-listed city on a sightseeing tour, and even enjoy a little beach time while you're at it.
Cartagena3 nights
Day 12: Flight to Cartagena & dance class
Included meal: Breakfast

Fly to Cartagena, Colombia today.

This afternoon, take part in a class led by a local dancer to learn how to dance salsa and cumbia.

  • Follow along as your instructor shows you how to properly perform signature salsa moves
  • Move to the beat as you learn about the roots of cumbia, a local dance style created by enslaved Black and indigenous people

Spend a free evening in the city or add an excursion.

Cartagena Cooking Class & Dinner

From $129 per person

Day 13: Sightseeing tour of Cartagena
Included meal: Breakfast

Set off on a walking tour to explore Cartagena’s colorful and historic UNESCO-recognized Old Town alongside a local guide.

  • Stroll through the beautiful Plaza de Bolívar as you learn about the park’s connection to the fight for Colombian independence
  • Tour the Inquisition Palace to see a variety of artifacts and exhibits that highlight the country’s cultural heritage
  • Visit San Felipe de Barajas Castle, a grand fortress built by the Spaniards that sits atop the Hill of San Lázaro

Enjoy a free afternoon in Cartagena or add an excursion.

Boquilla Mangroves & Afro-Caribbean Drum Lesson

From $89 per person

Day 14: Free day in Cartagena
Included meals: Breakfast, Farewell dinner

Spend a free day in Cartagena or add an excursion.

Celebrate your trip during a farewell dinner at a local restaurant this evening.

A Day on Isla Barú

From $155 per person

Flight Home
Day 15: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Board your flight home today.

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Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Overall rating 4.1 out of 5

Based on 43 authentic traveler reviews
Sort by

    5 out of 5 stars

    Incredible Costa Rica and Panama
    6/19/24 by 1st-time traveler Deborah

    What a wonderful trip to Costa Rica and Panama! It far exceeded expectations. Our local guides Carlos in Costa Rica and Gabriel in Panama made sure that our group had an unforgettable experience in both countries. We explored the amazing rain forest, learning all about the flora and fauna. We intera...

    Read more +

    5 out of 5 stars

    Costa Rica and Panama
    2/14/24 by 1st-time traveler Nancy

    I loved the tour and learned so much about both countries. Our tour guide in Costa Rica was amazing

    4 out of 5 stars

    Great tour
    2/21/24 by 2nd-time traveler Sally

    I really enjoyed the Costa Rica and Panama tour. We stayed in excellent hotels, had great food, and saw some wonderful sites. It was great meeting local people as well as seeing crafts that they had made. Our tour guide for Costa Rica was excellent and made us all feel welcome and appreciated. One s...

    Read more +
    Show more reviews

    Traveler photos

    Hotels, flights & FAQ

    Here's the nitty-gritty—where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what to know about your destination before you go.

    Hotels

    We handpick every hotel to strike the balance of comfort, location, and local charm. Specific accommodations will vary based on your departure date, but these are frequently used hotels for this tour and we're confident you'll be satisfied.
    Crowne Plaza Corobici
    Crowne Plaza Corobici

    This bright and spacious hotel is located in San Jose, Costa Rica next door to La Sabana Pakr. Guests enjoy the outdoor pool, fitness center and on-si...

    Read more +
    El Establo Mountain Hotel
    El Establo Mountain Hotel

    This contemporary hotel is located in Monteverde. Guests enjoy a tennis court, indoor pool, and a spa. Nearby, you'll find the Monteverde Butterfly Ga...

    Read more +
    Hotel SanBada
    Hotel SanBada

    This modern rustic hotel is located in the Quepos district of the Puntarenas Province. Guests enjoy multiple outdoor pools, a sauna and spa, and a res...

    Read more +
    Valle Escondido Resort Golf & Spa
    Valle Escondido Resort Golf & Spa

    This hacienda style resort is located in Boquete. Guests enjoy the golf course, multiple pools, and spacious rooms. Nearby you'll find Boquete Brewing...

    Read more +
    Santa Catalina Hotel
    Santa Catalina Hotel

    This boutique hotel is located in the Getsemani neighborhood of Cartagena. Guests enjoy the rooftop pool, restaurant, and private balconies. Nearby yo...

    Read more +
    Hotel Riu Plaza Panamá
    Hotel Riu Plaza Panamá

    This stylish hotel is located in Panama City. Guests enjoy the outdoor pool, fitness center, and numerous on-site restaurants and lounges. Nearby you’...

    Read more +
    Hyatt Regency Cartagena
    Hyatt Regency Cartagena

    This beachside hotel is located in the Bocagrande neighborhood of Cartagena. Guests enjoy the outdoor pool with beautiful views of the ocean, the fitn...

    Read more +

    Flights

    Round-trip flights are one more thing we handle to make your journey as smooth as possible. Our team of travel experts will find the best flight itinerary for you at a competitive rate, thanks to our partnerships with top airlines.
    Add our airfare package and you'll get:
    • Round-trip flight for your tour
    • Airport transfers at your destination
    • A great price locked in today
    • 24/7 support from our dedicated service team
    • Options for arriving early, staying longer, or requesting an upgrade
    • Flexible rebooking options if your tour itinerary changes
    • Find out more about flights

    FAQ

    Print FAQ

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