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Waterfalls and wildlife in Costa Rica

Kayak a wildlife wonderland in Tortuguero National Park, hike across a lava field below Arenal volcano and tube down rapids on Rio Celeste

914 reviews

Waterfalls and wildlife in Costa Rica

11 Days | From £2699

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Accommodation

About your trip

Costa Rica may be tiny, but it boasts a formidable biodiversity that’s second to none.

On this 11-day adventure, you’ll journey into the heart of the wilderness; kayak through the mangroves of Tortuguero National Park; tube down the pristine Rio Celeste; and hike through the lava fields of the Arenal Volcano.

Let the local howler monkeys guide you through their incredible home, as you say hola to Costa Rica.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in twin rooms
  • Equipment
  • Guide
  • Local transport
  • Most meals included
  • Max 14 travellers per group
  • Private airport transfers

Remember, flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.


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Your Itinerary

  • Day 01 Welcome to happiness central

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    Pura vida – you’re in Costa Rica. A private transfer at San José airport will take you directly to your hotel. After you’ve freshened up, head into town for welcome drinks and dinner with your group and guide and look forward to the off-grid adventures ahead.

  • Day 02 Wildlife encounters in Tortuguero National Park

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    Today you wave goodbye to city-life and head for Tortuguero National Park, a vast area of protected wilderness on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. The region is an important hatchery for the near-extinct green sea turtle and the hawksbill turtle, whose nesting season stretches from July to October, whilst leatherback turtles nest from February to April. This means there’s a good chance you’ll see turtles at most times of year – and even if you don’t, Tortuguero teems with spectacular wildlife of all kinds. Later, you’ll take a picturesque boat ride to your jungle lodge and check in, before taking a guided rainforest walk for a taste of the wonders soon to come.

  • Day 03 Kayaking in the wilds of Tortuguero

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    Today you head out on the waterways to explore Tortuguero further. Travelling by canoe or kayak, your group will carve its own route through the capillary of creeks and riverways that spread across the national park. Soak in the cacophony of nature around you as you paddle, from chirruping poison dart frogs to cat-calling parrots. You might also spot a three-toed sloth, an iguana or a tapir hanging out on the riverbank. In the afternoon, head back to the hotel for some down-time.

  • Day 04 From Tortuguero to Arenal

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    It’s farewell to the Caribbean coast as you head onwards to the Northern Lowlands. Arenal was Costa Rica’s most active volcano until 2010, and its summit is still clouded in a cinematic-like cloud of ash and smoke. You’ll be based in La Fortuna, a charming town that sits at the foot of the volcano. Join your fellow travellers in wandering around to get a feel for the mountainous tropical landscape. As evening draws in, order some piña coladas in the hotel’s gardens.

  • Day 05 Volcano trekking and hot springs

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    You’ll start today with a morning hike around Arenal volcano. You’ll follow a mile-long trail through rainforest, undulating hills, and a magnificent lava field, with impact craters and lava slides that date back to a 1992 eruption. Keep a lookout for wildlife such as anteaters and crimson-fronted parakeets as you head up to a viewing platform. Here – if it isn’t cloudy – you’ll gaze across Arenal Volcano, Arenal Lake (a popular windsurfing spot) and the Tilarán mountain range. After the hike, unwind at EcoTermales Fortuna hot springs. This hidden oasis is framed by jungle vegetation with sustainably-run pools and a cascading waterfall.

  • Day 06 Your day to relax

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    Today is yours to do exactly as you please. Still hungry for adventure? Discover the hanging bridges of Arenal, where you can look out for wildlife via a maze of high-rope walkways, suspended hundreds of feet in the air. You might even want to book a day trip to Monteverde Cloud Forest, a lush ecotourist reserve around a three-hour drive away. If you prefer to just chill, you can simply admire the scenery from your vantage point in the hotel’s blue pool.

  • Day 07 Tube down the Rio Celeste

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    Today you’ll travel a few hours to Tenorio Volcano National Park, and Rio Celeste. Costa Rica’s “Light Blue River” is so called thanks to its distinctive turquoise pigment and it cuts 14 kilometres through a forested wilderness. You’re here for tubing, meaning you’ll float on a rubber tube with your fellow travellers down the dramatic valley gorge. The canyon narrows at certain points, cutting out daylight and creating atmospheric echoes off the cliffs on either side, and over the sound of rushing water, you’ll be able to hear birdsong and monkeys shrieking. Afterwards, raise a glass to your bravery with an aperitif in the hotel’s swim-up bar.

  • Day 08 Beach life on the Gulf of Papagayo

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    You’ve kayaked the wetlands, hiked a volcano and tubed down rapids: it’s time for a well-earned rest. Today, you’ll travel to the Guanacaste province, and Playa Panamá on the Gulf of Papagayo. This laid-back community runs along Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline, and is dotted with some of the country’s most beautiful beaches. After checking into your hotel, take a lazy stroll through the trees that line the shoreline, explore nearby El Coco or simply set up for a day on the beach. Life on the Gulf of Papagayo is a total pleasure, and testimony to what pura vida is all about.

  • Day 09 Beaches, boats and picnics

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    Wake up refreshed and board your boat with your group. There’s no set plan today, meaning you might scope out a secret beach, or be chaperoned through the surf by a pod of bottlenose dolphins. At the right time of year (from July-November), you could even spot humpback whales that migrate through Costa Rica’s warm Pacific waters. You’ll have snorkel equipment with you, so you can jump in and spot tropical fish whenever you want to. Back at the hotel, gather with your group and enjoy sundowners on the sand.

  • Day 10 One last day in paradise

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    Today is free to spend as you like. You could hire kayaks or paddle-boards with your group, or you might just order a drink and idle the day away with a few lazy laps in the pool. In the evening, you’ll head out together for a farewell dinner on the beach.

  • Day 11 Hasta la vista, Costa Rica

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    After breakfast, it’s time for goodbyes: your guide can help to arrange your onward transfer. It’s best to fly out of Liberia airport, which is nearer than your inbound destination of San José.

Our Favourite Hotels

Browse a selection of our favourite hotels, for a flavour of where you may stay on this trip.

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Hotel Arenal Manoa

Tropical getaway with lush views over Arenal Volcano

The biggest draw? The uninterrupted landscape views, complete with verdant jungle and volcanoes. Wake up to dramatic scenery, then take a drip in the al fresco pool.

Why we stay here

Comfortable spacious rooms; a bar and restaurant serving tropical cocktails; a series of hot spring jacuzzis and an al fresco pool – here are a few reasons why we love this hotel.

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Rio Celeste Hideaway, Tenorio Volcano National Park

Rainforest casitas near the Rio Grande River

Charming wooden bungalows with outdoor showers and views of the forest or bird-filled gardens. Make the most of the pool, soaking in the hot tub and the swim-up bar.

Why we stay here

The perfect departure point for hiking the rainforest trails and Rio Grande River, which is just a few minute’s walk away. Make time for a swim here – it’s the only part of the Rio Grande that you’re allowed to swim in.

What Flashpackers say

As captured on Instagram

The latest from Flashpackers in Costa Rica on #picsworthsharing

Important Notes

  • Fly into San Jose Airport (SJO) and fly out of Liberia Airport (LIR).

  • Please try to arrive into San José by 4pm on day 1, and you are free to depart at leisure on day 11, from Playa Panama.

  • Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control. From time to time we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh.

  • We take safety very seriously on Flash Pack adventures – read more here.


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