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This expertly-curated combination Panama and Costa Rica trip includes a visit to the famous Panama Canal, beachcombing in Bocas del Toro and the chance to experience the steaming hot springs at the foot of an active stratovolcano outside of Arenal - Costa Rica's adventure capital. Walk through the treetops in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and discover 680 hectares of untamed rainforest along the central Pacific coast at Manuel Antonio National Park. Build out your trip with plenty of optional excursions and follow in the wake of a passionate tour guide. It's Panama and Costa Rica in a splendid nutshell.
We use a variety of hotels in each destination, so you may stay in a hotel different to that listed here. Hotels are selected closer to departure date; you will receive a confirmed list one week prior to your departure date.
Welcome to Panama City! Explore at your leisure today before meeting up with your tour leader and group in the hotel foyer at 18:00 hrs. The official start of this South America adventure kicks off as we take a walk to a nearby restaurant to enjoy a welcome dinner.
After breakfast, take a tour of Panama city, its top sights and the Panama Canal. Panama city is an important link between North America and South America and is home to influences from both continents. Lasting more than 4 hours, you can expect to see the best of what Panama city has to offer. These sights include Panama Canal, Miraflores Lock (with a tour of the visitor centre), Amador Causeway, Flamenco Island, the Biomuseum and Panama Old Town. Finish the tour in the Old Town part of the city, after which the rest of the day is yours to go wherever you please.
Indulge in a full day at leisure in Panama City. Continue explorations of the charming old-town, journey along its tranquil shores or savour Panamanian food with influences from Africa, Spain and Mexico. Stroll through art or history museums, including Afro-Antillean Museum, Biomuseo and the Natural Science Museum. Perhaps join an optional excursion to San Blas islands?
Take an early morning departure and get ready for another a day filled with experiences! Take an hour-long flight to Bocas del Toro. This archipelago of tropical islands is located in the Caribbean Sea, just off the northeastern coastline of Panama. Check in at your hotel upon arrival and stretch your legs on a quick orientation tour of Bocas del Toro town. The colourful seaside villages and untamed beauty is sure to leave you speechless. Your tour leader will point out the best local places to eat and shop. Tuck into a traditional lunch before spending the rest of the day at your leisure. Hop on a boat to a nearby island, do birdwatching or take it easy and curl up in a hammock for the afternoon.
After breakfast today, travellers have the choice to explore the island at their own pace, or take their pick of a bunch of optional activities on offer. Visit Bastimentos Island and Red Frog Beach - both popular destinations in the Bastimentos National Marine Park. Or even take a Zipline canopy tour. Whatever you do, you’ll experience pure bliss in Bocas town!
Continue the journey and travel by boat, coach and on foot to make it to the next destination. First thing in the morning, transfer to the marina and board a boat for a short ride from Bocas del Toro to the mainland. Then take a trip to Sixaola, a tiny border town located between Panama and Costa Rica. Do things the old school way and walk across the border (the views are worth it, promise). Then travel onwards and see how the landscapes change as we travel deeper into a new country - Costa Rica. Head for the town of La Fortuna, gateway to the Arenal volcano. Check into the hotel and sit down for dinner and you first taste of Costa Rican cuisine.
Today is a full free day for a leisurely exploration of La Fortuna, situated at the base of Arenal Volcano. The Arenal Volcano is a natural wonder that offers many exciting adventures in the surrounding area. Soar between treetops as you zipline over the rainforest, hike around Arenal Volcano National Park, explore hanging bridges in the area or kayak around Lake Arenal. In short: any adventure-seekers dream! In the afternoon you have the option of joining the most relaxing experience of all - a trip to the hot springs of Baldi. Here you can soak in the naturally heated pools at the base of Arenal volcano and experience the rejuvenating effects of the mineral-rich water on your body. The experience includes dinner with full view of the volcano.
We leave after breakfast today for a 4-hour journey to Monteverde and the rainforest in Costa Rica. This is a bucket list destination for many. After arrival, have lunch and settle into the hotel - this paradise is home for the next two nights! Then head out to the Monteverde Cloud Forest for the afternoon. There are a number of tropical cloud forests in Costa Rica; Monteverde Cloud Forest reserve is by far the most famous. This magical forest in the clouds stretches over more than 10,000 hectares and has been dubbed the ‘Crown Jewel’ of cloud forests in the world. It’s the ideal place for hiking and birding. You’re bound to see exotic birds like hummingbirds, toucans, trogons and bellbirds.
Your schedule is free for the day and you can explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest area to heart’s content. If you’re interested in a guided experience, there are some optional excursions lined up. Visit a local butterfly farm or go on a Costa Rican coffee tour. Have a chat with your tour leader about the options and plan your day accordingly.
After breakfast, depart on a short journey heading for Costa Rica's central Pacific coast. Make a stop at the Tárcoles river on the way to spot huge crocodiles sunbathing in their natural environment (weather permitting). Travel onwards to make it to the surfing capital of Costa Rica, Jaco. Upon arrival, head out for an intro walking tour of the town with your tour leader. Jaco is a sleepy surf town with quirky cafes, restaurants and shops. It’s one of the best spots in Costa Rica to surf or to learn how to surf! Spend the rest of the day at your leisure. Your tour leader will recommend optional activities if you’re looking for something interesting to do.
Today you can spend time in Jaco or join a trip to Manuel Antonio National Park. Even though it’s the smallest in Costa Rica, it’s the most celebrated and was rated as one of the Top 10 national parks in the world! It’s popularity is largely due to the location tucked into the coast offering visitors sandy beaches with a backdrop of the lush forest. And it’s not only naturally beautiful, it’s also one of the world’s most biodiverse parks. In your time here there’s a chance that you can spot animals like the endangered red-backed squirrel monkey, sloths, capuchin monkeys, iguanas, dolphins, even migrating whales! Arrive back in Jaco later this afternoon. As the last night on tour, tonight will be a feast of feasts as we celebrate the end of our Ultimate South America tour.
After spending your final night in Jaco, sit down for one last breakfast at the hotel in Jaco. You can choose to take the coach ride to San Jose, or stay put in Jaco. On arrival in San Jose an orientation driving tour marks the end of the tour. As for the rest of the day there are no activities planned, so it’s adiós in San Jose. Have a safe onward journey! Transfers to San Jose International airport is available on request.
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