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Two Countries: Costa Rica + Panama (plus Bocas)


RRP14S
14 NIGHTS
FROM £2,298
International flights quoted separately
This holiday combines the highlights of Cost Rica, with Panama City & the magnificent Caribbean beaches of Bocas del Toro. Start your holiday at Tortuguero National Park & visit the spectacular Arenal Volcano & hot springs. Then fly to the Panama Canal to see this engineering marvel, before relaxing on the beaches of Bocas. English speaking guides, all transfers & park fees included.
Photo Costa Rica and Panama Canal Bocas Del Toro Arenal Volcano
• 
San Jose
• 
Central Valley
• 
Volcan Poas National Park
• 
La Paz Waterfall
• 
Tortuguero National Park
• 
Birding
• 
Arenal Volcano
• 
Panama Canal
• 
Bocas del Toro
• 
Caribbean Coast
• 
San Jose
• 
Central Valley
• 
Volcan Poas National Park
• 
La Paz Waterfall
• 
Tortuguero National Park
• 
Birding
• 
Arenal Volcano
• 
Panama Canal
• 
Bocas del Toro
• 
Caribbean Coast
Day 1
You will be met at San Jose Airport and transferred to this capital city in the Central Valley region, with the Talamanca Mountains to the south and volcanoes to the north.
 
Check into your hotel and relax in this modern city.
Day 2
Today your driver will take you on a tour through the Central Valley.
 
We drive 1.5-hours through coffee plantations, strawberry fields and dairy farms to Poás Volcano National Park, with its magnificent blue crater lake. When the mist and clouds part you can see the sulphuric, bubbling lake at the bottom, surrounded by smoke and steam rising from fumaroles. Views of the crater are most likely between March and November, with the early morning offering the best opportunity. Trails lead through the cloud forest to Lake Botos, which fills an extinct crater and is home to nearly 80 species of cloud forest birds. Hummingbirds are easy to see and you may also spot an emerald toucanet, brown robin, black guan or masked woopecker. Coyotes, rabbits, frogs and toads are common and you will see many bromeliads, ferns and mistletoes.
 
We continue to the Doka Coffee Estate in the coffee capital of Sabanilla, to learn more about the production, harvesting, processing and roasting of the grain. The farm belongs to the Vargas Ruiz family, who have pioneered coffee production for more than 70 years. Here we enjoy an included lunch before returning to San Jose in the late afternoon.
 
Note: Wear good walking shoes today and take a windbreaker and rain jacket.
Day 3
An early departure this morning, with 06.30 pick-up from your hotel for your 4-hour shared transfer by air-conditioned coach to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean Coast. This remote wetland system covers an area of over 300 square km. It support a wide range of threatened flora and fauna and is a RAMSAR birding site of international significance.
 
We stop at Guapiles around 08.00 for a Costa Rican breakfast, before continuing to the docks at La Pavona or Cano Blanco.  Here we board the boat for our 1.5-hour ride along the La Suerte River and the wider Tortuguero River, to your lodge in the heart of these lush waterways.
 
On arrival check into your lodge and enjoy a buffet lunch. In the afternoon there is the opportunity to visit the local village with a guide, to observe their way of life. We walk back to our lodge along the beach trail, with balance of afternoon at leisure.
  
Note: As turtle tours book out quickly, on arrival we recommend you immediately book your tour at reception, as this cannot be booked in advance (approx. $35 per person).
Day 4
This morning is devoted to exploring the waterways of Tortuguero National Park by boat with a local guide.
  
At sunrise the rainforests comes alive with wildlife including sloths, monkeys and over half of all the bird species found in Costa Rica. From March to September you can see turtles laying their eggs on the beach and later in the year you can see the hatchlings emerge - an unforgettable sight. You may also see alligators, tapirs, anteaters, ocelots and peccaries.
 
With eleven different habitats - including rainforests, mangroves, swamps, beaches and lagoons - this park sustains a wide range of bio diversity and is teeming with bird and insect life. It is very hot and humid, and receives up to 250 inches (6,400 mm) of rain a year.
 
Return to your lodge for lunch, after which you can join a guided walk along the pathways of your hotel or simply relax by the swimming pool.
 
In the evening we recommend an optional Turtle Tour (must be booked locally). To ensure you do not disturb the turtles, you must wear dark clothing - blue, black or grey - and closed shoes. Cameras are strictly prohibited.
 
Note: Take rain gear and a windbreaker for your boat ride, as showers can always be expected in the rainforest.
Day 5
Check out of your room early this morning (07.00) so that you are ready to depart after breakfast and travel 1.5-hours by boat to Guapiles, where we stop for an included lunch. Here you will collect your hire car.
 
After lunch continue 3.5-hours by shared shuttle transfer across a large agricultural and cattle area to the Arenal Volcano - one of the most active in Central America.
 
Check into your hotel in La Fortuna and enjoy the surrounding national park and thermal hot springs.
Day 6
This morning you will be transferred to the Hanging Bridges for a self-guided tour. This series of suspension bridges offers wonderful views of Lake Arenal and the volcano. The bridges form part of a 2-mile (3 km) interpretative trail, allowing you to enjoy the great diversity of flora and fauna inside this mountainous zone, as well as outstanding bird watching. Afterwards you will be transferred back to your hotel.
 
In the afternoon you will be collected from your hotel for a guided tour of Arenal National Park, with its volcano and hot springs. Arenal Volcano rises to 5,250 feet and towers over the village of La Fortuna. On the morning of 29 July 1968, after having been inactive for three thousand years, it erupted in the most spectacular way. The earth started shaking, clouds of ashes rose into the sky, women washing clothes by the river felt the water becoming hot, and lava started pouring down the side of the volcano.
 
Your tour of the volcano starts with a drive to its active northwestern side, followed by a guided walk along either the Toucan Trail through the rainforest and across a large lava flow, or along the El Silencio Mirador Trail (depending on weather conditions). Your guide will explain the great variety of plants, wildlife and lava rock formations found in this region. Once on top of the lava flow you will have a beautiful view of Lake Arenal. The hike ends at a viewing area where, weather permitting, you may be able to see red hot lava rolling down the side of the volcano.
Day 7
This morning depart from Arenal and travel 4-hours by shared shuttle to Monteverde Cloud Forest, founded by a small group of conservation-minded Quakers who were looking for a peaceful place to live.
 
Shrouded in mist for most of the year, this primary rainforest comprises six different ecological zones spread over 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres) at different elevations - 90% of which is virgin cloud forest. As a result, it has exceptionally great biodiversity and is one of the most outstanding wildlife sanctuaries in the tropics.
 
Check into your lodge, relax and enjoy beautiful vews over the Gulf of Nicoya.
Day 8
This morning enjoy a half day guided tour of the Monteverde Cloud Forest, where woodlands give way to rainforests and where tall trees – festooned with orchids, bromeliads, ferns, vines and mosses – rise high into the sky. In other parts you will find swamp forests and deep gorges with numerous streams creating waterfalls, rapids and pools.
 
This high elevation rainforest offers miles of trails, with excellent opportunities for bird watching. It sustains over 2,500 different plant species (including the highest number of orchid species in the world), more than 100 mammals, over 400 birds, 120 reptiles and amphibians, and thousands of insects. Wildlife you may see here include the jaguar, ocelot, tapir, three-wattled bellbird, bare-necked umbrella bird, and the resplendent quetzal that is best seen in the dry months from January to July.
 
Afternoon is at leisure, with optional activities including a ride in the Sky Tram, zipline Sky Trek canopy tour, horse riding, El Trapiche agricultural tour (sugar and coffee production) and nocturnal visit to Monteverde Frog Pond.
Day 9
Transfer 3-hours to San Jose Airport for your flight to Panama City.
 
You will be met at Panama City Airport and transferred to your hotel in this capital city, situated on the Pacific Coast at the entrance to the Panama Canal and surrounded by tropical rainforest.
 
Check into your hotel in this modern city that was the starting point for the Spanish expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru, and is today a centre for international banking and commerce.
Day 10
Today enjoy a small group tour of Panama City.
 
We start with a visit to the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal, including the Canal Museum (closed Mondays). At Miraflores lock we can stop and watch ships pass through this amazing canal that cuts through Central America, linking the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean.
 
We continue to the World Heritage site at Panama Viejo, the remaining part of old Panama City, for wonderful views of the city below (or Ancon Hill if closed). We then enjoy a walking tour of the old town - Casco Viejo (also known as Casco Antiguo).
 
Now a UNESCO world heritage site, the old Panama City was founded in 1519 but in 1671 it was burnt down on the orders of its governor, to prevent the city falling into the hands of the pirate Henry Morgan. Today it is an open air museum and you will find helpful descriptions in front of each ruin. Among the best preserved buildings are the Cathedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, the former private residence Casa Alarcón, and the church and convent of Santo Domingo.
 
Lunch is included today. After your tour you will be dropped off at your hotel or at one of the many plazas in the city.
Day 11
Today enjoy a partial navigation through the Panama Canal, as this is the best way to admire this magnificent feat of engineering that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
 
You will be collected from your hotel early and transferred to your port of embarkation at the Amador Causeway. From here you will board your boat and navigate either southwards or northwards, passing through two systems of locks on the Pacific side of the canal.
 
The Miraflores Locks are the tallest on the canal, due to the extreme tidal variation of the Pacific Ocean. Your boat will be raised or lowered 55 ft (17 m) above sea level in two steps, as the canal joins Miraflores Lake which is nearly 1.2 miles (2 km) long. A transition from the salt water of the Pacific Ocean to the fresh water of the lake and canal takes place here.
 
At the Pedro Miguel Locks your boat will be raised or lowered by 30 ft (9 m) in one step. This is where the Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal, joins Gatun Lake. The Chagres River flows into the canal here, near the town of Gamboa that is the headquarters of the Panama Canal's dredging division.
 
We also sail under the Bridge of the Americas, which connects the land divided by the canal and allows the Pan-American Highway to cross it. Lunch is included today as well as soft drinks, but as the weather can be variable remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring rain gear, as well as a sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Afterwards disembark and transfer back to Panama City.
 
Note: Navigation is only guaranteed on a Saturday.
Day 12
Transfer to Panama City Airport for your flight to Bocas del Toro.
 
You will be met at Bocas del Torres Airport and transferred through this town of clapboard houses to your hotel in this spectacular archipelago on the Caribbean Coast.
 
Check in and absorb the Caribbean vibe, witin easy reach of some of the best beaches in Central America.
Days 13 To 14
At leisure to simply relax and enjoy the Caribbean atmosphere of this colorful town.
 
If you wish to explore a litle futher afield, a network of water taxis can take you to remote beaches and snorkeling sites for only a few dollars.
Day 15
Transfer to Bocas del Toro Airport for your flight to Panama City and onward flight home.

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