Our new 9-day Costa Rica Hiking Adventure includes three distinct and compelling ecosystems:
- Scenic Arenal Volcano
- Mystic Monteverde Cloud Forest
- Beautiful Manuel Antonio on the central Pacific coast
This flexible adventure is designed for travelers who want to get out of a car and into nature while enjoying stays in comfortable hotels. While not too physically demanding, this trip is all about active nature exploration in the heart of Costa Rica’s most vibrant and readily accessible ecosystems with knowledgeable local resident guides.
You can start this trip any day of the year. While the best time of year for hiking is generally November through April, the rainy season has its own charms so if other times of year are better, don’t hesitate to go.
Day 1: Arrive San Jose, Costa Rica
Welcome to Costa Rica! Arrive at San Jose’s international airport (SJO) where your driver meets you and transfers you to your San Jose hotel this evening, the Hotel Presidente. If scheduling permits, try to arrive in mid-afternoon so you can enjoy a casual stroll along the downtown pedestrian mall to the beautiful National Theater, where delicious ice cream and coffee await, with wine an option too.
Day 2: Transfer to Arenal Volcano
This morning, transfer to La Fortuna, home of the towering Arenal Volcano. The balance of your day is free at leisure to enjoy the resident hot springs of the hotel and the gorgeous views all around. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to Sky Trek for their 3 pm Sky Trek zip line tour – it’s the best in Arenal and a total blast.
Day 3: Cerro Chato hike
Breakfast at hotel. This morning, enjoy the amazing Cerro Chato hiking tour, one of the best wildlife hikes in the country. For those who are looking for a physically demanding hike, Cerro Chato Volcano, which has had no volcanic activity for the past 3,500 years, is the perfect choice. One can appreciate the changes from rainforest to cloud forest while climbing the peak, measuring approximately 3,700 ft.
We will begin the tour in Fortuna and ride in a minibus around Volcano Arenal to the Hotel “Observatory Lodge”. A naturalist guide will accompany you during your hike and will teach you about the geological history as well as the surrounding nature that inhabits Volcano Arenal’s older brother. We will start the steep hike to the summit of “Cerro Chato” crossing a very compact, primary rainforest on our way. From the summit, we will walk down to the green lagoon (an old volcano crater) where we can take pictures, or simply enjoy our surroundings.
After another short climb, we will begin our descent. This will give us a beautiful view of Arenal and the valley of San Carlos. As we pass through the rainforest, we’ll hopefully see various birds and other wild animals (though viewing the enormous size plants alone make this tour worthwhile). This tour includes 45 minutes van ride to our destination, while the ascent lasts about 3 hours.
Return to your hotel by this afternoon, with the balance of your day at leisure to enjoy facilities of hotel or reserve an optional tour.
Day 4: Arenal hiking
Today, enjoy a classic Arenal hiking tour. This tour offers an unforgettable hiking experience through trails marked with the remains of previous lava flows of the impressive and majestic Arenal Volcano. The main attraction of this place is, of course, the Arenal Volcano with its nearly perfect cone shape, and a height of 1,633 meters. Along the hike you will discover the abundant flora and fauna which inhabits the rainforest; your guide will explain the surprising history and activity of the Arenal Volcano and the different eruptive phases. After the hike, you can choose to visit the ever popular hot springs to relax and enjoy the water which is naturally heated by the volcano. Enjoy dinner at the hot springs.
Day 5: Scenic Lake Crossing to Monteverde
Pick-up at the hotel and transfer to the Arenal lake dock, boat ride across Lake Arenal to Rio Chiquito, which takes around 30 minutes. From Rio Chiquito, you will be picked up for a land transfer to your hotel in Monteverde in about 2.5 hours. This unique lake crossing takes 1-2 hours less than driving all the way around Lake Arenal to Monteverde.
The balance of your day is free to explore the area, which is rich in natural history exhibits – especially hummingbird feeding galleries – and famous for its cheese and ice cream.
Day 6: Monteverde Hike
This morning, enjoy a great Monteverde continental divide hiking tour. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve will astound you with its beauty, bounty, and the great amount of biodiversity. The view from the crest of the divide can be stunning, with a vista clear to the Pacific Ocean way down below. Wind-sculpted elfin woodlands give way to rainforests where tall trees – festooned with orchids, bromeliads, ferns, vines, and mosses – rise high into the sky. Bird species abound, and no one forgets the beautiful tree frogs and blue morpho butterflies that cross your path.
The balance of the day is free to enjoy the area.
Day 7: Transfer to Manuel Antonio on the Central Pacific Coast
Pick-up at your hotel for the air conditioned shuttle transfer from Monteverde to your hotel in Manuel Antonio, near Quepos, which usually runs about 5-6 hours. Overnight here at La Foresta, a wonderful property with great value. Nestled on 180 acres of virgin rainforest within the lowlands of Costa Rica is the stunning La Foresta Nature Resort, a boutique adventure resort. Uniquely developed in a striking natural setting, the resort offers exceptional, personalized service for those desiring to take part in an experience of a lifetime. Beautifully designed nature trails surround the resort, providing guests an intimate experience for observing over 50 species of mammals, 15 species of reptiles, and an exquisite butterfly garden. The resort also has the most exceptional bird watching spot in the area and is within 15 minutes from the Manuel Antonio beach.
Optional tours and activities available nearby include:
- Whitewater rafting
- Snorkeling trips by catamaran
- ATV excursions
- Mountain biking
- Horseback riding
- Ocean kayaking
- Sport fishing
- Sunset cruises
- Scuba diving
- Surfing and surfing lessons
Day 8: Manuel Antonio hike
Breakfast at the hotel. Early this morning, enjoy a guided Manuel Antonio National Park hiking tour. You will be picked up at your hotel to start your ride to the Manuel Antonio National Park. This national park is one of the most famous in our country due to its wide variety of flora and fauna. The park has 3 different trails that go from flat to moderately steep. On this tour a knowledgeable nature guide will walk you through the park, explaining the mysteries of the rainforest. The trail you’ll take with the guide is flat and picturesque and loops through the park making your course about 2 miles long. Throughout your hike, your guide will stop and teach you about the park’s natural history, which includes exhaustive descriptions of animals and plants that can be observed during the hike. Along the way, you can take pictures or just admire the view. One of the highlights of this tour is that Manuel Antonio hosts 3 of the 4 existing tropical primates (monkeys) living in Costa Rica. Half way through the hike, we’ll enjoy a leisure stop at the worldwide famous Third Beach. Once there you can rest on the beach or play with the waves.
Throughout the hike is common to see sloths, birds, and reptiles as well as admire orchids, butterflies, and tropical trees. Your guides are equipped with Pentax and Swarovski telescopes, so you can observe wildlife and take pictures from a different perspective. Once the tour is over, transportation will be provided and you will be taken back to your hotel but we advise you stick around the park and hike the other trails and spend some leisure time on the fantastic beach here. Bring a suit, a towel, snacks, a lunch, bottled water, sunscreen, and insect repellent and you’ll be all set!
* Note: The Manuel Antonio National Park is closed on Mondays.
Day 9: Transfer to San Jose Airport
Pick-up at your Manuel Antonio hotel for the approximately 3.5-hour road transfer to San Jose International Airport (SJO). Plan a flight departure no earlier than 1:30 pm. Otherwise, today on Day 9, we can arrange an afternoon shuttle back to San Jose, where you can overnight, allowing you to depart anytime out of SJO on Day 10. We can arrange whatever plan is best for your flight schedule.