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Costa Rica to Panama

8 days with Intrepid Travel   Rating: Budget

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 San Jose
Hola! Welcome to San Jose. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you’ll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. Continue the introductions with an optional group dinner after the meeting – your group leader will know some great places to eat. San Jose is a bustling city with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere, and so we recommend arriving a day or two early to see all it has to offer. A good place to start is the main plaza. Artisan booths are common here, so you never know when an art fair will pop up. The Gold Museum has an amazing collection of indigenous gold art. If you're in the mood for a bit of shopping, head to the outdoor market in the Plaza de la Cultura or the city's Mercado Central (Central Market), where you can buy anything from kitschy souvenirs and handicrafts to authentic local cuisine.

Day 2 San Gerardo de Dota
Depart around 8 am for the sleepy town of San Gerardo de Dota (this three hour journey will be by private vehicle), where crisp mountain air, lush cloud forests and some of the best bird watching in the country await. Nestled in the Savegre River Valley beneath the remote Talamanca Mountain Range – not many tourists venture to this hidden slice of paradise. On top of being a bird watchers haven – spot roughly 200 species of birds including hummingbirds, woodpeckers and the elusive resplendent quetzal – San Gerardo de Dota boasts pristine hiking trails and fantastic trout fishing. If you feel like getting caffeinated, you could head on an optional coffee tour to learn about this renowned Central American export.

Day 3 Drake Bay
This morning, leave the Savegre Valley and travel to Corcovado. Take a private vehicle to the port, ready for an 11 am boat trip to the stunning Drake Bay, part of the Osa Peninsula and close to the Corcovado National Park. There is a bit of travel involved today, so spend this time brushing up on your Spanish with an informal lesson from your tour leader. You’ll know the difference between your buenos and banos in no time. Otherwise, make sure you grab a window take in the passing scenery, or simply catch some shut eye on the journey. With 13 major ecosystems, over 400 species of birds and all the monkeys, turtles and butterflies you’d ever wish to see, Corcovado is a nature-lover's dream, and you’ll have some time to explore tomorrow.

Day 4 Corcovado / Drake Bay
In the morning, visit the Corcovado National Park: the second largest national park in Costa Rica and one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. It has 13 different ecosystems within its boundaries including highland cloud forests, lagoons, mangrove swamps and marine habitats to name just a few. Before departing, get your day pack ready with hiking sandals, boots or tennis shoes (waterproof recommended), hat, bathing suit, towel, sunscreen, insect repellent, water, snacks, toilet paper and a small garbage bag (there are no wastebaskets or bathrooms in the park). First, take a boat from the hotel and be prepared for a wet landing upon arrival at the park. You’ll undertake the San Pedrillo Station Hike today where your guide will lead a 3-hour hike through primary and secondary forest and (hopefully) past unique species of bird, monkey, anteater and the crowd-favourite, sloths. After an included lunch at the ranger park station or at San Josecito beach, take a shorter hike to a beautiful waterfall for a swim! Finishing up in mid-afternoon, you’ll have the evening back in Drake Bay, perhaps with a group dinner if you decide.

Day 5 Boquete
Cross the border and journey to Boquete (about 6 hours). A picturesque town in Panama’s verdant highlands, Boquete is surrounded by mountains, rivers, forest reserves and colourful wildflowers, as well as coffee plantations and orange groves. Acquaint yourself with its breathtaking scenery on an orientation walk with your leader, followed by an optional dinner in town with your group.

Day 6 Boquete
Enjoy a free day to explore Boquete. The area surrounding the town is famous for its coffee. Consider a visit to a local coffee plantation for an insight into coffee production, or perhaps kick back in town with a cup of local brew. Get active on a guided bike tour or hike through the mini canyons and hidden waterfalls outside of town. Boquete’s stunning scenery makes it a fantastic location for ziplining. Or for a more relaxing pursuit, soak your muscles at the Calderas hot springs. The best thing is, you decide!

Day 7 Panama City
Travel to Panama City, Central America's glitziest capital. Depart at 9 am for this 8-9-hour journey by public bus, changing bus in David and continuing on to the capital. Upon arrival in the late afternoon, your leader will take you on a walk along the waterfront and to the fish market. Take some time to also explore the historic Casco Viejo (Old Town); the cobbled centre is an alluring mix of crumbling architecture and hip bars and boutiques.

Day 8 Panama City
There are no planned activities today, though we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you wish to spend more time in Panama City, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). You may want to visit the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal or go wildlife spotting at Soberania National Park. You may choose to treat your taste buds to an evening food tour run by Urban Adventures, which gives you the opportunity to sample local specialties like Panamanian coffee, craft beer and ceviche.
Map
All This Included
Nature puts on a spectacular show on this adventure through Central America. Spend time exploring the cloud forests, jungles and marine environments of Costa Rica’s national parks and you’ll be rewarded with incredible wildlife-spotting. It won’t take long before you start recognising different sorts of monkeys, unusual Baird’s tapirs, and the bright crimson and green coat of the elusive resplendent quetzal. From the verdant hills and misty mountains of San Gerardo de Dota and Boquete, to the beachside town of Santa Catalina, the incredible landscape is an adventure-seeker's dream. Hike, bike, surf, zipline, rock climb or simply chill out on a hammock – the choice is yours. Then journey to energetic Panama City for a different sort of thrill.
  • Meals - 4 breakfasts, 1 lunch
  • Transport - Private vehicle, Public bus, Shared boat
  • Los Santos - Don Cornelio Family Coffee Experience
  • Los Quetzales National Park - Cloud forest (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Boquete - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Panama City - Leader-led walk along part of the Cinta Costera (Causeway) including a visit to the Fish Market
Highlights
  • San Jose is Costa Rica’s home of culture and history. Wander through the main plaza, take an optional visit to the Gold Museum and wander through the outdoor markets at Plaza de la Cultura.
  • Corcovado National Park is a rainforest to trump all rainforests. Spend time exploring its jungles, lagoons and swamps and be rewarded with incredible wildlife-spotting, including monkeys, sloths and tapirs.
  • Waterfalls, wildflowers, hot springs and mountains - beautiful Boquete has it all. Perhaps ride a bike along a river, take a relaxing walk through the forest, or learn about coffee on an optional tour – it’s up to you.
  • Explore the eclectic streets of Panama City and wander through the Casco Viejo (Old Town), passing by the bustling fish markets.
Accommodations
Hotel (5 nights)
Lodge (2 nights)
Notes
  • Ages: Min 15
  • Group size: Min 1, Max 12
  • This trip involves some travel by local transport, which can be basic and challenging, but is also a fantastic way to rub shoulders with the locals and get under the skin of a place.
  • While the border crossing between Costa Rica and Panama is usually straightforward, sometimes it can take a while, so please prepare to be patient. You're on Central American time now!
  • The Costa Rican and Panamanian climate is sultry and tropical, so it can get really hot and humid. Wear loose clothing and make sure stay hydrated, especially while out on walking tours.
  • A single supplement is available on this trip.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Intrepid Travel terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.