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On this cycling tour of Costa Rica we discover a diverse land rich with nature, towering volcanoes and abundant wildlife. Explore lush rainforest in Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast before cycling through the ever-changing landscapes of the interior past active volcanoes, lakes and cloudforest. Finally we reach the Pacific Coast and beautiful beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park.
Explore Tour Leader
13 nights comfortable hotel
Leisurely and Moderate
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our journey begins in San Jose, Costa Rica's capital. Founded in 1738 and set in a fertile valley blanketed in a lush abundance of coffee and sugar cane plantations, the city lies at an altitude of 1150 metres/3770 feet and is one of the youngest and most cosmopolitan capitals in Central America.
The Tour Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in San Jose at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you will need to arrive into San Jose's Juan Santamaria International Airport (airport code SJO) which is around thirty minutes from our hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, you may choose to head out to explore the city - easy to navigate with a grid pattern of avenues and streets with a good choice of local eateries. The National museum (Museo Nacional De Costa Rica) is worth a visit.
No cycling today.
Sleep Inn (or similar)
Early this morning we leave the capital and head towards the Caribbean coast. Our destination is La Pavona Pier, around a three and a half hour drive away. The journey takes us through Braulio Carillo National Park and on arrival we'll board a boat and continue along the Tortuguero River, towards the richly diverse landscapes of the Tortuguero National Park. The first part of the cruise takes around an hour, before we stop off at the Visitor Centre for a brief orientation, after which we'll continue by boat to our lodge. After lunch, this afternoon is then free to explore your surroundings in a little more detail, with the option to rent a kayak, or just relax on the beach.
Turtle Beach Lodge (or similar)
Tortuguero's remarkably rich landscapes include rainforests, mangroves, swamps, beaches and lagoons and we'll spend this morning discovering something of its stunning natural diversity. After an early morning coffee, we'll head out on a guided boat tour along some of the park's canals and waterways, which provide home for manatees, crocodiles, Tropical Gar and an abundance of freshwater fish. Returning to the lodge for breakfast, we then set out on a jungle hike through the surrounding rainforest. These forest are home to sloths, three of Costa Rica's four species of monkeys and a huge variety of birdlife. After lunch, the afternoon is then free for optional activities.
Leaving Tortuguero this morning we head back to La Pavona Pier by boat, a journey of around two hours. From here we then drive on to Guapiles, lying in the heart of the country's banana growing region, where we'll stop for lunch before driving on to the starting point of our cycling adventure close to Sarapiqui. After checking the bikes over and ensuring that they are properly adjusted we'll begin with a relatively easy introduction, riding along tarmac roads that take us through a rural setting of farmland and banana plantations. Our ride will be mainly on the flat today and afterwards we drive for about one and a half hours to our hotel in the small crossroads village of Muelle de San Carlos. Please note on some departures we will be staying in the town of Guapiles instead, and will drive on to Muelle tomorrow morning before the ride instead of today.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 20 kilometres/12.4 miles (total accumulated ascent 50 metres/170 feet, total accumulated descent 180 metres/590 feet).
Tilajari Hotel Resort (or similar)
Beginning from the hotel today we cycle through a landscape of undulating terrain, passing through a rural scene of farms, cultivated fields and patches of tropical forest. Arriving in Muelle we'll stop and look for some of the huge iguanas that can occasionally be found here, before continuing on to La Fortuna. Weather permitting we may be accompanied by the spectacular backdrop of the Arenal Volcano and arriving at our next hotel by bike, this afternoon is free to explore a little of La Fortuna at your leisure. You may with to visit the local La Fortuna Waterfalls.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 28 kilometres/17.3 miles (total accumulated ascent 330 metres/1082 feet , total accumulated descent 150 metres/500 feet).
Hotel Arenal Montechiari (or similar)
With no cycling scheduled, today has been left free to enjoy a number of other activities including canopy tours, zip lines and hot springs. The city's downtown area is dominated by the classic cone of Arenal Volcano, one of the world's most active volcanoes, and the itself town is blessed with a number of thermal springs where you can relax and unwind in the natural hot water pools.
A short drive this morning brings us to the site of the impressive Lake Arenal, the largest man-made lake in Costa Rica. Beginning our day's riding at the base of the volcano, we'll follow the northern shore of the lake and negotiate our way through a landscape of rolling hills, rainforest and pastureland. Arenal Volcano lies at the heart of a stunning national park that covers some 9,884 acres and is home to 850 species of birds including the endangered resplendent quetzal. We'll enjoy some fine views of the lake and the volcano during our ride this morning, before finishing the rest of the journey by car after lunch. Our final destination is the small town of Tilarán, located in the hills overlooking the western shores of the lake.
Total cycling distance today is approximately 27 kilometres/16.7 miles (total accumulated ascent 830 metres/2725 feet, total accumulated descent 800 metres/2625 feet) with an extra optional 17 kilometre/10.5 miles ride starting earlier in La Fortuna.
Hotel Guadalupe (or similar)
We start our day with an easy ride down towards the drier plains of Guanacaste today, enjoying some spectacular views of the Pacific coastline and the chain of volcanoes that lie to the north. Our ride ends at Bebedero from where we get into the bus and drive to the Llanos de Cortes waterfall for a refreshing dip in the pool beneath this beautiful cascade. We then drive to our hotel in the small community of Cañas and check in. The rest of the afternoon is free to relax.
Total cycling distance today is approximately 37 kilometres/23 miles (total accumulated ascent 420 metres/1380 feet, total accumulated descent 970 metres/3180 feet).
Hacienda La Pacifica (or similar)
An early start to make the most of the cooler temperatures, today provides us with our most challenging ride. Beginning with a short drive to Bagaces we'll start with a gentle uphill ride, heading north towards the Miravalles Volcano. The route is mainly uphill but the gradient is gradual, so the answer is low gears and a steady pace today. We'll make a number of longer stops too, making the most of the breathtaking scenery as we make our way to Yoko Termales, on the slopes of Miravalles Volcano. Finishing the day at the higher and cooler elevations of the slopes, we'll be rewarded this afternoon with a welcome dip in the natural hot springs.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 27 kilometres/16.7 miles (total accumulated ascent 700 metres/2300 feeet, total accumulated descent 200 metres/660 feet).
Hotel Yoko Termales (or similar)
The Miravalles Volcano is the highest peak in the Guanacaste Mountains (2,023 metre/6635 feet) and sits in the heart of the largest geothermal field developed in Costa Rica. Another day here affords an opportunity to relax and enjoy more of its unique attractions, with a three to five hour ride along the slopes of volcanoes and through the forest to Liberia (returning by vehicle), providing the perfect excuse for revisiting the hot springs. The volcano's verdant slopes form part of the area's protected zone, which is a lush haven of cloud and primary forest that provides shelter for coyotes, howler monkeys, peccaries and even pumas. For anyone not wanting to cycle there are other options available including hot mud baths or a walk to Las Hornillas, to visit its active volcanic crater.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 37 kilometres/23 miles (total accumulated ascent 490 metres/1610 feet, total accumulated descent 920 metres/3020 feet).
Early this morning we will explore the local area further on a circular bike ride. After the ride you will have time to shower and change before we check out of our hotel in the late morning. We spend the rest of the day making our way by bus (4 hours) to the Pacific Ocean and onto our final destination at Manuel Antonio National Park. We will break the journey for lunch and at Tarcoles Bridge where we will hopefully spot a few of the gigantic crocodiles that regularly bask beside the river's edge, before finally arriving at our hotel later this afternoon.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 20 kilometres/12.4 miles (total accumulated ascent 200 metres/660 feet, total accumulated descent 200 metres/660 feet).
Hotel Karahe (or similar)
One of Costa Rica's most popular parks, Manuel Antonio provides a wonderful mix of world class views and golden beaches along the country's central Pacific coastline. Today has been left free to make the most of this idyllic spot, with plenty of options available for sea kayaking, canopy walks, fishing or just relaxing on the beach. The national park is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna and a walk through its primary forest provides a chance to look for sloths, monkeys, iguanas and over 180 species of birds including toucans, parakeets and potoos.
After a relaxing morning we'll drive back to San José after lunch, an approximate five hour drive that should get us back into the capital in time to enjoy a stroll through the centre of the city before dinner.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in San Jose.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from San Jose at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you need to depart from San Jose's Juan Santamaria International Airport (airport code SJO), which is which is a thirty minute drive away.
Total distance : 242 kilometres
Seasonal weather patterns can be unpredictable. Up-to-date information on the weather worldwide can be found by following the BBC weather link on this page. Costa Rica has a tropical climate with high temperature humidity and rainfall. The average temperature is 21°C in the highlands and variable in the lowlands. The rainy season is from May to October and the summer from December to April, but it does still tend to rain, usually in short bursts. Bear in mind that Costa Rica has 12 microclimates and weather can vary significantly in one day.
2 Pin Flat
Christian, Roman Catholic
Tortugurero - Kayaks USD 10 per person, (guided tour USD 20 per person); Canopy Tour USD 45 per person (min 4) Arenal - Canopy zip wire - USD 50 per person; Hanging bridges USD 65 per person; Hot springs - USD 35 per person; Viento Fresco waterfalls visit 10 USD per person Miravalles - Waterfall Tour USD 40 per person; Tour of Hornillas USD 35 per person (Combination of both USD 55 per person) Manuel Antonio - Canopy zip wire USD 70 per person including lunch; Las Damas Mangrove kayak trip USD70 per person; Las Damas Mangrove Boat trip USD 65 per person; Manuel Antonio NP USD 16 per person; Dolphin Watch USD 75 per person
When cycling: quick drying cycle tops, padded cycle shorts, lightweight wind and water proof jacket and warmer breathable layers where local conditions require. General: Pack essentially for hot weather. Bear in mind that the region is tropical (humid) and that days can be very hot. Lightweight rainwear or an umbrella is advisable all year. Casual clothes are the most practical (something with long sleeves, and long trousers for evenings), and tight fitting garments should be avoided. A swimming costume is recommended.
If you are not bringing cycle shoes then try to bring stiff-soled shoes as these are better for cycling - transmitting your energy into the pedals more efficiently. This becomes more relevant and recommended the more demanding the grade and distances to cover. SPD cycle shoes are not well suited to tours that combine sightseeing with cycling. Comfortable shoes, trainers, sandals or flip flops are useful when not on the bike.
We recommend you bring a daypack and one main piece of luggage (total allowance: 44lb/20kg) which will be transported between hotels while you cycle. Check the bike details section to see if a pannier or handlebar bag is provided on the bike.
On all Explore cycle holidays we strongly recommend you bring along and wear your cycle helmet. It is a legal requirement in Costa Rica to wear a helmet that meets current safety criteria. In case of an accident resulting in personal injury, certain insurance policies are invalidated in cases where a helmet was not being worn. Cycle glasses to protect against dust, pollen and the sun, padded cycle gloves and a water bottle or water delivery system (e.g. camelback or platypus) are also useful. You may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. If a handle bar bag or pannier is not provided (check bike details) then you may like to bring a small rucksack to wear while cycling. Other items to consider bringing are a sunhat and sun cream, torch, earplugs and insect repellent. Please carry some or all of your cycling equipment e.g. helmet as part of your hand luggage.
Bus, Bicycle, Boat
Comfortable - Our mid-range accommodation offers a good level of service often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en-suite facilities.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Costa Rica: Citizens from the UK, US, Canada and most EU countries do not require a visa for a stay up to 90 days. Citizen of Australia, New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland do not require a visa for stays up to 30 days. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. You should confirm all visa related issues with the relevant Embassy prior to departure. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. USA: If your flights pass through the USA, even if only in transit, you will require either a visa or an ESTA (an e-visa). Please read on for more information. Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ESTA under certain conditions. This applies if you enter the country by sea or by air, and this must be done online via https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov, no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. You must have a biometric passport to apply for an ESTA. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. You should also be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Cuba since the 12th of January 2021, you will not be eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need. Your ESTA application will ask for Point of Contact information. Please note that if you're only transiting through the USA then this is not required. If you're visiting or staying in the USA on an Explore trip, then our USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. Entry requirements for the USA can change regularly, therefore, please ensure you have the most up to date information before you travel by checking the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html Canada: An electronic travel authorisation (ETA) is required by British citizens transiting via Canada. For more information see the official Canadian government website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against typhoid, infectious hepatitis and polio. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please note many countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean require a yellow fever vaccination certificates if travelling from infected areas. A detailed list of these countries can be found on the NaTHNaC website - http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Also on the NaTHNaC site there is a list of Countries (and specific areas within a country) which are at risk of infection and a vaccination is therefore recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.