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Self-Drive Journey in Costa Rica

  • TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY IDEA

Duration

14 Days

Prices Start from

£2,250 ex. flights

Embark on a self-drive adventure through Costa Rica, travelling on scenic roads that cut through rainforests and bypass volcanoes, making detours to go snorkelling, scout for slow-moving sloths and hike forest-flanked jungle trails.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Hummingbird 1

Hike Cloud Forests

Walk past crashing waterfalls and meandering rivers on the Monteverde Trails.

Canopy Walk, Arenal, Costa Rica 2

Canopies & Kayaks

Go horseback riding, kayaking, canopy walking and windsurfing.

Humpback Whale, Pacific Coast, Costa Rica 3

The Osa Peninsula

Spend time birding and wildlife-watching in the “most biologically intense place on Earth”.

Roseate Spoonbill 4

Rainforest & Wetland

Explore a variety of fascinating biospheres that include wetlands, rainforests and cloud forest.

Why we like it

Combining the infinite freedom that comes with travelling in a hire car with a custom-made itinerary that connects the highlights of Costa Rica, this road trip takes an in-depth look at the hugely varying landscapes that make up this dual-coastlined country. Featuring a sprinkling of boat rides and internal flights, and a careful balance of pristine coastlines with overgrown jungles, this journey traverses the width and length of this Central American adventure mecca. Throw in high chances of spotting native wildlife, from sloths and green macaws to glasswing butterflies and howler monkeys, and this road trip becomes truly extraordinary. We can tailor-make a bespoke route to suit any activity level and interest and, when it comes to accommodation, we know the most thrilling family-friendly jungle hideaways, the most romantic infinity pool cabins, and everything in between.

Don't forget, we will customise this journey to suit you.

Explore our suggested itinerary

Keys:
Boat Journey
Internal Flight
  • Days 1
    San Jose
  • Day 2
    San Jose - Tortuguero
  • Day 3
    Tortuguero
  • Day 4
    Tortuguero - Arenal
  • Days 5-6
    Arenal
  • Day 7
    Arenal - Monteverde
  • Day 8
    Monteverde
  • Day 9
    Monteverde - Uvita de Osa
  • Day 10
    Uvita de Osa - Puerto Jimenez
  • Days 11-12
    Osa Peninsula
  • Day 13
    Osa Peninsula - Puerto Jimenez - San Jose
  • Day 14
    San Jose
Two Toed Sloth and Baby, Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica
Two Toed Sloth and Baby, Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica

On the Road in Costa Rica

Driving in Costa Rica is relatively straight-forward and supremely fun for intrepid travellers who are keen to head off the beaten track and travel independently. The Costa Ricans (colloquially known as “Ticos”) are helpful and welcoming, the roads are (generally speaking) in good condition and we can ensure that you are set up with sat navs and local mobile phones. Drive on scenic roads, revelling in the freedom to stop and take in the sights at your leisure, looking out for foraging white-nosed coatimundis as you travel along the highways and keeping your eyes peeled for the elusive and rarely seen jaguar.

Canopy Walk, Arenal, Costa Rica
Canopy Walk, Arenal, Costa Rica

Biking & Canopy Walkways

It is difficult not to be jungle-centric when exploring Costa Rica, but this country is no one-trick pony. Embark on exploratory excursions, keeping a watchful eye out for endemic wildlife that includes slow-moving sloths, tree frogs and glasswing butterflies. In some of the country’s most rugged terrains, whizz through the jungle canopy along zip lines with views to Arenal Volcano, cross long suspension walkway bridges and journey on horseback to thundering waterfalls. Perhaps travel to find the endangered green macaw, visit a fruit farm or take a bean-to-bar chocolate-making lesson. Bursting with single-track trails, Costa Rica is a mecca for mountain biking- perhaps embark on a full day ride far off the beaten track with our expert guides to discover the real Costa Rica.

Leatherback Turtle on the Caribbean Coast
Leatherback Turtle on the Caribbean Coast

Boat Safari & Turtle Nesting

Travel north to the Caribbean Coast and the canals of Tortuguero National Park, where dense rainforest, swamps and waterways allow for superb wildlife viewing opportunities. Take to the water in a boat that navigates the tributaries where chattering monkeys and flitting birds live their lives overhead, and watch out for the Jesus Christ lizards that are renowned for their ability to run on the surface of water. In one of the finest places in the world to watch Atlantic green sea turtle’s nesting, we can arrange expertly guided excursions to secluded spots on the Caribbean Coast where, under moonlight, it is possible to watch as turtles come ashore to lay eggs.

Manzanillo Beach, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Manzanillo Beach, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Spotted Eagle Rays, Costa Rica
Spotted Eagle Rays, Costa Rica

Play in the Sea: Snorkelling & Paddle-Board Yoga

From the black volcanic sand of the Osa Peninsula to the coral reefs of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica is an opportune place to explore dramatic ocean ecosystems. Take to shallow coastal waters to paddle above crab, starfish and angel fish, or perhaps snorkel in one of the most biologically intense places on Earth with views to colourful brain coral reefs. Perhaps try a spot of meditative yoga atop a paddle-board in one of the tranquil protected bays or experience the majesty of the ocean during a surfing lesson. Fearless travellers with the relevant qualifications might consider diving with hammerhead and bull sharks, while others might prefer to simply lounge on the pristine sand with a good book as monkeys chatter in the flanking forests.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Arenal Observatory Lodge £££££

  • Costa Rica
  • B&B, Motel and Guesthouse

Perched on a ridge, Arenal Observatory Lodge is situated in a private nature reserve, less than two miles from Arenal volcano. It offers a safe vantage point from which to study the volcano and miles of trails on the doorstep to explore. Arenal Observatory has 50 rooms of varying categories of accommodation. There are two junior suites, each with twin king-size beds and terraces; 23 Smithsonian rooms with a king-size bed and en suite bathroom; 15 standard rooms with a double bed and bunk bed also with an en suite bathroom. In addition, the White Hawk Villa with fully fitted kitchen sleeps eight and is a little further from the main building. The villa has a glass front to encompass the breath-taking views of the volcano.

View Property

Monteverde Lodge & Gardens £££££

  • Costa Rica

Monteverde Lodge & Gardens offers a charming forest lodge experience, just 15 minutes from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. A collection of 24 rooms are housed in the main lodge with a further three rooms located in gardens. Accommodation is spacious and all rooms have queen-size beds and an ample bathroom with bathtub. Some rooms also have enormous wraparound windows, which provide the opportunity to observe local wildlife, including several hummingbird species. The Garden Restaurant serves a tempting variety of local and international cuisine alongside the popular bar area and large open fireplace.

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Finca Rosa Blanca £££££

  • Costa Rica
  • Boutique
  • Farmstead and Ranches
  • Wellness and Spa

Finca Rosa Blanca is a graceful countryside mansion set on a hilltop in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. The hotel is set in nine acres of tropical flora and fruit trees with stunning views of distant volcanoes, cloud forests and coffee plantations. There are two master suites, seven junior suites and two two-bedroom villas. The interiors are decorated with Costa Rican hardwoods, bamboo ceilings and arch-shaped windows, making the rooms elegant and sophisticated. The hotel has a fabulous spring-fed pool, hot tub and Jacuzzi all surrounded by enchanting gardens. Relax under the cascading waterfall that feeds into the hillside infinity pool, while enjoying spectacular views of the area.

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Grano de Oro £££££

  • Costa Rica
  • City
  • Boutique
  • B&B, Motel and Guesthouse

Grano de Oro is the most upscale hotel it the city centre providing a true oasis in the heart of the bustling capital. Converted from a Victorian mansion, this 40-room hotel maintains the warmth and comfort of a private house with superb service. The hotel’s atrium has sparkling fountains and lush tropical plants, while a rooftop deck has Jacuzzis and a spot for secluded sunbathing. The restaurant at the Grano de Oro is one of San Jose’s finest, serving continental cuisines in a warm and intimate atmosphere.

View Property

Let’s chat

Speak to our experts

Our team is waiting to help you tailor a trip that will leave you with stories for a lifetime. Call us on

01285 601 784

Send us an enquiry

Or send us a quick email below and start your next journey.

Call us

We found it extremely helpful to visit the Steppes office and have a face to face discussion with James about what our requirements were for our adventures in Costa Rica. He really listened and made sure that the trip was tailored to our needs.

Destination: Costa Rica
Travel Expert: James

Great work from John. The additions of zip-lining and surfing lessons were exciting experiences that we would not have considered without his expert guidance.

Destination: Costa Rica
Travel Expert: John

A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
Price
From £2,250 Per person

When to travel

Costa Rica in January

January to April generally has the lowest rainfall throughout the year, though showers can still be expected in such a tropical climate. One of the most popular times of year to visit, with fantastic opportunities to view wildlife, explore the jungle, and relax on white sandy beaches. The ideal time to visit the Pacific Coast.

Costa Rica in February

January to April generally has the lowest rainfall throughout the year, though showers can still be expected in such a tropical climate. One of the most popular times of year to visit, with fantastic opportunities to view wildlife, explore the jungle, and relax on white sandy beaches. The ideal time to visit the Pacific Coast.

Costa Rica in March

January to April generally has the lowest rainfall throughout the year, though showers can still be expected in such a tropical climate. One of the most popular times of year to visit, with fantastic opportunities to view wildlife, explore the jungle, and relax on white sandy beaches. The ideal time to visit the Pacific Coast.

Costa Rica in April

January to April generally has the lowest rainfall throughout the year, though showers can still be expected in such a tropical climate. One of the most popular times of year to visit, with fantastic opportunities to view wildlife, explore the jungle, and relax on white sandy beaches. The ideal time to visit the Pacific Coast.

Costa Rica in May

May and June mark the beginning of the ‘green season’. Rainfall increases a little, but with that means fewer visitors and quieter national parks. The flora and fauna return to its lushest state and makes for beautiful photography opportunities.

Costa Rica in June

May and June mark the beginning of the ‘green season’. Rainfall increases a little, but with that means fewer visitors and quieter national parks. The flora and fauna return to its lushest state and makes for beautiful photography opportunities.

Costa Rica in July

July and August is green season, but there is a brief little summer or ‘veranillo’, which breaks up the rain in July. A great time to enjoy water sports in the country, although sun-seekers can still enjoy the beaches on the far northern Pacific coast.

Costa Rica in August

July and August is green season, but there is a brief little summer or ‘veranillo’, which breaks up the rain in July. A great time to enjoy water sports in the country, although sun-seekers can still enjoy the beaches on the far northern Pacific coast.

Costa Rica in September

Travel is not recommended in September and October, as it is the peak of the wet season. Roads can become treacherous and landslides are common.

Costa Rica in October

Travel is not recommended in September and October, as it is the peak of the wet season. Roads can become treacherous and landslides are common.

Costa Rica in November

November and December see the country start to dry up, although the exact timing of the end of the green season varies. By Christmas and New Year, it is getting busy again so it is worth booking accommodation in advance.

Costa Rica in December

November and December see the country start to dry up, although the exact timing of the end of the green season varies. By Christmas and New Year, it is getting busy again so it is worth booking accommodation in advance.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise sets us apart. So too our curiosity. A curiosity of the world and of you, and your passions. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary?


Why Steppes

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