This adventurous self-drive trip explores many of Costa Rica's off-the-beaten-path destinations and ideal for those wishing to explore the lesser known parts of the country. The trip begins with a night in San Jose where you can relax after your international flight. Your hire car will be dropped off to your hotel the following day, before you travel to the verdant Tenorio region in the north of the country, home to an abundance of flora and fauna. You’ll hike through Tenorio National Park visiting Rio Celeste, one of Costa Rica’s hidden gems. Next you’ll journey to the Monteverde Cloudforest, an extremely bio-diverse environment offering excellent birdwatching, intriguing flora, adrenaline-fuelled canopy walkways and zip-line tours, before driving south to the warmer Pacific coast. You’ll have the chance to visit Marino Ballena National Park, an area rich in wildlife. Within the park there are several habitats including coral reef, rainforest and beach habitats, making it one of the most biologically diverse areas in Costa Rica. Finish your trip in the wild and beautiful Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica's remote jewel in the crown for wildlife. Scarlet macaws are frequently seen in this area, and you can also arrange birdwatching tours in search of honeycreepers, tanagers and the spectacular white crested coquette.
Explore the lesser visited Tenorio Volcano, abundant in beautiful rivers, hot springs, lakes and waterfalls.
Hike through Tenorio National Park visiting Rio Celeste, one of Costa Rica’s hidden gems.
Wander cloudforest canopy walkways in search of a variety of birdlife.
Enjoy the scenic drive from the tropical forest area of Tenorio to the beautiful coastlines of Dominical and Uvita.
Explore the Osa Peninsula, home to the highest concentration of wildlife in Costa Rica.
Contact a specialist
Treat this trip purely as a starting point for your own tour to Costa Rica. Your specialist will ask you what you want and then shape your itinerary to match.
- Your trip will be unique
- We work to your interests and budget
- Advice from first-hand expertise
- San Jose and Central Valley
- Tenorio Volcano
- Monteverde Cloud Forest
- Puerto Jimenez
- El Remanso
- Puerto Jimenez
Itinerary idea in detailOpen all Close all
With international flights from a choice of airports including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Day 1 San Jose and Central Valley
International outbound flight , San Jose and Central Valley
Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to San Jose and Central Valley. Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to San Jose. On arrival in Costa Rica's capital city you'll be met at the airport and driven to your hotel by private transfer with an English-speaking guide who will accompany you.
Day 2 Tenorio Volcano
This morning your hire car will be delivered to you at your hotel before you drive for around three-and-a-half hours to Tenorio, an area rich in flora and fauna and abundant in beautiful rivers, hot springs, lakes and waterfalls. After settling into your accommodation, spend the rest of the day exploring.
Day 3 Tenorio Volcano
Day 4 Monteverde Cloud Forest
Today you will drive south from the lodge to the Pan American Highway before turning off and ascending up into the mountains to Santa Elena and the cloudforests of Monteverde. The road up to Santa Elena from the highway is unsealed so it is a bumpy ride, but very scenic. The drive from Tenorio is approximately four-and-a-half hours.
Day 5 Monteverde Cloud Forest
Day 6 Dominical
Today's journey begins with a dramatic descent from the cool, cloudforest highlands towards the warmer Pacific coast. The initial road is a little bumpy but the stunning views across to the Pacific coast and the Nicoya Peninsula make up for this. This is a long day of driving (approximately four-and-a-half hours) with some stops along the way, so we recommend setting off early to give you plenty of time. The lengthy journey is worth it for the beautiful views of the Central Pacific coast along the way. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 7 Dominical
Today you will embark on a three hour guided hike through the Marino Ballena National Park, an area rich in wildlife, where you may be lucky enough to see howler, capuchin and squirrel monkeys, bats, raccoons, and a variety of marine and forest birds. Within the park there are several habitats including coral reef, rainforest and beach, making it one of the most biologically diverse areas in Costa Rica. The tour will begin at the entrance of the Marino Ballena National Park, where you will walk along Playa Uvita Beach and then follow the trail near to Punta Uvita Tombolo, where rock reef stretches out forming the shape of a whale's tail. Your guide will show you the unique features of the park and explain the importance of this unique ecosystem.
Day 8 Dominical
Enjoy a day at leisure around Dominical. Dominical has a laid-back village atmosphere and the town has some souvenir stores and simple restaurants where you can sample local and international food. Playa Dominical is a hot spot for surfers and is an impressive stretch of deserted black sand framed by the Talamanca Mountains. Hacienda Baru is a protected coastal reserve which can easily be visited, with well-maintained forest trails, a canopy tour and another wild but beautiful beach.
Day 9 El Remanso
Dominical , Puerto Jimenez , El Remanso
Continue driving south to Puerto Jimenez, the gateway to Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula, which will take just over two hours. Here you'll drop your car off at the airport before being met by your hotel representative who will organise the shared transfer to your lodge. It will take at least 45 minutes and can take over an hour depending on road conditions and wildlife spotting opportunities along the way. On arrival, you will meet the guides at the hotel and they will talk you through the options for activities during your stay and when might be best to do certain things, dependent on the weather.
Day 10 El Remanso
A day at leisure. To make the most of your time in the wildlife-rich Osa Peninsula, we recommend spending as much time as possible on the forest trails with your lodge's specialist naturalist guides. They will help you to spot toucans, macaws, squirrel monkeys and the many local species of butterfly. Enthusiastic birders with a head for heights can take a zip-line to a special birdwatching platform, allowing you to immerse yourself in the canopy.
Day 11 El Remanso
Day 12 International return flight
Day 13 International return flight
International return flight
Arrive home today to complete your journey.
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When to go
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|Place||Daily Max Temperature||Monthly Rainfall|
|San José & Central Valley||
|Monteverde Cloud Forest||