The best unspoiled natural habitats on earth
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Experience the natural biodiversity of Costa Rica and Panama on a tour that takes you to some of the best remaining unspoiled natural habitats on earth. We see rare and colourful wildlife, take in vibrant cities and sample local specialties on a tour that weaves its magic at every turn.
Our Central American adventure begins at London Heathrow, as we take the flight to San José, Costa Rica's capital city, via Paris. On arrival we transfer to our hotel, the Park Inn San José, where we overnight.
On Day 2 we enjoy a city tour that showcases the best this former Spanish Colonial outpost has to offer. We see the National Theatre, a building that dates back to 1897 and was paid for by tax levied on the 'ticos', or citizens, of Costa Rica, a great source of national pride. We continue on to the pre-Columbian Gold Museum, which is home to over 1600 objects of pre-Columbian era gold. The museum also houses Costa Rica's first coin, the 'Media Escudo', minted in 1825. We then leave San José and head north to La Fortuna.
We explore the Arenal Hanging Bridges today, as we visit this private nature reserve, which spans 250 hectares of tropical rainforest. Because we traverse the rainforest from its lofty heights, there is no need to hack and slash through the undergrowth to make any progress, yet from our vantage point we are immersed in the sights and sounds of nature.
As many of the rainforest's inhabitants actually reside in the tree canopy, our elevated position puts us much closer to the wildlife that lives here. We then continue through traditional sugar cane and plantain plantations to Angeles Sugar Mill, where we enjoy a taste of the local sugar cane liquor, 'Chirrite'. This afternoon, we transfer to the Natural Hot Springs of Ecotermales La Fortuna.
We travel to Monteverde today across Arenal Lake, a man-made mass of water that supplies hydroelectric power to large areas of the country. Built in 1974, the lake provides a fantastic viewing platform from which to see the spectacular Arenal Volcano and is home to many migratory birds, including the resplendent quetzal.
Later we visit the enchanting Children's Eternal Rainforest, named because it was bought and then protected thanks to the fundraising efforts of children around the world. It is now the largest private reserve in Costa Rica and a glowing example of the biodiversity in this country's rainforests. We take a night walk through the rainforest, giving us the opportunity to see many nocturnal creatures as they emerge to conduct their business. Accompanied by our naturalist guide, we hope to see tarantulas, grey foxes, and snakes - with the rainforest's nighttime soundtrack resonating in our ears.
A morning walk into the Monteverde Cloud Forest is our first foray into the wilderness today. We hike through the forest, where the countless varieties of flora and fauna reveal themselves in turn, as the early morning mist succumbs to the dawn's sunlight. Home to a staggering 400 different species of birds, the Monteverde Cloud Forest also boasts 5,000 different species of moth and over 100 varieties of mammals, including the howler and capuchin monkeys.
This afternoon we transfer by coach to Selvatura National Park, famed for its Butterfly Farm - the largest in the Americas. - as well as being home to a staggering number of hummingbirds, and one of the rainforest's more sedate movers, the sloth. On Day 6 we set off on our coach transfer from Monteverde to the verdant Central Pacific Coast region. En-route we stop off for a crocodile safari cruise, and a visit to Carara National Park, a fascinating nature reserve that is home to 48% of Costa Rica's avian species.
On our way to Esquinas today, we explore the fertile Golfo Dulce region, an area characterised by lush rainforest and azure blue sea. Many wildlife species make their homes here, from playful macaws to squirrel monkeys, dolphins and whales in the Pacific Ocean.
On Day 8, We transfer to Golfito for a motorboat ride to Casa Orquideas, an incredible and beautiful botanical garden with hundreds of different tropical plants. Here, we are surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colours and scents as we explore the gardens on a walking tour. After a picnic lunch, we depart to Piedras Blancas National Park, where there is the option of embarking on a hike. You can choose the level of difficulty you would like this to be, whether a short stroll or a strenuous hike further into the rainforest.
Crossing the border into Panama we make our way to Boquete, known for its sweet oranges and vibrant natural beauty, Boquete boasts the perfect climate for a variety of plantlife, including coffee beans packed with rich flavour. We check into our hotel on arrival, the Finca Lerida Lodge, a former coffee estate dating back to 1922, where this afternoon we enjoy an interactive coffee experience. On the morning of Day 10, we enjoy a spot of birdwatching on some of the Hotel's many trail's.
We transfer to the Azuero peninsular by coach this morning, and visit Parita, a local hub for artisans, where we see the striking devil masks and traditional folkloric crafts. Later, we venture to Santo Domingo to learn more about the local dress. On Day 12 we visit the Amador Causeway before travelling to Miraflores to view the colossal vessels that pass through the Panama Canal, a man-made wonder. Whilst here, we also explore the Museum and Visitor Centre dedicated to the canal's creation.
We travel on the mighty Panama Canal Railway in panoramic carriages to Colon today. From the comfort of our seats we enjoy one of the great train rides of the world. The line flanks the Panama Canal passing through lush rainforests, cruising alongside the Canal's locks, through the historic Gaillard Cut and gliding over slender causeways in Gatun Lake. Later we visit the indigenous Embera tribe, before returning to Panama City.
On Day 14 you have a morning at leisure before the afternoon flight home, via Amsterdam, arriving in London on Day 15.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
The best unspoiled natural habitats on earth