Costa Rica Self-Drives
Self-Drives are a great way to discover this wonderful, diverse country. With your own wheels, you can discover even remote regions that would otherwise be out of reach. Driving in Costa Rica does, however, have its challenges. Most roads are not lit at night, making it a bit precarious to drive after nightfall, not least because of the wildlife that comes out at dusk. Some roads are in pretty good condition, others are riddled with potholes, or washed out, making it necessary use a 4×4. This is particularly true of the remoter mountain areas in the mountains and in the deep south. However, during the dry season conditions are mostly good, making a self-drive is an exciting adventure.
The itineraries below are just samples, created to let you discover the best of Costa Rica. We can tailor your self-drive adventure according to your preference, special interests and available time.
Discover Northern Costa Rica 11d/10n
The northern region of Costa Rica is home to many of the country’s highlights: On this tour, you will have a chance to get a close-up view of Irazú, one of the country’s active volcanoes, visit the agricultural heartland, with its coffee fincas, then make your way to Arenal, the outdoor adventure hub of the north, with the iconic, perfectly cone-shaped Arenal volcano dominating the landscape. Here you have an opportunity to choose from a multitude of activities from hiking to mountain biking, canopy zip line courses, white water rafting, inner tubing, or horseback riding and more. The area is also known for its hot springs, and many hotels have their own thermal pool. From here continue on to the geothermal area of Rincon de la Vieja volcano, where one can literally feel the seething volcano beneath one’s feet. Many specular views of the Gulf of Nicoya can be had, and not just from the top of the volcano. End your trip at one of the wonderful beaches of the northern Pacific, relaxing to the ocean sounds, before heading back to San José.
Birding Tour 15d/14n
This itinerary focuses on locations and hotels that are particularly good for birdwatchers. Many offer their own birdwatching tours (not included in the itinerary). So, this is a ‘DIY’ birding tour, allowing to spend as much time as you want to discover Costa Rica’s colorful birdlife. In 15d/14n you will have a chance to visit most parts of the country and certainly, to explore the richest habitats in depth, like the San Gerardo de Dota region, home of the famous Quetzal, the northern Lowlands with its many waterways, attracting numerous species, or the dry tropical forest of Guanacaste and the transition region around Carara, where you’ll find one of the last natural habitats of the Scarlet Macaw in Costa Rica.
Highlights of Costa Rica 15d/14n
This 15d/14n itinerary is a great journey of discovery. Many of Costa Rica’s Highlights are concentrated in the northern region of the country and with this itinerary, you’ll get a chance to discover them all. Head north, towards the Nicaraguan border, a region that is known as the northern Lowlands, some of which are home to Costa Rica’s fruit growers, but some of which has also been set aside and is now protected as an integral part of the Biological Corridor that reaches right from Panama to Mexico. From here the journey continues to Arenal, the country’s favorite outdoor playground, which offers a multitude of activities for everybody. Nearby, the Cloud Forest Reserve of Monteverde awaits with its hanging bridges and mystical Cloud Forest ambiance. The next Highlight is the wildlife-rich Manuel Antonio National Park, on the Central Pacific Coast. The return journey takes you to the coastal mountain range and the cloud forest of San Gerardo de Dota, one of the last well-preserved habitats of the Quetzal bird. From here head to the Caribbean, where you can spend a few days relaxing at a tropical beach hotel, before returning to San José to catch your flight back home.
Cloudforest, Volcanoes, and Caribbean Grooves 14d/13n
This 14d/13n itinerary combines the Best of Costa Rica at a leisurely pace. Visit the famous Cloud Forest Reserve of Monteverde, with its fabulous hanging bridges and nature reserve, explore Arenal with its numerous soft adventure activities and hot springs, discover the northern lowlands, an area rich in wildlife, and Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, an interesting area that not only offers some of the best whitewater rafting in the country, but also the largest archeological site. From here head for the Caribbean Beaches for a couple of nights before spending the last two nights before returning to San José, at one of the remotest eco-lodges in the country. Here you’ll have the opportunity to give back, by planting a tree.
Adventures in the South 8d/7n
Despite a recent growth in tourism, the far south of the country remains a backwater as far as mass tourism is concerned. Large areas of the forest are protected as National Parks and Nature Reserves. This itinerary will take you through the cloud forest reserve of San Gerardo de Dota, one of the last protected habitats of the iconic Quetzal bird, down to the southern Pacific Coast. After exploring this area, which is particularly good for water-based activities, head north to return to San José via a visit to Manuel Antonio National Park. This National Park in the Central Pacific Region protects one of the last remaining primary coastal forests and is a great place for wildlife watching!