Spend an active week discovering some of the natural highlights of Costa Rica. Explore the capital city, and then launch into an adrenaline-pumping rafting excursion along the Pacuare River. Next, explore Arenal Volcano on a nature walk, followed by a hot spring soak. Then, head to Monteverde to tour the incredible cloud forest on horseback and zipline through the canopy. Enjoy more time strolling historical San José before departure.

Highlights

  • Go rafting along the Pacuare River and learn about the local flora and fauna
  • Take a nature walk around Arenal Volcano and soak in the relaxing hot springs
  • Zipline through the cloud forest canopy and discover Monteverde on horseback
  • Explore the cultural highlights and popular neighborhoods in San José

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in San José San José
Day 2 Pacuare River Rafting Tour & Transfer to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Arenal Nature Walk & Hot Springs Soak Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Transfer to Monteverde & Horseback Riding in the Cloud Forest Monteverde
Day 5 Ziplining Tour in Monteverde Monteverde
Day 6 Transfer to San Jose & City Exploration San José
Day 7 Departure From Costa Rica  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in San José

Welcome to Costa Rica!
Welcome to Costa Rica!

Welcome to Costa Rica! The country is all about nature.  You can feel it in the purity of the air the moment you land in this tropical paradise. Right after you go through immigration and customs, a travel representative will meet you at the airport exit to load the luggage into a vehicle and transfer you to the hotel. The hotel for tonight is close to San José—just 15 minutes away from the airport.

During the short drive, you will receive a brief introduction to Costa Rica and some recommendations for your trip. The guide will explain your itinerary, in detail, once you arrive at the hotel.

Tonight, enjoy a nice dinner and explore the lively culture of the city.  San José offers a variety of dining options and different cultural experiences, including theaters, historical sites, and public plazas in the downtown area.

Day 2: Pacuare River rafting tour and transfer to La Fortuna

Conquer the rapids along the Pacuare River
Conquer the rapids along the Pacuare River

In the morning, have breakfast, and a driver will pick you up at the hotel to transport you to the Pacuare River area, about 3 hours away. On the ride,  get ready to experience an incredible Costa Rican rafting adventure. Upon arrival to the river, the expert guides will proceed with the safety talk, technical instructions, and you will have the chance to practice paddling on calmer waters.

From there, explore the stunning river rapids and enjoy the gorgeous scenery all around. Some of the most exciting rapids are the Upper and Lower Huacas, Cimarron, and Dos Montañas, but the waterfalls next to the river are an added bonus to the whole experience. Once half the river is conquered, have lunch on the banks of the river to recharge your energy for the last part of the rafting tour. 

After this trip, continue traveling northwest to the northern plains of the country to the La Fortuna area, where the stunning Arenal Volcano welcomes you. Arenal was discovered after a full-force volcanic eruption in July 1968. It has also erupted in 1975, 1993, and 1998, but is currently inactive.

Arrive by late afternoon to the hotel in the Arenal area, and the rest of the day is free to rest and enjoy the hotel facilities.

Day 3: Arenal nature walk and hot springs soak

Soak in the hot springs after a hike through Arenal
Soak in the hot springs after a hike through Arenal

After breakfast, spend the morning at your leisure. Visit the town of La Fortuna or relax at your hotel. 

In the afternoon, enjoy more of the rainforest and relax in the natural hot springs near the volcano. Begin with a nature walk in Arenal Volcano National Park, where an expert guide will explain interesting facts about the volcano and its history. There are many chances to see wildlife on the hike and, of course, experience the volcanic activity firsthand. The trail is easy and your guide will help with spotting and pointing out wildlife as you walk.

Next, reach the thermal waters near the volcano, where you can swim and relax in the naturally heated hot springs. Dinner is included at the hot springs restaurant, so you can enjoy more time soaking and decompressing.

Day 4: Transfer to Monteverde and go horseback riding in the cloud forest

Tour the Monteverde Cloud Forest on horseback
Tour the Monteverde Cloud Forest on horseback

After breakfast, travel to the inspiring Montverde Cloud Forest in a particularly unique way. Board a Jeep-Boat-Jeep across the Lake Arenal to get to Monteverde. Enjoy spectacular views of the volcano and find different species of birds while you navigate through the tranquil lake; the staff will point out the many birds and other animals you may see.

Monteverde has one of the most important protected cloud forests found in the world. There are just a few of these forests; therefore, it is very important to conserve and protect the unique plants and animals inhabiting these lands. While visiting, explore the forest and meet the friendly locals who enjoy living in harmony with Mother Nature.

In the mid-afternoon, head to a private property to ride a horse through the cloud forest. The ride begins on a real coffee plantation where you will learn why this product is so important to the economy and culture of Costa Rica. The tour continues through dirt roads, trails, and some small rivers, all the while enjoying spectacular views of the Gulf of Nicoya.

Day 5: Ziplining tour in Monteverde

Go ziplining through the cloud forest in Monteverde
Go ziplining through the cloud forest in Monteverde

After breakfast, head out to tackle one of the most popular activities in Costa Rica—the canopy tour, or ziplining, as it’s called locally. It consists of gliding between trees and mountains via wires and a harness specially designed for the movements. While you “fly” through the dense cloud forest, see and feel all the natural activity occurring within the treetops. Birds, insects, and some other mammals are easy to see with the help of your guides. Don't forget your camera, so you can capture the amazing views of the cloud forest on your own.

Following the excursion, the rest of the day and evening are at your leisure. 

Day 6: Transfer to San José and city exploration

Tour the cultural sites in the capital
Tour the cultural sites in the capital

After breakfast, it's time to travel back to civilization. A travel representative will take you back to San José to enjoy your last night in the country. 

In the afternoon, check into your hotel downtown and explore the city. Visit museums and historical buildings, and stroll Central Avenue, a place where you can interact with locals and learn a little more about Costa Rican culture. 

With time, be sure to explore Barrio Amón, a historic neighborhood that is home to cafetalero (coffee grower) mansions built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of this area’s historic buildings have been converted into hotels, restaurants, and galleries, making it a frequented bohemian district. 

For dinner, opt for a restaurant on the hills of Escazú. This elevated region on the western edge of the city offers breathtaking panoramic views of the valley below. That said, San José's culinary offerings cover everything from traditional Costa Rican food to forward-thinking fusion cuisine.

Day 7: Departure from Costa Rica

Adios, Costa Rica!
Farewell, Costa Rica!

As they say, all good things must come to an end. After breakfast, say goodbye to beautiful Costa Rica and take with you all of the stunning memories from your adventure.

A driver will pick you up at the hotel and take you straight to the airport, which is just 15 minutes away. Keep in mind that in Costa Rica, you must arrive at the airport 3 hours prior to your departure time.

Map

Map of Active Week in Costa Rica: Pacuare River Rafting, Arenal, & Monteverde - 7 Days
Map of Active Week in Costa Rica: Pacuare River Rafting, Arenal, & Monteverde - 7 Days