Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Costa Rica on this unforgettable 16-day itinerary. Focused on the country's spectacular northwest, you'll hop between three secluded destinations—Rincón de la Vieja, Río Celeste, and Nosara. By day, embark on a series of adventurous excursions like ziplining through cloud forests, horseback riding to hidden waterfalls, and surfing on tropical beaches. In the evenings, you'll relax and unwind at luxury eco-lodges.

Highlights

  • Relax & unwind in luxury eco-lodge accommodations
  • Fly through the cloud forest canopy on a zipline adventure
  • Horseback ride to hidden waterfalls & sunset beaches
  • See parrots, tanagers & toucans on rainforest birding expeditions
  • Float down the brilliant blue Río Celeste river
  • Snorkel, surf & sunbathe on the tropical beaches of Nosara

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive at Liberia Airport & Rincón de La Vieja Active Volcano Rincón de la Vieja
Day 2 Hike to the Top of the World Rincón de la Vieja
Day 3 Horseback Riding to a Secluded Waterfall Rincón de la Vieja
Day 4 Canopy Zipline Adventure Rincón de la Vieja
Day 5 Corobicí River Safari Floating  Bijagua / Río Celeste
Day 6 Río Celeste Hike Bijagua / Río Celeste
Day 7 Early Morning Bird Watching Experience & Night Walk Bijagua / Río Celeste
Day 8 Trapiche de Doña Ana Cultural Experience Bijagua / Río Celeste
Day 9 Tubing at Río Celeste Bijagua / Río Celeste
Day 10 Guanacaste Tropical Beaches Nosara
Day 11 Boca Nosara Mangrove Stand Up Paddle Nosara
Day 12 Morning Bird Watching Adventure Nosara
Day 13 Sunset or Morning Horseback Riding  Nosara
Day 14 Snorkeling in San Juanillo Beautiful Beaches Nosara
Day 15 Surf Lesson Nosara
Day 16 Departure to Liberia  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Liberia Airport & Rincón de La Vieja Active Volcano

Hot springs at your hotel in Rincon de La Vieja

Welcome to Costa Rica! Liberia is the northern hub of Guanacaste Province, an area famous for both its Pacific beaches and inland mountainous regions. 

After touching down at Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport you'll be met by your driver and transferred about an hour north to the edge of Rincón de la Vieja National Park. On the drive up the Pan-American Highway, you'll be treated to beautiful scenery, including the flatlands of the Guanacaste savannah. Eventually, you'll pass the sleepy village of Curubandé before reaching the secluded eco-hotel where you'll overnight. Get settled in, relax, and enjoy the hot springs pools right at your hotel.

Day 2: Hike to the Top of the World

Trek deep into the lush, mountain scenery 

After breakfast, set off on a half-day guided hike to the "top of the world." This intense trek takes you up the mountain and through the forest until you reach the summit, where you can enjoy the most amazing panoramic views of mountains and coast; from the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano to the Orosi Volcano and Cerro Cacao, and from the Papagayo Peninsula to the Peninsula of Santa Elena. This activity requires considerable physical effort so make sure to eat a good breakfast beforehand!

Day 3: Horseback Ride to Secluded Waterfalls

Explore the region's plains & mountains on horseback

After breakfast, saddle up for a horseback ride to scenic hidden waterfalls. This exciting guided half-day ride takes you up mountains and across plains with beautiful panoramic views of Guanacaste’s Pacific coast. Then you can dismount and take an invigorating hike to your destination—the beautiful Mystery and Hidden waterfalls.

Day 4: Canopy Zipline Adventure

Zipline canopy tours are one of Costa Rica's most popular attractions

Soar through the jungle canopy today on an exhilarating zipline adventure through Guanacaste's lush tropical forests. With 12 separate cable portions, you'll fly between treetop platforms, seeing birds and wildlife up close and experiencing the remarkable panorama of forests, canyons, and waterfalls below. 

After an adrenaline-filled day, return to your eco-lodge to relax and unwind.

Day 5: Corobicí River Safari Floating 

Raft down the Corobicí River

Today you'll embark on a three-hour transfer to your base for the next five nights in the Bigauga/Río Celeste area. Home to Tenorio Volcano National Park, this region is famous for its volcanoes, misty cloud forests, and jungle trails. The star of the show, however, is the Celeste River and its namesake waterfalls, whose ethereal, sky-blue waters are the result of volcanic mineral content and the sun's reflection. 

To break up the trip, you'll stop en route to enjoy lunch as well as a scenic rafting trip down the Corobicí River. This two-hour guided riverboat safari is ideal for nature lovers and offers a great chance to spot exotic wildlife like monkeys and caimans as well as colorful birds like parrots, herons, and motmots.

Day 6: Río Celeste Hike

The bright blue waters of the Río Celeste

Today you'll venture into Tenorio National Park for a guided hike along the Río Celeste, one of the most stunning natural attractions in Costa Rica. The legend says that after God was done painting the sky, he washed his brushes in this river, which resulted in its famous electric-blue waters. There's nothing quite like it anywhere in the world. 

The hike covers four miles (seven km) along the river through a rainforest ecosystem home to exotic animals like monkeys, sloths, peccaries, and anteaters. You'll even pass by the specific point where two streams merge and produce the reaction in the minerals that give the Celeste its exotic color. The hike culminates with a descent of 253 steps to reach the Catarata Río Celeste, a waterfall of such profound beauty you'll think you've found your own private Eden. 

Day 7: Morning Bird Watching & Night Walk

See rare & brilliantly colored birds like the golden-hooded tanager

Wake up early today to embark on a morning bird-watching excursion. The geography, weather, temperatures, and rainfall of this region make its ecosystem one of the most biodiverse in the world, and early morning is the perfect time to venture into the rainforest to spot birds awakening and starting their songs. Accompanied by a naturalist tour guide, you'll search for rare species like the black-faced antthrush, as well as colorful tanagers, toucans, parakeets, parrots, hawks, and woodcreepers.

After an afternoon spent at your leisure, you can venture out again for a guided twilight walk to observe nocturnal wildlife. A flurry of activity fills the forest as you quietly observe rare insects, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals in their natural habitat.

Day 8: Trapiche de Doña Ana Cultural Experience

Experience life on a Costa Rican farm today

Today you'll enjoy a unique excursion into the Tenorio area. This particular guided half-day tour is all about natural beauty and rural traditions. You'll begin with an easy hike along trails through the rich primary rainforest. Along the way, you'll pass by some areas featuring clay earth and even a clay hive formed by wasps. You'll also visit some viewpoints with long, sweeping vistas all the way into Nicaragua and its enormous Lago Cocibolca.

Eventually, you'll arrive at the trapiche (sugar mill) of Doña Ana. Here she will teach you the art of processing and cutting fresh sugarcane to prepare sobado, an artisanal candy. Should you choose, you can even milk a cow by yourself. After returning to your hotel you can leave the rustic farm life behind as you enjoy the luxury amenities of your eco-lodge.

Day 9: Tubing at Río Celeste

Go tubing on the sky-blue Río Celeste

Hiking along the beautiful Río Celeste is one thing—rushing down it on an inner tube is quite another. That's what you'll do on this half-day, wet-and-wild tubing adventure. Let the river currents carry you down these sky-blue waters on an excursion that's at once relaxing and fun. It's a mix between the ethereal beauty of the river and the adrenaline of the rapids as you journey down the Celeste, flanked on either side by rainforest jungle teeming with monkeys and exotic birds. 

Afterward, you'll return to your eco-lodge for more R&R by the pool.

Day 10: Guanacaste Tropical Beaches

Enjoy your free day in Nosara
White sand beaches & turquoise sea in Nosara

In the late morning, you'll say goodbye to the Río Celeste and embark on a 4.5-hour private transfer to the tranquil beach town of Nosara. Located in Guanacaste Province, this is a region known for its tropical dry forest and beautiful beaches. Get settled in and enjoy a glorious sunset from the hotel restaurant.

Day 11: Boca Nosara Mangrove Stand Up Paddle

Paddle the mangrove wetlands of Nosara
Paddle the mangrove wetlands of Nosara

This morning takes you to the Boca Nosara, a river mouth where both the Nosara and Montana rivers converge. Where these rivers meet the ocean is a section of mangrove wetlands home to an abundance of marine life. It's also the departure point for many kayak and SUP tours in Nosara. 

Today you'll paddle around while also taking in the region's exotic flora and fauna. Birders will enjoy the sights of egrets, kingfishers, and spoonbills, and you might even get lucky and spot a crocodile or two. Tours typically involve a stop at a remote beach where you'll enjoy some fresh fruit.

Day 12: Morning Bird Watching Adventure

The rare long-tailed manakin

Rise and shine! Explore the Nosara Biological Reserve on today's early morning birding hike. Home to over 270 species of bird, the reserve highlights the unique subtropical dry forest and mangrove swamp ecosystems of the region. Native birds include egrets, herons, motmots, and the spectacular long-tailed manakin. You also might spot howler monkeys, coatis, iguanas, and diverse butterfly species along the way.

Day 13: Horseback Riding Adventure

Experience a sunset horseback ride at the water's edge

Today you'll have a choice of when to enjoy a three-hour horseback ride along an unspoiled tropical beach near Nosara. Saddle up in the morning when the sun is just rising over the coast or embark during sunset as the sky blazes crimson and orange with the last light of the day. Either way, it's as romantic an adventure as it gets.

This horseback outing starts just south of Nosara in the hills behind Playa Guiones. You'll trot over jungle trails and across the river to the Gulf of Nosara. As the sun is setting (or rising), you'll arrive at Playa Pelada, a half-moon beach where you'll gallop along white sands as blue waves crest and crash on the shores nearby.  

After the horseback ride, you'll return to your luxury eco-lodge in time for dinner or a late breakfast.

Day 14: Snorkeling in San Juanillo 

Crystal-clear waters at San Juanillo

This morning you'll embark by private transfer to San Juanillo, a sleepy town a 25-minute drive north of Playa Guiones. Here there's a long promontory with white-sand beaches on both sides and an offshore reef which allows for great snorkeling. At low tide, you can even hike offshore along the reef and explore tidepools. 

Snorkeling, though, is the most popular activity for good reason. On this half-day underwater excursion, you'll be treated to great visibility and ample opportunity to spot various exotic marine life around the coral reef. This includes everything from sea turtles and lobsters to parrotfish, triggerfish, wahoos, eels, octopus, sea urchins, pufferfish, and more.

After the snorkeling, you'll return to your eco-lodge in Nosara.

Day 15: Surf Lesson

Try your hand at surfing on the gentle waves around Nosara

Hit the waves today with a surf lesson at a local beach. Catered to all levels and ages, you can learn the basics with the help of a knowledgeable teacher, then spend the rest of the day trying out your new skills or just relaxing on the beach. 

Day 16: Departure to Liberia

Enjoy breakfast with a view on your final morning in Costa Rica

After a leisurely breakfast, it's time for your adventure of a lifetime to come to an end. You'll be picked up for a private transfer back to Liberia to catch your departing flight. Hasta luego and pura vida!

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