In less than a week you can enjoy one of the most rewarding physical adventures in the world. This excursion begins on Costa Rica's Pacific beaches and continues inland by mountain bike before culminating in a journey down the Pacuare River. By the end, you'll be tired, but you'll also have experienced the most beautiful sites in the nation.

Highlights

  • Cycle over coastal mountains near Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Test your endurance as you peddle over the Continental Divide
  • Ride alongside expansive coffee farms and sugarcane fields
  • Brave the rapids of the Río Pacuare

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Costa Rica – Experience San José's Culture San Jose
Day 2 Transfer to Quepos - Biking to Naranjito Naranjito
Day 3 Cemetery Hill Trekking & Cycling Santa Maria de Dota
Day 4 Biking Over the Continental Divide Orosi
Day 5 Cycling & Trekking Through Tapantí Taus
Day 6 Pacuare River Adventure – Transfer to San José - Departure San Jose

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Costa Rica – Experience San José's Culture

the National Theater in San José
the National Theater in San José

Welcome to Costa Rica, the land of pura vida! After arriving at Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José, a local representative will meet you and escort you to your hotel. The rest of the day you'll have free to explore the city at your leisure.

Perhaps stroll through Mercado Central (Central Market), which features over 200 shops and food stalls. Then visit the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Church), whose interior combines Greek Orthodox, neoclassical, and Baroque styles. There's also the neo-classical National Theater and the Museo del Jade, which houses the world's largest collection of pre-Columbian jade artifacts.

Be sure to explore Barrio Amón, a bohemian neighborhood home to historic cafetalero (coffee grower) mansions built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For dinner, opt for a restaurant in the hills of Escazú. This elevated region on the western edge of the city offers panoramic views of the valley below. That said, San José is filled with great restaurants serving everything from traditional Costa Rican fare to forward-thinking fusion cuisine.

Day 2: Transfer to Quepos - Biking to Naranjito

The adventure starts on the coast
The adventure starts on the coast

The adventure begins!

After waking up early you'll transfer by car 2.5 hours to the Pacific coast and the town of Quepos. You'll then embark on a 10-mile (16-km) ride featuring steep climbs up the steep coastal mountains. It's a rigorous ride, but the stunning ocean views from high up are a reward for all the hard work.

Upon arrival in the small town of Esquipulas, we'll rest up and prepare our day packs for the next leg of the journey. Trading our wheels for hiking boots, we'll continue by foot eight miles (14 km) into the cool highlands of central Costa Rica. We'll set up camp and overnight in the valley of Naranjito

Day 3: Cemetery Hill Trekking & Cycling

Up and over the Continental Divide
Up and over the Continental Divide

Our day begins with a trek towards the Continental Divide to challenge the infamous “Cemetery Hill,” a strenuous eight-mile (13-kilometer) ascent to an elevation of 5,200 feet (1,600 meters). Then it's an easier jaunt to the pueblo of San Lorenzo, where we'll switch to mountain bikes and cycle another nine miles (14 km) to reach the village of Santa Maria. Here we'll refortify with traditional Costa Rican fare and rest up in comfortable bungalows.

Day 4: Biking Over the Continental Divide

The Orosi Valley, Costa Rica
The Orosi Valley, Costa Rica

Today we'll tackle the hardest, steepest cycling climb of the adventure. Before breakfast, we'll hop on the bikes and embark on an eight-mile (14-kilometer) up-hill stretch to the Continental Divide. This will bring us to an altitude of 7,644 feet (2,330 meters), which is the highest point on the entire journey.

After reaching this milestone, we'll rest and then spend the remainder of the day on a relatively easy, mostly downhill ride on dirt roads and single-track trails. We'll finish in the afternoon in the beautiful Orosi Valley, where green pastures and expansive coffee fields blanket the land. Our destination is the town of Orosi, where we'll rest up for the night. The total distance you'll cover for the day is 30 miles (49 km).

Day 5: Cycling & Trekking Through Tapantí

Trekking through the jungle
Trekking through the jungle

After breakfast, we'll embark on a brisk five-mile (nine-km) mountain-bike ride along the banks of a tropical river to the Tapantí National Wildlife Refuge. This is an area of vast rugged terrain covered with dense primary rainforest. Leaving our bikes, we'll continue on foot, trekking nine miles (15 km) over the mountains. This route passes through the hanging vines and towering exotic trees covered in moss and bromeliads that comprise the cloud-forest ecology here.

The end of the day will find us on flatter ground, camping near the small settlement of Taus.

Day 6: Pacuare River Adventure – Transfer to San José - Departure

Time for some river rafting!
Time for some river rafting!

After breakfast, we will transfer to the rafting put-in at Finca La Cruz, which is located in the upper Pacuare River. At the riverbank, we'll enjoy lunch before hopping into the rafts and embarking on an 18-mile (30 km) ride down the Pacuare. The scenery is incredible as we'll paddle along easy class II/III rapids, passing by unspoiled rainforest, towering canyon cliffs, and the occasional exotic waterfall. 

At the end of the river, you a vehicle will be waiting to transfer you back to San José, where you'll catch your flight home. Adios!

Map

Map of Overland Cycling & River Trip in Costa Rica - 6 Days
Map of Overland Cycling & River Trip in Costa Rica - 6 Days