Enquire About This Tour Code TCS Tortuguero Costa
Duration: 9 Days Route: San José to San José Style: Adventure Tours Price: US$949.00
Swim in warm waters, relax on sandy beaches and observe some of the richest wildlife in the world. Costa Rica is covered in protected national parks with an abundance of wildlife, active volcanoes and friendly locals. On this short tour you will get to experience this incredibly diverse country at its best.
Tour Dossier Introduction
- Dossier Last Updated: 27-02-2015
- Tour Code: TCS
- Duration: 8 nights / 9 days
- Joining City: San José
- Departure City: San José
- Nearest Joining International Airport: San Jose Juan Santamaria Intl Airport (SJO)
- Nearest Departing International Airport: San Jose Juan Santamaria Intl Airport (SJO)
Please check this document just before departing in case of last minute changes to your tour.
Entry to Tortuguero National Park
8 nights in hotels, hostels & guesthouses
Travel by Public Bus, Boat
Tucan Travel tour leader
What's not Included
International flights and departure taxes
Domestic flight taxes if applicable
Spending money – budget for meals, snacks, drinks, limited souvenirs, laundry, tips and any extras
Optional excursions - Please see our optional excursions guide on the dossier page for a comprehensive list of optional activities and excursions available on this tour.
Day 1 to 1 - Arrive San José
The first day of your tour is simply an arrival day with no pre-organised activities. In order to allow time to relax and see some of the sights you may wish to add pre tour accommodation. On arrival please ask at the reception for information on when the pre departure meeting will be held.
The capital city of Costa Rica, San José, is nestled in a fertile valley among coffee and sugar-cane farms. There is not much left of the colonial era architecture, due to the damage done by earthquakes, but it is certainly worth seeing the National Theatre, built in 1897. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to catch a performance whilst you're here. The Gold, Jade and National Museums are also particularly recommended for a visit
Optional Excursions: Jade Museum – US$15 • Museum National – US$4 • Butterfly farm – US$6 • Theatro National – US$5
Day 2 to 3 - La Fortuna
We travel from the Central Valley to La Fortuna, a sleepy town in the north of Costa Rica. The main attraction in La Fortuna is the nearby Arenal Volcano, which has been constantly erupting since 1968 although is not doing so anymore. After settling into our hotel you'll have time for a leisurely lunch and to explore the town. An exciting optional night excursion is available where you are taken to a site near the volcano and sample the local alcoholic spirit (proceed with caution!). After this, you may want to indulge in a visit the luxuriant local hot springs for a well-earned dip.
There is also plenty of free time to partake in a variety of spectacular and exhilarating optional excursions while in La Fortuna; a visit to the some local waterfalls, caving, rappelling, white water rafting, canoeing, kayaking, horse-riding, trekking, biking, and wild-life spotting.
Optional Excursions: Arenal Volcano hike and hot springs – US$40 • National Park – US$6 plus taxi • La Fortuna Waterfall - US$10 plus taxi • Ziplining Canopy Tour – US$84 • Rafting US$55-75 • Horse riding – US$65 • Mountain Biking – US$75-95 • Canyoning – US$90 • There are many other adventure activities of this nature on offer
Day 4 to 5 - Tortuguero
We travel by bus to the port of Moin near Limón, where a boat will be waiting to take us along inland jungle canals and into Tortuguero National Park, located on the Atlantic/Caribbean coast. Teaming with wildlife along its banks and hiding in the dense vegetation, we are sure to spot a large variety of animals, possibly including monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, turtles, numerous different bird species, and the 'Jesus Lizard' so named because it can walk on water!
While in Tortuguero, with luck we will observe the Green sea turtles which, between July and October, arrive at the beaches to lay eggs in the sand. During the period seven to ten weeks after nesting the turtles hatch which, to witness, is one of life's most inspiring events. There is an interesting visitor's centre in the tiny village where you can watch videos and learn all about the turtles. During our excursions around Tortuguero we may also have the chance to see the tiny but brightly coloured poison arrow frogs.
Included Excursions: Tortuguero National Park
Optional Excursions: Night guided beach walk to spot turtles – US$25
Day 6 to 7 - Cahuita
We continue on to the small beachside town of Cahuita. From here, you can take an optional excursion into the magical Cahuita National Park, which boasts beautiful beaches and an off-shore coral reef. You can go for a snorkel or take a glass-bottomed boat tour to see some of the 500 species of fish that live in the area. Enjoy a stroll through the forest, keeping an eye out for the variety of creatures that call this nature reserve home. Bring your swimsuit with you to enjoy a day in the sun at one of the lovely beaches within the park, or lounge at one of the black sand beaches a few minutes from the hotel. The actual town of Cahuita has an impressive selection of restaurants, where you may sample some fruits of the sea, and of course listen to reggae music blaring out to the delight of the local Rastafarians.
From Cahuita you have the option of taking a short bus journey down the coast to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. This laid-back Caribbean village has some of the best surf in the country. Nearby is the local 'sloth sanctuary', where you can see sloths up close and personal, including baby orphans and sloths rescued from injuries who can no longer fend for themselves in the wild. From Cahuita we return to San José.
Optional Excursions: Cahuita National Park – US$7 • Snorkelling tour – US$45 • Horse riding - US$45 • Indigenous Bribri village – US$55 • Indigenous Bribri village with canoeing, horse riding and waterfalls – US$75 • Bike Rental – US$5 per day • White water rafting in Rio Pacuares – US$99 • Glass-bottom boat tours – US$30 • Surfing lessons – US$30 • Jaguar Rescue Centre – US$15
Day 8 to 8 - San José
We then return to San Jose for another night. In the evening there are plenty of world class restaurants to choose from and some great nightlife especially if you are here on the weekend.
Day 9 to 9 - Depart San José
Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.
Day by Day Itinerary
|Day 1||San José||Costa Rica|
|Day 2||La Fortuna|
|Day 3||La Fortuna|
|Day 8||San José|
|Day 9||San José|
(B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner included)
For tours that include the option of a single supplement, a ✔ will indicate in which destinations single rooms are available. The detailed and day by day itineraries above are provided in good faith and it is our intention to adhere to the published route. Changes may be made before or during your tour for operational or safety reasons or to incorporate improvements. Impromptu changes may also occur whilst you are travelling as a result of one-off circumstances such as an excursion being closed on a particular day, weather conditions or transport. Delays are rare but occur occasionally and for this reason and the reasons above this itinerary should be considered as a guide only. Published transport times are approximations and may vary depending on local conditions.
This is an Adventure Tour, we see a destination from the locals' perspective using a variety of transport and staying in small locally owned accommodation. There is a maximum of 16 travellers with an average group size of 8-12. All our Adventure Tours are priced per person on a shared room basis meaning there is no compulsory extra payment for those travelling on their own. Please read the Adventure Tour travel style dossier to ensure you understand the style of travel you are undertaking: http://www.tucantravel.com/travel-styles/dossier/adventure-tours
I'd like my own room
If you are a solo traveller, a single room is available on most occasions at an extra cost. Price information can be found on the price page of each tour. This must be booked in advance.
Joining your tour
Your joining location is:
Hotel El Rincón
Ave. 9 and Calle 15,
Tel: (+506) 2221 9702
The hotel serves breakfast from 6am-10am in their adjoining restaurant. Breakfast costs USD $5. The restaurant also serves lunch and dinner.
There are also safe deposit boxes for your use (you will get an itemised receipt). Please leave all of your important documents, money and travellers cheques here when you go out but remember to carry some form of ID and a photocopy of your passport with you.
It is not advisable to wear chains or expensive looking watches or jewellery while in major Central American cities. You should also keep your camera concealed when not in use and carry daypacks on your front for extra safety. Crime in Latin America is not as bad as its reputation but you must be sensible and alert.
Arriving in San José
When arriving at San José International Airport you may decide to obtain some local currency (the colon) at the airport before making your way to the city centre. US dollars are widely accepted although might be time-consuming to change in the city centre. There are exchange offices/banks and ATMs located at the airport for your convenience.
Airport transfers are not included in the tour price and must be booked separately in advance through Tucan Travel. If you have booked an airport/hotel transfer with us, please look out for someone with a sign which has your name, Tucan Travel, or both after exiting the customs hall.
If you have booked an arrival transfer with us and you are going to be delayed by more than two hours, you must advise us of the delay at least six hours before arrival. If we are advised in time, we will make every effort to reschedule your transfer and your driver will be asked to wait for two hours after your new expected arrival time. However, if we are not made aware of any change, the driver will only wait for two hours after the original scheduled arrival time and after this point it will be up to you to arrange transport to your hotel at your own expense. Please contact us on the emergency contact details below if you are likely to be delayed.
Making your own way
If you would prefer to make your own way to and from your hotel, there is a reservation desk for taxi services at the airport. They offer a set rate for taxi carriage from the airport to certain destinations within the city. The rate should be US$22-$25 (San José airport is roughly 17km from the city centre). You simply purchase a taxi voucher to the required destination (give them the name of the hotel) and present it to the driver. There is no cash transaction between the client and the driver, and these services are generally safe and reliable.
There are also public buses to the centre. These buses stop directly in front of the airport, and depart every 30 minutes. Buses cost around 500 colones (approximately US$1), which can be paid in local currency or in US dollars. On the front of the bus it will say both 'Alajuela' and 'San Jose', so you will need to verify with the driver that the bus is headed in the direction of San Jose before boarding. The bus will take you to a terminal located at the western end of San José. You can take a local taxi from outside this terminal building. They should cost roughly 2500 colones (approx US$5) to the hotel - it is a good idea to agree a price before getting in so the taxi drivers do not overcharge you.
When you arrive on day one of your trip, you should find some local information at the hotel lobby. Your tour leader will be staying in the hotel and should have put up a welcome note to let you know what room they are in. A pre-departure meeting is usually held in the afternoon or early evening of day one. You will need to bring the following important items to the meeting with your tour leader:
- Your passport, including any necessary visas and at least one photocopy to give to your tour leader
- Vaccination certificates if relevant to any destinations on your tour
- Travel insurance policy and a photocopy to give to your tour leader
- Your travel voucher
- Your local payment in US$ cash (Budget Expeditions only)
Missing the tour departure
If you miss the start of your tour, please ask at the reception of the hotel for a message from your tour leader which will give you instructions on how to catch up with the group. Any associated costs will be at your own expense (although, depending on the reason, you may be able to claim these from your travel insurance so ensure you keep all receipts).
If you know in advance that you are unlikely to arrive on time, please contact Tucan Travel immediately so we can inform the tour leader. Tucan Travel cannot be held responsible should your airline/boat/coach be delayed and we are unable to refund any unused portion of your tour.
Punctuality is very important and throughout the tour your tour leader will give you the time to meet in reception. Tour leaders will often post notes at reception with meeting times, so remember to always look out for these.
Although rare, delays can occur and we therefore advise you not to arrange your onward travel too close to the end of the tour. We take no responsibility for any missed flights or additional expenses If the group arrives late into the departure city at the end of the tour.
Emergency Contact Details
In the case of an emergency before you meet your tour leader, please contact Rolf Stanley, Latin American Destination Manager:
Tel: (+51) 984 76 21 64 (phone only)
In the unlikely event that you unable to reach the number above, please contact Keiko on (+51) 984 65 3726
Please note that these numbers are a service for emergency calls only. We respectfully request that you consider the urgency of your enquiry. Non-urgent enquiries should be made during office hours. Please be considerate of time zones.
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5.30pm; Saturday 9am-1pm (based in Peru)
Keeping in Touch
Your tour leader will point out internet cafes in all major cities and towns and Wi-Fi may be available in some hotels. Mobile phones may not work locally depending on your network. If you have an unlocked phone you may be able to purchase a local SIM card. Hotel details, apart from the joining hotel, are not given in advance and are subject to change, so if someone needs to contact you urgently during your tour the best method is to contact our office who can pass a message on to the tour leader.
For personal spending money you should bring US dollars to use alongside the local currency, except for Cuba (see below). While bank cards provide a very good way to access funds overall, it is not recommended to rely on them as your sole source of funds as cash machines do not always work and may not be available in remote locations. We recommend you bring along a minimum of US$200 cash in small denominations (no $100 notes). Make sure all notes are the new style, and are not damaged, defaced, rubber stamped or written on, as many places will refuse them if they are not in perfect condition. It is a good idea to try to maintain a supply of small notes and change in the local currency for tipping or small purchases.
Please note: If you are travelling to Cuba, we recommend bringing Euros, as it is hard to exchange US dollars in Cuba. Please see the separate section in this tour dossier entitled 'Important Currency Information' for more information on the currency to use in Cuba.
Your spending money should cover some meals, optional excursions, souvenirs, drinks, laundry, border and airport taxes and any visas obtained locally. We provide guideline prices for optional excursions in the itinerary to help you budget, but ultimately the amount you will need to budget for your trip very much depends on your individual requirements. We recommend bringing extra money to cover emergencies or unexpected situations.
Tipping is a part of the life in Central America, but you should not feel obliged or pressured to tip if you have not received good service. A gratuity of 10% of the total bill is recommended in restaurants. Gratuities are usually expected for local guides on included and optional excursions. Tips are also appreciated by Tucan Travel tour leaders at the end of your tour and we recommend an average of $2-$4 per person per day for the duration of your tour. This is only if you feel that their service was up to standard and is completely at your own discretion.
The best advice when packing is to travel light and leave space for souvenirs in your bag.
It is important to bring luggage you can carry and lift comfortably, potentially up several flights of stairs in hotels where elevators are not available and between bus/train stations and hotels. There may be times when you have to get your luggage through crowded streets which may be cobbled or store your luggage in lockers. Luggage too large for lockers will have to be left insecurely or carried for the duration of the day.
We recommend a frameless backpack or a sports type shoulder bag which fits comfortably on your shoulders, as they are less bulky and easier to handle than rigid suitcases or framed backpacks. Suitcases are not suitable for our tours and are not recommended. Tucan Travel takes no responsibility for damage to your luggage while on tour. If your tour includes regional flights, there may be a weight limit to the amount of luggage you can take. Please see your detailed itinerary for more information.
In addition to your main bag, you will need a small daypack for your everyday excursions. Try to keep this bag as light as possible and make sure that all main sections of your bags can be padlocked. This daypack should have enough room to carry food and snacks for long hikes and treks and space to carry belongings for overnight excursions.
Sleeping bags are not required on this tour, but a sleeping bag liner/sleep sheet is optional if you wish to bring one along. Some passengers like to use them on long bus journeys and overnight trains.
Clothing and Footwear
We recommend packing lightweight and durable clothes including at least one pair of warm trousers and thinner sweaters/fleeces which you can layer. Nights can be cold in some locations such as Guatemala and San José at certain times of year, so it is a good idea to bring at least one pair of warm trousers plus several thinner sweaters / fleeces which you can layer. Please avoid military or camouflage-patterned clothing as it can cause problems and in some countries may be illegal.
Good, comfortable walking shoes are essential. These do not need to be expensive boots, but they should have good ankle support and grip, be worn in and ideally waterproof.
- A lightweight water/windproof jacket with hood
- East to pack wide-brimmed hat of cap
- Towel - you will need a towel for most overnight excursions
- Sandals or thongs/jandals/flip flops
There are usually laundromats or laundry services in or near most of our hotels. Hotel services can be pretty costly however your tour leader will be able to recommend cheaper options. If you wash clothes yourself take care not to be too obvious where you hang them as most hotels do not like guests washing and drying their clothes in the hotel rooms.
The power supply and plug types in Central America vary from country to country. The power supply in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama is 110-120 volts. Mexico is 127 volts and Cuba and Belize generally have 110V/220V dual voltage but you should check with the hotel. All countries typically use a two pin flat pronged plug (non grounded) or 3 pin grounded plug used in the United States. Belize may also use the British plug and socket type and Cuba may use the European standard. We recommend bringing a universal plug adaptor with you.
Health, Fitness & Safety
It is important to consult your doctor or travel clinic in good time before your tour departs to determine what vaccinations you require. You may need several vaccinations and/or malaria tablets and you should be aware that some inoculations require more than one visit and can take several weeks to administer. Always carry your International Certificate of Vaccination with your passport.
For areas with malaria, make sure you pack sufficient prophylactics for the duration of your tour and the incubation period after. As of 2013, the vaccination against Yellow Fever is only recommended in some parts of Panama. This must be acquired before departure and takes ten days for your body to build up a resistance. This certificate must be taken with you on your tour with a photocopy stored somewhere safe. You do not require a vaccination to enter any countries in Central America unless you are coming from a Yellow Fever zone.
Pack a Medical Kit
A medical kit is handy for minor wounds and ailments. In areas with limited or dubious medical facilities, an emergency medical kit containing sterile syringes is also advisable. By law our staff are not allowed to administer first aid or give drugs to travellers, so please be prepared with your own supplies.
If you are taking medication, please ensure you bring an adequate supply and a letter from your doctor to avoid potential issues at border crossings.
Fitness & Suitability
This is a public transport-based tour so it is essential that you be able to carry your bags over distances between bus and train stations and hotels, generally for up to 20 minutes. Disruptions happen and while your tour leader will make every effort to ensure your trip runs smoothly, patience, a sense of humour and willingness to get involved and help your tour leader are essential ingredients for a successful and happy group.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions please let us know at the time you book or as early before departure as possible. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may be asked to produce a medical certificate from your doctor approving your participation in this tour. While this would only happen in very exceptional circumstances, if we consider you incapable completing this tour or you have concealed an existing medical condition which is affecting your ability to participate in the tour of Tucan Travel reserve the right to turn you away without reimbursement.
Safety & Security
Central America is generally safe, even more so in a group. Reasonable precaution is advised; do not bring valuable jewellery or watches (even fakes can catch the eye of a thief), do not walk by yourself at night, heed your tour leader’s advice and always keep an eye and a hand on your camera and bags in public places. Tucan Travel cannot accept responsibility for any valuables left in safe deposits in hotels or on public transport.
A word of warning: Do not take shots of military and police buildings or at borders. Some locals particularly dislike having their photos taken, especially some indigenous people in Mexico.
If you would like to discover more about your destination, including history, geography, climate and language, please have a read of our country travel guides available here: http://www.tucantravel.com/destination-travel-guides/central-america-travel-guides.
Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after you have finished your tour with sufficient blank pages for visas and immigration stamps. Photocopy your passport, leaving one copy at home and taking one with you on tour. If you lose your passport while on tour, you will be responsible for any expenses incurred such as extra accommodation and transport while replacing your passport and will not be entitled to a refund of any unused portion of your tour.
Before you depart you will be issued with a voucher for your tour and separate vouchers for any extra services such as airport transfers and pre/post tour accommodation. Please print these out and bring them with you. This dossier is updated regularly, so we recommend checking our website for the latest version just prior to the start of your tour.
The balance for your tour is due no later than 60 days prior to the start of your tour and no tour vouchers will be issued until this is received. In addition please send the following details at least 60 days before you depart:
- Passport number, date of issue, date of expiry, nationality and place of issue
- Your full name and date of birth
- Flight arrival details in your starting city
- Special requirements, e.g. special dietary requirements or allergies
Please let us know if you are travelling with another person on the tour but have made separate bookings and we will endeavour to make suitable rooming arrangements.
All countries have visa requirements that are subject to change at short notice. A general guideline for visa requirements is available here: http://www.tucantravel.com/before-you-go/visa-guide, but you must check with your local embassy or consulate for the very latest visa requirement information based on your nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have all necessary visas for your tour. If you would like help applying for visas, we have recommended visa agencies on our visa page that we work with regularly.
Important things to check when applying for visas:
- Does the validity of the visa cover the duration of your time spent in the country?
- Do you require a single or multiple entry visa(s) for your tour?
- Are you required to show additional documentation when you arrive in a country? (Examples include proof of onward travel and travel itinerary)
Some visas are only valid for entry within three months of the date of issue which means on some of our longer tours the visa would expire before you are scheduled to enter the country. In these cases you must obtain the relevant visa during your tour. If it is necessary for you to obtain any visas en-route, please contact Tucan Travel or your travel consultant and inform your tour leader at the start of the tour. If you do not have the appropriate visas, Tucan Travel will not reimburse any expenses incurred in acquiring visas or any unused portion of the tour.
It is best to apply for visas in your home country if possible. If applying for visas by post, please allow plenty of time before departure and send your application by registered mail. Postal applications tend to be given a lower priority than in person applications and can take longer to process.
Special Note: If you have dual nationality it is advised not to obtain different visas in different passports. Although this may sometimes be cheaper, you may encounter problems at border crossings if your exit stamps from one country are not the same as your visa for the next.
Travel Insurance Policy
Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours. You must be adequately insured for medical, hospital, baggage and personal expenses, any necessary extra travel (rejoining tour or repatriation) as well as curtailment and cancellation.
We strongly recommend that all clients carry a copy of their full policy document with them at all times, together with any certificate showing the policy number and emergency contact details. Your tour leader will also ask for a photocopy of your insurance document, so please take this to the pre-departure meeting at the start of your tour. You will not be able to commence your tour unless you can provide proof of insurance to your tour leader.
- Tour Voucher & Vouchers for extra services
- Passport (with photocopies of information pages and visas)
- Tour Dossier
- Cash & credit/debit cards (best to take a mixture and more than one card in case one does not work)
- Travel Insurance Certificate and photocopy for tour leader
- Travel consultant's phone number and email address
- Proof of onward travel, ie airline ticket
Optional excursions are not operated by Tucan Travel and while every effort is made prices may not be up-to-date and are intended as a general guide to help you budget for your trip. Prices for vehicle-based excursions such as game drives are approximate based on the optimum number of participants and the actual price may vary depending on group size.
Sufficient safety equipment such as helmets and life jackets are sometimes not available and Tucan Travel is unable to provide this equipment. If you intend to participate in an optional excursion you may like to consider bringing your own safety gear.
Excursions are run by a local operator or third party with both Tucan Travel and the Tour Leader acting as a booking agent only. Optional activities are not part of the tour and Tucan Travel’s booking conditions do not apply to them. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct travel insurance for the excursions you intend to take part in and Tucan Travel is not liable for any injuries incurred.
We work hard to ensure our tours are sustainably and ethically run. You can read our responsible travel policy and advice on how you can travel responsibly here: http://www.tucantravel.com/about-us/responsible-travel.
Our free Meet Up app, available on Facebook, on iTunes and Google Play is an opportunity to chat with others passengers before you depart or keep in touch when you arrive back from tour. Information on the app is available here: http://www.tucantravel.com/before-you-go/meet-up
Add-ons & Extras
On many of our Group Tours, we spend one night in our arrival and departure cities. If you want to explore these cities more we can book pre and post tour accommodation, city tours and airport transfers for you. Price information can be found on the price page of each tour. We also have Add-ons - short packages that can be booked alongside a tour or on their own and have been carefully designed to ensure you don't miss out on popular highlights.
The possession or use of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our tours. When overseas you are subject to local laws and the penalties for breaking these laws can be harsh. In order to safeguard the interests of the group as a whole, our tour leaders have been instructed to insist that any person found with illegal drugs leave the tour immediately – without refund. The tour leader’s decision on this matter is final. If you need to carry certain drugs with you for purposes of medication, please inform your tour leader and ensure that you carry a copy of your prescription or letter from your doctor.