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El Camino Costa Rica, 10 Days

El Camino Costa Rica, 10 Days - Dive Discovery

San Jose - Pacuare Nature Reserve - Pacuare River - Turrialba - Orosi - Costa Rica - Manuel Antonio

10 Days / 9 Nights

Best travel time for this tour: January through end of March

El Camino de Costa Rica is a remote and unique experience that connects the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean with world-class trekking through the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica. Designed to attract adventurers looking to immerse themselves in this tropical destination, off the beaten path. Rural community involvement is integral to the experience and cultural exchanges are a daily occurrence through food, conversation, and the warm welcome at the comfortable lodgings.

On this 10-day tour, professional local guides will lead guests along routes through breathtaking locations from sea to sea! The hikes (many of which are moderate to challenging) crisscross the mountains through rain and cloud forest reserves, coffee, sugarcane, and banana plantations and past private fincas and ranchlands, deep valleys, rushing rivers and waterfalls. Add this the all the unexpected bonus experiences and we assure you there is not another trip like this that celebrates the diversity of Costa Rica!

San Jose

Pacuare Nature Reserve

Pacuare River



Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio

San Jose
Hotel Park Inn San Jose
1 Night
Pacuare Nature Reserve
Pacuare Nature Reserve
1 Night
Pacuare River
Rios Tropicales Lodge
1 Night
Casa Turire Hotel
1 Night
Hotel Rio Perlas Spa and Resort
1 Night
Costa Rica
Verdesana Forest Lodge
1 Night
Costa Rica
Hotel Palenque Tarrazu
1 Night
Manuel Antonio
Villas Lirio
2 Nights

B&B: Bed and Breakfast
B,B&L: Bed, Breakfast and Lunch
FB: Full Board - Dinner, Bed, Breakfast and Lunch

El Camino Costa Rica, 10 Days - Map


Day 1: Hotel Park Inn San Jose, San Jose

After passing through Immigration in the San Jose Airport, you will be met by a member of the National Chamber of Tourism (CANATUR) and given a sticker with your name on it. When you exit the airport, look for a Costa Rica Sun Tours sign with your name on it. A Costa Rica Sun Tours representative will be waiting to greet you and transfer you to your hotel in San Jose.

Overnight: Hotel Park Inn San Jose

2 Queen Beds - Hotel Park Inn San Jose, San JoseKing Bed - Hotel Park Inn San Jose, San Jose

Day 2: Pacuare Nature Reserve, Pacuare Nature Reserve

Following a hearty breakfast and fresh Costa Rican coffee, you set off to board the morning flight to Tortuguero. Upon arrival at the local airstrip you will cruise the canals of Tortuguero National Park by boat – with an eye out for animals in the lush rainforest – this is a great introduction to Costa Rican wildlife! Your immersion into Costa Rica continues with a delicious not-to-be-missed local lunch at Miss Junies. Miss Junie inherited her “soda” - basically a thatched roof structure with tables and chairs – from her grandmother, Miss Bell, in the 1970’s. The tables have stories to tell after feeding hungry visitors for over 70 years – some of the more notable include the scientist Dr. Archie Carr and even the likes of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro! Today, Miss Junies’ is considered one of the best Caribbean restaurants in Tortuguero serving up fresh flavour and sharing local customs with visitors. No lunch is complete without dessert and Cloyd, a local personality in his own right and Miss Junies’ son, steps in to provide his “coconut tour” highlighting nearly lost dessert recipes made from coconuts and other local ingredients.

After lunch, embark on a last boat transfer south the Reserva Pacuare. Reserva Pacuare is a rustic lodge with unique Caribbean charm built for biologists. The food is ample and simple, the rooms are comfortable and clean (*note some rooms share a bathroom). The Reserve buildings are located in front of the Caribbean Sea, where sea turtles can be seen with luck many months of the year (March – September) at night. The Reserve, famous for its turtle nesting activity, specializes in sea turtle research programs and encourages guests to be part of it. If time permits, you’ll be invited for a walk around the trails of the reserve.

Overnight: Pacuare Nature Reserve

Pacuare Nature Reserve - Accommodation

Day 3: Rios Tropicales Lodge, Pacuare River

Trek: Las Brisas to Tsiobata Indian Reservation (16km, mostly rainforest trails, several river crossings, with several difficult sections, steep, slippery and muddy!)

Wake up to the sound of howler monkeys in the canopy and waves breaking on the beach in front of your room. After breakfast, you’ll board an early boat transfer and then bus transfer to Las Brisas de Pacuarito for the beginning of the most adventurous and challenging trek of this tour. Though all along, there will be ample opportunity to meet native Costa Ricans and learn more about their way of life in this part of the country – your local guide will even teach you a few words in the “lengua Cabecar”!

Today will lead you through parts of Costa Rica little known to visitors and locals alike! You will walk through a native Indian village to Tsiobata and parts of the Barbilla National Park-Cabecar Reservation complex. Glimpse locals in traditional huts and magnificent rainforest trees – more than 1,000 years old! Take in the amazing plant diversity of this ancient forest – with large morpho butterflies flitting along your path.

Toward the end of the hike, your surroundings open up as you walk through various farms growing bananas, cassava, corn, and raising pigs and chickens – a wonderful opportunity to learn about native farming practices on this side of the country. The hike wraps up as you arrive on foot to your river lodge on the beautiful and mighty Pacuare River.

Overnight: Rios Tropicales Lodge

Rios Tropicales Lodge - Costa Rica

Day 4: Casa Turire Hotel, Turrialba

Rafting Pacuare River, Class III-IV (2.5h)

Today allows you to rest your legs a bit after yesterday’s trek – yet you’ll cover ground in a different manner. Following breakfast, head out for a day on the water surrounded by some of Costa Rica’s most pristine rainforest. After a full safety briefing, set off in state-of-the-art rafting equipment to raft nineteen miles of the famous Pacuare River through world class III-IV rapids. A delicious picnic is served by the river. Near the town of Siquirres at the take-out you will take a land transfer to the verdant town of Turrialba.

The Turrialba Valley is lush and exceptionally productive for local agriculture - guarded by the impressive Turrialba Volcano. Your hotel tonight is Casa Turire, a beautiful hacienda located in farmland in on the shores of La Angostura Lake. There are canoes and kayaks to take out on the lake, or you may opt to walk the beautiful gardens teeming with colorful tropical birds.

Overnight: Casa Turire Hotel

Casa Turire Hotel - Costa Rica

Day 5: Hotel Rio Perlas Spa and Resort, Orosi

Trek: El Humo to Tapanti (16km, secondary road, streams crossings, up and down sections)

This morning you begin with a transfer to the small village of el Humo and start your trek through coffee and cane fields! The path then leads to secondary gravel roads with soft ups and downs and small stream crossing. The first half of the trek is through rural ranch lands before you reach the Tapanti National Park. During this part of the day you will begin the climb from the lowlands and the rainforest to the highlands and the mystic Costa Rica Cloud forest – at the higher points, the vistas along the cordilleras is superb. This will be your first opportunity to see the emblematic birds of the cloud forest as well as chat with local ‘” campesinos” of the high mountain – the first growers of coffee!

After a lovely local lunch you will begin a steep descent, with views of the beautiful Orosi valley ahead of you, before you ultimately reach Kiri Lodge at the entrance of Tapanti National Park. Here you will be picked up and taken to your lodging at the beautiful Río Perlas Spa and Resort – submersed in nature and tranquility.

Overnight: Hotel Rio Perlas Spa and Resort

Hotel Rio Perlas Spa and Resort - Costa Rica

Day 6: Verdesana Forest Lodge, Costa Rica

Trek: Muñeco to Verdesana (14km, secondary roads, mountain trails, steep, some very very muddy sections)

Following a hearty breakfast, you will walk right out of the hotel for your day’s hike. Cross over a small stream and across the soccer field of Muñeco de Navarro. Then away from the farming roads, you will experience a cloudforest trail at its most glorious stage: mushrooms, birds, flowers and primary forest with old big trees dominating the canopy. Though this is rated as the second-most difficult day on the trail due to the terrain, the scenery is so beautiful that you almost forget! The day begins at an elevation of 5,000 feet and you’ll spend the day climbing to 6,500 feet. Along the way, you’ll see indicator plants of cooler temperatures compared to a few days ago in the Cabecar Reservation. For example, you’ll find crops like coffee, large epiphytes such as “Barba de Viejo” and orchids covering the canopy branches, and breathtaking mountain views. Today also provides an excellent opportunity for cloud forest birdwatching – keep an eye, and ear, out for bellbirds and quetzals!

At the end of the trail, you will reach Palo Verde del Guarco, a beautiful region located in the cooler cloudforest belt of the Talamancas. To celebrate your efforts on the trail, your local guide will treat you to a mountainside lunch featuring fresh, local dishes, served up with amazing views. Once at the lodge, we suggest a stroll around the grounds - you’ll be delighted by the display of the many hummingbird varieties that visit the “opossum tail hedges” grown there!

Overnight: Verdesana Forest Lodge

Verdesana Forest Lodge - Costa Rica

Day 7: Hotel Palenque Tarrazu, Costa Rica

Hike: Jardín de Dota to San Pablo (12km, secondary roads, up & downs, steep sections)

This morning will be an early departure from your lodge as we make our way to the Pacific side of the country. You will notice the weather change and the day heats up much faster with the heavy sun so hiking in the early part of the day is ideal. You will be driven to Jardín de Dota where you will start your hike along local secondary roads with amazing vistas. Along the route you’ll find the first typical crops of the Pacific side of the mountains of Costa Rica, such as coffee, tomato trees and avocados.

You will have ample opportunity to meet local people and experience the local culture of the area firsthand. A very big highlight of the day is meeting the owner of El Casquillo Farm where you’ll enjoy a lunch featuring healthy cooking with veggies straight from the garden. The farm is owned by Ms Felicia and everyone loves her! Not only is she an incredible cook but she spends time sharing about her organic and sustainable farm, invites diners to tour her kitchen and shares how she has turned her home into a self-described “smart house” by saving water and energy.

Overnight: Hotel Palenque Tarrazu

Hotel Palenque Tarrazu

Day 8: Villas Lirio, Manuel Antonio

Hike: Napoles to Esquipulas (18 km, secondary roads, mostly downhills, with a couple of steep uphills)

Today is your last hike of this Costa Rica Adventure. After breakfast you will be transferred toward the village of Napoles. Step by step today, you will feel the warm weather of the Pacific Ocean. A special highlight of the day will be a visit with Don Lilo and his wife Maria – learning about their coffee farm and “trapiche” or old school sugar cane mill as well sharing a tasty treat! They’re known to offer us a private tortilla making class that you can enjoy with a fresh locally grown coffee in their house. A very lovely couple to spend time with! You will be entering the foothills in Esquipulas and eventually the rainforest lowlands near Quepos!

This last section has spectacular views of the Pacific waters in the middle of large coffee groves and vast mountains. As you look back at the week you’ve enjoyed, you realize the diverse landscapes and thereby plant life and wildlife that makes up this beautiful little slice of Central America. The intense beauty of the country only topped by the incredible welcome of the locals you’ve met and have been hosted by along the way! A last transfer near Naranjito will take you to the coast but not before we stop into a small local bar for a “merecida cerveza” – or well-deserved beer! Enjoy the last two nights at and around the beaches of Manuel Antonio.

Overnight: Villas Lirio

Villas Lirio - Costa Rica

Day 9: Villas Lirio, Manuel Antonio

Leisure day to enjoy the hotel facilities, the beach or take an optional hike into the National Park of Manuel Antonio.

Overnight: Villas Lirio

Day 10: End of Itinerary

Pick up at your hotel for a departure transfer to San Jose International Airport for your international flight back home. Check in 3 hours prior to your scheduled flight time.

Download Detailed Itinerary

COST: $3,705 per person on double occupancy
$3,599 per person on triple occupancy
$502 single supplement
Price based on group size of 4 participants.

And for only 2 pax wanting to do the trek:
$4,850 per person on double occupancy

Read our guest feedback about this trip:

Hi Cindi

A very good itinerary and a great trek. Excellently chosen and organised: Sun Tours did a very professional job.

I can’t speak more highly of Leo, Marco and William our driver, all unbelievably good and caring people, very professional, on time, knowledgable, proud Costa Ricans, and kind. Diego on day one of the walk and our rafting guide was excellent too.

I loved the first days walk (plenty of mud!) and the walk with Don George the most. Some of the walking through villages was fine but forest walks were brilliant. The farm visit with Don Lilo was also really interesting and endearing. This truncated Camino is a good idea. None of wd have have enjoyed doing the whole walk: too many roads. It was the beaches, forests, research area, jungle canals, rivers and national parks we loved the most. The rafting was fun - the river was low so it wasn’t the thrilling rafting like you get on the Zambezi, more of a gentle drift with some rapids, but I loved it. Another way of seeing the country. Flying to Tortuguero was excellent, a great perspective on the country, and the boat trip there was wonderful.

The only place we stayed at that lacked charm was Palenque Terrazzo lodge. It was okay, nothing more, though the pool was welcome. But all the rest were fantastic. I particularly liked Verdesana where we did yoga, and the Forest Lodge after the first days walking. Lunches along the way in quaint places owned by Marco’s friends were another highlight.

I would strongly recommend the extra night at Costa Verde: it was wonderful to relax there. An expensive place, that Queppos, but lovely. The hotel rooms were beautiful.

Walking poles were a very good idea, and so were the surprise appearances by William who popped up all over the place with water, fruit, refreshments and snacks. His bus was always very clean, cool and roomy. And he carried a lot of bags 😁 to the rooms. Even mine!

Of course the birding was superb, and Marco made sure we saw a quetzal, which was unimaginably magnificent, but he also showed us much else besides including sloths and creepy-crawleys. His energy is beyond belief, and he is very funny. A force of nature. His local knowledge makes all the difference, too. He knows everyone!

All in all, a trip we longed for for so long, and it was even better than we hoped.

I am sure the rest of the folk will have some more practical suggestions, but I am still over the moon with CR, and was very sorry to leave.

Thank you for arranging it.

Best wishes


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Dive Discovery
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(415) 444-5100

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