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Costa Rica’s and Panama’s Caribbean coast highlights

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On this trip, you will discover the best the Caribbean has to offer in both countries, Costa Rica and Panama. We will first take you to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, to spot wildlife, hike through the jungle or just enjoy the beach. After three nights in this vibrant place, you will cross the border and take a boat to Bocas del Toro, Panama.  This package offers a lot of activities and fun but also provides time to relax and the chance to combine the best part of two countries in one. Here’s what your days will look like.



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Early morning pickup in San Jose for a thrilling whitewater rafting trip down Costa Rica’s most popular rafting river, Rio Pacuare! A hearty breakfast at the rafting company headquarters (about 3 hours away) is provided where your luggage is securely stored in a locked container. This is our most popular rafting trip and Costa Rica’s premier river trip.

This is the ultimate blend of wilderness exposure and invigorating excitement! The Pacuare River is world famous for its pristine beauty. A true river gorge, it is flanked by steep, green walls. Waterfalls cascade into the river from both sides as colorful, tropical birds fly right overhead. The white water is equally exciting (rapids class III-IV). This is truly a memorable rafting trip, and we can guarantee an awesome day with lots of laughs! All instruction and equipment, as well as lunch on the shore of the river, is included. You’ll be back at the rafting company headquarters in time for a drink where transportation back to your Puerto Viejo hotel is provided.

Note: Our usual pickup from San José area hotels leaves San José approximately 6:00 a.m. Unfortunately, this is too early to meet any international flights arriving that same day so you must spend your first night in San José. If you’d like us to book accommodations for you, please let us know.

Jaguar Rescue Center, Chocolate Lady, and Waterfall Tour

After breakfast, you will be picked up at your hotel of choice in Puerto Viejo (please see below the different options) for our popular 3 in 1 tour.

The Animal Rescue Center, Chocolate Lady, and Waterfall tour takes you to the Jaguar Rescue Centre, which offers shelter, treatment and protection to ill or wounded wild animals in the South Caribbean area. It is a sanctuary for wild animals, and they try to accommodate their jungle guests as well as they can: terrariums for the snakes, large spaces for the monkeys to rest in after spending the day playing in the trees, special quarantine cages for the animals, a large supply of medicine and an operating theatre for emergency surgery. Your visit helps support the work of the center.

Next we visit an indigenous family growing cacao trees on their land. They are eager to show you the entire process of cacao fruit becoming a bar of chocolate. You will have the opportunity to purchase some of their chocolate or other indigenous handmade crafts. Please note that only part of the family speaks very limited English so if you don’t speak Spanish, your explanation of the process may be in the form of pantomime!

Our third destination is the Volio Waterfall. It is about a twenty-minute hike through the jungle to a twelve-meter high waterfall in the mountains of Talamanca. You will have the possibility to swim there. Should the waterfall be too dry (this can sometimes happen during the dry season), your tour guide will lead you to a different waterfall in the same area where you can enjoy swimming in the pools there. Your feet may get wet while you’re exploring the waterfall, so we advise you to wear appropriate shoes or bring an extra pair for changing into after the hike.

oropel_1150_imagesDay 3: Cahuita National Park Hike or Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge Hike

Cahuita National Park is considered one of the most beautiful protected areas in Costa Rica. It is also one of the oldest national parks of Costa Rica as it was founded in 1970 to protect the coral reef. We will pick you up at your hotel and drive in a microbus to Cahuita National Park; which is located about 20 minutes from Puerto Viejo. The tour will start at the Kelly Creek Ranger Station; from there our naturalist tour guide will use his sharp senses to spot animals. You will meet some new friends along the road such as white-faced monkeys, sloths, snakes, raccoon and numerous other species that you will be able to observe and learn about.

After about 2.5 km, you will reach Cahuita Point where you will have a little break and may have a quick dip into the ocean. From the Cahuita Point, you are going to head to the other park entrance, Puerto Vargas, from where you will return by microbus to your hotel. If the track to Puerto Vargas is not in a good condition, you may return to the starting point instead. Alternatively, you can choose the Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge Hike: The Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge has a great diversity of ecological areas from beautiful beaches to the important mangroves of the Gandoca Lagoon. While you walk into the forest, you will wonder about the exotic vegetation. Most of the trees are covered with mosses, lichens, bromeliads, orchids and other plants that cascade from the branches of these gigantic trees creating a backdrop for life in the jungle. You will spot many different species of birds from the 384 species located in this area. Some examples are hummingbirds, tanagers, owls, and toucans.

After being picked up at your hotel, you will go by microbus to Sixaola, which is the town on the border with Panama. You will cross the Rio Sixaola, pass through immigration and then take another minivan to Almirante where a small passenger boat will take you to Bocastown on Isla Colon. Depending where you stay in Bocas, you will have to take another short taxi boat ride to Isla Solarte or Punta Caracol or walk to your hotel on the main island. You will then have the rest of the day free to visit one of the nearby islands or just explore the town.

haciendo-deep-board-en-200x125On day 5 of your trip, you will go on a full day tour. You can chose of 3 tours of which all include snorkeling and two of them also include deep boarding.  After a day on and in the water, you can enjoy the evening in Bocastown or at your lodge and then return to San José the next day after breakfast. For an additional charge, you can also take a flight to San José, or you could take a flight to Panama City, which is also worth a visit! Just ask us and we will be happy to assist you!


Some hints and recommendations from our experienced travel agents:


Puerto Viejo Accomodation Choices



Bocas del Toro Accomodation Choices


Package Information:

Duration:6 Days/5 nights
Cost per person:from $659 pp (economy)
from $839 pp (midrange)
from $1329 pp (luxury)
Rates are based on double occupancy and are not valid for holiday seasons.
Includes:Round trip transportation from San Jose to Puerto Viejo and your hotel in Bocas del Toro, Panama • 5 nights of lodging in one of our partner hotels • Tours as described above • Gecko Trail Costa Rica service charge
Not included:Exit fees to be paid on Costa Rican side of the border ($8 per person) • Bocas airport departure tax ($15 – $20 pp) for those choosing the return to San Jose by air option • Single supplement if single room(s) needed
What to bring:Shoes or sandals that can get wet for rafting trip, sunscreen, pants, insect repellent, hiking boots/shoes, bathing suit, sunglasses, towel, passport and onward ticket leaving Costa Rica (or Panama if you are ending the tour there) for border crossing

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