25 days

Nicaragua to Panama

Nicaragua to Panama

Horse-drawn carriages in Granada

Ometepe Island

Rincónde la Vieja's jungle volcanos and hot springs

See the Panama Canal at Miraflores Lock

Boquete

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Manuel Antonio National Park's beaches

Trip rating
  • Laden with historical attractions, brimming with luscious landscapes and exuding a cultural exuberance that's simply infectious, Central America's southernmost trio of countries combine for a wholly enrapturing travel experience. From Granada's disarmingly dilapidated colonial architecture to the staggering skyline of Panama City, the balmy sea-breezes of Costa Rica's Caribbean coast to the crisp mountain air of the Boquete highlands and the stark volcanic peaks rising from Isla de Omotepe, few regions of the world blend diversity and contrast so seamlessly. Whether it's adventure, relaxation or enriching cultural interactions you're after, this leisurely journey through Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama will bewitch and beguile.

    Why we love it

    • This short trip packs in many of Costa Rica’s most impressive natural highlights.
    • Steaming volcanoes and pristine cloud forests, alabaster beaches and staggering biodiversity all await – for its size, this is a country that offers unparalleled variety and scope for adventure.
    • From following trails in remote Monteverde Cloud Forest, to getting up close with the majestic Arenal Volcano, or being bowled over by birdlife and mammals at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica is a wild wonderland.

    Itinerary

    Day 1-3 - Granada

    • An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.
    • Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm on Day 1.
    • You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
    • Oozing with colonial charm, Granada is the oldest city of the 'New World', having been founded in 1524. The city resides on the banks of Lake Nicaragua and its appearance is a mixture of Moorish and Andalusian.
    • The following day we have an included tour to Masaya Market, the active Masaya volcano,and the bat cave.
    • We also have a full free day here to bargain hard in the markets, hike, cruise and explore the neighbouring landscapes. Explore the cobblestone streets surrounded by colourful buildings or tour the 'islets' on Lake Nicaragua by boat, take an evening stroll through the streets and witness Granada's national sport: chatting with neighbours across the street from their open front room.
    Breakfast

    Day 4-5 - Ometepe

    • Today we have a short drive (approx 1.5 hours) to the town of San Jorge.
    • From San Jorge it's a relaxing 1-hour boat trip to Ometepe Island, and the views of its twin volcanoes (Concepcion and Maderas) are spectacular.
    • Beautifully located within Lake Nicaragua, Ometepe Island is formed by two volcanoes which rise from the lake. In fact 'Ometepe' literally means two volcanoes in the Nahuatl language. The island's hourglass shape is home to great beaches and a deep jungle.
    • We have a full free day here, and you might want to take an optional hike to Volcano Maderas, which at 1340m (4395 ft), is no walk in the park. Otherwise check out the petroglyphs or chill out on the beach. A great experience is sitting on the shore of the lake when the fishermen come back from their long day bringing in what they have caught.
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 6 - Rincon de la Vieja

    • Today we return to the mainland by ferry, and travel by private minibus to Rincon de la Vieja, crossing into Costa Rica on the way.
    • Meaning literally ‘old lady’s corner’, Rincon de la Vieja is a remote volcanic complex with at least nine eruptive vents within a 15 kilometre-wide caldera. The region is characterised by dramatic scenery, boiling mud pools, gleaming, clear water rivers and crashing waterfalls, perfect for swimming.
    Breakfast

    Day 7-8 - San Jose

    • Today we travel by private minibus to Costa Rica's capital city, San Jose.
    • With over half the country's population living within its parameters, San Jose is a bustling city with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere. A good place to start exploring is the main plaza, a fantastic place to get comfy and do some people watching. Artisan booths are common here and you never know when there'll be a spontaneous art fair. Have a look at the Gold Museum which has an amazing collection of indigenous gold art. If these cultural gems get you in the mood for a bit of shopping head to the out door market in Plaza de la Cultura or the Central Market where you can buy anything from handicrafts to seafood.
    Breakfast

    Day 9-10 - La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano

    • An approximately 4.5 hour drive takes us to La Fortuna, our base for exploring the Arenal Volcano and its wild surrounds.
    • La Fortuna is a small town situated just a few minutes away from Costa Rica's most famous volcano - the majestic Arenal. The views here are spectacular as the volcano is reflected on the lake for postcard perfect photos. Besides the panoramic views the town offers a range of other activities such as the 70 metre high La Fortuna waterfall, stunning lush forest, rare plants, animal watching and watersports on the lake.
    • The following day is free for optional activities. Take a trip to the volcano, visit La Fortuna waterfall, take a canopy tour for a bird's eye view of the forest, or head out on a full day of adrenaline pumping white water rafting. Otherwise head out into the beautiful surrounds and explore by bike.
    • In the evening we include a visit to one of the hot springs in the area.
    • The volcano’s inner workings also mean that the area has a number of thermal springs where hot, lava-heated water gushes to the surface. These springs have been turned into a number of thermal pools and waterfalls, often surrounded by foliage, an ideal chance to relax.
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 11-12 - Monteverde

    • We travel by minibus and boat to the cool cloud forests of Monteverde (approx. 4 hours).
    • These Monteverde forests are similar to rainforests, but instead of relying on rain for essential moisture, adequate water comes from the semi-permanent cloud that covers the region. The surrounding pastures were once covered in dense forest, but now only a small protected section remains; known as the Reserva Biologica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde, it is lush and full of wildlife. This is truly a nature lover's paradise.
    • Your leader will take you on a walking tour through the Monteverde National Park. Alternatively, walk through the canopy on the Sky Walk or watch butterflies at play in the specially created butterfly garden. The local guides are very knowledgeable about the area and passionate about conservation and in the local communities there are several cooperatives worth visiting. More than 2,000 species of plants, 320 bird species and 100 different types of mammals call Montverde home. Be sure to keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal, one of the most elusive birds in the world.
    • Our hotel is owned by a very personable Costa Rican who grew up in Monteverde - he himself built most of his hotel and keeps expanding it, building rooms with a lot of character and style. Sometime a sloth pays a visit to the trees growing on the hotel property - a very welcome neighbour.
    Breakfast

    Day 13-14 - Manuel Antonio National Park

    • Today we travel to Manuel Antonio (approx. 4-5 hours). The town is laid back but has a vibrant nightlife.
    • Boasting abundant wildlife, turquoise water and white-sand beaches, Manuel Antonio National Park is a beautiful place to explore by land or sea.
    • We take a guided hike along one of the park's many trails. Keep one eye on the great views and the other looking out for the abundant wildlife. Spot monkeys, armadillos, sloths and hundreds of birds.
    • The park also boasts turquoise seas and white sand beaches; it would be easy to spend your whole time here in or by the water. Go swimming, fishing, kayaking, boogie boarding, sailing or surfing.
    Breakfast

    Day 15-16 - San Jose

    • We have this morning in Manuel Antonio. About midday we travel back to San Jose (approx. 4 hours) in time for a shower, dinner and a night on the town. In San Jose we return to our centrally located hotel.
    • As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
    Breakfast

    Day 17-18 - San Gerardo de Dota

    • Today we drive south, climbing up into the mountains, to San Gerardo de Dota.
    • San Gerardo de Dota is located in the mountains, near one of Costa Rica's highest peaks. It is surrounded by carrot and potato plantations, beautiful wildflowers, and old growth oak trees. This is possibly also the best place in Central America to see the quetzal - a brilliantly coloured but rarely seen bird which was considered sacred to the Mayans. We will head out with a guide to look for the quetzal as well as other tropical birds such as egrets, toucans, kingfishers and cormorants. If you are feeling adventurous, you may wish to go rafting, or try your hand at fly fishing on the Savegre River, the cleanest river of Central America.
    Breakfast

    Day 19-20 - Golfito

    • We continue south today to the Pacific coast, and the area around Golfito.
    • Golfito is located on the South Pacific coast of Costa Rica, near the border with Panama. It used to be a centre for banana plantations, however when disease struck the bananas, the plantations shut down and the government turned it into a national reserve, as well as a duty free shopping zone, to help the economy of the area recover.
    • We stay in a rainforest lodge in the Refugio Nacional Golfito, overlooking the Gulf of Dulce. The lodge is designed to fit in with the environment and is constructed from recycled materials, and uses solar power. There are many activities available from the lodge, including kayaking, fishing, snorkelling, hiking, and yoga. Keep an eye out for creatures such as toucans, monkeys, iguanas, dolphins and bright blue butterflies which live in the rainforest surrounding the lodge.
    • While here we take a guided walk through the Piedras Blancas National Park - home to the largest concentration of trees per hectare in Costa Rica. We'll keep an eye out for local fauna, but the real adventure is the hike itself along the muddy trails and through the 90% humidity of the wet tropical rainforest. The walk is 2-3 hours long.
    Breakfast

    Day 21-22 - Boquete

    • We cross the border into Panama today and head to the mountain village of Boquete.
    • Boquete is a small, picturesque mountain village, located in a valley in the Panama highlands. The main attractions of the area are the surrounding natural highlights such as mountains, crystal clear creeks and rivers, forest reserves, stunning displays of wildflowers, and fauna such as howler monkeys and the resplendent quetzal. Nearby is Panama's highest point, Volcan Baru, from the top of which it is possible to see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Activities here include hiking, canopy tours, kayaking, river rafting and zip lining. This is also an area famous for its coffee and while here you can visit a coffee plantation, or kick back in town trying some of the local brew.
    Breakfast

    Day 23-25 - Panama City

    • We depart early this morning on a long drive to Panama's capital, Panama City. On arrival we will check in to the hotel and have an orientation tour of the city.
    • The following day we will take a tour of Panama City and its famous canal.
    • We take a tour of El Casco Viejo, Panama's historic district. Dating back to 1673, this former walled city is an unusual combination of restored buildings, low-income housing, churches, and ruins. We then head up Ancon Hill, the best viewpoint in Panama City, with a view of Casco Viejo, the Canal, and the modern city. Next we visit the Causeway de Amador for another scenic view of Panama City and the Pacific Ocean before visiting the Panama Canal Visitors Center where we can learn about the history and operation of this marvel of engineering, and watch huge ships pass right in front of us. Lunch is not included in the tour however we will visit a Panamanian restaurant along the way where we can stop for lunch (own expense).
    • There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local leader throughout the tour.
    • 2 days exploring Ometepe Island.
    • 1 day in Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
    • Free time to explore San Jose and Granada.
    • Park fees.
    • Arrival transfer.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure tax
    • Visas where required
    • Meals not included in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry
    • Any optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips and items of a personal nature
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PSKL
Group size 1 - 16
Start City: Granada, Nicaragua
End City: Panama City

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