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Best of Costa Rica + Manuel Antonio + Panama City

Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Incl flights, accommodation & transfers
From   £3707 £3407
17 days

Holiday highlights

  • Relax on Manuel Antonio’s beautiful rainforest-fringed beaches.
  • Navigate the jungle waterways of Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast.
  • Relax in the hot springs of Arenal and explore the wildlife of the Cloud Forest.
  • Experience vibrant Panama City and see the iconic Panama Canal.

View this Itinerary in Photos

  • Fly from the UK to Panama City, the vibrant and fast-paced capital of Panama. You are met at the airport and taken to your hotel.

    Meals included: Meals included on the transatlantic flight.

  • Today, visit the iconic canal on a half-day city tour. First, head to the Miraflores Lock and visitor centre to witness the ocean liners and cargo ships travelling through the canal, and learn about its construction and current-day significance. Then visit Casco Viejo, Panama City’s old town. Stroll through the cobbled streets taking in the area’s lovely old architecture and iconic buildings. Return to your hotel and enjoy a free afternoon.

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel.

  • Enjoy a free day to explore the city further, or take a day trip to one of the interesting locations outside of the city. It is sometimes possible to take a boat tour on the canal itself, which provides a closer look at how the locks function, as well as great views of the city skyline. Please ask us for details. 

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel

  • Fly to San Jose, Costa Rica. You are met at the airport and taken to your hotel.

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel.

  • Spend the day exploring San Jose on your own, or take our optional full-day San Jose & Coffee Plantation excursion.  After a walking tour visiting the highlights of the capital, including the National Theatre, Gold Museum and the central market, enjoy a tour of the Doka coffee plantation, and see how some of the best coffee in the world is grown and produced. 

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel. Lunch included on the San Jose Walking Tour & Coffee Plantation excursion.

  • Begin the day with a beautiful four-hour coach journey through the Braulio Carillo National Park to La Pavona pier. Then take a two-hour boat ride to your jungle lodge in Tortuguero, cruising down jungle waterways inhabited by monkeys and varied birdlife. Located on the Caribbean coast, Tortuguero is a beautiful national park, thriving with all kinds of wildlife. After lunch and some time to settle at the lodge, visit the community of Tortuguero and learn about the extraordinary efforts made locally to protect the sea turtles, which nest here at certain times of the year. 

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel. Lunch and dinner at the lodge.

  • Explore the secondary canals of the jungle by boat, from where you will hopefully be able to spot some of Tortuguero’s amazing wildlife, including sloths, caimans, spider and howler monkeys and a huge variety of birds. From April to November, it may be possible to arrange a turtle-watching tour to see sea turtles arriving to lay eggs at night.

    Meals included: All meals included at the lodge.

  • Enjoy a mid-morning boat ride of 1.5 hours back along the canals to the dock at Caño Blanco. After lunch, take a scenic road journey to Arenal, arriving in the late afternoon. After driving for around 1.5 hours, stop for lunch in the Guapiles area, before continuing for around 2.5 hours to Arenal. The route offers beautiful mountain views, passing rural towns including Sarapiqui, Rio Cuarto and Aguas Zarcas, and crops of pineapple, oranges, sugar cane and yucca, depending on the time of year. Arenal is famous for its active and picture-perfect volcano and the many hot springs. Upon arrival at the hotel, weather permitting, you will be able to see the volcano's iconic shape. 

    Meals included: Breakfast at the lodge. Lunch on route to Arenal.

  • On the optional Hanging Bridges & Tabacón Hot Springs excursion in the afternoon, you visit a network of suspension bridges, which are positioned at different heights, providing a glimpse of the forest and its wildlife from different levels. Your naturalist guide is on hand to explain the various forest ecosystems.  Afterwards continue onto the Tabacon Hot Springs in the early evening. These very beautiful springs consist of many large and small pools of mineral waters heated by Arenal Volcano, set in tropical gardens. Hot water rivers, between 27ºC and 42ºC, run throughout the grounds, forming natural waterfalls and pools, some secluded, where you can bathe. A buffet dinner is included. Don’t forget your swimwear.

    And if you're feeling adventurous, you can take the optional Ziplining Adventure excursion in the morning, where you fly through the treetops on a series of cables, ending with an optional Tarzan Swing jump.

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel. Dinner is included on the Hanging Bridges & Tabacón Hot Springs excursion.

  • On the optional Chocolate & Waterfall excursion, the day begins with a morning transfer to the entrance to La Fortuna waterfall, a beautiful nature park including an orchid trail, a butterfly garden and 500 steps leading down to the base of the waterfall where you can relax and swim in the natural pool. You then have lunch on-site, before driving to a nearby cocoa plantation. Learn the chocolate-making process, with the chance to sample it too! Return to your hotel in the late afternoon.

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel. Lunch is included on the Chocolate & Waterfall excursion.

  • After a final morning around Arenal, take a two hour transfer to the Villa Blanca cloud forest hotel. Situated within the larger Los Angeles Cloud Forest Reserve, the forest here sits at an altitude between 700 and 1770 metres, which creates a unique cloud forest habitat that supports myriad species. The hotel here is the only one around, so this cloud forest is extremely well-preserved. Numerous endemic flora can be found on the reserve, such as bromeliads and orchids, while there are over 280 bird species to spot, and a range of amphibians and mammals like howler monkeys and sloths. You arrive in the late afternoon, in time to settle in before night falls.

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel.

  • Have a free day in the beautiful cloud forest to explore on your own, or take the optional Day & Night Cloud Forest excursion. Begin the day with a two-hour walk through the cloud forest reserve, looking for varied birds and wildlife from myriad bird species like toucans and hummingbirds, to monkeys and sloths. Your naturalist guide will point out the species to you, as well as the many species of orchids, bromeliads and other plants which inhabit all levels of the forest. Return to the hotel to enjoy the afternoon at leisure. In the evening, set off on a two-hour walk along the reserve trails at night with a qualified naturalist guide. It is notable how different the cloud forest feels at this time. Certain birds and monkeys which dominate the soundtrack during the day will be sleeping, replaced by the choruses of nocturnal species. Furthermore, certain plants are more active at night, blooming and releasing scents only after the sun has gone down. For this reason it is not only the sights and sounds of the forest that change, but the smells too. Return to the hotel in the late evening.

    Alternatively, between February and May, you can take the optional Quetzal Tour & Night Walk for a chance to spot the Resplendent Quetzal, one of the world's most beautiful and colourful bird species, found in the high-altitude cloud forests of Central America. The elusive species can be observed on a family-run farm, where you take a walk through the forest before sitting down to a traditional lunch. Return to the hotel to spend the afternoon at leisure then take the two-hour night walk, as described above. 

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel. Lunch is included on the Quetzal Tour & Night Walk. 

  • The day begins with a four-hour journey to Manuel Antonio, a small, but stunningly beautiful national park on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. The park has several wonderful jungle-fringed beaches, and the warm Pacific waters are perfect for swimming. The area also has many adventure activities on offer, including kayaking, white water rafting and horse riding. Spend a relaxing afternoon and evening settling into your hotel or sunbathing on the beach.

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel.

  • During your stay in Manuel Antonio you are entirely at your leisure. Perhaps visit one of the many lovely white sandy beaches, where the verdant hills roll into the ocean and the warm waters are perfect for swimming. Taxis are readily available and the hotel runs free shuttle buses in the morning and the afternoon to the national park, where the best beaches are (entrance fee payable). There are also many beaches close to your hotel. The closest is a beautiful sandy cove five minutes’ walk down (and back up!) a track. Most of the beaches are safe for swimming, but some have strong currents, so ask if you are unsure as there are no lifeguards on duty.

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel.

  • Manuel Antonio is the smallest national park in Costa Rica, at only six square miles, and the lush jungle has a large concentration of wildlife, including sloths, coatis, monkeys, toucans and macaws. The trails are well maintained, and guided tours are available locally, or you can wander on your own. If you are interested in something more active, you can arrange sports fishing tours in the nearby town of Quepos. Snorkelling excursions, ocean kayaking, mangrove tours and canopy tours are also available.

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel.

  • After breakfast take the three-hour road journey to San Jose to catch your flight to the UK. Please note that if your flight departs in the morning you will need an extra night in San Jose. Please ask us for details. 

    Meals included: Breakfast at the hotel.

  • Your flight arrives in the UK.

Accommodation

Upgrade Package

Superior Hotel Upgrade Package Save £111

Upgrade in San Jose, Tortugero and Arenal for a discounted price.

from £789
(£500 Single Supplement)

Accommodation in San Jose

Hotel Park Inn

Included
Park Inn Pool, San Jose, Costa Rica
Llama Travel Customer Rating
Overall
69%
69%
Service
66%
66%
Location
60%
60%

Standard hotel: This is a comfortable hotel situated in a quiet area 2 km from the centre of San José. There are 117 rooms over 12 floors. These are large and well appointed and there is a small outdoor pool and gym. There is a restaurant and bar.

Why stay here: A good location close to the centre but not in a busy area. The rooms are very comfortable and the public areas are modern and attractive. The outdoor space on the 3rd floor includes an attractive pool, although it is not too large.

Hotel facilities

• An outdoor pool and a small gym on the 3rd floor
• A restaurant and bar
• Free wifi
• An eco-hotel with solar panels

About the room
The rooms are large and comfortable with carpets and good bathrooms with large showers (no bath tubs). Each room has a fridge, and tea & coffee making facilities and water. All rooms have air-conditioning, safes as well as ironing facilities.

Room types available
Standard rooms

Marriott Hacienda Belen

£120
(£120 Single Supplement)

Standard Hotel:  A 15-minute drive from the city centre, this former hacienda is set on a 30-acre coffee plantation, with two swimming pools, a golf driving range and a coffee-inspired spa. The property also has three restaurants, a bar and a cafe serving gourmet Costa Rican coffee.

Why stay here: Aside from the stunning location on a coffee plantation which you can walk around, the hotel has fantastic facilities and a range of eating options. The Kuö Spa offers a wide variety of body and beauty treatments using coffee, volcanic ash and other natural ingredients from Costa Rica. Open for dinner, the La Isabella Restaurant serves Peruvian delicacies whilst the Antigua restaurant serves a range of Latin American cuisine.

Hotel facilities

  • There are three restaurants, a bar, cafe, fitness centre, spa, golf driving range and two swimming pools.

  • The hotel offers daily housekeeping, concierge service, luggage storage, tour desk, gift shop and safety deposit box.

  • Free WiFi is available in public areas.

About the room

Rooms are modern and well appointed, with floor-to-ceiling windows boasting great views. All rooms have air conditioning, en-suite bathroom, tea and coffee making facilities, a safety deposit box, sofa, desk and TV.

Room type

Standard Room

Accommodation in Tortuguero

Aninga Lodge

Included
Aninga Lodge, Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Llama Travel Customer Rating
Overall
86%
86%
Service
87%
87%
Location
93%
93%

Standard Lodge: This 32-room lodge, located close to the Tortuguero National Park main entrance, has a pool, spa and is surrounded by lush tropical jungle and waterways. The comfortable rooms have en-suite bathrooms, hot water and ceiling fans. The hotel has free WiFi in the reception area. Excursions are taken in groups of a maximum of 18 people.

Why stay here? This is a good lodge with clean, simple rooms and attractive grounds. The guides at the lodge are excellent at spotting wildlife on the boat trips along the canals.

Hotel facilities

• WiFi is available in the reception area and is free of charge.

• There is a restaurant, a bar, a spa with treatments and massages, and an outdoor pool with a poolside seating area.

• Hairdryers are available at reception. Kayaks are available to use for free.

About the room

All rooms have a ceiling fan, a safety deposit box and en-suite bathrooms.

Room types available

Standard room

Manatus Hotel

from £330
Pool, Manatus Hotel, Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Llama Travel Customer Rating
Overall
82%
82%
Service
86%
86%
Location
90%
90%
Llama favourite accommodation

Superior Lodge: This is a small 12-room lodge located close to the Tortuguero National Park, surrounded by lush vegetation. The lodge has a swimming pool, restaurant, small gym and spa. The spacious rooms have air conditioning, free WiFi, an en-suite bathroom and private solarium. The hotel offers kayaks for use for free, and there is also a small nature trail around the hotel grounds. Excursions are taken in smaller groups than at the standard lodge.

Why stay here? This is the best lodge in the region, and the only one with air conditioning. The hotel has just 12 rooms, and the small groups on the excursions give a better chance to interact with the guide.

Hotel Ffcilities

• WiFi is available in public areas and is free of charge.

• There is a restaurant, a bar, an art gallery, a private forest reserve, gardens and sun terrace, an outdoor pool with poolside seating areas, a full working spa and a small gym.

• The hotel offers a tour information desk and a laundry service.

About the room

All rooms have air conditioning, private outdoor terraces, WiFi, a TV, a telephone, a mini bar, a safety deposit box, a hair dryer and en-suite bathrooms.

Room types available

Standard room

Accommodation in Arenal

Hotel Arenal Manoa

Included
Hot Springs, Arenal Manoa, Costa Rica
Llama Travel Customer Rating
Overall
91%
91%
Service
90%
90%
Location
84%
84%

Standard Hotel: This hotel offers excellent views of the Arenal Volcano. It has well-kept, lush gardens, a restaurant, snack bar, swimming pools, natural hot springs, jacuzzis and a spa. All rooms have a terrace, air conditioning and en-suite bathrooms. There is a walking trail leading to the hotel’s private farm, and other excursions to nearby attractions are offered from the hotel.

Why stay here? This is an excellent standard hotel with attractive gardens, good pools to relax in, and all rooms have views of the volcano.

Hotel facilities

• WiFi is available in public areas and is free of charge.

• There is a restaurant, a bar/lounge area, extensive gardens, outdoor pools with seating areas and poolside bars and a full service spa with a jacuzzi and natural hot springs. There is also private farm on site.

• The hotel offers room service, a tour information desk, luggage storage, laundry facilities and a gift shop/news stand.

About the room

All rooms are soundproofed and have air conditioning, free WiFi, a TV, a telephone, a safety deposit box, a coffee/tea maker, a mini bar, a hair dryer and en-suite bathrooms. Rooms also have private outdoor terraces with views of the volcano.

Room types available

Junior suite

Hotel Nayara

from £450
(£450 Single Supplement)
Hotel Nayara Pool, Arenal, Costa Rica
Llama Travel Customer Rating
Overall
95%
95%
Service
95%
95%
Location
92%
92%
Llama favourite accommodation

Superior Hotel: Set in beautiful tropical gardens, the hotel has a swimming pool, spa and restaurant. There are 40 rooms which are individual casitas, all beautifully appointed with a balcony and jacuzzi overlooking Arenal Volcano, free WiFi, air conditioning, en-suite bathroom and additional outdoor shower.

Why stay here? This is a truly fantastic hotel, possibly our favourite in Costa Rica. The grounds are lovely and the room balconies give amazing views of the Arenal volcano.

Hotel facilities

• WiFi is available in public areas and is free of charge.

• There is a restaurant, a bar, outdoor pools with a poolside bar and seating areas, extensive garden and a full service spa with a jacuzzi.

• The hotel offers room service, a tour information desk, luggage storage and laundry facilities.

About the room

All rooms have air conditioning, free WiFi, a TV, a telephone (international phone calls can be made), a safety deposit box, a coffee/tea maker, a mini bar, a hair dryer and en-suite bathrooms. There is also an outdoor shower (in addition to the one in the en-suite bathroom) and rooms have a wrap-around terrace with a jacuzzi and hammock.

Room types available

Deluxe casita room

Accommodation in Villa Blanca Cloud Forest

Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel

Included
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel Grounds, Costa Rica
Llama Travel Customer Rating
Overall
73%
73%
Service
77%
77%
Location
79%
79%

Standard Hotel: The Villa Blanca Cloud Forest hotel and nature reserve is lovely hotel offering a boutique experience in a stunning setting of isolated, undisturbed cloud forest. Designed to imitate a traditional mountain village, accommodation is offered in stand-alone casitas with en-suite bathrooms and living rooms, a wood-burning fireplace a mini-bar and complimentary coffee. There is an on-site spa, a restaurant and an adjacent bar.

Why stay here?  The hotel boasts an immaculate setting overlooking the surrounding cloud forest. It is the only hotel in the area so visitors can enjoy uninterrupted views of the pristine cloud forest.

Hotel facilities

• Restaurant and a bar 

• On-site spa

• All rooms have ceiling fans, fireplaces and there are no televisions in the rooms

About the room

Rooms are individual casitas with en-suite bathrooms, a small seating area and porch. They come with complimentary coffee and a stocked mini-bar.

Room types available

Superior casitas

Accommodation in Manuel Antonio

Hotel Parador

Included
Hotel Parador Pool, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Llama Travel Customer Rating
Overall
94%
94%
Service
93%
93%
Location
91%
91%

Superior Hotel: This beautiful Mediterranean-style hotel, with 129 rooms, is set in five hectares of gardens and private rainforest, located on the densely-forested Punta Quepos peninsula, with stunning views across the Pacific Ocean. The hotel has three swimming pools, tennis courts, spa, several restaurants, a bar and free WiFi in the common areas. The spacious garden rooms have air conditioning, terraces and en-suite bathrooms. The premium rooms have views of the ocean.

Why stay here? This is an an excellent hotel, close to the national park and beautiful tropical beaches, so a great place to relax at the end your holiday.

Hotel Facilities

• WiFi is available in public areas and is free of charge.

• There are four restaurants, and various bars and lounge areas. There is also a garden, terrace areas, tennis courts, a full service spa and three open-air swimming pools.

• The hotel offers room service, a 24-hour front desk, a tour information desk and laundry facilities. There is also an ATM and shops on site including a gift shop.

About the room

All rooms are have a ceiling fan, WiFi, a TV, a telephone, a safety deposit box, a mini bar, a coffee and tea maker, a hair dryer and en-suite bathrooms.

Room types available

Garden view room
Possible to upgrade to a premium ocean view room

Accommodation in Panama City

AC Hotel by Marriott

Included

Standard Hotel: The AC Hotel by Marriott boasts a classic modernist aesthetic with warm colour tones throughout. Located in the heart of Panama City, it is close to the historical Old Town, as well as many restaurants and shops. Rooms here light thanks to floor to ceiling windows, and have en suite bathrooms. There is a restaurant, bar, fitness center and rooftop pool and bar area.

Why stay here: The hotel is centrally located with good amenities and service.

Hotel facilities

• WiFi is available in public areas and is free of charge

• Restaurant and a bar

• Rooftop pool and bar

About the room

All rooms have Wifi, floor to ceiling windows and marble en suite bathrooms.

Room types available

Standard room

Central Hotel

£150
(£150 Single Supplement)

Superior Hotel: The Central is located in the heart of Casco Viejo, Panama City’s Old Town. As Panama City’s first hotel, it is steeped in history and offers plenty of character. Rooms are simple and stylish, offering great comfort. There is a rooftop pool and lounge bar, 2 sophisticated restaurants, a fitness center, beauty salon and complimentary wifi.

Why upgrade: The hotel is bright and characterful with a great location in the Old Town.

Hotel facilities

• WiFi is available in public areas and is free of charge.

• Two restaurants and a rooftop lounge bar

• Beauty salon, pool and fitness center

About the room

Rooms are light, stylish and comfortable with thoughtful Panamanian touches. Bathrooms are en suite and there is a stocked mini bar, coffee maker, a digital safe win each room.

Room types available

Standard room

Excursions

Excursions Package

Costa Rica Excursion Package Save £46

Take theSan Jose Walking Tour & Coffee Plantation, Hanging Bridges & Tabacón Hot Springs, Villa Blanca Day & Night Cloud Forest excursions together for a discounted price.

from £339

San Jose & Coffee Plantation

£160

This full-day excursion combines daily life in the city with an insight into Costa Rica’s history. Start with a walking tour of San Jose, including visits to the cathedral, National Theatre and Gold Museum, then stroll through the pedestrianised Central Avenue to the market where you can interact with the locals. You are then taken to the Doka Coffee Plantation, for lunch and a coffee tour and tasting.

Full Description:

In the morning, get picked up from your hotel and driven to the city centre for the start of the walking tour. Walk around to get a feel for daily life in San Jose, with highlights including visits to the National Theatre and Gold Museum. Admire the cathedral’s facade, with its majestic domes and 39 exquisite stained glass windows, or go inside to discover its exquisite interior if it is open on the day you visit. Then walk down the Central Avenue, a pedestrianised boulevard in the heart of the city, leading to Central Market which showcases Costa Rica’s culture, as locals come to pick up their groceries, stopping to talk to the vendors and buying snacks from the stalls, learning about local produce and medicinal plants as you go. Continue to Barrio Amon, one of the most historic neighbourhoods. Around midday, leave the city behind you and drive to Doka Coffee Plantation, which nestles in the foothills of the Poas Volcano, about an hour away. Here, you have lunch then take a tour of the farm, where some of the finest coffee in the world is produced. Learn about the process of producing coffee as you walk through the coffee bushes and visit the roastery. You'll gain an understanding of exactly how the coffee fruit on the bushes becomes the hot drink in your mug. Transfer back to your hotel in the late-afternoon.

Ziplining Adventure

£85

Costa Rica is renowned for its ziplining and other canopy activities, and there’s no better place to do this than in the depths of the lush rainforest near Arenal Volcano. The three-hour morning excursion consists of an aerial tram ride followed by 7 zipline cables up to 750 metres long.

Full Description:

Get picked up from your hotel to drive to the zipline course, approximately 20 minutes from your hotel. After a safety briefing, you take a 15-minute aerial tram ride up the hill to the start of the course. You get harnessed up then make your way through the canopy, gliding through the treetops on a series of cables ranging from 25 to 750 metres long. The whole course lasts around three hours, after which you are driven back to your hotel.

There is no maximum age for this activity, although a good general level of fitness is required, and it is not recommended for pregnant women or anyone with walking disabilities or a fear of heights.

Hanging Bridges and Tabacon Hot Springs

£150
Tabacón Hot Springs, Arenal, Costa Rica
Llama Travel Customer Rating
84%
84%

This two part excursion visits the Arenal Hanging Bridges after lunch, allowing you to experience the rainforest from a different perspective on a network of trails and suspension bridges. Keep your eyes open for birds, monkeys and sloths peeking out from the amongst the tree tops. In the late afternoon, soak in the beautiful hot volcanic pools and rivers of Tabacón thermal springs - a relaxing end to the day, before enjoying a buffet dinner.

 Full Description:

Set off after lunch for a two-hour visit to the Arenal Hanging Bridges, where you follow a trail through the rainforest including a series of hanging bridges, allowing you to explore the canopy of the forest. There are 3.2km of trails and 16 bridges up to 100 metres long. The varying heights of the bridges provides you with a glimpse into life at different levels of the forest, from the treetops to the flowers and the frog pools, bird life and insects. Your naturalist guide explains how the forest's ecosystems work. There are also wonderful views of Arenal Volcano from the park.

From the Hanging Bridges, you are taken to the beautiful Tabacón Hot Springs, which consist of many large and small pools of mineral waters, heated by Arenal Volcano, and set in tropical gardens. Rainwater enters the earth through fissures on the surface and is then heated by magma found in the earth's core. Hot springs provide many benefits stemming from various chemical, physical and biological effects, the most notable is relaxing tense and tired muscles. Hot water rivers, between 27ºC and 42ºC, run throughout the grounds, forming natural waterfalls and pools, some secluded, where you can bathe. You can enjoy the hot springs as day turns to night before having a good buffet dinner overlooking the gardens.

Chocolate & Waterfall

£85

For nature lovers and chocoholics, this full-day excursion is a must. There is a morning visit to La Fortuna waterfall, a beautiful nature park including an orchid trail, a butterfly garden and 500 steps leading down to the base of the waterfall where you can relax and swim in the natural pool. After lunch, you visit a family-run cocoa plantation to discover what happens to chocolate before it lands on your supermarket shelves. Bring swimwear as there is a chance to swim in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall.

Full Description:

In the morning, you are picked up from your hotel and driven to La Fortuna waterfall, a nature reserve including a 64-metre-high waterfall. Start by visiting an open-air butterfly garden, plant nursery and orchid trail. Then hike on the 500-metre downhill trail, which is carved into the hillside, to reach the bottom of the La Fortuna waterfall where you can swim in the natural freshwater pool or simply sit back and enjoy the scenery. On the way down, look out for exotic plants and trees, with wildlife including sloths, toucans and orioles inhabiting the area. By visiting this natural wonder, you are helping to support the community, as 100% of the entrance fees goes towards social projects including schools, nutrition centres, orphanages and infrastructure. Have lunch at the restaurant in the La Fortuna Waterfall Reserve, then drive to Eden Organic Farm to enjoy a chocolate tour (and tasting!) on a family-run farm. Learn about the history of cocoa, and discover the chocolate-making process from bean to bar. Try the traditional drink of Costa Rica’s ancestors and make your own organic chocolates. Considered as "a gift from the Gods", the cocoa tree was of great importance, not only for the ceremonial use of its drink, but also for its economic value as it was used as currency in many regions of Mesoamerica, including Costa Rica.

Day & Night Cloud Forest

£75

In the morning, get up close and personal with birds, monkeys, amphibians and insects in their natural, colourful habitat as you follow the cloud forest trails. You then return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure, before taking the second part of the excursion in the evening, as you observe nocturnal creatures emerging, and experience the intensified forest sounds and fragrances as your senses become more attuned to the darkness.

Full Description:

In the morning, begin the day with a two hour walk through the cloud forest reserve, looking for varied birds and wildlife from myriad bird species like toucans and hummingbirds, to monkeys and sloths. Your naturalist guide will point out these species to you, as well as the many species of orchids, bromeliads and other plants which inhabit all levels of the forest. Return to the hotel to enjoy the rest of the morning and afternoon at leisure.

In the late afternoon, set off on a two hour walk along the reserve trails as darkness with a qualified naturalist guide. It is notable how different the cloud forest feels after dark. Certain birds and monkeys which dominate the soundtrack during the day will be sleeping, replaced by the choruses of nocturnal species. Furthermore, certain plants are more active at night, blooming and releasing scents only after the sun has gone down. For this reason it is not only the sights and sounds of the forest that change, but the smells too. Return to the hotel in the late evening.

While each individual part of this excursion is wonderful, it is truly special to be able to witness how the cloud forest changes, revealing a different side of itself depending on the time of day.

Quetzal Tour & Night Walk

£160

In the morning, take a scenic journey through the cloud forest to a family-run farm where the elusive quetzal resides. Walk through the forest on the look out for sightings of the colourful bird among over 200 other bird species.  Enjoy a typical Costa Rican lunch then return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure, before taking the second part of the excursion in the evening, on the trails in the cloud forest surrounding Villa Blanca, as you observe nocturnal creatures emerging, and experience the intensified forest sounds and fragrances as your senses become more attuned to the darkness.

Full Description:

Early in the morning, depart Villa Blanca for a 45-minute drive to the Azahar Peak, near La Paz de San Ramón. Continue onto the summit where you stop at a private family-operated farm where the Resplendent Quetzal nests. As you walk along a well-maintained trail through the forest, look out for footprints of wild boars and mountain cats around you, and a range of high altitude dwelling birds in the treetops, including the quetzal. Your expert guide will listen for distinctive bird calls to help you spot and identify other species including hummingbirds, toucans, parrots and warblers. Aguacatillo (wild avocado) trees grows on the farm, which is where the quetzals feed and make their nests. If you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this remarkable bird, with its brilliant blue, green and red feathers, you will understand why the local indigenous communities consider it a mystical creature, and why the striking species are protected in private reserves high up in Costa Rica’s lush mountains. During mating season, the males grow twin tail feathers, forming a train up to a metre long. After the walk, sit down to a traditional Costa Rican lunch on the farm, then return to the hotel and have the afternoon at leisure.

In the late afternoon, set off on a two-hour walk along the reserve trails as darkness with a qualified naturalist guide. It is notable how different the cloud forest feels after dark. Certain birds and monkeys which dominate the soundtrack during the day will be sleeping, replaced by the choruses of nocturnal species. Furthermore, certain plants are more active at night, blooming and releasing scents only after the sun has gone down. For this reason it is not only the sights and sounds of the forest that change, but the smells too. Return to the hotel in the late evening. While each individual part of this excursion is wonderful, it is truly special to be able to witness how the cloud forest changes, revealing a different side of itself depending on the time of day.

Please note that this excursion only runs between February and May. Outside these months, it is difficult to observe the quetzal due to the altitude and weather conditions.

Partial Panama Canal Transit

£200

Having seen the canal from the shore, why not take a boat ride passing through the locks to experience first-hand how the canal system functions. On this half day excursion, your vessel sets sail from the Flamenco Marina and heads towards the entrance of the famous Panama Canal, allowing for great views along the way. Mooring lines are secured to the boat before entering the canal, and then electric locomotives pull it along. The excursion ends in Gamboa, a town up the canal from Panama City, whence passengers are transferred by road back to Panama City. Lunch is enjoyed on board. Please note that this excursion is available most Fridays and Saturdays. Please ask for details.

Full Description:

The day begins early in the morning, when you are collected from your hotel and transferred to the Flamenco Marina, where you board the boat that will take you through the Panama Canal. Leaving the Marina behind as the vessel sails into the gulf, reveals great panoramic views of Panama City’s skyscrapers, the iconic Bridge of the Americas, and the multitude of local and international ships dotting the gulf’s waters. 

Upon entry to the canal, the vessel you are on will be attached to electric locomotives called “mules”, which move up and down the canal system on tracks, keeping the boats and ships aligned as they pass from the Pacific to the Caribbean and vice versa. The first lock you come to is the Miraflores Lock. Once the water reaches the appropriate level, the lock gates open and the boat can pass into the next basin, sailing onwards through the Miraflores Lake to the Pedro Miguel Lock, where the water level rises nine metres! From there, the canal passes under the Centennial Bridge and then narrows into a thin, straight waterway. At this point one can sit back and enjoy the ride, taking in the surrounding scenery, until the vessel reaches the Culebra Cut, where the Chagres River intersects the canal, and the journey starts to meander along the waterway, with lush green hills dotting the horizon. Shortly afterwards you will reach Gamboa, where you will disembark the boat for a transfer back to your hotel in Panama City. 

A buffet lunch is provided on board.

Please note that this excursion is available most Fridays and Saturdays, and is sometimes done in reverse, starting in Gamboa and ending at the Flamenco Marina.

2022

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2023

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Prices include

Return flights from the UK; any internal flights; accommodation (bed and breakfast except where indicated); transfers; service of guides and local reps, UK airport taxes.

Prices do not include

Any optional excursions, travel insurance, tips.

Holidays without international flights

The above prices include return international flights from the UK. If you wish to arrange your own flights, we will reduce our prices accordingly. The reduction depends on when you travel, please call us for details.

Departure Airport

Flights are scheduled to be from London. Other airports may be possible, although a supplement sometimes applies.

Holiday Information

All the practical information you need regarding your trip is found here. From how to prepare before you leave and travelling to your destination, to advice on travelling within your country of choice.

About Your Holiday

  • Prices listed are per person and based on two persons sharing a room and include all flights from the UK and within destination, service of guides and reps (please note that tips are not included), accommodation and all transfers and excursions listed in the itinerary. Where applicable, entrance fees, taxes and charges are included in our prices at the rates advised to us at the time of preparation. An adjustment will be made to your price if any of these change before your holiday. UK airport taxes are included.

  • All the flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate

  • In many cases, the best way to describe our holidays is flexible tours, so you can choose where to visit by combining different extensions and excursions, and which hotels to stay in. In most cases, you will be with other Llama Travellers, but not necessarily the same people throughout. This allows you to get to know like-minded people, but not have to spend all your time with the same group. If we don't have anyone else taking a particular part of a holiday, we will normally operate this just for you.

    In some cases, we operate more traditional tours, with the same Llama Travel group travelling together for the majority of the holiday, which allows land travel from one location to another. This is particularly the case for our European tours, and in this case we may have a minimum number of travellers required to operate the group.

    Excursions are usually taken together with other Llama Travel customers in groups of no more than 18 people. If we have more than 18 booked, we operate two groups. These will usually be in English, although in some places, especially on wildlife excursions, the excursions may be operated by one of our local partners, so you may be with people other than Llama Travel customers and the group may be a mix of English and other languages. In these cases, group sizes can sometimes be larger. If you would like to know the likely situation for your holiday, please ask us and we will be able to check. Transfers may be with more than 18 people.

    We get a wide range of people taking our holidays, with probably the largest group being couples aged in their forties to sixties, or even older. However, we also have a large number of customers in their twenties and thirties, especially for some of the more active holidays. What unites everyone is a sense of curiosity and a desire to discover new cultures, landscapes and wildlife. Although most of our customers travel with friends or family, we also have quite a few single travellers who are happy to mix and match as described above.

    Group Size
    Most holidays can operate with a minimum of 2 passengers, but some holidays have a higher minimum group size. If we have fewer than the minimum number of passengers, we will let you know two months before departure. In this case, we will refund you any monies paid or offer you an alternative option. It may be possible to operate the trip for fewer than 4 passengers for an additional cost.

    All holidays in Europe have a minimum group size of 4 passengers, except Iceland which has a minimum group size of 6passengers.
    All holidays in Namibia or South Africa have a minimum group size of 6 passengers.
    All holidays in Kenya have a minimum group size of 6 passengers.
    All holidays in Costa Rica and Mexico have a minimum group size of 4 passengers.

Booking Conditions

How To Book

  • To book a holiday or discuss your requirements, please call us on 020 7263 3000. We can usually confirm availability immediately, but may need to check with a supplier first.

  • You can pay your deposit by bank transfer, cheque, standard UK debit card or non-premium UK personal Visa / MasterCard credit card. Balance payments can be made by bank transfer or cheque. We do not accept cards for balance payments. We are unable to accept cash.

Before You Go

  • Adequate travel insurance is essential. We do not sell or recommend any specific policy, but good medical insurance should cover medical evacuation and repatriation. If you are going to be taking part in any activity, please ensure your policy covers you for this, especially if this involves high-altitude trekking, such as the Inca Trail.

  • To issue some tickets, we require passport details and ages when you book. If you subsequently change your passport, please let us know as soon as possible.

    Latin America

    Visas are not required in advance for British citizens for any Llama Travel Latin American destination. For British passports endorsed in any way and all other passports, please ask the appropriate consulate: Peru (020 7838 9223); Ecuador (020 7451 0040); Argentina (020 7318 1340); Chile (020 7222 2361); Brazil (020 7747 4500); Colombia (020 7589 5037); Bolivia (020 7235 4248); Costa Rica (020 7706 8844); Guatemala (020 7351 3042); Mexico (020 7499 8586), Panama (020 7409 2255).

    If you are flying via another country, especially the US, you need to comply with the appropriate immigration requirements. Please ask us for details.

    You need a full 10 year passport valid for 6 months after your return to the UK. If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum period needed if you are transiting in Europe.

    There is an entry fee to enter Chile for citizens of Australia, the US, Canada and some other countries which must be paid upon arrival. There is also an entry fee for US and Canadian citizens visiting Argentina, which must be paid in advance online.

    If children are not travelling with both parents, some countries require a letter of consent to enter or depart. Please consult the appropriate consulate.

    Africa

    British nationals can enter Morocco, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana for a visit of up to 90 days without a visa. For British passports endorsed in any way and all other passports, please ask the appropriate consulate: Morocco (020 7724 0624); South Africa (020 7451 7299); Namibia (020 7636 6244); Botswana (020 7499 0031). You need a passport valid for 6 months after your return to the UK. For South Africa, you need a passport with two blank pages.

    For Zimbabwe, British nationals will be granted with a KAZA Univisa (valid for travel between Zimbabwe and Zambia and day trips into Botswana) visa, for a fee (US$ 50 per person, paid in cash). This is easiest to obtain upon arrival at the airport or border post, rather than via an agency in the UK. For British passports endorsed in any way and all other passports, please ask Zimbabwe consulate (020 7836 7755). You need a passport valid for 6 months after your return to the UK.

    For Kenya, British nationals require a visa, which must be obtained online in advance. You can apply for single entry and transit visas on the evisas website. For more information, see the website of the Kenya High Commission. Children aged 16 and below do not require a visa to enter Kenya. For British passports endorsed in any way and all other passports, please ask the Kenya consulate (020 7636 2371). You need a passport with two blank pages, valid for six months after your return to the UK.

    If children are not travelling with both parents, some countries require a letter of consent to enter or depart. Please consult the appropriate consulate. In South Africa and Namibia, children under 18 must also carry an unabridged birth certificate.

    You need a full 10 year passport valid for 6 months after your return to the UK. If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum period needed if you are transiting in Europe.

    To issue some tickets, we require passport details and ages when you book. If you subsequently change your passport, please let us know as soon as possible.

    Europe

    You need a full 10 year passport valid for 6 months after your return to the UK. If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum period needed.

    Jordan

    You need a full 10 year passport valid for 6 months after your return to the UK. You will need a visa to enter Jordan. The Jordan visa is included in the price of your holiday. On arrival in Amman our representatives will meet you prior to immigration and this will be provided to you free of charge. For British passports endorsed in any way and all other passports, please ask the Jordanian consulate (020 7937 3685).

  • In many destinations, you can arrange adventure activities, either through Llama Travel or through Llama Travel. If you are interested in taking any of these, please make sure you are covered by your travel insurance.

  • Some countries have strict regulations regarding the entry and exit of children under 18 when not travelling with both parents, or if the child has nationality of the country you are visiting. If you are travelling with children who are not entering or leaving the country with both parents, or if the child has nationality of the country you are visiting, please contact the consulate of the country you are visiting to check requirements.

    Countries in Africa have particularly strict requirements regarding children travelling, and in both South Africa and Namibia, children need to carry an unabridged birth certificate. Additionally, in Namibia, adults travelling with children where they are not the biological or legal guardians of those children, should be in possession of an affidavit statement from the child’s parents giving consent for their travel.

    Such requirements do change from time to time, and although we try to keep abreast of such changes and update this information, if you are travelling with children, we suggest you check current requirements carefully.

  • You will receive tickets approximately 10 days before departure, along with information on accommodation, transfers and excursions. Our agents in destination will give you final details for hotel and excursions when you arrive. Please check airline tickets carefully in case timings have changed after we issued your confirmation.

  • Cards are widely accepted in most hotel and restaurants, and cash machines are common in most destinations. However, when travelling to remote areas, it is advisable to take cash, as it is difficult to withdraw or change money. Travellers cheques are no longer widely used, so it may be inconvenient to take these.

    It is always recommended to inform your bank that you are travelling abroad and to which countries. This will allow them to authorise money withdrawals from your account when you are away. Some banks say that this is not necessary, however we would still recommend contact with your bank as in some cases people have had difficulty in withdrawing currency.

    More information on the situation regarding money, budgeting and tipping in specific countries is in the country information below.

When Your Are Travelling

  • For all wildlife excursions, please always follow the instructions of your guide, both for the animals’ welfare and for your safety. Staff are experienced at dealing with wildlife, but by their nature, excursions involving exposure to wild animals will always carry some risk.

    If you take a safari in Africa, you will be with an experienced guide at all times, who is usually unarmed. All of the game drives run according to schedule, although unexpected delays can occur, which the guide will deal with as quickly and safely as possible. Being in the wilderness means that the environment is unpredictable, so the unexpected can happen. For any excursions taken on foot, there will be a safety briefing to inform you of the possible dangers.

  • Most people who travel to the countries where Llama Travel operates experience no problems on holiday. However, as is the case anywhere in the world, crime can be a problem, especially in large cities. Tourists can appear attractive targets to criminals. To minimise the risk, use common sense. Do not display signs of wealth, such as expensive looking jewellery or cameras. Avoid empty streets, especially on your own. Take a taxi after dark. By taking sensible precautions, you should have a trouble-free holiday.

    Each country has its own standards for health and safety, but these are often not as good as in the UK. We take this into account when selecting hotels and request that they comply with all local regulations, but cannot guarantee that these are equivalent to British standards. Please take reasonable precautions to protect yourselves whilst on holiday, e.g. by locating fire exit routes.

    Please also check the Foreign Office travel advice for the countries you are visiting at www.fco.gov.uk.

  • Attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travellers around the world can be very different from those in the UK.

    In Latin America and Europe, attitudes can sometimes be more conservative than in the UK, but there are not usually problems.

    In some African countries, including Zimbabwe and Kenya, same sex relationships are illegal and conservative attitudes prevail. However, hotels and lodges do not discriminate and LGBT couples can share rooms. In much of Africa, public displays of affection may attract negative attention, especially with LGBT couples, although the majority of people are friendly to visitors, irrespective of gender and sexual orientation. In South Africa, the authorities have introduced legislation which bans any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    The UK Foreign Office has information LGBT travel on their travel advice for individual countries, found at www.fco.gov.uk.

Health & Fitness

  • Please consult your GP or a travel clinic about health and vaccination requirements. Advice for travellers is available at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

    When travelling, stomach illnesses are not uncommon due to changes in diet. We suggest you only drink bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. If you are unsure if salads and fruit have been washed in purified water, it is best to avoid them.

    If you suffer from a disability or condition and are worried whether this will affect the enjoyment of a holiday, please call us. We will do our best to help. We recommend that you bring any medicines you require from the UK.

    If you have any health problems on holiday, please speak to our local agents or hotel staff. They will arrange for a doctor or hospital if necessary. If you do experience any problems, please seek appropriate medical attention.

    Outside of major cities, medical facilities can be basic, meaning a lengthy transfer if hospital attention is required.

    Latin America

    Yellow fever and / or malaria precautions are recommended for visiting the jungle, Iguazu Falls and some parts of Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. Yellow Fever certificates are sometimes required if you have recently visited a country with an infected area. Children under 6 require proof of vaccination against polio to enter Brazil. Some GPs do not recommend yellow fever vaccinations for travellers over 60 years old. If you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, please speak to your GP about zika. Please seek medical advice before you travel.

    Parts of South America are at high altitude. Most visitors do not suffer major problems. However, shortness of breath is common and we advise you to take things calmly during your first day at altitude. If you suffer from a heart or lung condition, or think that you may suffer due to the altitude, please consult your GP.

    Africa

    Malaria precautions are highly recommended when visiting the Kruger National Park in South Africa, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, the north of Namibia, including Etosha, Botswana and Kenya. Yellow Fever vaccination is highly recommended for Kenya. Travellers entering many African countries, including South Africa and Kenya Africa, coming from a yellow fever zone must have a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. Some GPs do not recommend yellow fever vaccinations for travellers over 60 years old.

  • For most of our holidays, age is not a concern. However, a reasonable level of fitness is required, as most holidays require some walking, sometimes on uneven ground. Even relatively mild activities can be strenuous at altitude. High altitude trekking is more strenuous than an equivalent length walk at low altitude.

Getting There

  • A holiday in Latin America or Africa inevitably means long haul flights, and usually at least one overnight sector. Air fares vary from date to date and between airlines. Our holidays are scheduled to use the most advantageous air fare. You can choose which airline you prefer, we will let you know if a supplement is payable. Levels of onboard service and facilities, such as entertainment, vary by airline and route. Please ask us for details. Flights are sometimes operated by another airline in the appropriate airline alliance.

  • Many airlines offer the option of flying from regional airports in the UK, avoiding the need to make your own way to London. Due to the timing of flights, in some cases this may involve an overnight stop in London or another intermediate airport. There is usually a supplement for regional departures. Please note that most of our flights depart from London.

  • You can upgrade to business class or premium economy on most airlines. Prices start from £199 each way for Premium Economy and £699 each way for Business Class, although sometimes airlines have special offers and prices may be lower. Call us for prices for the route and airline you are interested in.

    Premium Economy

    Some airlines offer Premium Economy cabins, which provide more comfortable seats which recline further and have more legroom. There are better meals and a bar service.

    Other airlines offer standard economy class seats with extra legroom for additional cost.

    Business Class

    Many airlines have long haul business class cabins with seats which convert into full flat beds and often have a privacy screen.

    Business Class within Europe is often similar to economy class seating, but with better meals and middle seats are often left empty.

  • Most scheduled airlines have a baggage allowance of 23kg per passenger for international flights, but internal flight allowances can be less. Exact limits can be found on airline webpages. Please bear this in mind when packing, as carrying excess baggage will normally incur an expensive additional cost payable at check in. Additionally, certain excursions have a limited baggage allowance. Where this is the case, we will advise you in advance. Llama Travel accepts no responsibility for the delay, loss or damage of luggage.

    There may be additional luggage restrictions for specific countries. In this case, details of this will be in the country information below.

  • Many airlines now charge a fee to select your seat prior to checking in for your flight, even when travelling in premium economy or business class. Alternatively, you may choose your preferred seat free of charge when online check-in opens 24 hours prior to departure or at the airport. Please ask us about the options available at time of booking.

    We all want a comfortable journey, particularly on long haul flights. If you would like a seat with some extra leg room or a larger recline please let us know. Airlines have introduced a range of “economy comfort” seats that may be purchased in advance. In some cases, these seats may only be purchased online directly with the airline once Llama Travel has issued your ticket approximately 30 days prior to departure.

    For internal flights, and for connecting flights in Europe, it is usually only possible to select seats when you check-in online or at the airport.

                        

    It may not be possible to always use online check-in systems, especially when using a codeshare flight. On occasion, your preferred seat may be changed by the airline for operational reasons such as a change of aircraft or to facilitate a disabled passenger on the day you fly and as such, Llama Travel cannot guarantee specific seats.

  • Depending on the route and the airline, if you would like to break your journey to or from your final destination, and add a stopover to your holiday, this may be possible. Please ask us for information.

  • If you are interested in arranging your own international flights, this is sometimes possible. Please ask us for details of this and any discount we can arrange for removing international flights. Please do not book your flights until we have reconfirmed all services with our suppliers and you have checked the confirmation invoice.

  • All people transiting in a third country need to make sure they comply with any immigration requirements for that country.

    This is especially the case when in transit in the UK when flying to Latin America. In this case, you must comply with US immigration requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure that you comply with these requirements before you travel. Failure to do so may result in you being denied boarding on your flight to the US and, at best, a last-minute and probably expensive re-routing avoiding the US. It is important, therefore, that you follow these procedures carefully.

    If your flight to Latin America involves a stop in the US, you will be subject to US immigration control upon entry to the US. If you qualify for the US Visa Waiver Program, you are able to avoid the need to apply for a visa, but still need to enter your details online on the US State Department website. If you do not qualify for the US Visa Waiver Program, you must apply in person at a US embassy for a US visa. Please make sure that you do this in good time.

    If you are a UK citizen and have a UK passport, you may qualify for visa-free travel. You will require a machine readable passport to qualify for the ESTA Visa Waiver Program (so you do not require a visa to enter the US). A machine readable passport has the holder's personal details (name, date of birth, nationality and passport number) contained in two lines of text at the bottom of the photo page. This appears as two lines of letters, numbers and chevrons (">>>>>") printed across the long edge of the photo page. It must be also include an integrated circuit chip capable of storing the biographic information from the data page, a digitized photograph and other biometric information.

    Please note, holders of passports indicating that the bearer is a British Subject, a British Dependent Territories Citizen, British Overseas Citizen, British National (Overseas) Citizen or British Protected Person do not qualify for travel without a visa. A passport which states that the holder has Right of Abode or indefinite leave to remain in the UK does not quality for visa-free travel.

    If you have been arrested, even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction, or if you have a criminal record, you will need a visa.

    If you have any doubts about whether you qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, please check with the US embassy. Full details can be found on the US embassy’s UK website at: http://london.usembassy.gov/vwp3.html

    Many European, Australian and New Zealand passport holders also qualify for the Visa Waiver Program as long as the passport is machine readable and complies with the relevant criteria. Please see the US embassy website for a list of countries which qualify for the Visa Waiver Program. It is important that you check the website of the US Embassy in the country of passport nationality for any further changes before you travel.

    Details of the ESTA Visa Waiver Program can be found on the US State Department website at

    https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.

    In addition to the Visa Waiver Programme, the US Transportation Security Authority requires anybody flying through the United Sates to supply specific passenger information prior to their international flight.

Costa Rica

Travelling in Costa Rica

  • The temperatures in Costa Rica can vary significantly depending where you are visiting. On the coast, daytime highs of over 30°C are possible. In the highlands of the Monteverde Cloud Forest, temperatures at night can drop to lower than 10°C. Therefore, a variety of clothing, suitable for hot and cold weather is advisable. Rain is possible throughout the year, and can be heavy, so waterproofs are also recommended. Insect repellent is advisable, especially for jungle areas.

    If you visit Tabacon Hot Springs near Arenal, the pools can be slippery, so please bring non-slip sandals.

    Electricity in Costa Rica is 110V, and plugs are of the flat two-pin type.

    We recommend you carry a copy of your passport with you at all times.

    Please bring any medication you may require from the UK.

  • All hotels include breakfast, and other meals are included on some tours and excursions. However, generally, you will need to arrange your own lunches and dinners. We recommend budgeting approximately US$15 – 20 for a meal, although many restaurants have excellent value set lunches for less than this. Hotel restaurants, especially in superior hotels, can be more expensive. Additionally, there are many upmarket restaurants, particularly in San Jose, where you should expect to pay up to US$50 per person, or possibly more.

    Bar prices are similar to the UK and a small bottle of beer usually costs around US$2-3 in a hotel bar. This can be higher in more remote areas.

    If you are planning on arranging any activities locally, these can be expensive. These can usually be paid for by credit card.

  • The national dish of Costa Rica is Gallo pinto which consists of rice and beans. This is traditionally had for breakfast, although it can be eaten with any meal. The capital city of San Jose has a wide range of restaurants, La Fortuna – a town near Arenal Volcano – serves a mix of international and Costa Rican dishes, and there are several restaurants in Santa Elena and Monteverde. The Hotel Parador in Manuel Antonio has three restaurants, and there are also reasonably priced restaurants in the village. Seafood is the specialty of this area.

  • The currency in Costa Rica is the Colon (approximate exchange rate: CRC500 = US$1). Travellers should take local currency or US dollars and not UK sterling, which is not widely accepted in any form. Credit and debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus) can be used in many shops and restaurants, and can also be used to withdraw money from cash machines. There are cash machines in the centre of town in San Jose, La Fortuna (Arenal), Santa Elena (Monteverde) and Quepos (Manuel Antonio).

    When changing US dollars into local currency, always use a reputable place to change: banks, hotels or exchange shops. Do not change money on the street if you can avoid it. If taking travellers cheques, a high commission may be charged, especially if changing directly into dollars. Some hotels do not change travellers cheques so you may need to change them in a bank or exchange shop, therefore, please bear in mind opening hours.

    It is always recommended to inform your bank that you are travelling abroad and to which countries. This will allow them to authorise money withdrawals on your account when you are away. Some banks say that this is not necessary, however we would still recommend contact with your bank as in some cases people have had difficulty in withdrawing currency.
    When withdrawing money abroad, the daily limit may be lower than your UK limit.

  • If you receive good service, you may want to leave a tip. This is completely at your discretion. For general excursions, if you want to tip guides, US$3 – 5 per person per day is usual if you are in a group. Approximately US$2-3 is usual for drivers or transfer staff. Service is usually included in restaurants so tipping is not normally expected. Please give any tips directly to the person you would like to tip to ensure that they get it.

Panama

Travelling in Panama

  • The Panamanian currency is the Balboa, which is tied to the US dollar (US$1 = PAB1). ATM’s are widely available in Panama City and credit cards are accepted in most restaurants and upscale hotels.

    It is always recommended to inform your bank that you are travelling abroad and to which countries. This will allow them to authorise money withdrawals on your account when you are away. Some banks say that this is not necessary; however we would still recommend contact with your bank as in some cases people have had difficulty in withdrawing currency.

  • It is customary to tip in Panama although it is by no means obligatory. Restaurant staff are accustomed to approximately 10%, which may or may not be included in the bill. Guide tips range between US$7 and US$10 per person per day, and slightly higher for naturalist guides.  Should you use a taxi during your stay, tipping is optional, but often the cost is rounded up a dollar or two, particularly for night journeys.

  • Panamanian cooking is influenced by a variety of factors. Its geographical location, literally bridging two continents means there is a wide variety of fruits and vegetables available, while its history and diverse population mean that the cuisine is influenced by African, Spanish and Native American approaches to cooking. In general though, as with a lot of Latin American cuisine, rice, maize and meat feature prominently. Flavours tend to be quite mild.

    Some typical food you may come across on your journey in Panama includes rice with shrimp and coconut milk, sweet or savoury empanadas (similar to a pasty), bollos (corn dough wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled), and ropa vieja (stewed beef and vegetables served with plantain and rice).

  • Hotels in Panama include breakfast. For other meals, an inexpensive restaurant will cost about US$7.50 per person while three courses in a mid-range restaurant costs around US$40 for two people. A local beer will cost US$1.50, and a coffee will cost US$2.58.

  • Panama City sits on the coast and as such tends to be warmer than some inland areas. The average temperature during the year is around 27 degrees Celsius, so summery weather is appropriate. Bear in mind that rain is possible throughout the year too, so packing rainwear is advisable.

    Electrical sockets in Panama are between 110 and 120 Volts. Plug sockets match the North American design.

    We recommend you carry a copy of your passport with you at all times.

    Please bring any medication you may require from the UK.

    You can bring whichever luggage you feel most comfortable with: suitcases, soft bags and rucksacks are fine.