Costa Rica, Panama & Colombia

"The trio that straddles two continents"

Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia, so much in common, yet each so different. Our itinerary will take you on a fascintating journey of discovery, enjoy.

Costa Rica

"The land of Pura Vida"

The tiny Central American country of Costa Rica has been a popular tourist destination for many years, providing visitors with the perfect combination of relaxation, adventure and wildlife. Covering just .03% of the Earth's surface, Costa Rica hosts over 5% of the world's biodiversity, making it one of the most biodiverse locations on the planet. The country's rugged lush landscape features beautiful beaches and active volcanoes and with over 25% of the country being protected natural jungle, the wildlife viewing opportunities are just amazing.

The National Parks - visiting Costa Rica, is all about the outdoors as found in their famous National Parks;  the animals, birds, reptiles, butterflies and plants and of course the adventure activities that are available.  Below are the parks we are planning to include, each is set in a totally different environment and features different atractions.  

  •  Tortuguero NP -  This jungle-clad park on the Caribbean coast is only accessible by river boat. We will take an early morning boat safari to explore the creeks and lagoons and in the evening go on a jungle-walk Night Safari.

  • Arenal NP -  Often referred to as the Adventure Capital of Costa Rica, Arenal has a huge number of organised activities to choose from.  We will do a fascinating SlothTour to discover the life-style of these strange animals and also swim at a fabulous hot pool complex that is set a lush tropical garden park, just gorgeous.  There is also a free day when you can choose your activity from a great selection of adventure and cultural options, partial payment included.

  • Monteverde Cloud Forest -  This park is located in the misty highlands of Central Costa Rica. Here we have two options;  an exciting high speed zip-lining tour through the Cloud Forest or doing a guided nature walk along the Hanging Bridges trail. 

  • Carara NP -   Its most famous residents are the Scarlet Macaws, large brightly coloured parrots that grow to over a metre in length.  This park is an important breeding area for these birds as they nest in holes in of the tall trees.  

  • Manuel Antonio NP -  A tiny park on the Pacific Coast, Manuel Antoinio has well developed trails and a couple of gorgeous swimming beaches that you will not want to miss. The park is also home to the playful black and white Capuchin Monkeys, often referred to as the "organ grinder monkeys". The Capuchin, considered to be the most intelligent of the New World Monkeys are so curious and such fun to watch.

  • Corcovado NP - Located on Costa Rica’s remote Osa Peninsula, the Corcovado National Park has been referred to by National Geographic as  “the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity.” This veritable Garden of Eden

  • Los Quetzales NP - Named after its most famous resident the Resplendent Quetzal, a beautiful colourful bird that has a long flowing tail of up to a metre in length. The sacred bird of the ancient Mayas and Aztec, its feathers were used in ceremonial dress and head gear. 

Panama   

  • Panama City was founded by the Spanish in 1519 and today it is home to almost one million people, making it the largest city in the country. The city's Spanish heritage can still be seen in the cobble-stoned historic centre, the Caso Viejo which contrasts sharply with the skyscrapers, modern shopping malls and office complexes of the adjacent new city. 

  • The Panama Canal, is a remarkable feat of human engineering which cuts through the centre of Panama to create a navigable passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. After the failed French attempt to build the canal, the United States took on the project in 1904 and the canal was completed ten years later. Due to the canal's pivotal role in world trade,  an extension project to create a large set of parallel locks was completed in 2016, doubling the canal's capacity by enabling the canal to handle today's super-sized carriers. 

Colombia

"A country re-creating itself, the risk is that you'll want to stay"

Colombia has a wide range of impressive landscapes, a great variety of historical sites and a culture that is delightfully colourful and flamboyant. Finally emerging from years of turmoil Colombia, for the most part, is free from the violent era of drug-baron control. The Colombian people are enthusiastically embracing their new-found stability, where they are safe to prosper and modern innovations and increased investment in community infrastructure, especially public transport, are making a real difference to their lives.

Colombia has to one of the most beautiful and fascinating countries on our planet. We were warmly welcomed and the standard of accommodation, cuisine and transport services were all excellent. For those interested in nature, Colombia has the second highest biodiversity in the World and the highest number of bird species of any country, with 1826 individual species.

  • Cartagena - A walled-city on the Caribbean Coast, Cartagenia was founded by the Spanish in the 16th Century. Today, the well preserved Old Town, with its picturesque squares, cobblestoned streets and colourful colonial buildings, is a treasure throve of history. To say it is "absolutely gorgeous" is an understatement!  

  • Medellin -  Twenty five years ago  Medellin was known as  "the Most Dangerous City on Earth", but today it is a vibrant city of culture, art and commerce, which in 2013 won the “The Most Innovative City in the World” award.  The dramatic turn-around is said to be partly the result of its vastly improved public transport system,  a modern Metro and aerial cableway network and in some places escalators, providing the less affluent hillside communities with easier access to their homes and to the opportunities of the city below.  

  • Guatape - The lakeside town of Guatape certainly lives up to its claim of being “the most colourful town in Colombia", with virtually every building being decorated with colourful bas-reliefs in every shade imaginable.  Nearby is El Penol,  a massive granite Rock that rises almost vertically to a gently curved summit. 

  • The Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia  - Colombia’s prime coffee producing region is centred on the slopes of the Western Andes in the departments of  Caldas, Quindo and Risaralda. Often referred as the “coffee triangle”  the region is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.     

  • Bogota - With a population of over 8 millon, Bogota is a sprawling modern city with a charming Old Town.  It's also home to popular museums including the Museo Botero, show-casing the works of the famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero, and the Museo del Oro, displaying pre-Columbian gold pieces and Monserrate Hill which is accessed via cable car. 

Draft Itinerary Outline (subject to change)

Day 1. Auckland to San Jose, via Houston

Day 2. Tortuguero NP - after breakfast take a river boat from La Pavona, an 1 to 1.5hr trip depending on the water level.  After lunch explore this car-less village and in the evening we have a Jungle Night Safari. 

Day 3. Arenal NP - an early morning boat Safari on the creeks and lagoons of Tortuguero NP before taking the return boat and moving on to Arenal. In the later afternoon we have a most interesting Sloth Tour. 

Day 4.  Arenal NP - a free day to choose your preferred activity from a great selection of Adventure and Cultural options. Partial payment. 

Day 5. Monteverde Cloud Forest -  go swimming in a beautiful tropical garden hot pool complex before driving around Lake Arenal to Monteverde. 

Day 6. Monteverde Cloud Forest -  Zip-ling on a high speed network of lines or take a guided walk on the Hanging Bridges Trail, also visit a Cloud Forest Biosphere Reserve. 

Day 7. Manuel Antonio NP  - drive to Carara NP on the Pacific coast to see the Scarlet Macaws before reaching Manuel Antonio NP in the later afternoon

Day 8. Manuel Antonio NP - morning visit to the park, concluding with an hour or two at the beach as you please,  before leaving the park and having a free afternoon. 

Day 9. Corcovado NP - drive  south to Puerto Jimenez 

Day 10. Corcovado NP - An all day tour into the Park

Day 11. Los Quetzales NP - Drive to  Los Quetzales NP

Day 12. Panama City - After an early morning Quetzal tour drive to San Jose to take a late afternoon flight to Panama City

Day 13. Panama  City - A city tour, including the Amador Causeway

Day 14. Panama  City - A full day Transit of the Panama Canal

Day 15. Cartagena - A morning flight to Cartagena, free time to explore the city

Day 16. Cartagena -  A guided tour of the Old City, the Castillo San Felipe and La Popa monastery,  for a magnificent view  over the city. 

Day 17. Cartagena - A boat trip to Rosario Islands, a day out in a tropical paradise!

Day 18. Guatape -  Fly to Medellin airport and stay overnight in colourful Guatape, later climb El Penol  

Day 19. Medellin - after breakfast drive into Medellin and in the afternoon begin our city sightseeing

Day 20. Medellin - a visit to Comuna 13 and a city tour

Day 21. Jardin - after breakfast drive to Jardin and afternoon relax and enjoy this delightful town or we may be able to visit a flower farm. In the later afternoon go to see the Cock-of-the-Rock birds.

Day 22. Salento - after an early morning bird watching excursion for those who wish and after  breakfast, drive north into the coffee region.

Day 23. Salento -  Visit the Garden Reserve and the Cocora Valley to see the Wax Palms,  option to hike or ride a horse to the viewpoint.

Day 24  Salento -  Visit Coffee Finca for a coffee tour

Day 25. Bogota -  Visit Filandia another charming coffee town before flying to Bogota. 

Day 26. Bogota - A City tour with free time to enjoy the markets and visit the Gold Museum.

Day 27 Bogota - A day excursion to the east to see the Salt Cathedral.  

Day 28 Flight  - Houston to connect with our evening flight to NZ

Day 29 In Flight - date line crossing

Day 30  Auckland - arrive  early morning

 

Trip Data

Trip Style:   Although this adventure-styled trip will take you to some very remote and sometimes challenging places, if you are willing to cope with the unusual, the unpredictable, cultural differences and some local inadequacies you will have a most rewarding and unforgettable experience.

Transport:  Private charter buses/vans with local English speaking guides for sightseeing.   There will be 8 flights involved in the itinerary.

Luggage:  A light-weight medium-sized bag , maximum volume 65 ltr.   We suggest that it should weigh no more than 15kg, as it is essential that you are able to comfortably handle your own bag at all times. Soft-sided wheelie bags are suitable, but not hard-sided bags.

Day Bag - a smallish lightweight day/sightseeing bag. A fold-away nylon type is perfect.

Accommodation: The norm will be Star** to Star***+ hotels and lodges, using twin-share/double rooms. We can generally accommodate those who wish to twin-share, but late bookings are very likely to require a single supplement. 

Meals:  We anticipate breakfast will be included at most accommodations.

Price Includes:  Accommodation, Auckland to Auckland airfares (in a specific class), transport, a full programme of sightseeing excursions, entries and services as detailed in the itinerary. Meals as confirmed. 

Fact File

Trip Code: CPC 201

Date:  1 March 2020  

Duration: 30 days

Party: 15 + leader 

Anticipated Price Guide : $12,000 to $13,000 - to be advised. 

Status: Bookings Opening soon, those on the "Keep Me Posted" list will receive an email next week.