Costa Rica Traverse

Costa Rica Traverse

12 Days From



Costa Rica Traverse

12 Days Starting in San Jose and ending in

Visiting: Costa Rica

Tour operator:

World Expeditions

Tour code:


Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

2 - 16

Physical rating:

Moderate to Challenging

From: $3529 $3418 Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$111

NB: Prices correct on 24-Jun-2024 but subject to change.

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

An adventure high on the wish list of active adventurers keen to take on the challenge of traversing Costa Rica under their own steam. Our crossing takes us on bike, foot, raft and kayak across this spectacular natural wilderness through farmlands, foothills and mountainous regions reaching the peaks of the Central Highlands. The trails are often slippery and with several river crossings. We encounter indigenous settlements deep in the cloud forest and hope to glimpse rare wildlife and birdlife in this pristine tropical rainforest. The views and terrain vary greatly as we traverse the mountainous backbone of Costa Rica. Our journey will take us into the depths of the Pacuare River on one of the world's classic whitewater experiences, where we undertake an exhilarating rafting trip with class 2-4 rapids through a series of spectacular canyons. In between the powerful rapids there is time to absorb your superb surroundings and the tropical rainforest. We leave the rapids and gorges behind as we ease our way by sea kayak along a much slower moving section of the river, through banana plantations to our final goal, the Caribbean coast.


  • Trek and bike in the Costa Rica highlands

  • Visit remote Indigenous communities

  • Experience exotic wildlife and the Cloud Forest

  • Raft the exhilarating Pacuare River through spectacular canyons

  • Undertake a sea kayak adventure to the tidal mouth of the Caribbean Coast

  • Explore the vibrant city of San Jose


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Day 1 : Arrive In San Jose

You will be met on arrival at San Jose's international airport and taken to your hotel. Depending on arrival time you should have some time to explore the sights of San Jose.

Day 2 : San Jose - Pacific Coast

We transfer from San Jose to the Pacific Coast. The drive takes us along the Pan American highway reaching heights of over 3000 metres before turning west to the coast. Upon arrival we have a chance to relax either at the pool or on the beach. In the late afternoon, we will meet for a bike fitting and a short warm up ride. After dinner the trip briefing will be held and your guide will outline the plans for the coming days.

Day 3 : Cycling From The Pacific Coast To Esquipulas

This morning, we take the customary picture on the beach and begin the ride along a section of the Pan American highway. A few kilometers along the highway we turn off and ride along a dirt track beside the Savegre River. A few hours into the ride we get our first taste of Costa Rica’s undulating terrain as we head toward the mountains of the Pacific Coast. In the town of Londres we take a break and enjoy some local color before continuing our ride to camp in the small community of Esquipulas.
Cycling distance: 47km

Day 4 : Trekking From Esquipulas To Naranjillo

After a hearty breakfast, we begin the first full day of trekking into the mountains of Central Costa Rica. With only 16 kms to cover, there is plenty of time to enjoy the vistas of the rainforest covered mountains ahead of us and the beautiful Pacific Coastline behind us. The trek route takes us up to an altitude of over 800 metres before we drop back down into a valley to our camp in the community of Naranjillo.
Trekking distance: 16km

Day 5 : Trekking And Cycling From Naranjillo To Santa Maria

Although today is challenging, our previous activities have stood us in good stead for our day’s mixture of trekking and biking. The day starts with a crossing of the Naranjillo River and a steep climb out of the valley along a trail through the rainforest. We will be trekking around 13 km in total today. At just over 1300 metres, the forest opens up to our first glimpse of Costa Rica’s abundant coffee industry. From here we continue trekking up and down through coffee plantations for several hours until we get to an altitude of 1950 metres. Here we switch back to biking and enjoy an exhilarating descent and ascents of 13 km on paved roads into the quaint village of Santa Maria where we refortify with some typical Costa Rican fare and rest up in comfortable local cabins.
Trekking distance: 13km, Cycling distance: 13km

Day 6 : Cycling Across The Continental Divide

Today we tackle the hardest, steepest climb of our adventure. The challenge before breakfast is mountain biking a 14 km uphill stretch to the Continental Divide, bringing us to an altitude of 2330 metres - the highest peak of our journey. Following the rule that everything that goes up must come down, the remainder of the day is mountain biking at its best - mostly downhill on dirt roads and single-track trails. We finish the afternoon in the beautiful Orosi Valley where rich pastures and dark green forests of coffee carpet the land and we rest for the night in the town of Orosi after our exhilarating ride.
Cycling distance: 46km Cycling Terrain: The first 14 kms are all on paved roads, then a mix of paved roads and rubber roads.

Day 7 : Cycle And Trekking To The Reventazon Valley And On To Pejibaye

We are amidst both cloud and rainforest today but by now we are well into our stride of climbing mountains. After breakfast, we mountain bike along a river to the Tapantí National Wildlife Refuge. This is an area of vast rugged terrain covered with dense primary rainforest. Leaving our bikes, we take to the mountains trekking amongst thousands of trees covered with ferns, bromeliads, mosses and other epiphytes until the small settlement of Taus, where we jump back on the bikes to continue with our last section of cycling on dirt roads to the town of Pejibaye, where local families will welcome us with fresh coffee. The group is then divided into different houses in the village where dinner and a bed are provided for the night and breakfast the following morning. This makes for a great cultural exchange so remember to bring your phrase books!
Cycling distance: 10km & 6km. Cycle Terrain: Paved roads and rubber roads. Trekking distance: 12km

Day 8 : Cycling To The Pacuare River And Whitewater Rafting

After saying goodbye to your new Costa Rican family our day starts with cycling, followed by whitewater rafting. We begin the day’s bike (approx 40kms) towards the whitewater rafting put-in at La Cruz, which is the gateway to the raging Pacuare River. Here we have lunch and embark on a whitewater rafting journey through pristine rainforest. The rapids section of the river is approximately 30 kilometers of Class II-IV rapids. The Pacuare is the most scenic rafting river in Costa Rica and one the world’s classic whitewater experiences. By afternoon we arrive at our comfortable riverside camp, El Nido del Tigre. Nestled between the sounds of the rainforest and the hum of the river we take time to explore this lush environment and look out for wildlife such as Toucans overhead. Spacious tents on fixed platforms board the edge of the river and nestle in the surrounding forest. The camp is fully functional with its own supply of pure spring water, shower and sanitary facilities. The name of the camp, El Nido del Tigre, comes from the giant patches of ginger plants that carpet the main floor of the main area of the camp. When the ginger reaches a certain height it falls over creating flattened areas in the shape of a tiger’s paw - hence its name, which translates to “the nest of the tiger”. From the centre of the nest, trails radiate throughout the forest and along the river. There is an open area for those who like the odd game of ball or Frisbee. If this is too much after a day on the river, seek out one of our quiet reading areas, set yourself down with a refreshing drink and just ‘be’ for a while.
Cycling distance: 40km Cycling Terrain: Mostly paved roads but the last 8kms are downhill on rubber roads. Rafting distance: 10km

Day 9 : El Nido Del Tigre On The Pacuare

This is a well earned rest day although you can make it as active as you like. Your guides will be with you and so make the most of this free day at the camp by spending it enjoying El Nido del Tigre and the surrounding area. Hiking through the rainforest to a waterfall, floating down a rapid with just a life jacket, or relaxing in a hammock around the camp, are all possible activities.
Trekking distance: 12km

Day 10 : Rafting On The Pacuare River

Today the Pacuare takes us through virgin rainforest, cascading waterfalls and river carved canyons. We manoeuver through the exhilarating Class III and IV rapids and point out the intricacies of the rainforest at the river’s edge. The Class IV rapids are exciting and separated by calm stretches which enable you to stare at the near vertical green walls towering hundreds of metres above the river, which makes this a magnificent and unique river trip. Along the way we take time out to do some hiking to spectacular waterfalls and have lunch on the shore. Tonight’s camp marks the end of the rapids and the beginning of the banana lined slow moving waters of the Pacuare River. We take-out in the heart of banana plantation country at Finca Pacuarito, where we rest for the night before an early start in the morning.
Rafting distance: 17km

Day 11 : Cycling & Sea Kayak To The Caribbean Sea And Transfer To San Jose

THE SWEET TASTE OF SUCCESS...This morning we jump on our bikes for a short ride through banana plantations to the town of Goshen where we begin the final leg of the traverse in kayaks down the Pacuare leaving the rapids behind as the river eases into the Caribbean lowlands where banana plantations gradually swallow the receding rainforest. The river slows to a tranquil pace as we are rafting the last mile of the river, completing the mosaic of the landscapes we have experienced. At the end of the adventure, we reach the mouth of the Pacuare as it meets the Caribbean Sea, celebrating our passage with bubbly in the surf, while enjoying a well-deserved rest. After some time on the beach we are picked up by a motorboat and transferred down the canals to the coastal town of Caño Blanco where we are transferred back to San Jose.
Cycling distance: 27km Cycling Terrain: All rubber roads. Kayaking distance: 12km

Day 12 : In San Jose, Trip Concludes

You will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport.

What's Included

  • Accommodation
    3 nights hotel

  • 11 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 8 dinners

  • Experienced guides

  • Airport transfers (days 1 and 12 only)

  • Private transport

  • Good quality hotel accommodation

  • All group camping equipment

  • Summer sleeping bag & sleeping mat

  • Rafting gear and instruction

  • Kayaking gear and instruction

  • Mountain Bikes (bicycle helmets are not included)

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To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the walking terrain, rafting or cycling as well as the altitude, the number of passes crossed and the length of the trek.
The Costa Rica Traverse trip is graded moderate to challenging as some days will certainly be very demanding. This is primarily due to the terrain and demanding nature of the trail which will test your resolve on some stages. Whilst walking in the jungle the trails are often poorly marked and often very slippery, with lots of hills. There is very little flat terrain on this trip! The rafting is also a factor of this grading with up to class IV rapids. In order to complete the trip we advise that you undertake regular exercise – swimming, cycling and jogging, for at least one hour three or four times a week for at least three-six months prior to your departure. As this trip involves multi activity, we recommend you undertake the necessary cross training to feel comfortable and prepared for the rigours of rafting and sea kayaking (i.e. some upper body workout is advisable). This trip is often underestimated by participants and should be considered a true expedition.
Although prior experience is not necessary, it is important for all participants to be comfortable hiking for up to 8 hours per day, biking on steep tracks and comfortable in water. Please ensure you have read all the documentation (trip notes and pre departure information) thoroughly in order to understand exactly what this trip entails. Costa Rica is in the tropics, and is prone to wet/cool conditions at higher elevations and wet/humid conditions at lower elevations. Fitness is an important aspect of our trips. The fitter you are the more easily you will adjust and enjoy yourself. Resistance to cold and illness is also increased.

What You Carry

In your daypack you will need to carry a rainjacket, water bottle, camera gear, valuables and personal items such as sunscreen, insect repellent, lip balm etc.


The wilderness areas of Costa Rica are populated by a vast variety of plant and animal species attracting nature lovers from all over the world. Costa Rica’s birdlife is incredibly large with 850 species being recorded. The country boasts 50 species of the hummingbird alone. There are over 600 species of butterflies, 1,200 species of orchids and 200 species of mammals including monkey, sloth, armadillos, coatis, peccaries, skunks and otters. This trip aims to view these animals in their natural habitat.

Check out our Q&As

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have offices on three continents which means your travelling companions will be just that – international and wonderfully eclectic. Part of small group travel means that although travellers come from various locations and backgrounds, you will be travelling with like-minded companions who, like you, are keen to share the experience and forge lifelong friendships.

  • What about environmental impact?

    We believe that adventure travel revolves around establishing a strong relationship with the people and environments in which we operate. Our responsible travel policies have been carefully developed to ensure that we minimise the impact of our presence and help to protect the regions we visit while contributing positively to the local community.

  • What should I pack?

    Your pre-departure documents include a detailed packing list with items that you need to bring. While most of the equipment for daily activities is included in your tour cost, some items like helmets and hiking boots are best brought from home. The pre-departure documents also include information on layering and recommended brands for various items to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes. World Expeditions does not require single travellers to pay a surcharge for travelling alone on the vast majority of our trips. Our holidays are primarily on a twin share basis, so if you are joining the group as a solo traveller, we will match you with someone of your own gender. The choice is yours however; if you prefer not to share, we do offer single supplements for private occupancy.

  • Are tips included in my trip price?

    Tips are not included in the tour cost. Tipping is a personal thing, do not worry about how much, or when, to tip. Tipping guidelines are provided for certain destinations in our pre departure information upon booking, however the best advice will be provided by your tour leader.

  • Am I suited to small-group travel?

    We recognise that many of our travellers have not been on a ‘group trip’ before. Yet what our departures provide is both structure and flexibility, allowing you plenty of freedom within the framework of the itinerary. You’ll find that with our maximum group size at 16, you’ll travel in a minimal impact style with a great group of like-minded travellers.

  • Can you advise which vaccinations are recommended?

    While our pre-departure kit provides information on vaccinations, we suggest that you consult your doctor, local government inoculation centre or a travel medical specialist in order to get the most current advice regarding vaccination requirements.

Reviews from travellers on this tour

Sharon Newham(Caringbah South, NSW Australia)  

Costa Rica Traverse

7 May 2024

We had a great adventure traversing Costa Rica from the Pacific coast to the Carribbean coast. Our guide Carlos was excellent - our safety and well being together with getting the most out of this experience was his highest priority. His knowledge of the flora and fauna and local culture in the areas we travelled through enabled us to fully appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of Costa Rica . His wingman Vito made the transition from various activities effortless. As an added bonus both he and Carlos were excellent cooks! We had a great experience and would recommend the trip to others.

Corinne Wilson(Ottawa, Canada)  

Costa Rica Traverse

21 Feb 2023

That was an adventure! The Costa Rican company that organized the tour, did a wonderful job with all the logistics, not to speak of the scenic itinerary through the mountains. Our guide was absolutely amazing, in his knowledge of flora and fauna and of the country, in his skills as a cyclist, hiker, rafter, cook and most of all, as a person. All lodgings (hotel or camping) were great each in their own way, our guide’s and driver’s food was the most succulent.

Lincoln Roseboom(Ottawa, Canada)  

Costa Rica Traverse

21 Feb 2023

We were very impressed with our tour across Costa Rica. Our trip leader Juan Carlos and his support team were well organized, knowledgeable, and fun to spend time with. They also kept us well fed with delicious meals and snacks, most of which were made from scratch. The logistics behind this trip were more than I had expected, switching back and forth from hiking, biking, rafting and kayaking, but we never had to wait to continue our next leg. Thank you to the folks at World Expeditions for setting up our trip.

Colin Jones(East Molesey, United Kingdom)  

Costa Rica Traverse

8 Feb 2023

The trip was a fantastic experience for the whole family. An exciting, challenging and well organised adventure. The guides looked after us very well. Highly recommended.

J. Porritt(Bournemouth, UK)  

Costa Rica Traverse

22 May 2019

A stunning trip with fantastic scenery and the friendliest people I have been lucky to meet. The guide Juan Carlos was extremely knowledgeable and showed us a huge variety of wildlife, fruits and vegetation. The bikes and rafts were excellent quality and I even enjoyed the rain!

Craig Holliday(Essex, UK)  

Costa Rica Traverse

11 Jan 2017

An amazing trip and a great way to see Costa Rica using your own power to get from coast to coast! Our trip leader JC was superb making sure we all loved our trip. A personal highlight was getting to swim in countless pristine waterfalls on the way, some really unspoilt paradise...

C. Holliday(Essex, UK)  

Costa Rica Traverse

11 Jan 2017

I had an amazing time in Costa Rica! The trip was great and I can’t speak highly enough of our guide Juan Carlos who was superb.

E. Todd(Bromsgrove, UK)  

Costa Rica Traverse

05 Mar 2018

I would highly recommend this trip. It is challenging but not so tough that it's not possible to complete. JC was a great guide providing us with lots of information, keeping us informed on the days activities and where the tough bits would be. He also kept us safe while having a laugh throughout as well! We experienced a variety of weathers, terrains, wildlife, accommodation and food and loved every minute!

Michael Harrison(Hove, United Kingdom)  

Costa Rica Traverse

6 Feb 2024

What a fantastic experience. Great combination of biking, trekking and rafting/kayaking. Amazing scenery, flora and fauna. Special shout out to our guide Manuel who was a joy to be with, kept us safe and provided expert local information. Huge thanks also to our brilliant driver/cook Memo and Abel who looked after us superbly on the white water rapids. Really a trip of a lifetime

D. Birch(Clifton, New Zealand)  

Costa Rica Traverse

04 Dec 2019

Well-organised, great food, a wide variety of interesting accommodation, good exercise, and a brilliant knowledgeable guide with a great sense of humour!

Read all 12 reviews

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  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    World Expeditions allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform world expeditions, 70 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    World Expeditions requires a minimum deposit of 250 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 70 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of world expeditions charges.

    Up to 70 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 69 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 35 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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