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Cycle Costa Rica & Panama

from $3,795.00

Cycle two Central American countries

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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Guided
  • Activity Level Moderate / Challenging
  • Group Size Small Group
    4 - 16
All about the Cycle Costa Rica & Panama.

Starting in San Jose and ending in bustling Panama City, our route takes us into Costa Rica’s steamy rainforests, alongside active volcanoes and to the tropical island paradise of Bocas del Toro. We search for Howler monkeys while rafting on the Tenorio River, and ride through rural villages along the Caribbean coast. Our journey ends with a cycle near the Panama Canal, following our visit to the famous Miraflores Locks. * *

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

* All breakfasts
* All accommodation (see accommodation section)
* All transport and listed activities
* Tour leader throughout
* Airport transfers (at designated times)
* Cycling leader and support team
* Local bike hire

What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)

Highlights

  • Cycle through two different countries in two weeks
  • Relax on Pacific beaches and the idyllic Caribbean islands of Bocas del Toro
  • Ride along the Panama Canal, see the colossal Miraflores Locks in action
  • Look out for wildlife in Costa Rica’s national parks
  • 9 nights comfortable hotels, 5 nights standard hotels all en suite
  • 12 days cycling with full vehicle support
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader and staff. Min age 16 yrs.
  1. Day 1 Start San Jose.

    If you are booked on the airport transfer from San Jose you will be met at the airport and transferred to our start hotel in La Garita, around 15 minutes away. Those on land only arrangements should make their own way to the start hotel this evening. You’ll meet your guides and get to know your fellow travelers. *Comfortable Hotel*

  2. Day 2 Ride to Rio Tarcoles.

    We have a briefing this morning and spend some time adjusting our bikes before riding out through small rural communities followed by dry, tropical forest with very little traffic on the paved roads. This initial stage concludes outside Atenas, then we have a 20 minute transfer to a scenic lunch stop. In the afternoon we’ll have a second cycling stage, passing mango orchards and cattle ranches. Following another short half hour transfer we arrive at our lodge for the night.*Comfortable Hotel*

  3. Day 3 Boat tour on Rio Tarcoles; cycle to Cascajal.

    Following an early breakfast, we transfer 20 minutes to Rio Tarcoles for a private guided boat tour of the estuary. We hope to see crocodiles, water birds, shore birds and Scarlet macaws. A 30 minute transfer brings us to the start of our cycling stage in Costonera. This will be a beautiful 30 km stage through lush lowland forest, tiny villages and with very little traffic. Once we arrive at Cascajal we will transfer to our hotel for the night. *Comfortable Hotel*

  4. Day 4 Ferry to Playa Naranjo; cycle to Mansion; transfer to Playa Samara.

    Today is another early start as we catch a 6:30 AM ferry from Puntarenas to Playa Naranjo (approx. 1.5 hours). Upon arrival at Playa Naranjo we start cycling on well-paved roads and with little traffic.Once we arrive at Mansion depending on the time, we may have the opportunity to add some extra miles. Otherwise we will transfer to Playa Samara (approx. 45 minutes). *Standard Hotel*

  5. Day 5 Transfer to Alto La Roca; cycle to Guaitil; transfer to Canas.

    After breakfast, we will transfer to the top of the Cuesta Grande, to then start a great biking stage, with an initial 10 mile section down to Nicoya. We will then continue on through beautiful rural scenery, small villages and with very little traffic. On arrival at Guaitil we will stop at one of the ceramic workshops to observe the process of making the beautiful Chorotega ceramic plates, vases, jars, planters etc. This is a unique opportunity as it is one of very few places in  Costa Rica where tradition is retained. We will then carry on cycling to Santa Cruz, where we will stop for lunch. After lunch, we will transfer via the Puente de la Amistad and join the normal itinerary of the trip. *Comfortable Hotel*

  6. Day 6 Wildlife trip on Tenorio River; Bijagua valley ride; ride to Lake Arenal.

    This morning we get out of the saddle early in the morning for a 2 hour float down the Tenorio River, a haven for birds and wildlife. As our raft takes us gently along the river, we can expect to see several species of monkey, iguanas, coatis and a wide range of birds. There are also crocodiles along the lower stretch of the river and our experienced guides will not only handle the oars but will also point out as many species as possible. This is likely to be a big wildlife highlight of the trip! Afterwards, we transfer up to near Bijagua, then cycle back down to the Pan American Highway before lunch. After our meal we head up to the hilly region surrounding Lake Arenal where our afternoon biking stage will begin. This is quite a challenging section and although the distance is short there are several climbs and it can also be rather windy. The rewards are the spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding hills.Morning stage is fast downhill after climbing out from Bijagua but can be pot-holed. Afternoon stage from outside Tilaran to Mystica includes several fairly steep climbs through rolling hills. 100% paved.*Comfortable Hotel*

  7. Day 7 Cycle to La Fortuna.

    After breakfast we set off on our bikes towards La Fortuna. This is one of the most spectacular cycling stages, starting in lush agricultural land which gradually gives way to thick rainforest as we approach the dam which forms Lake Arenal. Watch out for monkeys, toucans and the amazingly colourful neon-blue Morpho butterflies as we cycle. If it’s clear the dam is a great place to take a break for a wonderful view of Arenal Volcano. The town of La Fortuna is a major tourism destination within Costa Rica, so those looking for souvenirs will be well satisfied.Mostly on rolling hills with some short but fairly steep climbs, followed by fast downhill to La Fortuna. The road is 95% paved and 5% dirt or gravel.*Comfortable Hotel*

  8. Day 8 Ride up from tropical lowlands with views of Arenal volcano; visit thermal springs.

    Today’s ride follows a circular route through the region surrounding La Fortuna, taking in a great variety of terrain and ecosystems. Starting from the hotel, we head south toward Chachagua, then divert to a backroad leading to El Bosque where we pass through agricultural land devoted to bananas and sugar cane before heading into a rugged hilly zone leading back towards rainforest near the small town of La Tigre. We stop for lunch at Chachagua. Toucans are especially common here and there are some incredible views of the jungle and Arenal Volcano. As we approach La Fortuna again, there is one final steep climb before we reach our hotel. This evening we include a visit to the Eco-Termales Hot Springs to soothe any aching muscles – the best hot springs in the area!Paved roads, mostly level for the first half, followed by several challenging climbs.*Comfortable Hotel*

  9. Day 9 Morning jungle ride; afternoon cycle along Caribbean coast to Cahuita.

    We have another early start today as we head east into the rolling terrain of the San Carlos plains, riding through rich agricultural zones, sugar cane and pineapple plantations and rural villages. We are generally descending on this leg, which levels off as we get closer to Muelle where we conclude the morning stage. Have your cameras handy upon arrival, as there is a population of large iguanas posing while the staff will load the bikes for the transfer out to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Given that we will be crossing a large portion of Costa Rica, this is a long transfer (approx. 3 hours). It is well worth the effort as we arrive at a beautiful beach, Playa Manzanillo, which will be your introduction to the Afro-Caribe culture on the east side of Costa Rica. We will have lunch at a seafood restaurant where you can try the fresh seafood and the Caribbean rendition of “riceandbeans”, very tasty due to the use of coconut and spices. After lunch you have a bit of time for a swim in the warm Caribbean sea, then it’s back onto the bikes for an afternoon ride through the rainforest and along the coast to bustling Puerto Viejo, one of the most popular destinations on this side of Costa Rica. From here, we head to Hone Creek, where we will transfer (approx. 15 minutes) to Cahuita, a typical Caribbean town with lively reggae music/culture and spicy cuisine.Morning stage fast descent leaving La Fortuna, then level out to Muelle. Afternoon stage fully level  100% paved for both stages.*Standard Hotel*

  10. Day 10 Ride to Panama border; boat to Bocas del Toro islands.

    Today we begin riding south at the base of the towering Talamanca Mountains. We follow the main coastal road at first before turning off to the indigenous community of Bri-Bri, home to members of the Guaymi tribe. We may see some of the traditionally dressed women in flowing embroidered dresses as we pass through this area. The ride continues through vast banana plantations to the border crossing on the banks of the Sixaola River. After a quick lunch we leave Costa Rica and cross to Guabito, the Panamanian port of entry. After the border formalities, we board the bus through the frontier town of Changuinola, and then through steep rainforest hills which are inhabited by indigenous people. We hit the coast and embark on a private boat transfer to cross into the Caribbean to the wonderful Bocas del Toro Islands, our home for the next two nights.Mostly flat roads, although there are some climbs as we head to Bri-Bri. The roads are paved although there are often potholes and washouts close to the border.*Standard Hotel*

  11. Day 11 Free day in Bocas del Toro.

    We enjoy a free day today to explore the beautiful Bocas del Toro Islands, which are rapidly becoming a popular destination in the Caribbean. Today you will get a chance to see why: spectacular palm-shaded white sand beaches, crystal clear water, wonderful snorkelling and diving, lots of wildlife, kayaking and even great surfing are all available! It’s also possible to take boat trips to the other islands, or go on dolphin-watching tours. All of these optional activities can be arranged through the hotel or nearby tour agencies whom we have long-established relationships with.For those who want to ride today, biking is available on the island and the 32km round trip to Bocas del Drago on the island’s western tip is recommended. Our bikes will stay on the mainland at Almirante, but other bikes can be hired locally.*Standard Hotel*

  12. Day 12 Jungle ride; descent to Pan-Am Highway; transfer to Pacific coast.

    After taking a private boat back to the mainland, we drive to Punta Robalo for a ride through beautiful jungle scenery. After lunch we transfer (approx. 1.5 hours) through the mountains that separate Panama’s two coastlines after which we begin our second ride of the day. The change in temperature, humidity and eco-systems are significant as we gain altitude. At the top of the pass we find beautiful Lago Fortuna, set in a rainforest-clad tropical valley. We then have a fast downhill ride with great mountain views and several river crossings to Gualaca and the Pan-Am Highway beyond. Upon meeting the Pan American Highway junction, we board the minibus for the drive down to Las Lajas, an isolated Pacific beach which stretches for miles. Here we can enjoy a great tropical sunset while relaxing under the shade of a palm thatch palapa. Some moderate hills near start, then level AM / Fast downhill to Pacific plain then some short climbs near finish PM. 100% paved.*Comfortable Hotel*

  13. Day 13 Tropical lowland forest ride; transfer to Panama City.

    We have an early start today as we avoid the heat and traffic on our ride through the Panamanian countryside. We take a short drive to Guabala, a customs/passport control point on the Pan Am highway, and once our documents have been checked, we will offload the bikes for a fairly challenging ride through a quite remote and hilly section of the western portion of Veraguas Province. Some of the morning’s ride takes us along remote backroads past large sugar plantations and through dry tropical forest. We finish cycling close to the town of Jorones, where we start our transfer to Panama City (approx. 3 hours), with a quick lunch stop in Santiago, the main city in this part of Panama. We cross the famous canal where we’re very likely to see huge ships as they make the journey between the Caribbean and the Pacific. Our hotel is located in the suburb of Albrook, where many opulent residences are testament to the days when US military officers and Canal Authority officials lived in the city.Level start but becoming increasingly hilly during the middle section. The last stage is level again and the road is fully paved.*Comfortable Hotel*

  14. Day 14 Ride alongside the Panama Canal.

    Our final day is truly memorable, as we travel along a stretch of the Panama Canal to observe some of the highlights. Starting from our hotel which overlooks the Pacific entrance to the canal, we transfer to the Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre (entry fee to museum and video presentation included) to view the process of raising and lowering the ship traffic. We then have a short transfer to the entry point of the Soberana National Park, where we will enjoy a final biking stage through lush rainforest. Our biking concludes with lunch at lovely Los Lagartos, set over Lago Gamboa, with the canal as a back-drop. This offers a great photo opportunity as ships pass by during their transit. After lunch we transfer back to our hotel for some free time or a swim. In the afternoon we visit the World Heritage Site of Casco Viejo, the historic old portion of Panama City. We will have our final group dinner in the Casco Viejo at Las Bovedas, an excellent restaurant set on the historic Plaza de Francia. This is mostly level along the canal, but with some climbing within the Soberana Park. The main road is fully paved.*Standard Hotel*

  15. Day 15 End Panama City.

    Our trip ends after breakfast this morning, and those on the airport transfer will be transferred to the international airport for the return journey home.**

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Where you stay

Hotels

You will spend 14 nights in comfortable hotels. This includes a mixture of colonial-style and modern hotels all with en suite facilities. On standard departures you will stay in a variety of good quality, comfortable colonial-style and modern hotels, all with en suite facilities.

We can arrange single rooms throughout the trip (subject to availability). Please check with your sales consultant for availability and prices.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts included.

The trip price includes all breakfasts throughout the trip. Restaurant stops for lunch and dinner are selected throughout the itinerary to allow you to try out good quality local cuisine. Expect to see a lot of the Costa Rican speciality ‘gallo pinto’ and a lot of rice, beans, fruit and grilled meats.

Most days we are on a fairly tight timing schedule, especially at lunchtimes when we have cycling stages and transfers in the afternoon. In order to help us save time and hassle when we are dining as a group, the leader will take a note of people’s orders and settle the total group bill him/herself. The leader will then ask clients for individual payments at a convenient time before leaving Costa Rica. We find that this method is the most efficient, however if you object then you are of course free to opt out.

This trip is classified Road. 
Activity Level: 4 (Moderate/Challenging).
Please see the introductory pages of the cycling holidays brochure or our website for more important information on classification and grading.
Average daily distance: 45km (28 miles)
Number of days cycling: 12
Vehicle Support: 100%
Terrain and route: surface 80% tarmac, 20% unpaved track, some hills and generally rolling terrain.

Our routes follow quiet back roads where possible. In Costa Rica, as we make our way from the Northwest corner of the country to our exit at the Southeast corner, there will be sections where we will use roads with heavy traffic. This is because in some regions they are the only paved roads available.

This tour covers some remote parts of the region. Though many of the roads are in good condition, there can be potholes and poor road conditions in some sections. The roads are generally free of heavy traffic until we reach towns. In the harder areas there are some longish climbs, requiring good fitness, (particularly as the region is invariably hot and humid) and also some steep descents.

Occasionally it may not be possible to follow the itinerary exactly as planned. Leaders will always watch for hazardous traffic situations, road closures, ferry cancellations etc. and look for alternate routes/solutions whenever required. In all such cases that involve shortening a cycling stage, every effort will be made to recover lost mileage (or missed visits) later in the trip.

Overall Rating
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November 23, 2019
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January 25, 2020
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