Panama, Costa Rica & Nicaragua

Explore this dynamic trio of Central American countries with their range of outdoor adventures, from whitewater rafting to treetop adventures, as well as distinctive cultural encounters.

Panama, Costa Rica & Nicaragua Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

Guatemala, Honduras & Nicaragua

,

Panama

,

Costa Rica


(Interest Type(s))

Romantic Getaways

,

Sustainable Travel

,

Adventure Travel

,

Family Travel


(Tour Length)

14 Days


Tour Highlights

Starting at: $4,820
  • New graphic smExplore Panama City, the oldest Spanish settlement on the Pacific, and its famous Panama Canal zone
  • Meet members of the traditional Ella Drua Emberá Community, who share customs with you
  • In Costa Rica, savor outstanding whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River, ranked as one of the top five rivers in the world for whitewater rafting with its Class III-IV rapids
  • See the rainforest treetops during the Arenal Ecoglide canopy experience, with its 15 cables and 18 platforms, kayak Lake Arenal or hike a volcano
  • Explore Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast with coastal hikes, stellar sport fishing or beachcombing from a luxury beachfront resort

Day 1:  Panama City, Panama
Welcome to Panama City at the junction of continents and oceans.  Our representative will meet you and transfer to your hotel beautifully set on the bay. American Trade Hotel

Day 2: Panama City
This morning, you explore the ruins of historic Panama la Vieja northeast of downtown with your bilingual guide, who will describe the history leading up to the eventual movement of the capital city to its present location. The city was founded 1519, and is the oldest Spanish settlement on the Pacific, with a population of about 10,000 in the mid-17th century. You can climb up the old cathedral tower, and visit the Panama La Vieja Museum and the Panama Canal Museum.  The Casco Viejo, old city compound, dates from the late 1600s and is home to monuments, including those to Simon Bolivar, Ferdinand de Lesseps and other Frenchmen, who participated in the ill-fated attempt of the French to construct a canal through the country.  After lunch at a typical Panamanian restaurant, you discover the Panama Canal area, including the town of Balboa, formerly part of the Panama Canal Zone. Visit the Miraflores Locks, where large ships can be seen transiting the canal. A presentation by the Panama Canal Authority gives you an interesting look at the history and workings of the famous canal. Late this afternoon, return to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.  American Trade Hotel (B,L)   

Day 3: Panama City / Ella Drua Emberá Community / Panama City
Early this morning, you have the opportunity to meet members of the Ella Drua Emberá Community, who live near the Soberania National Park. The Amerindian population of Panama includes seven indigenous peoples: Ngäbe, Kuna (Guna), Emberá, Buglé, Wounaan, Naso Tjerdi (Teribe) and Bri Bri. In this active Embera village, you are welcomed as they share their traditions and culture. With about 80 residents, the community is tucked away in the hills and jungle on Gatun Lake. The women wear brightly colored wrap skirts called parumas while the men sport traditional cloths and beaded jewelry. The Emberá are master artisans known for their textiles such as woven baskets and for masks and carvings that use cocobolo wood and tagua nuts. Enjoy the traditional music and dance of the Emberá and a traditional lunch. You can opt for a short hike in along the botanical trail at the community before returning to your hotel. American Trade Hotel (B)

Day 4: Panama / San Jose, Costa Rica
Today, you are off to San Jose, Costa Rica’s lovely capital city and home to a quarter of the population. Upon clearing immigration and customs, you exit the airport to meet your driver and guide who will be waiting for you.  Board your private van, and sit back to enjoy the 1.5-hour drive to La Paz Waterfall Gardens. La Paz Waterfall Gardens is home to four spectacular waterfalls, the world’s largest butterfly farm and an enchanting hummingbird gallery.  Spend a few hours hiking the trails as you come close to these powerful waterfalls, before you return to San Jose and check into your hotel.  The remainder of the day is at leisure. Grano De Oro Hotel (B)

Day 5: San Jose / Turrialba
Head out early this morning for a river adventure on the Pacuare River, about two and a half hours from San Jose. Enjoy breakfast en route.  The Pacuare River is ranked as one of the top five rivers in the world for whitewater rafting!  What earns the river this acclaim is its 18 miles of Class III-IV rapids and some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of Costa Rica.  Savor the thrill of the rapids, as well as the natural beauty that surrounds the river such as cascading waterfalls and an abundance of tropical flora and fauna.  Check in to Costa Rica’s premier eco-lodge, Pacuare Lodge tucked away in the heart of Costa Rica’s most pristine rainforest on the banks of the river.  Surrounded by nature in its purest and most primitive state, you experience that most coveted of travelers’ rewards – the opportunity to savor the spirit of a place.  The lodge was designed and constructed to blend with the surrounding environment with minimal impact. It has been recognized by the World Tourism Organization as one of 65 examples throughout the world of good practice in sustainability and ecotourism.  The jungle view rooms are among the newest rooms and were especially designed for families.  Each features a canopy king-size bed, hardwood flooring, spacious terrace with hammock, and a private bathroom with heated water and rainforest view.  Pacuare Lodge  (B,L,D)

Day 6: Turrialba
Awaken to bird songs and the soothing sound of the river.  Today is at leisure to simply relax and savor your surroundings or opt for some of the optional activities available. The lodge employs a resident naturalist guide who can provide unique insights into ecology and wildlife of the area.  Optional activities here include a fun and exciting tree-top tour along a series of transverse cables through the jungle canopy and the highest rappel of the Original Canopy Tour in Costa Rica. You can hike the trails used by the Cabecar Indians for centuries; or enjoy a personal visit with a Zutkia, or Cabecar medicine man to learn about the Cabecar’s relationship with nature. Encounter members from the community of Bajo del Tigre, who make this jungle habitat their home. Go horseback riding guided by a local horseman. Explore the river region and rainforest.  You can set your own pace today. Pacuare Lodge  (B,L,D)

Day 7: Turrialba  / Arenal
Midmorning, you depart by raft for a fun-filled day of whitewater rafting over Class III-IV rapids.  Stop for a delicious picnic lunch along the river.  At the end of the run, you can change clothes before being transferred to Arenal, about three hours. Check into your hotel, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, the Leading Spas of the World and has been recognized by both Spa Finder’s Readers´ Choice Awards and Travel & Leisure.  Nestled within the flat, rich lands of San Carlos, Arenal Volcano rises up from the rainforest like a natural monument.  One of many remarkable sights in the area, this mountain of fire symbolizes the adventure and mysticism of the region.  Known as the adventure capital of Costa Rica, the region’s attractions include Arenal National Park, Fortuna River Waterfall and Caño Negro Wildlife Reserve. With its rolling hills, cattle farms, rainforest, and Costa Rica’s largest lake, the area’s verdant landscape is a cornucopia of bio-diversity. Optional activities include visiting Fortuna River Waterfalls; rafting on the Sarapiqui River, with its Class II, III and IV rapids; a floating safari, with Class I- II rafting, takes you through the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge; and canyoning, which entails rappelling down four walls, including three waterfalls. Kayak Lake Arenal. Hike a volcano in the national park to learn about its ecology. For extreme adventure lovers, the Venado Caves challenge you with wall climbing, sliding through mud-holes, hiking in underground rivers to explore these unique caves.  Your clothes are likely to be ruined, but the adventure makes it worth it.  Mountain bike on an old dirt road and take in view of the volcano, lake and rainforest.  This area is also considered one of the premier sites on the continent for bird watching, and is home to other animals such as sloths, three types of monkeys, caimans, lizards, bats and a myriad of native flora. Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort (B)

Day 8: Arenal
Go on a discovery hike through a 243-hectare/600-acre reserve of lush vegetation. Your experienced guide will help you spot some of the native flora and fauna. The trail itself is 3.1 km/1.9 miles long and crosses nine fixed bridges and six suspension bridges.  It is laid out at a maximum grade of seven degrees so that anyone can walk it.  The Arenal Ecoglide canopy is built following the highest standards and has two separate cables to insure safety. The canopy consists of 15 cables and 18 platforms that are divided into three sections mostly in the trees, which are designed to provide visitors greater contact with nature.  You can also try the optional “Tarzan Swing,” similar to a bungee jump. Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort (B) 

Day 9: Arenal / Guanacaste
This morning, you are picked up at your hotel for the two-hour drive to Guanacaste. Sit back and enjoy the drive which travels from lush rainforest to the tropical dry forests of the Guanacaste Savannah.   Upon arrival, you will check in at hotel Rio Perdido. The remainder of the day is at leisure to enjoy the facilities at your four-star, 20-room hotel. It boasts a thermal river with hot-spring pools, spa treatments and an award-winning restaurant. Rio Perdido Hotel (B) 

Day 10: Guanacaste
Today you are free to peruse your own interests such as a visit to the hot springs, biking mountain trails, go canyoning, or enjoy the spa. Rio Perdido Hotel (B) 

Day 11: Guanacaste / Rivas, Nicaragua
This morning, your private guided drives you to to Mukul Resort (2.5 hours). You cross the border into Nicaragua and your resort. Mukul is a luxury boutique hotel in Guacalito de la Isla, a 676-hectare/1,670-acre low-density private beach community on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast.  Mukul – Mayan for secret – features 37 spacious rooms. Mukul and Guacalito de la Isla are the vision of prominent Nicaraguan entrepreneur Don Carlos Pellas, whose family roots date back to the 19th century.  Mukul was designed as a luxurious yet unpretentious and relaxed private estate by the ocean, with 37 accommodations designed in a style that combines modern elegance with traditional Nicaraguan roots to create a distinct sense of place. Interior designer Paul Duesing worked with Nicaraguan artisans to craft furnishings and decorations that reflect the traditions of the country, including tables made of carved native teak, headboards made of woven sugarcane twigs and rum barrel staves, accent pieces made of sand-cast, polished pewter and lamps made of clay from nearby Masaya Volcano. Like tree houses in the lush canopy, Mukul has 23 bohios that perch dramatically on a steep hillside 300 feet above Playa Manzanillo, offering breathtaking ocean views of the horizon. Built of sustainable native teak and pine, these 57.7-square-meter/621-square-foot cliff houses feature high ceilings and a wall of glass that opens onto a sweeping wooden deck with a private plunge pool. The spacious bathrooms are finished in Nicaraguan travertine marble and boast couples’ “showers-with-a-view.”  Gourmet snacks are offered during the day around the pool and on the beach. Whether in your private villa or bohio, or in the Mukul Beach Club or Mukul Spa, you enjoy complimentary beverages including soft drinks, domestic beers such as Toña, a selection of fine wines, premium tequilas, vodka and whiskey. Mukul Luxury Resort & Spa (B,L) 

Days 12/13: Rivas
Set your own pace at this luxury resort and spa. Be as active or relaxed as you choose. Explore the five kilometers/three miles of hiking and biking trails that run through this lush coastal forest. Search for indigenous wildlife that includes four species of monkey, or find private spot on the miles of white sand beaches.  Enjoy world-class fishing year-round. Savor a massage at the Spa Mukul, with six private spa-treatment casitas. Relax at the pool, or get in a round of golf at the 18-hole Guacalito Golf Course, designed by David McLay Kidd, named the “hottest architect in golf” by Golf World. Mukul Luxury Resort & Spa (B,L) 

Day 14: Rivas / Managua / Depart
Today you head to the airport via a private guided transfer from the resort to the international airport (3.5 hours) to catch your flight home. (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancy:  From $4820.

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