Autotour: Het Noorden van Costa Rica

Live it up on the open road, driving through passages surrounded by emerald forests! Be amazed at the fertility of our lands as you head up the volcano where you’ll be able to leave all your worries behind. How? Imagine yourself pulling your car over by the volcano just after nightfall, feeling the pulse of life to the beats of its nightly activity. Otherwise, indulge yourself in all the liveliness of the different activities that this region has to offer, such as: taking a refreshing dive in a waterfall, travelling thousands of years back in time with a visit to Venado Caves. A walk in the canopy and the beauty of a hummingbird gallery are also part of the things you can enjoy during this fascinating self-drive holiday. Live it up on the open road! Live it up touring the North!


Day 1: International Airport - San José City Hotel

After your arrival at the international airport of San José, Costa Rica, you will be welcomed by our English speaking airport guide at the exit of the airport. He/she will hand you over your travel documents, afterwards seat-in transfer to your city hotel.

Included fees/tours: None
Included meals today: None

Day 2: San José - Poás Volcano – Boca Tapada

Your rental car will be delivered after breakfast, you need a credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Diner´s Cub) and your valid national driving license. Then you drive via Alajuela, the second biggest town in Costa Rica, to Poás Volcano (entrance fee USD 15 per person). Your car will be safe in the parking lot. After a short walk, you reach the main crater of the volcano. With a diameter of 1, 8 km, the crater of Poás Volcano is one of the biggest in the world. We recommend visiting this place before 10h00 in the morning because it usually gets cloudy in the afternoon. After visiting this crater, you have the possibility to enjoy an approx. half-hour walk to another crater. On this short trip you’ll be able to observe a lot of nice flora and birds. Back to the car, the real adventure begins, while driving through the most agriculturally productive lands of Costa Rica. Drive south to San Pedro de Poás, turn right and continue to the town of Grecia. Visit their local church which is indeed lovely. This burgundy painted house of prayer was built in 1890 entirely out of metal to protect it from the tropical climate and is really admirable. Then you can keep on with your trip calling at the towns of Naranjo and Zarcero until you reach Ciudad Quesada. From here, you continue to Boca Tapada, passing the villages of Aguas Zarcas and Pital.

Included fees/tours: none
Included meals today: none 
Total km today: about 150 km
Total driving time today: about 4.5 hours

Day 3: Boca Tapada

Take pleasure in a fantastic hike inside an emerald forest - 300 ha of protected area where you will be able to explore the magnificent flora and fauna. There is also a lake that goes drifting 900 meters deep into the jungle. You can use the kayaks to paddle silently through the rainforest - one of the best ways to see animals. Likewise, a variety of tours is run and can be booked for a reasonable price.

Included fees/tours: none
Included meals today: breakfast
Total km today: about 0 km
Total driving time today: about 0 hours

Day 4: Pedacito de Cielo/ Boca Tapada - La Fortuna / Arenal Volcano

Drive back to Pital and reach La Fortuna via Aguas Zarcas and Muelle. We highly recommend a hike by the old lava fields of the volcano (entry fee to the national park is US$ 15 per person). From the lookout point, you can enjoy a fantastic view of Lake Arenal. In the hotel, a variety of tours in the region are offered, such as a visit to Ecocentro Danaus with its butterfly garden and the medicinal plants garden or a visit to the La Fortuna Waterfall, where you’ll have the chance to take a refreshing dive.

Included fees/tours: none
Included meals today: breakfast
Total km today: about 80 km
Total driving time today: about 2.5 hours

Day 5: La Fortuna - Caño Negro - La Fortuna

Today we recommend you to visit Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. Drive to Muelle and then up to Los Chiles, close to the Nicaraguan border. There are several tour operators offering boat trips from Rio Frío to Caño Negro. This is actually quite an appealing option, because you’ll be able to get an eyeful of the many different birds and may be lucky enough to come across crocodiles, sloths, monkeys and other animals. Return to La Fortuna. Other options are e.g. a visit to the Venado Caves, or horseback riding tours and more.

Included fees/tours: none
Included meals today: breakfast 
Total km today: about 80 km one way to Los Chiles/ Caño Negro
Total driving time today: about 1.5 hours one way to Los Chiles/ Caño Negro

Day 6: La Fortuna - Lake Arenal - Monteverde

Begin your journey driving around the volcano and continue along Lake Arenal. As you drive you’ll soon notice how the beautiful tropical rainforest starts to unfold before your very eyes. You may bump into a coati or a monkey from time to time and, of course, you’ll be able to spot a variety of colourful birds. When the road gets more and more rugged and you can see potholes all around it is a sign that you are close to the village of Nuevo Arenal. Continue to the northern part of Lake Arenal. You’ll find out that this area is windy all year round. Therefore, you’ll be able to admire the wind farm in the horizon – a dazzling vision of a clean energy future!
Once in Tilarán, follow the signs to Monteverde / Santa Elena. The last approx. 50km may be in a quite poor condition, especially after heavy rainfalls.

Included fees/tours: none
Included meals today: breakfast
Total km today: about 125 km
Total driving time today: about 3.5 hours

Day 7: Monteverde

Today you’ll have plenty of time to take pleasure in the many interesting excursions and tours that Monteverde has for you. We especially recommend a visit to the reserves of Monteverde and Santa Elena. You can also enjoy the hanging bridges of Selvatura or the Skywalk, a system of suspension bridges in the canopy of the cloud forest. Skytrek is an even more adventurous option to observe the jungle, gliding from platform to platform while hanging on steel cables. Santa Elena, the small village close to Monteverde, also offers a butterfly farm, a snake museum, a hummingbird gallery, a cheese factory and much more.

Included fees/tours: none
Included meals today: breakfast
Total km today: none
Total driving time today: none

Day 8: Monteverde - San José

In the morning, you’ll still have some time to enjoy another optional activity of your choice. Around noon, you should drive back to San José in order to return your car.
Note: You have the option to drop-off your car at any other destination on the Pacific Coast (at an extra charge), or you can make a connection with another of our fly & drive programmes.

Included fees/tours: none
Included meals today: breakfast 
Total km today: about 150 km
Total driving time today: about 3 hours