Captivating Costa Rica and Colombia
with the Panama Canal20 days from £4,299 per person
SummaryThis three-week Latin American adventure covers the best bits of three fascinating countries: Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. We’ll begin with wildlife-rich reserves, volcanic landscapes and coastal canals, following the same route as our bestselling ‘Natural Wonders of Costa Rica’ tour. After discovering Panama City and sailing down its famous canal, we’ll fly down to Colombia for coffee, cathedrals and colonial architecture, exploring Bogotá, Cartagena and Pereira.
Your holiday includes:19 included excursions and visits
- Tours of San Jose, Panama City, Bogotá and Cartagena
- Visits to Braulio Carrillo National Park; Tortuguero National Park; Arenal Volcano; Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge (including cruise); Monteverde Butterfly Gardens; Monteverde Cloud Forest private reserve; Bogotá Gold Museum; Zipaquirá salt cathedral
- Tortuguero Canals wildlife cruise
- Stop at Sarchi
- Partial transit of the Panama Canal
- Tour and tasting at a coffee finca
- Full-day excursion to a sugarcane mill, Santuario village and ‘fonda’ bar with rum tasting
- 18 nights in hotels and 2 in flight (accommodation as specified or similar)
- 30 meals: 18 breakfasts (days 3-20) 7 lunches (days 4-7, 13, 15 and 17) 5 dinners (days 4-5, 14, 16 and 19)
- Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service
- Services of a Titan tour manager
- International and regional flights (prices are based on return flights with Avianca from London Heathrow via Bogotá. Supplements may apply from other airports)
- Best available coaches with experienced drivers
- All airport taxes and duties
Day 1 UK - In flight
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to San Jose.
After touching down in Costa Rica’s bustling capital, we’ll check in to our hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore independently. You’ll notice the humming and honking of traffic is ever-present here, but that all adds to the city’s charm. A stroll around the sprawling Parque Metropolitano La Sabana or a wander around the authentic market (Mercado Centrale) will ease you into the way of the lively locals.
On day 3, we’ll head out on a city tour. We’ll visit the Bellavista fortress, now home to the fascinating National Museum, where you can wander through a timeline of Costa Rica’s history and culture. We’ll also see the cathedral and central market, and finish the tour at the beautiful National Theatre, modelled on the Paris Opera House. The afternoon is at leisure.
Park Inn by Radisson, San Jose (4T)
We’ll pass through the stunning, cloud-shrouded landscapes of Braulio Carrillo National Park this morning on our journey toward Tortuguero. Keep your camera handy as we drive past tropical rainforest and volcanic mountains, and through lush banana plantations.
On arriving in Tortuguero, we’ll board a small boat and travel along the sinuous waterways of the Tortuguero Canals. There’s an abundance of exotic flora and fauna to admire as we float along towards our eco-lodge, nestled on a rainforest-covered sandbar.
In the afternoon, we’ll head out to explore Tortuguero village, visit the Turtle Preservation Centre and go for a stroll along the caramel-coloured beach.
Laguna Lodge, Tortuguero (3T+)
We’ll spend the morning exploring the Tortuguero Canals by boat, keeping our eyes peeled for monkeys, sloths, toucans and more as we go. The afternoon is free for relaxation or exploration with the option of guided walk in the surrounding jungle.
Today, we travel through the plains and farmland of the San Carlos region, the heart of Costa Rica, to Arenal and its recognisable volcano.
The Tilajari Resort Hotel (3T+) or Volcano Lodge (3T+), Arenal
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge
You’ll have the chance to observe the day-to-day lives of local communities as we travel to the village of Los Chiles today. From here, we’ll bob along the River Frío on a floating safari through rainforest and pastures, entering the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge.
This stunning natural refuge is one of the most important wetlands in the world. A huge variety of wildlife calls this area home, including more than 200 species of bird (be sure to bring your binoculars if you have them).
A sprawling chain of villages, farmland and nature reserves, Monteverde is home to the world-famous Costa Rican cloud forests. We’ll stop by the impressive Butterfly Gardens, where dozens of beautifully colourful insects flutter through the air.
We’ll then venture through the Cloud Forest private reserve to witness the wide array of flora and fauna. This is one of the few places in the world where you might be able to catch a glimpse of the colourful quetzal, whose feathers were more important than gold in ancient times.
Monteverde Country Lodge (3T) or Montana Monteverde (3T)
Today is free to relax and explore this tropical haven, or take an optional excursion for an adrenaline-pumping adventure into the cloud forest canopy. A Skywalk of hanging bridges, trails and platforms takes you to all the different layers of the forest. The Sky Tram then takes you on 1,600m ride to observe the cloud forest; the Arenal, Tenorio, Miravalles and Orosi volcanoes; the Nicoya Gulf; and the Guanacaste Plain.
We’ll travel back to San Jose via the picturesque town of Sarchi, famous for its elaborately painted oxcarts.
Park Inn by Radisson, San Jose (4T)
We’ll transfer to the airport this morning for our flight to Panama City. On arrival, we’ll check in to our hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Global Panama Hotel, Panama City (4T)
We’ll take in this fascinating city together on a tour this morning. We’ll see the World Heritage-listed Panama Viejo Historic Monument Complex, before continuing to the Historic District, with its lovely colonial architecture. A walking tour then takes us to the Palace of the President and the city’s cathedral. We’ll finish up at the Causeway, with views of the Panama Canal’s Miraflores locks.
We’ll take to the waters of the world’s most famous canal today. On our small vessel, we’ll make our way through the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel lock systems, and pass through the spectacular Gaillard Cut.
There’s more wildlife to look out for - the canal’s banks are edged by tropical rainforest that hides all sorts of native creatures. We’ll end our cruise at Gatun Lake, returning to the city by coach.
It’s adiós to Panama and hola to Colombia as we fly south to the country’s vibrant capital, Bogotá. This afternoon, we’ll pay a visit to the Gold Museum, where you’ll find a glittering collection of pre-Colombian gold jewellery and unusual statues.
Best Western Plus 93 Park Hotel, Bogotá (4T)
We’ll be up early this morning for a stroll around the Paloquemao marketplace, where stalls groan under the weight of tropical fruits, veg, fresh fish, fragrant herbs and more. We’ll then continue to the pretty La Candelaria neighbourhood, with its cobbled streets, colonial churches and historic houses.
In the afternoon, we’ll drive up to Zipaquirá. The draw here is below ground - a 120-metre-long cathedral carved out of a salt mine by local workers.
Pereira - Zona Cafetera
Today we fly to Pereira to learn about Colombia’s most famous export, coffee.
The Zona Cafetera (Coffee Zone) is located in the cool hills of rural Colombia. The region is also known as the Paisa region - the Paisa people have been growing coffee in these fertile valleys for hundreds of years. It’s also the birthplace of Colombia’s national dish, ‘bandeja paisa’ (a platter of egg, avocado, beans, chorizo, rice and pork rind).
On arrival, we’ll waste no time in visiting a local coffee finca. Walk through lush plantations, discover the secrets of the production process and let local experts guide you through the fine art of coffee tasting.
Hotel San Carlos Lodge, Pereira (4T)
Our day starts with a visit to a sugar mill, where we’ll watch local farmers bringing the sugar cane in to the mill with their horses. We’ll walk through the whole process and enjoy a short tasting at the end.
We’ll then drive through landscapes dotted with sugar cane, coffee and banana plantations as we journey to the little village of Santuario. On a Jeep tour, we’ll wind along mountainous roads to an isolated little ‘fonda’ - a traditional Colombian bar - for a rum tasting. With bright colours, folk music and dark wooden tables and chairs, this is the real deal when it comes to traditional Colombian music and culture.
A flight from Bogotá takes us to the coastal city of Cartagena. This UNESCO-protected city is filled with treasures - we’ll discover its 16th century fortress, colonial centre and historic museum on a guided tour. The following day is at leisure to explore the city under your own steam.
Day 20 Cartagena - In flight
Most of the day is at leisure before we transfer to the airport for your overnight return flight to the UK. Bird lovers might like to join an optional excursion to the National Aviary - it’s home to more than 150 species, from toucans to flamingos.
Day 21 UK
Upon arrival, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.