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Costa Rica Traverse

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.


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)
Support vehicle on majority of bike sections (except for 1.5 hrs between Santa Maria and the Orosi Valley)
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
Tour Provider World Expeditions
Number of Days
Price From
AUD $3,990
Start Location
San Jose, Costa Rica
End Location
Costa Rica
Age Range
Avg. 30+
Group Size
4 to 16
Tour Style
Tour Themes
Adventure, Cycling/Trekking
Physical Rating
Tour departure dates
07 Sep 201918 Sep 2019AvailableAUD $3,990
16 Nov 201927 Nov 2019AvailableAUD $4,090
21 Dec 201901 Jan 2020AvailableAUD $4,320
Day 1
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
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
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
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
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
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 gs 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
Day 7
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, Trekking distance: 12km
Day 8
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, Rafting distance: 10km
Day 9
This 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
Today the Pacuare takes us through virgin rainforest, cascading waterfalls and river carved canyons. We manuver 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
THE SWEET TASTE OF SUCCESS...This morning we jump on our bikes for a short ride through banana plantations to the town of Freeman 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, Kayaking distance: 12km
Day 12
You will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport.