Group of rafters on the Pacuare River, Costa Rica
5.0
| 106 reviews

250km Coast to Coast Expedition through Costa Rica

11 nights
Challenging

Hike, bike and paddle yourself from the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Caribbean Sea

What's Included?

Activities & Certified Guides

All itinerary activities with expert, English-speaking local guides

All accommodation

5 nights camping, 5 nights in a hotel and 1 night in a cabin

Meals

Most meals with the exception of a few dinners and a couple of lunches

Transfers & Permits

Your airport and local transfers, permits and entry fees are included

Equipment

All your biking, rafting, kayaking equipment. Sleeping bag & tents for the camping nights

Small Like-minded Groups

Solo-friendly by design, join our small n’ sociable groups of up to 16 like-minded, active and outdoorsy people
From

excluding flights

What's it like?

5.0
| 106 reviews
Once in a lifetime trip!
June 2024
Tom
Once in a lifetime trip!
June 2024
Tom
Once in a lifetime trip!
June 2024
Tom
Once in a lifetime trip!
June 2024
Tom
Once in a lifetime trip!
June 2024
Tom
Costa Rica 2024
May 2024
Simon G.
Outstanding
May 2024
Brian O.
Cost Rica! Pura Vida!
April 2024
Catherine M.
Cost Rica! Pura Vida!
April 2024
Catherine M.
Cost Rica! Pura Vida!
April 2024
Catherine M.
PURA VIDA? PURA VIDA!
April 2024
Tony E.
PURA VIDA? PURA VIDA!
April 2024
Tony E.
PURA VIDA? PURA VIDA!
April 2024
Tony E.
PURA VIDA? PURA VIDA!
April 2024
Tony E.
A completely inspiring journey. I
April 2024
timothy z.
A completely inspiring journey. I
April 2024
timothy z.
Worth every penny!
April 2024
Kathryn B.
Worth every penny!
April 2024
Kathryn B.
Worth every penny!
April 2024
Kathryn B.
Worth every penny!
April 2024
Kathryn B.
Worth every penny!
April 2024
Kathryn B.
Worth every penny!
April 2024
Kathryn B.
Pura Vida! One of the best travel experiences of my life
March 2024
Nicolle D.
Pura Vida! One of the best travel experiences of my life
March 2024
Nicolle D.
Pura Vida! One of the best travel experiences of my life
March 2024
Nicolle D.
Pura Vida! One of the best travel experiences of my life
March 2024
Nicolle D.
Pura Vida! One of the best travel experiences of my life
March 2024
Nicolle D.
Amazing, but tough!
March 2024
Lindsey T.
Amazing, but tough!
March 2024
Lindsey T.
Amazing, but tough!
March 2024
Lindsey T.

Cross the width of one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth under your own steam, from one lush coastline to another

Journey through cloudforest, mountain villages and virgin rainforest teeming with wildlife before heading up and over the Continental Divide

Rest up at beautiful eco-camps on the banks of the pristine Pacuare River and cool down with swims and dips at secret swimming spots in the rainforest

Key Information

Day 1

Welcome to Costa Rica

Young woman in traditional dress, Costa Rica.

Fly into beautiful Costa Rica and head to your hotel in San José. Depending on what time you land, explore, or just relax and get ready for the start of your adventure.

Day 2

The Pacific Coast

A beautiful tropical beach at Manuel Antonio, on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica

Hop on a bus bound for the Pacific Coast – the starting point for your coast-to-coast adventure. This will be your last motorised vehicle for the next 10 days! Spend the night in the quiet fishing village of Quepos, next door to Manuel Antonio National Park. Relax on the beach, visit the park, famous for its abundant wildlife and then have dinner and a group briefing with the rest of your team.

Day 3

The adventure begins

Cyclists pedalling along a track in Costa Rica

Hiking

14km · 1000m up · 700m down

Cycling

19km · 350m up · 150m down

Fuel up on some fresh fruit and coffee, then set off on your bike. There are some steep sections straight away, although you'll be instantly rewarded with some sweeping views of the Pacific coastline. Reach the small town of Esquipulas and have a bigger, second breakfast before swapping your bike for hiking boots and heading deep into the cool mountains of central Costa Rica. Camp for the night in the valley of Naranjillo and listen to the sound of nature, uninterrupted.

Day 4

Santa Maria Village

Hikers on a gravel road in Costa Rica.

Hiking

12km · 1000m up · 250m down

Cycling

14km · 500m up · 300m down

Start with a hike towards the Continental Divide before tackling 'Cemetery Hill' – a challenging 3km climb. From the pueblo of San Lorenzo, grab your mountain bike and set off for the quaint village of Santa Maria. Load up on some typical Costa Rican food and then rest up in a comfortable cabin for the night.

Day 5

Over the divide

A man riding a downhill mountain bike trail in Costa Rica

Cycling

49km · 1300m up · 1800m down

Time to tackle the toughest and steepest climb – a 14 km uphill stretch to the Continental Divide. This section is on a tarmac road which makes the going easier during the climb. At 2330 metres, it's also the highest point of your journey. Of course, what goes up must come down, so the rest of the day is off-road cycling at its best – downhill along dirt roads and smooth trails. Finish the day in the beautiful Orosi Valley, where rich pastures and dark green forests of coffee carpet the land.

Day 6

Tapantí cloud forest

Sun rays filtering through the tree canopy, Tapanti Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

Hiking

17km · 500m up · 1000m down

Cycling

9km · 300m up · 150m down

Cycle beside the river and then into the vast Tapantí National Wildlife Refuge. Take a break from the bike and head deeper into the mountains on foot – far from where wheels could ever take you. Trek through the cloud forest and feel tiny beneath thousands of trees covered with ferns, bromeliads and mosses. After reaching flatter ground, camp near the small settlement of Taus and have a big dinner under the stars.

Day 7

The Pacuare River

A boat of rafters on the rapids of the Pacuare River, Costa Rica.

Cycling

4hrs · 43km · 700m up · 1000m down

Rafting

2hrs · 10km

Continue cycling towards La Cruz, the gateway to the raging Pacuare River. Eat lunch on the river's banks before loading up your raft to paddle through pristine rainforest, canyon cliffs and past deafening waterfalls. Set up camp for the night at El Nido del Tigre, named after the giant indigenous ginger plants that carpet the area, nestled between the sounds of the rainforest and the river. There will be some free time to explore this lush environment – be sure to look out for toucans, boa constrictors and sloths – or you can just relax in a hammock.

Day 8

Rest day

Two people approaching a pristine waterfall in the forest, Costa Rica.

Enjoy some well-earned downtime at this gorgeous location. Explore the primary forest, swim in the river, visit some nearby waterfalls and swimming holes where the water is so pure you can drink from them, or just put in some more hammock time. The area of rainforest around your camp is in a pristine state and rarely visited – perfect for a peaceful day.

Day 9

White water

Rafters on a river in Costa Rica

Rafting

4-6hrs · 20km

Continue along the Pacuare, passing through river-carved canyons. There are also some exhilarating Class II and III rapids to manoeuvre, as well as gentler sections where you can peer into the rainforest and spot wildlife. Take a break from rafting and hike to some cascading waterfalls and have lunch on the shore. Stop for the night as the forest gives way to the banana plantations at Finca Pacuarito and enjoy the rapidly changing scenery.

Day 10

The Caribbean Sea

Beach in Costa Rica

Cycling

2hrs · 26km · 100m up · 100m down

Kayaking

2hrs · 12km

Jump back on your bike and ride through the plantations to the town of Freeman, then board your kayak for the final leg of the journey. Leave the rapids of the highlands behind and paddle into the tropical lowlands, before finally drifting into the Caribbean Sea. Celebrate with a drink in the surf and some beach time – you've earned it!

Day 11

Final beach time and back to San José

Happy people in the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica.

Enjoy some final downtime on the sand and then drive back to San José through the cloud forest and misty mountains of Braulio Carrillo National Park. Toast your epic coast-to-coast achievement. Not everyone can say they've crossed an entire country!

Day 12

Goodbye Costa Rica

Sloth hanging upside down in a tree, Costa Rica

After breakfast, head back to the airport in time for your flight home, or explore a little more of this incredible country.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3 – Day 4

Campsite · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Campsite · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6 – Day 9

Campsite · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 10

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 11

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 12

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Gallo Pinto – rice with red beans in a bowl, close-up on the table

A classic plate of Costa Rican food includes rice and beans, salad, fried sweet plantains and either fish, chicken, pork or beef. Some will also have cheese, french fries or grilled vegetables. Gallo pinto is another classic Costa Rican staple: slow-cooked rice and beans with onions, peppers and coriander (cilantro). This dish often forms part of the Costa Rican breakfast: gallo pinto with eggs, fried cheese, sweet plantains and homemade corn tortillas. There'll be plenty of other Latin American and tropical foods available, and on both coasts you’ll find pipa fria: a whole, cold, fresh coconut.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Twin room, Sleep Inn Paseo Las Damas, San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose

You'll stay in a 3-star hotel in the centre of town, for example the Hotel Sleep Inn Paseo Las Damas which is opposite España Park and the Modern Art Museum. The exact hotel will be confirmed by your local host in your pre-departure information.

Kamuk Hotel and Spa, Quepos, Costa Rica
The Pacific Coast

You'll stay at Kamuk Hotel and Spa in Quepos, just minutes from Manuel Antonio National Park and steps from the Pacific Ocean.

Camping at El Nido del Tigre, Costa Rica
The Expedition

You'll stay at campsites and rustic cabinas. Highlights include El Nido Del Tigre, an authentic Costa Rican camp that’s passionate about sustainability in the Bajo Tigre rainforest.

Hotel Casa de las Flores, Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica
The Caribbean

You'll celebrate the end of your journey with a night at the boutique Hotel Casa de las Flores in Cahuita National Park. The hotel is close to the beach and surrounded by an area renowned for its invaluable biodiversity, where you're likely to see white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, iguanas, toucans, sloths and a variety of birds and butterflies.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and tent can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

This trip has been rated as Challenging

Crossing 250km coast-to-coast in 10 days is a challenge, so strong fitness and a sense of adventure is vital. You'll also need to be happy swapping from bike, to hiking boots, to a multi-person raft, to a single person kayak. You do not need kayaking experience although upper body strength is useful. And the mountain biking is not technical so whil you do not need to have prior experience of trails etc, the more experience will make your trip more enjoyable. The rafting is from Class II up to Class IIII rapids. No experience is needed for the rafting, your guides will give you a full instruction on how to tackle the rapids as a team, with an experienced rafting guide captaining each raft. The cycling on the trip is a combination of paved roads and dirt roads going through dry forests, jungles, and cloud forests. Most of the riding is not that technical, your guide will give a heads up on the more difficult parts. Experience in riding back-to-back days is recommended but not absolutely necessary. Most of the days there are climbs as you pass from one valley to the other over the mountains. There is always plenty of time each day to take your time riding and to stop to take pictures etc. You will regroup wherever the guides find it necessary to keep the group together and safe. There will be plenty of local snacks and some shade to keep you going. The ultimate aim of cycling on this trip is simply to be able to see more of Costa Rica combining it with hiking, whitewater rafting, and kayaking. The bikes used will be front suspension mountain bikes with disk brakes. You are welcome to bring your own pedals, seats and accessories, although it's also perfectly fine to just turn up with comfortable active shoes and start riding. The rafting is from Class II up to Class IIII rapids. No experience is needed for the rafting, your guides will give you full instructions on how to tackle the rapids as a team, with an experienced rafting guide captaining each raft.

Costa Rica's dry season, considered summer by the locals, runs from mid-November to April and temperatures vary significantly depending on the region and elevation. Along the coast and the Caribbean flatlands, temperatures average 25–34˚C (77–93˚F). At the mid-level elevations temperatures average between 17–26˚C (63–79˚F).

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Juan Santamaría International Airport, San José

Anytime on Day 1

Ends

Juan Santamaría International Airport, San José

Anytime on Day 12

Transfers

Airport transfers are included on arrival and departure days. Just let your host know your flight details. If you arrive and depart outside of the set days, your host can arrange an airport transfer for you for an extra cost. See Optional Extras for the price.

Travel options

There are regular flights to Costa Rica from major airports across the UK and Europe.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • All your kayak, rafting and cycling gear (except for biking helmet)
  • All season sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat

What's available to hire?

  • Bike helmet (for your own comfort we advise bringing your own if you can)

What do I need to bring?

SLEEPING

  • Sleeping bag liner (optional)

BAGS

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack (25+ litres)
  • Daypack rain cover
  • Dry bag (optional)

FOOTWEAR

  • Lightweight adventure shoes or hiking boots (worn-in)
  • Sandals with SNUG straps (Teva type)
  • Lightweight fast drying hiking socks

CLOTHES

  • Lightweight rain jacket and rain pants (Gortex, nylon or similar)
  • Lightweight comfortable pants
  • Shorts/skirts (quick dry)
  • Medium weight wool or fleece jacket
  • Shirts (poly-pro outer wear (for quick drying)
  • Short sleeved and light-coloured long sleeved tops, for sun protection
  • (Thermal) underwear
  • Fast drying hiking socks
  • Buff or bandana
  • Sunhat (ideally with brim)
  • Something to sleep in
  • Swimwear
  • Towel
  • Sarong (optional, works as towel or quick cover-up)

BIKING GEAR

  • Bike helmet
  • Trainers or specific cycling shoes (for flat pedals, unless you bring your own clip in pedals)
  • Bike shirts (optional)
  • Bike gloves (can also be used for paddling)
  • Padded shorts for cycling segments
  • Bike water bottle

Note: feel free to bring your own pedals and seat if you want.

OTHER

  • Trekking poles (optional)
  • Sunglasses (UVA + UVB resistant) & keeper strap (you don't want to lose your sunnies in the river)
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Spare batteries (camera, torch, etc)
  • 2-3 reusable water bottles
  • Prescription glasses or contacts (bring an extra pair)
  • Passports (visas and copy of your passport)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Insect repellent
  • Waterproof sunscreen, 30+ SPF
  • Earplugs
  • Padlock for left luggage
  • Universal travel adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Alcohol hand-gel
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Bike Helmet Hire

Payable Before Departure

Bike Helmet Hire

Pre/Post trip accommodation in San Jose (per room, per night) from

Payable Before Departure

Pre/Post trip accommodation in San Jose (per room, per night) from

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Per Person

Airport Transfer One Way (San Jose Airport to San Jose accommodation)

Payable Before Departure

Airport Transfer One Way (San Jose Airport to San Jose accommodation)

Jaclyn L.(June 2024)
Worth it!

An amazing trip! It was very challenging but incredibly rewarding. Josue, our guide, was outstanding—everything was well-organised, we were well-fed, and he kept our motivation and spirits high, with great support from Memo too. I highly recommend this trip to anyone looking to experience beautiful scenery, encounter wildlife, and embrace a sense of adventure!

Tom(June 2024)
Once in a lifetime trip!
Once in a lifetime trip!
Once in a lifetime trip!
Once in a lifetime trip!
Once in a lifetime trip!
Once in a lifetime trip!

If you’re looking through reviews to make your mind up, let this review help you decide. Do it!

So well organised with the best guides Carlos, Josue and support team. And then with a incredible group of new friends who supported each other through out and made it so much fun.

It’s an incredible way to see all of Costa Rica’s diversity and felt so much better than just a holiday. The views were spectacular.

Definitely need a good base level of fitness and it’s a challenge but all very achievable. My biggest concern was burning so many calories and being left hungry but the food all the way was truly amazing and very much appreciated after long days of exercise. And even grab a banana on your hike from the trees.

Tips: bring biking gloves!

Zach F.(June 2024)
An amazing trip!

A fantastic time with Carlos and Josue! The group had great synergy thanks to phenomenal leadership from the guides and crew. The hiking and biking was not super challenging for very fit people, but it was not easy by any means.

Bring a couple lightweight long sleeves and pants to keep the sun off you and plenty of bug spray.

The food was great and plentiful...I tend to eat a lot, but was never hungry for more when the guides were cooking for us ;-)

Becky M.(June 2024)
A true adventure!!

This was a true adventure crossing Costa Rica without motorised transport. The host team led by guides Carlos and Josue and driver Memo went above and beyond to ensure we were looked after and enjoying all aspects of the trip. Both the route and logistics were flawless and the varied mode of transport used added more to the adventure! The camping sites were beautiful, well equipped and very comfortable after a day out in the wild! The food was excellant, with plenty of it!! I would thoroughly recommend this trip for anyone wanting to see some beautiful scenery, wildlife and who has a sense of adventure!! Pura Vida 🐸✌️

Lou C.(May 2024)
Fabulous

Fantastic trip with amazing knowledgeable guides for whom nothing was too much trouble All activities organised to perfection, accommodation always just what we needed and the food was delicious Can’t wait to do the next one!

Simon G.(May 2024)
Costa Rica 2024
Costa Rica 2024

Fantastic trip - organisation, guides and support were exemplary (thanks to all the team). Set up was matched by the trip itself, a real adventure that pushed you, whilst delivering an outstanding experience of Costa Rica, both the country and the people.

One for the must do list!!

Mike A.(May 2024)
Pura Vida!

Very happy I did this tour. It was tough in parts. The guides were exceptional. Always going above and beyond. Guides new the route very well. So were able to give detailed advice at each stage. The kit was very good. Afew people did have afew issues with their bike. It was fixed quickly. Swapped for a new bike if needed. The tour was well organised. We were prepared and briefed for each stage. Water was readily available. Usually every 2 to 3 hours. Costa Rica is expensive! Similar prices to UK. I took walking sticks but didn't use them. Worn in, good pair of trainers is adequate for hikes.

Apryl S.(May 2024)
Just Do It!

This trip was everything I hoped for, from the organization of each day to the great food to the knowledgeable, supportive, and patient guides. It was physically challenging for us, and we should have trained more, but even being at the back of the group we had a wonderful experience and made it the entire way. If you are thinking about this trip...challenge yourself and do it!

Brian O.(May 2024)