'A Quieter Costa Rica'

What makes this trip special?

Coffee, agriculture and rural life

Coffee, agriculture and rural life

'Chayote Country'

This agricultural region of Costa Rica produces some of the finest coffee in the world. Visit local plantations to learn about the processes involved in turning bean to cup. Experience Costa Rica's rich rural traditions and enjoy a slice of real local life - perhaps visit the town of Sarchí, home to intricately painted ox carts or Naranjo farmers market and enjoy lunch in a local café.

Costa Rica's most beautiful waterfall

Costa Rica's most beautiful waterfall

Catarata del Toro Amarillo

This 70m high waterfall which plunges into an extinct volcano crater and is surrounded by verdant forest in the small cloudforest village of Bajos del Toro is arguably one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all Costa Rica. An excellent stop for birders (Costa Rica's endemic Coppery-headed Emerald hummingbird can be seen here), hikers and nature enthusiasts.

Electric blue waters and lush volcanic forests

Electric blue waters and lush volcanic forests

Rio Celeste

Tumbling down the forested slopes of the Tenorio Volcano National Park, volcanically charged waters plummet into electric blue-hued lagoons surrounded by lush forest. This remote region is a great base for active types looking to hike, bike or horse-ride or those looking to relax in a beautiful natural setting

Remote wetland habitat teeming with wildlife

Remote wetland habitat teeming with wildlife

Caño Negro

Near the Nicaraguan border in remote northern Costa Rica, the wetlands and waterways of the Caño Negro Wildlife refuge are home to a huge number of flora and fauna (particularly good for waterbirds) and are an excellent location for natural history viewing. Best explored by boat or kayak.

Itinerary map for Costa Rica 'A Quieter Costa Rica' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Llano Bonito
  • 2 Llano Bonito
  • 3 Llano Bonito
  • 4 Rio Celeste
  • 5 Rio Celeste
  • 6 Rio Celeste
  • 7 Cano Negro
  • 8 Cano Negro
  • 9 Cano Negro
  • 10 San Jose (Airport)
  • 10 _FlightPathCRNorth-OUT
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'A Quieter Costa Rica'


Chayote Country

On arrival in San José you are driven to an upmarket lodge atop a hill above Llano Bonito, a village typical of Costa Rica’s ‘Chayote Country’ of coffee, farms and rural life. Stay here 3 nights.


The small town of Naranjo is an epicentre of Costa Rican coffee, ringed by haciendas that produce some of the finest coffee in the world. Your local guide takes you to a growers’ cooperative to see how the best coffee is made at international scale, with an informal tasting session to follow. After a country style lunch in the town’s market and a walk around the stalls with your guide you visit the home of ‘Don’ Carlos a respected artisanal coffee grower. He and his family welcome occasional visitors to their beautifully landscaped private gardens and for a chat over a cup of their exquisite coffee.


A second day of rural life, exploring villages in the highlands above the Central Valley with your local guide. You visit La Palmita, famous for its homemade sweet treats, and continue to Zarcero, a small town around a pretty church beside gardens of extraordinary topiaried arches. Amid beautiful mountain scenery you visit the villages of Palmira and Pueblo Nuevo and call at a small family-run farm. At Bajos del Toro in the cloud forests you stop for lunch at a local ‘soda’ cafe. The gorgeous waterfall of Toro Amarillo (photo p34), one of the most beautiful in Costa Rica, pours into the crater of an extinct volcano. Gardens teeming with hummingbirds lead you to the crater’s rim for a stunning view opposite the falls. Allow about 2 hours if you’d like to walk the forest trails to the base with a stiff hike back up.


Tenorio National Park and Rio Celeste

The bejewelled waters of the Rio Celeste tumble down mountainsides into impossibly blue lagoons and wind through green forests in scenes from a fairy tale. The river flows through the relatively unknown Tenorio NP, a great area for walking in nature with wildlife all around. After a journey of 3 hours or so you arrive at a lovely upper range lodge set in forest next to the Tenorio reserve: your base for 3 nights. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy the lodge or opt for one of the activities available locally at extra cost.


With a local guide you walk on trails that wind through the forest of the reserve, arriving first at a look-out with a picture postcard view of Rio Celeste waterfalls. Further on you reach a timber platform with stunning views over the forest. As you walk you could see howler monkeys and squirrels, and possibly even tapir, below trees festooned with bromeliads and through areas of elegant palms. The trail ends at ‘Los Teñidores’, where the waters of two small rivers bearing different minerals come together to create a celestial blue and the start of Rio Celeste itself. The whole 7km trail takes around 4h and is rocky and steep in parts.


A free day to spend at your lodge, or take an excursion. These may include walking, horse-riding, or biking trips, a safari river float, a ‘Finca Verde’ cultural tour, guided bird watching, and perhaps a night walk in the forest, all payable locally.


Caño Negro

Today you travel to Caño Negro where you spend 3 nights at a nature lodge. Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge includes internationally important wetlands that are home to more than 350 species of birds, as well as emerald basilisk, iguanas, river turtles and caiman. Jaguar are present but highly elusive as ever. The afternoon of your arrival is free.


Today you are taken on a nature-viewing trip by boat into the reserve with an experienced local naturalist guide.


A free day relax at your lodge or choose from the excursions, such as canoeing, wetlands wildlife. Night walks are usually also on offer. Each is at extra cost paid locally.

DAY 10

This morning travel back to San José in time to check in for your flight home.

Guide prices for 'A Quieter Costa Rica'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Upper range hotels, selfdrive (Tucson) 2 people sharing £2,840 £3,360
Upper range hotels, private transfers 2 people sharing £2,945 £3,385
Prices are per person and include:
  • all travel in Costa Rica
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
  • excursions as indicated
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally

Customer reviews for 'A Quieter Costa Rica'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.


Seasonal information for 'A Quieter Costa Rica'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Llano Bonito 24°C rainfall 41mm
2 Llano Bonito 24°C rainfall 41mm
3 Llano Bonito 24°C rainfall 41mm
4 Rio Celeste 29°C rainfall 196mm
5 Rio Celeste 29°C rainfall 196mm
6 Rio Celeste 29°C rainfall 196mm
7 Cano Negro 31°C rainfall 128mm
8 Cano Negro 31°C rainfall 128mm
9 Cano Negro 31°C rainfall 128mm
10 San Jose (Airport) 28°C rainfall 7mm
10 _FlightPathCRNorth-OUT 29°C rainfall 178mm

Typical weather for January


Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'A Quieter Costa Rica'

Days 1 - 3

Chayote Lodge

Llano Bonito

Average rating 4.7 (10 ratings)

Chayote Lodge is one of our favourite properties in Costa Rica. It is a well-run boutique-style hotel, newly built, set in the small mountain village of Llano Bonito, a 50 minute drive from Costa Rica's main international airport outside San Jose.

Chayote Lodge offers its guests the opportunity to experience the local culture and nature of this lovely region of Costa Rica. Local coffee, agriculture and rural life are artfully reflected in the lodge buildings and furnishings. 'Chayote' means squash, which grows in abundance in the area. Guest bungalows have been built to resemble coffee receiving stations or 'recibidores'.

The lodge's accommodation is very comfortable and stylish. Each of the 12 spacious 'recibidor' suites have private balconies with stunning views over the Central Valley and with artwork and furniture designed by local artisans. They are equipped with king-sized beds and private bathrooms. There is a sofa in each suite.

The lodge's restaurant and bar is called 'Quelites'. It serves fresh, locally-grown, seasonal produce, including palmito cheese (a Costa Rican favourite), the local varieties of 'chayote' squash in season, and local coffee.

A good range of tours is offered from the lodge with its own naturalist local guide, including visiting a coffee plantation, cooking with locals, visiting the nearby towns of Zarcero and Naranjo or further afield to Poas and Irazu volcanoes, plus waterfall hikes and zip-lining. There is good birdwatching around the lodge; guided birding here or further afield can be arranged.




Chayote Lodge
Recibidor suite
Days 5 - 6

Rio Celeste Hideaway

Tenorio Volcano National Park

Rio Celeste Hideaway is a small boutique hotel set within the rainforest surrounding the Tenorio Volcano National Park in northern Costa Rica, approximately 2hrs from Liberia and 1h 30mins from La Fortuna.


The 26 "casita" bungalows have been designed with comfort and style in mind whilst reflecting the natural surroundings. Each has a king-sized bed or two queen-sized beds, private backyard with outdoor shower, private balcony, jacuzzi, plasma T.V, DVD, internet access, A/C, mini-bar, coffee maker.


Hotel facilities include swimming pool, restaurant, bar and wet bar, tours desk offering horse-riding, biking, hiking (guests can do a leg stretching hike through the rainforest to the local attraction Rio Celeste waterfall, which plunges 30ft into an electric blue lagoon)

Rio Celeste Hideaway
Days 7 - 9

Hacienda Cano Negro

Hacienda Cano Negro is a recently opened upmarket birding and fishing retreat located on the banks of the Rio Frio near Los Chiles, approximately 2hrs north of Arenal. The hacienda is set on a 175 hectare property which comprises a low impact cattle farm and 5 hectares of protected wetlands.

Over the water contemporary bungalows have private open-air showers and terraces with plunge pools overlooking the river, and are linked to the main lodge buildings and dock by boardwalks. The 'Casona' house contains three bedrooms and a suite, together with a full kitchen and swimming pool.

Facilities include a restaurant, bar and private dock. Activities possible from the lodge include fishing trips, hikes in the lodge property by day and night, birding, wildlife photography workshops.  

Hacienda Cano Negro