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    Costa Rican amphibians

Tours Pace 3

Contrasts of Central America

Panama City and Costa Rica, Central America

from £3,499 per person 18 2
Including optional travel insurance or a price reduction of £155 if not required
  • VIP travel service VIP door to door
  • Great savings per person* Save £
  • All inclusive All Inclusive

Discover the highlights of Panama City and Costa Rica

This two-country tour of Central America will reveal its varied culture, wildlife and natural beauty. Experience the booming metropolis of Panama City on the shores of the Panama Canal and be moved by the the slumbering volcanoes, lagoons and wildlife-packed rainforests of Costa Rica, including Arenal volcano and Tortuguero National Park.


16 nights in hotels and 2 in flight

48 meals: 16 breakfasts, 16 lunches and 16 dinners

Free bar open up to 12 hours on 7 nights plus limited drinks on 9 nights

Excursions and visits

  • Panama City tour including visits to the Miraflores lock, Casco Antiguo and the Biomuseo
  • Trip to Rincon de la Vieja volcano
  • Don Juan Eco Farm tour
  • Boat ride to Tortuguero
  • Canal boat tour of Tortuguero National Park and village
  • Tour of Colonial Liberia

Also enjoy talks on each country’s culture and wildlife throughout your tour from expert guides

Departures till Aug 2019

View Full Itinerary

Day 1 UK to Panama City


After taking Saga’s included UK door-to-door travel service to the airport, fly overnight to Panama City via Bogota. Flight details can be found in your final travel documents.

Panama City Panama North America

Day 2 Panama City

Explore Panama City

Arrive in Panama in the morning and, after clearing customs and immigration, meet your Saga representative and then transfer to the locally rated 3-star Best Western Plus Zen Panama for a three-night stay. This contemporary hotel has a convenient location near the financial district where you can experience the dynamic pace of city life right on your doorstep. There are numerous malls, restaurants and casinos all near by while the metro stops 20 metres from the hotel, a convenient way to explore the city further. Enjoy three sodas or national beers or two glasses of wine included with your dinner each night at this hotel. D

Panama City Panama North America

Day 3 Panama Canal, Panama City and Biomuseo

The Panama Canal

Discover Panama City’s past, present and future on a full-day tour beginning with a visit to the emblematic Panama Canal which links the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. From a lookout you can watch this manmade-marvel in action as ships queue up to pass through the Miraflores Locks, the closest of three locks to the city. After touring the visitor centre’s museum, where you can learn about its complicated history, you’ll come away with a better appreciation of how the canal transformed one of South America’s oldest cities into an international shipping centre. Afterwards, continue to the UNESCO-listed historical quarter, Casco Viejo (also known as Casa Antiguo or San Felipe) which spans just a few avenues yet is packed with time-weathered colonial architecture undergoing gentrification. Lunch at a local restaurant (with an hour free bar serving local beers, wine, mojitos, sodas and sangria) gives you the opportunity to experience the culture and buzz of this trendy quarter before visiting the Biomuseo. Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, this colourful, contorted museum has a prominent position on the Amador Causeway, which was once part of the restricted US-controlled Canal Zone. Eight permanent exhibitions tell the story of the Isthmus of Panama, ‘a living land bridge’, from its formation to the resulting biodiversity of the Americas as a result of the South and North America land masses reconnecting after 70 million years of separation. B, L, D

Panama City Panama North America Panama Canal

Day 4 Panama City

Panama City at dusk

Enjoy a day at leisure, perhaps to go shopping to pick up a wide-brimmed panama straw hat or join an optional excursion to either watch life along the towpath as you cruise the Panama Canal or experience daily life in an indigenous village at first hand. B, L, D

Panama City Panama North America

Optional excursions

Meet the Embera Indians of Panama on this full-day excursion that takes you well and truly off the grid. Begin with a half-hour canoe ride powdered by an outboard motor along the Gatun River and watch as exotic birdlife takes flight from the water and surrounding foliage. The village lies at the river’s head and you’ll be warmly welcomed into this friendly community who take great pride in their village and way of life. One of the members will talk to you about their traditions and culture, food and language. Look inside their grass-roofed huts, enjoy a spirited performance and pick up some authentic handicrafts. It’s one of those true once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you’re sure to reflect on for years to come.

The Embera Indians of Panama
Panama North America

A cruise along the Panama Canal is the best way to experience this engineering wonder. Started by Ferninand de Lesseps in 1881, work on the canal was abandoned in 1889 before finally being completed by the US between 1904 and 1914. Board a ferry at the north end of the Galliard Cut, where the Chagres River feeds the canal, and cruise for 13 kilometres along it, passing through a section carved in the Continental Divide. Peer up at the new Centennial Bridge just before reaching the Pacific-side Pedro Miguel Locks where the ferry will be lowered nine metres to reach the level of the Miraflores Lake. At the Miraflores Locks, the ferry will be lowered a further 18 metres in two stages. The last leg of your cruise passes under the Bridge of the Americas and offers the chance to admire the Bay of Panama and Panama City’s splendid skyline, before reaching the marina where you disembark. Please note this excursion may run on day two instead and lunch isn’t included. Also, the direction of the cruise may alter as under control of the Panama Canal Authority.

The Bridge of Americas
Panama Canal Panama North America

Day 5 Panama City to San José

San Jose in Costa Rica

You’ll have the morning free before an afternoon flight to San José in Costa Rica. Stay overnight on an all-inclusive basis at the locally rated 5-star Barceló San José which lies in a quiet residential area around five kilometres from San José. The free bar, open 12 hours a day, serves local alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. B, L, D

San Jose San Jose Costa Rica Caribbean

Day 6 San José to Monteverde

Foothills of Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica

After breakfast, transfer to the locally rated 3-star Hotel Fonda Vela in Monteverde for a two-night stay. The small town of Monteverde lies in the mountainous region of north-western Costa Rica, and is surrounded by dense rainforest. Just two-kilometres from the hotel is Monteverde’s main attraction, the 10,500-hectare Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve – home to jaguars, sloths, over 400 species of bird and the largest number of orchids in the world. Spend this afternoon at leisure exploring the hotel’s 35-acres of tropical gardens, or perhaps join an optional excursion to a butterfly observatory and tropical insect exhibition. B, L, D

Please note: 10 March 2019 departure will stay instead at the locally rated 3-star Punta Leona Hotel in Sotavento II. En route to the hotel you will have a comfort stop in Orotina and also enjoy the chance to see crocodiles in the Tarcoles River. The Punta Leona Hotel is surrounded by dense forest and offers stunning views of Playa Blanca Beach. In the afternoon, take an orientation walk around the hotel and perhaps explore the many walking trails around the property.

Day 7 Monteverde Cloud Forest

Monteverde cloud forest, Costa Rica

After breakfast set off on an included excursion to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. As your explore this unique ecosystem, listen for the greeting of the infamous howler monkey, and as you trek through the forest, your guide will help you look out for plants and animals including ocelots, tapirs, hummingbirds, and Costa Rica’s national bird, the elusive resplendent quetzal. Return to your hotel for lunch and choose to either spend the afternoon at leisure, or join an optional excursion to the Hanging Bridges at Selvatura Park. B, L, D

Please note: 10 March 2019 departure will have the opportunity to visit the Manuel Antonio Hotel on an optional excursion instead.

Day 8 Monteverde to Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Look out for colourful birds of Costa Rica

Set off after breakfast for your next hotel, the locally rated 4-star Blue River Resort located on the north side of the Rincón de la Vieja volcano. This afternoon join an orientation walk of the hotel and grounds taking in the lush botanical garden, home to over 700 varieties of exotic plants, colourful birds and even a resident sloth. You’ll then have time to relax in the resort’s natural hot springs, heated by the Rincón de la Vieja volcano, and enjoy a rejuvenating natural mud bath treatment. B, L, D

Please note: 10 March, 2019 departure will stay instead at the locally rated 3-star Hacienda la Pacifica and departures on 21 April and 16 June, 2019 will stay at the locally rated 3-star Hacienda Guachipelin.

Day 9 Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Waterfall in Rincon de La Vieja National Park

This morning embark on an included natural waterfalls walk, taking in the surrounding views of the national park. After lunch you’ll have the opportunity to experience local life on a tour of Dos Rios village, visiting a school and the workshops of local artists. Return to the hotel for dinner. B, L, D

Day 10 Rincón de la Vieja National Park to Playa Hermosa

Relax the beach in Guanacaste

Depart after an early breakfast for Liberia, the province capital, where you’ll enjoy an included tour of the colonial sector and a stop at the Central Market en route to Playa Hermosa. Arrive at the eco-friendly, locally rated 4-star Bosque Del Mar for a two-night stay on an all-inclusive basis. The hotel is situated on Playa Hermosa, a curving bay with a sandy Blue Flag beach on Costa Rica’s north Pacific coast. Its sheltered position between two verdant mountains and clean, safe water make it the ideal place to go for a swim or kick back and relax. The free bar, open from 11 hours a day, serves local alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. B, L, D

Guanacaste Costa Rica North America

Day 11 Guanacaste

Sunset at Guanacaste

Enjoy a day at leisure to appreciate your beautiful surrounding and make the most of the hotel’s facilities. This evening, look forward to an included sundowner drink as the sunsets and listen out for the chorus of frogs, crickets or cicadas hiding in the surrounding jungle (depending on the time of year). B, L, D

Guanacaste Costa Rica North America

Optional excursions

Travel into the national park surrounding active Rincon de la Vieja. Following one of the numerous trails that lead past bubbling mud pools, sparkling waterfalls and steam vents while you can see exotic birdlife flitting through the dense tree canopy overhead.

A waterfall near Rincon de la Vieja
Rincon de la Vieja volcano Costa Rica North America

Day 12 Guanacaste to La Fortuna

La Fortuna, Costa Rica

This morning, leave Guanacaste behind for La Fortuna and a three-night stay at the locally rated 4-star Tilajari Resort on an all-inclusive basis. It lies in the San Carlos region which is acclaimed for its breathtaking rainforests, rivers, hot springs caused by geothermal activity, and the mighty Arenal volcano. The hotel is set in 35 acres of lush gardens along the banks of the San Carlos River. The free bar, serving local alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, is open from 10am until 10pm daily. B, L, D

Day 13 La Fortuna

La Fortuna Costa Rica

Enjoy a day at leisure, perhaps relaxing by the pool or hire a mountain bike from the hotel for some independent exploration. B, L, D

La Fortuna Alajuela Costa Rica Caribbean

Optional excursions

Slumbering Arenal Volcano has been a fixture of La Fortuna’s landscape for 7,000 years. As if drawn by a child, it’s conical walls rear up to almost meet at the summit where, up until 2010, plumes of ash could be observed. There’s much to see and do in the verdant foothills flowing out from its base and today you can look forward to soaring up the mountain in a gondala for amazing views of the volcano and surrounding tropical rainforest – you may even spy sloths hanging from the branches if you’re lucky. It’s a ten-minute journey to the top. You then have the choice whether to walk back down, or for an extra charge, catch the sky tram back or zip line down.

Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano Alajuela Costa Rica Caribbean

Day 14 Don Juan Eco Farm

A farm on Arenal volcano

A feast for the senses awaits you at Finca Burio, a self-sufficient farm set on the hillsides of the Arenal Volcano. Here you can meet Don Juan, a local legend, who enjoys educating visitors on sustainable farming practices. Tour the family-run ecological estate which brims with exotic fruits and vegetables, including pineapple, papaya, cassava, medicinal plants, fruit trees, pepper and sugar cane – some of which you may never have seen stocked in a supermarket before. During your half day tour, you can get your hands dirty pressing sugar cane at a trapiche, sample some sugar cane liquor known as guaro, and see how pigs and dairy cattle are raised. B, L, D

Arenal Volcano Alajuela Costa Rica Caribbean

Day 15 Arenal to Tortuguero National Park via Cano Blanco

Red-eyed frog

Travel to Tortuguero today, a region famed for its verdant rainforest, abundant wildlife, lakes and wetlands – indeed, rain is part of daily life but one of the main reasons for the region’s beauty! At Cano Blanco, leave civilisation behind as you board a small but comfortable boat for an hour-long ride through the rainforest to the locally rated 3-star Laguna Lodge for a two-night stay in Tortuguero where there are no roads. The eco-lodge is set within six acres of tropical gardens teeming with wildlife on a narrow strip of land between Tortuguero’s main lake and the Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast. There’s even a pond where you can see endangered red-eyed frogs. It’s a real back to nature experience although everyday conveniences are still taken care of. Six alcoholic drinks are included per night. B, L, D

Tortuguero Costa Rica North America

Day 16 Tortuguero canal and village tour

Tortuguero National Park

Experience the amazing biodiversity of Tortuguero National Park on a half-day boat tour exploring a fraction of its canals, as well as visit the small village of the same name. The park covers 49,950 acres of lagoons and waterways, as well as a wild, untamed beach where four different species of turtles periodically visit to lay their eggs (spawning season is between July and October while hatching season is September and November). More than 300 species of birdlife can be spied in the thick jungle and, as you cruise the channels lined with clumps of raffia palms, just some of the species you may glimpse include great green macaws, kingfishers and curassows. You may also hear the chatter of monkeys carry on the breeze, as well as see caiman, iguanas and colourful butterflies flitting by the water’s edge. B, L, D

Tortuguero Costa Rica North America

Day 17 Tortuguero to San Jose

Sano Jose, Costa Rica

Return to San José by boat and road for an overnight stay on an all-inclusive basis at the locally rated 5-star Barceló San José. B, L, D

San Jose San Jose Costa Rica Caribbean

Day 18 - 19 San Jose, Costa Rica to UK

Plane wing in the sky at sunrise

This afternoon, travel to the airport for your overnight return flight to the UK and your included UK door-to-door travel service. B, L

Contrasts of Central America

Panama City and Costa Rica, Central America

from £3,499 per person 18 2
Including optional travel insurance or a price reduction of £155 if not required
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Contrasts of Central America

Panama City and Costa Rica, Central America

from £3,499 per person 18 2
Including optional travel insurance or a price reduction of £155 if not required