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Costa Rica

Volcanos + Cloud Forest + Pacific Beaches

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Discover Costa Rica

Adventure + Conservation + Exploration

Welcome to our latest 12 day Midlife adventure across the diverse landscapes of Costa Rica, providing the dynamic itinerary to re-boot the adventurous, fascinate the environmentalist, and satisfy the conservationist. This sun-drenched corner of Central America holds over 5% of the world’s biodiversity, boasting more national parks per square metre than any other country in the world and home to some of the most important nesting sites for endangered turtles. Geographically it has a foot in both the Caribbean and Pacific oceans and a string of active volcanoes and cloud forests running through its core. A sensation and the reason why it’s so popular right now.

Our plan is for us to complete a circuit so we can explore the contrasting and spectacular terrain which will involve swimming in mineral rich volcanic hot springs, zip wiring across the cloud forest canopy, hiking to hidden waterfalls and resting up in the 'oh so hip' town of Santa Teresa. Four different locations - four different vibes, so pack your hiking shoes, kaftans, and swimmers.

However, what is particularly significant in Costa Rica is the community drive to preserve their unique environment. Inspirational projects are abundant, and we have interwoven our favourite turtle conservation into your adventure so you can see, and feel this first hand.

Turtles, sloths and monkeys...we’re coming.

The perfect environment to re-boot the adventurous, fascinate the environmentalist, and satisfy the conservationist.


Costa Rica Midlife Itinerary

During your 12-day itinerary you will delve into and explore cloud forests, volcanoes, waterfalls and beaches, whilst being inspired by abundant conservation.

Days 1 - 2

San Jose + Arenal Volcanoes + Waterfalls + Hot Springs

Day 1 San Jose
Our first night will be spent in San Jose in a sweet little hotel only 20 mins from the airport. Here we will assemble and tend to our swollen ankles from the flight, before a delicious supper in one of the nearby local hang outs. Cerviche and pinto at the ready.

Day 2 - Arenal National Park
In the morning we'll be up early (because of the jet lag and very noisy birds), ready to head off for phase one where we will explore the volcanoes, waterfalls and hot springs found in the famous Arenal Volcano National Park, accessed from the main hub of La Fortuna where we will stay for our second night.

La Fortuna is a small town dominated by the volcano towering above, which creates the drama and setting for many hikes and adventures, starting with a swim in a crystal clear swimming hole at a jungle waterfall, before heading off to the volcano for a hearty hike to explore old lava beds and to find the best views of Lake Arenal below. FYI: hike - 2 hours on a gentle incline.

Accommodation

Here we will stay at in a medium range hostel/hotel in San Jose and La Fortuna.

Food

Includes: Supper in San Jose. Breakfast in San Jose and La Fortuna.

Days 3 - 5

Monteverde Cloud Forest Zip line + hikes

Day 3 - Hot Springs and transfer to Monteverde
I
n the morning we'll be up and at it, ready for a scenic drive around Lake Arenal to find the hot springs where we'll plunge into the mineral rich water to feel tip top before we head off to the cloud forest to explore, and fire up our adrenaline in Monteverde, at 4,662 ft (1,440 m) - famous for heart racing activities, coffee plantations, monkeys and mist.

Here we will stay in the small, traveller friendly town of Santa Elena which is filled with hip restaurants and folksy artisan shops, from which we will explore the cloud forest, home to more than 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, and over 2,500 varieties of plants, 420 of which are orchids alone – who knew there could be so many. Simply stunning, so get your binos ready. Late afternoon we'll head off on a gentle hike to watch the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean far below us.

Day 4 - Zip lining adventure
Day of adrenaline for us all as we sign ourselves up for the zip wire challenge - which let me tell you will get the heart pumping as we are encouraged to adopt the superman pose and try the Tarzan swing. (All optional BTW).

Day 5 - Hanging bridges and fiscus trees
One of my favourite things to do here is to venture out on the hanging bridges tour as it takes us right into the heart of the forest, and with a great guide we will see some extraordinary things – the highlight for me is being the hummingbirds. Later that day we will to nip into another forest to see the big fiscus trees which are awesome.

Accommodation

Here we will stay at the St Elena Hostel or similar.

Food

Breakfast only.

Days 6 - 7

Cirenas Turtle Conservation + Permaculture

Day 6
In the morning we will leave Monteverde, and head down to the Nicoya Peninsula. We will stop for lunch before catching the ferry and driving out to find Hacienda Ario; a 4,700 acre family owned coastal ranch on the Pacific Coast - home to mountains, fertile river valleys, rolling hills and mangrove forests along a 3.5 km stretch of beautiful and desolate beaches. Truly stunning, and a result of the vision of Nathaniel Grew Parkinson who purchased the ranch in 1973 with the aim to preserve land through conscientious, responsible and sustainable land stewardship for future generations. Mr. Grew’s relentless desire to see the ranch become an “educational camp ground” for students, scientists, families and individuals inspired his daughter, Caroline and her husband, Tucker to start Cirenas (Center for Investigation of Social and Natural Resources) in 2008 which does just that.

The result is a stunning lodge, from which one can explore and contribute to their projects which incorporate turtle conservation, permaculture and reforestation depending on when one visits. In May we will be helping prepare the turtle hatchery for the next season of Olive Ridley, Black Turtle, Hawksbill and Leatherback species who return to this beach every year to nest, and contribute to their permaculture projects which aim to make the ranch self-sufficient.

On arrival we have a gentle hike around the ranch to find our bearings before a delicious supper.

Breakfast and supper, lunch is on the move.

Day 7
Full day of volunteering in the turtle sanctuary, and with permaculture projects. Interwoven into our time here will be gentle hikes around the ranch to explore the varied eco-systems.

Accommodation

Here we stay at the Cirenas volunteer house which is rustic but super stylish with amazing views over the jungle. Shared rooms, ensuite shower rooms. No private rooms available.

Food

All food included apart from lunch on the road.

Days 8 - 11

Santa Teresa Yoga, waterfalls + sea safari

Day 8 - Finish projects and move to Santa Teresa
We will spend the morning at Cirenas – where we can either complete our projects or head out on a hike to explore the ranch, before heading to our final phase in Santa Teresa which is one of those cool, hipster towns - where the beautiful people hangout to experience the yoga, healthy living and surfing - we will slot in perfectly.

To fully embrace the beach vibe, we are going to base ourselves at Jakera run by our host Chris and his family. We will arrive here for lunch and in the afternoon so we can explore the town, swim and relax before supper and a salsa dance class at Jakera.

Day 9 - Yoga and Sea Safari
Starting the day with a spot of yoga before we head off on a full day sea safari to Tortuga island where we will snorkel amongst amazing marine life before having lunch and relaxing on Spider Monkey Island.

Day 10 - Waterfall Hike
We will be up early for a 12 kms hike which takes us from the Tango Mar waterfall through the forest, and along deserted beaches to find Montezuma waterfalls hidden deep in the jungle. Along the way we will see amazing wildlife, remote beaches and plunge pools to cool off in. Simple stunning.

Day 11 - Rest Day
A free day to literally do what you would like - horse ride along the beach, surf, book a spa treatment or 2, shop or do absolutely nothing ...

Day 12 – Fly back to San Jose to catch our international flight home.

Accommodation

Jakera Hostel

Food

Day 8 Breakfast at Cirenas, lunch and supper at Jakera.
Day 9 and 10 Breakfast and lunch included. Supper extra.
Days 11 and 12 Breakfast only.

Day 12

Departure Day Head home

After an action packed 12 days it will be time to head home. The plan is to fly out on a little plane from an airstrip close to Santa Teresa straight to San Jose. It's a stunning flight, and a great way to end the journey.

Food

Breakfast only.

Trip Details & Costs

We can only take 12, so I am afraid it will be on a first come, first served basis...so book away...see the big book button.

Any questions email me at: milly@theleap.co.uk

6th May 2025

Costs

Costa Rica Single Room
Volcanos + Cloud Forest + Beaches
2025: £2860

Costa Rica Shared Room
Volcanos + Cloud Forest + Beaches
2025: £3365

Adventure

From zip wiring, hiking and plunging in hot springs.

Turtle conservation

Be part of the conservation effort to protect the turtles of Costa Rica.

Nature

Experience exploring many of the world's greatest eco-systems.

Sea Safari

Head out to Tortuga Island to snorkle amongst amazing marine life.

Time in, Time out

The itinerary will follow its plan but we promise there will be time for you to chill and do your own thing.

Midlifer Favourites

  • Surfing
  • Whale and dolphin watching.
  • Horse riding through the forest or along the beach.
  • Coastal quad bike tours.

Jakera, Costa Rica

Our Costa Rica trip is coordinated by the dynamic Chris Patterson who together with his wife, family and team have created the Jakera Jungle Surf Camp on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

Chris has run travel and Spanish courses since the 1990s and has become increasingly passionate about the crisis of plastic waste in our waters and the damage it is doing. Seeing dolphins and turtles time and time again, washed up on the shoreline wrapped up in discarded fishing nets was enough for him to jump into action.

Chris now welcomes volunteers (gappers) into his home and MidLifers into the hotel next door, who will help him with his ongoing conservation and community projects.

He has set up village recycling stations and organises rubbish collections. He encourages supermarkets to stop using plastic bags and the local beach bars to not use plastic drinking straws. These simple initiatives will help enforce the message and give a practical meaning to the bigger picture. Community beach clean-ups are also now part of everyday life and blue flag awards are being handed out.

Chris has also built a great relationship with Cirenas – one of the leading NGOs tackling the plight of the turtles on the Pacific coast. They now welcome our volunteers into their program as they consistently turn up and enthusiastically get stuck in.

Chris will deliver us a brilliant off-grid trip, using his inside knowledge.

Leaper's Highlights

Have a read of what our Leapers have been getting up to...

Painting signs, recycling and turtles Lucy Dickens

Turtle hatcheries, surfing, yoga and more Emily Dinovo

Tyre garden, hot springs and reforestation Maya Sanden

Watch our videos

Costa Rica

Beating the plastic in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Permaculture in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Jackera Surfing Project

"How we laughed .. I felt reinvigorated"

It was all I had hoped for and with much more. I felt I had a glimpse of a gap year which was exactly what I had wanted. I loved staying in the hostel at Monteverde, testing my nerve on the zip wires and finding I could do it. A great mix of fun and learning.

Throughout we were looked after with kindness and thought. Gently pushing us out of our comfort zones from where I feel we all flew away from our cosy safe nests! In all this I think the Midlife Leap is very clever. We were able to experience a country, get under the skin of it and see it properly, feel comfortable without it seeming we were on a ‘holiday’. Which we weren’t . Volunteering and meeting locals and having Chris guiding us through it all made the ordinary extraordinary . Milly you are brilliant and cajoled and encouraged us keeping up any flagging spirit.

- Nicola Hussey

"Quality time with girlfriends, old and new. "

Having not been backpacking at the traditional backpacking age this MidLife Leapers' trip was an opportunity too good to pass up. It was a chance to leave the husband and kids behind, to experience a little bit of what kids do while travelling and to spend quality time with girlfriends, old and new.

I was initially attracted by the opportunity to help conserve the turtles and, despite being there in the turtle ‘low season’, we were exceptionally lucky to be involved in locating and moving a nest of recently laid eggs and to watch newly hatched turtles being released into the ocean. A totally unforgettable experience. At Cirenas we met some inspiring young Ticos and I would love to go back in a year or two to see where their vision and hard work has got them.

Thank you Milly, and Chris on the ground, for organising such a fabulous trip for us. We loved it all - the zip wire, the cloud forest, the baby sloths and the anteater, the turtles, the absolutely delicious food wherever we went, and the scary light aircraft to get us home. An amazing trip.

- LIza Curtis

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