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Rafting Costa Rica

Costa Rica Family Escape

8 days
Activity level:
Trip code: 
Ways to Travel:
Family Group, Private Group Adventures
Group size:

A week's escape for all the family in vibrant Costa Rica 

Awaken your senses on a magical escape to Costa Rica full of activities that the whole family will love. Zip wire across the cloud forest, try whitewater rafting in Costa Rica's exhilarating Balsa River, swim in a waterfall and take a boat trip to see dolphins off the Pacific Coast. Stay in comfortable, well located hotels, most with swimming pools to splash about in. This action packed week will leave you refreshed and full of memories of Costa Rica's most famous saying: "Pura Vida" or "Pure Life". 


  • Adventure lovers will enjoy trying the included zip-lining and whitewater rafting excursions!
  • Join a night walk in Monteverde to see the cloud forest come alive at night
  • Relax on Carrillo beach and enjoy the Pacific coastline
  • Snorkelling and boat excursion to see dolphins 
  • Experience the beauty and vibrancy of tropical Costa Rica  

Key information

  • Travel by minibus, boat and on foot
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus local leader
  • 7 nights comfortable hotels
  • Countries visited: Costa Rica

What's included

  • All accommodation
  • All breakfasts and 2 lunches 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
0800 643 997
Call for private group trips:
0800 643 997
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips which improve life for the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:


How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers will be well informed about local traditions, and cultural and social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally-owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food and support of other local enterprise.
  • We use fairly small, family run and locally staffed establishments which ensures that we are benefiting local communities.
  • Although this is a largely nature-based trip, we incorporate as much benefit to local people as possible. One of the ways to support local people and boost the economy is to buy crafts in some of the remote regions that we visit, such as Tortuguero and Cahuita. Having the opportunity to purchase locally made handicrafts encourages cultural exchange and provides a significant form of alternative income.
  • Our local guides are careful to explain that any souvenirs on sale over the duration of the trip which are made from animal parts, shells or local hardwoods should not be purchased.
  • This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people.
  • Our local operator is very involved in supporting community projects. Our local operator cares about our impact on the destination, which is why we carry out several actions. For instance:

        * The celebration of the International Tourism Day of 2019 by cleaning a beach at Guacalillo, that allowed to recollect 150 Kg of waste.
        * Plastic lids collect and donation them to Fundación Proparques, to develop walkways to improve accessibility for people with mobility problems, in the country's protected wild areas.
        * The establishment of an alliance with the Recycling Program of the Municipality of San José, since May 2015 until December 2020, that led to recycle 43 tons of recoverable resources during that period.   During the pandemic, staff members continued with the recycling process from their homes. Collection and recycling include paper, cardboard, plastic items and lids, batteries, and electronic devices, among others.
        * The purchase of souvenirs from local artists, to promote local benefits.
        * Days have been held on the beach with older adults living in care homes.
        * Elimination of single use plastics in our operation
        * Reduction of printed documents by having all the information in a secure drive.

  • Our local operator continuously develops activities for the benefit of personnel who work for the company, through its Human Resources Department and the Brigada Pintando Sonrisas. Since it is part of the TUI Group, different activities are carried out, such as "More 4 You", which has the purpose of creating strategic alliances that promote health among collaborators. In addition, the "New Work" project is responsible for promoting healthy spaces that promote the work environment of the staff.
  • The local staff is given the option of free therapy with BetterHelp, the world's largest provider of online therapy.
  • In 2017 Exodus Travels introduced the Inspiration Project, where we’ve worked with our partners to take more than 6,000 children in 30 countries on a day of adventure and exploration. Each inspirational day out is designed to introduce young minds to the wonders of our world and their place in it. From visiting cultural heritage sites to natural wonders, each trip has been packed with firsts – their first time leaving their own village, their first time seeing the sea, their first time visiting a busy city. We continue to operate these days out to inspire children to protect and preserve the world as they grow up.


How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration here, including our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels.
  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • Our local operator has a policy of Animal Welfare that requests suppliers to comply with the minimum conditions of animal welfare.
  • Our local operator has been awarded by the Costa Rican Tourism Board for their sustainable tourism practice & dedication to improving sustainability standards. This means that efforts are made to rationally use water and electricity, provide adequate waste management, and positively impact communities, among many other actions.
  • Most of the accommodation and restaurants we visit on this trip use locally sourced food such as fruit which is always sourced locally and abundant.
  • Vegetarian options are available if notice is given which include a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, and rice.
  • During the trip, we travel responsibly using appropriate methods of transport; therefore, depending on group size, a minibus/coach will be used.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for re-usable bottles.


How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.
  • An example of eco-friendly accommodation on this trip is:

        Studio Hotel: The hotel facilities have LED bulbs for energy saving and low consumption air conditioners, solar panels to heat water throughout the Hotel, practices related to the "Program for the integral management of water and rational use of energy" and essential part of the process of implementing requirements of the Certificate for Tourism Sustainability. Also, Studio Hotel has the Ecological Blue Flag distinction, that is granted annually, which rewards the effort and voluntary work in the search for conservation and development, in accordance with the protection of natural resources, the implementation of actions to face the climate change, the search for better sanitary hygienic conditions and the improvement of the public health of the inhabitants of Costa Rica.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own re-usable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.


San Jose
San Jose Airport
  • Day 1

    Start San Jose.

    The group flight usually arrives into San Jose this afternoon. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon/evening. This evening's welcome briefing is the perfect opportunity to meet your guide and get to know your fellow travellers.

    Accommodation: Studio Hotel (or similar)

  • Day 2

    To Arenal; La Fortuna Waterfall walk.

    We drive to the area surrounding Arenal Volcano. Following a large eruption in 1968, Arenal was Costa Rica's most active volcano until recently when it entered a resting phase. There is a lot of geo-thermal activity in this area, with natural hot springs, waterfalls and Lake Arenal waiting to be discovered.

    Today we visit La Fortuna Waterfall, a 65 metre cascade of water plunging into an emerald pool below. A short trail through the rainforest brings us to a steep set of steps that we must descend to reach the waterfall and then ascend to the exit - this takes around 20-30 minutes and will be rewarded with a swim in the emerald pool. It is possible to visit the lookout point and wait for the group here if you prefer. There will be plenty of time to see what animals you can spot in the forest along the way; keep an eye out for colourful toucans in the trees!

    Accommodation: Arenal Paraiso (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Try grade II and III whitewater rafting on the Balsa River.

    After breakfast we make our way towards the Balsa River for an exhilarating whitewater rafting excursion. The rapids here are graded II and III and have nicknames such as “Magnetic Rock” and “Dredges” – prepare to get wet and wild on this adventure which is sure to be great fun for everyone! No experience of this activity is needed as a full safety briefing and instruction is given before getting into the rafts. Tropical scenery flanks the river and we may spot monkeys, toucans or other animals in the surrounding forest. There will also be a stop for drinks and tropical fruits along the way.

    On our return to La Fortuna we stop to enjoy a delicious lunch at “Vida Campesina”, a traditional country estate that allows visitors to experience typical country life in Costa Rica. Lunch will be made with ingredients harvested on the property and prepared on a wood stove in traditional style.  

    Accommodation: Arenal Paraiso (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    To Monteverde in the Tilaran Mountains; night walk to experience the cloud forest in the dark!

    From Arenal we travel to the Tilaran Mountain Range in the Central Highlands for a taste of the Costa Rican cloud forest. Reaching Monteverde involves a fast boat across Lake Arenal which is incredibly scenic and will take roughly half an hour. Our journey is then completed by private minibus as we ascend the hills towards Monteverde, a forest-cloaked region whose name literally means 'Green Mountain'. The high altitude supports a complex eco-system where plants thrive, particularly orchids of which there are some 400+ different varieties here. Our total journey time will be in the region of 3.5 hours, including the lake crossing.

    Around 6pm we have a night walk to experience the forest in the dark. This gives an entirely new perspective on the habitat of the cloud forest, with many pairs of eyes staring back at you! We may see sloths, armadillos, porcupines, possums and coatis and will surely hear a cacophony of insects and amphibians.  

    Accommodation: Monteverde Country Lodge (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Zip-line adventure through the tree tops; visit the hanging bridges and butterfly garden.

    Today we visit Selvatura Park which has 850 acres of protected land dedicated to nature and adventure. We begin with the hanging bridges excursion, which is a system of treetop walkways through the forest designed to let you experience the beauty of the cloud forest and observe its many inhabitants. We’ll also visit the butterfly garden which has one of the largest exhibitions of butterflies in the world, and the hummingbird garden where more than 14 species of hummingbird will amaze you with their aerial manoeuvres. After this it’s time to try out some aerial manoeuvres of our own on a zip line adventure through the tree tops! Before you fly down the zip-lines, guides will teach you the proper technique, including how to position yourself and hold the cable correctly, enabling you to safely embark on this adrenaline pumping adventure suspended above the trees.

    Accommodation: Monteverde Country Lodge (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    To the Pacific Coast; afternoon at leisure to enjoy Carrillo beach.

    We travel to the region of Samara on the Pacific Coast, one of the best kept secrets in Costa Rica! The broad, shady bay is backed by coconut palms and the water is calm and safe for swimming thanks to a coral reef just out to sea on which the normally large, Pacific waves break before reaching the beach. There are plenty of facilities in this area but there's a noticeable absense of big resort hotels, which makes for a nice atmosphere. Our hotel faces onto Carrillo beach in the neighbouring bay to Samara. We have a free afternoon here to enjoy the facilities and discover the area.

    Accommodation: Nammbu Hotel (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Boat trip to see dolphins offshore from Carrillo beach; have a go at snorkelling.

    Today we take a private boat trip around 2 – 10 nautical miles offshore from Carrillo beach in search of dolphins. You could be lucky enough to see Spotted dolphins, Central American Spinner dolphins or Common Bottlenose dolphins which all inhabit this area year around. Feel the ocean breeze and enjoy the scenery of the coastline as we search for these playful animals who love to swim in the bow wave of the boat! As we make our way back along the coast, we will anchor near the shores of Isla Chora, a delightful white sand beach full of hermit crabs and iguanas. This is a great spot for a refreshing swim and a chance to observe the underwater world by wearing a mask and snorkel. Beneath the surface teems a lively world with huge marine diversity. In total today’s excursion will last around 4 hours, with the rest of your time at leisure to enjoy the area.

    Accommodation: Nammbu Hotel (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    To San Jose; end San Jose.

    Due to current flight schedules from San Jose, this morning we have a 4:30 AM early transfer (approx. 4 hours) back to San Jose, where those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport in time for their return flight. Land only clients end in San Jose and arrival at the airport will be timed to coincide with the group flight.

    *Please note that the 13 August departure will fly back from Liberia, so the trip will either end in Carrillo beach or Liberia airport.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info


Costa Rica

Holders of British, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and most EU passports can enter Costa Rica for a stay of 90 days without a visa. Proof of onward travel may be required when entering Costa Rica - we suggest you take a print out of your flight details in case officials ask to see them. All passengers flying via the USA will have to clear immigration during transit. Prior to travel you must apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (USD14) under the Visa Waiver Programme. Please see here for more information. The same applies to travel via Canada which also requires an Electronic Travel Authority. If you are not a UK citizen please check with your local U.S. Embassy. 


Costa Rica

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements, however, if you have travelled to a country at risk of Yellow Fever prior to arriving in Costa Rica you will be required to have a valid Yellow Fever Certificate with you. Recommended vaccinations are: Hepatitis A.

The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 2 lunches are included in the price of the tour, allowing you plenty of flexibility for non-included meals to be taken as a family or with the group. 

Costa Rican specialities include 'Gallo Pinto', a black bean and rice dish considered to be a staple part of the local diet. Soups, stews and fresh fish are also common, and most hotels offer International menu's as well. There is a lot of fresh fruit in the tropics - you may need to share your bananas with monkey's from the hotel gardens!  

Please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests, vegetarians can usually be well catered for. 


Costa Rica is located 10º north of the equator and has an almost perfect tropical climate. The average temperature is 12ºC – 22ºC in the highlands, and from 22ºC - 27ºC in the lowlands. There is a rainy season from May to November when there are daily downpours, though these are usually quite short and there is still plenty of bright sunshine, so the midsummer is not necessarily a bad time to go. December to April is the driest time of the year but you should still expect some rain. Many areas visited on the trip are hot and humid throughout the year.

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate)

This holiday has been designed for teenagers aged 13 - 16, but is also suitable for children aged 9 - 12. 

Our family activity levels are aimed at children in the primary or ‘Designed for’ age group. We are confident it is also suitable for those in the ‘Also for’ age range, however please note if your child is in this secondary category they may find it a little tougher. Please see the family activity levels on our website for further information. When grading our trips we consider multiple factors, the pace — how busy an itinerary is — and the level of activity involved. Then there’s the amount of time a family will spend travelling and the weather is an important factor too.

Reaching Costa Rica will involve approximately 11 hours of air travel (or 14+ if you travel on indirect flights) and when you get there it can be hot and humid, which can be tiring.

This holiday aims to show you the best of Costa Rica using a mixture of buses and boats. Whilst the driving distances are not huge and most roads are good, some sections are of poor quality/pot holed, which can result in slower driving times. Most drives are not longer than 4 hours and all drives will be broken up with regular stops. On some travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise the time at our next destination.

There are some dangerous insects and snakes present in the jungle, although incidents are extremely rare. Advice from the guide must be heeded at all times – it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that children listen to the guide and don’t stray from paths.

The trip involves a walk to reach La Fortuna Waterfall that has some steep steps. There are also several included activities, such as whitewater rafting and a zip wire canopy tour: experience of these activities is not required as a full safety briefing will be covered at the start, and all necessary equipment will be provided. Please be aware that some activities may be changed as a result of the weather. 

All of the accommodation is comfortable with private bathrooms and everywhere has air conditioning apart from the lodge in Monteverde. For further details please see the accommodation section below.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
0800 643 997
Call for private group trips:
0800 643 997
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Hotels in Costa Rica

We stay in four comfortable hotels during this tour for a total of 7 nights; 

In San Jose we stay at the modern 4* Studio Hotel, conveniently located near the airport for an easy arrival transfer at the start of the holiday. 

In Arenal, our accommodation will normally be the Arenal Paraiso Hotel. This property is close to Arenal Volcano and has large natural grounds with wonderful views of Arenal Volcano. Rooms are comfortable and well equipped. There are several natural pools fed by spring water to relax in. 

In Monteverde, we stay at the Monteverde Country Lodge, a 3* star property providing cosy, comfortable and warm accommodation. This property doesn't have a swimming pool or air conditioning as it's in an area of Costa Rica that is typically much cooler. 

By the Pacific Coast we stay at the 3* Nammbu Hotel, a beachfront property overlooking Carrillo beach. This family run property has large rooms, wonderful ocean views and a lovely swimming pool. 

Call for general departures:
0800 643 997
Call for private group trips:
0800 643 997
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
0800 643 997
Call for private group trips:
0800 643 997
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

costa rica

You can’t deny there’s an inextricable link between happiness and travelling.

Toucan Costa Rica

From the endemic wildlife to the rich scenery that lies beneath a canopy of cloud forests and smoking volcanoes, Cost

  • Reviewed September 2019
    Catherine and Andy White

    A trip of a lifetime!

    We originally looked at booking the longer Costa Rica Family Adventure as we thought the Family Escape (at 7 nights) may be too much of a whirlwind. However, we liked the fact that there were less distances to travel (as the Family Escape does not include a visit to the Caribbean coast), and that there were more activities included, plus, on enquiry, we found out that on the dates we wished to travel the families booked onto this trip had children of similar ages to our own (16 and 12). We are so pleased we went for this option! From being met at the airport by our wonderful guide, Eduardo, and driver, Cesar, to being waved off as we boarded our transfer on the last day, we enjoyed every minute of our holiday! Costa Rica is an incredible country and this trip gives you a sense of its diverstiy - from the volcanic landscape around Arenal, to the Cloud Forest at Monteverde, and the tropical beaches of Carillo. The mix of activities is great - from the high adrenaline rafting and zip wire course at Monteverde, to fascinating nature walks and wildlife spotting. The itinery is quite pacy - there are activities most days, however, you get at least 2 nights at each hotel (apart from in San Jose) so you do get chance to unpack a little and enjoy some downtime. The hotels all offer something different: Los Lagos at La Fortuna is set in lush tropical gardens with its own resident crocodile and butterfly and insect houses. Plus, it has its own hot springs complete with water slides which our children loved. The Country Lodge at Monteverde is a little more basic, but charming, whilst the Nammbu Beachfront Bungalows are super stylish with spacious rooms and a stunning pool area.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many.... from waking up to the sound of howler monkeys outside your room, being surrounded by hummingbirds and having them land on your outstretched hand at Selvatura Park, conquering your fear of heights on the hanging bridges and zip wires above the forest canopy at Monteverde, seeing a sloth being rescued from overheard cables by the local fire service, hearing the sounds of the cloud forest at night as fireflies flit around around you, seeing a humpback whale for the first time, watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean at Carillo Beach.... the list goes on!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    From the moment we arrived at San Jose Airport, our group leader, Eduardo, made us feel incredibly welcome in his country. Knowedgeable and passionate about the history, culture and nature of Costa Rica, Eduardo soon shared his love of his country with us all. Within minutes of meeting us, Eduardo had memorised all our names and, refering to us "family", he ensured we got the best possible experience we could - asking us to write down our wishlist of things we wanted to do and see whilst we were in his beautiful country. Eduardo was an exceptional group leader: great with the children in the group, imparting his extensive knowledge with enthusiasm, sharing his photos with us on the WhatsApp group he created for us, treating us to chocolate and ice-cream on a daily basis and instilling in all of us a sense of the "Pura Vida"! We must not forget our driver, Cesar, either. He made sure we were safe on the roads and waited patiently for us after every excursion, always greeting us with courtesy and a smile.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We decided to book a 3 night beach extension - staying on at Nammbu hotel at the end of the trip - which Exodus organised, along with a private transfer back to San Jose airport. We were definitely ready for some rest and relaxation after a packed schedule, so this was really worth doing, plus it gave us a chance to do some additional activies - such as scuba diving (at Samara) and turtle watching at the nearby Camaronal Wildlife Refuge.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is the first holiday we have booked with Exodus, and having never been on a small group holiday before, we were a little apprehensive.... how would the group dynamics work? We need not have worried! We were very lucky to be travelling with 3 lovely families alongside Vicky from Exodus (a bonus to have the Product Manager of this particular trip accompanying us!) Everyone got on really well, the children made firm friends, and the balance between time together as a group and time on our own worked fine. Overall, this was a truly wonderful family holiday in a beautiful country and we have many happy memories along with far too many photos!

Dates & Prices

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