Costa Rica & Panama Tours

Why visit? Tucked between Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the south, Costa Rica is a destination for the off the beaten path explorer. From forested mountains to giant lakes, picturesque Caribbean islands and some of the world’s most unique wildlife, Costa Rica offers everything a nature lover’s heart desires. 
 
Usually, Australians start their Costa Rica tour in San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, situated in the centre of the country. A short trip to Tortuguero can introduce you to one of Costa Rica’s most popular ecotourism destinations. Discover the canals, rivers and beaches, famous nesting grounds for seat turtles, as well as an abundance of Costa Rican wildlife, on a boat tour through this rainforest paradise.
 
The Arenal Volcano in the north of Costa Rica is a stunning sight and the surrounding National Park hosts a wealth of activities such as rafting, hiking and canopy tours. East from Arenal lies Monteverde, where you can witness Costa Rican flora and fauna at their most spectacular on a nature tour through the renowned Cloud Forest Reserve.
 
In Panama, a canal cruise can introduce you to the lush rainforests and the wildlife of this famous region, and you will have the opportunity to learn about its rich history by meeting with the ancestral Embara Indians who can give you an insight into their traditions and lifestyle.
 
How to get there? Generally, the easiest and quickest way for Australians to get to Panama City and San Jose is via LA on QANTAS, Virgin Australia, United Airlines or Delta. 
 
Panama City is one of Central America’s largest airport hubs and can be reached from either LA or Dallas. From Panama City it’s possible to travel to almost any destination across Central America.
 
More information: Below we have shown you just a fraction of the options available for Costa Rica & Panama and multi-country travel. Browse to get an idea of where you want to travel.
 
Still wondering? Contact us: You are definitely better off giving us a call or dropping us a line and letting us do the hard work for you.
 
#Livefortoday and book your Costa Rica & Panama tour with us today. Chimu Adventures is Australia’s leading Latin America and Polar specialist and can put together an itinerary to suit you.
 

Costa Rica, an amazing place for nature lovers...Every bit of the itinerary works perfectly and smoothly - Diana

Read Reviews (Avg 4.5 ★)
 
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Featured Costa Rica & Panama Trips & Deals

15% OFF  FROM $2,020

This 11 day adventure takes you on a whirlwind trip through Costa Rica’s scenic wonders & the amazing Arenal volcano.

POPULAR  From 5,929

Embark on a 7 day cruise along the famous Panama Canal on board the impressive Discovery ship.

BUDGET  From 790

This 8 day tour introduces you to some of the country’s highlights;  rainforests, cloud forests, volcanoes, beaches, natural hot springs and an immense biodiversity that includes spider monkeys, sloths, lizards, frogs, quetzals and countless other exotic birds, butterflies and insects. 

Costa Rica & Panama Tours

3 NIGHTS From 1,090

In the islands of Bocas you know you're on holiday the moment you arrive and on this tour the choice is yours to do as much or as little as you desire.

10 NIGHTS From 3,645

See Costa Rica the way you want to - whether you're a thrill seeker or beach-lover (or both!), this 11 day tour of Costa Rica caters for either.

3 NIGHTS From 620

Experience more of Costa Rica with this tour add-on, exploring some of the country's best rainforest, home to a variety of birds and wildlife.

Articles On Costa Rica & Panama

Want to Donate or Volunteer when Travelling in Latin America? The Ethical Debate

Posted on Fri, 14 Dec 2018

Despite what many mass media outlets will have you believe, human beings are a generous and empathetic lot, running to volunteer their time and donate their hard-earned cash for a cause and in a place that’s close to their hearts, most especially during times of natural disasters or in impoverished areas. How to help ethically and responsibly is an issue …

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History of Svalbard

Posted on Thu, 13 Dec 2018

The northern Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard has enjoyed quite the tumultuous history over the course of only four centuries. Not only was this the main springboard for Arctic expeditions during the age of Polar explorations but the islands and their frigid waters became hubs for whaling, hunting, mining and overall resource-exploitation throughout its life as a discovered ‘whale haven’. This …

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Latin America Travel – How Much Spanish Should You Know?

Posted on Tue, 11 Dec 2018

It goes without saying that knowing at least some words in a foreign country’s language will thoroughly enhance your travel experience and Latin America travels are made easier by the fact that almost the entire continent speaks just one language and, when it doesn’t (as in Brazil, the Guianas and Surinam) it is certainly understood. Spanish is a delightful language, …

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Who was Pablo Escobar?

Posted on Fri, 07 Dec 2018

Yet Netflix’s sensational take on the life-story of Pablo Escobar has once again shone a light on this dark yet fascinating chapter in Colombia’s history. Narcos manages (quite superbly we might add) to capture the decades-long love-hate relationship Colombians had with Pablo Escobar, arguably the most famous and enigmatic Colombian who ever lived. Who was Pablo Escobar? One of the …

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Travelling Responsibly in South America

Posted on Thu, 06 Dec 2018

Many factors make South America a respectable beacon of sustainability and responsibility in the tourism sector although considering the environmental and cultural issues the continent still faces, it’s safe to say there is so much more work to be done. The ground work is firm: collectively, South American countries have ascribed vast swaths of wilderness as protected nature reserves, limited …

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Peru’s Biggest Secret is Out! The Truth about Trujillo

Posted on Wed, 05 Dec 2018

The birthplace of some of the most significant pre-Inca cultures in South America and certainly the cultural capital of Peru, not to mention a stunning colonial maze and basepoint from which to visit some of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world, Trujillo seems more than ready to take to the centre stage, lights blaring. Could Peru’s biggest secret …

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Is it Worth Visiting Machu Picchu in the Wet Season?

Posted on Tue, 04 Dec 2018

Sure, Peru’s revered archaeological site is spellbinding…but is it really worth visiting Machu Picchu in the west season, or are you just wasting your precious time and money? This is one of the most often-asked questions we field here in the Chimu Adventures office and it’s a fair one at that. Whilst some visitors can choose the time of year …

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The Importance of Monitoring Ice Flows in Antarctica

Posted on Sun, 18 Nov 2018

The Antarctic ice flow is among the most pivotal determiners of the health of our planet and scientists monitor it to better understand the behaviour of ocean currents, climatic patterns and the effect of global warming. Read more to discover what ice flows can tell us. What’s the difference between an ice floe…and ice flow? Ice floes are chunks of …

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Best Things To Do in South and Central America – DECEMBER Guide

Posted on Thu, 15 Nov 2018

High-season hits Latin America like a thunderbolt in December and although you may think this is totally the wrong time of year to travel here, let us tell you: there are quite a few reasons December is so popular among visitors. And nope, it doesn’t all have to do with it coinciding with yearly international vacation times. December is the …

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Why Is It Important to Travel?

Posted on Tue, 13 Nov 2018

On the surface, travel is an excellent way to recharge our batteries and bust out of our routine. When we travel, we finally feel like there’s a reason we work so hard and save so fiercely. Seeing new places, visiting world-renowned attractions and soaking up the spectacle of startling new landscapes can rejuvenate the soul. Yet travel goes far and …

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Costa Rica & Panama Reviews

All Chimu Adventures' clients are given the opportunity to review their trip once they return home. These reviews are administered by a third party and as such are unfiltered by Chimu Adventures.

Rated 5 out of 5 by from An amazing well planned trip of Panama only. The three days I had in Panama were a wonderful finale to my Central American holiday. The guides were faultless in their English, their personal cars for the two of us, having a well planned timely daily tour. We had a half day cruise on the Panama Canal, a city tour the following day which included the land based tour of the Canal Centre at the Mirafkores Locks and the historic Panama City. The third day we had a boat trip on Lake Alajuela and up through the jungle to visit a local indigenous tribe, The Embeera Indians where we learnt some of their history, shared a traditional lunch with them and watched some of their traditional dancing.. learnt so much on this thoroughly enjoyable tour of Panama City.
Date published: 2018-02-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Panama, the Canal and San Blas Islands The trip to the canal was great, a lifetimes ambition to visit. San Blas Islands, living like a native!
Date published: 2016-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Costa Rica In Depth Tour 10 days in Costa Rica were absolutely wonderful. Trip went smoothly and animals were amazing
Date published: 2014-09-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Playa Cativo and Arenal, Costa Rica We travelled to the Golfo Dulce and Arenal area. The arrangements put in place by Travel Excellence in Costa Rica were faultless. The accommodation at Playa Cativo on the the Golfo Dulce was wonderful (but be prepared for some sand flies), the food excellent and the nature excursions led by informative guides some of the best I have been on. We then travelled to the Kioro Hotel at Arenal, which has stunning views, but the restaurant service was very average. The river float was OK, but nothing special. Birdwatching was good. What could be better is that several of the local drivers ferrying us to and from San Jose wouldn't stop talking and just let us enjoy the ride. One driver also told us a load of rubbish about what we should tip him!
Date published: 2017-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Trip! Thank you Chimu for a great trip to Costa Rica. It was all well planned, although I'm not sure an 8am bus from Manuel Antonio was required for a flight at 5pm ;-)
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It was above expectations, really great. 1st hotel we thought oh well, then they just got better until the last one which was amazing
Date published: 2016-10-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Costa Rica, an amazing place for nature lovers Every bit of the itinerary works perfectly and smoothly.
Date published: 2015-05-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful trip Fantastic tour with all arrangements working to plan with punctual transfers between locations. Costa Rica is certainly somewhere I would go back to, the wildlife is good and people so friendly. Only disappointment was our hotel in Monteverdi and Chimu have hopefully addressed this
Date published: 2018-03-11
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Country Information

When to go to Costa Rica & Panama

Costa Rica is Spanish for “rich coast”.Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949 following a brief but bloody civil war.Costa Rica was identified by the New Economics Foundation as the greenest country in the world in 2009 and the happiest nation in the world in 2009 and 2012.Costa Rica was the first country in the Americas to ban recreational hunting.Costa Rica’s system of national parks and protected area covers nearly 25% of the country’s land area.There are 4 volcanoes near to Costa Rica’s capital San Jose, 2 of them active.Panama is the southernmost country of Central America and the whole of North America.The Darien Gap, a nearly impenetrable jungle separates Panama and Colombia.Panama has a strategic location on the isthmus that forms the land bridge connecting North and South America.Panama controls the Panama Canal that links the North Atlantic Ocean via the Caribbean Sea with the North Pacific Ocean.The Panama Canal is one of the most important shipping routes in the world.

Weather in Costa Rica & Panama

It is believed that Costa Rica was first occupied between 7,000 and 10,000 years BC. Christopher Columbus reached the shores of Costa Rica in 1502 and the conquistador Gil Gonzalez Davila landed on the west coast in 1522. Due to the sparse numbers of indigenous people, Costa Rican settlers had to work their own land and the country was by enlarge overlooked by the Spanish Crown and left to develop on its own. The permanent settlement of Cartago was not established until 1563.The Spanish were defeated in 1821 at the end of the Mexican War of Independence, and Central America was declared independent. Costa Rica joined the short-lived First Mexican Empire and after its collapse in 1823 it became a province of the new Federal Republic of Central America. The Costa Rican capital was moved from Cartago to San Jose in 1824, and Costa Rica proclaimed its sovereignty and independence in 1838. Since then, Costa Rica has remained one of the most stable, prosperous and progressive nations in Latin America.Several indigenous tribes including the Cuevas and the Cocle, inhabited Panama prior to permanent settlement by the Spanish in 1517. Christopher Columbus had established a short-lived settlement in the Darien in 1502. The torturous trek from the Atlantic to the Pacific in 1513 by Balboa showed that the isthmus was the path between the seas, and resulted in Panama becoming the crossroads of the Spanish empire in the New World. Gold and silver came by ship from South America, was hauled across the isthmus and then continued by sea again to Spain.In 1821, Panama broke away from Spain and joined the Republic of Gran Colombia along with Nueva Granada, Ecuador and Venezuela. This union was dissolved in 1831 but Panama and Nueva Granada remained joined and became the Republic of Colombia. In 1903, Panama split from Colombia with the support of the United States and finally gained its independence.

Costa Rica & Panama Culture and Customs

Costa Rica is a small country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Costa Rica also comprises several islands including Cocos Island, which lies 480 kms from the mainland and Calero Island, the country’s largest island.The climate is tropical and subtropical. The dry season runs from December to April, and the rainy season from May to November. The weather is cooler in the highlands.The country, made up of coastal plains separated by rugged mountains is divided into several regions. The Central Valley region has the highest population density with the capital San Jose being located in this region. The Northern Plains is a mountainous region, home to the active Arenal volcano, hot springs and volcanic lakes. The Central Pacific region is the coastal zone that encompasses Manuel Antonio National Park and Puntarenas, one of the access points for the Monteverde Cloud Forest. South Pacific Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse environments in the world, and also offers beautiful and remote tropical beaches. Finally there is Guanacaste in the north, near to the Nicaraguan border, the “dry” region of Costa Rica, home to some beautiful beaches as well as the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park.The highest point in Costa Rica is Cerro Chirripó (3,819m), the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is Irazú (3,431m) located just east of San Jose, and the largest lake is Lake Arenal.There are 14 known volcanoes in Costa Rica, six having been active in the last 75 years. Arenal is perhaps the most famous and most active of the volcanoes. It last erupted in 2010, but in 1968 its eruption destroyed the town of Tabacon.Panama is located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. Being close to the equator, Panama generally has fairly consistent temperatures year round. Daytime temperatures range from 30 to 33°C with night temperatures of 21 to 23°C. The climate is known as tropical maritime with a prolonged rainy season from May to November and a short dry season from December to April.There is a central spine of mountains and hills forming the continental divide. This divide is not part of the mountain chains of North America, but near to the Colombian border there are highlands that are related to the Andes of South America. The interior of Panama is comprised of upland plains and steep mountains, where the coastal areas are plains and rolling hills.The country is divided into regions, namely Central Panama, Caribbean West, Pacific West and Eastern Panama. The highest point is Volcan Baru at 3,475m.

Costa Rica & Panama History

Over 80% of Costa Rica’s population is white or mestizo with mulattoes (mix of white and black) making up over 6%. Costa Rica also hosts many refugees, in particular from Nicaragua and Colombia.Costa Rican Spanish is the official and first language of Costa Rica although some native languages are still spoken in indigenous reservations. Along the Caribbean coast a Creole-English language (Jamaican patois) may be heard. The country’s predominant and official state religion is Roman Catholic.Costa Rican cuisine is a blend of various cuisines including Spanish, Native American, African and Caribbean. Tamale is a traditional dish made from corn and representative of the indigenous population. Gallo pinto is a mixture of rice, beans and onion and can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Casado is another typical lunch made with rice, beans and meat, chicken or fish. It is served with salad and fried plantain. Salsa Lizano, a mild vegetable sauce with a hint of curry is the ketchup of Costa Rica!The culture, customs, and language of Panama are predominantly Caribbean and Spanish. 70% of the population is mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white), 14% is black/mulatto, 10% white and 6% Amerindian with 7 indigenous tribes.Crossing the border from Costa Rica to Panama you will notice a significant change in the dialect due to Panama’s Caribbean influences. Spanish is the official language, with 93% of the population speaking Spanish as their first language. Many people speak English as well as Spanish and some speak native languages such as Guaymi and Kuna.Panama’s predominant religion is Roman Catholic with estimates indicating that 75-85% of the population is of this faith.Music is a highlight of Panama with salsa music permeating throughout the Latin parts of the country. Reggaeton originated in Panama and is known as Plena. Cuisine is varied and in the larger cities you can find many styles of restaurant serving everything from French cuisine to sushi, as well as Arabic, Mexican, Chinese, Indian and Italian. In more rural areas the cuisine is Panamanian featuring seafood and beef and taking on the influences of Afro-Caribbean, French and Spanish. Most dishes are served with coconut rice and native vegetables.

Costa Rica & Panama Geography

Over the years Costa Rica has enjoyed a fairly stable economic growth with foreign investors being attracted by the political stability of the country and relatively high education levels. But despite this, poverty has been at a 20-25% level for nearly 20 years. The main agricultural exports include bananas, coffee, sugar and beef and tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange with the country being a key destination for ecotourism.Panama has the 2nd largest and the fastest growing economy in Central America. Revenue from the Panama Canal represents a significant portion of the country’s GDP. The canal was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914, but was transferred to Panama at the end of 1999. It is of major economic importance as revenue from tolls pumps millions of dollars to the national economy and provides huge employment opportunities. Economic expansion is expected to continue with expansion of the Panama Canal planned and implementation of a free trade agreement with the US. Despite all of this, over 25% of the population lives in poverty.

Tourism & Sustainability

Costa Rica is a democratic republic, divided into 7 provinces that are further divided into 81 cantons. The cantons are each directed by a mayor, the mayors being chosen democratically by each canton every 4 years. Universal suffrage is granted to those 18 years of age and is compulsory.Panama is a constitutional democracy. The President of Panama is the head of state and head of government, with the cabinet being appointed by the president. There are 10 provinces and 3 indigenous territories. Universal suffrage is granted to all those 18 years of age and above and is compulsory. National elections take place every 5 years.The elections of 1968 were overshadowed by violence and accusations of fraud against one of the candidates. Over the next 20 years the political situation was tumultuous with oustings, military coups, repression against opposition, electoral fraud, dictatorship and regimes all coming into play. The dictator Manuel Noriega and his regime funded the military with revenue from drugs and money laundering. The US invaded Panama in 1989 to depose Manuel Noriega and bring an end to the 21-year military dictatorship.

Costa Rica & Panama Food and Drinks

Costa Rica Laura Chinchilla Miranda – 1st Woman President Franklin Ramón Chang Díaz - Engineer, Physicist, NASA Astronaut Luis Gabelo Conejo – Soccer Player Sylvia and Claudia Poll Ahrens – Olympic Medalists Nery Brenes - Athlete Panama John McCain – US Politician (Born in Panama)Mariano Rivero & Rod Carew – Baseball Players Roberto Duran – Boxer Guillermo David Endara Galimany – Former President

Frequently Asked Questions

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