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 ★)

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 5,265

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

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

Posted on Fri, 15 Jun 2018

As peak tourist season reaches an all-time high in South America, the best-known and most visited sites are inundated with waves of excited visitors. And why not? July, in reality, is a glorious month to travel extensively through most of the continent, with the dry climate facilitating hiking, extensive sightseeing and, of course, flight and road transfers in between fabulous …


Press release: Celebrate the oceans of the polar regions on a Chimu Exclusive Cruise

Posted on Fri, 08 Jun 2018

Sydney, Friday 8th June 2018 To coincide with World Oceans Day today when the planet will celebrate the entity that connects all, Australia’s largest polar experts, Chimu Adventures, have launched their most recent Chimu Exclusive Cruise to Antarctica. This is their ninth departure between late 2018 and early 2020. In Shackleton’s Wake, aboard the small and newly refurbished Ocean Atlantic, …


Researchers Uncover World’ Largest Human Sacrifice Site, Peru

Posted on Mon, 04 Jun 2018

In what has been hailed ‘one of the most pivotal archaeological discoveries in modern times’, archaeologists in Peru reveal they have uncovered possibly the world’s largest human sacrifice site. Human Sacrifice Site Perhaps it was an exceptionally bad year for their much-needed crops. Maybe, experts say, a catastrophic series of ravaging floods destroyed the coastal areas of northern Peru. Whatever …


Discover the Galapagos – Your Island by Island Guide

Posted on Wed, 30 May 2018

One destination, 13 Islands, one unforgettable experience: Your Island by Island Guide to the Galapagos takes you on a whirlwind journey of astonishing sights and captivating wildlife. A trip to the Galapagos Islands is unlike any adventure you’ll ever have and that’s because this magnificent place is unlike any other you’ll ever visit. The world’s most famous wildlife-watching destination – …


Paraguay Country Guide – Best Things to Do

Posted on Tue, 29 May 2018

Landlocked and surrounded by much more prominent countries, Paraguay is a far-too-easily overlooked South America destination, something we’ve been itching to change. Whilst the country may not boast any world-famous attractions (except for a stellar access to Iguazu Falls) there’s actually a lot this small unassuming nation can offer the discerning traveller looking for something else. Something more. With a …


Cruise Antarctica – Top 5 Items You Shouldn’t Forget to Pack

Posted on Fri, 18 May 2018

Buck the trend and pack like a professional: discover the 5 items people always forget to take to an Antarctica expedition. Packing for an Antarctica expedition is both exciting and exasperating yet with the sheer amount of packing guides out there (including our own comprehensive Antarctica packing guide) you should get a fairly good idea of what will be useful …


Press release: Visit the most remote destination on the planet on a Chimu cruise to East Antarctica

Posted on Tue, 15 May 2018

Sydney, Tuesday 15 May 2018 Following the adventure of their 2017 voyage which saw travellers sail 4025,1 nautical miles; identify eight species of penguins; spot thirteen mammal breeds; experience air temperatures of -6 Celsius and cross the Antarctic Circle no less than six times, polar specialists Chimu Adventures invite those who want the ultimate Antarctica experience to get involved in …


What Not to Pack When Travelling to South America 

Posted on Tue, 15 May 2018

Whether you’re planning a wildlife-watching trip to the Pantanal, a rumble in the jungle of the Amazon, an expedition to the frigid ends of Antarctica, multi-day hike to Machu Picchu or, perhaps, a luxury cruise to the Galapagos, chances are one of the first things you’ll be researching is a comprehensive packing list. Now, before we even know where in South America you’re planning to go, we guarantee that you’ll pack …


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

Posted on Tue, 15 May 2018

June marks the start of winter in most of Latin America and this month offers the most varied array of attractions and highlights. A month where you can really do it all: ski in the south, hike in the centre and snorkel in the north! And although this is also the start of the high tourist season in the continent, …


The Arctic’s Inuit Culture

Posted on Mon, 14 May 2018

Shaped and influenced by the forbidding landscapes they’ve inhabited for thousands of years, the Inuit culture of the Arctic region is one of the most fascinating on the planet. Hardy, resilient, mysterious and immensely ingenious, the Inuits of the northernmost regions of the Americas, Europe and Russia have not only survived on some of our planet’s harshest environments but indeed …


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