Costa Rica, Nicaragua & the Panama Canal

  • days: 33
  • from $15,235

Flights Included

Types of travel:

Countries Visited:

  • Costa Rica
  • Nicaragua
  • USA
  • Princess Cruise

Description

Cruising-Map-Banner-Princess-390s-17

ESCORTED BY MARION BUNNIK, MARCH 10 2018

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Join Marion Bunnik on this incredible Cruise & Tour. View amazing wildlife in Tortugero National Park, relax in volcanic thermal springs, watch sun set over the Pacific at San Juan Del Sur, discover the volcanic scenery of Omotepe Island and Cruise the Caribbean & Panama Canal!

★ NEW TOUR!

Experience nature at its finest on an adventure through the rainforests and volcanoes of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. View incredible wildlife in the national parks, wander through misty cloud forests, and explore colourful towns. Then discover the beautiful ports of the Caribbean and Panama Canal on a 15-night cruise.

Captivating Costa Rica

Head into the wilderness of Costa Rica! Cruise through the beautiful rainforest of the Tortuguero National Park, exploring the canals and backwaters and spotting sloths, iguanas, frogs, monkeys and colourful birds. Travel to the famous Arenal Volcano, once the country’s most active, take a short hike and soak in the natural hot springs. Travelling through to the cloud forest of Monteverde, get a birds eye view of the forest canopy from the Selvatura Sky Walk.

Dramatic Volcanoes, Colourful Granada

As we cross into Nicaragua, we visit Ometepe Island with its two towering volcanoes, explore the colourful & colonial town of Granada and enjoy a cruise through Granada's Isletas - a beautiful group of islands formed from ancient volcanic activity.

Cruise the Panama Canal on our 15 night Princess cruise

Travel in style through the 77-kilometre stretch of water that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans - the Panama Canal. This amazing feat of the modern age took more than 30 years to construct in the early 20th century and revolutionised trade routes. Visit beautiful Mexican seaside towns, see the natural beauty of Costa Rica and the romance of colonial Cartagena in Colombia.

Princess Cruises:

The cruise portion of the tour may be subject to change, depending on weather conditions.

Itinerary

Abbreviation: [B,L,D] Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 1. Depart Australia - Arrive in San Jose

Bienvenido a Costa Rica! We arrive in the historic capital of San Jose.

Day 2. San Jose - Tortuguero National Park

Special Experience: Today we venture into the Costa Rican wilds, boarding a boat on the fringe of Tortuguero National Park to enter the flooded forest and travel to our lodge. 

We'll tour the village of Tortuguero with its strong Afro-Caribbean roots, wandering through the school and visiting the Caribbean Conservation Corporation to learn about the sea turtles the national park is famous for. [B,L,D]

Day 3. Tortuguero National Park

Exploring the canals and backwaters of Tortuguero National Park, we’ll spot a huge variety of wildlife. Keep an eye out for agoutis, iguanas, sloths, frogs, monkeys and hundreds of colourful birds and crabs. We may even spot the sea turtles. Today we'll visit 2 butterfly farms, a frog garden and an area known for its river turtles. [B,L,D]

Day 4. Tortuguero National Park - Arenal Volcano National Park

We travel through the highlands to Arenal Volcano National Park. Once we arrive at our hotel we can relax in the natural hot springs with views of the volcano. [B,L]

Day 5. Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National Park is a 12,000 hectare area comprising rainforest, savannah, and two volcanoes. On a short hike on the lava trail we’ll learn more about Arenal, which was once the country’s most active volcano. [B]

Day 6. Arenal Volcano National Park - Monteverde

Special Experience: We travel from Arenal to Monteverde by road and boat across scenic Lake Arenal, stopping to enjoy a local farmers’ lunch and try our hand at traditional tilapia fishing. [B,L]

Day 7. Monteverde

No need for the binoculars today as we explore the cloud forest from the Selvatura hanging bridges suspended high in the rainforest canopy. The afternoon is at leisure for you to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. [B]

Day 8. Monteverde - San Juan Del Sur

Today we cross the border into Nicaragua and make our way to the relaxed coastal town of San Juan Del Sur, stopping to enjoy the scenic views from the Cristo de la Misericordia View Point. Our accommodation tonight is in a historic building from the 19th century that was once home to the widow of former Nicaraguan dictator, Anastasio Somoza Debayle. [B]

Day 9. San Juan Del Sur - Ometepe Island

This morning we catch the ferry to beautiful Ometepe Island, in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, characterised by its two towering volcanoes (Concepcion and Maderas). [B]

Day 10. Ometepe Island

We’ll spend the day discovering the island’s best scenery, including the Devil’s Viewpoint, Charco Verde Reserve, Punta Jesus Maria and Ojo de Agua, stopping for lunch at a local restaurant. [B,L]

Day 11. Ometepe Island - León

This morning we return to the mainland by ferry and travel to León, Nicaragua's second largest city and the political and cultural centre of the country. This beautiful colonial city boasts many historical buildings and monuments. [B]

Day 12. León

Today we explore León’s city centre on a walking tour. We'll visit the largest church in Central America, Catedral de la Asunción, and climb to the rooftop for panoramic views over the town and nearby volcanoes. We'll also learn about the revolutionary history of Nicaragua from a real Sandinista guerillero at the Museum of the Revolution. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure. [B]

Day 13. León - Granada

Special Experience: Peer into the steaming crater of one of Nicaragua’s most active volcanoes on a visit to Volcán Masaya National Park.

This afternoon we arrive in Granada, a photogenic Spanish colonial town. Here we'll enjoy a walking tour through the charming cobblestone streets of historic Granada including the Casa de los Leones, San Francisco Convent, the colourful market and the numerous architecturally-significant churches and monuments. [B]

Day 14. Granada

After breakfast we depart for the Mombacho Volcano cloud forest, a misty oasis brimming with beautiful flora and fauna. This afternoon we cruise through Granada’s Isletas, a group of islands formed by an ancient volcanic explosion, before our group farewell dinner tonight. [B,D]

Day 15. Granada - Managua - Miami

From Granada we travel to Managua to board our flight to Miami. [B]

DAYS 16-31  MIAMI - FORT LAUDERDALE:EMBARK CRUISE

This morning we travel to Fort Lauderdale to board the Island Princess for a 15-night cruise of the Caribbean and Mexico, taking in the Panama Canal. [B,D]

Cruising-Map-Banner-Princess-390s-17

Tour highlights of this 15-night Princess Cruise include Aruba, Cartagena, Panama Canal, Puntarenas, San Juan del Sur, Huatulco & Puerto Vallarta

Day 16. Embark Cruise: Fort Lauderdale
Day 17. Cruising at sea
Day 18. Cruising at sea
Day 19. Aruba
Day 20. Cartagena, Colombia
Day 21. Panama Canal, Panama
Day 22. Cruising at sea
Day 23. Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Day 24. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Day 25. Cruising at sea
Day 26. Huatulco, Mexico
Day 27. Cruising at sea
Day 28. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Day 29. Cruising at sea
Day 30. Cruising at sea
Day 31. Disembark Cruise: Los Angeles, begin journey home

Except for embarkation/disembarkation days, Breakfast, lunch & dinner are included daily while cruising. The cruise itinerary may change due to local conditions subject to the cruise line’s discretion.

DAY 32 IN TRANSIT

DAY 33 ARRIVE IN AUSTRALIA

Inclusions

Travel

  • Return economy class flights from Australia to the Americas. Taxes included
  • Economy class flight within the Americas
  • Airport transfers on the first and last day of the tour
  • All touring in air-conditioned vehicles
  • Princess Cruise
  • $60 US per cabin on board credit
  • Port taxes of $530pp (subject to change) 
  • Tipping Made Easy, $190pp prepaid. On board the cruise there is a tipping surcharge to pay of approximately $14pp US per day

Accommodation & Meals

  • 13 nights in good quality hotels (3-4 star)
  • 2 nights at a rainforest lodge in Tortugero National Park
  • 15-night Princess cruise on board Island Princess
  • 30 breakfasts, 19 lunches and 18 dinners

Tour Guides

  • English-speaking locally based guides - excluding cruise

Sightseeing

Discover the abundance of wildlife in the rainforests of Costa Rica

  • Spend 2 nights at a rainforest lodge in Tortugero National Park, nestled between Tortugero Lagoon and the Caribbean Ocean.
  • Tour the village of Tortugero with its strong Afro-Caribbean roots. Wander around the school and other areas of the village and visit the Caribbean Conservation Corporation to will learn about the sea turtles the park is famous for.
  • Explore Mawamba Park with a naturalist guide including visits to 2 butterfly farms, a frog garden and river turtles area.
  • View the amazing wildlife and exuberant flora during a boat trip on the waterways in the flooded forest of Tortugero National Park.
  • Soak in the volcanic thermal springs and enjoy the views of Arenal Volcano from your hotel.
  • Hike the lava trail at Arenal Volcano National Park.
  • Take the scenic road - boat - road transfer across stunning Lake Arenal from Arenal to Monteverde.
  • Experience a local farmers' lunch and try your hand at Tilapia fishing at El Dos de Tilaran.
  • Discover the Monteverde cloud forest from the Selvatura Sky Walk's hanging bridges, suspended high in the rainforest canopy.

Step back in time in the colourful towns of volcanic Nicaragua

  • Cross the border to the relaxed coastal town of San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua and take in the panoramic view from the Cristo de la Misericordia View Point.
  • In San Juan del Sur spend the night in a historic 19th century building that was home to the widow of former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, and watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.
  • Take the local ferry to Omotepe Island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, characterised by its two towering volcanoes (Concepcion and Maderas).
  • Spend two nights in a lovingly restored, century-old colonial hacienda at Santo Domingo Beach on Omotepe Island with stunning volcano views.
  • Tour Omotepe Island and see ancient petroglyphs, the Devil's Viewpoint, Charco Verde Reserve, Punta Jesus Maria and Ojo de Agua.
  • Discover the colonial city of Leon on a walking tour. Visit the Cathedral de la Asuncion, the largest church in Central America, and enjoy the view from the rooftop.
  • Learn about the revolutionary history of Nicaragua from a real Sandinista guerillero at the Museum of the Revolution.
  • Visit Masaya Volcano and peer down at the bubbling lava within the crater.
  • Enjoy a walking tour through the charming cobblestone streets of historic Granada including Casa de los Leones, San Francisco Convent, the colourful market and the numerous architecturally-significant churches and monuments.
  • Take an excursion to the Mombacho Volcano Cloud Forest to discover the flora and fauna of the area and admire the surrounding panoramic views.
  • Travel by boat around Granada's famous isletas, a unique archipelago formed by an ancient volcanic explosion, and view the prolific bird and animal life.

Please Note: Once on the cruise, there is no sightseeing included as part of your Bunnik Tour. Should you like to book sightseeing (shore excursions) from the ship, this will need to be either pre-booked via Princess Cruises website or on board.

Please Note: On the cruise breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served in the main dining room. Princess Cruises does have specialty restaurants that can be enjoyed for a small surcharge. Meals are included when in port, but only available on the ship. If you decide to take a day tour or leave the ship you will need to purchase your own meals.

Dates & Prices

Dates & Prices

ESCORTED BY MARION BUNNIK, MARCH 10 2018

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Join Marion Bunnik on this incredible Cruise & Tour. View amazing wildlife in Tortugero National Park, relax in volcanic thermal springs, watch sun set over the Pacific at San Juan Del Sur, discover the volcanic scenery of Omotepe Island and Cruise the Caribbean & Panama Canal!

Starts Ends Save Total Cost* Status Book
10/03/18 11/04/18   $15,235 Guaranteed Departure book now
Valid From: Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane
Other departure cities: Clients ex Hobart add $200pp, Adelaide and Perth add $100pp
Tips: Total cost includes - Tipping Made Easy, $190pp prepaid. On board the cruise there is a tipping surcharge to pay of approximately $14pp US per day
Taxes: Total cost includes - air taxes of $440pp and port taxes of $530pp
Single supplement: $4,795 (subject to seasonality)
  • Upgrade from an Oceanview Stateroom to a Balcony Stateroom from only $600pp 
  • Day/Date Variations: Due to airline flight schedules day of arrival and day of departure may vary depending on your city of departure
  • Taxes & Fuel Costs: Total cost includes air taxes. Taxes and fuel surcharges change regularly so above levies are shown as a guide only
  • T&C: All prices shown are per person based on twin share and include airfares, all taxes and tips. Prices and itineraries correct at current time but are subject to change. Please call for more details. View our full terms & conditions here.

Optional Excursions

Princess Cruises

Onboard the cruise ship: 
For details on the optional shore excursions available, please refer to the Princess Cruises website: www.princess.com

Once you have booked your Cruise & Tour, you will be able to book excursions directly on the above website.

If you have pre-booked optional shore excursions, once you arrive onboard the cruise ship, you will receive excursion vouchers within your stateroom. These vouchers will state your meeting time and location to begin your sightseeing.

If you have pre-booked a waitlisted optional shore excursion, you will receive an email prior to the cruises departure advising if the excursion has become available. If you do not receive any advice before your cruise departs, please proceed to the front desk onboard for more details.

                            

Accommodation

Accommodation

Accommodation is subject to change and every effort is made to avoid this. However if a change does become necessary, accommodation of a similar standard will be used.

Hotel Presidente, San Jose

Hotel Presidente offers an incomparable location in the centre of it all, literally seconds away from San José's most famous landmarks. Rooms are among the most spacious hotel accommodation in downtown San José. Why not pedal off on one of the complimentary bicycles and explore more of the city at your own pace? And be sure to spend time on the green roof terrace – a venue unlike anything in the city, with native greenery and unparalleled views.

Facilities: air-conditioning; free wifi; safe deposit box

Mawamba Lodge, Tortuguero

Refreshing and relaxing, exquisitely evergreen, the Tortuguero canals are a must-see while in Costa Rica. Mawamba Lodge, amidst this exotic spot, and whose front yard is the Tortuguero canals and its backyard the Caribbean Ocean, blends with the surrounding natural richness to welcome you to this tropical sanctuary. On site you will also find 'Mawamba Park' with two butterfly, frog and iguana gardens.

Facilities: free wifi (public areas); safe deposit box; outdoor swimming pool

Arenal Springs Resort, Arenal

The Arenal Springs Resort is located just outside the quaint town of La Fortuna, near the Arenal Volcano. The resort is surrounded by lush, green, natural beauty that abounds here and one of the most active volcanoes in the world, the Arenal Volcano. There are 3 restaurants and other amenities include natural hot springs and an outdoor pool with a swim-up bar and sun-loungers. An open-air spa also offers a hot tub, plus massages and body treatments.

Facilities: air-conditioning; free wifi; fridge/minibar; safe deposit box; outdoor swimming pool; tea & coffee making facilities 

Fonda Vela Hotel, Monteverde

Just 1.5km from Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve lies the Fonda Vela Hotel. At the hotel you will find an indoor pool, restaurant, terrace and a bar. An array of activities can be enjoyed on site or in the surrounding areas. There are also beautiful gardens to explore, with a variety of places to go bird watching.

Facilities: free wifi (public areas); indoor swimming pool; tea & coffee making facilities

Hotel Victoriano, San Juan del Sur

Hotel Victoriano is a beach-front property located in San Juan del Sur Bay. It offers an outdoor pool and is housed in a historic nineteenth-century building which used to be the private home of Hope Somoza, the widow of former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Other features are Victorian architecture and a Gold-Rush history gallery with famous characters such as Mark Twain, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Ruben Dario.

Facilities: air-conditioning; free wifi; fridge (on request); safe deposit box; outdoor swimming pool

Hotel Villa Paraiso, Ometepe Island

From the natural beauty of the enveloping scenery to the tranquility of rural country life, Villas Paraiso in an enchanting century-old colonial hacienda that has been lovingly restored to its original classic splendor. Dating back to the late 19th century, the home now serves as a comfortable lodge that boasts its gracefulness and an authentic island feeling, located lake-front on Santo Domingo Beach with stunning volcano views. Promoting conservation and sustainability, the resort was designed to blend in perfect harmony with its surroundings.

Facilities: air-conditioning; free wifi; fridge/minibar; outdoor swimming pool

Hotel El Convento, Leon

Located in the heart of León, one of the oldest cities in the Americas, Hotel El Convento combines the essence of a classic 17th century convent with modern comfort and elegance. This boutique hotel surrounds guests with abundant flowers in the central courtyard and Spanish-colonial antiques and artwork in the corridors. Each of its rooms features terra-cotta floors, exposed brick walls, and ornately carved wood furnishings.

Facilities: air-conditioning; free wifi; fridge/minibar; outdoor swimming pool

Hotel La Gran Francia, Granada

This charming boutique hotel dates back to the 16th century, yet its interior design is fresh and bright. Just off of Granada's central park, the hotel provides easy access to everything. Each of the rooms provides authentic comfort and luxury, with high wood-beamed ceilings, subdued colours, handcrafted furnishings, and plush bedding. A tranquil garden, pool, and large balcony facing the cathedral make La Gran Francia an ideal place to unwind.

Facilities: air-conditioning; free wifi; fridge/minibar; safe deposit box; outdoor swimming pool

MS Island Princess - Princess Cruises

Island Princess was built to Panamax size – this means she was built to the maximum size a cruise ship can be to sail through the Panama Canal. A high percentage of balcony staterooms give guests the chance to view this feat of engineering up-close, or take in stunning views of spectacular glaciers during cruises to Alaska. Featured on just one other Princess ship, the Bayou Café and Steakhouse is a unique dining venue on board in which to enjoy authentic New Orleans cuisine accompanied by live jazz.

Princess Cruises: Cruise Ships | Cabin-types | On-board services

Weather

Weather

San Jose

Costa Rica weather is just as varied as the country itself.  Although Costa Rica is unequivocally tropical, it can be divided into several climatic zones, each of which has different characteristics of its own. The average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 22°C (71°F) and 27°C (81°F).  Due to its close proximity to the equator, Costa Rica has no real summer or winter periods, and the sun shines here throughout the year.  The climate in Costa Rica is classically divided into two major seasons – rainy and dry. Costa Rica’s dry season runs from December through May and Costa Rica’s rainy season from May to November.  Locally, dry months are called ‘verano’ or summer, and the rainy months ‘invierno’ or winter.  An interesting fact is that some of the coldest temperatures are registered during the early dry season or ‘verano’.

San Jose

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Granada

Nicaragua has a tropical climate with rainy periods from May to October and a dry season from January to April. There are three temperature zones in Nicaragua, from the lowlands of the Pacific/Atlantic coast with temperatures varying from approx. 22°C to 30°C; central region is roughly 5°C cooler and in the northern mountains, it drops by about 10°C.

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Miami

Miami weather is generally sunny and hot throughout the year, with summer and winter the only distinguishable seasons. Featuring a tropical monsoon climate, the wet season in Miami generally lasts between May and October and can see weather become quite muggy, although a sea breeze that develops off the Atlantic Ocean can make it easier for visitors.

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Currency

Currency

Costa Rica, Colon

The official currency in Costa Rica is the Colon (symbol ₡)

  • 1/100 = Centimo
  • Notes are in denominations of ₡50000, 20000, 10000, 5000, 2000, and 1000
  • Coins are in denominations of ₡500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, and 1

Nicaragua, Nicaraguan Cordoba

The local currency in Nicaragua is the Nicaraguan Cordoba (C$)

  • Cordoba (NIO; symbol C$) = 100 centavos
  • Cordoba notes are in denominations of C$500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10
  • Coins are in denominations of C$1, 5, 10, 5, 10 ,25 and 50 centavos

USA, US Dollar

The official currency in the USA us the US Dollar (US$)

  • Note (Federal Reserve Notes) are in denominations of $100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1Coins are in denominations of $1, 50 cents, 25 cents (Quarter), 10 cents (Dime), 5 cents (Nickel) and 1 cent (Penny)
  • Coins are in denominations of $1, 50 cents, 25 cents (Quarter), 10 cents (Dime), 5 cents (Nickel) and 1 cent (Penny) 

Levels of Fitness

Levels of Fitness

Levels-of-Fitness-sml

To get the most from your Bunnik tour, you will need a good level of fitness and mobility and an open mind. Many of the best sights can only be accessed on foot. Sightseeing includes lots of walking, getting into and out of boats and other forms of transport and extended periods at high altitude.

You should be able to walk at least 3.5km or for 2-3 hours on uneven ground with no walking aids and climb several flights of stairs. You should also be able to carry your own bags - porterage is not included in our tipping costs and extra services may not always be available.

Passengers who are 70 and over will be required to obtain a doctor’s clearance before travelling.

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Special Experiences!

  • Venture into the Costa Rican wilds, boarding a boat on the fringe of Tortuguero National Park to enter the flooded forest and travel to our lodge.
  • Travel from Arenal to Monteverde by road and boat, stopping to enjoy a local farmers’ lunch and try our hand at traditional tilapia fishing.
  • Peer into the steaming crater of one of Nicaragua’s most active volcanoes on a visit to Volcán Masaya National Park.

Trip Info

Group Size

Max: 20

Transportation

Coach, boat, ferry, plane & cruise ship

Tips

Total cost includes - Tipping Made Easy, $190pp prepaid. On board the cruise there is a tipping surcharge to pay of approximately $14pp US per day

Tour Highlights

• View amazing wildlife from the waterways of Tortuguero National Park • Relax in the volcanic thermal springs at Arenal • Watch the sun set over the Pacific at San Juan Del Sur • Discover the volcanic scenery of Ometepe Island • Visit Granada’s Isletas, a unique archipelago formed by a volcanic explosion • Cruise the Caribbean ports of Central America & the Panama Canal in luxury

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