Costa Rica Family Escape
Will I love This Holiday?
Travel Style: Family
Cost: From $1,935 USD ex flights for adults; $1,452 ex flights for children. (See below for UK departures)
Where: Costa Rica
Length: 8 days land only; 15 days including flights
Physical Rating: Leisurely - Moderate
Right For: Families with tweens & teens
Children: Designed for 13 - 16, minimum age 9
What: Family Safari
Group Size: 4 - 16
Accommodations: Chalet, lodges, camping
1. Adventure lovers will enjoy trying the included zip-lining and whitewater rafting excursions!
2. Join a night walk in Monteverde to see the cloud forest come alive at night
3. Relax on Carrillo beach and enjoy the Pacific coastline
4. Snorkelling and boat excursion to see dolphins
5. Experience the beauty and vibrancy of tropical Costa Rica
Is This Trip Right For Me?
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.
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.
DAY 1: START WINDHOEK
The starting point for this trip is the Arebbusch Lodge. For those on the group transfer, we spend sometime in the capital city to change money and collect supplies and then drive to the Arebbush Lodge on the outskirts of the city.
Lodging: Arebbusch Lodge or similar.
DAY 2: DRIVE THROUGH NAMIB-NAUKLUFT PARK TO SESRIEM
Today we embark on our longest drive of the trip as we head southwest through the spectacular scenery of the Namib-Naukluft Park to our first campsite at Sesriem. This National Park, one of the largest in the world, is home to one of the driest and oldest deserts on earth. It contains the finest desert scenery in Africa, if not in the world, with towering jagged rock formations and incredible lunar landscapes. (350kms / 7hrs)
Lodging: NWR Sesriem Campsite or similar.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
DAY 3: SOSSUSVLEI DUNES & THE NAMIB CARNIVORE CONSERVATION CENTRE
Today we spend all day in the Namib Desert. Rising early we catch the tallest sand dunes in the world in the best light and have the opportunity to climb one of the dunes as the sun rises, truly one of Africa's greatest sights. We can either walk to Hiddenvlei or catch a transfer (optional extra) to Deadvlei where ancient acacia trees in the desert form an eerie scene. If we're lucky we may see gemsbok or ostrich among the sand dunes. In the afternoon we visit Sesriem Canyon before continuing onto our camp an hour away. We visit the Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre where we can join conservationists working on a cheetah conservation project (depending on time we may go tomorrow morning). (200kms / 3hrs).
Lodging: Solitaire Guest Farm or similar.
DAY 4: TRAVEL THROUGH NAMIB DESERT TO SWAKOPMUND VIA WALVIS BAY
A long, but very scenic, drive through the Namib-Naukluft Park to Swakopmund. En route we visit Walvis Bay for lunch and to see local flamingos. Swakopmund is a small German colonial resort town with quaint cake shops and coffee houses and a centre for adrenaline activities. (300kms / 5.5hrs)
Lodging: Prost hotel or similar.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.
DAY 5: FULL DAY IN SWAKOPMUND WITH OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES
Today is spent in and around Swakopmund. There is time to go fishing, relax on the beach, or enjoy a cream tea and a seafood dinner along the front. If you're keen for some action, there are enough options for the whole family - take an optional dolphin watching cruise, experience the thrill of quad biking over the sand dunes or try the popular new sport of sandboarding.
Lodging: Prost Hotel or similar.
Meals included: Breakfast.
DAY 6: DRIVE TO BRANDBERG, NAMIBIA'S HIGHEST MOUNTAIN
After a relaxing start we leave the cool breeze of the Atlantic Ocean behind and head inland towards Namibia’s highest mountain, Brandberg, in Damaraland. The Damaraland area is famous for the desert elephants which roam in the Ugab River. Star gazing is normally spectacular from this remote area (250kms / 4.5hrs).
Lodging: Bradberg Whilte Lady Lodge (camping) or similar.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
DAY 7: WHITE LADY PAINTING & VINGERKLIP
We begin our day with a short drive to Brandberg, where we will enjoy a walk through valley 45 for approximately 1.5 hours. Along the way we will view beautiful, granite rock formations and a variety of birdlife. The valley takes us to the famous ‘White Lady’ rock painting which, along with a number of other small paintings and engravings, are thought to have been left by Bushmen at least 2000 years ago. Afterwards we will drive towards the Khorixas area where we should pass various Himba and Herero women selling crafts from the roadside. There is also the possibility of spotting Desert elephants and meerkats on the way. We will arrive at our accommodation after lunch and then in the afternoon we can view Vingerklip, a striking pinnacle of rock balancing vertically on its own (driving 230kms / 4hrs).
Lodging: Khorias Lodge or similar.
DAY 8: TO FAMOUS ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK
The first day is spent with a scenic drive to Etosha. We should arrive in time to do a late afternoon game drive before setting up at our camp, which has an excellent waterhole for viewing game at night! Our itinerary allows plenty of time to really enjoy this fabulous game park. (240kms / 3.5hrs)
Lodging: Okaukujo Camp or similar.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner.
DAYS 9 - 10: TWO DAYS ON GAME DRIVES IN ETOSHA
Etosha is a huge park with a mix of forest and grassland surrounding a large saltpan. Etosha is home to a great variety and number of game, which is easy to find as the animals congregate at different times around the waterholes. There are waterholes near the camps, and it is not uncommon for us to spend many hours watching a gala performance of animals: wildebeest, zebra, impala, springbok, kudu, elephant, giraffe, lion and even rhino are all common sights here. Those with patience are frequently rewarded by one of the greatest game spectacles in Southern Africa. Etosha is also a good place for birds, with plenty of water birds on the lakes and weaverbirds and hornbills in the trees. While in Etosha we move from Okakuejo to a camp in either Namutoni or Halali (they both have waterholes). These camps now offer optional night drives which you can book and pay for on arrival.
Lodging: Namutoni Camp or similar.
Day 9 meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 10 meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.
DAY 11: TO OTJIWARONGWE
After a relaxing start to the morning, we drive via Tsumeb and Otavi where we can stretch our legs before stopping at Otjiwarongo for lunch. We then spend our final night of camping under the African night sky on a private farm. (380kms / 6hrs).
Lodging: Otjiwa Safari Camp or similar.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner.
DAY 12: TREK TO WATERBERG PLATEAU
This morning we drive to the Waterberg Plateau, a 200 metre high gigantic flat-topped plateau covered with bushveld. It is one of the more fertile areas in Namibia and very colourful especially after the rains. Here there are several walking trails, including one leading to a spectacular viewpoint near the top of the plateau for a great view. In addition to a guided walk, there are many smaller walks that can be explored without a guide. (120kms / 2hrs)
Lodging: NWR Waterberg Lodge or similar.
Meals included: Breakfast.
DAY 13: TRANSFER TO WINDHOEK DEPART WINDHOEK
A drive of three and a half hours or so brings us back to Windhoek. Those not travelling with the group to London will leave us during the day. (320kms / 3.5hrs)
Meals included: Breakfast.
What to Expect
2019 Dates: 5 - 17 April; 7 - 19 April, 7 - 19 July; 4 - 16 August; 11 - 23 August; 16 - 28 August; 18 - 30 August. Dates for land portion only. For holidays including flights, departure is one day earlier and return is one day later.
► $2,635 USD per adult & $1,975 USD per child ex flights
► From £2,899 GBP per adult & £2,174 per child including flights from and to London
Includes: All breakfasts & 2 lunches; all accommodation (see below); all transport and listed activities; tour leader throughout.
Excludes: Travel insurance; single accommodation (available on request); visas or vaccinations.
► Travel by minibus, boat and on foot
► Group normally 4 to 16, plus local leader
► 7 nights comfortable hotels
► Designed for 13-16 year olds, also suitable for 9-12 year olds
► Some long drives
Optional Excursions (approximate costs, depending on group sizes)
► Don Juan Coffee Tour: $35 USD
► Trapiche Tour (Sugar cane mill): $71 USD
► Frog pond tour: $45 USD
► Monteverde Orchid Garden: $45 USD
► SUP (stand-up-paddle) Mangrove tour: $49 USD
► Wildlife and Mangrove Kayak: $49 USD
► Turtle nesting tour (night time): $49 USD
We stay in four comfortable hotels during this tour for a total of 7 nights;
In San Jose we stay at the modern 4-star Studio Hotel, conveniently located near the airport for an easy arrival transfer at the start of the holiday.
In Arenal, our accommodation will be at the 3-star Los Lagos Spa & Resort Hotel. This property is close to Arenal Volcano and has large natural grounds, with butterflies and frogs regularly seen in the surrounding rainforest. Rooms are comfortable and well equipped. There are several natural pools fed by rainforest spring water, and a larger pool with water slide, ideal for splashing about 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-star Nammbu Hotel, a beachfront property overlooking Carrillo beach. This family run property has large rooms, wonderful ocean views and a lovely swimming pool.
Eating & 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.
You should allow extra to cover the cost of those meals not included in the price of the holiday. Approximate costs are given for guidance only, and may vary widely according to location and type of establishment.
Coffee/tea USD 2-5
Soft drink USD 2-5
Medium beer USD 3-7
Local snack lunch USD 10
Three course dinner* USD 35
Bottle of wine USD 40
Bottle of water USD 2
*reasonable mid-range tourist class restaurant.
The majority of our travel will be done in an air-conditioned 16 seater minibus, but we also use small motor boats for some activities such as the Lake Arenal crossing and the boat excursion to see dolphins.
Wildlife You Might See
What Makes this Trip Responsible Travel
Accommodation & Meals
Most nights on this trip will be spent in fully service camps, whilst the remainder will be in guesthouses and small hotels. By mainly camping, we reduce our energy consumption and negative effect on the environment. These sites, often being based within or nearby National Parks, are extremely conscious of litter disposal and we try to use gas fires instead of limited wood resources. All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners are provided, and your local guide and chef will use fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. We can arrange for meals out together or recommend restaurants nearby as a means of encouraging local investment and celebration of African cuisine.
We do a number of activities focused on wildlife and we actively ensure that our guides are well informed and able to convey environmental knowledge to clients. Etosha National Park, for example, is home to a great variety and number of game. There are waterholes next to the excellent campsites, and it is not uncommon for us to spend all night watching a gala performance of animals: wildebeest, zebra, impala, springbok, kudu, elephant, giraffe, lion and even rhino are all common sights. Our entrance fees to Etosha and other places like this on our itinerary, are a vital contribution to park maintenance, conservation activities, community projects, and employment of local people.
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Local Craft & Culture
Throughout the tour, there are opportunities to appreciate Southern African culture and to purchase traditional, handmade crafts. An example is on Day 7 when we drive through the Khorixas area where we should pass various Himba and Herero women selling crafts from the roadside. We encourage clients to support local businesses like this as a way of boosting the economy of local communities. We are also aware that some items sold are made with illegal or environmentally damaging products and so leaders are careful to give a warning in a briefing about things like ivory and large items made from local hardwood.
This small group tour has a maximum of 12 participants, 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. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.
Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre
The size of the cheetah enclosure has reduced in size quite significantly while the centre makes improvements to its fencing. The completion date for this work is expected to be in March 2019 but an exact date is still to be confirmed. Exodus does not wish to stop support of the project during this transitional period and so have decided to continue including the visit in our itineraries. However, it does mean seeing the cheetahs in a smaller enclosure than normal.
How You Can Help
Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn't yet widely available; they often end up in landfill sites or get burnt, both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. On your trip the tap water is safe to drink and the vehicle has a water tank. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout and all you need to do is bring a bottle to re‐fill along the way. Please add this to your packing list!