Turtles and Trails

Biking, Hiking, Kayaking, Whitewater Rafting, Zip Lining & Volunteering
BikeHike Adventures Active Volunteering Costa Rica trip

This Costa Rica adventure tour is designed for active travellers who also want to help in the protection of endangered sea turtles in a sustainable, environmentally responsible manner. In 9-days, we blend active thrills with two-days of community service on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The adventure begins with biking, hiking, zip-lining, sea kayaking, soaking in the steamy hot springs of the Arenal Volcano region and two-days of whitewater adventure bouncing down the boulder-choked Pacuare River. Then we head east to the Caribbean, where the leatherback and green sea turtles swim to the shores to lay their eggs. We'll assist the researchers patrolling the beaches for the turtles and gathering and relocating their eggs to protect them from poachers. Each nest is very important to the survival of the species. Approximately 1/1000 hatchlings survive to adulthood. This has large implications for the survival of the species as a whole. April and May are the peak seasons for the leatherback turtles coming to lay their eggs on these Caribbean beaches. You'll feel invigorated by the adventure and sport and humbled and rewarded by nature on this multi-sport volunteer combo.


  • Biking and Hiking amongst the Arenal Volcano
  • Volunteering with endangered leatherback sea turtles
  • Two-day whitewater rafting adventure down the Pacuare River

Trip Itinerary

1San JoseArrivalHotel-
2San Jose - Arenal VolcanoBikingHotelB
3La FortunaZip-lining, Hiking & Hot SpringsHotelB,D
4Arenal - Pacuare RiverRaftingJungle CampB,L,D
5Pacuare RiverRaftingJungle CampB,L,D
6Pacuare River - GandocaKayaking & VolunteeringHomestayB,L,D
8Gandoca - San JoseTransferHotelB
9San JoseDeparture-B


Day 1: San Jose (Arrival)

After welcoming you at the San Jose airport, a BikeHike Adventures representative will transfer you to a comfortable hotel in the city. The rest of the day is free to explore the cosmopolitan sights of San Jose.

Day 2: San Jose - Arenal Volcano (Biking)

We begin our journey with a drive to La Fortuna, the closest town to active volcano of Arenal.  Upon arrival, we'll check into our hotel, have lunch and then get geared up with mountain bikes. We'll head out for an afternoon of fat tire adventure, cycling along an old road that connects a dam with the main entrance to the national park.  From here we pedal uphill,  towards the Arenal Observatory Lodge Hotel and into the village of El Castillo.  The route is primarily through secondary forest and cattle farms. It's common to see howler monkeys, toucans, coatis, in this area.  We'll stop for snacks on the shore of Lake Arenal and have time to take a refreshing dip to cool off.  The volcano is visible during most of our ride today and we sometimes see small puffs of steam coming from the cone.  The evening is at leisure. Overnight in a comfortable hotel. (B)

Day 3: Arenal Volcano (Zip-lining, Hiking & Hot Springs)

Today after breakfast we'll set off for an exciting ziplining adventure plunging through the canopy of the rainforest.  The cables, 10 in total, span lengths of 600 to 2600 feet and each cable offers a different sensation and experience. We'll cross canyons, zip past cascading waterfalls and fly through the treetops that tower 60 feet off the ground. We'll hike along a trail to get to the zipline and have great views of the Fortuna and Pino Blanco waterfalls, along with the majestic cone of the Arenal Volcano. In the afternoon we'll take a gentle hike through pristine rainforest trails to the base of the Arenal Volcano. If we're lucky, we'll spot some of the wildlife that live in these forests (monkeys, toucans, wild turkeys, sloths, a huge variety of tropical birds).  Later in the early evening we'll drive to some natural hotprings nearby to take a relaxing dip in the steamy pools. There are numerous pools of different temperatures to soak in. We end with dinner and then are transferred back to our comfortable hotel in La Fortuna. (B,D)

Day 4: Arenal - Pacuare River (Whitewater Rafting)

After a hearty and wholesome breakfast we hop in the van and drive to the "put-in" on the Pacuare River. Here we kick off for two days of whitewater adventure tackling (25 km's/15 miles) of class III-IV rapids. The first day is a short paddle, giving us plenty of time to explore this pristine river valley. We takeout midday and have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure to relax or hike through the rainforest. There’s a fantastic waterfall nearby where we can sit under the thundering spray to massage any sore muscles. Tonight we overnight at comfortable permanent riverside campsite with tents mounted on wooden platforms facing the river, beautiful manicured gardens, an open-air dining room and kitchen, a washroom with flush toilets and sinks and hammocks in a gazebo to relax in. (B,L,D)

Day 5: Pacuare River (Whitewater Rafting)

After breakfast we cast off the shores paddling through the swirling swells that form on the second half of the Pacuare River. This section of the river cuts through a tropical rainforest and then through a deep canyon that has cascading waterfalls dripping from fertile walls. We spend a good part of the day bouncing through the exciting class III-IV rapids. We take out along the way to stretch our legs and hike to a spectacular hidden waterfall that has a fresh water pool and frothy cascade. There is time play in the curtain of water before we hop across rocks to get back in our boats for a little more whitewater action. We stop for a picnic lunch on the riverbank and then the biggest and most exciting rapids of the day come after lunch.  The rafting concludes near the town of Siquirres at another riverside camp in the heart of banana plantation country, where we rest for the night before an early start in the morning. Dinner tonight is a home cooked gourmet Pacuare feast. Whitewater Rafting 3-5 hours, 17 km/10 miles. (B,L,D)

Days 6: Pacuare River - Gandoca (Kayaking & Volunteering with Leatherback Sea Turtles)

We'll feast on a Pacuare breakfast and then transfer by vehicle to Freeman. Here we'll continue paddling down the Pacuare River, this time in two person kayaks. This section of the Pacuare eases into the Caribbean lowlands where banana plantations gradually swallow the receding rainforest. The river slows to a tranquil pace for the last mile of the river, completing the mosaic of the landscapes we have experienced.  At the end of the paddle, we reach the mouth of the Pacuare as it meets the Caribbean, and we'll enjoy a well-deserved rest.  After some time on the beach we'll be picked up by motorboat and transferred to Moin. Then it's a 1.5 hour drive to the town of Gandoca to the Sea Turtle Project, our home for the night. We'll have dinner here and an orientation of the next leg of our adventure, volunteering with leatherback sea turtles. Tonight we will go out on patrol with the researchers to look for turtles coming up to lay their eggs on the beaches. Overnight at Cabinas El Rinconcito which is a family home with private rooms. Flat water paddling, 2 hours, 20 km/ 12 miles.  (B,L,D)

Day 7: Gandoca (Volunteering with Sea Turtles)

Today we'll be supporting the researchers with the maintenance of the project. This includes making paint marks on the beach, cleaning the beach for the turtles arrival, and working with the turtles collecting eggs and taking measurements. If we feel like going for a hike or a paddle down the river, we can do that during the day. At night, we’ll be working alongside the researchers to help protect the turtles from extinction. Our night duties include patrolling the beaches looking for the nesting leatherback turtles where they’ll be protected from poachers. We’ll be able to watch them go into their trances and begin laying their eggs. Overnight at Cabinas El Rinconcito at a family home in private rooms.  (B,L,D)

Day 8:  San Jose

We’ll have a leisurely morning with time to do more maintenance at the project and then our driver and van will be awaiting us to transfer us back to San Jose for our final night in Costa Rica. The night is at leisure to enjoy the cosmopolitan life in the capital city. Overnight at a comfortable hotel. (B)

Day 9: Departure

A BikeHike Adventures representative will transfer you to the international airport for your return flight home. (B)

Download printer friendly detailed itinerary

Trip Includes:

All accommodation (twin shared), all internal transportation, activities highlighted, all equipment (24-speed mountain bikes, rafting and camping gear, etc.), safety kayaker on rafting trip, meals indicated (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner) and English-speaking guides.

Trip Does Not Include:

International Flights, meals not indicated, gratuities to guides, airport departure taxes and items of a personal nature.


8 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners


Hotel: 4 Nights

Jungle Camp: 2 Nights

Dormitory Lodging: 2 Nights

“I had a fantastic time! The Costa Rica trip was perfect. I loved it. My favourite part was the first riverside campsite. Great place to 'remove' yourself”

~ Jason Hyde - Georgia, USA

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About Costa Rica:

Costa Rica is a lush paradise guaranteed to satiate any traveller's hunger for adventure tours. The untouched wonders that await in this tiny country are so varied and so rich you'll want to return again and again. National parks and reserves account for more than one quarter of the land in Costa Rica. BikeHike Adventures was born guiding travellers through Costa Rica's rainforests, seacoast and rivers. We're hooked, and we know you will be too. From jungle canopy to raging rapids, Costa Rica will delight and amaze you with its natural beauty.

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