Adventure vacations in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Odyssey


During this adventure you will be riding on rural roads through the countryside and farmland, down a dramatic river canyon, towards the arid Pacific Coast with its volcanic sand beaches, then transfer to the Caribbean side where you will experience not only a different coastline with exuberant lushness but a completely contrasting rich cultural experience.

As you ride, you will be in close contact with one of nature’s finest panoramic displays, visit quaint and rural communities and get involved in the Costa Rican way of life. In between, detour and drive a few hours north for some relaxation time enjoying the hot-spring waters of Arenal Volcano.

It is organized for energetic people and offers a maximum view of this many faceted country. The riding is center based out of two different locations and you are transferred by vehicle to the three different areas you’ll be exploring on this ride.

There is a wonderful variety of accommodations and meals on this ride, several nights are spent in different locations. Each lodging has a different character and view. Three nights are spent at a farm lodge, two nights at an Eco-lodge at Arenal, two nights at cabins on the coast and two nights at a San Jose hotel. All are clean, offer hot showers and comfortable beds. Most include private baths.

The food on the ride is varied and delicious. There is an excellent selection of fresh vegetables, beef, chicken, salads, soups, rice and beans. Lunches will be in a café, a picnic with sandwiches or maybe a barbecue. Breakfasts often consist of fresh fruits and juices, bread or muffins, along with eggs and cereal and the famous Costa Rican coffee. Gallo pinto is a traditional breakfast dish that must be sampled. It is made with black beans and rice, seasoned with onions, sweet peppers and fresh coriander and is typically accompanied by scrambled eggs, cheese, sour cream and hot tortillas.

  • Overview:
    The horses used for the tour are primarily Costa Rican Criollo, a breed that is exceptionally rugged, well-mannered and responsive. The horses are well suited to the trails of their area. The Criollo horses often have a smooth trot that is traditionally ridden sitting rather than posting. The saddles used are Modified McClellan and Western. Both open and covered stirrups are used. The majority of the horses are ridden in a “Jaquima with a bozal” – a type of bit-less bridle made or rope or leather. The horses are trained to neck rein.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Criollo, criollo crosses
  • Trip Pace:
  • Tack:
    modified McClellan
  • Weight limit:
    210 Ibs

San Jose

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

You will be met upon arrival at the San Jose International airport. Overnight at a San Jose hotel. Dinner is on your own tonight.

Day 2

Cien Fuegos Eco-ranch and stables. (Approx. 3 hours in the saddle)
Morning transfer to Cien Fuegos which is located along the Trinidad River in the Dry Central Pacific region, the starting point of your riding adventure. After horse assignment and a short presentation, you will head towards Hacienda La Maravilla, riding along rolling hills and meadows into the gallery forest along the Cuarros River – an excellent spot for wildlife encounters. Meander across the river following a country lane passing farmland, rural homes and finally arriving at the hacienda grounds. For the next three nights you will stay at Cerro Lodge which is located just 10 minutes from Carara National Park, an important refuge for Scarlet Macaw’s.

Day 3

Coastal Ride (Approx. 5-6 hours in the saddle)
Today’s ride will take you to the Pacific coast following country roads to Guacalillo beach and then ride along the shoreline towards finally visiting Tivives Crag – the very spot where the Spaniards first started their conquest of the Central Pacific around 1561. Depending on tide times, lunch will be served at a local café or as a picnic on the beach, or back at Maravilla. Depending on the tide you climb on horseback towards Cuevas Crag, enjoying unique views of the Pacific ocean or alternatively, ride along the shoreline towards Guacalillo beach. Follow a country lane back to Hacienda Maravilla.

Day 4

Hacienda ride and optional countryside Ride (Approx. 3-6 hours in the saddle)
Enjoy an exploratory ride of the hacienda’s 1000 acres and its private reserve, riding through rolling hills and savannahs towards the transitional-dry forest and the lush gallery forest. Here, the terrain is picturesque, predominantly flat with gentle slopes and forested valleys. As you ride over the higher areas you will have excellent views of the Pacific Ocean and perhaps spot some of the local area’s wildlife too. Return to the hacienda in time for lunch and a siesta. This afternoon there is an optional ride in the southern part of La Maravilla Hacienda. After a few gentle hill climbs you may experience an ocean view sunset – the Pacific coast is reputed to be among the world’s best places to experience this event.

Day 5

Machuca River Canyon Ride (Approx. 4-5 hours in the saddle)
Your final ride will take you to the Machuca River basin, passing Cascajal village as you ride into the area where this river canyon broadens onto the plains. Heading towards the Jesús María River basin, allowing exploration of the plains and forested valleys along the Machuca River Canyon, where the land is very fertile and most commonly used to cultivate melons. Return to Cascajal and then ride back to Eco-ranch or a point enroute where the transfer vehicle is waiting to take you on a 3-hour transfer to the northern region, home to Arenal Volcano, which last erupted in 1968 and remains one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Overnight in Arenal.

Day 6

Arenal Volcano ride and Thermo-mineral Hot Springs

This morning participate in the Don Tobias ride, a 3 hour horseback adventure through the Arenal countryside. The trail ascends a mountain as it traverses both rainforest and cattle fields. On your way up stop by a beautiful lagoon where the horses will refresh themselves and you’ll have a chance to stretch your legs and look around. Continuing on you’ll come to a lookout with marvelous views of the Arenal area. Afternoon guided visit to Arenal volcano and enjoy free time at the Arenal hot water springs and gardens. These thermo-mineral waters which some people claim to have healing benefits, will help you feeling relaxed. Overnight at Arenal.

Day 7

Transfer to Caribbean Coast and Coastal Exploration (About 3 hours riding time)

Early morning pickup around 6 AM for the 5 hour shuttle transfer to the Caribbean Coast. After checking into your room and free time to unwind, a short briefing about the new set of horses and horse allocation, followed by an exploratory ride along the coast, with walking along a jungle trail until you reach the coast line where you would have opportunities for trots and canters. A stop for swimming and resting on the beach is usually included. Overnight in Cahuita.

Day 8

Caribbean Beach ride (Approx. 4-5 hours in the saddle)

This morning take a short walk to where the horses are stabled before riding over to the scenic Playa Negra (Black Beach) then partway over the village road towards Playa Grande (Long Beach), a secluded and quiet beach which is ideal for riding and brisk canters. Afterwards enter into a beautiful tropical forest where you may be able to spot howler monkeys, sloths and a variety of exotic birds such as Toucans. On the way back to the lodge you may stop to see some local artisans and souvenir shops and have lunch at one of the local restaurants. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Cahuita.

Day 9

Mountain and Waterfall Ride and shuttle transfer back to San Jose

After a leisurely breakfast enjoy a mountain trail ride, first riding along the beach and then following a trail through a local farm,  reaching the trail head where you leave the horses and hike about 50 minutes to a secluded waterfall where you can swim and rejuvinate. Enjoy a picnic style lunch before hiking and riding back. Take a quick shower at the lodge before taking the shuttle back to San Jose (3 1/2 hours) for your last night in Costa Rica.

Day 10

Breakfast, followed by a transfer to the San Jose airport for departure.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible and may be modified at the guide's discretion based on weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

7 night trips are also available on the same departure dates; ask for more information!
Additional Pricing Information:
Dinner on the first and last night not included. Ride price is set, guaranteed and final at the time deposit is paid.    

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Preferred Trip Dates

Costa Rica Odyssey
April 23, 2024
January 1, 1970
January 1, 1970

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I cannot say enough good things about the Rainforest Adventure. The hosts were both wonderful - knowledgeable, friendly, fun and competent. They were always alert to riders and horses and the horses were amazing - well trained, responsive and fun! We loved every minute of it - from waking in the morning... Read more  

Maggie Driano, 2010