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Discover Costa Rica

from $3,499.00

Experience the Costa Rican rainforest, mountains and coast

  • Reviews 10 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Guided
  • Activity Level Leisurely
    1/8
  • Group Size Small Group
    5 - 16
All about the Discover Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is renowned for having proportionately more protected land than any other country, making it ripe for wildlife tourism. What is less known is the marvellous, often bizarre variety of animals from catatonic sloths, screaming Howler monkeys, screeching toucans and nesting Green turtles. Throw in the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines and it is easy to see why so many return.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

* All breakfasts, 8 lunches, 6 dinners
* All accommodation
* All transport and listed activities
* Tour leader throughout. Groups of 5 to 16, plus tour leader. Min age 16 yrs.
* Airport Arrival and departure transfers (at designated times)

What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)

Highlights

  • Unrivaled wildlife viewing — Howler monkeys, caiman and sloths
  • Visit the beaches and waterways of Tortuguero, an important nesting site for Green turtles
  • Verdant rainforest, lush mangroves, lava fields and serene cloud forests
  • Wonderful naturalist guides who will share their love of Costa Rica with you!
  • Relax on idyllic Pacific coast beaches
  • Stay in comfortable eco-friendly lodges and hotels
  • Travel by air-conditioned bus and boat
  • 14 nights in comfortable hotels and eco-lodges
  • Some departures with specialist birdwatching guide
  • Green turtle nesting season: July to October
  1. Day 1 Start San Jose.

    The airport transfer from San Jose normally this evening. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon/evening. Free transfers are available for all clients. This evening is the perfect opportunity to meet your guide and get to know your fellow travelers. Accommodation: Presidente Hotel (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  2. Day 2 To Tortuguero N.P.

    Our adventure begins early this morning, leaving San Jose behind as we travel to the north-east of Costa Rica to Tortuguero National Park. Accessible only by boat or light aircraft, Tortuguero’s vast network of waterways, canals and swamps is remarkably tranquil, unspoilt and devoid of noise pollution. On reaching the pier we board a small motorboat for the one hour fifteen minute journey to our lodge, which is nestled on a small strip of land between the Caribbean Sea and the main lagoon. Our afternoon is spent in Tortuguero village, where it’s possible to visit the Sea Turtle Museum (a donation will be requested at the entrance). Tortuguero is probably most famous as a nesting site for the endangered Green turtle, which can be seen arriving onto the beach to lay eggs from late July to October (as part of an optional excursion). Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Giant Leatherback turtles also nest in this region, and during November to January baby turtles start to hatch and make their way towards the ocean. Today’s travel time will be in the region of six hours including a break for breakfast.Accommodation: Laguna Lodge or Pachira Lodge (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  3. Day 3 Boat tour around Tortuguero waterways.

    An early morning boat trip enables us to discover the extraordinary flora and fauna of Tortuguero, passing serenely along the waterways. At this time of day wildlife is usually at its most active, and with the help of our expert guide we are likely to encounter monkeys, caiman, iguanas, butterflies and many of the 300+ bird species recorded here. We return to the lodge for a hearty breakfast by the river. The lodge is a tranquil spot to relax this afternoon if you want to take some time out to enjoy the facilities, or alternatively you can join a second boat trip or follow a short walking trail through the forest.Accommodation: Laguna Lodge or Pachira Lodge (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  4. Day 4 To La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano.

    We leave Tortuguero the same way we arrived by taking a small boat to the pier. Our bus will be at the pier waiting to drive us to the region of Arenal, passing huge banana, pineapple and sugar cane plantations on the way. Arenal was Costa Rica’s most active volcano until fairly recently when it entered a resting phase, and can no longer be seen spitting ash, smoke or lava. However there is still a lot of geothermal activity in the area and you’ll have the opportunity to visit one of the excellent hot springs this evening. In clear weather there are great views of the volcano from our overnight base in the nearby town of La Fortuna. Today’s travelling time is around five and a half hours including a lunch stop.Accommodation: Arenal Montechiari or San Bosco Hotel (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  5. Day 5 La Fortuna Waterfall hike; visit Arenal Volcano.

    Waterfalls are abundant in the region of Arenal and this morning we visit La Fortuna Waterfall, a 65 metre cascade of water plunging into an emerald pool below. A short trail through the rainforest brings us to a relatively steep set of steps that we must descend to reach the waterfall and then ascend to the exit – the hike/climb takes around 20-30 minutes and is within the capabilities of anyone with reasonable fitness. Reward your efforts with a dip in one of the natural pools punctuating the foliage to cool off! Alternatively you could visit the lookout point and wait for the group. After lunch we take a short scenic hike within Arenal National Park, walking through secondary rainforest and passing some of the lava fields from past eruptions. The high vantage points on this walk allow great views overlooking Lake Arenal, and the birdlife is plentiful.Accommodation: Arenal Montechiari or San Bosco Hotel (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  6. Day 6 To Monteverde in the Tilaran Mountains.

    From Arenal we travel to the Tilaran Mountain Range in the Central Highlands for our first taste of a Costa Rican cloud forest. The journey provides breathtaking views of the Gulf of Nicoya and the islands below as we ascend the hills towards Monteverde, a forest-cloaked region whose name literally means ’Green Mountain’. The high altitude supports a complex eco-system where plants thrive, particularly orchids of which there are some 400+ different varieties here. Today’s drive is around four hours — the last 40km of road is gravel and can be bumpy, particularly following heavy rain.Accommodation: Monteverde Cloud Forest Lodge (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  7. Day 7 Visit Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve.

    This morning we have a guided walk in Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the first community-managed reserves in Costa Rica and an area that is world-famous for its biodiversity. To this day the reserve is managed by the Santa Elena High School with funds channelled into protecting the reserve and providing environmental education classes within the local community. Thanks to its high elevation, Santa Elena is bathed in thick misty clouds which support a huge range of flowers, ferns, mosses, vines and orchids. Birdlife thrives in the cloud forest with over 425 species recorded here. Santa Elena is also one of the best places to spot noisy Howler monkeys swinging through the trees!In the afternoon it’s possible to join an optional coffee tour to learn about the importance of this crop to the socio-economic development of the country, or join a canopy tour to get a different view of the forest.Accommodation: Monteverde Cloud Forest Lodge (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  8. Day 8 To Manuel Antonio.

    Our journey takes a south-easterly turn today as we follow the Pan-Am Highway along the coastline to Manuel Antonio, passing African oil palm and teak plantations on the way. Manuel Antonio National Park consists of a vast marine reserve as well as 1,700 acres of mangrove swamp, primary and secondary rainforest. The forest vegetation stretches as far as the high-tide line and provides a stunning backdrop to the expansive sandy beaches, forested islands and dramatic rocky headlands. Our drive to Manuel Antonio takes around four hours. We spend the next two nights here, normally in a hotel close to the beach and the entrance of the national park. Depending on our time of arrival we should have some time to enjoy various optional activities this afternoon or enjoy the hotels facilities.Accommodation: Villa Bosque Hotel (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  9. Day 9 Discover Manuel Antonio N.P.

    A guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park this morning should enable us to have some close wildlife encounters. White-faced Capuchin monkeys play in the trees and are frequently sighted on the beaches, whilst noisy Howler monkeys are usually heard moving through the trees and calling to each other before they are seen. The endangered Titi monkey (Squirrel monkey) are fewer in number but can sometimes be spotted in this area. Iguanas, agouti and two and three toed sloths are also commonly sighted in the national park. Manuel Antonio’s beaches are considered to be some of the most beautiful in the country and we have all afternoon to enjoy them or try one of the optional activities available in this region.Please note that Manuel Antonio National Park is closed on Mondays. If your visit falls on a Monday, the timing of this activity will be adjusted so that you visit the park on the previous day, and today will be at leisure to enjoy the many optional excursions of the region.Accommodation: Villa Bosque Hotel (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  10. Day 10 To Esquinas Lodge in Piedras Blancas N.P.

    Travel four hours south towards Golfito, a relatively wild and undiscovered region. The dense jungle here has hardly been explored or researched. The next two nights are spent in the beautiful Esquinas Rainforest Lodge set in the heart of primary rainforest and bordered by the newly created Piedras Blancas National Park and Golfito Nature Reserve. The lodge was originally financed by the government of Austria as a project combining forest research, development aid and nature conservation. Most employees are local and profits are used to help with projects in the nearby village. This afternoon we discover our peaceful surroundings and search for the abundant bird and insect life that resides here.Accommodation: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  11. Day 11 Hike on trails in Piedras Blancas N.P.

    Hike through the rainforest this morning with your guide and experience all of the sights and sounds of the jungle. During this activity we are likely to see snakes, monkeys and maybe sloths. This hike can be quite slippery after rainfall but is a real highlight and well worth the effort. This afternoon has been left free for optional activities — delve deeper into the forest on a 10 mile network of trails departing directly from the lodge, or simply relax by the stream-fed pool.Accommodation: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  12. Day 12 To Savegre Cloud Forest.

    Our journey takes a north-westerly turn through San Isidro and up and over the Cerro de la Muerte mountain range to our next destination, the Savegre Valley, located around four and a half hours away from Golfito. The cloud forest of Savegre is said to be one of the best places in the whole of Costa Rica to see the beautiful, colourful and notoriously shy Resplendent Quetzal and we have two nights here to discover the region. These endangered birds rely on the cloud forest for their habitat — the males in particular are striking with a green crest, red breast and tail feathers that can reach a metre in length. A good pair of binoculars will be helpful for quetzal spotting as these birds camouflage themselves well amongst the wet leaves of the forest! After lunch we take a short walk from our lodge into the cloud forest.Accommodation: Savegre Hotel, Nature Reserve & Spa or Trogon Lodge (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  13. Day 13 Free day to discover walking trails in Savegre.

    Today is free to relax and explore Savegre Valley. Bring your binoculars to spot some of the 170 bird species, trek through the tropical cloud forest or simply enjoy the incredible view from the lodge. For those who are passionate about trekking, an extra optional tour to Los Quetzales National Park can be arranged to admire the tropical cloud forest and sub-Andean vegetation of the area (this is a 6-hour tour so would normally replace other activities today). Birds that may be seen in this area include hummingbirds, colibri, tanagers and trogons.Accommodation: Savegre Hotel, Nature Reserve & Spa or Trogon Lodge (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  14. Day 14 Visit the village of Copey; to San Jose.

    Visit the village of Copey this morning to step momentarily into the agricultural lives of those living in the highlands of the Central Mountain Range. We take a short walk to the picturesque village where some snacks will be prepared for us with a local family, which is sure to be a memorable touch of Costa Rican hospitality! A two and a half hour journey takes us back to San Jose, where there is time to explore the modern capital.Accommodation: Presidente Hotel (or similar)*Comfortable Hotel*

  15. Day 15 End San Jose.

    The trip comes to an end today after breakfast and it’s time to bid Costa Rica and the rest of the group goodbye. Free transfers to San Jose airport are available to all clients today.**

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Where you stay

Hotels and Eco-Lodges

14 nights spent in hotels and eco-lodges, all with en suite facilities and most with swimming pools.

We use fairly small, family run establishments: wooden lodges set in tropical gardens or eco-lodges nestled in the rainforest. The highlight of this trip will no doubt be our stay at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, a 100% carbon neutral property within Piedras Blancas National Park —  wake up surrounded by the sound of birds!

Optional single supplement available, please see Dates & Prices.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 8 lunches and 6 dinners included.

Hotel breakfasts are normally buffet style, and lunches and dinners at Tortuguero and Esquinas Rainforest Lodge are also buffet style. Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests.

Costa Rican specialities include ‘Gallo Pinto’, a black bean and rice dish considered to be a staple part of the local diet. Soups and stews are also common, and fresh fruit is abundant and will no doubt be one of the highlights of your time in the tropics.

This trip has been graded 1 (Leisurely) with a safari rating of 3.

Driving distances are not very long and most of the roads that we travel on are of good quality. However, the road which leads to the river on the way to and from Tortuguero and the road into and out of Monteverde have poor surfaces and this can result in slow driving times, particularly following heavy rain. There are several included and optional walks on the itinerary which occasionally involve walking on rough paths. These are suitable for most levels of fitness and usually last from two to three hours. During times of heavy rain, trails can be muddy and slippery and extra care should be taken. Many of the areas visited on the trip are hot and humid and there is the chance of heavy rain year-round – this is why Costa Rica is so green!

Please note that Manuel Antonio National Park is closed on Mondays. If your visit falls on a Monday, the timing of this activity will be adjusted so that you visit the park on the previous day, and you will have a free day to enjoy the many optional excursions of the region.

BIRD-WATCHING DEPARTURES
For keen birders, we have designated a number of departures that will be accompanied by a specialist bird-watching guide. Walks and visits to national parks will be led with the intention of seeing as much bird life as possible. Please check with our office for the dates and prices.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 11/11/2019
5/5

Costa Rica is an amazing country

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many enjoyable moments throughout the trip, but for me the most thrilling moments were 1. witnessing a green turtle lay and bury her eggs on the beach at Tortuguera, and then return t o the sea on the second night in the country. This was a real privilege. 2. Spotting and photographing Resplendent Quetzals in the cloud forest at Savegre right at the end of the trip
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Andres Zuniga is an absolutely superb guide. His knowledge of Costa Rica and its wildlife is astonishing and his ability to find and identify birds and animals is absolutely astounding. We would not have seen a tenth of what we did see without him. He instantly identified scores of birds by their calls. He found quetzals for us with little effort. He also has an impressive knowledge of the flora. He made our experience of Costa Rica an incredible one. Not only that, but he was pleasant at all times, interesting in what he told us, and was a great host and ambassador for his country. We also had a very capable, friendly and helpful bus driver, Geraldo. Between them they looked after our party extremely well.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are at all interested in birds and animals and enjoy seeing them, you will enjoy this trip. Costa Rica deserves its reputation as a country that has gone to great lengths to restore and conserve its forests and biodiversity and this itinerary will give you many wonderful experiences of what it has to offer.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The itinerary was perfectly paced - 2 nights each at 6 destinations, with no more that a half day between them, meaning that we arrived at each place midday and then had the afternoon and all the next day to experience it before moving on. Thus we did not feel rushed and each destination was comfortable and welcoming.

Reviewed On 20/09/2019
5/5

Discovering Costa Rica

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a quetzl flying
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Holiday of a lifetime - do it before you die !

Reviewed On 20/09/2019
5/5

Great Wildlife in their natural habitat

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting up at 5 am to go Quetzal watching and 2 hour later actually clearly seeing the resplendent bird.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny Villalobos was a beautiful person who was passionate about Costa Rica and the wildlife. He was extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife and both what we both heard and saw.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring Binoculars and a good zoom camera. My small compact umbrella was very useful. Waterproof boots a must.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    14 people on the tour was enough to all see the wildlife in walks. Do the optional Monteverde Sky Walk through the Cloud Forest canopy and suspension bridges.

Reviewed On 20/09/2019
5/5

Excellent

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Experiencing the huge diversity of flaura and fauna in such a relatively small country. Seeing the vital work being done by Costa Ricans like Johnny, to protect their environment.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    We couldn't have wished for a better group leader. Johnny Villalobos was extremely professional, very knowledgeable about birds and mammals and was passionate about caring for the environment. His enthusiasm for his country, it's people and Costa Rica's biodiversity, was infectious. He ensured that every aspect of organising our travel about the country and the transport of our luggage ran most efficiently. Johnny was attentive and caring to two group members who felt unwell. Also, he did his best to maximise our experience of Costa Rica and often gave over and above what was reasonable to expect from a group leader.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a good poncho, insect repellent (We used Picaridin), binoculars and a camera. Make the most of the time you have there, the plants and wildlife are amazing.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The enjoyment of the holiday exceeded our expectations.

Reviewed On 20/09/2019
5/5

Wonderful holiday in Costa Rica

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed all of it, it I guess highlights were seeing the Green Back turtle laying her eggs and returning to the sea; spotting not one, but four of the elusive Resplendent Quetzals in Savegre; seeing huge crocs; hearing howler monkeys at night ... the list goes on! Particularly loved the rainforest lodge in Esquina Blancas ... you will see what I mean when you go there!
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Armando was a fantastic guide. He was so knowledgeable about all the wildlife in Costa Rica and took great care to seek out as much wildlife as he could (trying to fulfil everyone’s wish list) and make sure we got good photos through his telescope. He gave us a lot of information about Costa Rica in general too whilst en route on the bus; about agriculture and the economy, history and the education system. He is well organised and has a great sense of humour and was very patient with us! All in all you couldn’t wish for a better guide! Also a big shout out for Maurizio, our lovely driver, who was an integral part of the team!
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We went in August ... rainy season. We had one day of torrential downpours so a good poncho was vital. A pair of flip flops that could be wiped dry would have been useful. Other than that day, we were so lucky not to experience much rain! Take walking boots, a couple of fleeces and long trousers for the cloud forest. You need more variety of clothing than you expect to account for hot and humid climates, where nothing dries, to warm clothing for the cooler, more temperate Monteverde. Pack into strong plastic bags to protect your luggage from rain/damp! Optional trips worth doing: the turtle laying trip. Two night walks ... both offering different things to see... in Monteverde and Esquina Blancas. The hot springs in La Fortuna!
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was my favourite Exodus trip so far. I would recommend everyone to go!

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