Join our wildlife-watching group trip to Costa Rica as we explore this lush and abundant nation to enjoy its wonderful mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and incredible flora.
We start our 12-day tour by exploring Tortuguero. The beaches here are known for their turtles, yet the park is also an excellent place to see sloth, keel-billed toucan, mantled howler monkey and spectacled caiman. We then continue to the Talamanca Mountains, in particular the cloud forests of Los Quetzales National Park, where our aim is to observe the resplendent quetzal - arguably one of the most iconic birds of Latin America.
We have arguably left the best until last, with a visit to Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica’s premier wildlife destination. Home to more than 300 species of birds and over 100 species of mammals, every excursion here provides something new. Squirrel, howler and spider monkey, tree frog, silky anteater and scarlet macaw are just some of the species we hope to observe in the forests, and harpy eagle if we are lucky. The waters around Corcovado are also abundant with various species of cetaceans and turtles.
Day1: Fly to San José
We depart London on a daytime flight to San José, arriving in the evening. On arrival, we are met by our local naturalist guide, before transferring to our accommodation on the outskirts of the city.
The day starts with an early transfer from San José through Braulio Carrillo National Park to Caño Blanco, where we board a boat through the canals to reach Tortuguero National Park. Keeping an eye out for wildlife along the way, possible species we might see include spectacled caiman, Hoffman’s two-toed sloth and basilisk lizard. After lunch on arrival, we have an afternoon guided visit to the small village of Tortuguero and the Green Turtle Information Centre.
Following breakfast, we head out for a morning boat trip to explore the waterways of Tortuguero National Park, hoping to spot a number of different species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, swamp forest and floating aquatic plants.
We return to the lodge in time for lunch, and then in the afternoon, we head out on foot from the lodge with our naturalist guide for a nature walk. Exploring on foot will give us a chance to see some of the smaller insects, reptiles and amphibians found here, as well as another opportunity to see some of the birdlife.
For those that wish to, there is an opportunity - on both evenings in Tortuguero - to visit the nearby beach to see if any turtles have come ashore to lay their eggs on the beach. Leatherback, hawksbill, loggerhead and green sea turtles can all be seen at Tortuguero.
Day4: Tortuguero National Park
Once again, we spend the morning exploring the waterways and canals of Tortuguero by boat in search of wildlife. However, today we aim to be out on the water at sunrise as this is an excellent time to see wildlife, and also hear the spectacular dawn chorus.
Returning to the lodge later in the morning, the afternoon is again left flexible.
Day5: Transfer to San Gerardo de Dota
This morning we transfer to the nearby airstrip in Tortuguero to board a light aircraft back to San José, enjoying fantastic views of Costa Rica’s stunning landscape during the flight. We then transfer by road to the Savegre Valley, passing through some incredible scenery before reaching our destination, the village of San Gerardo de Dota.
An early start today as we head out on a birdwatching walk from the lodge in the hope of seeing one of Costa Rica’s most exotic and emblematic birds, the resplendent quetzal. Our lodge is located in Los Quetzales National Park which is widely considered to be the best place in the whole country to see these vibrant birds. There are other avian highlights to encounter here too, such as fiery-throated hummingbird and collared trogon.
After our morning of birdwatching, we return to our lodge. In the afternoon, you can either join the naturalist guide on a walk, looking for such highlights as collared trogon, fiery-throated hummingbird and sooty robin, or you may wish to simply relax back at the lodge.
Day7: Transfer to Osa Peninsula
There will be some time in the morning to do some more birding from the lodge before starting our drive down to La Palma on the Osa Peninsula. Most of the day will be spent travelling, however there will be opportunities to spot wildlife en route and to stretch our legs.
After dinner, our naturalist guide will take us on a night walk in the forest to see some of the area's nocturnal species, which include leaf katydid, granular glass frog, giant walking stick insect, gaudy leaf frog, eyelash pit viper and much more.
We have the whole day to explore one of Costa Rica’s premier wildlife destinations, Corcovado National Park, on the Osa Peninsula. With our naturalist guide, we explore Corcovado on foot and at a slow pace to maximise our chances of seeing the excellent wildlife.
Day9: Osa Peninsula
To start the day, we will have a dolphin watching boat trip in the Golfo Dulco. Dolphins can be seen all year off the coast of the Osa Peninsula, with a variety of species such as spotted, spinner, bottlenose, rough-toothed and common dolphin all possible. In addition, there is a chance of seeing other cetaceans as well, such as humpback whale.
In the afternoon, we have a guided walk in the private reserve at Danta Corcovado, which provides a biological corridor for wildlife between the Corcovado National Park and the surrounding area.
Day10: Return to San José
This morning, after breakfast, we transfer to the airstrip at Puerto Jiménez for our light aircraft back to San José.
Accommodation: Hotel Bougainvillea, 1-night
Day11: Depart San José
The morning is free to spend as you wish before our transfer to San José airport for an overnight flight back to the UK.
Day12: Arrive UK
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 12 daysfrom £3,695 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 11 daysfrom £2,995 pp
Tortuguero is a vast area of pristine rainforest on a remote stretch of Caribbean coast, where beaches, canals and wetlands create an astonishing biodiversity. Activities centre on boat trips through the freshwater creeks and lagoons. Green, hawksbill and leatherback turtles come ashore here to lay their eggs.
Where: Limon Province
Ideal for viewing: Baird’s tapir, green turtle, spectacled caiman, spider monkey, three-toed sloth
Excellent for: River safaris
The most recent addition to Costa Rica's national parks, Los Quetzales extends across three types of rainforest, and 14 different ecosystems. Mostly cloud forest, it protects a crucial habitat for a number of plant and animal species, notably the resplendent quetzal, after which the park was named.
Where: Central Pacific Region
Ideal for viewing: resplendent quetzal, collared trogon, fiery-throated hummingbird, sooty robin, black guan
Excellent for: Wildlife photography, Wildlife for families, Birdwatching
For a fitting finale to any trip in Costa Rica, take the scenic flight to the remote beautiful Osa Peninsula, on the Pacific Coast. It is a natural paradise with a remarkable species count. You can stay at either a rustic lodges or a tented camp on an idyllic beach amidst lush tropical splendour, surrounded by wildlife!
Where: Puntarenas Province
Ideal for viewing: jaguar, scarlet macaw, tamandua, tapir, ocelot
Excellent for: Birdwatching
On the Pacific coast, just north of Panama, the wild and remote Osa Peninsula juts into the ocean, combining with Corcovado and Peñas Blancas National Parks to create the country’s foremost natural highlight. It is home to an astonishing range of wildlife, including giant anteater, tapir, squirrel monkey and jaguar.
Where: Southern Pacific coast
Ideal for viewing: harpy eagle, scarlet macaw, giant anteater, Baird’s tapir, white-faced capuchin monkey
Costa Rica’s vibrant capital stands in the centre of the country at an elevation of around 1,200 metres. Home to the main international airport, it has the country’s pristine natural attractions on its doorstep. The downtown area is fairly small and has several interesting museums and parks.
Where: San Jose Province
Excellent for: City stopover
Located on the Osa Peninsula in the southwest corner of Costa Rica, Danta Corcovado Lodge is situated in one of the world's most pristine and biodiverse ecosystems. Set on a 30 hectare estate, the lodge offers creatively designed accommodation close to Corcovado National Park.
Situated in a quiet suburb just north of San José, 25 minutes from the international airport and a mere 15 minutes from the city centre, this pleasant hotel makes a good base for exploring the Central Valley. Its extensive gardens are particularly beautiful and attract a variety of birds and frogs.
This rainforest ecolodge occupies an exclusive location on a narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the main Tortuguero Lagoon. There is direct access to the sandy beach where, from mid-July until October, green sea turtles (amongst others) come ashore to deposit their eggs
This pleasant birding lodge stands on a private reserve of some 40 hectares of farmland, close to Los Quetzales National Park. It sits at an altitude of around 2,300 metres, beside a rushing stream and surrounded by lush gardens with dazzling flowers and hundred-year-old oak trees.