Wildlife abounds on this exceptional trip which provides plenty of opportunity to see Costa Rica’s diverse flora and fauna.
Discover nesting turtles, monkeys, Costa Rica’s prolific birdlife and much more – all amid a tapestry of forests, beaches, lagoons and waterfalls. Exploring by foot, boat and high above the trees on a canopy walkway, you’ll visit some of our favourite wildlife spots: the waterways of Tortuguero, the cloudforest of Monteverde, the dry forest of Rincon de la Vieja, and the idyllic white sand beaches of Tamarindo.
Day1: Fly to San José,
On arrival in San José, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel, situated to the north of the city.
Journey from San José, through the Braulio Carrillo National Park, to Siquirres and on through rainforests and large banana plantations to the embarking point at Caño Blanco. Here you board a boat to cruise the canals until you reach Tortuguero. In the afternoon, enjoy a guided visit to the small village and the Green Turtle Information Centre.
Your second day starts with a sunrise boat tour through the canals of the park to spot some of its 309 different species of birds, swamp forests and floating aquatic plants. Monkeys are especially abundant. You should also see the fishing bulldog bat, keel-billed toucans, anurans, seven species of turtles, West Indies manatees, crocodiles and gar.
After breakfast, ride again through the canals on your way back to the disembarking point at Caño Blanco. Continue to Siquirres for lunch, then take a private transfer to La Fortuna, home of the stunning Arenal Volcano. The following day take an easy hiking tour of the Arenal Volcano National Park.
Cross Arenal Lake, the largest and the most important fresh water lake in Costa Rica, and continue by land through a non-paved road to Monteverde, one of Central America's finest reserves and home to over hundreds of species of mammal, bird and flora.
Located high on the Caribbean slopes of the Cordillera de Tilarán at an altitude of 1,500 metres, Santa Elena was one of the first community-managed reserves in the country. Conservation efforts in the area concentrate on establishing forest corridors radiating from the central conservation area down to lower altitudes, as many of the forest fauna such as the resplendent quetzal, American puma, jaguar, ocelot, and red brocket deer, require large territories in which to forage and breed.
Days8-9: Rincon de la Vieja
Transfer from Monteverde to Las Juntas and then on the Pan American Highway, passing through the city of Liberia, to Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Covering14,084 hectares, Rincón de la Vieja National Park comprises an active strata volcano. with giant trees and more than 257 bird species.
Accommodation: Hacienda Guachipelin, 2-nights
today's drive takes between two and three hours to Tamarindo on the Pacific Coast. Relax on the beach at, or enjoy kayaking or touring the mangroves. In season you can also go turtle watching.
Accommodation: Hotel Jardín del Edén, 2-nights
Day12: Transfer to San José via Carara National Park
An early departure from Tamarindo takes you to Carara, in the Central Pacific Coast, passing through the town of Puntarenas and crossing the Tárcoles River near to Jacó. After a guided tour of Carara National Park, continue to San Jose for your final night.
Accommodation: Hotel Bougainvillea, 1-night
Day13: Depart San José
Transfer to San Jose airport for an overnight flight back to the UK.
Day14: Arrive UK
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 14 daysfrom £2,995 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 13 daysfrom £2,345 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
This reserve is thought to be one of Central America’s finest protected areas. Weather from the Caribbean and Pacific creates a cloud forest ecosystem that is home to over 100 species of mammal, 400 birds, tens of thousands of insects (including 5,000 different moths) and 2,500 plants (including 420 varieties of orchid).
Until 2010 Arenal was Costa Rica’s most active volcano. In recent times it has entered a period of quiescence, although you can still hear subterranean rumbles and see the odd ash column. The surrounding national park contains a bizarre landscape of solidified lava flows, lush forest and tropical flora and fauna.
Named after the active volcano at its centre, this park protects the dry forest of the northwest, home to over 200 bird species. A short drive from Liberia, it nevertheless receives relatively few visitors, so you can walk its trails, ride horses, or enjoy its hot springs and pools of boiling mud in relative solitude.
Where: Guanacaste Province
Ideal for viewing: coati, howler monkey, red trogan, puma, tapir
Excellent for: Birdwatching
The bustling surf capital of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is blessed with stunning beaches, but is also a good base to explore the surrounding rainforest for wildlife. Its extensive mangroves are protected reserves, and in Marino Las Baulas National Park giant leatherback turtles come ashore at night to lay eggs.
Where: Guanacaste Province
Ideal for viewing: capuchin monkey, howler monkey, leatherback turtle, green turtle, olive ridley turtle
This national park protects the last noteworthy tract of primary rainforest in the Central Pacific region. Due to its proximity to the capital, it attracts a lot of visitors – both local and international. However, if you can avoid the crowds it has sufficient wildlife to impress the most avid enthusiast.
Where: Central Pacific Region
Ideal for viewing: collared peccary, green and black poison arrow frog, scarlet macaw, white-faced capuchin, boat-billed heron
Excellent for: Birdwatching
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
Suggested accommodation options are shown below.
for further recommendations.
Cloud Forest Lodge is a tranquil property, with more than five kilometres of trails in the surrounding forest, where some 180 species of birds are known to live. The bungalow-style rooms are equipped with all modern amenities and the beautiful gardens make a great place to relax, rest and enjoy nature.
Situated in the northeastern corner of Tortuguero, this pleasant lodge lies just a five minute boat trip from the main entrance to Tortuguero National Park. Surrounded by towering trees and exuberant tropical vegetation, it offers an ideal location from which to explore this unique area.
Hotel Arenal Springs is located just outside La Fortuna en route to Volcan Arenal National Park. Its 87 air-conditioned junior suites all have direct views of the volcano and are surrounded by exotic gardens. Bird lovers will delight in the 132 bird species that have been recorded within the hotel’s grounds.
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