This two week itinerary gives you an opportunity to discover Costa Rica's natural wonders in the Cordillera region and Pacific coastline.
The trip travels from Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in the volcanic Tirana Range to the popular but stunningly scenic Manuel Antonio National Park, and Nicoya Peninsula, a tiny jewel of biodiversity. The grand finale – a stay on the remote but lovely Osa Peninsula in the south - allows you to explore Corcovado National Park, possibly the finest of Costa Rica’s many protected areas.
Day1: Fly to San José
On arrival in San José, you will be met and transferred (approximately one and a half hours) to your birding lodge, located between Juan Castro Blanco and Poás Volcano national parks. You should arrive at the lodge by late afternoon, in time for dinner and your first night walk in the reserve.
This morning you drive across the Aguacate Mountains from the cordillera Tirana and through beautiful plains before ascending the scenic and sinuous road to Monteverde (approximately four hours).
You take part in a guided walk through Santa Elena Reserve and have plenty opportunities for more adventurous experiences such as the hanging bridges walk or a canopy tour for a sky view of the cloud forest’s natural biodiversity.
Continue your journey through the Pan American Highway and across the Guanacaste Pampa towards the Pacific Coast. Beside Tamarindo is the more exclusive Samara beach, lying on the Southern Pacific Coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. Over the next couple of days you can relax on this beautiful tropical beach, or get active with watersport activities such as scuba diving or snorkeling in the Gulf of Nicoya.
Alternatively you may want to explore the surroundings on a waterfall tour, or join the monkeys and birds up in the trees on a rainforest canopy adventures.
Accommodation: Sámara Pacific Lodge, 2-nights
Days6-7: Manuel Antonio National Park
Today's drive takes approximately four hours via Quepos to Manuel Antonio National Park, the perfect location for nature lovers as you walk through the rainforest, uncover immaculate white sand beaches and enjoy the warm water of the Pacific Ocean. The next two days are spent at your own pace, whether sea kayaking, snorkeling, horse riding, doing bird nature walks or canopy safaris - the choices are endless.
Today is an early start as you transfer on the South Pacific Coastal Road via Sierpe to Palma Sur to Golfito, and to your lodge.
The next three days are a real treat while you explore the jewel crown of Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park, and get close to tapir and scarlet macaw. Two guided tours are provided and you have plenty of time to do optional activities, such as a sunset birdwatching tour, waterfall visit, rainforest ridge walk, trail walks, tour of Matapalo or night walks.
The country’s most visited national park covers a rocky peninsula and its hinterland, plus a large tract of Pacific Ocean. From trails along the rainforest-fringed beach, you can see copious wildlife, including Costa Rica’s only populations of endangered squirrel monkeys, as well as exploring the mangroves.
Where: Puntarenas province
Ideal for viewing: brown pelican, brown throated three-toed sloth, Central American squirrel monkey, mantled howler monkey, white-faced capuchin monkey
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
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).
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 stunning coastal landscape includes cliffs, rocky islands, wetland and mangroves. The offshore islands protect seabird sanctuaries where visitors are not allowed, however with binoculars you can watch them from the shore. Guayabo has the largest of Costa Rica’s four known brown pelican nesting sites.
Where: Puntarenas Province
Ideal for viewing: humpback whale, brown pelican, brown booby, giant frigatebird, olive ridley turtle
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.
Set in a private reserve just over an hour’s drive northwest of San José, between Juan Castro Blanco and Poás Volcano national parks, this small lodge is in a jungle paradise, surrounded by magnificent cloud forest and rainforest. Consisting of just 12 rooms, it is the perfect stop en route to Sarapiqui.
This remote luxury lodge with colonial-style bungalows stands in extensive lowland tropical rainforest and was constructed to the highest environmental standards. Access is by boat, which ensures privacy and tranquillity. Activities include hiking, birding, horse riding and visiting Cano Island Biological Reserve.
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 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.
Located on the Central Pacific coast, this uniquely special spa resort and wildlife refuge overlooks the sparkling ocean from a series of lush terraces and exotic gardens on an idyllic jungle-clad hilltop near world-famous Manuel Antonio National Park, one of Costa Rica’s foremost protected areas.