Costa Rica Wildlife Family Adventure

9 days
Suitable for:
Age 7+
Activity level:
Trip code: 
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Max group size:
Min age:

Experience Culture on Our Costa Rica Tour

This Costa Rica family trip treks across the lush rainforests, cloud forests, mountains and coastline encounters a wealth of wildlife, but also allows time to bond with the friendly people during a relaxing dinner with locals and tour of a coffee plantation — encompassing the natural and human history of this rich land. Forming a natural bridge between North and South America, this peaceful country contains a phenomenally diverse concentration of birds, primates and butterflies, and its far-reaching national parks and reserves have long-been considered the showplace of tropical conservation. For a true rendezvous with nature, Costa Rica travel is calling!

You'll spend your days on our Costa Rica tour with a host of wildlife! As you travel through the lowland jungles, monkeys create a commotion in the canopy, in the company of toucans and macaws. Daily guided rainforest excursions with our Master Naturalists are the perfect time to take in Costa Rica’s symphony of wildlife.

Not only will you experience the volcanic fireworks of Arenal, swim in natural hot springs and glide along Caribbean waters, the tour features your choice of horseback riding, white-water rafting, trying a canopy zip-line and more!

While the friendly locals in Costa Rica are often called “ticos,” you’ll be calling these welcoming people “friend!” Your small group will be welcomed like family to a traditional meal hosted by Dona Mireya at the Hidalgo Family Hot Springs and when meeting Monteverde’s Quaker settlers on our Costa Rica tour.


  • Hike, white-water raft, fly on a canopy zip-line, soak in hot springs & more to create your ideal of the perfect adventure.
  • Float the dense jungle canals of Tortuguero watching for primates.
  • Enjoy birding in the rich cloud forests of Monteverde Reserve.
  • Hike jungle trails & discuss conservation with scientists at La Selva Biological Station.
  • Taste exotic fruits, sample local coffee & learn to make Tico-style cuisine.
  • Meet members of the Tonjibe community at the Maleku Indigenous Cultural House.
  • Learn during excursions guided by experienced, knowledgeable local naturalists.

What's included

  • Wildlife excursions on land & by boat
  • Choice of horseback riding, white-water rafting, canopy zip line & more in Sarapiquí
  • Tour of local coffee farm
  • Arenal Hanging Bridge excursion
  • Daily rainforest walks
  • Swimming in natural pools & hot springs
  • Traditional dinner with Doña Mireya
  • Flight to Tortuguero
  • Visits to two Butterfly Gardens
  • Guided tours & enriching lectures by Master Naturalists
  • Nightly briefings on history, wildlife & conservation
  • 22 meals
  • Tips to porters & to waiters for included meals
  • Water on transfers
  • All entrance fees
  • Transfers on group arrival & departure dates

What's not included

  • International Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3945
Call for Tailor Made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


San José
San José
  • Day 1

    Arrive San José

    Fly independently to San José, where we meet our guide and transfer to Grano de Oro Hotel. 

    Accommodation: Grano de Oro Hotel

  • Day 2

    San José / Sarapiqui

    Depart for the primary forests, swamps and banana plantations of Sarapiquí, an important region for conservation of birds, butterflies, insects and plants. The crystal Sarapiquí River snakes through the region, beginning in the old crater of the Poas Volcano – joining with the waters of several tributaries such as the Rio Sucio and Rio Puerto Viejo. The moderate rapids are particularly attractive to rafting enthusiasts, and we spend our morning rafting and ziplining through the rainforest canopy. Hike the jungle trails at La Selva Biological Station, home to 79 bird species as well as monkey and sloth. The station is operated by the Organization for Tropical Studies, a consortium of universities and research institutions from the United States, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico Once we reach the station, discuss cutting-edge research being done to conserve the tropical rainforest with one of the scientists in residence.

    Accommodation: Selva Verde Lodge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Sarapiqui / Tortuguero

    Listen to the morning songs of the forest’s birds and frog as we enjoy a morning of hiking and tasting exotic fruits at a locally owned organic farm. Sit down over a homemade lunch with the owners before catching the boat to Tortuguero.

    Accommodation: Evergreen Lodge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Tortuguero National Park

    Our Costa Rica tour visits the flooded forests of Tortuguero, established to protect the largest nesting ground of green sea turtles in the Caribbean and the surrounding lowland rainforest — home to jaguars, manatees and the endangered great green macaw. During the summer months, thousands of turtles come ashore on these world-famous beaches to lay their eggs. By boat, we glide along the black waters surrounded by towering trees, looking for keel-billed toucans, colorful parrots and the basilisk lizard, also called the “Jesus Christ lizard” because it runs across the water! As we explore the park's canals, look for all six species of New World kingfishers, as many as eight species of parrots, toucans, oropendolas and more, as well as the raphia palm, which has the largest leaves of any plant. Capuchin and spider monkeys may be seen crossing the river in daring leaps.

    Accommodation: Evergreen Lodge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Tortuguero / San José / Arenal

    After breakfast, fly back to San José. From there, drive to the Arenal area. Explore the Arenal Hanging Bridges, fourteen bridges designed to blend with the environment. As we walk these trails, we’ll see flowers and wildlife typical of the rainforest, and enjoy imposing views of Arenal Volcano, active since 1968. In the afternoon we visit the Hidalgo Family Hot Springs for a chance to enjoy soaking in thermal waters surrounded by rainforest.

    Accommodation: The Arenal Lodge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6


    Enjoy a morning of hiking along the trails at the private Ecocentro Danaus Ecological Reserve. As you stroll through the secondary forest, your naturalist points out sloths, iguanas, poison dart frogs, caimans and emerald basilisk lizards, as well as many tropical bird species. Meet members of the local Tonjibe community at the Maleku Indigenous Cultural House, which is dedicated to preserving the tribe’s traditional language, dances, diet, dressing, and the use of natural medicines while helping them adapt. After lunch, hop on a tractor to tour an estate before learning about Tico-style coffee and trying your hand at making corn tortillas! Cap off our day by joining local youth to learn folk dances and watch as they entertain with a demonstration.

    Accommodation: The Arenal Lodge or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Arenal / Monteverde

    A boat takes us across Lake Arenal to an ecological farm, where we enjoy lunch and continue our Costa Rica tour. Travel to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, the richest and most complex tropical cloud forest in the New World. The abundance of life associated with the cloud forest is astounding. Within the general heading of "cloud forest" there are actually six distinct forest types at Monteverde, each with its own separate, yet interwoven, plant and animal life. The Monteverde Cloud Reserve contains over 2,000 species of plants, including a wide array of orchids, mosses, ferns and bromeliads. Specialized guides will point out the most important aspects of coffee, its harvesting and processing on an afternoon tour. Your coffee guides will also highlight the importance of the golden bean on Costa Rica’s social, cultural and economic development. We’ll be visited by one of the area’s original Quaker settlers to learn about the history and current issues of this sprawling agricultural community. The community was founded in 1951 by a group of American Quakers, most from the state of Alabama.

    Accommodation: Monteverde Lodge & Gardens or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Monteverde / San José

    Our morning is spent at the wildlife enthusiast’s paradise of Curicancha Reserve. Alongside your guide, watch for resplendent quetzal, three-wattled bellbird, blue-crowned motmot and orange-bellied trogon. Other wildlife frequently spotted includes armadillo, coati, agouti, kinkajou, ocelot, two-toed sloth, and three species of monkey: mantled howler, white-faced capuchin and spider monkey. Tour the Butterfly Garden, with many kinds of brilliantly colored native butterflies along with medicinal plants and a leaf-cutter ant colony. After lunch, head back to San José. Savor a farewell dinner of French Mediterranean and tropically-influenced cuisine, while learning about Casa Luz, a community project supported by the restaurant. Casa Luz provides a safe environment for at-risk young mothers and their children.

    Accommodation: Grano de Oro Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    San José / Depart

    Survey the city of San Jose, including stops at the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum and The National Theater. Transfer to the airport for your independent flight home.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info


Costa Rica

Holders of British, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and most EU passports can enter Costa Rica for a stay of 90 days without a visa. Proof of onward travel may be required when entering Costa Rica - we suggest you take a print out of your flight details in case officials ask to see them. All passengers flying via the USA will have to clear immigration during transit. Prior to travel you must apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (USD14) under the Visa Waiver Programme. Please see here for more information. The same applies to travel via Canada which also requires an Electronic Travel Authority. If you are not a UK citizen please check with your local U.S. Embassy. 


Costa Rica

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements, however, if you have travelled to a country at risk of Yellow Fever prior to arriving in Costa Rica you will be required to have a valid Yellow Fever Certificate with you. Recommended vaccinations are: Hepatitis A.

The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 


Temperature in Costa Rica varies little from season to season and the main influencing factor is altitude. San José, at 5,085 feet, has a climate that the locals refer to as the "eternal spring." Lows average a mild 59°F year round while highs are a pleasant 79°F. The coasts are much hotter with the Caribbean averaging 70°F at night and over 86°F during the day; the Pacific is 4-6°F warmer.

Is this trip for you?

This tour is operated in partnership with our sister company International Expeditions. As such the departures are not exclusive to Exodus and groups may be a mixture of Exodus, International Expeditions, and other clients. This trip is booked through Exodus and you will receive the same award winning customer service that you would expect. International Expeditions operate with the same core principles used by Exodus and champion the benefits of small group travel.

Costa Rica is one of the world’s true trailblazers in responsible ecotourism, not to mention one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse countries on the planet. Despite its growing popularity as a travel destination, it’s also surprisingly pristine, with over 25% of its lands protected. It’s no wonder Costa Rica is perennially celebrated as the happiest place on earth.

Originally appreciated primarily by backpackers, thrill-seekers and wildlife lovers, Costa Rica is gaining notoriety as a family travel hotspot. It’s been recognized as the safest country in Central America, with English widely spoken and a largely well-maintained infrastructure. The biggest challenge most families run into is figuring which of its countless adventures to pack into their itinerary. That’s where these Costa Rica travel tips and the expertise of International Expeditions' Travel Planners come in!

Costa Rica has 26 National Parks, not to mention a bounty of wildlife refuges and private nature reserves. Some parts of the country boast an expansive array of ecosystems, from coastal marine areas and wetlands to volcanic landscapes and cloud forest. There’s an equally varied list of activities available, from relaxing in natural hot springs and hiking through the rainforest to ziplining through the canopy and kayaking in wildlife-rich waters.

Explore Arenal Volcano
Considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world,  Arenal has a surprising abundance of things to do in its vicinity. There’s kayaking in Lake Arenal. The towns of La Fortuna and Tabacón are replete with natural hot springs, many of which are beautifully landscaped to resemble waterparks or tropical oases. The area also offers plenty of picturesque hikes and the famous La Fortuna waterfall, which can be accessed by horseback.

Go Pacific in Punta Islita
On the opposite side of the country from Puerto Viejo, Punta Islita is a tiny village down on the Nicoya Peninsula. Here you’ll find dramatic vistas of the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, and an ample abundance of adventure activities. The Pacific Coast is known for its many great beaches, where you can try horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, and more. Nearby is Playa Corozalito, a mangrove, where visitors may have a chance to spot nesting Sea Turtles from July to November.

Discover Corcovado National Park
Described by National Geographic as one of “the most biologically intense places on earth,” Corcovado is the largest national park in Costa Rica’s stunning collection. It has over a dozen different ecosystems, with a well-established network of hiking trails that allow visitors to access them. Wildlife such as Coatis, Monkeys, and Sloths run rampant through the park, and rare animals like Jaguars, Tapirs, and Harpy Eagles are occasionally seen. Birdwatching is also a major draw here.

Adventuring in Manuel Antonio
Corcovado is Costa Rica’s largest national park. But Manuel Antonio, its smallest, was ranked among the world’s most beautiful national parks by Forbes. Despite being under eight square miles, this park draws over 100,000 visitors a year with its picturesque white sand beaches, forest-covered mountains, 100-plus species of mammals, and nearly 200 species of birds. Word to the wise: Watch out for kleptomaniac Monkeys!

Watch for Wildlife in Tortuguero National Park
In the less-visited northeastern part Costa Rica, the canals of Tortuguero allow visitors close-up views of Caiman, River Otters and Crocodiles. In the trees you can spot slow-moving Sloths, sun-soaking Iguanas, and branch-hopping Toucans. And did we mention its copious nesting Sea Turtles? Tortuguero is a gem in Costa Rica’s conservation crown, and it’s accessible only by boat or plane: No cars allowed.

Walk on the Clouds in Monteverde
Located just south of Lake Arenal, Monteverde is Costa Rica’s famed cloud forest reserve. This vastly diverse biosphere boasts numerous ecological zones, which provide home to more than 600 animal species and 2500 plant species. Popular activities in the park include guided nature tours, canopy walks with spectacular bird’s-eye views, and zipline tours through the forest. Don’t miss the Hummingbird Gallery across the street from the entrance!

Snorkel (or SCUBA) Caño Island
The tropics are treasured for their secluded islands. Costa Rica has many to choose from, but Caño Island (off the coast of the Osa Peninsula) is one of the coolest. The island, which is home to some of the country’s mysterious Stone Spheres, has been a protected biological reserve for nearly 40 years. As a result, its coral reefs are teeming with life. Divers and snorkelers can spot everything from Rays, Moray Eels, and Sea Turtles to harmless Reef Sharks and even Whales (during their winter migration).

Raft the Rio Pacuare
Many years ago, Costa Rica’s electricity agency planned to build a hydroelectric dam on the Pacuare River. But when concerns about pollution and ecological issues were raised, it was ultimately rejected. The 67-mile river is now a fantastic place to try whitewater rafting, with the added bonus of spotting amazing wildlife along the way (see: Monkeys, Sloths, and Toucans). There are multiple classes of rapids, including choices that are appropriate for children and families.

Catch That Old Caribbean Vibe in Puerto Viejo
Located on Costa Rica’s southeastern coast, the sleepy beach town of Puerto Viejo is a perfect place for lapping up the lazy breezes of the Caribbean. It’s also one of the country’s premiere surf spots, with some great breaks for beginners to learn on. With a large population of Jamaicans, the vibe is definitely more Caribbean down here.

Learn About Conservation at Tirimbina Biological Reserve
Tirimbina is one of many biological reserves in Costa Rica, but it’s particularly good for families because it has educational programs for all age groups. Naturalist-guided tours teach visitors about the area’s flora and fauna, including tours focused on birds, frogs or bats. There’s also an excellent chocolate tour that teaches visitors all about the history of cacao production and the process of turning cacao into chocolate.

Travel to Costa Rica with Your Family!
Looking for the perfect multigenerational adventure combining nature, adventure and beach time — plus cocktails and golf for the adults? This family focused Costa Rica ecotour is a must, or you can check out one of our other Costa Rica tours! Our Costa Rica Travel Planner can create a private adventure... Bring your schedule, interests and budget, and we'll take care of the details.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3945
Call for Tailor Made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Hotel and Lodges

Grano De Oro Hotel
Voted “Top Hotel in Central America & the Caribbean” by Conde Nast, the boutique Grano de Oro Hotel offers wonderful views of the city lights and inventive dining. Your air-conditioned room offers the experience of staying in a cozy guest bedroom of a turn of the century mansion, with the luxuries of a fine hotel. Don’t forget to take advantage of the rooftop garden terrace, which features lawn beds and two Jacuzzis.

La Quinta Sarapiquí Country Inn
The new La Quinta Sarapiqui Country Inn has 28 rooms in bungalows, surrounded by tropical gardens rich in heliconias, ginger and flowering trees. Rooms have private bathrooms, hot water, air conditioning, ceiling fan, walking closet area, hairdryer, safety box, and a beautiful thatched roof porch facing to the gardens with hammocks and rocking chairs, from where you can enjoy the view of flowers and birds.

Evergreen Lodge
In Tortuguero your small group will spend two nights at the Evergreen Lodge, just a five minute boat ride from Tortuguero National Park’s main entrance. This lodge has 26 spacious rooms, with comfortable beds, private bathrooms, hot water and ceiling fans. During our leisure time at this accommodation, you may wish to relax at the swimming pool, enjoy music at the bar or treat yourself to a spa visit.

Arenal Springs Resort
Your cabin at Arenal Springs Resort offers an impressive, unobstructed view of the Arenal Volcano. All of these air-conditioned cabins include vaulted ceilings, comfortable beds — you can see the volcano from your bed, air-conditioning and a ceiling fan, cable TV, telephone, safety box, mini-fridge, coffee maker, night tables with reading lamps, wardrobe, spacious bathroom with garden shower, hairdryer and hot water, and even private covered porch with traditional leather rocking chairs and coffee table.

El Establo
While in the lush cloud forests, we spend two nights on our Costa Rica tour at El Establo, set in a private 150 acre farm adjacent to the Monteverde Reserve. The rooms at El Establo feature excellent views of the Gulf of Nicoya on clear days, private bathrooms, orthopedic mattresses, cable TV and hair dryers.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3945
Call for Tailor Made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]