Discover Costa Rica

16 days
from
£2,569
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Traveller ratings
4.8 / 5 from 153 reviews >
Leisurely
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Trip code: 
WUC
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Best Sellers - Wildlife
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

Experience the rainforest, mountains and coast of this tropical paradise

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 Atlantic and Pacific coastlines and it is easy to see why so many return.

Highlights

  • Unrivalled 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
  • Relax on idyllic Pacific coast beaches 
  • Stay in comfortable eco-friendly lodges and hotels

Key information

  • 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 September

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 8 lunches, 6 dinners
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival and departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Fly to San Jose.

    The group flight usually arrives into San Jose this evening. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon/evening. Free transfers are available for all clients. This evening's welcome briefing is the perfect opportunity to meet your guide and get to know your fellow travellers.

    Accommodation: Presidente Hotel (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

  • 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 at La Pavona 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 similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • 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, visit the beach or follow a short walking trail through the forest.

    Accommodation: Laguna Lodge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    To La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano.

    Leave Tortuguero the same way we arrived by taking a small boat to La Pavona 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: San Bosco Hotel or Montechiari Hotel (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • 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 into one of the natural pools punctuating the foliage to cool off! 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: San Bosco Hotel or Montechiari Hotel (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • 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

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • 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

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • 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

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • 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

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • 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

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • 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

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • 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 Resplendant 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 similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • 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 similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • 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 before visiting a local school in this area - the children are very welcoming and it is a great opportunity to interact with locals. The school visit only takes place during term time, and the location of the school we visit may vary according to school schedules, therefore please allow flexibility. Some lunchtime 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

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 15

    Depart 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.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    Arrive London.

    Arrive London.

Essential Info

Visas

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 www.exodus.co.uk/USVisa for more information. If you are not a UK citizen please check with your local U.S. Embassy.

Vaccinations

Costa Rica

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. 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 and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. The symptoms and impact of the disease is not serious, but a significant risk to foetus development has recently been highlighted. Therefore, if you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant you should seek additional advice from a health professional. The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up‐to‐date information.

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.

Weather

Costa Rica is located 10º north of the equator and has a tropical climate. The average temperature range is 10ºC - 13ºC in the highlands, and from 22ºC - 26ºC in the lowlands. There is a rainy season from May to November when there are daily downpours, though these are usually quite short and there is still plenty of bright sunshine, so midsummer is not necessarily a bad time to go. December to April is the driest time of the year but you should still expect some rain.

Is this trip for you?

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! 

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. 

Departure date 22nd December 2018
For this departure we cannot stay in Manuel Antonio and instead will stay in Jaco, around 1.5 hours away, at the Hotel Terrazas del Pacifico. This enables us to have beach-front accommodation away from the incredibly busy tourist areas of Manuel Antonio. here will be a slightly longer drive to get to/from Manuel Antonio (it is about 1 hour away), but you will still spend the same amount of time in the national park.

Accommodation

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.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed May 2017
    Philip Bao
    Discover Costa Rica is a fantastic holiday that is suitable for all ages. The itinerary is expertly put together, meaning you really get a sense of the whole country and the various different ecosystems. 6 lots of 2 night stays with the bookends in San Jose and a comfortable mini-bus for the entire trip (with wifi) take you from the Caribbean ocean and sea turtles in Tortugero, to the volcano and hot springs of Arenal, to the cloud forrests of Monteverde and Savegres, and the nature reserves of Manuel Antonio and Esquinas. Each of these locations present their own individual highlights and the travel in between is well planned and not overly long (4 hours on average on a travel day).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a three toed sloth on the edge of the road at extremely close quarters as she tried to cross the road has to be the highlight of the trip. Such amazing creatures!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Antonio was our group leader and great from the beginning to the end. Knowledgeable, always willing to go the extra mile, he really made our trip special.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    No real need to bring much cash. Good to change a couple of hundred pounds into Colons in San Jose to get the best FX but otherwise you can pay with mastercard throughout the entire trip. Bring suncream and plenty of insect repellent. Waterproofs are essential too - good walking shoes and comfy sandals important too - flip flops for the beach.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Small group of 16 maximum means you meet some fantastic people who become real friends over the two weeks.
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Jamie Higgs
    This was a fantastic trip and a great way to discover the delights of Costa Rica. From the lush tropical rainforests of the Caribbean coast to the misty cloud forests to the fascinating pacific coast. A truly memorable trip

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably our zip lining experience in the cloud forest, which was just fantastic and something I will never forget, but we also loved the volcanic hot springs, and of course seeing sloths, monkeys, toucans, crocodiles, scarlet macaws, etc, etc...

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic. Knowledgeable on the flora and fauna and on Costa Rica generally and managed the tour to perfection.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The optional activities (zip lining and volcanic hot springs) are really worth doing and I would highly recommend them. Make sure you buy your souvenirs before you get to the airport, as the prices at the airport are more than double the price outside.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    My only criticism of Costa Rica is that the airport needs serious investment to cope with the number of passengers. There was only one stand that could take an aircraft of our size, and we had to circle for ages waiting for the berth to become free. When we got in the terminal the queues were horrendous and then the air conditioning failed. We queued for over an hour in stifling conditions, which wasn't fun.
  • Reviewed May 2017
    david sibley
    This was our first Exodus trip and it won't be our last! It was a well paced holiday, moving on after two days in one place, but we managed to see a range of different environments in this amazing country. There was such a number and variety of animals and birds wherever we went! It must have one of the richest natural habitats in the world. The scenery was stunning too - from beautiful river systems to volcanoes and cloud forests and tropical rain forests. What an experience!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's difficult to pinpoint any single moment, but waking up to the sound of howler monkeys in the trees above our chalet on the first morning was something that will live with us for a long time!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We chose this trip as the guide was a bird expert. Giullamo did not disappoint. He was professional throughout, making sure we all got the most out of the holiday. His knowledge of birds and animals was encyclopedic and he had an instinct for spotting the wildlife before any of us were aware of it. He took the trouble to explain about the different environments we visited and his pride in his country shone through. The research he had done before the trip paid dividends, down to booking good restaurants; in one case reserving seats to watch a sunset before we sat down to eat. We all agreed we could not have had a better guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We went to Costa Rica in the "dry" season, but the rain forests lived up to their name on a couple of occassions. Our waterproof ponchos proved invaluable to cover ourselves & our backpacks until the rain eased off. Having a pair of binoculars each was a good thing too.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I could not fault the holiday itself - hence the 5 stars. However, we went for the flight inclusive option, assuming Exodus had found the best way to reach Costa Rica. The journey turned out to be a nightmare in both directions - flying from Heathrow to Toronto, Canada, then connecting to another Air Canada flight to San Jose - the latter being a 5 hour flight with no entertainment or food provided. Similarly, the return journey was with Delta via Houston and again the first leg was without food or entertainment. We discovered afterwards there was a direct flight from Gatwick with BA. I feel Exodus should have informed us before we made the final booking/payment.
  • Reviewed May 2017
    kenneth farge
    The title of this holiday is Discover Costa Rica, and that is exactly what it delivers. During the break, you get to experience the beauty and the wide diversity of the country from Mangroves on the Caribbean coast, to volcanic regions to rain forests, cloud forests and beach resorts on the Pacific coast.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me, the best part of the trip was Tortuguero on the north east, Caribbean coast. We stayed in La Laguna lodge which, although fairly rustic was nevertheless very comfortable and crammed with opportunities to see various forms of the beautiful wildlife to be found in Costa Rica from wading birds to sloths, to raptors, frogs and howler monkeys and many many more. Other areas such as Monte Verde cloud forest, and Esquinas Lodge were also extremely beautiful and interesting places.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was Guillermo Arrieta who was absolutely outstanding. His knowledge of and passion for his country, it's wildlife, industry and beauty was palpable. His attention to detail to ensure that every member of our group got everything they wanted from this holiday was superb. I can honestly say that having experienced many other group leaders with other high quality travel companies, Guillermo is by far the best.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of memory cards for your camera (my wife and I took in excess of 10,000 pictures!), good quality waterproofs (it is a rain frost after all and it certainly doesn't disappoint!), good quality binoculars and stout but comfortable walking shoes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was the first time my wife and I have been with Exodus, but it certainly will not be the last. The group size was 16 which was about right, enabling everyone to get to know everyone else so that by the end of the trip, we were all good friends. Having been with other quality organisations who have much bigger groups we found we didn't get to know people as well and of course getting on and off coaches and other transport became frustrating. No such problems here! This holiday is described as leisurely. However there was a fair bit of walking, often uphill, and sometimes quite steep and at higher altitudes than we're normally used to but we never found it to be unattainable and it was always done at a sensible, leisurely pace. But be prepared! The journeys between destinations can be long and sometimes on bumpy roads but there are plenty of stops for comfort breaks and to stretch legs etc so they do not become arduous.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Richard Knipe
    This was a really good and varied introduction to the country, taking in both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and a number of types of forest in between. We saw a wide variety of birdlife, flora and fauna and enjoyed the different types of accommodation, all of which were very good or excellent in different ways. The food was generally first class and served with a smile by friendly and helpful staff. The visits to a village school and a local cheesemaker on the final day were both interesting and enjoyable, in spite of our misgivings beforehand about this sort of activity when we saw it in the notes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Even though we aren't avid bird watchers, the sight of six scarlet macaws circling, playing and landing in the trees as we watched them from the roadside (spotted by our driver en route), and the early morning trip from the excellent hotel at Savegre during which we saw beautiful quetzals were two of the best moments of the trip. Seeing a crab-eating racoon crunching its way through a large dead crab outside our cabin at Tortuguero was also a highlight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Katia was an enthusiastic, informative and helpful guide. She was happy to tackle any topic thrown at her. She and the driver, Juan Jose, formed an excellent team and it was nice that they joined us for meals etc. She also organised and led, with Juan Jose when the bus was needed, a number of extra walks and trips over and above the activities contained in the trip notes. Nothing was too much trouble for her, to the extent that, after the tour was over and we stayed longer on our own in San Jose, she contacted us to tell us that our plans for a visit needed amendment because of a change in the timing of a local festival.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We couldn't understand why dollars are recommended. Everything is priced in colones, apart from the trips in Exodus' trip notes, and if you use dollars in shops and restaurants, you not only get your change in colones but you also tend to get a poor exchange rate. We had no trouble at all in using colones. We travelled with BA direct to San Jose, so had an extra day before and a couple afterwards on our own in the capital to fit in with flight times. It was good to have time to acclimatise before the trip proper started and to wind down and do some exploring at both ends of the trip. We felt we saw a bit more of Costan Rican life as a result than we otherwise would have. Our criticism of the trip would have been that you see very little of the towns and villages of the country. The Presidente Hotel in San Jose is excellently situated, well appointed and with a good breakfast and staff and there is a great little bar in the street just to the left of the hotel where you can unwind with a beer among the locals.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Alan Hunton
    An excellent introduction to the wildlife around Costa Rica. The focus was on birds but there were plenty of flowers, mammals and invertebrates to add interest. A little more strenuous than suggested by the rating but the guide did give the option not to go on some of the walks. The country is safe and reasonably clean (water in hotels was all potable) and the accommodation was of a good standard throughout.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing rare birds in a tropical forest setting which is being safeguarded by the government of Costa Rica.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very helpful. Excellent personal skills and good knowledge of birds and mammals. Willing to offer a few extra walks at some locations

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to be reasonably fit. Although walks are not very long, the humidity and heat is potentially an issue for some travellers. Take US dollars with you and use as little of local currency as possible. When booking try to get a direct flight (Gatwick - San Jose) and if possible avoid transfers through USA. The transfers between locations were long (but very scenic) and many roads were not tarmac so may not suit anyone with back pain.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Anne Morden
    We chose this tour because it visits areas of Costa Rica that a lot of tours don't reach. Having returned home and reflected on the experience we could not have made a better choice. Every lodge or hotel we stayed in was perfectly placed, comfortable and relaxing. Where food was included it was always good to excellent. The gardens surrounding all the accommodations were wonderful, with birds, mammals, frogs and reptiles as well as beautiful flowers providing fantastic photo opportunities. Coming home with such a great feeling about the trip would not have been possible without the company of such a lovely group of people. All 14 of our fellow travellers were great company and got along without any problems. However, without a great tour guide, holidays can fail to achieve the magical tour that we had. Johnny Villalobos was tremendous and went out of his way make sure we saw everything we possibly could in the time available. I have said more about him below. We loved every part of this tour and we are so glad that we chose this tour over all the others that were available.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing at least three quetzal birds when we knew the chances of seeing any might only be 50:50. I was not prepared for just how beautiful they are.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny Villalobos was probably the best tour leader I have experienced. His knowledge of wildlife and all elements of Costa Rican history was phenomenal; to top it off he arranged a 50th anniversary surprise for one of the couples which included a cake and presents which was an emotional moment for everyone. He went above and beyond the normal expectations for a tour guide and should be considered for tour guide of the year.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We were able to pay for almost everything on credit cards, even tiny amounts. Using credit cards that charge no fees meant we could buy anything in the most effective way. The rest of the time $US were accepted everywhere. Sterling is not always accepted even just for converting to Colones. Be prepared for high humidity, especially at Esquinas Lodge. The humidity everywhere makes drying washing difficult despite the high temperatures.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Consider staying a bit longer to see other parts of the country around the San Jose hinterland. We went on a day trip that included Irazu volcano and wished we could have done more, such as visiting the Poas volcano
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Terence Hickingbotham
    We have just returned from the most amazing trip of our lives, Costa Rica is a stunning destination. From start to finish our party was enthralled not only with new discovery's at every turn but also by the knowledge & obvious love of nature shown throughout by our guide Johnny, he was amazing. Costa Rica has so much to offer with every destination offering new & exiting discovery's everyday. The lodges are all top class with good food comfortable rooms surrounded by nature. The rain forests visited are stunning with an incredible diversity in plant & tree life, add the wildlife & you are in heaven. I would recommend this trip to anyone of any age or ability as all paths are manageable for anyone with reasonable mobility. But it is the wildlife that makes this trip, be it birds, reptiles, mammals, they are all there in abundance. You will need a poncho, you can guarantee rain & these slip on easily to keep you dry & protect your Camera & binoculars, raincoats are to cumbersome & the humidity will drain you Costa Rica is a paradise waiting to be discovered for anyone that has a love of nature, enjoy

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The 5.30 am call to see the Resplendent Quetzals, we were not disappointed.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had Johnny Villalobos, if you are lucky enough to get him you are in for a treat, he is amazing with his knowledge of everything & his obvious love of nature will keep you captivated throughout. He is by far the best guide we have ever had

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Eating & drinking in Costa Rica is not cheap as taxes add a huge amount to the bill as we discovered eg, basic bill as shown on menu 24,050 colones(around 43 Dollars) at till 29,582 colones (around 54 Dollars)so beware.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    My tip, I would take all local currency (Colones) I took Dollars as is suggested but every time you pay in Dollars you always get the change in Colones so you are juggling two currencies all the time
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Sarah Hampton
    Clearly a well thought out itinerary to explore the many different regions and ecosystems of Costa Rica. Timings worked very well but all you ever wished for was more time in each location but this would then make it a 3 week trip! No matter how much literature you read before the trip the diversity is amazing and just how much is packed into this small country is incredible; the wildlife, the insects, reptiles and plants exceed all expectations. Each location is so different you just never tire of what you will see next. We went on a bird watching departure, this suited both nature lovers and more serious 'birders' alike. I believe we saw and appreciated so much more due to this type of departure - would recommend it highly.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many! Tortuguero - was our favourite place. The waterway networks, beautiful gardens, the sea and the mix of wildlife on hand. Visiting the local village and understanding how they have changed their ways to conserve the turtle populations and see the value in tourism. The people are laid back, welcoming and friendly. Monteverde - the hummingbird garden. Standing and watching these wonderful birds at close quarters was magical. Hearing the wings beating as they flew past you, going off to the next flower or feeder was not what we expected as our previous encounters were very fleeting and short lived! Scarlet Macaws - on the way to Manuel Antonio. Our driver spotted a single bird perched in a tree. It wasnt the best view as the bird was deep in the branches, resting from the sun. However, as we pulled away to leave 2 pairs flew overhead and landed in a tree in clear view only a few meters away. To see these rare, endangered birds was a privilege and a pleasure. This was our only siting and makes you feel incredibly lucky. Manuel Antonio National Park - 8 month old three toed sloth in a tree approximately 7ft off the ground and only 15ft in to the the rainforest. Enough said! Esquinas Lodge - view from the restaurant nothing short of fantastic. Night walk here very good and full of potential as felt by the hairs on the back of my neck! Also the video detailing how the lodge and area came about as it is today, one person can make such a difference - this was very inspirational. Finally seeing quetzal birds at Savegre Valley. There was one female and then up to 4 males flying up and down a 50 metre stretch of trees trying to impress her. Was quite amazed how much they stood out against the green of the leaves. Very much worth an early start!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jorge was the best! Extremely knowledgable, passionate and helpful. Clearly very proud of his country and gave us so much information on the bus journey's about the country's history and culture too. Jorge became a good friend to our group, we all said how emotional we felt when the time came to say goodbye! Zero complaints. Our driver, Chico, was excellent too and they made for a brilliant double act! He was also very friendly helpful and considerate. A very good driver.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Travelling through Houston, USA on the group flight proved to be just as easy as anywhere else. Don't feel you need to take loads of camera batteries as can charge up at every lodge. All the rooms are well protected from mosquitos and we didn't feel the need for a mosquito net at anytime. Do take repellent with you though. Towels are always available including for use by pools or on beaches etc so no need to take any. There are several bendy and bumpy roads, l suffer travel sickness but was able to sit in the front of the bus, air-con good and had plenty of stops so didn't pose a problem for me. Found could pay with plastic in most areas surprisingly. Took mainly dollars which were easy to use but may have been easier with colons as a fair percentage of goods quoted in local currency. We had a rabies course of injections but were the only ones to in our group. Our doctor said the antidote is rare in the world in the present day and gives 5 days to get treatment instead of 24 hours. Doesn't hurt to have but cost just shy of £240 each person, not an absolute requirement though as Exodus do say.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Optional excursions not pushed upon you or 'sold' - we planned to do most but in end only felt the need to do activities at Monteverde and 2 night walk tours. Meals not included but ate out as a group really good fun and enabled us to see more of the local culture - nice to do. Make the most of your holiday but remember to take opportunity to enjoy the downtime between activities. Early starts, hot conditions, travelling and humidity levels do take their toll! Book it!
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Eric Pye
    I really enjoyed the Costa Rica highlights trip which gave a great insight into the wealth of wildlife in the country. Our guide Guillermo was very knowledgeable but struck a good balance between enough but not too much information. The group was, as on previous Exodus trips, an interesting mix of people sharing a common interest. We covered a lot of distance but travelling was broken up well with viewing and refreshment stops. Food was almost always very good and sufficient variety at buffet meals for the length of time we stayed at each place. Eating out felt a bit expensive probably because of the recent decline in the value of sterling. Similarly it wasn't easy to find souvenirs at good prices. We expected the travel to be much more strenuous on unpaved roads but in truth it was rarely uncomfortable. San Jose, where we stayed for an extra night, doesn't have a lot to offer but we were lucky to experience the main drag on a Sunday "family fun day". Quite a few things are closed on Monday so it's worth checking in advance. Many guide books advise extreme caution in San Jose but we felt as safe as any other city we've visited whilst keeping to the central area. If anything was lacking it was perhaps the opportunity to meet with more local people and learn a bit more about daily life in Costa Rica but I think this would need a longer or different trip. The visits to a school and cheesemaking family were very interesting. I will be recommending this trip to others.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I've always wanted to see toucans in the wild so the occasions we did so are top of the list but there were lots of other things vying for a close second place. In particular I remember the periods of silence on a boat in Tortuagero national park as we awaited another sighting of birds or monkeys. The favourite place for many on our trip was Esquinas Lodge which has an inspirational history of development. Do go on one of the night walks. It's great fun whatever you end up seeing!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very impressed, particularly with knowledge of flora and fauna.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a couple of cold nights.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    no

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]

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Call us on 0208 772 3936