Natural Highlights of Costa Rica

9 days
from
£1,939
View Trips
Loading...
Traveller ratings
4 / 5 from 1 review >
Leisurely
Learn more
Trip code: 
WUA
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Wildlife Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Jungles, mountains and coast: Costa Rica is a natural paradise

A tropical paradise bursting with wildlife; Christopher Columbus was right to christen Costa Rica the ‘Rich Coast’ when he discovered it in 1502. Home to 6% of the world’s plant and animal species, many endemic, the country’s rich biodiversity is extremely colourful. Over 850 bird species have been recorded here - far more than found anywhere in North America, Europe and Australia. A cornucopia of exotic flora and fauna, Costa Rica is a nature lover’s delight.

Highlights

  • Unrivalled wildlife viewing - Howler monkeys, birds 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
  • Stay in comfortable eco-friendly lodges and hotels

Key information

  • Travel by air-conditioned bus and boat
  • 7 nights in comfortable hotels and lodges
  • All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 2 dinners included
  • Green turtle nesting season: July to September

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 4 lunches, 2 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
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Single accommodation (available on request)

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: Park Inn 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 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 five to six hours including a break for breakfast.

    Accommodation: Mawamba 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, followed by a tour of Mawamba Park, a private facility featuring a butterfly farm, frog farm and gardens. This afternoon we return to the waterways for a second boat trip along a different canal. Alternatively, the lodge is a tranquil spot to relax this afternoon if you want to take some time out to enjoy the facilities, visit the beach or follow a short walking trail through the forest.

    Accommodation: Mawamba Lodge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    To La Fortuna, near Arenal.

    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. Alternatively have a go on the Sky Tram / Sky Trek, departing at 5pm. In clear weather there are great views of the volcano from our overnight base, the nearby town of La Fortuna. Today's travelling time is around five and a half hours including a lunch stop.

    Accommodation: Lomas del Volcán Hotel (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Boat tour of Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge.

    Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge and the Frío River combine to create a humid area that is a very biodiverse and harbours a great variety of resident and migratory birds, three different species of monkeys, iguanas, sloths, turtles, and caimans. We transfer approximately 1.5 hours to the village of Los Chiles, found close to the Nicaraguan border. From here we board a boat for our river adventure, which lasts around 2.5 hours, and passes through tropical rainforest and pastures until we arrive at the marshlands. The Olivaceous cormorant makes its nests in the area and Wood storks and jabiru (the largest bird in Central America and much endangered) can also be seen. Along the river we may also see Howler monkeys, Three-toed sloths, caimans, lizards, and turtles.

    Accommodation: Lomas del Volcán Hotel (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    To Monteverde in the Tilaran Mountains; nocturnal wildlife walk.

    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. 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.

    This evening we set off on a night walk in Monteverde Wildlife Refuge. Situated within primary cloud forest, this reserve is committed to the preservation of native flora and fauna. Taking a nocturnal walk allows for a completely new perspective on the forest, which our guides will bring to life for us!

    Accommodation: Ficus Hotel, Monteverde County Lodgem, Trapp Family Lodge or Poco a Poco (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Visit Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

    Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a favourite destination for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. A walk through the reserve will reveal huge old growth trees covered in moss whilst the surrounding mist permeates the atmosphere. The reserve’s geographic, topographic and climatic conditions have allowed for a surprising biodiversity to thrive. There are four ecological “Life Zones” that harbour different ecosystems for hundreds of species - mammals, birds, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, insects and arachnids. We can also find a variety of mosses, vines, other plants and trees typical of the cloud forest. One of the trails of the reserve leads to a lookout point right at the top of the continental divide where, on clear days, you can be privy to the breathtaking view of both of Costa Rica’s coasts: the Caribbean and the Pacific. These forests are also one of the few remaining habitats of the endangered Resplendant Quetzal.

    Accommodation: Ficus Hotel, Monteverde County Lodge, Trapp Family Lodge or Poco a Poco (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    To San Jose; depart San Jose.

    After breakfast we return to San Jose Airport in time for the group flight and the holiday comes to an end. It's time to bid Costa Rica and the rest of the group goodbye. 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

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, 4 lunches and 2 dinners are included.

In the itinerary we state which meals are included on which day. Hotel breakfasts are normally buffet style, and lunches and dinners at Tortuguero 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. 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!

Accommodation

Hotels & Eco-lodges

7 nights in comfortable hotels and eco-lodges, all with en suite facilities and some with swimming pools. Where possible we use family run establishments: wooden lodges set in tropical gardens with eco-credentials.

Optional single supplement, see Dates & Prices.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed May 2017
    Kevin Langham

    An excellent introduction to Costa Rica

    This trip packs a lot into 8 days without ever feeling rushed. We achieved our aim of seeing sloths (2- and 3-toed) and also saw many other amazing animals and birds.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a sloth climbing down from high up in a tree to avoid the worst of a squally shower and, as she got closer, realising that she had a baby clinging to her was fabulous. The Cloud Forest in Monteverde also stood out; for me it was the epitome of what a 'jungle' should look and feel like (very green and wet!)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide, Johnny, was friendly and knowledgeable about seemingly all aspects of Costa Rica and its wildlife. Special mention must also go to our driver Dennis who negotiated some narrow windy roads extremely safely.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for rain in the cloud forest despite what the weather may be doing in Monteverde itself! For any photographers, a 400mm lens (or equivalent) really helps get photos of sloths, monkeys etc high up in the trees.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only disappointment for me was that the hotels in La Fortuna and Monteverde (Magic Mountain(!) and Poco A Poco) were more mainstream and modern than I was expecting. The trip notes (which I know have since been updated to list these) promised small eco lodges which these two were not.

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]

Trips you might also like

Call us on 0208 772 3936