Current as of: February 22, 2024 - 02:27

Costa Rica Sloth

Discover Costa Rica Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Costa Rica
  • Programmes: Wildlife
  • Activity Level:

    1 out of 7 - Leisurely

  • 16 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 15 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: WUC
  • Carbon Footprint: 168.7kg CO2e

Trip Overview

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

This trip includes a few of our Citizen Science Departures. These special departures offer you the opportunity to be involved in the collection of freshwater samples during the trip. The environmental DNA information derived from this sample will contribute directly to the eBioAtlas; the world’s largest repository of flora and fauna species data, contributing to the conservation and restoration of biodiversity both locally and globally. To book onto one of these special departures, see the Dates & Prices tab. For more information on these departures and the eBioAtlas, click here.

Discover Costa Rica

At a Glance

  • 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 October

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
  • Wonderful naturalist guides who will share their love of Costa Rica with you
  • Relax on idyllic Pacific coast beaches
  • Stay in comfortable ecofriendly lodges and hotels
  • Citizen Science departures available on this trip

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is graded Activity Level 1 (Leisurely) with a Wildlife Rating of Three. Visit our Activity Level Guidelines page for more on our trip gradings or our Wildlife Holidays page for more on our Wildlife Ratings.

Driving distances are not very long and most of the roads we travel on are of good quality. However, the road that 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 fitness levels 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.

Please note that in the Tortuguero region, the sea has very strong rip currents and is not suitable for swimming from the beach.

Please also note that Manuel Antonio National Park is closed on Tuesdays. If your visit falls on a Tuesday, the timing of this activity will be adjusted so you visit the park on the previous day and have a free day to enjoy the many optional excursions of the region.

Birdwatching departures
For keen birders, we have designated a number of departures that will be accompanied by a specialist birdwatching guide. Walks and visits to national parks will be led with the intention of seeing as much bird life as possible. Please check the dates and prices for more details.

Group

Our team of tour leaders in Costa Rica are regularly praised for their enthusiasm, local knowledge and guiding expertise. There really is no better way to see this wildlife-rich country than with the help of an expert local leader.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 5

Max group size: 16

Itinerary

Costa Rica Map

Land Only

  • Start City: San José
  • End City: San José

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start San José

A free transfer takes you to our hotel in San José, the busy capital of Costa Rica. Read the Joining Instructions in the Trip Notes for more information on booking your seat.

Check in and take it easy, there’s plenty of excitement on this trip, so today’s all about relaxing and easing ourselves into the adventure. To help, there’ll be a welcome briefing at the hotel in the evening, in which we’ll gather as a group for the first time and meet our guide.

Accommodation: Presidente Hotel (or similar)

Day 2
To Tortuguero National Park

Our adventure begins early this morning, leaving San José behind as we travel to the northeast of Costa Rica to Tortuguero National Park. Accessible only by boat or light aircraft, Tortuguero has a vast network of waterways, canals and swamps that is remarkably tranquil, unspoilt and devoid of noise pollution. On reaching the pier, we board a small motorboat for the 1hr 15min 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 arrives onto the beach to lay eggs from late July to October (witness it as part of an optional excursion). Hawksbill, loggerhead and giant leatherback turtles also nest in this region. During November to January, baby turtles 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)

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-plus bird species recorded here. The lodge is a tranquil spot to relax this afternoon if you want to take some time out to enjoy the facilities, or you can join a second boat trip or follow a short walking trail through the forest.

Accommodation: Laguna Lodge (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4
To La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano

We leave Tortuguero the same way we arrived by taking a small boat to the 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 the most active volcano in Costa Rica 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 5hr 30min including a lunch stop.

Accommodation: Arenal Montechiari or Arenal Paraiso (or similar)

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, a 213ft (65m) cascade plunging into an emerald pool. 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 cooling dip in one of the natural pools punctuating the foliage.

Alternatively, you could visit the lookout point and wait for the group. 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: Arenal Montechiari or Arenal Paraiso (or similar)

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 ecosystem where plants thrive, particularly orchids of which there are more than 400 varieties here. Today’s drive is around four hours — the last 25mi (40km) of road is gravel and can be bumpy, particularly following heavy rain.

Accommodation: Montaña Monteverde or Monteverde Country Lodge (or similar)

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 celebrated 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 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 more 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: Montaña Monteverde or Monteverde Country Lodge (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8
To Manuel Antonio

Our journey takes a southeasterly 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 (690ha) 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 arrival time, we should be able to enjoy various optional activities this afternoon or make use of the hotel facilities.

Accommodation: Villa Bosque Hotel or Espadilla Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9
Discover Manuel Antonio National Park

A guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park this morning should enable us to have close wildlife encounters. White-faced capuchin monkeys play in the trees and are frequently sighted on the beaches, while 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 rank among the most beautiful in the country and we have all afternoon to enjoy them or try one of the optional activities in this region.

Please note that Manuel Antonio National Park is closed on Tuesdays. If your visit falls on a Tuesday, 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 Espadilla Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10
To Esquinas Lodge in Piedras Blancas

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 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)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11
Hike on trails in Esquinas Rainforest Nature Reserve

Hike through the rainforest this morning with your guide and experience all 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 network of trails departing directly from the lodge, or simply relax by the pool.

Accommodation: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12
To Savegre Cloud Forest

Our journey takes a northwesterly turn through San Isidro and up and over the Cerro de la Muerte mountain range to our next destination, the Savegre Valley, around a 4hr 30min drive from Golfito. The cloud forest of Savegre is said to be one of the best places in Costa Rica to see the beautiful, colourful and notoriously shy resplendent 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 long. A good pair of binoculars will be helpful for quetzal spotting as these birds camouflage themselves well among the wet leaves of the forest. In the afternoon, we take a short walk from our lodge into the cloud forest.

Accommodation: Savegre Hotel & Spa or Trogon Lodge (or similar)

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. Your leader will suggest walks for today so you can discover the tropical cloud forest and sub-Andean vegetation of the area.

Accommodation: Savegre Hotel & Spa or Trogon Lodge (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14
Visit the village of Copey; to San José

Visit the Copey valley 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 through this picturesque area stopping for snacks prepared for us with a local family, which is sure to be a memorable touch of Costa Rican hospitality. A 2hr 30min journey takes us back to San José, where there is time to explore the modern capital.

Accommodation: Presidente Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 15
End San José

A final breakfast at the hotel is your chance to say goodbye to the group, swap numbers, and perhaps start planning your next adventure. For those joining our post-trip extension to Tamarindo Beach, the wait won’t be long. No matter what your future plans are, though, there’s a free transfer to San José airport for onward flights.

Meals included: Breakfast

Post-trip Extensions

Tamarindo Beach Extension Costa Rica

Extend your stay in Costa Rica with a few nights of rest and relaxation at Tamarindo on the Pacific Coast. Once a sleepy fishing village, Tamarindo was discovered by surfers in the late 1980s and has steadily grown a reputation as one of the best beach destinations in Costa Rica. Located in the Guanacaste province, known for good weather and predictable sunshine, Tamarindo has a great mix of facilities and retains an authentic laid-back atmosphere. The town has accommodation catering to all budgets, from high-end boutique hotels to smaller, comfortable and characterful properties. The big draw is a long expanse of beach, with a curved bay backed by palm trees, cafes and restaurants. The waves are strong and loved by surfers, with swimmers mostly staying to the shallow surf breaking on the shore.

Facing west, the sunsets in Tamarindo are dramatic. There are plenty of excursions that can be organised locally if you want to discover the area. Or simply sit back and soak up the laid-back beach life, which is a real contrast from the other areas you will have visited in Costa Rica.

We have handpicked a selection of properties in Tamarindo and selected transport options to suit all budgets and group sizes – all that’s left for you to decide is how long you want to go for, and we’ll do the rest. Please speak to your sales representative for up-to-date pricings.

Accommodation:

  • Capitan Suizo Hotel: This beachfront boutique hotel is set in a privileged location to the south of the bay, with rooms surrounded by tropical gardens. Thoughtfully designed accommodation with excellent dining options, wonderful service and a friendly team waiting to welcome you. Just away from the main town, it has a lovely pool area and private loungers on the beach.
  • Tamarindo Diria Hotel: Right in the middle of the beach, this is one of the original hotels in Tamarindo and has the most spectacular palm tree-lined view from its pool/dining areas. It is split into different areas, with the majority of rooms away from the beachfront.
  • Wyndham Esplendor Hotel: One of the best infinity pools we’ve seen with extensive views across Tamarindo Bay, thanks to its hillside location above Tamarindo. Elegant rooms and facilities, but a fair walk from the beach and Tamarindo town – there is a free shuttle transfer provided at set times.
  • Arco Iris Hotel: a great option for value, with comfortable rooms surrounded by lush tropical gardens. A tranquil location set back from the street, around 1,640ft (500m) to the beach.
  • Pasatiempo Hotel: A small, intimate property with real character and comfortable rooms. We think Pasatiempo is a hidden gem and it is our preferred choice if you are looking for great value and don’t mind being a five-minute walk to the beach. There are some great restaurants and shops nearby.

How to reach Tamarindo?

There are three options to reach Tamarindo from San José, depending on your budget and how much time you have:

  • Shuttle bus: this is the most economical way to reach Tamarindo, particularly for solo travellers. The shuttle bus system is easy, safe and reliable and will drop you directly at your hotel. Shuttles usually pick up from hotels in San José at 7.15am or 2.30pm. From Tamarindo, the departure times back to San José are usually 8am or 2pm. The journey takes approximately four to five hours. You can also leave or return by shuttle directly from the airport – please specify at the time of booking and double check timings with your sales consultant as schedules may change depending on the season.
  • Private transfer: If you would prefer to travel in your own vehicle (seating up to six people), or need transfers timed perfectly with your international flights, we recommend a private transfer for the journey. You can either take this as a return or for just one leg of the journey. By private transfer, the journey takes approximately four hours.
  • Flight: perfect if you are short of time, you can take an internal flight from San José to Tamarindo Airstrip. In the high season (December to April) there are usually four flights during the day in each direction. Outside of the high season, there are usually two flights in each direction. Flights usually take under one hour. With this service we will also arrange a vehicle transfer between your Tamarindo hotel and the airstrip. Luggage weight and size restrictions apply (30lbs/13.5kg, 45in/114cm).

There is also the option to arrange your return flights from Liberia airport, around 1hr 30min from Tamarindo, with a private transfer to Tamarindo. Please speak to your sales consultant to discuss this option.

We recommend visiting Tamarindo for at least three nights. Please speak to your sales consultant for more details, to check hotel availability or make a reservation. You may need additional hotel nights in San José depending on the end date of your trip and your flight schedule. Also please note that some hotels in Tamarindo are not available in September.

Discover Costa Rica

Accommodation

Hotels and lodges

Discover Costa Rica

On this wildlife-watching trip in Costa Rica, we spend 14 nights in hotels and lodges, most of which have swimming pools. We’ve aimed for properties surrounded by nature, so we typically stay in wooden lodges within tropical gardens or within the heart of the rainforest. We have also been careful to avoid chain hotels where possible.

The normal accommodations used on this trip can be found on the day-to-day itinerary; however, below are a few of the notable places we stay.

Tortuguero:Laguna Lodge (nights 2-3)

Discover Costa Rica

 

Constructed on a strip of land between the main lagoon and Caribbean Sea, Laguna Lodge is an away-from-it-all place to stay that’s ideal for disconnecting. There’s no road access, so we get there by boat, while the estate itself combines several wooden lodges within beautifully kept gardens. Look out for the freely roaming sloths and monkeys! There’s also a restaurant with river views and a bar on the water’s edge. 

Esquinas Rainforest Nature Reserve: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge (nights 10-11)

Discover Costa Rica

A highlight of this trip will no doubt be our stay at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, next to Piedras Blancas National Park. We stay in simple cabins, each of which has a covered porch where you can sit and look for monkeys, raccoons, coatis and the 300-plus bird species that live here. Elsewhere, the restaurant serves modern Costa Rican gastronomy with produce from local farmers. There’s also an outdoor pool and walking trails to enjoy. 

Savegre: Savegre Hotel & Spa (nights 12-3)

Discover Costa Rica

In the middle of a natural forest reserve, Savegre Hotel is the ideal place to immerse in nature. It has plant-filled gardens, multiple walking trails, and a lookout point with views over forested slopes. We sleep in wooden lodges, while Las Bromelias restaurant dishes out international and local cuisines (made with seasonal, indigenous produce) and Los Robles, a bar-lounge, serves cocktails and Savegre coffee.  

Please note: On some departures, we stay at the 24-room Trogon Lodge instead of Savegre Hotel. It’s equally idyllic, with a farm-to-table restaurant, a river-view bar and two nature trails. 

Worth knowing 

  • Some of the properties have ceiling fans rather than air conditioning. 
  • One or several of the named properties might be substituted for similar alternatives to secure hotel availability. Please discuss with your customer operations executive if you require more details regarding your specific departure date.

Single supplement from £ 635

Food & Drink

All breakfasts, eight lunches and six 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.

Transport

We travel in air-conditioned buses and also boats in Tortuguero.

Depending on the group size, we either use a 16-seat Coaster minibus or a larger 20-seat vehicle. Due to the type of vehicles we use, it’s common for luggage to be transported on the roof, covered by a tarpaulin. The loading and unloading will be done by your tour leader and driver.

There is a shared transfer to Tortuguero on Day 2 of the itinerary in a larger coach.

Weather & Seasonality

Costa Rica is 10 degrees north of the equator and has a tropical climate. The average temperature range is 10C-13C (50F-55F) in the highlands, and from 22C-26C (72F-79F) 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.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: Hotel Presidente, Avenida Central, Calle 7, 11801, San José
Phone: +1 800 707 8604
Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately 35 minutes’ drive from the airport. Exodus provides free arrival transfers to the start hotel from the airport for all customers.

Catching your return flight

Exodus provides free departure transfers for all customers to Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) from the end hotel.

Please note, unless specified otherwise, the transfers will be to the start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers should be booked with your sales representative at least two weeks before the tour starts.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: San José
Location end: San José

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Sunscreen
  • Waterproof poncho
  • Waterproofs
  • Warm sweater (for cloud forest)
  • Weatherproof shoes

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Optional Equipment

  • Swimming gear
  • Umbrella
  • Camera with telephoto lens
  • Binoculars
  • Flashlight
  • Small daypack for walks
  • Insect repellent
  • Reusable fabric tote bag
  • Dark clothes are required if you intend to join the optional turtle nesting excursion (seasonal).

Practical Information

Passport

Remember to check the expiration date of your passport if travelling internationally. Many countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months after the date of your scheduled return.

Visa

Costa Rica

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica; however, proof of onward travel may be required – we suggest you take a physical copy of your flight details in case officials ask to see them.

Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

• Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/americas/costa-rica
• Canada: www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/costa-rica
• United Kingdom: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/costa-rica/entry-requirements
• USA:  www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Costa-Rica.html

If you are travelling via the USA and are eligible to transit under the Visa Waiver Program, you are required to register in advance for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). There is a US$21 charge, which is only payable online. Please see our website www.exodus.co.uk/usvisa for further information.

Please note, not all nationalities have the same eligibility for travel to or transit via the USA, and you may not be covered by the visa waiver program. Regulations stipulate that any person who has travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011, or have dual nationalities of these countries, may no longer qualify. In addition, if you have travelled to Cuba since 12 January 2021 you will not be eligible for the visa waiver program and should instead apply for a visa.

If you are in doubt of your eligibility, please check the visa requirements with your local US embassy.

Vaccinations and Health

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. It’s also recommended that you get a hepatitis A vaccine.

The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your doctor or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue and zika, both mosquito‐borne viral diseases, are also known risks in places visited on this trip. There are currently no vaccines or prophylaxes available. We therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Local Time

Costa Rica's time zone: America/Costa_Rica (UTC -06:00)

Electricity

Costa Rica's electricity: Plug types A (two flat pins, US standard) and B (three pins, US standard) – 120V, 60Hz

Money

Costa Rica's currency: Costa Rican colon (CRC); however, US dollars are widely accepted

ATM Availability

ATMs are widely available in Costa Rica, particularly in the main tourist areas. A flat fee of up to US$3 and a small commission usually applies with debit card withdrawals. MasterCard and Visa are quite widely accepted in the bigger hotels, restaurants and tourist shops, though not in rural areas. Always check the handling fee when paying by credit card as it can be high. Travellers cheques (in US dollars also) can be quite difficult to change, especially outside the capital. It is much more convenient to carry as much of your money in cash as possible, so long as you are security conscious. We recommend that you bring some small denomination notes (US$1 and US$5 notes) since getting change is often a problem when paying for small items.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

US dollars are widely accepted as payment in Costa Rica; however, change will likely be given in local currency and the exchange rate will fluctuate. We suggest taking some US dollars with you but then using ATMs to withdraw the rest of your money in local currency while you’re there. Allow extra to cover the cost of meals not included in the price of the holiday. Snack lunches are approximately US$15-US$18 and evening meals US$25-US$32 per meal (excluding drinks).
Average costs for drinks are US$1-US$2 for mineral water or soft drinks, US$3-US$4 for a bottle of beer and US$4-US$5 for a glass of wine.

Optional excursions are available during this tour;

Tortuguero:
Turtle nesting tour (July to October only) – approximately US$45 and can only be booked directly with the hotel at check-in.
La Fortuna/Arenal:
Ecotermales hot springs (four hours) approximately US$40.
Sky Tram/Sky Trek (zip line) US$84
Sky Walk (hanging bridges) US$27
Sky Tram/Sky Walk US$70.
Please note: taking optional activities in Arenal may mean missing other included elements of the tour.
Monteverde:
Sky Walk suspension bridges approximately US$27.
Sky tram + Sky trek approximately US$84.
Coffee tour US$40. Canopy Tour US$45.
Manuel Antonio:
Mangrove boat tour US$69
Sea kayaking (four hours) approximately US$70
Horseback riding US$70

All prices are per person and some excursions require a minimum number of participants. Optional excursions can be paid for by cash, credit or debit card.

Tipping

Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus. However, it is usual for groups to tip guides and drivers and it would be reasonable for each group member to contribute approximately US$3-US$5 per day for each staff member for this purpose, although you may wish to tip more if travelling in a small group. Porters at the airport and hotels are normally tipped about US$1 per piece. Occasionally the tour leader will organise a tipping kitty to facilitate these and other tips (such as waiting staff in restaurants) which will be collected in advance at the start of the trip.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit, and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers will be well informed about local traditions, and cultural and social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally-owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food and support of other local enterprise.
  • We use fairly small, family run and locally staffed establishments which ensures that we are benefiting local communities.
  • Our activity also benefits the rural village of Copey, which is nestled in the highlands of the Central Mountain Range. By passing through this area, seeing how the locals live and work and having lunch in a typical home, we are encouraging cultural exchange and providing valuable avenues of income here.
  • There is an option for clients to directly support local schools by packing a gift of educational supplies when we visit Copey area on this tour.
  • This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people.
  • Our local operator is very involved in supporting community projects. On International Tourism Day in 2019 they took part in cleaning a beach at Guacalillo. They collected a total 150 Kg of waste and all the plastic lids collected were donated to the Fundación Proparques, for a project developing walkways to improve accessibility for people with mobility problems in the country’s protected wild areas.
  • In 2017 Exodus Travels introduced the Inspiration Project, where we’ve worked with our partners to take more than 6,000 children in 30 countries on a day of adventure and exploration. Each inspirational day out is designed to introduce young minds to the wonders of our world and their place in it. From visiting cultural heritage sites to natural wonders, each trip has been packed with firsts – their first time leaving their own village, their first time seeing the sea, their first time visiting a busy city. We continue to operate these days out to inspire children to protect and preserve the world as they grow up.

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration here, including our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels.
  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • Being a wildlife-based tour, we are very conscious of our effects on the environment and how we can reduce negative impact and aid conservation. We visit national and private parks, including the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the first community-managed reserves in the country. Our entrance fees also directly support conservation efforts in the areas we visit.
  • Our local operator has a policy of Animal Welfare that requests suppliers to comply with the minimum conditions of animal welfare.
  • Our local operator has been awarded by the Costa Rican Tourism Board for their sustainable tourism practice & dedication to improving sustainability standards. This means that efforts are made to rationally use water and electricity, provide adequate waste management, and positively impact communities, among many other actions.
  • Most of the accommodation and restaurants we visit on this trip use locally sourced food such as fruit which is always sourced locally and abundant. Esquinas lodge have their own policy whereby they produce their own organic vegetables and fruit, marmalade, juices, mayonnaise, bread, chocolate and seasoning.
  • Vegetarian options are available if notice is given which include a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, and rice.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • Some departures of this trip provide the opportunity for you to collect water samples for the International eBioAtlas initiative which collects vital DNA information to assist in essential conservation initiatives.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for re-usable bottles.

Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.
  • To reduce our carbon emissions, we use a shared coach at the beginning of the tour to transport clients from San José to Tortuguero rather than an internal flight. During the trip, we travel responsibly using appropriate methods of transport; therefore, depending on group size, a minibus/coach will be used.
  • An example of eco-friendly accommodation on this trip is the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, a model project combining conservation, environmental research and community development in a rural area. The plot is surrounded by approximately 3,000 hectares of untouched rainforest which acts as a carbon sink and the lodge itself is 100 % carbon neutral, meaning it will take action to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they produce.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own re-usable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.

Important Information

Optional activities and excursions

If you would like to join an optional activity or excursion outside those listed in the itinerary, your leader may be able to assist with selecting a provider. However, Exodus has not assessed the safety standards of activities or excursions that are not listed in the Trip Notes. All optional activities or excursions are undertaken at your own risk.

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.