AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators
Costa Rica Nature Explorer

Costa Rica Nature Explorer

Costa Rica Nature Explorer Overview

A wonderful trip visiting Costa Rica's main locations for wildlife, and staying in good quality mid-range lodges where nature is a focus.

Costa Rica Nature Explorer


San Jose


Day 1 You are met at the airport on arrival and driven to a mid-range hotel in San José.

Tortuguero


Day 2 BLD Early this morning you are picked up from your hotel by shuttle-bus, and taken by road and boat into the flooded forest of Tortuguero on the north Caribbean coast. Here you stay for 2 nights on a full board basis at a lodge in the national park. Regular tours with naturalist guides are included, with great opportunities to see sloth, monkeys, basilisk lizards, tree frogs and other amphibians, waterbirds, and turtles in season.

Day 3 BLD A day of wildlife safaris in Tortuguero national park.

South Pacific rainforest lodge


Day 4 BLD An early flight from Tortuguero to San José then onwards by air to Golfito on the south Pacific. You are met and driven 30min to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, your base for 3 nights. Set within the jungle of Piedras Blancas NP, Esquinas is part of a project combining conservation, research and community development. It makes a peaceful setting to enjoy the sights and sounds of the tropical rainforest. The biodiversity is tremendously high with over 140 species of tree per hectare, around 2500 species of plants and more than 360 species of birds.

Day 5 BLD A free day for nature viewing. The lodge has a good series of jungle trails with opportunities to see colourful birds, butterflies, bizarre insects, frogs, and possibly monkeys, agouti-pacas, peccaries, and coatis. The understorey of the secondary forest has heliconias, ferns, and other more light-hungry plants, and the primary forest has walking palms, buttress-rooted forest giants, orchids and bromeliads, passion flowers, and endless lianas.

Day 6 BLD Second free day at the lodge which also offers optional mangrove tours, village excursions, horse riding, kayaking and dolphin watching boat trips in Golfo Dulce, a bay separating Piedras Blancas NP and the Osa Peninsula. Three species of porpoise live and breed here all year round. Humpback whales can be seen at times. There is a 90% chance of seeing bottlenose dolphins playing and swimming by the boat.

Bosque de Paz cloud forest reserve


Day 7 BD Fly back to San José, where you are met at the airport. Your next destination is Bosque de Paz, one of our favourite lodges in Costa Rica set in its own 700ha private cloud forest reserve at Bajos del Toro. If you have chosen the self-drive option you will be taken to collect your car from the rental office near the airport, otherwise you will be driven to the lodge.

Day 8 BLD A day to enjoy the gardens and explore self-guided the cloud forest at Bosque de Paz. Forest trails in the reserve are of varying length and strenuousness. There is great birding on the easy dirt road leading to the lodge.

Day 9 BLD A day to enjoy the gardens and explore self-guided the cloud forest at Bosque de Paz. Forest trails in the reserve are of varying length and strenuousness. There is great birding on the easy dirt road leading to the lodge.

Maquenque Ecolodge


Day 10 BLD After a cloud forest dawn you are driven (2hr) down the slopes of the sierra and across the lowlands for 2 nights at Maquenque Lodge, a super lowland rainforest retreat for every aspect of natural history, with knowledgeable biologist staff.

Day 11 BLD Excursions from Maquenque are arranged locally at extra cost, by boat or on foot, with fascinating forest night walks.

Sarapiqui


Day 12 BD By road to Sarapiquí for 3 nights at a mid-range lodge. The afternoon is free to settle in and enjoy the grounds. In the early evening you are collected for a private tour of La Tirimbina reserve for nocturnal animals such as porcupines, frogs, opossums and kinkajous, and returned to your hotel about 9pm.

OTS La Selva


Day 13 BLD A full day at La Selva Reserve–widely considered one of the world’s most important sites for tropical forest research. A guide from the reserve shows you the forest and gives insights into current projects. There are great birding and wildlife opportunities.

Day 14 BD A free day either to relax and enjoy the grounds of your lodge, or to take an optional excursion, booked in advance or locally, such as a nature trip on the Sarapiquí river.

San Jose


Day 15 B Returned by road (self-drive or private driver) to the San José area in good time for afternoon flights home.
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Reviews of this holiday

Costa Rica Nature Explorer by PeterJB, 9 Jan 2019
Traveller rating:

We spent 18 days in Costa Rica on a tailor-made trip, with an emphasis on watching and photographing wildlife. We had two ... read more

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Costa Rica Nature Explorer by PeterJB, 9 Jan 2019
Traveller rating:

We spent 18 days in Costa Rica on a tailor-made trip, with an emphasis on watching and photographing wildlife. We had two ... read more