This enthralling small group tour has a strong accent on Costa Rica's nature and wildlife, complemented by wonderful scenery and times when local life takes centre stage.
Costa Rican Odyssey
Discover the wildlife of flooded forest, rainforest, cloud forest and dry forest, including the world famous sites of Monteverde and La Selva, in a convivial small group.
We also see two of the country’s largest and most active volcanoes, a cowboy ranch in Guanacaste, and visit both the Caribbean and the beautiful central Pacific coast.
We stay at good quality comfortable mid-range hotels and lodges, and are escorted throughout by an experienced and knowledgeable local professional naturalist guide with excellent English. An excellent way to experience Costa Rica.
The tour runs during Costa Rica’s dry season and has been carefully designed to make the most of your time away, and with attention to what makes group travel work best for everyone on the trip. Our clientele is predominantly from the UK, we offer fair pricing with no ‘local payments’ and no single supplements for those willing to share.
Day 1 We meet in San José in the early evening at our comfortable mid-range hotel where we stay for 2 nights. You will be met at the international airport from any flight arriving that day and driven to the hotel (½hr).
Poas Volcano & Doka Coffee Estate
Day 2 BL This morning we drive through lush coffee cultivation regions then cloud forest up to the stunted trees and bush on the slopes of Poas Volcano. We then continue on to the volcano itself, where we walk to the crater’s lip to peer down onto the hot aquamarine lake below (clouds allowing!). This is followed by a visit to Doka coffee estate. Here we tour the plantation where we learn about the processes involved in cultivating, harvesting and roasting the coffee beans.
Day 3 BLD This morning we descend through the Braulio Carrillo forest, then through banana plantations, to a dock on the Caribbean coast (3hr). From here a 1½hr boat ride takes us along the waterways of the flooded forest into Tortuguero National Park. We stay 2 nights at cabin-style lodge, with a swimming pool and gardens.
Day 4 BLD A full day at Tortuguero. We explore the smaller channels of the flooded forest by boat for wildlife viewing with the lodge’s naturalist guide. We hope to see three-toed sloths, large iridescent blue morpho butterflies, howler monkeys, capuchin and spider monkeys, toucans, poison dart frogs and the ‘Jesus Christ’ or Basilisk lizard.
Day 5 BL After breakfast we return by boat and then 2hr by road to Sarapiquí to stay 2 nights. The afternoon is free to enjoy the lodge’s facilities, relax by the pool or in the gardens, walk or birdwatch.
Day 6 BL Today we visit nearby OTS La Selva Biological Station, one of the world’s most important centres for research into tropical rainforest. One of La Selva’s bilingual naturalists joins us for a guided walk and provides an overview of their research, education and conservation programmes. Showy birds such as toucans, parrots, trogons, and hummingbirds, and mammals such as monkeys, peccaries, agoutis, and coatis, are seen frequently. We return in the afternoon with time for activities around the lodge.
Day 7 BD This morning we drive to La Fortuna near Arenal Volcano (2½hrs). After some free time in the afternoon we visit Ecothermales Hot Springs, heated by the volcano, for some open air bathing where we also have dinner. This evening we stay at a mid-range lodge outside La Fortuna with good views of the volcano (Currently no red lava can be seen from the Volcano).
Rincón de la Vieja
Day 8 BLD Rounding the northern shore of Lake Arenal, we drive north on the Pan American Highway to the tropical dry forest of the northern highlands, below the volcanic peaks of Rincon de la Vieja (1,816m) and Santa Maria (1,916m) where we stay at an activities lodge for the night. In the afternoon we walk in Rincón de la Vieja National Park through dry forest to see hot springs, mud pots and sulphurous vents spawned by the volcanic activity underground.
Day 9 B Today we make the 3½hr drive to Monteverde. The scenery en route is reminiscent of the low Alps and dairy farming is a main occupation. We stay 2 nights at mid-range hotel not far from the Monteverde Reserve.
Day 10 B Early this morning we take a guided walk in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, home of the Resplendent Quetzal which is best seen January-May when the aguacadito, or little avocado tree, is fruiting. We visit a hummingbird gallery where a string of feeders are kept constantly replenished at the edge of the cloud forest to the delight of the local hummingbirds.
We then experience the cloud forest from the Sky Walk, a wonderful trail via a series of suspended walkways at canopy height giving a rare view of the orchids, bromeliads, mosses and lichens that weigh down every bough. The walkways are sturdily built with strong wire mesh from floor to the handrails, which are set high for security.
Carara & Central Pacific coast
Day 11 B We descend from the mountains to the Pacific coast to visit Carara Reserve, a transitional mix of ‘dry’ and ‘rain’ forest ecosystems. Mammals include monkeys, armadillos, agoutis and most of the large felines–though, of course, the latter rarely allow themselves to be seen. Birds include toucans, trogons, guans, and macaws. If the tide is high we visit the mouth of the Río Tárcoles to see the mangroves and watch sea and water birds such as boatbilled heron and black-necked stilt, stopping at a bridge over a spot favoured by crocodiles and alligators. Here at dusk we may also witness the wonderful sight of scarlet macaw returning from their forest feeding grounds to their roosts in the mangroves (particularly reliable between January and March). We then stay for 2 nights at a mid-range hotel situated on the beach.
Day 12 B This morning we walk into Manuel Antonio NP for some of the most beautiful scenery in Costa Rica along a series of headlands including Cathedral Point, a classic tombolo or island connected to the land by a sand spit. Breakers wash up to a rainforest teeming with wildlife–monkeys, coatimundi, racoons, sloths, iguanas, toucans and parrots. There are sparkling white sand beaches (the nearest is 1km from the entrance), coral reefs and forest hiking trails. Afternoon free–either to remain in the national park or return to the hotel to enjoy the pool.
Day 13 BLThis morning we visit Else Kientzler Garden and the folk art of Sarchí, on our way back to San José for our final night in Costa Rica.
Day 14 B You will be transferred to the airport for your chosen international flight home: most depart in the morning. Optional add-ons can be arranged, e.g. to the Osa Peninsula or to your choice of beach hotel.