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WUC

Discover Costa Rica

15 days
from
$5,649 $5,249
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Activity level:
Leisurely
Activity Level: Leisurely
Trip code: 
WUC
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Activity:
Wildlife Holidays
Group size:
5–16
Ages:
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 Caribbean 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
  • Wonderful naturalist guides who will share their love of Costa Rica with you!
  • 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 October
  • Countries visited: Costa Rica

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
Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for private group trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips which 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Itinerary

San Jose
to
San Jose
  • Day 1

    Start 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 is the perfect opportunity to meet your guide and get to know your fellow travellers.

    Accommodation: Presidente Hotel (or similar)

  • 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 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+ 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 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 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: 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 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 in one of the natural pools punctuating the foliage to cool off! 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 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 Ficus Hotel (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 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 Ficus Hotel (or similar)

    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 Espadilla Hotel (or similar)

    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 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 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)

    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 pool.

    Accommodation: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge (or similar)

    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 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 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 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 that you can discover the tropical cloud forest and sub-Andean vegetation of the area. 

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

    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 where some 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)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 15

    End 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
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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 1980's and has steadily grown its reputation as one of Costa Rica's best beach destinations. Located in Guanacaste Province, known for its 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. Its big draw is the 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 and not to be missed! There are plenty of excursions that can be organised locally if you want to discover the surrounding 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 hand-picked 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! 

ACCOMMODATION:

Please note that rates shown below are per room (not per person) and all hotels include breakfast 

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. Prices from £245 per room per night for a Superior Room.   

Cala Luna Boutique Hotel: This luxurious hotel is nestled in native trees and lush vegetation, just a short walk from the beach of Playa Langosta which is around the headland from Tamarindo's main beach. Consistently rated as one of the Top 10 hotels in Costa Rica by Trip Advisor! Elegant accommodation and surroundings with every need catered for, this is pure R&R. Prices from £225 per room per night for a Deluxe Room. 

Tamarindo Diria Hotel: Located right in the middle of the beach, this is one of Tamarindo's original hotels 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 located away from the beachfront. Prices from £145 per room per night for a Standard Room / Tropicana Poolview.  

Wyndham Esplendor Hotel: One of the best infinity pools we've seen with extensive views across Tamarindo bay, thanks to it's 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. Prices from £140 per room per night for an Ocean View Room.  

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 500 metres to the beach. Prices from £100 per room per night for a Bungalow Room. 

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 located a short 5 minute walk to the beach. There are some great restaurants and shops nearby. Prices from £90 per room per night for a Standard Room or £95 per room per night for a Deluxe Room.  

How to reach Tamarindo?

There are three options to reach Tamarindo from San Jose, 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 Jose at 7:15am or 2:30pm. From Tamarindo the departure times back to San Jose are usually 8am or 2pm. The journey takes approximately 4-5 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. Prices from £45 per person, each way. 

Private transfer: If you would prefer to travel in your own vehicle (seating up to 6 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 4 hours. Prices from £280 for a private transfer seating up to 6 people, each way. 

Flight: Perfect if you are short of time, you can take an internal flight from San Jose to Tamarindo Airstrip. During high season (Dec-Apr) there are usually 4 flights during the day in each direction. Outside of high season there are usually 2 flights in each direction. Flights usually take under 1 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, 114cm). Prices from £170 per person, one way.

There is also the option to arrange your return flights from Liberia airport, around 1 hour 30 minutes 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 3 nights. Please speak to your Sales Consultant for more details, to check hotel availability or to make a reservation. You may need additional hotel nights in San Jose 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. 

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 here for more information. The same applies to travel via Canada which also requires an Electronic Travel Authority. If you are not a UK citizen please check with your local U.S. Embassy. 

Vaccinations

Costa Rica

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. 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, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

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! 

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

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 you will have a free day to enjoy the many optional excursions of the region.

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. Please check the dates and prices for more details. 

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as not suitable for full wheelchair users, but it may be suitable for other persons of reduced mobility. Please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for private group trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and Eco-Lodges

14 nights spent in hotels and eco-lodges, all with en suite facilities and most with swimming pools.

Accommodation has been chosen for its location: typically wooden lodges set in tropical gardens or eco-lodges tucked away in the heart of the rainforest. We aim to use family run establishments as much as possible. Our list of preferred hotels is below: 

In San Jose we normally use the comfortable, modern Presidente Hotel which has been chosen with easy access to downtown areas of the city. On some departure dates in 2022 we'll use the Park Inn.

In Tortuguero, Laguna Lodge combines a number of wooden lodges surrounded by beautifully kept gardens where wildlife often roams freely (look out for sloths and monkeys here!) - please note there are celing fans but no air-conditioning at this property.

Arenal Montechiari Hotel is located within a 10 minute walk of La Fortuna town. Each chalet bungalow is set amidst the tropical gardens where hummingbirds like to gather, and there are wonderful views of the Arenal Volcano. We also use Arenal Paraiso and Arenal Manoa on some departures, both of which are further from town but have great facilities including hot springs and volcano views.

In the cloud-forest we usually use the Monteverde Cloud Forest Lodge, a comfortable property elevated to have a panoramic view across the forest from the main restaurant area. Rooms are cosy with duvets for the change in climate you'll notice here. Occasionally we stay at Ficus Hotel instead. 

In Manuel Antonio we usually stay at Villa Bosque Hotel due to its close proximity to the entrance of the National Park which enables easier access to and from the park. Sometimes we stay at the neighbouring Espadilla Hotel instead.

The highlight of this trip will no doubt be your stay at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, a 100% carbon neutral property within Piedras Blancas National Park — wake up surrounded by the sound of birds! This is a unique and simple property, with ceiling fans rather than air-conditioning due to its location in the heart of the forest. 

Our final accommodation is Savegre Hotel, located in an ideal position within the Savegre Valley this lodge has plant-filled gardens, multiple walking trails to use and cosy wooden lodges.  

Please note that one or several of the named properties might be substituted for similar alternatives in order to secure hotel availablity. Please discuss with your Customer Operations Executive if you require more details regarding your specific departure date. 

Optional single supplement available, please see Dates & Prices.

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for private group trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for private group trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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  • Reviewed April 2022

    Costa Rica Exploration - Forests & Wildlife

    Had a fabulous time on this trip in March 2022. The itinerary means that you cover a wide area of Costa Rica from the comfort of your small coach with likeminded travellers. Johnny was a great guide - very experienced at knowing what to say when with a smile and good humour. Chico was our safe driver with a cheeky smile. The accommodation was good and varied but mainly lodges situated right where the forest and wildlife were. I would say that this would suit as an introduction to the varying eco systems in Costa Rica as the tour takes you from Caribbean to Pacific coasts and with rainforests, cloud forests, beaches, volcanoes and lagoons . Wildlife sightings included sloths, hummingbirds, toucans, scarlet macaws (and numerous other birds), caiman, iguanas, monkeys . tree frogs etc. Some were hidden in the greenery of the forest and others were visible and I got some good photos - it is not so easy to take photos than, say, African safari. Lodge employees were friendly and the food, when included, was delicious. There was some opportunities to eat in local restaurants as well. There are a lot of early starts but it was also dark early so the itinerary made the most of the daylight hours.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a sloth moving (slowly of course) through the trees was a sight to behold. Also, red eyed tree frogs - both so iconic for Costa Rica.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny was a great group leader - with 27 years experience of leading tours. He shared his knowledge and knew exactly when the group needed information - size of lodges we would be visiting, what we were doing the next day, when the next rest stop would be etc. etc.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some early starts. Weather in March (although dry season) did include both hot and wet days - bring clothing for both. Take insect repellent - although not a malaria zone there were insects aplenty! Be ready with your camera to capture those fleeting glimpses of wildlife - practice bird shots so that you can get photos of those fast moving hummingbirds! The Pacific ocean was like a warm bath to swim in.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Costa Rica is a wonderful country and I am very glad that I visited it - with Exodus travels.
  • Reviewed April 2022

    Discover Costa Rica - an unforgettable trip!

    From meeting our guide, Andres, and our excellent driver, Victor, we had an unforgettable two weeks visiting different regions of Costa Rica. It is not just the sights but also the sounds that make Costa Rica such a special destination - it's so green and the wildlife is so colourful. We were delighted to see so many different species and we really appreciated Andres’ willingness to share his knowledge with us. The accommodation was very good and it worked well spending 2 nights in each of the different locations. Our group of 16 got on well and we helped each other to spot birds etc. The food was very good - portion sizes are very generous but you can ask for a half portion. This was a special holiday and it didn't disappoint.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I'll never forget Tortuguero - all the birds and animals that we saw on the boat trip to the island, the montezuma oropendola building their nests, the toucans visiting their nest, the tree frogs, the leafcutter ants, standing on the beach where the turtles lay their eggs (though not in March) - the variety of humming birds, and seeing a pair of quetzals checking up on their nest at Savegre. I also enjoyed paddling in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I will be nominating Andres for the Exodus tour leader award. He is SO knowledgeable about Costa Rica and was always happy to answer our (numerous) questions. He was very patient, always professional, and took excellent care of the group, making sure we knew where we were going and what to expect. On the day of our departure, when our fight was delayed by 24 hours, I was particularly impressed that he made contact with British Airways staff and made sure we were in good hands before taking his leave (much later than planned).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1. Read the other reviews - I found them really helpful. 2. If you pack light, you can expect to use the laundry service and/or got into the habit of washing clothes as soon as you arrive at the new destination. I sometimes wore 3 different tops in a day due to the humidity. I'm glad I bought quick drying clothes in the Rohan sale! 3. Bring a camera with a good zoom lens and a good pair of binoculars or a monocular. I have enjoyed looking at the short videos that I took which capture the sounds as well as the sights. 4. You might want to bring earplugs if you're a light sleeper - the frogs are quite loud at night.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    When eating out, you can expect prices to be similar to the UK.
  • Reviewed April 2022

    Fantastic!

    Just completed a fantastic two-weeks traveling around the wonderful country of Costa Rica. This was primarily a wildlife viewing holiday, and it certainly didn't disappoint - sloths, caiman, crocodiles, monkeys, lizards, iguanas and of course birds. Many different types of heron and flycatchers, plus tanagers, honey creepers, toucans, mot mots, macaws, humming birds - the list is long! We even saw and photographed the elusive but absolutely Resplendent Quetzal! Overall, yet another fantastic Exodus trip!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to say! Probably seeing the Resplendent Quetzal at Savegre, but the sloths and Capuchin monkeys at Manuel Antonio were highlights too, as well as all the varied wildlife at Tortuguero. The Esquinas Rainforest Lodge was absolutely delightful. It was great to visit the different types of habitats - coastal rainforest, dry forest and cloud forest - and the various hotels and lodges that we stayed at were all great.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide Alejandro did a brilliant job, not least stepping in at minimal notice when our original (and also great) guide unfortunately got sick. He had just come off two back-to-back tours, but quickly got up to speed with all the arrangements, and was really informative as well as being great at spotting wildlife. Our driver, Chico, was first-class and also helped with the wildlife spotting on the way.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a good pair of binoculars, and if you plan to photograph the wildlife take a good camera with a long lens! If you can, arrive a couple of days early to get over the jet-lag before starting this fairly full-on trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just one small disappointment - at times the group was too big for really effective wildlife watching; it would be great if options could be given to go off in smaller groups with additional guides. Overall though, yet another fantastic Exodus trip!
  • Reviewed March 2022

    What an amazing adventure!

    From the moment we met our local guide, Pedro Benavides and our excellent driver, Gabriel, we had the most wonderful two weeks visiting many different regions of Costa Rica. From the pounding surf of the Caribbean to the stillness of the lush forests and then from the heat of the Pacific coast to the cool air of the cloud forests and Paramo region at the top of the Continental Divide every National Park we visited had its own character. We were somewhat disappointed at the lack of birdlife visible (or heard) on many of the forest trails, but overall we saw an amazing variety of species and with sloths, iguanas, monkeys and crocodiles adding to the wildlife sightings it was truly magnificent. Accommodation was great - the various wooden lodges varied in character but all provided comfortable beds and in the more remote locations, which were all-inclusive, the food was excellent. The Hotel Presidente in San José for the first and last nights was very comfortable and its central location made it ideal for shopping, interesting museums and visiting the National Theatre and Metropolitan Cathedral. Our group of 14 travellers gelled together easily despite a wide age range and the overall verdict was that this was a trip which could be highly recommended. Thank you, Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The optional boat excursion on the Rio Tárcoles - Jungle Crocodile Safari - was a highlight for us all. So many birds and other creatures to see at fairly close quarters during the short boat trip - amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pedro was very good. He organised the days very well and without any fuss, giving us options where appropriate and on the whole making it clear to everyone what time and where to meet etc etc. He was quite skilled at finding wildlife for us and knowledgeable about the various species of birds we saw. He had a good command of English and a wonderful sense of humour. He was very proud to tell us about Costa Rica itself and good at pointing out things to see on our journeys. Our driver Gabriel was also good at spotting wildlife and where he could do so safely he would park the coach so we could all disembark for a closer look.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of insect repellant, antihistamines if you are liable to be bitten and lots of cool clothes but also warmer layers for the mountains. Be prepared to live out of your suitcase for 2 weeks. And where it's most humid be prepared for swimsuits taking a long time to dry.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would recommend this trip highly. Although described as 'Leisurely' it was quite tiring. Pedro offered 6am wildlife walks most days and with other planned and optional activities there wasn't much time for rest - other than during coach transfers - as long as you didn't mind missing the scenery. It was a case of 'early to bed and early to rise' almost every day to make the most of all the opportunities on offer.
  • Reviewed March 2022

    A pleasant break from winter

    This is a leisurely trip as stated with plenty of downtime. That said, expect breakfast at 7am most days. Most of the hotels are very good. Travelling in February, it provided a pleasant break from the British winter with the added interest of unusual animals and birds.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The highlights were wildlife spotting in Tortuguero, Manuel Antonio and seeing a Quetzal (at Savegre).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The leader was able to keep the group together and provided clear information. His eyesight was amazing: he could spot wildlife that I would never have seen without it being pointed out. He also new the names of all the birds and much of the flora.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There is little need to carry much money in Colons: US dollars are acceptable in most tourist places. In addition most places take credit cards which is the best way to pay provided your card doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee. None of my credit card payments had a handling fee as suggested in the trip notes. If a mid-week departure isn't a problem, then trips departing on a Thursday avoid being at Manuel Antonio at the weekend when it is claimed to be busy. Don't bother with the night hike: there are far too many people too close to roads to see anything interesting.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you want good photos of wildlife then take a camera with the longest focal length lens that you can find. Costa Rica is a more developed country than I expected and although it has a lot of national parks, it isn't that "eco". It is interesting that they are planting new areas of forest and trying to create wildlife corridors to join up existing national parks.
  • Reviewed March 2022

    Costa Rica

    This was a retirement present to myself and was certainly worth the two year wait. A great group of people, diverse locations, amazing wildlife, all brought together by our amazing guide ,Andreas.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having the courage to Zipline through the rainforest and experience the Tarzan swing. A very memorable activity with a group of equally terrified group members. An experience not to be missed. The guides are patient and take great care with your safety. Would thoroughly recommend.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andreas was a charming and knowledgeable guide. He made great efforts to ensure we knew what was happening every day and always had our safety in mind. Without his expertise we would have missed much of the wildlife(he had eyes like a hawk!) He personally went the extra mile helping me to exchange old currency that was obsolete. He made sure we had time by ourselves if we wished and also made sure that nobody felt left out. A very capable and passionate leader. It was his discreet organisation that ensured the trip ran so smoothly. Thanks

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack light, take plenty of repellent. I found a mixture of colons, dollars and cards proved useful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I originally thought that this holiday was expensive but have now decided it was great value with the benefits of a constant guide, much of the food included, good transport and entrance fees covered. Already saving for the next one!
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Amazing Costa Rica

    I thought this was a great trip and I was very fortunate to end up travelling with a fabulous, like minded group of people. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and the itinerary is well designed to fit in lots of places but without feeling rushed as you get to stay everywhere for two nights. It did not feel as intense and tiring as some trips I have done as there is ample chance to chill out on the verandas of the lodges or by the pool with a book or just watching the wildlife. It is very focused on the nature, scenery and wildlife side of the country, in particular birds, so be prepared for that. There is a chance to do a few other things such as the hot springs and zip lining which are well worth it. I thought all of the accommodation was excellent. Although they varied in terms of facilities everywhere was clean, comfortable and friendly, in excellent locations, with beautiful grounds and with good food (food especially good in Savegre) and most had pools which was an added bonus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were quite a few amazing moments and the whole country is just a joy to explore. I was desperate to see a sloth and we managed to see a few but seeing my first one by the pool in Tortuguero on day one was a definite highlight. I also loved the boat trips we did. We also saw an Armadillo and porcupine here as well which are apparently quite rare to spot so that was very exciting as was seeing a troupe of monkeys jumping from the trees across the river on the boat trip. In terms of the optional trips I really enjoyed the hot springs in La Fortuna as well as the zip lining and canopy walk in Monteverde and would definitely recommend doing these.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alex Castro is a brilliant tour leader. He has an infectious enthusiasm and love for his country and a seemingly endless wealth of knowledge regarding all the animals, birds and plants. Quite how he could identify birds at such a great distance when all I can see at best is a blob without my binoculars will forever be a mystery! He was always charming and polite with a great sense of humour and had endless patience with us when we were asking for the twentieth time what a certain bird was or getting excited about an 'animal' that turned out to be just a lump of moss or leaves! Also, I have to mention the best bus driver in Costa Rica - Mario. A lovely, friendly guy who navigated the winding and sometimes bumpy Costa Rican roads brilliantly and safely, and who was always happy to try and help me with my awful Spanish!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is not necessary to take colones. You can get by easily with American dollars. Be warned that Costa Rica is at least as expensive as the UK if not slightly more so. Both Monteverde and Savegre can be on the cool side so make sure you have some layers. Take binoculars as you need them to spot all the birds and animals. I wondered before I went if I should have booked to stay in San Jose for longer however having done the trip I don't feel it is necessary. We had a few hours on the last day so got to do a quick tour of the city centre and then the gold museum which is very good and then as the flight was not until the afternoon the next day I was able to do the 9am tour of the National Theatre which I would highly recommend.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go. I am worried with the increasing number of people travelling to Costa Rica it may get too over commercialised soon so go before it is too late!
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Jean Smith

    A ‘must do’ for the ‘bucket list’!

    An excellent trip with Edward our leader, Felix our driver and Primo the very best boatman in Tortuguero. Our 2 days in Tortuguero were a highlight with the boat trips and we were very lucky with the weather. You definitely need plenty of thin cotton clothes - nothing dries in the humidity and layers for the cooler areas. We felt well prepared having read the trip notes and the recent reviews. Plenty of bug spray, umbrella, waterproof or poncho and a good hat. Excellent food especially the fruit and fish and accommodation better than we had expected. The spa at the last hotel was an unexpected bonus - well worth having a massage and jacuzzi after a busy holiday! We enjoyed the happy hours to sample local cocktails (some more than others!). Our group of 16 was an eclectic mix who got on extremely well, always ready for a laugh and a challenge and got on really well.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    5.30 am boat trip down the water channels at Tortuguero looking for wildlife - superb!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Edward was very professional, personable and smart both in appearance and knowledge. He was flexible, wanting to meet the whole group’s individual needs and good fun. He was always willing to organise extra things for us to give us the best experience of his beloved country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes and recent reviews and make sure you have a good camera, binoculars, umbrella, waterproof or poncho and a good hat.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Julie O'Donnell

    Discover the whole country

    I booked the trip as I expected to be surrounded by wildlife, it wasn't the case.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The second day in the river boat. One of the trips out we saw possible 70% of all the wildlife we saw during the whole two weeks. I witnessed a few (about 10) sea turtle hatchlings make their way into the sea, this was the highlight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader (Ed) was brilliant, knowledgeable, funny and went out of his way to ensure we all had a great time. He did everything he could to find the wildlife we all were desperate to see.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be under the impression that you will be surrounded and see wildlife other than birds. Yes you will see mammals, reptiles, insects etc., but the majority of the time.... birds.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It would have been so much better to have stayed in the river and rainforest areas longer. The last two days were a total waste of time in the grubby city and we were moved from place to place far to often, having to leave some beautiful places! This was no failing of the guide but the schedule.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Charmaine Cook

    Brilliant trip around an Amazing country

    A trip that transports you from different areas in beautiful Costa Rica. Six different ecosystems visited but the travel between destinations was only half a day and spending 2 nights at each place meant we had plenty of time to explore. My trip was bird watching lead guide. So every morning had an optional early start to go out and look for birds. Some of the people on the trip were not that sure at the beginning but by the end of the trip, they were keen about what we saw and more knowledgable. Frankly I was in phographers heaven!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hummingbirds galore - the speedy devils were a challenge to photograph but I managed some cracking shots that I was pleased with. I was not expecting to see any turtles at Tortuguero so watching the hatching turtles scurry down to the sea was special. Maybe the premise of a new beginning was why it was magical - we all were blown away by that. Personally I just loved the quiet time I had in Santa Elena Cloud Reserve standing in the rain, being harassed by a hummingbird and looking at the beauty of nature surrounding me.It was the sheer variety of plants, flowers and birds on our trip that allowed me to just enjoy nature and relax.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andres was a master of bird identification- he just listened, watched and studied to show us an impressive array of birds on this trip - 230 or so. He was thoughtful and made sure he knew why we were doing this trip - ensuring that why we were here was covered. His patience was unlimited and he had information with quick wit and a smile all the time. Our driver, Alexandros was a laugh, an amazing driver who kept us safe, brilliant evasive control when needed and was always keeping the bus immaculately clean.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go. Costa Rica is beaches, rainforest, towns, cloudforest, canals and very friendly people. I took colones and US dollars as purchased at home but US dollars was regularly accepted and change given as colones. Take a good lens and plenty of memory space - I took over 8000 photos. As a vegetarian, usually easily catered for in our hotels or when we ate out. Tropical fruit, good quality food everywhere - not gourmet but tasty. If you are wanting partying, late nights and cities - this trip is not for you. If you want open area dining with the local animals watching you eat, marvelling at the beautiful nature and early nights/ possibly early mornings - then this is more your trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Costa Rica is a country that is a leader in the way of eco tourism. They also as a nation are very environmentally aware so it makes you realise that supporting the country is supporting the environment too.

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