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Discover Costa Rica

15 days
from
$4,725 NZD
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Traveller ratings
4.8 / 5 from 220 reviews >
Leisurely
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Trip code: 
WUC
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Wildlife Holidays
Group size:
5–16
Min age:
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

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:
0800 643 997
Call for tailormade trips:
0800 643 997
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.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

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)
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    To Tortuguero N.P.

    Our adventure begins early this morning, leaving San Jose behind as we travel to the north-east of Costa Rica to Tortuguero National Park. Accessible only by boat or light aircraft, Tortuguero's vast network of waterways, canals and swamps is remarkably tranquil, unspoilt and devoid of noise pollution. On reaching the pier we board a small motorboat for the one hour fifteen minute journey to our lodge, which is nestled on a small strip of land between the Caribbean Sea and the main lagoon. Our afternoon is spent in Tortuguero village, where it’s possible to visit the Sea Turtle Museum (a donation will be requested at the entrance). Tortuguero is probably most famous as a nesting site for the endangered Green turtle, which can be seen arriving onto the beach to lay eggs from late July to October (as part of an optional excursion). Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Giant Leatherback turtles also nest in this region, and during November to January baby turtles start to hatch and make their way towards the ocean. Today's travel time will be in the region of six hours including a break for breakfast.

    Accommodation: Laguna Lodge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Boat tour around Tortuguero waterways.

    An early morning boat trip enables us to discover the extraordinary flora and fauna of Tortuguero, passing serenely along the waterways. At this time of day wildlife is usually at its most active, and with the help of our expert guide we are likely to encounter monkeys, caiman, iguanas, butterflies and many of the 300+ bird species recorded here. We return to the lodge for a hearty breakfast by the river. 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)
    Comfortable Hotel

    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 similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    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 similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    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 similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    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 similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    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 similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    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 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 today will be at leisure to enjoy the many optional excursions of the region.

    Accommodation: Villa Bosque Hotel (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    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)
    Comfortable Hotel

    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 stream-fed pool.

    Accommodation: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    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)
    Comfortable Hotel

    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)
    Comfortable Hotel

    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)
    Comfortable Hotel

    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.

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. 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. 

If you have travelled to a country at risk of Yellow Fever prior to arriving in Costa Rica you will be expected to have a valid Yellow Fever Certificate with you.  

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 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. 

Call for general departures:
0800 643 997
Call for tailormade trips:
0800 643 997
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.

We use fairly small, family run establishments: wooden lodges set in tropical gardens or eco-lodges nestled in the rainforest. The highlight of this trip will no doubt be our stay at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, a 100% carbon neutral property within Piedras Blancas National Park —  wake up surrounded by the sound of birds!

Optional single supplement available, please see Dates & Prices.

Call for general departures:
0800 643 997
Call for tailormade trips:
0800 643 997
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:
0800 643 997
Call for tailormade trips:
0800 643 997
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.

Expert Blog Entries

Paul Goldstein is one of very few people that has spent time with all five of the BBC's ‘Dynasty’ luminaries.

Here at Exodus we are incredibly passionate about wildlife and the conservation efforts to save it.

  • Reviewed February 2019
    John Forrest

    Discover Costa Rica

    The title does not reflect how 'bird' focus sed the trip would be. We saw 120 different bird breeds and only a handful of mammals, these latter predominantly in the grounds of the lodges we stayed in! That is a minor quibble, trip was well led, mostly comfortable (the roads/tracks left a little to be desired) and overall most enjoyable. Eric our guide was excellent on spotting birds, reptiles and near invisible mammals but uninformed and uninterested in plants.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The close up presence of hummingbirds (again, in the lodge gardens!).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent except for the plant quibble above. He filled our 'rest' day with well led activities including the wonderful viewing of Quetzals.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    No. We experienced perfect weather but other friends have either frozen or boiled. Be prepared for all eventualities and expect lots of very early rising to see wild life.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Robert Beasley

    Costa Rica

    To call this an adventure is a misnomer it was just a trip followed by hundreds of groups following a well established route. Far to comfortable no sense of the unknown or unexpected. Perhaps as a 75 year old I am harping back to the days of Penn Overland. The majority of Exodus trips now seem to be aimed at the middle aged and upwards who have no idea of true adventure and are not prepared to endure a bit of discomfort. I think once again I am 30 years to late. As far as this trip is concerned avoid Manuel Antonio NP, its surroundings are just like Blackpool. How can you go a so called jungle nature walk when you meet people in swimming costumes on the same route, just ridiculous. What's wrong with Carara NP instead. Luckily I was in Costa Rica for some additional time and visited this NP, also a few volcanoes which seemed to be avoided on the trip itinerary.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The realisation that perhaps I should seek destinations more remote, to day getting more and more difficult.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Exceptional, his enthusiasm was infectious.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do as much research as possible
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Maggie Godfrey

    Diversity, diversity, diversity

    This was the most inspirational trip and I can't speak highly enough of the country, its wildlife and its people. This trip ensured that we spent time in a variety of ecosystems that were all so diverse and each had so much to offer. Our brilliant guide Johnny made sure that we had every opportunity to maximise our time each day to experience as much as we could in every location. Our focus was birdwatching and we saw the most splendid variety of beautifully coloured birds of all types, including the quetzal, as well as many other animals including sloths, monkeys, crocodiles, coatis, agouti, iguanas, snakes , frogs and so on. The accommodation , mainly in lodges, was fabulous . It was always well located and often in lovely grounds and gardens with many opportunities for seeing wildlife before we even set out on our daily itinerary. We were also with a great group of people which made the trip all the more special.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a 3 toed sloth at close quarters in Tortuguero National Park but there were so many other experiences that I will saviour such as the hot springs at Arenal, the hanging bridges at Monteverde, the wonderful environment of Esquinas Lodge, the sound of frogs at night, the multitude of hummingbirds especially at Sevegre and the general beauty of the countryside wherever we went.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny was just brilliant. I think he must know every bird in Costa Rica by sight and sound and made sure we had every opportunity to see as wide a range as possible. But his knowledge does not stop there - his knowledge of all the wildlife, the different environments and the country in general is encyclopaedic and he is so keen to share it with you. He never seemed to stop working and took us out on many additional walks early in the morning and late at night . He was so well organised, could not do enough to meet our every need and had a lovely personality and sense of humour so that we felt at ease with him from the very beginning. It is no wonder that he won tour guide of the year in 2017.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go for it - it is a trip you will never forget.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Make sure you go prepared for all temperatures as it gets quite cool in the cloud forest and very hot and humid in other locations. Good walking shoes and closed toe sandals are advisable.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Maggie Eaton

    Bird watching in Costa Rica

    If you want a relaxed birdwatching trip to Costa Rica this is the one.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is hard to pick one highlight from this trip as there are so many. Lots of wonderful birds..........macaws. toucans, resplendent queztal,not to mention good views of sloths and snakes. The forests are fabulous.In San Jose the National theatre is a must.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny,our leader, and Olmond our driver, were both excellent.Johnny has a fantastic knowledge of all aspects of Costa Rica.He is a tenacious bird watcher as well as an attentive leader.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Eve Doyle

    A Wonderful Experience

    This was a varied and interesting trip. We had various wildlife encounters. We had an excellent group with a magical guide. I loved it. It was great to enjoy some lovely weather and stunning scenery in January!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking on the high bridges at Monteverde. The weather was perfect and the scenery stunning

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Edward was brilliant. He was so knowledgeable and passionate about the wildlife we saw. He was also interesting, amusing and kind. I cannot recommend him too highly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't spend the whole time trying to take pictures of the wildlife, just enjoy the experience!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The bus had two seats over wheel arches which were uncomfortable on long journeys. Apart from that the trip was magical!
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Ivan Pinto

    Beauty and the Beasties

    Ever wonder what people mean when they harp on about microclimates, well just visit Costa Rica and experience it for yourself. From tropical coastlines to dry forests to rain forests and cloud forests, Costa Rica seems to have it all. The variety of climates gives rise to a diverse range of plant life which it turn supports a wide variety of beasties. Drives between locations were a pleasure as the scenery was so beautiful. Gardens whether local or at the lodges we stayed in were extraordinary in the variety of flowering plants and wildlife. You do not even need to leave the lodge premises to experience the wildlife. We saw sloth, iguana, coati, agouti, monkeys, armadillo, frogs, toads, lizards, bats, toucans, motmot, hummingbirds, quetzal and zillions of other colourful birds all in the gardens of lodges/hotel we stayed in. It was wonderful to go to sleep with the sound of nature as a backdrop. We were fortunate to have good weather throughout (apart from one morning) so were able to enjoy the included walks fully as well as some additional walks our excellent guide Gio kindly added for those who wanted to go. Good closed shoes with 'grippy' soles are recommended. It was hot and humid throughout (apart from evenings/early mornings in the mountains) and the pace of the walks was easy to suit the conditions. Many of the lodges have their own marked trails for those who want to make the most of the locations. If you have any interest in wildlife, nature or stunning landscapes you would enjoy Costa Rica.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Tortuguero waterways and beach was beautiful as was the lodge we stayed at. The wildlife was just stunning, giant green male iguana in their bright orange breeding colours were a highlight as was our first sloth. But that doesn't do justice to the other wonderful locations and lodges visited as they were all of a very high standard and everywhere had it's own special moments, whether it was the hummingbird garden in Monteverde, the sloths at Manuel Antonio, the volcano and waterfall in Arenal, the moment a bird eating snake slid into then out of a birds nest in Esquinas lodge or spotting Quetzal at Savegre.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gio was a excellent leader who was very professional in his approach. He was very good at spotting and identifying the multitude of birds and animals we saw, while Juan-Jose (our ever smiling driver) was excellent as both driver and wildlife spotter. Gio went the extra mile in organising additional walks for those interested as well as arranging two excellent group meals on a couple of occasions when the evening meal was not included. He was happy to share with us the history of Costa Rica and it's peoples during the journeys and always ensured everyone was informed of the plans for the next day so that all activities went to plan.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If travelling from the UK, embrace the jet-lag! You will wake early which helps as there are many early starts. The early to bed, early to rise mantra works in this case as the lodge gardens are wonderful for wildlife so get out at first light (about 6am) and enjoy them to the full. The other benefit of not trying to overcoming the jet-lag is that you adjust quickly on returning home!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you have any interest in wildlife and/or botany or simply wonderful landscapes then this is a holiday you would enjoy. Add the high standard of accommodation in remote, 'away from it all' locations and it becomes unmissable!
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Julia Southall

    WIldlife Paradise

    An amazing holiday with lots of stunning wildlife and rich forest. Moving every 2 days so a lot of travel on gravel roads. Lovely lodges, good food and surprisingly civilised amenities even in the deepest rain forest. All about the wild environment. No nightlife. Great country. Group size was 11 which was very friendly and we had our own boats, bus and visits except for day 1. Suitable for singles. Climate changes are dramatic so carefull wardrobe planning needed.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was so much to enjoy. This truely is a Garden of Eden and it is humbling to be able to see all these creatures and the forests. The canals of Tortuguero where a boat takes you around the river estuaries/ canals are stunning. Swimming in the warm Pacific was gorgeous, getting up at dawn to see the reslendent quetzal less inticing. Night walks to see sloths, sleeping toocans, tree frogs, bats, green vipers curled on twigs, emerging cicada and Toasty the caiman gulping down fish, were fascinating. The birds were spectacular: scarlat macaws, humming birds and birds in every colour imaginable. There were many at hotels and restaurants eating bananas. The monkeys leaping across the canals and pathways were greeted with oohs and aahs as they leapt the gaps between trees. The white faced capucine looks so human. Boats and the bus stopped immediatley whenever a special creature appeared.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A brilliant man who knew how to find the wild creatures and had lots of knowledge about the flora and fauna. Unlike many trips, wildlife does not stand around so the holiday is much less predictable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need clothes for humid hot weather and cold mountains (but no frost), and a plastic cape is useful for downpours. I imagine that this is a very wet country in the rainy season. We choose the dry season but missed the turtle egg laying. Ask the guide to tell you what to wear and take each day. Some of the extra trips are expensive for what they are and there is enough to do without them. The night walk at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge was well worth it and the better one of two. Take closed toe walking shoes but walking boots would be rather hot. Take a travel towel for swiming in the National Parks. Do not leave bag unguarded at the beach. Monkies! The accommodation is in wooden lodges except for San Jose. They have wonderful gardens. Take your own plug for the sinks! Most have hair dryers. All have good showers. Wifi was good. Do not attempt to do any laundry in your room because it does not dry. Laundry at Esquinas is $15 for a sackful! San Jose is not worth any extra days. A tour of the Theatre was lovely and the National Museum taught us the history of the country. We had no trouble with mosquitos inside or outside in January but we did choose to wear long trousers and long sleeved shirts. The bus is air conditioned/heated, the driver was very good but many miles are on gravel roads and very bumpy. You move every 2 days so have to be organised. Early mornings meant early to bed for us and there was no nightlife, music or dancing. Take binoculars and good cameras. Your holiday snaps will wow your friends! My son who usually confines himself to the top 10 photos of my holiday, is insisting on 50 with an option for more this time! This trip is not for you if you would mind restaurants with no walls so that the wildlife comes in too: lizards on the walls, birds flying through, bats on the wall behind the bar. Always take a torch and watch where you are walking especially at night. Cases were delivered to rooms. Dollars are acceptable everywhere. Not USA coins.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was almost spirtual. Such an honour to see such wildlife. There is plenty to eat and if you are veggie/vegan there are times when the restarant needs to know in advance but most meals were buffets. Alcoholic drinks cost about the same as in Britain.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Lesley Galvanoni

    Excellent Trip

    Costa Rica was truly amazing, I hadn’t realised the diversity for such a small country. So much wildlife and beautiful scenery, I felt I didn’t want to miss a thing. Although I had travelled through Costa Rica before, this tour offered so much more, I still can’t believe how much we saw in just two weeks. Glenda our tour and driver Carlos were constantly on the lookout, making sure we didn’t miss anything.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The wildlife and beauty of the country. The amount and variety of the hummingbirds were for me a highlight, having plenty of opportunity to attempt to photograph them.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Glenda is a wonderful leader, one of the best. Not only as a wildlife spotter! The guide that spotted the quetzal first! She is kind, friendly and funny, sorting out problems and queries with ease. Her organisation and knowledge second to none. Glenda went out of her way to make the holiday special for everyone. I really appreciated the time to take photographs, Glenda never hurried us and we had plenty of time just to enjoy the beautiful country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to pack for all weather conditions. It can be quite cold at the high altitude locations.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you like wildlife and nature Costa Rica is a must. I stayed on a couple of days to see Poàs and Irazu volcanoes. Well worth if you have the time.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Vivienne and Michael Hodgins

    Wonderful trip to Costa Rica

    This was our 8th Exodus trip and one of the best. The tour leader was excellent..Giovanni Madrigal. He was very knowledgeable, professional in his approach and good fun especially as he had a great relationship with the driver, Juanjose who was also part of the team. Gio made it clear from the outset that this was a group holiday and group harmony was important. We were encouraged to rotate the seats on the bus so everyone got a chance to sit at the front. The group really got on well. There were many excellent group meals and we had a good mix between travel, group walks and downtime by the pool. The accommodation was very good....wooden lodges set in wonderful surroundings. We stayed for 2 nights in each place which was great. Much of the food was included so it wasn’t so expensive when we were there....most hotels had happy hours! We saw so many birds, mammals and reptiles. Gio knew where to look and had a scope so we could all see. There are additional trails we could walk on our own which we enjoyed. He knows his country and was keen to pass on his knowledge.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the quetzal, the scarlet macaws, the toucans, the monkeys,sloths, iguanas,snakes, crocodiles,caimans.......etcetcetc. So much to see everywhere we went. The fantastic Pacific beaches where you can swim...you can’t in the Caribbean where we were. The hot springs at La Fortuna The suspension bridges at Monteverde The waterways at Tortuguera Manuael Antonio Park Esquinas lodge and its surroundings The night walk

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Superb. My husband fell on gravel and had to go to the doctor to have stitches. Gio and Juan were great, taking him,staying with him etc after a long day. Gio was very patient and knew how to see birds and wildlife. He took us out some evenings in the bus to great restaurants. He ensured the trip ran according to plan....it was a very professional approach. He shared information on politics, history etc....not just wildlife. We felt very well prepared for the National Museum in San Jose.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take dollars or colones...both accepted everywhere. Take a hairdryer if you like to use one...a few lodges didn’t have them Take warm walking clothes and good rainwear...we only had rain one morning but it was wet! Closed in shoes....walking trainers are necessary .Godd walking sandals are useful. You don’t need walking boots or poles. You need a good camera and binoculars although the leaders have scopes. Swimming stuff...great pools especially the natural stream pool in Esquinas. We also swam in waterfalls and hot springs. Mosquito spray.. Light towels for Manuel Antonio and the waterfall. You don’t need to stay longer to see San Jose...you have enough time to see the few sights.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We went on the group flight...we often do land only so we can recover and see more of the city but this one was fine as we arrived early enough to relax and although the first morning is an early start ,the first 2days at Tortuguera are very relaxing so no real need to go early or stay on. If you do go to the Pacific...I could have stayed in the Manuel Antonio area for a week at the end! But I love the sea.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Paul Martinez

    Wonderful wildlife

    We had an excellent opportunity to sample Costa Rica's varied and unusual wildlife and habitats in a tour led by a knowledgeable and inspiring tour leader. The accommodation was well chosen and the itinerary carefully enabled us to experience the Caribbean and Pacific coasts as well as highlands and intermediate areas. Having such an excellent guide really did make a difference. I don't think we would have spotted half of the birds we saw without his keen eyes and ears!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing around 150 different bird species.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour was led by a knowledgeable and inspiring tour leader, Andres. He went out of his way to be helpful and provided additional opportunities to enhance our tour by visiting private gardens which were attractive to birds, and also by providing 4WD transport at the second Savegre lodge to save us what would have been a strenuous uphill walk , so that we could enjoy and spend more time on the descent through the cloud forest. He also gave up a couple of hours of his time to go through in detail the 170 or so species of birds we had seen on the tour. I don't think we would have spotted half of the birds we saw without his keen eyes and ears! He were well informed about each step of our tour and our guide was also very clear about options. Andres has great people skills as well and was responsive to the needs of different people in the group, including the organisation of an impromptu birthday celebration for one of our group members.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Good binoculars and a decent camera are a must.

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