Private Journeys

Costa Rica Wildlife Discovery

15 days from £5,170pp

(based on two people sharing & excluding flights)

Costa Rica


map marker Map

Day 1

Arrive in San José and transfer to your hotel.

You will be met at the airport by our local representative who will take you to your hotel in the capital.

Stay at - Presidente

Day 2

By air and river to Tortuguero Jungle Reserve.

Transfer to the airport. Today you’ll head off by air and boat to discover the Caribbean coast with a few days most rewarding wildlife-spotting. On arrival at the local airstrip, you take a 10min boat ride across the river to Tortuga Lodge. This popular and delightful eco-friendly property has large screened open-frame windows allowing the nocturnal symphony of the forest such as the roar of howler monkeys into your room.

Each also has a wide veranda with a hammock overlooking the river. There is an attractive pool area and adjacent hammock rancho.

This is true wilderness: it isn’t the Caribbean of resort hotels, sugary beaches and piña coladas.

Costa Rican Tourist Board ©

Stay at - Tortuga Lodge

Day 3

Wildlife spotting excursion and village visit in Tortuguero.

Set off on a wildlife adventure on a guided boat trip through the mangrove forest of Tortuguero National Park, now one of the last protected areas of tropical rainforest in Central America, with 11 different natural habitats and a huge range of endemic wildlife, much of which can be spotted as you glide through the water. There are 3 species of monkeys (Spider, Howler, and White-faced), Three-toed sloths, and River otters are often seen along the natural inland waterways and canals.

Caimans, iguanas, river turtles, lizards and poison-dart frogs inhabit the area, along with over 320 species of birds including 3 of toucan and 8 of parrot.

The park was originally intended to conserve a major nesting beach of the Atlantic green sea turtle and although less frequent these days you can see leatherbacks too . Visit the nearby turtle museum to gather some information about the nesting cycle of these ancient reptiles. In season, take a night-time walk along the moonlit beach, and search for turtles and their eggs. In season you will have the opportunity to request a private guided turtle observation expedition: if you travel between June and October you might be lucky enough to see them laying their eggs. ( Please ask one of our experts for details)

You’ll also have a guided tour of Tortuguero village including a visit to the Caribbean Conservation Corporation Museum. Flanked by rivers and waterways on one side and Caribbean beach on the other, this faraway village serves as a sleepy hub for visitors to the area, human and otherwise.

Costa Rican Tourist Board ©

Stay at - Tortuga Lodge

Day 4

At leisure.

The remaining time can be spent relaxing in your lodge or participating in some of the many activities available. Explore more of the jungle trails and waterways with a naturalist guide, or rent one of the kayaks and investigate the canals at your leisure; gliding silently through these waters you are likely to spot all kinds of wildlife on the banks.


Stay at - Tortuga Lodge

Day 5

Fly and drive to Arenal volcano area.

Fly to La Fortuna in a Cessna (or equivalent) light aircraft: a 30-minute airborne adventure where you skim over the countryside with volcano views. Land at a small airstrip and continue by road to your hotel.

At 1,674m, Arenal is an impressive conical volcano dominating the surroundings. These days, lava flow and volcanic eruptions are infrequent and there has not been any significant activity since 2010. However, as seismic activity is often unpredictable the situation may change by the time you travel. Even without any recent volcanic activity, the region is still considered to be one of the highlights of a visit to Costa Rica.

Your lodge is on the road between La Fortuna  and Arenal Lake, and is surrounded by dense tropical rainforest. There are two pools, a spa and a Jacuzzi.  The al fresco restaurant is nicely situated beside the pool.

There are many adventurous excursions offered from the lodge including hikes to waterfalls, kayaking, river rafting and horse riding.

iStock ©

Stay at - Volcano Lodge

Day 6

Guided wildlife spotting expedition.

A day trip in the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. This remote reserve near the Nicaraguan border is a lowland forested wetland set up to protect migratory birds. It has become renowned for opportunities to observe water-associated birds, especially during migrations.

You’ll be picked up by your bilingual guide and taken to the small town of Los Chiles to begin your nature cruise. It’s an enchanting 3hr boat trip up the Río Frío through the reserve to Caño Negro lake, a shallow overflow from the river in the wet season (it’s dry in March-April).  In the months of July-November the reserve acts as a wintering site for migrant American birds. During the dry season the water level steadily falls, until all that is left is the Río Frío’s main channel. Most birds make their appearance at this time. These include the Glossy ibis, Black-necked stilt, American widgeon, Northern shoveller, and Snail kite.

Along the shores of the river and in the trees that bend over its waters, you’ll be able to spot birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. There are Howler, Spider and White-faced monkeys, Three-toed sloths, caimans, turtles, bats and tropical flora.

ShutterStock ©

Stay at - Volcano Lodge

Day 7

Guided excursion to the Ecotermales hot springs.

In the afternoon there’s an excursion to the hot springs at Ecotermales. These waters provide a more off-the-beaten-track experience than their better-known and more overcrowded cousins. Set well back from the road that runs between the lake and the town of La Fortuna, the farm has only recently been opened to the general public. The springs, five free-flowing pools set in a natural river gorge, vary in temperature from 38ºC to 43ºC depending on the pool.


Stay at - Volcano Lodge

Day 8

Transfer to Bajos del Toro.

It’s a 3hr drive to Bajos del Toro in the cloud-forest below Poás volcano, to stay at Bosque de Paz Lodge close to Bosque de Paz Rainforest Reserve. It’s a privately-owned reserve with a spectacularly rich ecosystem because of its privileged location on the continental divide, with altitudes ranging from 1,450 to 2,450m.  It isn’t as well-known or visited as other reserves at this altitude, but is just as stunning, with waterfalls and trout pools, and is the habitat of a wide range of bird and orchid species. It’s only a 90min drive from San José, but feels very remote.

The small and friendly lodge embraces easy forest hiking trails and an orchid garden. You can see many hummingbirds flitting between the feeders scattered around the property.

ShutterStock ©

Day 9

Optional guided tour of a nature reserve.

The reserve is open only to prearranged visits. The number of visitors is limited so that environmental impact is kept at minimum levels, and visitors receive personal attention. The three main objectives here are: conservation, research and education. Most of the earnings are reinvested to purchase more forest to add to the privately protected area. You will have a guided tour of the trails in parts of the reserve from a local guide who can only be booked on site. During your visit, you will have the opportunity to pay a symbolic fee to plant a tree to help with the regeneration of the forest in areas that were once cleared.

Day 10

At leisure with optional jungle walks.

Morning guided bird watching tour. Rest of the day at leisure.

iStock ©

Day 11

Transfer to airstrip and fly to the Pacific coast’s Osa Peninsula, transfer to lodge.

Transfer to the airport and fly to Palmar Sur on the Osa Peninsula. Wildlife reserves have been established throughout this lush region, notably Corcovado National Park, with magnificent biodiversity, sheltering rare species of mammals including the Central American Squirrel monkey, White-faced capuchin, ocelots and tapirs. Caimans and crocodiles lurk watchful in the dark lagoons. The reserve is absolutely brimming with wildlife, and the diversity of flora is equally mind-boggling. You’re bound to see loads of birds, animals and exotic flowering plants.

You will be met at the airport and driven along a paved road to Sierpe, (30mins). Here, embark on a 90min motor-launch ride through forest canals and mangroves. The area has 13 separate ecosystems with almost 100 kinds of tree, over 350 species of bird, and a healthy population of Scarlet macaws, tapirs and jaguars. Aguila de Osa Resort is located overlooking Drake Bay, a perfect base for a visit to Corcovado National Park.

iStock ©

Stay at - Aguila de Osa

Day 12

Snorkelling expedition; whale and dolphin watching in season.

You’ll take a short boat ride to the Coral Garden – a snorkelling haven set in a marine reserve where you can spot manta rays, turtles and small (harmless) White-tipped sharks. Dolphins can be sighted all year round, while Pilot and Humpback whales are more common December – March and July – November. You’ll roam the waters for about an hour. Life jackets are provided and we strongly recommend you bring extra water, sun cream, a hat and a swimsuit. Snorkelling equipment is provided.

ShutterStock ©

Stay at - Aguila de Osa

Day 13

Wildlife-spotting hike in Corcovado National Park.

This stimulating, adventurous guided tour takes you deep into the heart of Corcovado National Park. You’ll take a local boat to the Sirena Ranger Station to set off on a hike – the secluded, remote location allows for prime bird and wildlife spotting. Explore the various trails leading to different areas of the park. As you trek through the verdant primary and secondary rainforest you may well spot some exotic wildlife, such as tapirs, Spider monkeys, Scarlet macaws, White-faced capuchins and Howler monkeys. Bird sightings may include toucans, trogons, hummingbirds, parrots and vultures.


Stay at - Aguila de Osa

Day 14

Transfer to airstrip and fly to San José.

Road transfer to airstrip to fly to San José, transfer to hotel for the last night of the holiday.

Stay at - Presidente

Day 15

Transfer to airport for international flight home.

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.


Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Bartolome, Galápagos

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    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

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