Private Journeys

Signature Costa Rica: Wildlife and volcanoes

8 days from £1,820pp

Costa Rica

Itinerary

map marker Map

Day 1

Transfer to a vibrant pedestrian street in the centre of San José

You will be met at the airport by our local representative who will take you to your hotel in the centre of San José, just a short stroll away from the central market restaurants and bars.

Day 2

By road and boat to Tortuguero Jungle Reserve

You take a 5hr drive including a short bumpy ride through banana plantations to Caño Blanco dock. It is then an hour’s boat ride along the shore hugged by mangrove swamps before you arrive in the small, ramshackle village of Tortuguero, which gives you an insight into the way of life in this remote region.

Tortuguero National Park was originally intended to conserve a major nesting beach of the Atlantic green sea turtle. Now it is one of the last protected areas of tropical rainforest in Central America, with 11 different natural habitats. 3 species of monkeys (Spider, Howler, and White-faced), Three-toed sloths, and River otters are frequently seen along the natural inland waterways and canals.

Caimans, iguanas, river turtles, basilisk lizards and poison dart frogs inhabit the area, along with more than 320 species of birds including all 6 species of kingfishers found in the New World, 3 species of toucans, 8 species of parrot, and other neo-tropical species such as the Slate-tailed trogon, White-collared manakin, Purple-throated fruit crow, and White-fronted nun bird. These and many more species may be observed during your guided boat trip through the backwater mangrove channels of Tortuguero National Park.

Mary Anne Nelson ©

Day 3

Wildlife spotting in Tortuguero National Park

You have a guided exploration by boat through the mangroves, your guide helping you to spot and identify the myriad of wildlife. 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. 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.

COSTA RICA EXPEDITIONS ©

Day 4

Fly to San José, transfer to Monteverde. Guided excursion to the Cloud Forest Reserve

Fly to San José and travel inland by road into highlands mantled by the woodland of Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which lies in the rugged, rolling hills northwest of San José. You'll be driven for a couple of hours through the Central Valley along the Pan American Highway, a decent paved road.

After 150km you take the turn off for Monteverde, and here the adventure begins - for up to 90mins, the dirt road is bumpy with volcanic rocks, winding up through the hills to the cloud forest at 1,400m. You can expect it to be dusty in the dry season and muddy in the wet. However you should be diverted by wildlife you spot along the way - sloths, monkeys and tropical birds - keep your binoculars handy.

In the afternoon there will be a walk in the reserve accompanied by a naturalist guide. The reserve is home to more than 100 species of mammals, 400 of birds and 1,500 of plants. Walking along the well-marked trails, amidst dense, dripping foliage, you are likely to encounter the Resplendent quetzal (Jan – Jul. Occasionally a dozen or more individuals at once). Other species include the Three-wattled bellbird, the Emerald toucanet, and White-faced and Howler monkeys. The reserve includes a protected area comprising 6 different life zones. So many habitats in such a small area, along with extensive trail improvements, allow visitors to enjoy a rich diversity of flora and fauna with relatively short distance and easy walking.

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Day 5

Transfer to Arenal volcano area

It's a 136 km, 2-3 hr downhill afternoon drive by 4WD vehicle from Monteverde to Arenal. There is no direct route and the road condition on the first segment of the journey is rough and bumpy but you can look out for wildlife so keep your binoculars handy.

On reaching the lake and Rio Chiquito on the shores of Lake Arenal, you embark on a boat to take you across the lake (30-40 mins) followed by a short, good-quality road journey to your hotel. A private bus transfer is followed by a boat trip across Lake Arenal, which provides a magnificent first glimpse of this imposing volcano, reflected in the lake’s sparkling waters (2.5hrs).

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Day 6

Excursion to La Fortuna waterfalls

Today you have an excursion by road through typical Costa Rican countryside, passing cattle and agricultural farms, to the start of a 500m steep trail. Continue on foot through the rainforest - you may spot toucans and monkeys on the way - to the 70m high La Fortuna waterfall.

There are natural pools at its base where you can spend an hour relaxing before heading back to the vehicle and to Arenal. There are around 500 steps involved in the walk to the falls so we recommend good footwear - and don't forget your swimsuit and waterproof camera.

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Day 7

Transfer by shuttle bus to San José

Travel by shared minibus back to San José, a journey of about four hours. Overnight in the city.

Day 8

Transfer to the airport for international flight home; or continue to the Pacific beach at Manuel Antonio.

Transfer to the airport for your homeward flight, or if you have more time, add a few days to relax on Manuel Antonio Pacific beach.

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

  • JimAshworth
    Jim Ashworth - Travel Consultant

    Jim first caught the Latin American travel bug in 2001 when he decided at the last minute to join a friend travelling around Central America – he hasn't looked back since.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Consultant

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Escorted Groups team.

Meet the team