Costa Rica Wildlife Walk

From $3771 per person

****# Based on 10 customer reviews
  • Land of contrasts: dramatic volcanoes, emerald lagoons, world famous Monteverde Cloud Forest, masses of rare flora
  • Superb wildlife: tree frogs, iguanas, spider monkeys and over 850 species of birds
  • Perfect spot to relax: tiers of waterfalls, thermal springs, sandy beaches, sweeping ocean views
  • Mountain lodge hotels, most with private swimming pools

What's included?

  • 11 nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • Departs Selected dates from 27 Nov '16 to 26 Mar '17
  • All continental breakfasts, 10 lunches and 10 evening meals
  • Managed by Headwater appointed agent
  • Sustainability rating: 94%
  • Luggage transfers between hotels
  • All entrance fees and boat trips included
  • Air-conditioned vehicle

Excellent for...

Costa Rica Wildlife Walk

This exciting holiday explores Costa Rica's most dramatic contrasts: cloud forests, volcanoes, lakes, waterfalls and the Pacific coast. You'll be amazed at the amount of wildlife you'll encounter. From quetzals and tree frogs to agoutis and iguanas, each day is memorably different.

Our local guides have an expert knowledge of Costa Rica's flora and fauna and are passionate walkers. With them, our tour is even more remarkable as we learn about Costa Rica's unique natural inheritance. Walking on forest paths and some country tracks, you'll spot wildlife along the way with agoutis and coatis scrambling across the path in Monteverde and monkeys swinging through the trees at Rincon de la Vieja. Awe-inspiring panoramas abound with balcony views to the distant Pacific Ocean and sweeping vistas over Lake Arenal and to the magnificent Arenal Volcano.

The hotels you stay in are typically mountain lodge style with separate small buildings or bungalows. All have beautiful tropical gardens and swimming pools. Highlights include Arenal Observatory Lodge, where you enjoy stunning views of the volcano, and Bosque del Mar on Playa Hermosa. Lunches are a mix of picnics and local restaurants, whilst dinners are taken in the hotels. One evening is spent at Eco Termales in Arenal where dinner is enjoyed after relaxing in the hot springs!

This varied walking holiday is mainly on jungle trails and country tracks. Rainforest trails can be slippery and steep in sections, so walking boots are essential. In order that you see as much of this varied country as possible some days do include long transfers. These are broken up with refreshment and photo stops.

Typical day-by-day itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive in Costa Rica

Arrive at your hotel in Santo Domingo, just outside San Jose.

Day 2 - Monte de Barva 12km/7.5mi/3.5hr

Today we head to Monte de Barva, a private property in the mountains where we explore forests with views over the Central Valley. Our walk ends with a typical Costa Rican lunch cooked on a wooden stove. We return to the hotel via the town of Barva, one of the oldest settlements in Costa Rica, famous for its colonial architecture and its dedication to retaining its culture. There's time to explore the hotel gardens and have a swim before dinner.

Day 3 - Monteverde Cloud Forest 12km/7.5mi/3hr

It's on to Monteverde, where we follow a forest trail through soaring ridge oak decked with bright orange clusia, in search of the resplendent quetzal, then onwards through the emerald forest canopy to the Continental Divide where the Caribbean and Pacific meet. Our next 2 nights are spent here.

Day 4 - Canitas & Cebadillas 15km/9.5mi/3.5hr

Walking through lush pastures with balcony views over curving Nicoya Peninsula, we soon reach the hamlet of Canitas. A gradual climb through forest then brings us to the pretty mountain village of Cebadilla. Before dinner, we take a fascinating evening stroll through the cloud forest spotting tree frogs and hummingbirds.

Day 5 - To Arenal Volcano 17km/11mi/5hr

We wind through farmsteads bright with blue-flowered St Lucia trees overlooking the western shore of Lake Arenal. We'll pass cattle ranches, stud farms and dairies before continuing along the shore, spotting scarlet tanagers flitting through the reeds. We then take a boat to the western side of the lake for superb views over Arenal Volcano.

Day 6 - Cano Negro Boat Tour

Today's tour takes us first by road then by boat through the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge close to the Nicaraguan border. It's a birdwatcher's paradise and is also home to a number of endangered mammals and reptile species - look out for caimans, turtles and tapirs.

Day 7 - Exploring Arenal and La Fortuna Waterfall 8km/5mi/5hr

Today we visit the Arenal butterfly and frog gardens and stop off at an indigenous Cabecares village. It's then on to the famous La Fortuna Waterfall before continuing on to relax in the hot springs at Eco Termales!

Day 8 - Rincon de la Vieja National Park 6km/4mi/3hr

We move onwards to Rincon de la Vieja, beginning our walk through rainwood and Spanish cedar, maybe spotting turkey vultures flitting above us. We reach Las Chorreras and Victoria Falls, a 35m high torrent thundering through a verdant gorge. There's time for a paddle before going on to our hotel for dinner. We spend two nights here.

Day 9 - Blue Lagoon & Thermal Springs 10km/6.5mi/3hr

Look out for toucans and white-fronted amazons, as we descend to La Cangreja Waterfall. Its blue lagoon is so inviting we have to take a dip before our picnic. Then we walk through woodland, where violet guaria morada (Costa Rica's national flower) grows, to Las Pailas, an eerie landscape of bubbling mud and geysers.

Day 10 - Santa Rosa National Park 4km/2.5mi/2hr

Today we walk through Central America's largest protected dry forest. We may spot coatis, tapirs and iguanas as we descend to continue along the Indio Desnudo Trail - there are superb photo opportunities here! Then it's on to Playa Hermosa where our final two nights are spent overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Day 11 - Free Day

Bosque del Mar is on Playa Hermosa, a blue flag beach and is the perfect end to our tour. There's the option to stay on here for extra nights.

Day 12 - Leave Costa Rica

Where you stay

During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking. You can call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 to discuss accommodation options.

Hotel Bougainvillea, Santo Domingo   (4 Star)

Hotel Bougainvillea, Santo Domingo

The Bougainvillea Hotel is in Santo Domingo, just 25 minutes from San Jose international airport and about 15 minutes from the centre of San Jose.

The hotel is built in extensive gardens where you can take a stroll and start your discovery of all the flora and fauna Costa Rica has to offer. Rooms are spacious and the hotel facilities include pool, sauna, fitness centre and gift shop.

Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Mastercard accepted
  • American Express accepted
  • Swimming pool
  • Hairdryer
  • Wifi hotspot
  • Television
  • Safe

El Establo, Monteverde   (4 Star)

Deluxe room

The Hotel El Establo, owned by a Quaker and Costa Rican family is set on a 150 acre farm. The accommodation is spread out over several buildings in the extensive grounds.

Headwater customers stay in the Deluxe rooms which all come with balcony or terrace and have views out to the Gulf of Nicoya.

The Hotel El Establo is used on the following departures:

5th March 2017

Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Mastercard accepted
  • American Express accepted
  • Swimming pool
  • Hairdryer
  • Television
  • Safe

Nearby facilities:

  • Shops

Trapp Family Lodge, Monteverde   (3 Star)

Trapp Family Lodge

The Trapp Family Lodge is the closest lodge to the Monteverde Reserve, and has 20 rooms. Headwater guests are allocated Mountain Suites all of which have private balcony from which to enjoy the lodge's gardens.

The Trapp Family Lodge is used on the following departures:

27th November 2016

Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Mastercard accepted
  • American Express accepted
  • Wifi hotspot
  • Television

Nearby facilities:

  • Shops
  • ATM / Cash machine

Ficus Hotel, Monteverde   (3 Star)

Hotel Ficus

Hotel Ficus Sunset Suites has 20 contemporary rooms with private balconies to enjoy views of the forest. The hotel also has a sun terrace. Evening meals are taken at a local restaurant.

The Ficus Hotel is used on the following departures:

15th January 2017; 05th February 2017; 26th March 2017

Independent hotel reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Wifi hotspot
  • Tea/coffee facilities

Nearby facilities:

  • Shops
  • ATM / Cash machine

Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal   (3 Star)

Pool at Arenal Observatory Lodge

The Arenal Observatory Lodge is one of the most historical hotels in Arenal in that it was originally the observatory lodge for the scientists that first came to study the volcano in 1987. The lodge is surrounded by hectares of parkland and it is the only hotel in Arenal that is within the Arenal National Park.

The best thing about the lodge is the balcony views of Arenal that you get from pretty much every bedroom window, the pool and the restaurant. The volcano is just 1.7 miles from the lodge but the hotel is perfectly safe as the gorge of the Agua Caliente River separates it. Nowadays however, its strategic position makes the hotel a great place to experience the volcano. The view is ever present when you are in the pool, strolling through the gardens or having breakfast in the restaurant.

The lodge is made up of a number of different rows of rooms that all have their individual entrances.

The majority of the rooms that were added on after the lodge became a hotel are in the Smithsonian style. Headwater customers stay in these. They each have 2 queen size double beds and many also have a chair, table and decking with patio furniture. Others have large floor to ceiling windows from where there are great views over Volcano Arenal when you draw the curtains in the morning. They are all en-suite with shower only.

The restaurant is located opposite reception and this is where both breakfast and evening meals are taken. The hotel also has a large swimming pool as well as an outdoor Jacuzzi.

There are a number of way-marked trails through the gardens that you can follow if you fancy a stroll.

Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Mastercard accepted
  • American Express accepted
  • Diners Club card accepted
  • Swimming pool

Nearby facilities:

  • Shops
  • Banking / cheques cashed

Hacienda Guachipelin, Rincon de la Vieja   (3 Star)

Hacienda Guachipelin

The Hacienda Guachipelin is located right on the edge of the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The lodge started up as a cattle ranch, and is still owned by one of Costa Rica’s most famous horsemen, Don Tomas.

The lodge is made up of five separate rows of rooms each with a veranda. All rooms are en suite with shower and have 2 queen size beds as well as a table and chair. They are reasonably spacious and are all built in traditional Latin American style.

Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Mastercard accepted
  • American Express accepted
  • Swimming pool
  • Internet access
  • Television
  • Air conditioning
  • Safe

Bosque del Mar, Playa Hermosa   (4 Star)

Bosque del Mar, Playa Hermosa

The Bosque del Mar hotel is a beachfront property on the grey sand Playa Hermosa (beautiful beach). The hotel is set in beautiful gardens and surrounded by tropical forests.

Rooms here are spacious and all have terrace or balcony with views of the garden or pool. Some rooms make you really feel you are part of the gardens as the structure of the building has been done in such a way to avoid cutting down trees where possible to cause less environmental impact.

Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Mastercard accepted
  • Swimming pool
  • Hairdryer
  • Wifi hotspot
  • Television
  • Minibar
  • Air conditioning
  • Safe
  • Tea/coffee facilities

Nearby facilities:

  • Shops



Extra nights and stop over hotels

If you'd like to extend your trip with extra nights at the start or end, or if you'd like to arrange a stop off point en-route, then we recommend the following hotels.

Casa Conde del Mar, Playa Panama   (4 Star)

Standard Suite

On Playa Panama the Casa Conde del Mar is set in beautiful gardens with direct access to the beach. The hotel has two pools and bars.

The rooms are spacious and have views to the ocean or the gardens.

Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Mastercard accepted
  • American Express accepted
  • Swimming pool
  • Hairdryer
  • Wifi hotspot
  • Television
  • Minibar
  • Air conditioning
  • Safe
  • Tea/coffee facilities

Nearby facilities:

  • Shops

Hotel Buenavista, Alajuela   (3 Star)

Hotel Buenavista, Alajuela

The Buenavista Hotel lies above the village of Alajuela, 20 minutes from San Jose international airport and about 30 minutes from the centre of San Jose.

The hotel is built in a colonial house style (although it is a modern construction) and is based around a central courtyard where there is a small swimming pool and some sun loungers. The hotel has extensive gardens at the back where you can take a stroll.

Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Local facilities:

  • Mastercard accepted
  • American Express accepted
  • Swimming pool
  • Hairdryer
  • Wifi hotspot
  • Television

Nearby facilities:

  • Shops
  • Market
  • Banking / cheques cashed

Travel options

Transfers included from San Jose airport at 22:29, and back to Liberia airport for the 07:50 flight and for the 12:30 flight on 6th March departure.

Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email info@breakaway-adventures.com to arrange connecting flights.

Customer reviews

Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their holiday.

Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

Reviewed by Mr Cameron on 05/04/2016

*****
Varied and interesting trip with excellent driver and enthusiastic and knowledgable guide

Reviewed by Mr Moore on 24/03/2016

***#.
Excellent for seeing wildlife. Local guide Erika and driver Rono greatly enhanced this holiday with their expertise and knowledge- a lucky combination as Rono was a wildlife enthusiast himself. Some of the walks were not '2 boots' however heat especially during the latter part of the holiday dictated length of walks. Most of the hotels were very good/excellent and those which were not of the same standard compensated by location. Excellent boat trip and night walk which were highlights.

Reviewed by Mrs Rome on 20/03/2016

*****
Overall very good, only minor improvements needed on mid day meals- not needed when travelling for prolonged time-could be more snack based when having a three course evening meal.

Reviewed by Mr Kerry on 01/02/2016

*****
The guide was very good at getting us to places when there was no one else around which made things more exclusive. In addition it was our idea before we went to have the boat trip at Cano Negro in the afternoon which was a great success. We had the river to ourselves, saw 23 different types of bird and even the guide saw things she had never seen before, like howler monkeys on the ground.

Reviewed by Ms Freeman on 31/01/2016

*****
Although flights were arduous with 4-hour stopover in US, on the whole flights were good. Costa Rica is a fantastic place and our guide Pedro was so enthusiastic about the country and wildlife and very interesting on political and historical details which greatly enhanced our experience. We travelled in a small (4) group which although initially I was doubtful about, in fact worked out well. The driver of the bus was very good and we got to places in comfort and in promptly. The walking was fantastic. Some walks were quite arduous but not impossibly so and always very interesting. Highlights for me were the night walk in the forest near Cebadilla and the boat trip through the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge. The final hotel at the beach at Playa Hermosa was a wonderful end to the holiday.

Reviewed by Mr Whitley on 31/01/2016

***#.
Costa Rica is a fantastic country for wildlife and fauna, however doing a walking holiday there may not be the best option if you are going primarily for the flora and fauna. Getting there and back is painful going via the USA; if BA bring in a direct route from LHR then that will be much the best option. The people are lovely, and our guide (Erika) was always smiling and very helpful.

Reviewed by Mrs Longfoot on 07/12/2015

*****
A beautiful country, lots of wildlife and lush countryside.

Reviewed by Dr Garwood on 07/05/2015

*****
Overall a very interesting and excellent holiday. Beautiful country with varied scenery and an amazing variety of wildlife. Very well looked after by our excellent guide Jorge Arias and driver Suri Herrera. They both ensured that it was an excellent holiday and nothing was too much trouble for them. Although the Bosque del Mar was excellent we would have preferred another day walking or staying on a nature reserve rather than a day on the beach.

Reviewed by Mrs Spencer on 26/02/2015

*****
Recommend how wet and cold it can be in Costa Rica in the 'rain forest in February!! Didn't expect the level of cold and damp and should have taken warmer clothes.

Reviewed by Mr Schafer on 08/02/2015

*****
Overview: Wonderful trip with excellent opportunities for wildlife sightings on hikes across several different ecosystems Guide/Driver Our guide Perdro was excellent! He had an uncanny ability to spot and identify wildlife that we would have otherwise never seen. Pedro has an in depth knowledge of the varied species that inhabit the different ecosystems we were able to visit, He allowed us time to observe the habits of the wide variety wildlife we encountered. On multiple mornings he offered pre breakfast bird watching walks around the hotel grounds. He educated us about the history of Costa Rica in an informative and engaging manner. Our driver Walter provided us with safe, reassuring transportation while working with Pedro to help spot wildlife along the routes. Walter also prepared several wonderful picnic lunches/snack breaks. He had a good working knowledge of English and was eager to learn and practice. The HIkes The hiking was varied and interesting traversing forest trails, dirt tracks and paved roads. The two boot rating seemed accurate as there was some elevation change incurred several of the hikes. The use of local guides on the Monte de Barva, Arenal Night hike, and Cano Negro boat tour enhanced the overall experience and the extra set of eyes allowed for additional wildlife sightings. As described in the program literature, several of the hikes involve long transfers, but they were scenic drives through the countryside/small towns. The Wildlife We were able to photograph over 100 different animals including 80+ species of birds. Make sure you bring your binoculars! The Hotels and Meals With the exception of the Canon de la Vieja lodge the hotels and meals were wonderful. Lodging at Canon de la Vieja was more basic and the meals there were uninspired buffets. The other hotels were well appointed with a breakfast buffet and excellent dinners ordered from a menu. Beers averaged about $3. Wifi was available but slow/spotty in the rooms. All the hotels had wonderfully landscaped ground with a fair amount of wildlife. A torch/flashlight is advisable for returning to your room after dinner

Departure dates & prices

Departure date Tour only 
2016 departures 
Apr 17 $3771
2017 departures 
Jan 15 $3771
Feb 5 $3803
Mar 5 $3771
Mar 26 $3771

Holiday details

Minimum group sizes

A minimum of 4 people (in total) are required for each departure. Dates marked ° are guaranteed departures and have no minimum group size. All dates are subject to availability - please contact us to check.

Holiday type

Guided walking, hotel-to-hotel. Managed by Headwater appointed agent.

Departures

Selected dates from 27 Nov '16 to 26 Mar '17, for 12 days (11 nights).

Meals

All continental breakfasts, 10 lunches and 10 evening meals.

Other details

Please see our Planning your holiday and What's included in the price? pages for additional information. Please call us for single room supplements, room upgrade options and child prices.

Starting your tour

Transfers included from San Jose airport at 22:29, and back to Liberia airport for the 07:50 flight and for the 12:30 flight on 6th March departure.

Enquire about this holiday

Simply complete the form below and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and additional information.

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We can call you when it's most convenient for you, or contact you by email if you'd prefer. Morning calls will be between 9:00-13:00, afternoon calls between 13:00-17:00, and evening calls after 17:00.
Let us know any queries you might have about departure dates, similar holidays or tailor-made options.

 

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