Dramatic volcanoes, emerald lagoons, world-famous Monteverde cloud forest, masses of rare flora and 850+ birds
Tiers of waterfalls, thermal springs, sandy beaches, sweeping ocean views
Mountain lodge hotels, all with private swimming pools
Tree frogs, iguanas, quetzals, spider monkeys
Excellent value; no hidden extras - admission fees included throughout
At a glance...
12 nights, hotel-to-hotel
Departs Selected dates from 16 Nov '14 to 22 Mar '15
Continental breakfast, 11 lunches and 11 evening meals
Sustainability rating: 90%
Varied routes for nature lovers and botanists.
Destinations with bird watching opportunities.
Lots of swimming opportunities.
Great vegetarian meal options.
Perfect for couples.
Follow stunning coastal routes.
Beautiful lakes and rivers.
Costa Rica Wildlife Walk
This exciting holiday explores Costa Rica's most dramatic contrasts. 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. Walking on forest paths and some country tracks, we think we've found the perfect balance between spotting wildlife in the forest, and enjoying some awe-inspiring panoramas from the heights. Watching monkeys swing through the trees at Rincon de la Vieja, contrasts perfectly with contemplating sweeping views over Lake Arenal.
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 memorable as we learn about Costa Rica's unique natural inheritance. The hotels we stay in are normally mountain lodge style, with rooms like cottages with separate entrances. En suite and spacious, they are furnished to a high standard. Most have beautiful tropical gardens and swimming pools. Highlights include Arenal, where we look out at 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 taken after you relax in the hot springs!
Not quite what you're looking for - then why not take a look at some of our similar holidays?
We meet you and take you to your hotel (25 mins) in Santo Domingo, just outside of San Jose.
Day 2 - Coffee Plantations of Alajuela 7km/4mi/3hr
The morning is spent exploring La Hilda Farm, covering 750Ha with primary and secondary rainy cloud forest, and small rivers along the property. This afternoon we visit the Doka Coffee Plantation to see the beneficio (mill) and savour the aroma of fresh beans drying on the sun baked patio, returning to the hotel in time for a swim before dinner.
Day 3 - Monteverde Cloud Forest 12km/7.5mi/3hr
On to Monteverde, where we follow a forest trail through soaring ridge oak decked with bright orange clusia, in search of the resplendent quetzal. Onwards through the emerald forest canopy to the Continental Divide where the Caribbean and Pacific meet. Our next 2 nights are spent in here.
Day 4 - Canitas and Cebadillas 15km/9mi/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 brings us to Cebadillas mountain village. Before dinner, we take a fascinating evening stroll through the cloud forest spotting tree frogs and hummingbirds.
Day 5 - To Volcano Arenal 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, before taking 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 bird watchers paradise as well as home to a number of endangered mammals and reptile species, including crocodiles, 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. On to the famous La Fortuna waterfall before continuing on to relax in the hotsprings at Eco Termales!
Day 8 - Rincon de la Vieja National Park 6km/4mi/3hr
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. Time for a paddle before going on to our hotel for dinner. We spend 3 nights here.
Day 9 - Rincon de la Vieja Volcano 14km/9mi/6.5hr
Spider monkeys swing through the trees and dappled sunlight is replaced by swirling mist as we reach the feathery tree ferns of the cloud forest, alive to the chatter of tree frogs. This walk ends 500 metres before you reach the crater.
Day 10 - Blue Lagoon and Thermal Springs 10km/6mi/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 through woodland, where violet guaria morada (Costa Rica's national flower) grows, to Las Pailas - an eerie landscape of bubbling mud and geysers.
Day 11 - Santa Rosa National Park 4km/1.5mi/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 - superb photo opportunities. Then to Playa Hermosa where our final 2 nights are spent overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Day 12 - Free Day
Bosque del Mar is on Playa Hermosa, a blue flag beach and is the perfect end to our tour - and there's the option to stay on here for extra nights.
Day 13 - Leave Costa Rica
We take you to Liberia airport (45 min) for your return flight.
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.
Hotel Bougainvillea, Santo Domingo (3 Star)
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.
The Hotel Fonda Vela is one of the nicest hotels in Monteverde. Set back from the town, it is one of the nearest hotels to the entrance to the nature reserve that has made Monteverde famous. The park entrance is no more than a 5 minutes drive from here.
The hotel is made up of nine different buildings that house different rooms. The majority of the rooms are standard, but Headwater guests normally stay in junior suites. The junior suites are larger and also have telephones, mini bars and satellite televisions. They also have ensuite shower and bathrooms with hairdryers.
The Fonda Vela is used on the following departures:
23 April 2017, 26 Nov 2017, 14 Jan 2018, 04 Feb 2018, 04 Mar2018, 25 Mar 2018
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.
The Cañon de la Vieja Lodge is located 30 minutes from the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The Lodge is surrounded by beautiful gardens. There are 48 cabins in the extensive grounds, each with with air-conditioning and terrace. The restaurant and bar is in a separate building. There is also a swimming pool and jacuzzi.
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.
Transfers included from San Jose airport at 22:15, and back to Liberia airport for the 07:50 flight. Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange connecting flights.
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.
From our postbag
In addition to comments received on our post-holiday questionnaires, we've also been sent the following comments from our satisfied customers.
Sue Kelly travelled to Costa Rica in 2011
My husband and I have just returned from one of your guided walking holidays, to Costa Rica. I will be completing the questionnaire but felt i wanted to write too.
This was our first guided walking trip, we've always done independent cycling and walking trips with you before this. I just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed this holiday, one of the best trips we have ever been on. We were very fortunate to be in a small group and to have a fantastic tour guide and driver from Camino Travel. Hector Calvo was our guide and Henry our driver. If possible would you feedback to Camino how pleased we were with them. They couldn't have been better, they looked after us really well and Hector was more than happy to share his knowledge (which was extensive!) of his country and its inhabitants and creatures and flora etc with us. Henry was the sort of driver you feel safe with (even on the terrible pot-holed roads!)
We saw so much and covered so many different trails, each with its own micro climate and various species. What a fabulous country, so diverse - from rainforest to bubbling mud pools, it seemed to have everything you could wish for! Wonderful to get back into sunshine and wearing shorts again,and to leave winter behind for a while.
Thank you very much, a well planned and well executed trip. Expensive (for us) but well worth it!!
Mr and Mrs Mole travelled to Costa Rica in 2009
Just a short note to say our Costa Rica/Galapagos Holiday went through without a hitch, thank-you very much for all your efforts in organising it for us.
The Costa Rica trip was made by our guide, Jeffrey Munoz, who was fantastic, both in his ability to look after the group and in his knowledge of all things botanical, geological and fauna related; we wouldn't have seen half the creatures we saw without him!
The Galapagos cruise was also wonderful and we would recommend the ship, its crew and the Naturalists, who looked after us, to anyone wanting a fabulous holiday.
Departure dates & prices
Minimum group sizes
A minimum of 4 people (in total) are required for each departure.
Guided walking, hotel-to-hotel. Managed by Headwater appointed agent.
Selected dates from 16 Nov '14 to 22 Mar '15, for 13 days (12 nights).
Continental breakfast, 11 lunches and 11 evening meals.