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 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, where you 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 enjoyed after relaxation time 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.
Arrive at your hotel in Santo Domingo, just outside San Jose.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Room upgrades: Garden View Junior Suite or Mountain View Junior Suite .
Junior Suites are larger and have a seating area.
Extra nights: Please contact us for details.
NEARBY: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.
NEARBY: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.
NEARBY: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 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.
NEARBY: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.
Room upgrades: Ocean Front Suite or Garden Suite.
Extra nights: Please contact us for details.
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.
NEARBY: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.
NEARBY: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.
Transfers included from San Jose airport at 22:29 (19:50 on Apr 23 Departure), and back to Liberia airport for the 07:50 flight.
Please call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 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 an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted to our website, so that people can make an informed decision based on past experiences before heading off on holiday. We don’t edit the reviews, the only thing we do is proofread them and alter any typos, where necessary, to ensure they are easy to read for everyone. All reviews will be published (except in certain extreme circumstances), and a member of the Headwater team will respond to any constructive criticisms/comments under the reviews, at their discretion. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
Walking in Costa Rica was a great destination. Excellent Guide and lovely people.Fabulous variety of contrasts throughout the country.
The country, people and welcome were superb. We could not have been looked after better.
Very well organised holiday, brilliant guide, nice small group and lovely hotels. Next time would prefer to be offered a direct flight rather than battle through Newark!
A well-organised trip to a very beautiful country with stunning wild life; clean and comfortable facilities at all times; walks very enjoyable and led by an expert and experienced guide.
This was a really exceptional holiday for us. Our guide was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about all the wildlife we encountered, and the history of the country, that we learned so much from him. In addition, the quality of the hotels, the variety of the walks, and the extra touches (like fresh fruit waiting for us at intervals) made it very special.
An excellent way to get a taste of what Costa Rica has to offer. We explored cloud forest, dry forest, wet, hot, dry and dusty climates and finished on a beautiful beach for the last couple of days. Birds, mammals, insects, amphibians, orchids and other plantlife: something new every day. Our excellent guide, Pedro, flexed the distances and type of walk depending on the conditions, the group's interest/ability, and the things we stopped to see along the way. Our bus driver, Miguel, was never far away. A great holiday!
This is a good holiday for those looking for a wildlife experience with varied walks through interesting landscapes. Both the guide and driver were very knowledgable about the varied regions, culture and wildlife. Group enthusiasm and participation in finding and spotting the wildlife make the holiday much more rewarding. There are other fun activities available when not walking that are recommended.
Costa Rica is a fascinating country with great scenery and amazing wildlife. The weather involves some rain, even in the dry season and some walks were hot and humid, making them harder work than might be expected from the distance covered. On some of the longer walks there were shorter options available. The first days walk was the least interesting and maybe some of the local guides could suggest something better. The 2 boot grading seems right. Some transfers are long but are through interesting countryside and in any case, are unavoidable. Alain was a great driver and Guierlmo a good guide and fund of information. Between the 2 of them they made sure we saw lots of wildlife we wouldn't have spotted ourselves.
If you enjoy birds and wildlife as well as the walking, we would highly recommend this holiday.
Great way to see Costa Rica despite long days in minibus.Excellent variety of birds, flora and fauna with knowledgeable guides.
Varied and interesting trip with excellent driver and enthusiastic and knowledgable guide
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A beautiful country, lots of wildlife and lush countryside.
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.
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.
Wonderful trip with excellent opportunities for wildlife sightings on hikes across several different ecosystems
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 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.
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
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We do not currently have departure dates and prices available on-line. The season may have ended for this tour, or we are still in the process of adding these details to our website. Please contact us for further details.
Minimum group sizes
A minimum of 4 people (in total) are required for each departure.
This holiday is unsuitable for children.
Guided walking Managed locally by Headwater appointed agent.
Continental breakfast, 10 lunches and 10 evening meals
Please note we use several hotels in Monteverde, some of which do not have a pool, please refer to the Hotels section for date information and facilities.
Transfers included from San Jose airport at 22:29 (19:50 on Apr 23 Departure), and back to Liberia airport for the 07:50 flight.
If you choose to book your own flights please check with us first that your chosen departure date is definitely operating as our guided holidays are subject to minimum group sizes.
Due to the tailor-made nature of our holidays, we need a little more information in order for us to check availability for Costa Rica Wildlife Walk. 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 an accurate price. Of course there's no obligation, but if you do wish to proceed with a booking they will be on-hand to assist you throughout the process.
Alternatively, you can call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 to discuss your requirements in more detail.
We've been creating high-quality relaxed activity holidays since 1985 and our wealth of experience means we're able to build the perfect tailor-made tour for you. Our 'Gold Trusted' rating on Feefo, the independent review site, underlines our exceptional levels of customer service, and our ATOL bonding and ABTA membership guarantees your holiday is safe with us.