On this 13-night holiday we'll enjoy unrivalled wildlife viewing - monkeys, sloths, turtles, dolphins and whales (in season) - and Costa Rica's coastal wonders. The focus of this wildlife holiday is on travelling at a very leisurely pace in order to spot as much wildlife as possible.
From the wildlife-rich waterways of Tortuguero to the dense jungle coastline of the Osa Peninsula, an area labelled by National Geographic as 'the most biologically intense place on Earth', Costa Rica reveals its secrets: scarlet macaws rule the roost adding brilliant flashes of red, blue and gold to the foliage; humpback whales breed in the waters off-shore, and sloths lazily crawl along cecropia branches.
After exploring Tortuguero and its vast wildlife, we'll discover Costa Rica's largest reef system in Cahuita National Park, visit the famous Sloth Sanctuary and walk through some of the country's magnificent cloud forests.
We'll stay in a range of small, family-run hotels and eco-lodges, including Drake Bay Wilderness Resort on the Osa Peninsula, a rustic property that can only be reached by boat due to its remoteness, and affords 180-degree views out across the vast ocean! Costa Rican food specialities include Gallo Pinto, a black bean and rice dish considered to be a staple part of the local diet. Soups and stews are also common, and fresh fruit is abundant and will no doubt be one of the highlights of your time in the tropics.
Costa Rica is located 10º north of the equator and has a tropical climate. The average temperature range is 10ºC - 13ºC in the highlands, and from 22ºC - 26ºC in the lowlands. There is a rainy season from May to November when there are daily downpours, though these are usually quite short and there is still plenty of bright sunshine, so midsummer is not necessarily a bad time to go. December to April is the driest time of the year but you should still expect some rain.
This trip has been graded 2 (Leisurely/Moderate) with a safari rating of 4. Driving distances are not very long and most of the roads that we travel on are of good quality. However, the road which leads to the river on the way to and from Tortuguero has a poor surface and this can result in slow driving times, particularly following heavy rain. Drake Bay and Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula are two of the most remote areas that we visit on this itinerary - there is very limited road access or facilities in these areas and we will use boats as the main form of transportation. There are several included and optional walks on the itinerary which occasionally involve walking on rough paths. These are suitable for most levels of fitness and usually last from two to three hours. During times of heavy rain, trails can be muddy and slippery and extra care should be taken. Many of the areas visited on the trip are hot and humid and there is the chance of heavy rain year-round - this is why Costa Rica is so green!
Arrive at your hotel in San Jose. This evening is the perfect opportunity to meet your guide and get to know your fellow travellers. (Staying at the Hotel Presidente, Breakfast only)
Our adventure begins early this morning, leaving San Jose behind as we travel to the north-east of Costa Rica to Tortuguero National Park. Accessible only by boat or light aircraft, Tortuguero's vast network of waterways, canals and swamps are remarkably tranquil, unspoilt and devoid of noise pollution. On reaching the pier we board a small motorboat for the 1 hour 15 minute journey to our lodge, which is nestled on a small strip of land between the Caribbean Sea and the main lagoon. Our afternoon is spent in Tortuguero village, where it's possible to visit the Sea Turtle Museum (a donation will be requested at the entrance). Tortuguero is probably most famous as a nesting site for the endangered green turtle, which can be seen arriving onto the beach to lay eggs from late July to October (as part of an optional excursion). Hawksbill, loggerhead and giant leatherback turtles also nest in this region, and during November to January baby turtles start to hatch and make their way towards the ocean. Today's travel time will be in the region of six hours including a break for breakfast. (Staying at the Evergreen Lodge or Pachira Lodge, Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Just after sunrise we board a small boat, enabling us to discover the extraordinary flora and fauna of Tortuguero as we pass serenely along the waterways. At this time of day wildlife is usually at its most active and with the help of our expert guide we are likely to encounter monkeys, caiman, iguanas, butterflies and many of the 300+ bird species recorded here. We return to the lodge for a hearty breakfast by the river. The lodge is a tranquil spot to relax this afternoon if you want to take some time out to enjoy the facilities, or alternatively you can join a second boat trip (included) or follow a short walking trail through the forest. (Staying at the Evergreen Lodge or Pachira Lodge, Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
We leave Tortuguero the same way we arrived, by taking a small boat to Siquirres pier. Our bus will be at the pier waiting to drive us to the region of Cahuita on the Caribbean coast, where we check into our hotel. Caribbean culture pervades this part of Costa Rica and is reflected in the music, food and laid-back lifestyle. Cahuita's famous white-sand beach is fringed by tall palms, behind which the dense, wet tropical forest of Cahuita National Park can be found. (Staying at the Atlantida Lodge or Ciudad Perdida, Breakfast and lunch)
Today we visit Cahuita National Park, with its 2,711 acres of land and an impressive 600 acres of coral reef, forming Costa Rica's largest reef system. From the southern entrance of the park we take a 7km hike along the coastline following a trail that leads through rainforest and passes the impressive Caribbean beaches. Although a fairly small park in terms of size, there is plenty of diversity here. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore the beach, join an optional snorkelling excursion to discover the underwater world, or enjoy the hotel pool. (Staying at the Atlantida Lodge or Ciudad Perdida, Breakfast only)
After breakfast we visit Aviarios del Caribe, Costa Rica's famous Sloth Sanctuary. This rescue and rehabilitation centre conducts research into sloths and works tirelessly with the goal of releasing sloths back into their natural habitat. In 2013 it was the subject of an Animal Planet TV show called 'Meet the Sloths'. You'll learn all about these fascinating animals on a two hour tour of the sanctuary, where you visit the sloth nursery to find out about the rehabilitation process and take a boat tour along the river to see sloths, monkeys, butterflies and birds in the wild. In the afternoon there is free time to relax in Cahuita. (Staying at the Atlantida Lodge or Ciudad Perdida, Breakfast only)
Our next destination is Turrialba Valley, a rich agricultural region located in the Central Highlands. On the way to Turrialba we visit La Marta Wildlife Refuge, an area of both primary and secondary forest within La Amistad Biosphere (recognised as a UNESCO World Patrimony of Humanity). The topography of this region is mountainous, with waterfalls, rivers and caves - the varied elevation supports a wide range of plants (such as orchids, bromeliads, lichens and mosses) and animals (such as anteaters, ocelots and tapirs). (Staying at the Villa Florencia, Breakfast only)
After breakfast we depart towards San Gerado de Dota and Savegre Cloud Forest. This is said to be one of the best places in the whole of Costa Rica to see the beautiful, colourful and notoriously shy resplendent quetzal, and we have two nights here to discover the region. These endangered birds rely on the cloud forest for their habitat - the males in particular are striking with a green crest, red breast and tail feathers that can reach a metre in length. A good pair of binoculars will be helpful for quetzal spotting as these birds camouflage themselves well amongst the wet leaves of the forest! After lunch we take a short walk into the cloud forest. (Staying at the Savegre Hotel, Nature Reserve & Spa or Trogon Lodge, Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Today is free to relax and explore Savegre Valley. Bring your binoculars to spot some of the 170 bird species, trek through the tropical cloud forest or simply relax in the grounds of the lodge. For those who are passionate about trekking, an optional tour to Los Quetzales National Park can be arranged to admire the tropical cloud forest and Sub-Andean vegetation. You may spot hummingbirds, colibri, tanagers and trogons in this area, whilst tapirs, sloths and squirrel monkeys may also be seen. (Staying at the Savegre Hotel, Nature Reserve & Spa or Trogon Lodge, Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Our journey continues towards the small town of Sierpe, where we board a small motorboat to Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. Passing the huge mangrove swamps that line the Sierpe River, our boat crosses the ocean before arriving into Drake Bay. This region is very remote and with extremely limited road access, which means the majority of supplies, as well as visitors and locals, must arrive by boat. Originally discovered by Francis Drake, getting here is part of the adventure! The bay is spectacular, with just a handful of lodges scattering the horizon and the rest thick verdant forest and rocky coves as far as the eye can see. Our next three nights will be spent at the Drake Bay Wilderness Resort, a family-run property positioned close to the 'town' of Drake Bay and with ocean views from every corner. (Staying at the Drake Bay Wilderness Resort, Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Board a small boat to Cano Island, located 12 nautical miles from Drake Bay. During this 45-minute boat ride there may be opportunities to spot migrating whales or playful dolphins in the surrounding waters (orca whales might be seen between December and April and humpback whales might be seen betweenJuly and November). The interior of the island is thought to have been a burial ground for the indigenous Daquis tribe during pre-Columbian times, and many perfectly spherical man-made stones have been found here. But it's the marine life that is the biggest highlight of Cano Island, with Hawksbill and Olive Ridley turtles, Manta rays and White-tipped reef sharks being just some of the likely encounters on today's snorkelling excursion. This area has been rated as having the best snorkelling in the whole of Costa Rica, with excellent water visibility and a huge marine diversity awaiting beneath the waves in the protected reef. Enjoy a picnic lunch on nearby San Josecito beach, where Capuchin monkeys, Coatimundi and lively Scarlet macaws may make an appearance. (Staying at the Drake Bay Wilderness Resort, Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
When National Geographic describes an area as 'the most biologically intense place on earth' it has to be worthy of investigation! This morning we board a small boat for a 30-minute journey to San Pedrillo Ranger Station, our entrance point to Corcovado National Park. This is undoubtedly Costa Rica's most secluded and tranquil region. Protecting around one third of the Osa Peninsula (some 164 square miles), Corcovado is Costa Rica's largest national park and encompasses 13 major eco-systems across various elevations, with montane forest, cloud forest, freshwater and mangrove swamps being just some of these. Scientists have recorded half of all of the species in Costa Rica on this peninsula alone. On today's hike along the park's trails we may see all four of Costa Rica's monkey species (squirrel, howler, white-faced capuchin and spider monkeys), tamandua (anteater), two and three-toed sloths, peccary, tapirs (including the endangered baird's tapir) and of course many reptiles, insects and amphibians. Puma and jaguar are known in this area but very difficult to see. With over 500 tree species, the bird count stands at an impressive 365 and the park protects the largest population of scarlet macaws in the country, which can frequently be seen and heard flying overhead. (Staying at the Drake Bay Wilderness Resort, Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
After breakfast, we board another boat to depart from Drake Bay and return to Sierpe town. On the way our boat will take a short tour of the huge mangrove forest that lines the Sierpe River. Delving into the network of tributary rivers and streams is fascinating and a chance to learn more about the role of mangroves in the eco-system and the numerous creatures that depend on them, such as fish, crabs, birds, molluscs and shell fish. In Sierpe town we transfer to our private minibus and commence our journey to San Jose. (Staying at the Presidente Hotel, Breakfast only)
Our adventure comes to an end today after breakfast and it's time to bid Costa Rica and the rest of the group goodbye. We depart San Jose for the overnight flight to London.
All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.
Holders of British, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and most EU passports can enter Costa Rica for a stay of 90 days without a visa. Proof of onward travel may be required when entering Costa Rica - we suggest you take a print out of your flight details in case officials ask to see them. All passengers flying via the USA will have to clear immigration during transit. Prior to travel you must apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (USD14) under the Visa Waiver Programme. If you are not a UK citizen please check with your local U.S. Embassy. Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required. If you are travelling via the USA and are eligible to transit under the Visa Waiver Programme (most British and western European citizens with a machine readable passport are), you are now required to register in advance for an Electronic Travel Authority (ESTA). There is a US$14 charge for the ESTA, which is only payable online with a credit card. Please see our website www.exodus.co.uk/usvisa for further information. All other nonresidents passing through the US must get a visa in advance. Check with your local embassy or consulate for more details on how to obtain a visa.
There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Zika fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad. The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary. For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries
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.
NEARBY:Located on Central Avenue Pedestrian Boulevard in San Jose’s vibrant core, the Presidente Hotel offers you the chance to experience the neighbourhood like a local. Many of the city’s best museums and galleries, as well as public parks, shops, restaurants and bars are within easy walking distance. There is a warm and friendly welcome to this family-owned hotel and the well-appointed rooms and suites feature comfy beds, Wi-Fi, and great showers. The hotel offers a daily buffet breakfast as well as a chance to relax on the rooftop at Azotea Calle 7, the fabulous bar/restaurant.
The Evergreen Lodge is located just 5 minutes by boat from the entrance of the Tortuguero National Park and 12 minutes walk from the beach. Accessible only by air or water, this is the ideal location from which to explore this unique area, surrounded as it is by towering trees and jungle. This lovely lodge has 55 spacious and comfortable rooms with a seating area, a private bathroom with shower and ceiling fan. There is an outdoor swimming pool (in the shape of a turtle!), a bar, a restaurant with some spectacular river and jungle vistas, a wellness centre offering a range of massages and complimentary Wi-Fi in public areas. All meals are buffet service.
NEARBY:Located on Costa Rica’s laid back Caribbean coast, Atlantida Lodge sits just over the road from a beach with calm seas ideal for swimming. The nearby village of Cahuita is only small, but offers a variety of restaurants, bars, shops and a bank and is also renowned for its breathtaking national park. The lodge’s rooms are comfortable and the décor includes local colours and themes. There is a ceiling fan, a private bathroom with shower and a safety deposit box. The property has a restaurant, offering Caribbean and international cuisine as well as their famous pizzas, a bar, a swimming pool and a wellness area. There is also complimentary Wi-Fi in the reception area.
NEARBY:Set amongst sugar cane plantations and surrounded by mountains and tropical gardens, the Villa Florencia is the perfect place in which to relax and enjoy the stunning landscape and wildlife (especially birds) of the Turrialba Valley. Offering guests all the comforts of a family-run boutique hotel, there is a swimming pool with a hydro-massage jacuzzi, a gourmet restaurant offering a flavoursome menu using fresh local ingredients and an open-air gym. The spacious rooms either have a terrace with garden views (Standard) or a balcony with mountain views (Superior). Each has a private bathroom, complimentary Wi-Fi, satellite TV, ceiling fan, coffee maker, hair dryer, and safety deposit box.
NEARBY:Another property with minimal environmental impact, the Hotel Savegre - Natural Reserve & Spa holds a firm belief that guests can really help to maintain the property’s eco-friendly credentials, by the way they act during their stay. Turning off lights, using as little drinking water as needed and not leaving the marked trails during walks are just a few examples.
NEARBY:Drake Bay Wilderness Resort was opened in 1985 when this family-run, rustic hotel was a tourism pioneer in an extremely remote area, accessible only by boat and with no electricity until 2005! The hotel sits between the jungle and the ocean and experiences wildlife visitors to the property that include white-faced monkeys, coati, anteaters, agoutis, macaws, toucans, common black hawk and even dolphins (playing and feeding in the bay right in front of the hotel). The hotel has a restaurant offering Costa Rican and American dishes, a bar and a saltwater pool with beautiful views of the bay and the daily sunsets. There are kayaks for guests to use, complimentary Wi-Fi, laundry service and nearly all of the rooms have views of the ocean (many of the rooms also have air conditioning).
All breakfasts, 8 lunches and 7 dinners are included.
Please call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange flights and connecting transfers to your hotel.
Here at Headwater we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can continue to develop, and where necessary improve, our services and ensure our holidays continue to be the best they can be. However, as this is a relatively new holiday, we don't yet have any customer reviews available.
You can be confident that our pricing includes all the standard requirements of your holiday and many additional extras. Always ensure that you are comparing like for like when booking your holiday. Find out about The Headwater Price Promise to ensure you're getting the very best value for money.
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 6 people (in total) are required for each departure.
This holiday is unsuitable for children.
Guided walking Managed by our sister company, Exodus.
All breakfasts, 8 lunches and 7 evening meals
Transfer included from San Jose airport at 21:50, and back to San Jose airport at 09:00.
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 . 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.