Wildlife, Rainforests, Marine Life & Volcanoes

From the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, this experience combines Costa Rica's most abundant lowland rainforest habitats, its best marine life and a huge variety of ecological zones from the coast to cloud forests on the edge of Arenal Volcano.

Expert local guides will help you to explore six of the countries most important protected areas. Three of these are in the highlands of Costa Rica comprising the Monteverde National Park, the inspiring community owned cloud forest reserve of Santa Elena, and cloud forests of the Arenal Volcano National Park. On the Pacific coast we take you to the Corcovado National Park where primary rainforest runs unbroken down to the sea for 30 long miles.  On the Caribbean Coast, the similarly rich Tortuguero National Park forests are bisected throughout by a system of waterways which allows you to explore by small boat or kayak if you prefer. At Caño Island Biological Reserve we find the country's most abundant marine life, which almost always includes dolphins and regularly includes whales, above the water, and turtles, sharks, rays and coral reefs beneath.

The Corcovado National Park in the Osa Peninsula is undoubtedly a wildlife highlight for any visit to Costa Rica. The area has been described by National Geographic magazine as '..the most wildlife intense place on earth', both because of its primaeval forest and abundant offshore life. The western side of the Corcovado provides more than 30 miles of beach where the rainforest meets the Pacific Ocean. This is where terrestrial and marine ecosystems combine with coatis, macaws, and tapir coming out of the forest and onto the beaches, whilst turtles and even bull sharks coming in from the sea, swimming into the Corcovado's tidal streams. Flocks of pelicans look like pterodactyls as they glide low over the Pacific waves and float in formation above your head. This coastline feels truly primordial.

17 kilometres from the coast, close to Osa's northern Drake's Bay, is the Caño Island Biological Reserve. Aside from Cocos Island way out in the Pacific, this is where  you will find the country's best marine life, both on the surface and beneath it. Dolphins are a regular sight, but you may also be lucky enough to see Humpback Whales. These can be seen both on northwards and southwards migrations along the coast. Olive Ridley turtles and manta rays are also often seen at the surface and below. The coral reefs and steep drop-offs provide excellent snorkeling if you wish, with some huge shoals of fish and pelagic visitors such as sharks and barracudas. We can pre-arrange diving for certified divers.

The Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica's north eastern Caribbean coast is another excellent place to see lowland rainforest wildlife and birdlife. There are 309 species of bird here and between July - October it is one of the best places in the world to see green turtles laying their eggs on its beaches. From late March to early June, Tortuguero can also be a good place from which to see giant leatherback turtles nesting. Many of your explorations here will be by boat, but for those keen to experience the forest in paddled tranquility we can incorporate a  ½ day of forest wilderness kayaking.

Of Costa Rica's cloud forests, Monteverde is probably the most famous. Costa Rica's national bird, the Resplendent Quetzal, is an important draw here, as well as its abundant hummingbirds, insects and cloud forest flora. We make use of almost 3 km of aerial walkway to explore at canopy level, as well as the option of an exhilarating descent along 15 canopy zip lines. As an alternative, we can take you by horseback to the 200ft La Fortuna Waterfalls. Another alternative is to explore the self-guided cloud forest trails around one of the ecolodges we use here.

For some focused guided natural history and scenic treks we take you to the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, pathways in the cloud forests of the Arenal National Park and the edges of the Arenal volcano itself. Alternatives we can incorporate at Arenal are horseback riding or mountain biking for a more energetic experience of the fantastic landscapes here. Whichever way, we will take you to the higher slopes of the volcano at night and for a restful swim in springs heated from beneath by the volcano itself.

Like any of our Costa Rica experiences, this one can be tailor to meet your timings, preferences and special interests. We can easily add in or swap locations to incorporate more relaxation, adventure, a higher standard of ecolodge where available or allow for a more intensive look at certain birdlife, wildlife or marine life. Other locations you may be interested to consider might include:

- the Manuel Antonio National Park on the Central Pacific coast
- for additional marine life: the Gulf of Papagoyo and the Bat and Catalina


Sample 15 Day Itinerary

This 15 day itinerary can be extended or shortened to suit your own interests. Please Contact Us to discuss.

Day 1: Arrive San José

Arrive San José where you will be met and transferred to your hotel close to San José's Central Plaza

(If you wish, we can upgrade you to a quiet boutique hotel, to a hacienda in the highlands, or one of the cloud forest lodges closest to San José).

Day 2: San José

Day to acclimatise in San José.  One of the local highlights is to visit the Gold Museum which is open most days except Mondays.  It is situated in the Central Plaza close to the old theatre.


Day 3: Transfer to Tortuguero National Park

You will be collected early from your hotel and transferred from San José overland through the Brauillo Carillo National Park to the Tortuguero Canal.  Here you will meet a motor canoe from where you will be taken north to your jungle lodge in the Tortuguero National.

You will have lunch soon after your arrival and begin your exploration of the forest and waterways of Tortuguero National Park.


Day 4: Exploring the Tortuguero National Park

You will spend today exploring the Tortuguero National Park.


Day 5: Transfer to Arenal

After breakfast on the Caribbean coast of the Tortuguero National Park, you will be transported by motor canoe and overland to Guapiles, and from here privately overland to your mountain lodge overlooking Arenal Volcano. You will have time today to join some walks from the lodge on the slopes of the mountain.


Day 6: Exploring Arenal

In the morning your guide will pick you up to take you on a trek within the cloud forests of Arenal, including its impressive hanging bridges through the canopy.

Alternatively, we can arrange for you to go mountain biking in the area, kayaking on Lake Arenal, or explore on horseback to the La Fortuna waterfalls.

Towards the end of the afternoon we will take you to the higher slopes of the volcano to walk and to enjoy a dip in spring baths heated by the volcano. Arenal volcano is famous for its lava flows which are best observed on a clear night.


Day 7: Transfer to Monteverde

Transfer from Arenal to Monteverde.

You will have time for some self guided walks in the cloud forest.


Day 8: Exploring Monteverde

AM: You will be collected from your cloud forest ecolodge and be taken on a guided visit of the cloud forest by means of a 3km aerial walkway.

PM: If you wish to experience a higher adrenaline zip line through the canopy (a rainforest experience really invented in Costa Rica), then we can arrange this for the afternoon. Otherwise, you might like to consider horseback riding to a waterfall or enjoying self guided trails around your Ecolodge.


Day 9: Santa Elena Cloud Forest

In the morning you will be taken on a guided exploration of the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. Santa Elena has a similar cloud forest environment to Monteverde, but with considerably fewer visitors.


Day 10: Return to San José

You will join a transfer back to San José and your hotel there.


Day 11: Fly to the Osa Peninsula

You will be collected from your hotel and taken by private transfer to San José airport.

Fly San José to the Osa Peninsula.

Upon arrival at Drake Bay / Palmar Sur you will be transferred by land and boat to your lodge at the northern end of the Corcovado National Park.  The rainforests of the Corcovado N.P have been described by National Geographic magazine as '… the most wildlife intense place on Earth'.  There are excellent opportunities here to see monkeys, scarlet macaws, tapir, coatis and more inside the forest and on the beaches.  Out to sea pelicans glide in formation above the waves.


Day 12: Exploring Caño Island Biological Reserve

Early AM: Guided birdwatching.

After breakfast, a boat visit to the Caño Island Biological Reserve, some 17 kilometres offshore.  Here you can find some of the country's best marine life, both at the surface and below it.  Dolphins are a regular sight, but you may also be lucky enough to see Humpback Whales which can be seen both on the northwards and southwards migrations along the coast.  Olive Ridley turtles and manta rays are also often seen at the surface and below.  The coral reefs and steep drop-offs provide excellent snorkeling if you wish with some huge shoals of fish and pelagic visitors such as sharks and barracudas.  Snorkelling can be pre-arranged if you wish with equipment provided, as can diving for certified divers (at an additional cost).


Day 13: Exploring Corcovado National Park

Full day visit to the magnificent lowland rainforests of the Corcovado National Park.


Day 14: Return to San José

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airstrip for your flight back to San José.

You will met upon arrival and taken to your hotel.


Day 15: Depart San José

You will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.



Dates: available throughout the year

Price per person sharing

Optional activities:
There is no charge for opting between the following:
- Arenal: trekking or horseback riding or mountain biking
- Monteverde: zip lining or horseback riding

Kayaking in the Tortuguero National Park (min 2 participants):
2018:  £75 pp
2019:  £82 pp
2020:  £90 pp

Comfortable lodges and hotels, but upgrades and alterations can be made such as in San Jose. You can also elect to stay in the south of the Corcovado which although removes the possibility of access to Cano Island Biological Reserve can incorporate the most premium ecolodge in Costa Rica set in rainforest hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Price includes:
- All accommodation
- All transfers by air, land and water
- Guided activities as specified
- Equipment for all activities specified
- Park fees
- All meals as per itinerary (B,L,D)
- Prices are subject to availability of selected accommodation and seasonal pricing variations

Price excludes:
- International flights
- Insurance
- Items of a personal nature
- Activities not specified
- Tips
- Visas

Activity Level: Low to high depending upon choices and personal preference

  • Hummingbird in Garden, Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Butterfly Gardens at Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Canopy Walkway in Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Tree Frog in Selvatura, Santa Elena Cloud Forest
  • Ziplining Tour in Santa Elena Cloud Forest
  • Rainforest Lodge in Osa Peninsula

Costa Rica National Park & Reserve Guides

Trip Reviews - Costa Rica

  • Sloth in Tortuguero National Park
  • Pacuare Reserve in Tortuguero National Park
  • White Hawk in Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Monkey in Tortuguero National Park
  • Newly Hatched Turtle in Tortuguero National Park
  • Santa Elena Cloud Forest
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