Wildlife in Costa Rica

Walk on the Wild Side

Wildlife Holidays in Costa Rica

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The Perfect Destination for Wildlife Lovers

10 days enjoying all the wildlife of Costa Rica from £1695pp

More than 25% of Costa Rica is covered by National Parks and Reserves, making it not just a world ecological leader, but a natural paradise for birds and animals, with species which are endangered elsewhere thriving here. With coastlines on two oceans, you can see everything from green sea turtles in the Caribbean to whales and dolphins in the Pacific, and the protected land in between is one of the best places in the world to see jaguars, sloths and several species of monkeys, as well as a vast array of birds such as the rare Quetzal.

Outline Itinerary

  • Day One: Arrival in San Jose
  • Day Two: On to Tortuguero
  • Day Three: Tortuguero National Park
  • Day Four: San Gerardo de Dota
  • Day Five: Los Quetzales National Park
  • Day Six: Manuel Antonio
  • Day Seven: Exploring the National Park
  • Day Eight: Whale watching
  • Day Nine: Back to San Jose
  • Day Ten: Overnight flight back to the UK

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Detailed Itinerary

Day One – Arrival in San Jose

Your Costa Rica wildlife holiday begins today, as you touch down in one of the world’s most beautiful and exciting countries, Costa Rica! Most international flights arrive in the evening, and we’ll take you straight to your hotel so you can freshen up and head out for dinner.

Day Two - On to Tortuguero

It's an early start this morning, as we pick you up from your hotel and head to the north-eastern coast of the country, to the national park surrounding Tortuguero. Most of Costa Rica is covered with dense jungle, and you’ll begin to see how wild and tropical the scenery is here, as we leave the city behind and drive through the cloud forests of the Braulio Carrillo National Park. We’ll stop en-route for a traditional breakfast, before continuing on through the banana plantations, Costa Rica’s main industry. We’ll arrive at the Caño Blanco pier just before lunch, and board a small boat which will take us along the canals and through the rainforest. Upon arrival at your hotel, we’ll enjoy a delicious lunch and a refreshing cocktail to help you get into the holiday spirit! This afternoon we’ll take another boat ride to the friendly and colourful town of Tortuguero, on the banks of the river. This area is a real haven for a variety a turtle species, which you may have already spotted during your journey along the jungle canals, so we’ll visit the turtle conservation centre to learn a little more about these fascinating creatures. Tortuguero hosts the largest green turtle rookery in the Western Hemisphere and is also an important nesting site for populations of leatherback and hawksbill turtles. The Costa Rican legislature declared Tortuguero National Park in 1975 to protect the nesting turtles, the beach and the adjacent terrestrial habitats. You’ll return to your hotel in time for dinner this evening. (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included)

  • There are a whole variety of jungle lodges in the national park, each with its own charms. We really like the Mawamba Lodge, as it offers a bit of everything, but just let us know if you’d prefer to look at alternatives!

Day Three - Tortuguero National Park

After breakfast this morning we’ll board our open boat again for some more time on the canals of the national park. The wide canals allow close wildlife viewing, and silent approaches on the water permit unusually close contact with the fauna. River otters, caimans, and howler, spider, and white-faced monkeys are easily sighted, as are birds such as oropendolas, toucans, and jacamars and other waterfowl. After lunch in a local restaurant we’ll take to the canals again for some more time in the national park. (B)

This evening, you’ll join a local guide on the beach for what will hopefully be an incredible, once in a lifetime experience… This is one of the few beaches in the country used as a nesting site by 4 of the world’s 7 species of sea turtles, most notably the endangered green turtle. You will be asked to wear black for this tour, and mobile phones and cameras are not permitted on the beach once the sun sets. This is because we must ensure the conditions are as dark and natural as possible for the turtles. The female turtles that come here return year after year, and they commonly dig more than one nest, in order to reduce the chances of all their eggs being lost to predators. When the hatchlings emerge, they must get to the sea as quickly as possible, and they use the moon to help them navigate, hence why it’s so important to keep the beach dark. Intervention is rare, though it’s tempting to assist these cute little babies! You will return to the hotel around midnight. (B/L/D)

Day Four - San Gerardo de Dota

After breakfast this morning, we’ll leave the jungle behind as we board the boat to take us Caño Blanco, so we can continue by land to the remote inland mountains of Talamanca south of San Jose. The area of San Gerardo de Dota is one of Costa Rica’s less-visited, but it is home to the country’s largest population of the most beautiful bird in the America’s, the Resplendent Quetzal - a must-see for any keen birdwatcher! You’ll be spending the next couple of nights in a lovely mountain lodge hotel, located in its own nature reserve. (B)

Day Five – Los Quetzales National Park

It’s an early start this morning, as you meet your guide at sunrise for a birdwatching tour in Los Quetzales National Park. Seeing a wild Quetzal will be our main goal for the morning, but despite their bright red and green plumage, they are shy birds who are difficult to spot without an expert eye! From the Trogoniade species family, this was an incredibly sacred bird to ancient indigenous cultures, and they have always been well-protected as a result. They prefer quiet, tranquil environments, and this area provides their perfect habitat, with enough food (the Aguacatillo tree!) to sustain them year-round. There are, of course, hundreds more beautiful bird species to be found in these cloud forests, along with over 500 kinds of orchids. (B)

Day Six - Manuel Antonio

After breakfast this morning we will pick you up and drive to the hot and humid central pacific coastal region of the country. The long white sand beaches, blue-green waters, and beautiful cliffs make this some of the most picturesque scenery in Costa Rica. Your hotel for the next few days is located in a privileged position overlooking the beach and jungle, with 360-degree views. (B)

  • If you’d prefer a longer hike, you can spend most of the day trekking this area. Or why not explore by quad, raft, kayak, or bike instead?

Day Seven - Exploring the National Park

One of Costa Rica’s ecological gems and the second most visited nature reserve in the country, Manuel Antonio National Park is no to be missed while visiting this beautiful area. Today we’ll be taken into the park with experience guides, for an easy and relaxing walk over well-marked trails that will introduce you to the varied flora and fauna of this rich rainforests. Although many of the animals can be easily observed, the guide will always carry a high-powered telescopic lens that can be used to view resident wildlife obscured by the lush jungle. Beginning at the entrance of the park, the walk through the forest trails leads to the spectacular white sand beaches where a short break is taken to enjoy the sun and take a refreshing dip in the ocean. From here we can either return to the hotel for a free afternoon or you can stay on the beach and in the park for the rest of the day. (B)

Day Eight - Whale Watching in Manuel Antonio

The biodiverse Pacific Ocean along Costa Rica’s western coast is teeming with life, and there are an estimated 25 species of whales and dolphins here at different times of the year. Dolphin species include: bottle-nosed, spinner, common, and spotted dolphins, while whale species include: humpback, false killer, and pilot whales, along with many more species, including manta rays and sea turtles. Today we will take to the sea on a whale-watching tour with a local expert. (B)

Day Nine - Back to San Jose

After some free time this morning for one last nature walk, we’ll pick you up and take you back to your hotel in San Jose for one final night here in Costa Rica. (B)

Day Ten - Last Day in Costa Rica

Unfortunately, today marks the end of your wildlife holiday in Costa Rica. We'll pick you up this morning and drive all the way back to San Jose international airport, where you’ll arrive in plenty of time for your departing flight home. (B)

Options for our Costa Rica Wildlife Tours

Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park – 3 nights from £795pp

If you're a real wildlife lover, why not take a jaunt down to the Corcovado National Park in the south-west of Costa Rica? This vast protected reserve covers 13 different eco-systems, from golden beaches on the Pacific Coast to Highland Cloud Forest, and is the most bio-diverse region in the whole of Costa Rica, giving you the chance to see over 400 bird species as well as all 6 of Costa Rica's big cats...

Trek to Cerro Chirripo

Cerro Chirripo Hike – 2 nights from £350pp

The tallest mountain in Costa Rica, lofty Cerro Chirripo rises to 3,800m giving you some of the best views in the country. In fact, on a clear day you can see both the Pacific and the Caribbean from the top! So why not add this two-day trek through the mountains of Talamanca to your itinerary and enjoy not only great views, but the chance to see quetzals, tapirs and even the elusive jaguars...

Amazon rainforest

Monteverde Cloud Forest Tour – 3 nights from £350pp

Covered in pristine, lush cloud forest, Monteverde has been described as one of Costa Rica's "crown jewels" and it makes a great addition to any holiday in Costa Rica, particularly if your family enjoy adventure activities. From zip-lining and canopy walkways in the tree-tops, to hiking and rafting down below, Monteverde is fantastic fun for all the family.

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What's Included?

Our standard price for these Costa Rica wildlife holidays is £1695 per person, which is based on two sharing a double or twin room in our standard hotels and lodge.

That price includes all your accommodation, internal transport, transfers, tours, guides and entrance fees, plus all the specified meals.

We don't have any "local payments" or sneaky charges: everything you have read about on this itinerary is included in that price. And because everything we do is tailor-made, we don't have fixed departure dates or minimum numbers for our trips. Outside of national holidays or other special events, this price is valid for the whole of 2020.

International flights

So with the exception of a few meals, everything on your holiday is included. What we don't include as standard is your international flights, because with these you have a huge range of options depending on the date you want to travel, the route you want to fly, and your preferred departure airport in the UK.

We aren't tied to any particular airline, and we will be delighted to discuss all options with you, or you can even book the flights yourself if you prefer: it's totally up to you.

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