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Keel-billed toucan in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Nature & Wildlife
Family Travel
Land-Based Expeditions
Keel-billed toucan in Costa Rica

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Costa Rica

International Expeditions’ Costa Rica tour treks across the lush rainforests, cloud forests, mountains and coastline encounters a wealth of wildlife, but also allows time to bond with the friendly people during a relaxing dinner with locals and tour of a coffee plantation — encompassing the natural and human history of this rich land. Forming a natural bridge between North and South America, this peaceful country contains a phenomenally diverse concentration of birds, primates and butterflies, and its far-reaching national parks and reserves have long-been considered the showplace of tropical conservation. For a true rendezvous with nature, Costa Rica travel is calling!

Commotion in the Canopy

Spend your days on our Costa Rica tour with a host of wildlife! As you travel through the lowland jungles, monkeys create a commotion in the canopy, in the company of toucans and macaws. Daily guided rainforest excursions with our Master Naturalists are the perfect time to take in Costa Rica’s symphony of wildlife.

Discover Flexible Fun & Adventure

Not only will you experience the volcanic fireworks of Arenal, swim in natural hot springs and glide along Caribbean waters, IE’s Costa Rica tour features your choice of horseback riding, white-water rafting, trying a canopy zip-line and more!

Experience Culture on Our Costa Rica Tour

While the friendly locals in Costa Rica are often called “ticos,” you’ll be calling these welcoming people “friend!” Taking advantage of IE’s decades of travel to Costa Rica, your small group will be welcomed like family to a traditional meal hosted by Dona Mireya at the Hidalgo Family Hot Springs and when meeting Monteverde’s Quaker settlers on our Costa Rica tour.

Daily Itinerary

Costa Rica Itinerary

  • Day
    1

    Arrive San José

    Fly independently to San José, where we meet our guide and transfer to Grano de Oro Hotel.  

  • Day
    2

    San José / Sarapiqui

    Depart for the primary forests, swamps and banana plantations of Sarapiquí, an important region for conservation of birds, butterflies, insects and plants. The crystal Sarapiquí River snakes through the region, beginning in the old crater of the Poas Volcano – joining with the waters of several tributaries such as the Rio Sucio and Rio Puerto Viejo. The moderate rapids are particularly attractive to rafting enthusiasts, and we spend our morning rafting and ziplining through the rainforest canopy. Hike the jungle trails at La Selva Biological Station, home to 79 bird species as well as monkey and sloth. The station is operated by the Organization for Tropical Studies, a consortium of universities and research institutions from the United States, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico Once we reach the station, discuss cutting-edge research being done to conserve the tropical rainforest with one of the scientists in residence. Spend tonight at Selva Verde Lodge (or similar). (B,L,D)

    Great Green Macaw
  • Day
    3

    Sarapiqui / Tortuguero

    Listen to the morning songs of the forest’s birds and frog as we enjoy a morning of hiking and tasting exotic fruits at a locally owned organic farm. Sit down over a homemade lunch with the owners before catching the boat to Tortuguero. Spend two nights at Evergreen Lodge (or similar). (B,L,D)

  • Day
    4

    Tortuguero National Park

    Our Costa Rica tour visits the flooded forests of Tortuguero, established to protect the largest nesting ground of green sea turtles in the Caribbean and the surrounding lowland rainforest — home to jaguars, manatees and the endangered great green macaw. During the summer months, thousands of turtles come ashore on these world-famous beaches to lay their eggs. By boat, we glide along the black waters surrounded by towering trees, looking for keel-billed toucans, colorful parrots and the basilisk lizard, also called the “Jesus Christ lizard” because it runs across the water! As we explore the park's canals, look for all six species of New World kingfishers, as many as eight species of parrots, toucans, oropendolas and more, as well as the raphia palm, which has the largest leaves of any plant. Capuchin and spider monkeys may be seen crossing the river in daring leaps. (B,L,D)

    Rafting
  • Day
    5

    Tortuguero / San José / Arenal

    After breakfast, fly back to San José. From there, drive to the Arenal area. Explore the Arenal Hanging Bridges, fourteen bridges designed to blend with the environment. As we walk these trails, we’ll see flowers and wildlife typical of the rainforest, and enjoy imposing views of Arenal Volcano, active since 1968. In the afternoon we visit the Hidalgo Family Hot Springs for a chance to enjoy soaking in thermal waters surrounded by rainforest. Our accommodations for two nights at the Arenal Lodge (or similar) offer an unobstructed view of the volcano. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    6

    Arenal

    Enjoy a morning of hiking along the trails at the private Ecocentro Danaus Ecological Reserve. As you stroll through the secondary forest, your naturalist points out sloths, iguanas, poison dart frogs, caimans and emerald basilisk lizards, as well as many tropical bird species. Meet members of the local Tonjibe community at the Maleku Indigenous Cultural House, which is dedicated to preserving the tribe’s traditional language, dances, diet, dressing, and the use of natural medicines while helping them adapt. After lunch, hop on a tractor to tour an estate before learning about Tico-style coffee and trying your hand at making corn tortillas! Cap off our day by joining local youth to learn folk dances and watch as they entertain with a demonstration. (B,L,D)

    Orchids
  • Day
    7

    Arenal / Monteverde

    A boat takes us across Lake Arenal to an ecological farm, where we enjoy lunch and continue our Costa Rica tour. Travel to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, the richest and most complex tropical cloud forest in the New World. The abundance of life associated with the cloud forest is astounding. Within the general heading of "cloud forest" there are actually six distinct forest types at Monteverde, each with its own separate, yet interwoven, plant and animal life. The Monteverde Cloud Reserve contains over 2,000 species of plants, including a wide array of orchids, mosses, ferns and bromeliads. Specialized guides will point out the most important aspects of coffee, its harvesting and processing on an afternoon tour. Your coffee guides will also highlight the importance of the golden bean on Costa Rica’s social, cultural and economic development. We’ll be visited by one of the area’s original Quaker settlers to learn about the history and current issues of this sprawling agricultural community. The community was founded in 1951 by a group of American Quakers, most from IE’s home state of Alabama. Spend tonight at the Monteverde Lodge & Gardens (or similar). (B,L,D)

  • Day
    8

    Monteverde / San José

    Our morning is spent at the wildlife enthusiast’s paradise of Curicancha Reserve. Alongside your guide, watch for resplendent quetzal, three-wattled bellbird, blue-crowned motmot and orange-bellied trogon. Other wildlife frequently spotted includes armadillo, coati, agouti, kinkajou, ocelot, two-toed sloth, and three species of monkey: mantled howler, white-faced capuchin and spider monkey. Tour the Butterfly Garden, with many kinds of brilliantly colored native butterflies along with medicinal plants and a leaf-cutter ant colony. After lunch, head back to San José. Savor a farewell dinner of French Mediterranean and tropically-influenced cuisine, while learning about Casa Luz, a community project supported by the restaurant. Casa Luz provides a safe environment for at-risk young mothers and their children. Spend tonight back at Grano de Oro Hotel. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    9

    San José / Depart

    Survey the city of San Jose, including stops at the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum and The National Theater. Transfer to the airport for your independent flight home. (B)

Things to Know

What's included in the price of IE’s Costa Rica tour?

  • Wildlife excursions on land & by boat
  • Choice of horseback riding, white-water rafting, canopy zip line & more in Sarapiquí
  • Tour of local coffee farm
  • Arenal Hanging Bridge excursion
  • Daily rainforest walks
  • Swimming in natural pools & hot springs
  • Traditional dinner with Doña Mireya
  • Flight to Tortuguero
  • Visits to two Butterfly Gardens
  • Guided tours & enriching lectures by Master Naturalists
  • Nightly briefings on history, wildlife & conservation
  • 22 meals
  • Tips to porters & to waiters for included meals
  • Bottled water on transfers
  • All entrance fees
  • Transfers on group arrival & departure dates

What visas are required for Costa Rica travel?

There are no visas required for U.S. or Canadian citizens to enter Costa Rica.

What kind of weather can you expect on my Costa Rica tour?

Temperature in Costa Rica varies little from season to season and the main influencing factor is altitude. San José, at 5,085 feet, has a climate that the locals refer to as the "eternal spring." Lows average a mild 59°F year round while highs are a pleasant 79°F. The coasts are much hotter with the Caribbean averaging 70°F at night and over 86°F during the day; the Pacific is 4-6°F warmer.

What are the luggage restrictions on IE’s Costa Rica tour?

Luggage weight is restricted to one checked bag weighing no more than 40 lbs. per person for the flight to Tortuguero. That bag may not exceed 50 inches (length + width + height)..

Accommodations

Costa Rica Tour Grano de Oro

Grano De Oro Hotel

Voted “Top Hotel in Central America & the Caribbean” by Conde Nast, the boutique Grano de Oro Hotel offers wonderful views of the city lights and inventive dining. Your air-conditioned room offers the experience of staying in a cozy guest bedroom of a turn of the century mansion, with the luxuries of a fine hotel. Don’t forget to take advantage of the rooftop garden terrace, which features lawn beds and two Jacuzzis.

Costa Rica Tour Selva Verde

Selva Verde Lodge

Selva Verde is a renowned pioneer in Costa Rica’s ecotourism movement. The 40 river lodge rooms are simply but comfortably furnished and have an elevated position to give lovely views to the rainforest and river. All rooms feature a spacious balcony or patio with hammocks, ceiling fans and mosquito screens. The lodge complex links to a private pristine rainforest reserve by bridge over the Sarapiqui River, with complementary guided bird watching tours available daily. There is also a swimming pool and bar with a large terrace overlooking the forest.

Costa Rica Tour Arenal Lodge

Arenal Lodge

The Arenal Lodge is set on a 2,000-acre piece of property that has views of both the volcano and lake. The property is comprised mostly of rainforest, and there are trails running through much of it for you to enjoy. Aside from outdoor exploration, there is much to do at the hotel. Guests that are looking to relax will be pleased with the swimming pool, steam room and Jacuzzi, while those that want a more active form of entertainment can use the game room or gym. The restaurant serves a wide variety of food, including fresh seafood, pasta and vegetarian options. Ingredients are purchased from local organic suppliers whenever possible.

Evergreen Lodge

Evergreen Lodge

In Tortuguero your small group will spend two nights at the Evergreen Lodge, just a five minute boat ride from Tortuguero National Park’s main entrance. This lodge has 26 spacious rooms, with comfortable beds, private bathrooms, hot water and ceiling fans. During our leisure time at this accommodation, you may wish to relax at the swimming pool, enjoy music at the bar or treat yourself to a spa visit.

Costa Rica Tour Monteverde Lodge & Gardens

Monteverde Lodge & Gardens

Featured in National Geographic Tours of a Lifetime, the spectacular Monteverde Lodge & Gardens raises the bar for active travelers looking to balance adventure and comfort. The rooms feature soft wood paneling, spaces that mirror the freedom of the forest and outstanding views of the wilderness beyond. Both upstairs and downstairs rooms have glass-enclosed showers, hot water, an in-room safe, coffee maker, alarm clock, ceiling fan, reading lamps and hair dryer. At El Jardin Restaurant you can savor the freshest local produce and some of the best South American wines offered. After a day of activity, you are sure to appreciate a soak in the 15-person jacuzzi located in an enclosed atrium. The lodge also offers an extensive garden with a heated outdoor pool. Guests can also enjoy the indoor butterfly garden. WiFi is included at no extra cost.

Field Leaders

Johnathan

Jonathan Sequeira

Master Naturalist

Jonathan first studied nature and social sciences at the Cartago Community College and the National University of Costa Rica. Later, he received his doctorate for work related to the analysis of medicinal plants of the rainforest from the International University for Complementary Medicine in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Jonathan was awarded the status of Master Naturalist Guide in 2004. He has also volunteered for the National Park Service - at the Guayabo Archaeological Monument and Chirripo and Carara National Parks - and worked at Garrison Refuge in New York for the Audubon Society.

From: $3,798 per person
Duration
9 Days, 8 Nights
Guest Capacity
18 Guests
Trip Type
Land
Expedition Destinations

Special Offers

Trip Highlights

  • Hike, white-water raft, fly on a canopy zip-line, soak in hot springs & more to create your ideal of the perfect adventure.
  • Float the dense jungle canals of Tortuguero watching for primates.
  • Enjoy birding in the rich cloud forests of Monteverde Reserve.
  • Hike jungle trails & discuss conservation with scientists at La Selva Biological Station.
  • Taste exotic fruits, sample local coffee & learn to make Tico-style cuisine.
  • Meet members of the Tonjibe community at the Maleku Indigenous Cultural House.
  • Learn during excursions guided by experienced, knowlegeable local naturalists.