Natural Wonders of Costa Rica Vacation: Exotic Wildlife & Pristine Nature

A 10 day trip to Costa Rica 
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The colors of Costa Rica are wildly ambitious, glowing emerald on the coastline and jade in the trees, even in the scarlet macaw and white-faced capuchin monkeys. The country’s wildlife comes from its natural wonders, offering you a panorama of nature’s grandeur. From wave breaks to simmering volcanoes, hot springs to thundering waterfalls, venture into the jungle and discover winding canals shaded by dense trees. Linger on the hillside and watch the early morning mist disappear. Costa Rica’s life is vibrant, luminous, wild, and blissfully colorful.   

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano National Park, Quepos, Manuel Antonio National Park, San Jose, Los Quetzales National Park 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: City Colors

Costa Rica is a coveted paradise that offers a perfect mixture of cosmopolitan life and natural wonders. The capital of San Jose is a bustling metropolis in comparison the rest of the country. The pulse of the streets and the people are jovial, always on the move in vibrant pedestrian arcades. Murals span entire city blocks and bring bombastic color to the streets. Your private transfer meets you at the airport and escorts you to your luxurious accommodation at the core of San Jose. Teatro Nacional is a beautiful public building constructed in the 1890s. The columned neoclassical façade supports a pediment and three guarding angelic figures that overlook the plaza. The cool air of the evening washes over the city and you have already found the country’s charm.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 2: The Turtle Place

Tortuguero is a village on the eastern seaboard of Coast Rica. The lush jungle sweeps from the sandy shores inland and creates a lush and unique landscape. River canals cut through the trees and create a pathway to the ocean. After breakfast you make your way to the national park by air, one of two ways to reach the area. The park is known as a haven for sea turtle nesting, but the surrounding greenery and tranquil, secluded atmosphere is as much of a draw. The rainforest contains many similarities to the Amazon, from its climate to the serene way the water trickles alongside dangling, dense trees.

After you settle in to your comfortable accommodation you will venture through the national park on a tour. Howler monkeys laze in the trees and sloths slowly reach for lingering fruit. The greenery is encompassing and, at moments, blocks out the sky. Scarlet macaws perch on nearby branches. Their long red tail feathers reach up into their sapphire blue and sun-yellow wings. You are immersed in the natural splendor of the Costa Rican jungle, moving through the waterways and finding nothing but wondrous examples of nature’s beauty.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Turtles in Season

The morning rises over the canopy and the light shines through to the forest floor. Howler monkeys are most active in the cool dawn. They call and howl through the trees. Their voices sound gruff and amusing, energetic and imploring. The branches bounce as the monkeys travel through the trees and leaves rustle against the branches. Turtles come to the sandy shores around the village of Tortuguero at the beginning of the year to lay their eggs, which hatch from July to October. The park has been a virtual safe space for the turtles since the 1970s.

The baby turtles are about four inches long and hatch from an egg the size of a golf ball. The golden and grainy sand seems to sink around the nests. The newly hatched turtles emerge from the cracked shells and dig their way out of the nest in search of the water. The sea laps at the shore. The small waves and the sifting sand are constant sounds against the sporadic whisper of cracking eggs. Their flippers propel them towards the water and eventually carry them across the sand and into the sea.  

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 4: The Pure Volcanic Atmosphere  

The road to Arenal is a mixture of charming mini villages popping up like chic apparitions from a dream, and secluded bucolic landscape that feels like there isn’t a person around for miles. Arenal Volcano stands at 5,437 feet and towers over its pastured green foothills. Smoke rises from the crater and mixes with the comforts of the drifting clouds. Horses roam through the fields and grassy lots. Iguanas bask in the sunlight and scramble into the brush. After you find the luxuries of Nayara Springs hotel, you will make your way deeper into the verdant trees for the best views of the volcano.

Fifteen suspension bridges scour the rainforest and provide a tremendous time exploring both the natural elegance of the landscape and a panorama of the ever-steaming volcano. Walk through the treetops over 328 feet above the ground. Capuchin monkeys rush through the higher branches. Their white and black fur flashes like a light. Their high-pitched screech echoes through the forest. You feel like an adventurer, searching the wilderness for life and finding both the elegance and power of nature, which often come side by side.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, transfer, accommodation at Nayara Springs 

Day 5: Listening to Nature

A short distance from the town of La Fortuna is the glistening, thundering call of the La Fortuna Waterfall. The water drops over 200 feet into an emerald pool and creates a comforting cloud of mist. After breakfast, you will venture out into the dense jungle greenery and stroll along the landscape that changes from pasture to rainforest. You can hear the explosive sounds of the water crashing into the pool below. The solid stream trundles over the cliff. Swim in the river or dip your toes into the pool. The water is cold and refreshing on your skin. The river runs around large boulders. The sound of the river can be heard beneath the power of the falls.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, accommodation

Day 6: Into the Sky in Quepos

Central Pacific Costa Rica is filled with cosmopolitan cities and surf havens but also the ineffable charisma of traditional Quepos and the nature at Manuel Antonio. Outside of the city center lies Quepos, a sleepy town filled with smiling faces and the fresh scent of the sea, bordered by the Pacific on one side and the mountains on the other. Manuel Antonio National Park was declared preserved land in the 1970s and is the country’s second-smallest park. Coconuts decorate the palm trees. Some fall onto the sand and fill the air with a luscious sweetness.

The forest brushes against the shores and creates a stunning juxtaposition of jade sea and emerald jungle. In the afternoon you will venture deeper into the trees to sail through the canopy on an exceptional zip line tour. Travel across more than two-miles of rainforest. The forestry looks different when situated amongst the leaves. The greenery turns into a blurred painting. The wind rushes against your cheeks. You have an open view of the surrounding jungle from above. The whip of the wind sounds in your ears and you know what it’s like to fly, adventure, and feel the calm after the adrenaline fades.    

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 7: A Day at Damas

The day is yours to bask in the splendors around Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park. Luxuriate on the hot sand at Playa Espadilla or enjoy a day exploring the various walking trails through the splendid jungle. You can even stand at the center of a tornado of colorful fluttering wings at the butterfly garden in Hotel Si Como No. Damas Island is a short boat ride away from the city shores. Mangrove forests rise out of the coastal sediment and create unique root system around the shores.

Follow your guide on a canoe or kayak and paddle beneath the lush, sprawling leaves. You see effervescent fish surging through the water. Sloths hang in the tall, thin trees. You pass under the tunnels of branches and find monkeys unhindered by your presence. Stingrays fly under the stoic water. If you look carefully you can see crocodiles resting on the river’s shores and absorbing the heat. A different ambiance spreads over the river. The trickling water and leaning trees bring you to a bayou instead of a temperate rainforest, showing you the reveled diversity of Costa Rica.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, accommodation

Day 8: The Newness of Parks

Los Quetzales National Park rises up to 9,842 feet along the Talamancan Mountains and is Costa Rica’s newest national park. The park is named after the elusive quetzal, a vibrantly colored bird with iridescent golden-green wings and a crimson chest. Their tail feathers drift from their bodies like ribbons and stream through the air in flight. The variety of the park spans 14 different ecosystems, from lakes to rainforests, which gives you plenty to discover throughout the day. Follow the trails through the trees and walk alongside roaming rivers and hidden streams.

The water is cold, beginning in the Cerro de la Muerte. The scent of cypress and oak fills the air when you reach the higher altitude. At the highest ridges you look out over the park and find the serene and surreal beauty of the cloud forest. The mist floats against the high altitudinal trees and brush landscape. It looks like vapors rising from the mountainside itself. In the quiet afternoon you can hear the dew dripping off of the flora and onto the forest floor.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, transfer, accommodation

Day 9: Morning Songs

The day is yours to spend amongst the rich flora and fauna of Los Quetzales National Park. Hummingbirds flutter around the lowland trees and press their thin beaks into blossoming flowers. Their wings flap up to 70 times per second and create a rhythmic sound in the morning air. The park is set across 12,355 acres. The verdant peaks stand out against the background of exceptionally blue sky. On the Ojo de Agua you will find collared peccary rummaging through the brush. The hog-like mammal can grow up to 60 pounds and burrows into the hillsides in the evening. Their long tusks glint in the beaming light and their low grunt follows them through the trees. The natural majesty of the forest is endlessly captivating, displaying diverse beauty in the flora and fauna.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, accommodation 

Day 10: Morning Scenery

The morning air is quiet around the trees and the mist spreads along the forested hills until slowly disappearing. After breakfast, a private transfer escorts you back to San Jose for your return flight home. The city feels expansive and rushed, bustling with energy and different from the time you have spent exploring the country’s wild side. You have discovered turtle nests and quaint canals, rolling hills and drifting clouds. As the plane soars into the vast blue sky you have seen Costa Rica’s magnificent wildlife and found it brimming with wonder. 

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$1,795
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.