Explore Costa Rica’s national parks and reserves on a journey from mist-shrouded cloud forests to volcanic landscapes and coastal jungles. Spot bright-winged birds in Carara Park National Park, and venture deep into Monteverde’s rain forest to search for monkeys, sloths, and rare orchids. Discover the ecosystems surrounding the smoldering Arenal Volcano, and encounter a wealth of wildlife along hidden waterways in Tortuguero National Park.
This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
Fly to San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and transfer to our hotel upon arrival. Gather for a welcome dinner this evening.
After an early breakfast, head to the town of Tarcoles, which lies in the buffer zone of Carara National Park. Enjoy a tour on the Tarcoles River where you'll have the opportunity to see a wide variety of birds and the American crocodile in its natural habitat. Continue to Monteverde and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before exploring the Curi Cancha Wildlife Refuge. Later, we'll hear from an early Quaker settler on Monteverde. Lodging tonight is a family-owned retreat with picturesque views of the cloud forest.
Visit the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens to see dozens of local species. Then spend the day exploring the cloud forest. Here, the dense foliage is bathed in year-round moisture created by cooling winds coming off the ocean. Walk along trails rich with butterflies, insects, and reptiles, and cross suspension bridges for a bird's-eye view of the canopy. Identify some of the 500-plus species of orchids, and search for tapirs and mantled howler monkeys. With luck, we’ll spot the rare resplendent quetzal—a sacred bird in Maya and Aztec cultures.
After breakfast, visit a family-owned farm that practices sustainable agriculture and traditional sugar processing. Take a walking tour of the farm and see the original trapiche sugar press. Then head into the northern highlands to the beautiful lake situated at the base of Arenal Volcano—one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Glide across tranquil waters in small boats, and dine at a restaurant on the lake’s far side before checking in to our hotel, featuring panoramic views of the volcano.
Venture into the rain forest surrounding Arenal Volcano, traversing an extensive network of bridges that loop through the treetops. From up here in the canopy, observe a variety of birds, including toucans, antbirds, and hawks, and keep an eye out for monkeys, jaguars, and coatis. This evening, take a dip in our lodge's soothing thermal pools, heated by the Arenal Volcano.
Take a charter flight to Tortuguero and board a boat bound for the rustic Aninga Lodge. Located on the Caribbean coast, Tortuguero is a lowland wet tropical forest accessible only by water or by air. Settle into your charming private bungalow raised above the rain forest floor and enjoy lunch at the lodge’s restaurant. Later, explore the canals of Tortuguero National Park in small boats, on the lookout for howler, spider, and capuchin monkeys, and caiman, as well as ibis, tiger herons, curassow, and other bird species.
Explore Tortuguero on another boating excursion, or kayak the park waterways. Enjoy time to relax at the lodge pool, or take a walk along a nearby nature trail. Later, visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy to learn about the history of the region and important conservation work taking place on Tortuguero’s beaches. Stroll through the village and dine at a local Afro-Caribbean restaurant.
Considered a food of the gods by the ancient Maya and Aztec, cacao has deep roots in Costa Rican culture. Cacao beans were used as a currency in pre-Columbian times, and chocolate was the country’s major export until the tobacco and coffee booms in the 1700s and 1800s. On our return to San José, pay a visit to one of Costa Rica’s top chocolatiers and taste a variety of exquisite confections. Then join the artisans in tempering chocolate at a workshop overlooking the mountains of the central valley. Later, celebrate our journey at a farewell dinner in San José.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.