Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Encounter a wide range of wildlife, from white-faced capuchins and howler monkeys to sloths, caimans, basilisk lizards, toucans, and thousands of butterflies.
  • Navigate the Río Frío of Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge by boat and identify unusual rainforest species hiking with naturalists from La Selva Biological Station & Reserve.
  • Join researchers in the field at the Monteverde Institute and participate in their ongoing cloud forest conservation projects.
  • Watch for monkeys and birdlife while navigating the mangroves of Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge, and meet with experts from the Leatherback Trust.

Itinerary

Itinerary

From cloud forests and wetlands to coastal mangroves and pristine beaches, discover Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity—and the conservation efforts that are helping to preserve it. On an expedition to wildlife refuges and national parks across northern Costa Rica, venture into the rainforests that blanket Arenal Volcano and go birding in the marshes of Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge. Visit a working coffee and cacao farm, follow naturalists on hikes through habitats teeming with wildlife, and meet scientists at three different research stations for an inside look at critical conservation efforts.

Day 1: San José, Costa Rica
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Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José, Costa Rica’s capital city, and transfer to our hotel upon arrival. After time to enjoy a swim or wander through the hotel’s tropical gardens and coffee plantation, meet for a welcome reception and dinner.

Meals Included:Dinner
Accommodations:

Costa Rica Marriott Hotel Hacienda Belen

Day 2: Sarapiquí /Arenal Volcano
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Travel north into the lowland tropical forests of Sarapiquí to La Selva Biological Station & Reserve, home to 470 recorded bird species, 125 mammal species, and so much more. On a naturalist-led hike, look for colorful poison dart frogs and unusual plant species, learn about long-term research projects, and discover the important role of the reserve in creating a protected biological corridor. This afternoon, drive to our lodgings at the base of Arenal Volcano. Enjoy a talk by our expert before dinner at the hotel.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:

Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa

Day 3: Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge
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Set out on a full-day excursion to one of the world’s great wetlands, Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge. Stretching along the border with Nicaragua, the reserve is a birder’s paradise, attracting hundreds of species of migratory birds to its shallow lagoons. Navigate the waterways in a covered boat, watching for all manner of wildlife, from roseate spoonbills to caimans, monkeys, and sloths. Return to Arenal this afternoon.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:

Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa

Day 4: Arenal Volcano National Park
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Spend the morning exploring Arenal Volcano National Park, where lush rainforests flank the conical peak of the most active volcano in Central America. On a naturalist-led hike, learn about the geothermal forces that kept this volcano simmering until 2011, and discover the park’s diverse flora and fauna. Take advantage of a free afternoon to visit the nearby hot springs or relax at the hotel pool, enjoying views of the stunning symmetrical peak of Arenal. Before dinner, try your hand at stirring up a guaro sour, a cocktail made with a Costa Rican sugarcane spirit.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:

Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa

Day 5: Arenal Volcano / Monteverde
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Begin the day with a private boat ride across beautiful Lake Arenal. Continue by road to Don Juan Tours, a family-run coffee farm, where we’ll take a tour of their coffee, cacao, and sugarcane plantation. Enjoy a tasting of the fruits and their finished products and discover their different uses in medicine and cuisine. Then journey to the cloud forest-covered mountains of Monteverde. Gather for a talk about the important fieldwork being done at the Monteverde Institute, and its long relationship with National Geographic.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:

Fondavela Monteverde Hotel

Day 6: Monteverde
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Awaken early for a specially arranged excursion to the Monteverde Institute. Enjoy a picnic breakfast during an orientation with the staff. Then split into groups to join researchers in the field. You’ll have the chance to tend native plants at the nursery or pitch in with reforestation efforts and participate in bird mist netting and tagging. Sit down to a well-earned lunch at a local restaurant. Then hike trails through the cloud forest and cross hanging bridges to get a close up view of the canopy.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:

Fondavela Monteverde Hotel

Day 7: Santa Rosa National Park/Guanacaste
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Head for the coastal province of Guanacaste this morning and set out on a guided visit to Santa Rosa National Park, one of the oldest national parks in Costa Rica. Here, tropical dry forest reaches all the way to the beach, harboring a wealth of wildlife. On a drive through the park, watch for some of the resident creatures, as well as 500-year-old trees and stunning scenery. Get a closer look on a guided walk along a forest trail. Settle into our beachfront boutique hotel this afternoon and meet with a representative of the Leatherback Trust to hear about efforts to protect sea turtles.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:

El Mangroove

Day 8: Las Baulas National Marine Park/Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge
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Las Baulas National Marine Park stretches along the Tamarindo Bay, protecting mangroves, beaches, and waters where sea turtles come to nest each year. Board small boats to explore the mangroves of the adjacent Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge this morning, on the lookout for crocodiles, white-faced capuchin monkeys, and many bird species. After lunch, head to the Goldring-Gund Marine Biology Station, home of the Leatherback Trust. Tour the station with a researcher and learn about their work studying, tagging, and monitoring the nests of leatherback, olive ridley, and black turtles on Playa Grande. Tonight, toast your Costa Rica wildlife adventure at a farewell dinner.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:

El Mangroove

Day 9: Guanacaste/Home
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After breakfast, transfer to the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Guanacaste to catch your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast