Costa Rica’s National Parks
16 Days / 15 Nights
16 Days / 15 Nights
In just over two weeks you’ll get to know Costa Rica’s top six national parks, plus four nature reserves, as you we take you from the Caribbean Coast to the Pacific Coast and everywhere in between. Costa Rica is considered one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth, with an estimated 5% of the planet’s biodiversity. Nearly one-quarter of Costa Rica’s territory is protected by national parks, nature reserves, and marine parks which have helped the incredible flora and fauna to not only survive but flourish. With this package, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the best national parks and wildlife in the country from the canals of Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean to the majestic cloud forests ending with a few nights in the crown jewel of them all, the Corcovado National Park.
- Highlights: San Jose, Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forests, Manuel Antonio, Osa Peninsula
- Activities: History – Culture – Horseback Riding – Zip Lining – Nature/Wildlife – Birdwatching – Hiking
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Holiday Type: Tailor-made
- You will visit: Costa Rica
- Trip Style: Couples – Small Groups – Families
- Comfort level: Standard – Luxury
- Transportation: Minibus / Boat / Plane
- Length: 16 Days / 15 Nights
- Physical demand: Trip may include activities like walks and plane rides
- Group size: Minimum 2
- Pick up / Drop off locations: San Jose International Airport (SJO)
- Dates: Upon request
- Day 1: Arrival
- Day 2: Tortuguero National Park
- Day 3: Tortuguero National Park
- Day 4: Arenal Volcano
- Day 5: Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
- Day 6: Arenal National Park
- Day 7: Lake Arenal
- Day 8: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
- Day 9: Santa Elena Cloud Forest
- Day 10: Manuel Antonio
- Day 11: Manuel Antonio National Park
- Day 12: Free Day
- Day 13: Corcovado National Park
- Day 14: Corcovado National Park
- Day 15: Caño Island Biological Reserve
- Day 16: Back home
Costa Rica’s National Parks Birding Tour Itinerary
Arrival – Antigua Guatemala
Fly into Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) where one of our local airport representatives will meet you before immigration holding a sign with your name on it. They will guide you through an expedited immigration process and to baggage claim, then out to your waiting private driver. Spend your first night in the capital of San Jose, and enjoy a delicious dinner and restful sleep before the real adventure begins!
Tortuguero National Park
Your day starts early as you travel by van out of the Central Valley and down to the Caribbean lowlands. After a stop for breakfast, you’ll transfer over to a covered boat and finish your journey off with a 1.5 hr ride through the freshwater canals of the Tortuguero National Park. Along the way, keep an eye out for monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, caiman, and birds. You’ll arrive at our eco-lodge in time for buffet lunch, then enjoy a guided walking tour of the town of Tortuguero itself and see where the local population of nearly 1,00 people live.
Tortuguero National Park
After breakfast jump on a boat and explore the miles of freshwater canals that slice through the Tortuguero National Park in search of the diverse wildlife that calls this home. Your bilingual nature guide will help you spot monkeys, sloths, caimans, crocodiles, tree frogs, manatees, and hundreds of species of birds as you slowly cruise through the canals. The rest of the afternoon is yours to kayak, hike, or relax at the pool on your own after dinner joins a licensed guide and head to the beach in hopes of seeing the sea turtles that gave Tortuguero its name. Tortuguero is one of the world’s most important nesting sites for sea turtles, so depending on the season you may be able to see them digging holes and laying eggs or hatching and making their way to the ocean for the first time.
After breakfast, you’ll glide back through the canals and board your waiting private transfer to take you over to the Arenal Volcano. The biggest and most famous of Costa Rica’s volcanoes, Arenal has become a tourism mecca for its incredible wildlife, wide variety of adventure tours, and of course, it’s soothing thermal hot springs. Today is a travel and rest day, so once you get settled into your new hotel here you can head out and hit the thermal hot springs to recharge for the next part of your itinerary!
Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
This morning you’ll head to the northern border of Costa Rica to visit remote Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. Created in 1991 as a “Wetland of International Importance,” Caño Negro covers 800 acres and is home to some incredible wildlife. Enjoy a slow cruise in a covered motorboat throughout the reserve as you search for over 200 species of birds, three different species of monkeys, as well as iguanas, Jesus Christ lizards, three-toed sloths, turtles, and caimans! These forests and marshes provide shelter to a number of endangered species such as jaguars, cougars, and tapirs as well as thousands of migratory birds in the dry season.
Arenal National Park
Today you’ll explore the beautiful area right around the Arenal National Park. Start your morning with a guided walk through the rainforest on the iconic hanging bridges as you learn about the diverse flora & fauna in this region. Next you’ll hike (horseback riding is also an option) to the picturesque La Fortuna Waterfall. The 75-meter waterfall ends in an inviting pool that is a perfect way to refresh yourself after a busy morning. The rest of the day is yours to relax and enjoy the hot springs back at your hotel.
Take the scenic route as you make your way from the Arenal Volcano to the cloud forests of Monteverde. This “van-boat-van” tour will have you transfer down to the shoreline of Lake Arenal where you’ll board a covered boat for a relaxing and scenic ride across Costa Rica’s largest lake. Once you reach the other side you’ll be met by a new van of ours and taken up into the cloud forests where you will be dropped off at your cozy boutique hotel.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Wake up with the sunrise to see the cloud forest come alive right before your eyes. Enjoy a guided tour of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (26,000 acres) which is one of Costa Rica’s most unique microclimates. Your trained naturalist guide will point out all the mammals and birds that have made the cloudforest home. After you spend the day relaxing back at your hotel, after dinner we’ll take you on a guided night hike of the cloud forest. Always a favorite of our guests, seeing the cloud forest at night and the different creatures that come out will give you a real appreciation for how much wildlife there is here.
Santa Elena Cloud Forest
Today we’ll dial up the adrenaline a little bit as you’ll explore the canopy of the cloud forest in a whole new way. Start your adventure with a moderate walk along six hanging bridges through Santa Elena Cloud Forest. Next fly through the top of the cloud forest on a canopy zip-line. The zip-line tour features seven different cables, the longest being 2,460 ft long, and will allow you to reach speeds of up to 40 mph! Monteverde is the birthplace of the modern canopy tour after all so this tour is like paying homage to an all time legend!
Manuel Antonio National Park
This morning you’ll leave the mountains behind as you make your way to the Central Pacific in a private ground transfer.. Ask your driver to stop at the halfway point, Tarcoles River, where you can have a delicious typical lunch and see huge crocodiles from the bridge above. Shortly after that stop you’ll arrive at your boutique hotel in Manuel Antonio in time for a gorgeous sunset over the warm Pacific Ocean.
Manuel Antonio National Park
An early morning start will allow for better wildlife viewing (and less crowds) at the Manuel Antonio National Park. The smallest yet most visited national park in Costa Rica, it is home to over 200 species of birds and over 100 species of mammals. With both primary and secondary forest as well as lagoons, mangrove swamps, and three beautiful beaches it’s no wonder the park has been voted by Forbes as “One of the World’s Most Beautiful National Parks”. After your guided nature walk ends you can stay inside the park and enjoy the rest of the afternoon searching for your perfect spot along the three white sand beaches inside the park.
FREE DAY! You’ve had a busy schedule so far so today is your day – nothing is planned! Go at your own pace today as you can sleep in and relax by the pool, hit the beach, or if you are still craving more we can most certainly set you up with another tour. Options in the area include horseback riding to a waterfall, catamaran cruise & snorkeling tour, kayaking in mangroves, white water rafting, a local spice farm, or even a day (or half day) of sport fishing.
Corcovado National Park
Today you’ll bid adieu to Manuel Antonio as you head even farther south for your final stop – the esteemed Osa Peninsula. A two hour drive and one hour boat ride will have you in the sun-drenched Drake Bay, which sits just outside the borders of the famous Corcovado National Park. Once you arrive at your eco-luxury beach hotel you’ll be greeted with a welcome drink and can take in the sheer natural beauty of this place – Costa Rica’s final frontier. End your itinerary on a high note as you’ll be surrounded by the most prized national park in the country all while still enjoying creature comforts like air conditioned rooms, private baths with hot water showers, great food, and even a freshwater pool to refresh yourself in.
Corcovado National Park
Saving the best for last, today you’ll enjoy a guided nature hike through Costa Rica’s most prized national park, Corcovado National Park. You’ll boat into the San Pedrillo or La Sirena Rangers stations where you will do two moderate hikes deep into the lush, tropical rainforest. All four types of monkeys, tapirs, big cats, sloths, crocodiles, snakes, frogs, and hundreds of species of birds all make this a nature-lovers dream. Your trained naturalist guide will point out the wildlife that makes this place so amazing and led National Geographic to call it “the most biologically intense place on Earth”
Caño Island Biological Reserve
Spend your final day in Costa Rica in, on and under the sea as you enjoy the Caño Island Biological Reserve. Located ten miles off the coast of Drake Bay, Caño Island is a protected marine reserve and home to arguably the best marine life in Costa Rica. Whether you are snorkeling or diving you can expect to see rays, turtles, sharks, dolphins, hundreds of reef fish, and some of the best coral and reef life in Costa Rica.
Take a domestic flight back to San Jose for your international flight home.