Costa Rica: Arenal, Monteverde & Guanacaste 9 days / Nature & Wildlife Tours, Eco Tours
97.6% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
About This Experience
Explore the rich diversity of this real-life paradise, from volcanic landscapes to tropical forests to sun-kissed beaches. Begin your adventure by observing the Arenal Volcano and soaking in its hot springs. Cruise Lake Arenal and investigate the surrounding rainforest, before ascending into the cloud forests of Monteverde. Explore the wildlife areas around Guanacaste, and end with a relaxing day catching some rays or riding the waves.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
8 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 8 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Private deluxe motor coach
Multilingual Tour Director
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Monkey sightings—practically guaranteed
A muscle-soothing soak in volcanic hot springs
The bird’s-eye views of the rainforest
The cloud forest’s exotic, otherworldly atmosphere
Hundreds of species of colorful birds
Guanacaste’s postcard-perfect beaches
San José1 night - hotel info
Adventure takes flight in the wilds of Costa Rica
Your journey begins with a flight to Costa Rica on an internationally recognized airline. Touch down in San José, the country’s capital. A Go Ahead representative will greet you at the airport after you clear customs and escort you to your hotel. A light dinner is included upon your arrival.
Arenal Region2 nights - hotel info
Soak up the relaxing, rejuvenating energy of Arenal
Local hot springs, Arenal National Park
This morning, travel to the Arenal region. In the afternoon, relax during your visit to the local hot springs, which are kept warm by the same geothermal energy that created Arenal. Dinner is included this evening.
Venture into volcanic landscapes and zip through the rainforest
Arenal National Park
Take a morning hike through Arenal National Park. You’ll be treated to views of Arenal’s mile-high volcano, which emerges in a perfect conical shape from the green hills of Alajuela. Arenal has been Costa Rica’s most active volcano peak for the past 1,000 years. Spend the afternoon as you like, or consider joining our optional Ziplining Tour to fly over the Costa Rican jungle. Dinner is included tonight.
Ziplining Tour $49* pp
Today's ziplining excursion adds a bit of adrenaline to your Costa Rican vacation. The longest ziplines on this course cover nearly half a mile, and the tallest are almost 600 feet off the ground; in short, you've never traveled like this before! You'll fly silently above the treetops and come home with a renewed sense of adventure.
Monteverde2 nights - hotel info
Cruise across Lake Arenal and stroll across the cloud forest canopy
Make your way to Monteverde this morning by bus and by a scenic crossing of Lake Arenal, Costa Rica’s largest lake. Lake Arenal is surrounded by lush rainforest, where you might see toucans, monkeys and more. This afternoon, consider joining our optional Sky Walk to stroll through the rainforest’s canopy on a series of suspended bridges. Dinner is included this evening.
Sky Walk $45* pp
The canopy layer of the Costa Rican rainforest teems with life, but until recently, it was difficult for travelers to enter this world. On today's excursion, a guided tour brings you to a series of suspended bridges high above the floor of the Monteverde cloud forest. Today, you'll walk where birds fly.
Discover the many layers of life in Monteverde
Monteverde Cloud Forest
National Geographic dubbed Monteverde “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves,” and today, you’ll see why. On a full-day tour of this remarkable ecosystem, you’ll come to appreciate the delicate balance of life in the cloud forests. Enjoy a stop at Rancho Heliconia, where you’ll learn about the region’s focus on ecological responsibility. Dinner is included this evening.
Guanacaste3 nights - hotel info
Spot the birds on the Corobicí River
Corobicí River Rafting
This morning, depart for Guanacaste. Along the way, you’ll pause for a relaxing rafting trip down the Corobicí River. Your floating tour finishes in the renowned Palo Verde Wildlife National Park, home to 300 bird species. Reach Guanacaste in time for tonight’s included dinner.
Relax in hot springs and gape at steaming geysers at Rincón de la Vieja
Rincón de la Vieja National Park
Set out to spend a day exploring in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, a rain/cloud forest located high in the mountains. Visit geothermal hot springs that recall those at Yellowstone National Park and view a wide variety of plant, bird and animal species. At the foot of the southern flank of the volcano, you’ll find an area of intense volcanic activity known as Las Pailas, which consists of hot springs, sulfuric lakes, steam geysers and reservoirs of boiling water. Later, return to Guanacaste, where dinner is included.
Bask on a beach or sail the seas on the Guanacaste coast
Guanacaste is known for its spectacular beaches, from resort paradises to secluded coves. Spend a free day exploring the area on your own. Or, opt for a sailing and snorkeling excursion off the Guanacaste coast. Tonight, sit down to a farewell dinner with your fellow travelers.
Sailing & Snorkeling $89* pp
From Tamarindo, embark on an unforgettable sailing voyage aboard a classic yacht. On your cruise helmed by a crew of three, you’ll head out into Taramindo Bay to encounter turtles, jumping rays and dolphins. Equipment will be available if you want to snorkel. Sit back and unwind with snacks and beverages, as you listen to relaxing music and enjoy the spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean.
Extend Your Stay
Add Tortuguero National Park & San José $449*
A lush, tropical jungle accessed only by water, Tortuguero—or Land of Turtles—is known for its abundance of wildlife. A journey here is a near-guarantee that you will spot monkeys, sloths, manatees, caimans, snakes, river otters, macaws and toucans, as well as dozens of other wildlife species—that is, if you know where to look. By venturing forth in small outboard boats or dugout canoes along Tortuguero's lagoons, our guides will make sure you don't miss a thing—so remember to bring plenty of film, batteries and something to keep your camera dry.
San José1 night - hotel info
Tortuguero2 nights - hotel info
Land in the Land of the Turtles on the Caribbean coast
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Head to Tortuguero, the “Venice of Central America” built on jungle-lined canals and coves. A local guide leads a tour of the town, named after the giant sea turtles that nest on the area beaches. Afterward, pay a visit to the Caribbean Conservation Center. Lunch and dinner are included today.
San Joséfor a day - hotel info
Passport & Visa
In order to enter Costa Rica, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, contact the Costa Rican consulate for your particular entry requirements.
Travelers should be reasonably fit. Take proper care for sun exposure. There is also some risk of mosquito-born diseases, especially in the rainforests and national parks. Consult your doctor at least eight weeks prior to departure about possible preventive measures and personal travel requirements.
Costa Rican cuisine is often based on rice, black beans, corn, and beef, chicken or fish. Fresh, locally grown fruit is abundant and includes such varieties as bananas, mangoes, pineapples and avocados. Traditional desserts include custards, puddings and simple cakes. Locally grown coffee is served very strong and black, though it may be served with hot milk upon request.
Transportation/Walking on Tour
Flights arrive in San José and depart from Guanacaste (Liberia). Included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach. Destinations on tour are all easily walkable, although some local buses may be available.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
Clothing & Packing Tips
Your itinerary focuses on the outdoors, so your clothing should be casual and appropriate for outdoor use. Loose-fitting, layered clothing that can accommodate varying temperatures will be most comfortable. A sun hat, sunglasses and a bathing suit are recommended, as well as sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots. Occasional rain showers are common in the areas you’ll be visiting, so pack light rainwear. Binoculars are very useful for bird- and animal-watching, along with a field guide if you’re interested in the different species you’ll spot. Insect repellent is also highly recommended for visits to the rainforests.
The Costa Rican colón is the currency you will be using on your tour, but U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere. Better rates of exchange are usually available at your destination, although it is worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We strongly advise that you take a combination of debit/bank cards and credit cards, which may be exchanged at local banks for cash as needed. You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
At the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
97.6% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
Was a great experiance, tour guide was great & locals spoke good English.
Very fun educational tour! We saw so many birds and wildlife. Tour had a wide variety of activities to make everyday interesting.
Minor problem, I bought the Zip line pictures that were taken on the trip. The CD that was sent to me did not have the pictures of the Zip line but of Costa Rico. I paid $15.00 for pictures I did not receive. My first tour. Good experience. Had a difficult time understanding the tour guide. But others help. The tour guide did a good job of helping others if there was a problem.
Best part of the trip: The other travelers
Go Ahead, I'm sorry, but you asked! I had eagerly anticipated this trip as my uncle, who had done it previously, had raved about it. We were both sadly disappointed! Flights were poorly set up with long waits in airports between flights - one was over 5 hours. Hotels that were scheduled were mixed. In the Arenal area, the hotel was very remote to all the sites - too much bus time. Monteverde's El Establo was wonderful. Ocatel Beach Resort was 'saved by the view', which was wonderful! Rooms were very worn and shabby, and food was mediocre - at best! Sites: I don't feel like I saw the best of Costa Rica. Two of the hikes were good, but Rincon was a waste of an entire day. River cruise was nice. Lava hike at Arenal might be nice when it isn't rainy and slick. Optional tours: Zip-lining and Snorkel & Sail were excellent. Wish we had done Sarapiqui and Tortuguero!
I traveled with a long time friend and we had the time of our lives. Raphael, our tour director was top notch. He was caring, entertaining and very knowledgeable about his country. Marco, our bus driver was the best. He kept us safe, helped us out of the bus and always watched over our belongings on the bus while we hiked etc. The hotels were comfortable and very nice. A delicious breakfast and dinner were included every day. Our tour was an active tour which we loved. Every day was action packed with excursions that we thoroughly enjoyed. I would highly recommend this tour for anyone who is healthy and active.
It is a wonderful trip, seeing and doing a lot of fun, exciting things---the ziplining, sailing, snorkeling, volcano hiking, canapy walks, hanging bridges, hot springs, rafting, geothermal areas, continental divide hike,rain forests, and cloud forests. It was exciting to see the wild birds and animals in their natural habitats. It was disappointing that the sailboat we were supposed to go on had mechanical problems, so we went on another boat to the snorkeling site, but did not actually sail. I was looking forward to the sailing part of that excursion. Traveling with a small group was fun. I hop to be able to do that again. Jude'
Really beautiful trip, lots to see and do. Didn't see as much wildlife, but they are free sooo.... No problems, drank the water, no mosquitos to speak of, great hotels, wonderful guide, Rafael Calvo, very knowledgeable and interesting. Simple, tasty food. Loved the Organic farm and the Helliconia visit. Zip lining was very safe and fun even for me, 65 and a scaredy cat. Sailing super too. loved the volcanoes. Well, as you can see, I loved all of it.
Costa Rica Tour
Overall this Tour was a great experience and my only area of dissatification is expressed under suggested "inprovements" below.
There was a lot of "firsts" for me on this trip, which I truly enjoyed and would do again. This trip would also be great for individuals who like photos.
Interesting hotels, some remote! Good food, Excellent transportation and our Guide, Jeff was very understanding, knowledgeable and fun. !!!Places we visited were interesting but it would have been a little better with some free time intown. We didn't get much of a shopping experience. The Hot Springs were a delight, as were the pools and beach. Everything was well coordinated and timed. The group was not too large and we enjoyed one another. I made a number of good friends. Thanks for the opportunity. Also, I traveled Single, and I had lovely rooms at each hotel....affordable and not gouged because I had to travel Single. Thanks. You are an asset to the travel industry. I'll go with you again
MAKE AN IMPACT
Get to know some of the conservation areas helping to preserve nature and wildlife in Costa Rica.
Arenal Volcano Park
La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Before the turn of the 20th-century, no one thought much about the Arenal Volcano. Located in the northwest corner of Costa Rica, and a part of the Guanacaste Volcanic Chain, the volcano had been dormant since around 1500 AD. That all changed in 1968, when an unprecedented eruption lead to lava flows that destroyed three nearby villages. Since then, Arenal has earned the reputation of being the country’s most active peak. To regulate growing tourism to the volcano and preserve the region’s natural resources, the Arenal Volcano Park was created in 1994. Over the years, the park’s geologically rich environments have become a “living laboratory” for local researchers, and support such diverse flora and fauna as palms, wild orchards, tapir, howler monkeys and white-faced monkeys. Additionally, the enclosed Arenal Reservoir Basin provides 70 percent of Costa Rica’s clean water supply and serves as the country’s main source of hydroelectric power.
Monte Verde Cloud Forest Reserve
Monte Verde, Costa Rica
Established by a group of expatriate Quaker families in the 1970s, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve began with an impressive 810 acres of land. Over the years, the reserve continued to expand, and now encompasses an astonishing 35,089 acres of protected lands and eight ecological zones. With consistent clouds shrouding the rainforest canopy, and moisture condensing on the plant life below, the cloud forest experiences a slower rate of evaporation than most environments, leading to a much higher level of biodiversity. These conditions are perfect for plants known as epiphytes (e.g., lichens and orchards), as well as rare creatures such as the tapir, three-wattled bellbird, bare-necked umbrellabird and elusive resplendent quetzal. The cloud forest is also one of the only remaining environments inhabited by all six species within the big cat family. In total, the reserve provides a safe haven for 100 mammal, 400 bird and 1,200 amphibian and reptile species, making it one of Costa Rica’s foremost destinations for wildlife observation and conservation.
Rincón de la Vieja National Park
Liberia, Costa Rica
Feel the spray of waterfalls and hot springs, walk past bubbling mud pits, trail along some of the region’s most famous volcanoes and make your way through World Heritage-listed landscapes—it’s all possible within the realm of Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Part of the larger Guanacaste Conservation Area and Guanacaste Cordillera, a volcanic mountain range in northern Costa Rica, the park encompasses over 14,000 hectares of land. Extending to both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the Cordillera, the parklands are home to the Rincón de la Vieja and Santa María volcanoes, as well as a stunning diversity of wildlife, including spider monkeys, blue-crowned motmots, emerald toucanets, jaguars, cougars and tapirs.