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1 / 109

Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife

9 days Nature & Wildlife Tours
From misty cloud forests and lush jungles to volcanic landscapes and sun-kissed beaches, there’s so much to love about this Central American hot spot. Begin your adventure in Tortuguero, the Land of Turtles, then take a dip in the natural hot springs at the foot of the mighty Arenal Volcano and explore the majestic cloud forest region before ending your tour in San Jose.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Maximum tour group size: 30 travelers

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 8 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 4 lunches, 7 three-course dinners, including beer at the welcome and farewell dinners

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Guided sightseeing and select entrance fees

San José 1 night Hotel info

Day 1: Arrival in San José

Fly to Costa Rica and settle into your hotel in San José.

Tortuguero 2 nights Hotel info

Day 2: Sightseeing tour of Tortuguero

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Drive through the Costa Rican countryside, then boat through jungle-lined canals to beachside Tortuguero, the Land of Turtles, for a guided tour of the tropical area.

• Stop in Braulio Carrillo National Park, home of many dormant volcanoes and placid crater lakes

• Take a scenic drive through local banana plantations 

• Learn about endangered turtles at the Caribbean Conservation Center 

Later, get to know your group at a welcome dinner.

Day 3: Rainforest & canal expedition

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Explore Tortuguero National Park’s diverse habitats, including mangrove forests, swamps and beaches.

• Boat through the park’s canals, seeking out monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, sloths, toucans and bats

• View the freshwater creeks and lagoons, home to endangered turtles and over 50 species of fish

Arenal Region 2 nights Hotel info

Day 4: Arenal hot springs

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Transfer to the highlands  for your first glimpse of Arenal Volcano National Park’s lush landscape, shaped by the active volcano and massive lake of the same name. Then, spend an afternoon in the relaxing waters of the La Fortuna de San Carlos volcanic hot springs.

Day 5: Hiking tour of Arenal

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Hike through Arenal Volcano National Park on a guided tour.

• View the mile-high volcano, a near-perfect conical shape that emerges from the Sierra de Tilarán

• Gaze at the placid Lake Arenal, watching for hummingbirds, woodpeckers and kingfishers by its shores

Enjoy a free afternoon in Arenal or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Ziplining Tour $49*pp Details

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.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $59)

Monteverde 2 nights Hotel info

Day 6: Scenic tour of Arenal Lake

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Transfer to Monteverde by boat for another look at the spectacular Lake Arenal, then enjoy a free afternoon in Monteverde or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Sky Walk $45*pp Details

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.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $55)

Day 7: Cloud Forest Reserve Excursion

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Take a guided tour of what may be the world’s most stunning cloud forest reserve. 

• Walk along the forest floor, spotting colorful amphibians, reptiles and birds  

• Learn about the local educational system by visiting a school (Please note: On select departures, school may be closed for holidays and breaks)

• Help with reforestation efforts by planting a native tree at Heliconia Ranch

San José 1 night Hotel info

Day 8: Sightseeing tour of San José

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Leave the cloud forest behind to explore the Espiritu Santo Coffee Plantation, learn about coffee harvests and enjoy a tasting. Then, get to know the European-style city of San José on a guided tour.

• Pass by the National Theatre and Opera House 

• See Sabana Metropolitan Park’s many monuments and sculptures

• Stop at the Plaza de la Cultura, site of many public performances and celebrations  

• See Bella Vista Fortress and learn about the city’s pre-Columbian history

• Marvel at the Metallic Building’s century-old metal exterior

• Stroll through the historic streets of Barrio Amón

Day 9: Departure

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home or extend your stay in Costa Rica to explore Manuel Antonio.

Add Manuel Antonio & San José $599 pp

Please note: Extension is not available on all departure dates.

Soak in the natural beauty of Manuel Antonio, a vibrant destination where lush rainforests are side by side with postcard-worthy beaches.

Manuel Antonio Park 2 nights Hotel info

Day 9: Tarcoles River cruise

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

En route to Manuel Antonio, relax on a riverboat tour of the Tarcoles River with a local guide.

• Take in views of lush mangrove forests and jungle settings

• Look out for wildlife such as crocodiles, iguanas, lizards, monkeys and birds

Day 10: Manuel Antonio National Park

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Get to know the country’s smallest national park, popular for its breathtaking beaches and scenic hiking trails.

• Keep an eye out for local fauna—the park is home to 109 mammal species and 270 bird species

• Walk to the top of rocky Cathedral Point to view the park from across the Pacific

• Witness a blowhole shooting sea spray over Escondido Beach

• Survey the saw cliff and sea caves at Serrucho Point 

• View a pre-Columbian underwater turtle trap

Enjoy a free afternoon in Manuel Antonio or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Manuel Antonio Sailing & Snorkeling $95*pp Details

Spend the afternoon cruising along the central Pacific coast of Quepos on board the Ocean King catamaran, the largest catamaran in Central America. Sail through the various islands and rock formations as you explore Manuel Antonio National Park from the water, keeping an eye out for dolphins and sea birds that inhabit the area. Stop at tranquil Biesanz beach to snorkel in the calm turquoise waters as you explore the underwater beauty up close.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $105)

San José 1 night Hotel info

Day 11: Transfer to San José

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Enjoy a free morning before traveling back to San José.

Day 12: Departure

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your return flight home.

How's the weather?

  • San José, Costa Rica
  • Tortuguero, Costa Rica
  • Arenal, Costa Rica
  • Monteverde, Costa Rica
Temperature Precipitation
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

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.

Airport and Departure Taxes

All airport and departure taxes for this tour are included in the total trip cost printed on your invoice.

Baggage Allowance

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 and 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.

Health

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.

Cuisine

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

Flights arrive in San José and depart from San José. Included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach. Destinations on tour are all easily walkable, although some local buses may be available.

Electricity

Costa Rica uses 110 volts, the U.S. standard.

Time Zones

Costa Rica is always six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and it does not observe daylight-saving time. Therefore, it’s two hours behind New York from April to October, and one hour behind New York from October to April.

Currency

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.

Tipping

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.

Purchasing Optional Excursions on Tour

If you have not yet purchased your optional excursions, you may be able to do so while on your tour. Your Tour Director will only accept cash (in USD only), Visa or MasterCard as payment for optional excursions. Please be advised that if you pay for an excursion by credit card while on tour, it may take up to three months for your card to be charged. Some optional excursions may only be purchased in advance. See the separate “Optional Excursions” sheet for more information.

See what our travelers say about this tour—all reviews are authentic and unedited.

Have you been on tour with us? Visit My Account to submit a review.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 6/13/2015

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: IL

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Great Experience

The opportunity to experience Costa Rican wildlife was an amazing opportunity. The tour director, Jeff, was very knowledgeable about Costa Rica and its wildlife. My only concerns on the trip were some of the hotel accommodations. The hotel in Tortuguero was not air conditioned and bugs were prevalant. I recommend packing all clothing in plastic zip bags to prevent them from becoming damp from the humidity. The hotel in Arenal was excellent with a great spa. Take some time to go to the spa. The hotel in Monte Verde did not have air conditioning but the mountain air kept the room cool. You will have the opportunity to have lunch at a ranch and watch a performance by local school children. This was one of the best parts of the trip. Overall I recommend this trip to anyone wanting to experience Costa Rica.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 7/6/2013

Number of Past Tours: 5

From: MD

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Egar the best he was wonderful

Excellent

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 3/7/2015

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: CO

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

One of the most beautiful places I've ever seen

Overall, the trip was outstanding. This was not my first GoAhead tour, so I had an idea of what to expect. Others making their this their first tour seemed a little disappointed. There were advanced hikers on the tour that felt the hiking wasn't advanced enough and often enough. Other people were not in as good of physical shape and struggled on the hikes. The tour director struggled at times to balance the hiking experiences for such a wide variety of people. There were 3 or 4 moderate hikes on this trip and they featured great scenery. Aside from the hiking issues, the tour and tour director were great. The tour director was very knowledgeable and spoke English pretty well. I learned a lot about the history of Costa Rica and the coffee industry. The food was great almost everywhere we went. The hotels were wonderful at every stop, especially the Mountain Paradise at Arenal. The options on the tour were a blast. The ziplining and cloud forest options are musts. The optional extension to the beach along with the optional sailing and snorkeling were incredible. Although, beware that there are a few jelly fish near the beach. They're supposed to be rare there, but I found one with my foot.... The forests are absolutely beautiful and we were able to see lots of wildlife, including crocodiles, caymans, and lots of gorgeous birds. We went during the "dry season" (March), but it rained nonstop on the Caribbean side. Have a rain jacket with you at all times!

3 / 5

3 / 5

Traveled On: 3/7/2015

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: MA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 3 / 5

Exceptional Tour Director!!

I am much more interested in a more active vacation, so my reviews are probably not among the majority. With that in mind, the trip was ok. We had a lot of rain, which didn't help! We visited a lot of locations, which may have distracted from the trip. I think staying in one or two locations with less driving would have made the trip fantastic. Of course a good trip recommendation would be to a less active person than myself. Edgar, however, was a great Tour Director. He went out of his way so many times, that I cannot even count the number on both of my hands. To start, he spent considerable time looking for everyone at the airport the first day. He introduced himself very professional and was interested to know what each of us were expecting from the trip. He got up at 4 am two days later to take two people on a boat ride most of us went on the day before at Tortuguero National Park . He made sure our luggage was taken and picked up to and from our rooms every single day. He found out someone was unhappy with a meal, so he contacted the waiter and advised a corrected meal. He gave us a personal tour explaining each bird characteristics and crocodile characteristics when we were on the Tarcoles River riverboat ride. When enroute, he stopped to bus to show us a cashew tree. He collected a cashew fruit off the ground for us to pass around and inspect. On the walks, he walked slowly so the slower people didn't get lost. He escorted us to a local grocery and advised us what items were reasonable to purchase, rather than tourist trap purchases. He checked us in at each hotel and made sure we knew what was going on each day. He translated for us numerous times when we had a request for the restaurant, hotel or other service professionals. He made sure everyone got to the airport when leaving. To summarize, if anyone had a request, he also honored it. Request that Edgar be your Tour Guide!

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5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 3/7/2015

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: TX

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Awesome Tour

This tour was absolutely the best yet ! Edgar, our tour director, was awesome and informational. Our driver, Carlos, got us to our destinations safely along those narrow mountain roads..... I met some wonderful people within our tour group.... It was hard departing this wonderful and beautiful country... people were so nice and helpful and the food, was the bomb !!! Lodges were absolutely stunning !! I loved the way it was all so well organized and well planned out.

4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 2/21/2015

Number of Past Tours: 3

From: ON

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Awesome!!

Costa Rica is a beautiful country and our tour director Luis Diego was amazing. He is very knowledgeable about everything nature and Costa Rica. I was very pleased to have only 28 people on the tour. Each area that we visited on this tour was unique and beautiful, Arenal with its volcano, Tortuguero, Monteverde with the hot springs and Manuel Antonio with the beautiful(and very warm) ocean. Our driver Rafael was exceptional and quite willingly let me practice my limited Spanish with him. I only wish that I would have known that US dollars are accepted everywhere as our conversion to Colones from Canadian dollars was very costly. Overall this was a tour to remember!!

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 2/21/2015

Number of Past Tours: 3

From: MI

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Fabulous experience

We have done two previous tours w/GoAhead and this one to Costa Rica was as enjoyable as the first two. Tour director was very knowledgeable and well-organized, the bus driver was an expert at navigating sometimes rough roads, and everything ran very smoothly. We did the add-on which included a Sunset Cruise. It was very enjoyable but seasoned snorklers would probably be disappointed. The hikes were challenging, both because of unusually high temperatures near the Pacific Coast, the length and types of terrain, but well worth the effort. We saw many more birds than I had anticipated, some reptiles and mammals as well. Zip-lining was fabulous and certainly doable for even the faint of heart. Good binoculars and a camera are definite musts. We did not find it necessary to change money from our US, although sometimes change was given in colones (local money).

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 6/28/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: TX

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

best tour director

tour director made sure we where having fun at all time

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 6/28/2014

Number of Past Tours: 7

From: CA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

One of the best!

We have taken several tours with Go Ahead and this was one of the best. Our tour director, Diego, teaches ecology at a university and he was so knowledgeable and helpful. Costa Rica was beautiful beyond our expectations. We are seniors and we participated in everything from zip lining (great fun and stunning vistas) to walking on the hanging bridge in the canopy. We saw monkeys, crocodiles, as well as beautiful birds on the rafting trip and sea turtles on the sailing excursion. The hotels were excellent.

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1 / 1

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 4/26/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: VA

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Just fantastic!

I could go on and on about how well planned this trip is, or how beautiful the country is, or how great the food is, or how great the hotels are, or on and on. But quite honestly, the best way I can describe how great this trip is to say that when it came time to leave, I was not ready to go home. Not at all.

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