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1 / 107

Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife

9 days Nature & Wildlife Tours
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.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

Local cuisine with beer or wine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

Local cuisine with beer or wine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 8 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 8 three-course dinners with beer or wine

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Guided sightseeing

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Select entrance fees

San José1 night Hotel info

Day 1

Included meals: Light dinner

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

Day 2

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Local hot springs

Connect & Conserve: Sea Turtle Conservancy

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.

Day 3

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Arenal National Park

Connect & Conserve: Sea Turtle Conservancy

Take a morning walk 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 the Sierra de Tilarán. Arenal has been Costa Rica’s most active volcano peak for the past 1,000 years. Spend the afternoon as you like, or join our optional Ziplining Tour to fly over the Costa Rican jungle. Dinner is included tonight.

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.

Monteverde2 nights Hotel info

Day 4

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Connect & Conserve: Arenal Volcano National Park

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.

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.

Day 5

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Monteverde Cloud Forest

Connect & Conserve: Arenal Volcano National Park

National Geographic dubbed Monteverde “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves,” and today, you’ll see why. On a half-day tour of this remarkable ecosystem, you’ll come to appreciate the delicate balance of life in the cloud forests. Dinner is included this evening.

Guanacaste3 nights Hotel info

Day 6

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Corobicí River Rafting

This morning, depart for Guanacaste. Along the way, you’ll pause for a relaxing rafting trip down the Tenorio and Corobici Rivers, where you may see crocodiles, lizards and monkeys. Your floating tour finishes close to the renowned Palo Verde Wildlife National Park, home to 300 bird species. Reach Guanacaste in time for tonight’s included dinner.

Day 7

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Connect & Conserve: Montverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Tico school visit, Tree planting

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, enjoy an included dinner.

Day 8

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Connect & Conserve: Espiritu Santo Coffee Plantation

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.

Optional Excursion - Sailing & Snorkeling $89*pp Details

From Tamarindo, embark on an unforgettable sailing voyage aboard a catamaran yacht. On your cruise, helmed by a crew of three, you’ll head out into Tamarindo Bay to encounter turtles, jumping rays and dolphins. If you're feeling adventurous, take advantage of the available snorkeling equipment and jump right in. The cruise provides plenty of time to sit back and unwind with snacks and beverages as you listen to relaxing music and enjoy the spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean.

Day 9

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

A Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport in Liberia.

Add Tortuguero National Park & San José, 3 nights $449 pp

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

Day 1

Included meals: Light dinner

Begin your adventure with a regularly scheduled flight to Costa Rica. Arrive in time for an included light dinner in San José.

Tortuguero2 nights Hotel info

Day 2

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Follow your Tour Director on a walk through the rainforest. Then, take a tranquil boat ride through the canals of Tortuguero National Park. Lunch and dinner are included today.

Day 3

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Included entrances: Tortuguero National Park

Follow your Tour Director on a walk through the rainforest. Then, take a tranquil boat ride through the canals of Tortuguero National Park. Lunch and dinner are included today.

San Joséfor a day Hotel info

Day 4

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Return to San José to join the rest of your group for the main tour. Lunch is included en route.

Sea Turtle Conservancy

Accessible only by boat, Tortuguero National Park is an exotic wetland, where canals wind through lush rainforest and mangrove swamps, rich with biodiversity. In the northernmost portion of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, the park provides a nesting place for four species of sea turtles: Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Leatherback and Green. Although the turtles are the most famous residents—probably due to its name—the park also provides refuge for manatees, caimans, crocodiles and tapirs, whose populations are otherwise threatened. Also thriving in Tortuguero, the rare Tropical Gar is a freshwater fish that is considered a living fossil, with no known existent relatives. In additon to the park administration, many local and international groups are cooperating to protect this paradise. The Sea Turtle Conservancy has been working in the Tortuguero area since 1995, monitoring the populations of turtles. Notably, the STC works within the local communities to promote education and ecotourism to further their protection.

Sea Turtle Conservancy

Accessible only by boat, Tortuguero National Park is an exotic wetland, where canals wind through lush rainforest and mangrove swamps, rich with biodiversity. In the northernmost portion of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, the park provides a nesting place for four species of sea turtles: Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Leatherback and Green. Although the turtles are the most famous residents—probably due to its name—the park also provides refuge for manatees, caimans, crocodiles and tapirs, whose populations are otherwise threatened. Also thriving in Tortuguero, the rare Tropical Gar is a freshwater fish that is considered a living fossil, with no known existent relatives. In additon to the park administration, many local and international groups are cooperating to protect this paradise. The Sea Turtle Conservancy has been working in the Tortuguero area since 1995, monitoring the populations of turtles. Notably, the STC works within the local communities to promote education and ecotourism to further their protection.

Arenal Volcano National Park

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.

Arenal Volcano National Park

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.

Montverde Cloud Forest Reserve

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 orchids), 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.

Tico school visit

Tree planting

Espiritu Santo Coffee Plantation

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

Local cuisine with beer or wine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 8 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 3 lunches, 8 three-course dinners, including beer or wine at the welcome and farewell dinners

  • Guided sightseeing

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Select entrance fees

San José1 night Hotel info

Day 1

Included meals: Light dinner

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.

Tortuguero2 nights Hotel info

Day 2

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Connect & Conserve: Sea Turtle Conservancy

This morning, journey to the Caribbean coast. Stop on the way in Braulio Carrillo National Park, a mountainous landscape covered with rainforest and cloud forest. After breakfast, drive through the banana plantations of the northern lowlands, then board a boat through jungle canals to Tortuguero. Lunch is served at your lodge. Afterward, a local guide introduces you to the charms of Tortuguero village. The tour includes a stop at the Sea Turtle Conservancy & Museum, a local branch of an international organization dedicated to protecting the turtle population.

Day 3

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Included entrances: Tortuguero National Park

Connect & Conserve: Sea Turtle Conservancy

The best way to explore Tortuguero National Park is by boat. This all-day excursion winds through the rainforest-clad canals, where you might spot monkeys, sloths and amazing bird life. Break for lunch at the lodge, then head back out for more wildlife spotting. Dinner is included this evening.

Arenal Region2 nights Hotel info

Day 4

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Connect & Conserve: Arenal Volcano National Park

En route to Arenal, stop at a fruit plantation for a brief lecture and tropical fruit samples. This afternoon, soak your body and relax your mind at the volcano-warmed hot springs in the area. Share an included dinner with your travel companions this evening.

Day 5

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Arenal National Park

Connect & Conserve: Arenal Volcano National Park

Take a morning hike through Arenal National Park. You’ll be treated to views of the 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 exploring independently, or join the optional ziplining tour to fly through the rainforest canopy. Dinner is included this evening.

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.

Monteverde2 nights Hotel info

Day 6

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Make your way to Monteverde, including a photo stop and a scenic boat ride across Costa Rica’s largest lake, Lake Arenal, which is a dam-made lake surrounded by rainforest. This afternoon, explore the village of Monteverde and surrounding sites, or choose to see the cloud forest from above on the optional Sky Walk. Dinner is included this evening.

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.

Day 7

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Included entrances: Monteverde Cloud Forest

Connect & Conserve: Tico school visit, Tree planting

National Geographic dubbed Monteverde “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves.” Today you see why. On a morning tour of this remarkable ecosystem, learn about the delicate balance of life in the cloud forest. This afternoon, take advantage of a unique opportunity to learn about the Tico educational system with a visit to a local school. After an included lunch, learn about reforestation and help plant a native tree to replenish the natural ecosystem. Return to Monteverde in time for an included dinner.

San José1 night Hotel info

Day 8

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Coffee Plantation

Connect & Conserve: Espiritu Santo Coffee Plantation

On the way back to the Costa Rican capital of San José, stop in Naranjo for a tour of Espiritu Santo coffee plantation. You’ll see how the beans are grown and harvested, with a chance to taste the delicious results. Back in San José, your Tour Director gives a panoramic sightseeing tour of the city, including the National Theater, the Opera House and Sabana Metropolitan Park. This evening, share a farewell dinner with your group.

Day 9

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

A Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport in San José for your departure home.

Add Manuel Antonio & San José, 3 nights $599 pp

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

Manuel Antonio Park2 nights Hotel info

Day 9

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Tarcoles River Boat Tour

Journey west toward the Pacific coast. En route, stop for a cruise on the Tarcoles River, lush with mangrove forest and rainforest scenery. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, especially crocodiles, iguanas, lizards, monkeys and birds. After the cruise, continue on to Manuel Antonio and arrive in time for an included dinner.

Day 10

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Manuel Antonio National Park

Hit the beach, but not before a rewarding walk through Manuel Antonio National Park, where the rainforest meets the sea. An amazing 109 species of mammals and 270 species of birds are packed into this tiny 6-square-mile national park, the smallest in the country. In addition to many creatures, you’ll see magnificent scenery at Cathedral Point and Serucho Point, a blowhole at Escondido Port and a pre-Columbian underwater turtle trip. Recover from your walk with a nap on the beach or a swim in the ocean. Spend your afternoon at the beach or opt to join a sailing and snorkeling excursion. Dinner is included this evening.

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.

San José1 night Hotel info

Day 11

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Your morning is free to explore independently, before transferring back to San José. Join your group for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 12

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

A Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport for your departure home.

Sea Turtle Conservancy

Accessible only by boat, Tortuguero National Park is an exotic wetland, where canals wind through lush rainforest and mangrove swamps, rich with biodiversity. In the northernmost portion of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, the park provides a nesting place for four species of sea turtles: Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Leatherback and Green. Although the turtles are the most famous residents—probably due to its name—the park also provides refuge for manatees, caimans, crocodiles and tapirs, whose populations are otherwise threatened. Also thriving in Tortuguero, the rare Tropical Gar is a freshwater fish that is considered a living fossil, with no known existent relatives. In additon to the park administration, many local and international groups are cooperating to protect this paradise. The Sea Turtle Conservancy has been working in the Tortuguero area since 1995, monitoring the populations of turtles. Notably, the STC works within the local communities to promote education and ecotourism to further their protection.

Sea Turtle Conservancy

Accessible only by boat, Tortuguero National Park is an exotic wetland, where canals wind through lush rainforest and mangrove swamps, rich with biodiversity. In the northernmost portion of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, the park provides a nesting place for four species of sea turtles: Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Leatherback and Green. Although the turtles are the most famous residents—probably due to its name—the park also provides refuge for manatees, caimans, crocodiles and tapirs, whose populations are otherwise threatened. Also thriving in Tortuguero, the rare Tropical Gar is a freshwater fish that is considered a living fossil, with no known existent relatives. In additon to the park administration, many local and international groups are cooperating to protect this paradise. The Sea Turtle Conservancy has been working in the Tortuguero area since 1995, monitoring the populations of turtles. Notably, the STC works within the local communities to promote education and ecotourism to further their protection.

Arenal Volcano National Park

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.

Arenal Volcano National Park

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.

Tico school visit

Tree planting

Espiritu Santo Coffee Plantation

How's the weather?

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

Passport & Visa Requirements

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’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, contact the Costa Rican consulate for your particular entry requirements.

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 & 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

On 2014 departures, flights arrive in San José and depart from Guanacaste (Liberia). On 2015 departures, flights arrive in 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.

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.

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/Walking on Tour

Flights arrive in 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.

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 & 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.

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.

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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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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.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 4/23/2014

Number of Past Tours: 5

From: VA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Excellent itinerary, excellent Tour Director!

Our recent tour to Costa Rica included magnificent sights, superb guidance by Edgar, an extremely knowledgeable Tour Director, comfortable, quiet accommodations in beautiful settings, and generous portions of cultural immersion, adventurous experiences, and time for relaxation. Arrangements were flawless!

3 / 5

3 / 5

Traveled On: 4/26/2014

Number of Past Tours: 4

From: CA

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 3 / 5

Taste of the Tropics.

Tour director Edgar did a great job in guiding and managing our trip in Costa Rica, Never having visited the country, I was pleasantly surprised at how open and friendly people were to American visitors. The food was generally good and the accommodations were fine. The trip gives one a taste of the variety of climates and ecosystems in Central America along with a chance to connect with a tropical rainforest environment. The trip is especially well suited for those with an appreciation of nature and a sharp eye for for wildlife opportunities.

1 / 5

1 / 5

Traveled On: 3/15/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: CA

Tour Director: 2 / 5

Tour Value: 1 / 5

Don't take this tour!

We were very disappointed with this tour. You spend endless hours riding on the bus over bumpy curvy roads stirring up dust for the poor people with their laundry hanging on the line. The Guanacaste area in the dry season is not very attractive most of the trees look dead, our tour director said they go dormant in the dry season. We saw hardly any animals and did not go to a rain forest. People were unhappy about the hike up Arenal volcano ( a long hard hike and nothing to see when you got to the top) This is not a good itinerary for Costa Rica especially in the dry season. Most of the hotels were fine except the Tilajari where the rooms were dated and dingy. The food at the Flamingo Hotel was poor but there were 2 restaurants within walking distance for lunch unlike the other hotels. If you want to see green lush rain forest and wild animals don't take this tour.If you want to see volcanic activity go to Yellowstone or Mt Lassen!

3 / 5

3 / 5

Traveled On: 3/15/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: PA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Tour Director -10; Nature -10; Weather -10

The weather was perfect -- even though we (wisely) took our rain ponchos with us everywhere, we never needed them. And, after the brutal winter in Philadelphia this year, I loved that it never was cold, even in Monteverde. Our tour guide, Diego, is an ecologist and was so generous in sharing his vast knowledge of Costa Rican nature and culture. He was also extremely kind and helpful. And he organized wonderful activities -- great hikes, wonderful water adventures, etc. The bus rides were long, and probably the biggest challenge. While the scenery was gorgeous, and we made some wonderful stops (Zacero was one of my personal favorites!), it was difficult to ride so long. Be prepared! Accommodations were mostly fantastic and always more than adequate. We saw and learned a lot in a little time. I would recommend this tour to anyone seeking wonderful nature. interesting experiences, and willing to have one or two days of long drives.

2 / 5

2 / 5

Traveled On: 3/15/2014

Number of Past Tours: 3

From: MD

Tour Director: 2 / 5

Tour Value: 2 / 5

Disappointing

This is the third trip we have taken with Go Ahead Tours. We were sorely disappointed. 1. The description of the walks and tours in the literature and confirmed by Customer Service prior to booking the trip did not accurately describe the difficulty and timing which caused me physical difficulty and inability to participate. 2. We arrived in the early afternoon at the Whyndam Herradura Hotel, San Jose to find no information from our tour leader on when he was to arrive, when to meet for dinner, group meeting, nothing. The room was not ready until 4:30 pm. At this time, I called the GoAhead emergency number and spoke to an operator concerned that the tour leader had not arrived nor had we heard from him by dinner time. She was to locate the representative on call and get back to me. I heard nothing. There was no call back. The tour leader arrived at some time after 8 pm. A full day of travel and sitting around the hotel worrying if we were stranded – Day 1. 3. There was far too much time spent traveling on the bus. While it is true that breakdowns – flat tire, bad shock absorber – happen, I question the general condition of the bus at the start of the trip over difficult, unpaved roads for many hours. There were several 10 hour on the bus travel days. 4. The Flamingo Beach Resort, Guanacaste was problematic. The air-conditioning unit was right over one of the beds, streaming cold air – even with adjustments on the person sleeping in the bed. The bathtub was slippery creating a fall hazard. The food not fresh, leftovers from the morning served in the evening and the buffet menu repeats during the day.

3 / 5

3 / 5

Traveled On: 3/15/2014

Number of Past Tours: 3

From: MD

Tour Director: 2 / 5

Tour Value: 3 / 5

Mixed Bag

The tour director, Diego, made two major mistakes: on arrival several of us were stuck in the hotel in San Jose for up to 8 hours totally in the dark. Diego failed to leave any note, information or signs for us. I found out dinner time by talking to the hotel restaurant staff. Diego failed to participate actively in the tour concluding dinner. He just sat there and ate. No attempt at festive conclusion, sharing of emails, taking pictures, etc. Diego's time estimates were way too low. We also spent at least half of the time riding the bus instead of touring. No attempts were done to find markets, interesting restaurants for lunch, talk with locals, etc. The food was under par in Tilajari and the Flamingo. Recommended lunch places weren't better. (We found great eateries on our own.) Hike difficulty was underrated. The Volcanic hike at Arenal was harder than described. Hike distances were less than half of their actual distance. The hike to the Rincon volcano required 3 hour bus ride each direction for a hike of about 2 hours. That's unacceptable. Our previous tours with Goahead, to Australian and Ecuador, were almost flawless. Costa Rica was partially disappointing.

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1 / 10

4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 1/25/2014

Number of Past Tours: 3

From: MD

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Ecotourism at its Finest

This was an excellent tour over all, but did not rate a "5" for the following reasons: 1) During one lunch, the tour director and bus driver were forced to take orders and serve. Unprofessional, in my opinion. 2) The bus driver and tour director stopped en-route to purchase wine from shops to bring to included dinners at the restaurant, rather than allowing us to order wine in the restaurant. Tacky, at best. 3) The hotel at Arenal had lovely grounds, but the rooms were dingy and dated, the linens were worn and the in-room safe was inoperable. It was too far away from the town and shops and much too far from the volcano. This remote location had us wasting an extraordinary amount of time on the bus.

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