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Costa Rica: Rainforests,...

Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife

9 days |  12 days with Manuel Antonio & San José extension
9 days |  12 days with Manuel Antonio & San José extension
Group size1222 travelers

4.7 star rating

Physical activity
a woman walking on a hanging bridge in a rainforest in costa rica
pineapples hanging in a fruit stand
a toucan sitting on a branch
view of arenal volcano through lush rainforest trees in costa rica
OverviewItineraryDates & pricesReviewsTraveler photosHotels, flights & FAQ
This tour itinerary varies by year
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    Go wild in this nature-lover’s paradise.

    With landscapes ranging from misty cloud forests to sun-kissed beaches, this small, Central American nation packs a mighty punch when it comes to stunning natural scenery and awe-inspiring wildlife. On this small group Adventure Tour, take it all in as you cruise along Tortuguero’s picturesque rainforest canal, soak in natural hot springs at the foot of imposing Arenal Volcano, and explore Monteverde’s otherworldly cloud forests. Along the way, get a taste of Costa Rican food and culture through the country’s warm and welcoming locals.

    Your tour package includes

    • 8 nights in handpicked hotels
    • 8 breakfasts
    • 5 lunches
    • 5 dinners with beer or wine
    • 2 tastings
    Read more

    Included highlights

    • Tortuguero National Park
    • Arenal Volcano National Park hike
    • Organic pineapple farm
    • Heliconia Ranch tree planting
    • Coffee & cocoa plantation
    Read more
    Start planning today

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    Day-by-day itinerary

    Print itinerary
    San José1 night
    Day 1: Arrival in San José
    Included meal: Light dinner

    Fly to Costa Rica and settle in at your hotel in San José. Enjoy a light dinner this evening.

    Please note: If you arrive after 9pm, dinner will be served in your hotel room.

    Tortuguero2 nights
    Day 2: Transfer to Tortuguero
    Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Welcome dinner

    Get comfortable on your group’s private coach and follow the scenic Guapiles Highway through Braulio Carrillo National Park. This vast, protected area features rugged mountains, lush forests, extinct volcanoes, and pristine waterfalls and rivers. Then, climb aboard a boat bound for your eco-lodge in Tortuguero. As you cruise along the Sucio River, keep your eyes peeled for caimans, a reptile similar to alligators, lurking below the surface. You might also spot crested Jesus Christ lizards, named for their ability to run atop water—upright, on their hind legs!

    Enjoy an included lunch at your eco-lodge in Tortuguero, then get settled in your room.

    Later, get to know your group during a welcome dinner served with beer or wine at your eco-lodge.

    Travel tip: From July through September, you can book a guided evening beach walk through your Tour Director for an additional cost. During the walk, you’ll learn about the threats facing green sea turtles, whose global population has declined, and observe them in their natural habitat.

    Why seeing green sea turtles here is special: Tortuguero is home to one of the world’s largest green sea turtle nesting populations, with 30,000 females nesting here per season on average.

    Day 3: Walking & boating tour of Tortuguero National Park
    Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    This morning, get to know Tortuguero National Park on a guided tour. Situated along the Caribbean coast, the expansive park is home to one of Central America’s largest remaining tropical rainforests.

    • Learn about the park’s diverse habitats, including mangrove forests, swamps, and beaches, on a walk led by your naturalist guide
    • Board an open-top boat (ideal for peering into Tortuguero’s tall trees) and cruise through the park. It’s early in the day, so keep a lookout for nocturnal animals who are still stirring, and diurnal animals for whom the day is just beginning. Wildlife to watch for: caimans, toucans, green macaws, and howler, spider, and white-face monkeys
    • Float along the park’s freshwater creeks and placid lagoons, which are home to endangered turtles and more than 50 species of fish
    • Enjoy an included lunch featuring simple yet flavorful local cuisine, such as rice, beans, and plantains

    Spend a free afternoon in Tortuguero or add an excursion.

    Sit down for an included dinner of traditional Costa Rican food, served with beer or wine, at your eco-lodge in Tortuguero.

    Tortuguero National Park: Rainforest Kayaking Tour

    From $55 per person

    Arenal Region2 nights
    Day 4: Arenal Region via organic pineapple farm & salsa dancing class
    Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Tasting

    Journey by boat through Tortuguero National Park’s jungle canals. Then, continue by bus to the Arenal region, making stops along the way.

    • Sit down at a local restaurant for a family-style, Costa Rican lunch
    • Spend the afternoon exploring an organic pineapple farm in the Sarapiqui region and learning what makes its sustainable and eco-friendly practices unique to the area
    • Climb aboard a tractor for a guided tour of the farm and its sprawling pineapple fields
    • Learn how the farmers grow pineapples using eco-friendly methods, such as compost fertilization, natural herbicides, and crop rotation
    • Nibble on just-cut pineapple and sip fresh pineapple juice or a homemade piña colada (enjoy yours virgin or with an added splash of rum)

    Check in to your Arenal Region hotel and enjoy free time for dinner. This evening, trade your hiking boots for dancing shoes and meet with a local salsa instructor in a private studio in Arenal. Find out how Costa Rica’s most popular dance was introduced to the country, then hit the dance floor for a lesson in basic steps and spins set to traditional salsa music.

    Day 5: Hiking tour of Arenal National Park & ranch visit
    Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    Join your Tour Director for a guided hike through Arenal Volcano National Park, named for the nearly 5,500-foot-high volcano that towers over the pastures and hillsides that surround it. Though Arenal hasn’t erupted since 2010, you might still spot steam snaking skyward from its caldera.

    • Marvel at the mile-high volcano, a near-perfect conical shape that emerges from the Sierra de Tilarán mountain range

    Travel tip: During Costa Rica’s rainy season, which lasts from May through November, clouds and mist can obscure the volcano’s peak from view.

    • Try to spot slow-moving sloths, snakes coiled around tree limbs, and spiders resting in their webs
    • Gaze at placid Lake Arenal—Costa Rica’s largest lake—and watch for birds such as northern jacanas, woodpeckers, and kingfishers, wading and soaring along its shores

    Please note: In some places around the park, terrain can be uneven and formed by hardened lava. Travelers should be able to navigate these surfaces and hike for around two miles.

    This afternoon, visit an eco-friendly ranch in La Fortuna.

    • Enjoy a farm-to-table lunch featuring fresh ingredients harvested on-site, as well as local dairy products
    • Explore the ranch with a local guide, and learn how it became the first carbon-negative community of its kind in Costa Rica

    Spend a free evening in the Arenal region or add an excursion.

    Arenal Hot Springs & Dinner

    From $95 per person

    Monteverde2 nights
    Day 6: Monteverde via Heliconia Ranch & coffee, cocoa, and sugarcane tastings
    Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Tasting

    Start your journey to Monteverde with a boat ride across Lake Arenal, spotting iguanas and birds as you cruise along. Then, enjoy dramatic mountain, valley, and cloud forest views as you make your way to Heliconia Ranch aboard your coach.

    • Talk with a rancher to find out what circumstances have led to deforestation in Costa Rica
    • Make your own contribution to reforestation efforts by planting a native tree at the ranch
    • Enjoy lunch at the ranch, with dishes featuring lamb, chicken, rice, beans, coffee, and other items and ingredients grown or produced on-site
    • Watch traditional Costa Rican dances performed by the ranch’s staff

    This afternoon, head to a nearby coffee plantation to learn about the history and production of coffee, as well as chocolate and sugarcane, in Costa Rica.

    • Get to know different kinds of coffee beans and roasting techniques, and sample a freshly brewed cup made from the plantation’s own beans
    • Discover how cocoa is cultivated and transformed into various types of chocolate treats
    • Try your hand at making drinking chocolate, and sample ready-to-eat chocolate made on-site
    • Watch a farmer or plantation worker cut and press stalks of sugarcane to extract fresh juice, and enjoy a refreshing taste
    Day 7: Hiking tour of Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve
    Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

    Join your Tour Director for a hike through Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, a haven for birdwatchers. Be on the lookout for 30 hummingbird species, as well as toucans, great green macaws, three-wattled bellbirds, resplendent quetzals, black-faced solitaires, and other hard-to-spot bird species.

    • Learn about, and keep a lookout for, the forest’s array of flora and fauna, including orchids, ferns, millipedes, tarantulas, and more
    • Walk through the misty forest as you explore this rare ecosystem, which gets its name from the constant cloud coverage

    Please note: Travelers should be able to hike around two miles over wet, and potentially slippery, pathways.

    Enjoy free time in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve or Monteverde, or add an excursion.

    Later, head to a local restaurant for an included dinner served with beer or wine.

    Sky Walk

    From $65 per person

    San José1 night
    Day 8: San José via wildlife sanctuary
    Included meals: Breakfast, Farewell dinner

    Travel to San José, stopping along the way to tour a wildlife sanctuary

    • Learn about the company’s mission to rescue, rehabilitate, and release Costa Rican wildlife
    • Set off on a walk around the property with a local guide to see jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, tapirs, white-tailed deer, and macaws
    • Discover the importance of conservation in Costa Rica as you hear the stories of how the animals arrived at the ranch

    Head to a local restaurant to enjoy live music, dancing, and scenic vistas as you celebrate your trip during a farewell dinner.

    Flight Home
    Day 9: Departure
    Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

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

    Extension to Manuel Antonio & San José
    When it comes to viewing wildlife, few places on the planet can compare to Manuel Antonio National Park—a roughly 1,700-acre preserve where lush, tropical forest, white-sand beaches, and turquoise sea meet. Discover the park’s staggering biodiversity, then head to tranquil Tárcoles for a boat ride along its namesake river, where crocodiles are sure to catch your eye.
    Manuel Antonio2 nights
    Day 9: Manuel Antonio National Park
    Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

    Make your way south, to Manuel Antonio National Park, which is noteworthy for its unspoiled beaches, scenic hiking trails, and practically unparalleled biodiversity. Get to know the park, and its plant and animal inhabitants, on a guided tour.

    • Keep an eye out for some of the park’s hundred-plus species of animals. They include squirrel monkeys, a species that’s endemic to the park and dwindling in numbers
    • Walk to the top of rocky Cathedral Point to take in views of the park from across the Pacific
    • Watch the blowhole at Escondido Beach blast water into the air during high tide
    • Marvel at the towering sea cliffs and mysterious caves of Serrucho Point
    • Relax on the beach, take a dip in the Pacific Ocean—or both

    Sit down this evening for an included dinner served with beer or wine.

    Day 10: Free day in Manuel Antonio
    Included meal: Breakfast

    Spend a free day in Manuel Antonio—perhaps relaxing on a beach, watching for sloths and other wildlife along a nature trail, or snorkeling among coral reefs offshore—or add an excursion.

    Manuel Antonio Catamaran Cruise

    From $115 per person

    San José1 night
    Day 11: Tárcoles River cruise & transfer to San José
    Included meals: Breakfast, Farewell dinner

    Travel to the quiet town of Tárcoles. Climb aboard a boat for a guided tour of the Tárcoles River, which is known for the large numbers of American crocodiles that inhabit its waters.

    • Soak in views of lush mangrove forests and jungle scenery
    • Look out for crocodiles, as well as iguanas, lizards, monkeys, and birds

    This afternoon, travel back to San José and sit down for an included farewell dinner, served with beer or wine, at a local restaurant.

    Flight Home
    Day 12: Departure
    Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

    Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

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    4.7 star rating

    Overall rating 4.7 out of 5

    Based on 440 authentic traveler reviews
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      5.0 star rating

      Tour of Costa Rica
      10/21/23 by 1st-time traveler Robert

      For a person who has a great deal of travel experience which is necessary for this tour you will be fine. As the tour is based on culture and history to gain the most from this tour refresh yourself on Spanish conquests in earlier times and then you will be prepared to understand the culture and th...

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      EF Go Ahead Tours replied on 11/17/23

      Thank you for leaving such a glowing review! We ag...

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      5.0 star rating

      Costa Rica the best
      10/21/23 by 1st-time traveler Bonnie

      Please ask for Heidy as your guide. She went above and beyond to ensure that we had a good trip. Very knowledgeable. She is the best.

      5.0 star rating

      Great Tour :Rainforest, Volcanoe Wildlife
      8/26/23 by 1st-time traveler Beverly Diane

      First Time ton EF Go Ahead Tours will definitely be traveling again with them . GoAhead is very customer customer friendly easy to work with at all levels. Tour Director , Food and Hotels were all exceptional a long with the tour .

      Show more reviews

      Traveler photos

      Hotels, flights & FAQ

      Here's the nitty-gritty—where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what to know about your destination before you go.


      We handpick every hotel to strike the balance of comfort, location, and local charm. Specific accommodations will vary based on your departure date, but these are frequently used hotels for this tour and we're confident you'll be satisfied.
      Hilton Garden Inn San José La Sabana
      Hilton Garden Inn San José La Sabana

      This modern hotel is centrally located in San José’s Sabana Park area. Guests enjoy the rooftop pool, spacious rooms, and fitness center. Nearby, you’...

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      Aninga Hotel & Spa
      Aninga Hotel & Spa

      This canal side hotel is located along the Laguna Penitencia. Guests enjoy a pool, a spa, and a bar. Nearby, you’ll find the Parque Nacional Tortuguer...

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      Volcano Lodge Hotel & Thermal Experience
      Volcano Lodge Hotel & Thermal Experience

      This tropical paradise hotel is located in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, near Arenal Volcano. Guests enjoy the amazing grounds featuring private, mineral-ri...

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      El Establo Mountain Hotel
      El Establo Mountain Hotel

      This contemporary hotel is located in Monteverde. Guests enjoy a tennis court, indoor pool, and a spa. Nearby, you'll find the Monteverde Butterfly Ga...

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      Shana by the Beach Hotel
      Shana by the Beach Hotel

      This boutique hotel is located in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Guests enjoy the private nature trail to Biesanz beach, outdoor pool, and private room b...

      Read more +


      Round-trip flights are one more thing we handle to make your journey as smooth as possible. Our team of travel experts will find the best flight itinerary for you at a competitive rate, thanks to our partnerships with top airlines.
      Add our airfare package and you'll get:
      • Round-trip flight for your tour
      • Airport transfers at your destination
      • A great price locked in today
      • 24/7 support from our dedicated service team
      • Options for arriving early, staying longer, or requesting an upgrade
      • Flexible rebooking options if your tour itinerary changes
      • Find out more about flights


      Print FAQ
      Passport, visa & entry requirements
      • In order to enter Costa Rica, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry.
      • We recommend having at least one blank passport page for entry stamps.
      • There is no visa required for U.S. or Canadian citizens.
      • If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact your destination country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
      • You can see the most up-to-date entry requirements for the destination(s) you’ll visit on tour by going to and searching the code CRP.
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      Tour pacing & mobility
      • You will walk for about 2.5 hours daily across moderately uneven terrain, including paved roads, unpaved trails, and muddy paths, with some hills.
      • Travelers should be healthy enough to participate in all included walks without assistance. Adding optional excursions may increase the total amount of walking on your tour.
      • You should feel comfortable managing your own baggage at times, as well as getting in and out of boats.
      • Go Ahead Tours and the Tour Director who accompanies your group are unable to provide special, individual mobility assistance to travelers on tour. The responsibility of the Tour Director is to ensure the group as a whole enjoys a relaxing and informative journey, and he or she cannot be relied upon to provide ongoing, individualized assistance to any one traveler.
      • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team.
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      Transportation & arrival information
      • Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead Tours arrive in and depart from San José. A representative from Go Ahead Tours will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival.
      • Transfers to and from the airport at your destination are included for travelers who have purchased their flights through Go Ahead Tours. Travelers who purchase their own flights may request airport transfers with Go Ahead Tours for an additional cost.
      • A round-trip boat ride to Tortuguero is included in the price of your tour.
      • All other included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach.
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      Baggage allowance
      • Please note that our travelers are limited to one checked bag and one carry-on bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other transfers, which may include train connections or flights.
      • Contact your airline(s) for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flights, which may include on-tour flights in addition to your round-trip flights to and from tour. Please note that your included on-tour flights may have more restrictive baggage limits.
      • Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage or exceed baggage size and weight restrictions. Be advised that you are responsible for any baggage fees incurred on all flights.
      • Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication, and documents in your carry-on bag.
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      Clothing & packing tips
      • We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. Comfortable, casual clothing and a sturdy pair of walking shoes are a must for sightseeing.
      • A lightweight jacket is recommended, as the temperatures will change with the elevation throughout your tour.
      • A sun hat, sunglasses, and rain gear will help you stay comfortable in all types of weather. You may also wish to pack a swimsuit.
      • A small bottle of hand sanitizer may be helpful when other facilities are not readily available while on the road.
      • Binoculars are handy for a closer look at local wildlife and scenery.
      • You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance.
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      • At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at
      • Take proper care with sun exposure, as the sun can be especially strong in some of the regions on this tour.
      • There are inherent risks associated with snorkeling and other water sports, particularly for those with pre-existing medical conditions. Discuss your planned activities with your doctor or healthcare provider for the best advice on participation.
      • Drink bottled water only. Refrain from ingesting tap water, including when brushing your teeth.
      • Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they’re cooked or washed in clean water and peeled.
      • Travelers prone to seasickness should note that this tour includes boat rides.
      • If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour and any possible delays encountered.
      • If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify Go Ahead Tours at least 30 days prior to your departure by logging in to your account and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Experience Team.
      • You can see the most up-to-date entry requirements for the destination(s) you’ll visit on tour by going to and searching the code CRP.
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      • Costa Rican cuisine is based on staples like rice, black beans, and corn with beef, chicken, or fish. Fresh, locally grown fruit includes bananas, mangoes, pineapples, and avocados. Traditional desserts include custards, puddings, and simple cakes. Locally grown coffee is served strong and black, but hot milk is often available if you ask.
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      Electricity & air conditioning
      • Costa Rica operates on 120 volts and uses Types A or B plugs. As these are the same as the plugs used in the U.S. and Canada, a voltage adapter is not needed.
      • The strength of the air conditioning in some hotels in this region may not be as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel.
      • Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons, and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.
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      • Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. In more remote locations, internet access may be limited and is not guaranteed.
      • There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches
      • Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.
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      Time zones
      • Costa Rica is six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and one hour behind Eastern Time (ET). Costa Rica does not observe Daylight Saving Time.
      • When it’s noon in New York City, it’s 11am in Costa Rica from November through March and 10am from April through October.
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      • You will use the Costa Rican colón on this tour.
      • Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
      • We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks 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.
      • Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
      • International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.
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      • At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity in local currency or USD. Please keep current exchange rates in mind.
      • We recommend tipping the equivalent of $8USD to $10USD per person per day for your Tour Director and the equivalent of $3USD per person per day for your driver.
      • If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD per local guide.
      • Tips can only be paid in cash.
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      Purchasing excursions on tour
      • Most optional excursions will be available for purchase while you are on tour.
      • Your Tour Director will only accept cash (in USD only), Visa, or MasterCard as payment for 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 page four of your tour itinerary for more information. International travel is, by its very nature, unpredictable. We must therefore reserve the right to change this itinerary, without advance notice, to meet with local conditions at the time of travel. We appreciate your understanding. Please refer to our website for Terms & Conditions, dates, and prices.
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