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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
Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

483
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
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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
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Included highlights

  • Tortuguero National Park
  • Arenal Volcano National Park hike
  • Organic pineapple farm
  • Heliconia Ranch
  • Coffee & cocoa plantation
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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
  • Learn how sugar cane is harvested followed by a tasting of sugar cane products

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 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
  • 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
Day 7: Hiking tour of Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve & tree planting
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
  • Hear about the area’s reforestation efforts and have the opportunity to make your own contribution by planting a native tree in the Cloud Forest

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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Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Overall rating 4.7 out of 5

Based on 483 authentic traveler reviews
Sort by

    4 out of 5 stars

    Adventure Trip
    2/17/24 by 6th-time traveler Anonymous

    Many interesting events. Excellent tour guide. GoAhead description of hikes should be more detailed.

    5 out of 5 stars

    2/10/24 by 2nd-time traveler Rhonda

    5 out of 5 stars

    Costa Rica Tour Outstanding
    2/6/24 by 2nd-time traveler Phillip

    The Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife tour that I took in February 2024 with Heidi as our tour guide was absolutely fantastic. Great and varied selection of destinations, great excursions and extension, friendly residents, good group size, and great fellow travelers on the tour. Heidi wa...

    Read more +
    EF Go Ahead Tours replied on 2/23/24

    Phillip, Thank you for your fantastic review of y...

    Read more +
    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.

    Hotels

    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’...

    Read more +
    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...

    Read more +
    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...

    Read more +
    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...

    Read more +
    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 +

    Flights

    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

    FAQ

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