'Young Explorer's Costa Rica'

What makes this trip special?

Waterfalls, butterflies and hummingbirds

Waterfalls, butterflies and hummingbirds

La Paz Waterfall Garden

A popular attraction in the Central Valley with five waterfalls, large butterfly enclosures and hummingbird garden.

Lots of easy-to-see wildlife

Lots of easy-to-see wildlife


Tortuguero's inland waterways are one of the very best places in Costa Rica to see wildlife. Turtles nest on its ocean beaches.

Lush rainforest and soft adventure

Lush rainforest and soft adventure


At the foot of the mountains, where the rainforest is at its lushest, Sarapiqui is home to a myriad of flora and fauna. There are some excellent guided natural history walks both during the day and night and gentle adventure activities ideal for all ages.

World renowned rainforest research centre

World renowned rainforest research centre

OTS La Selva

OTS La Selva is widely recognised as one of the world's leading centres for the study of lowland tropical rainforest, with trails and excellent naturalist guides

Costa Rica's most active volcano

Costa Rica's most active volcano


Arenal's perfect cone rises above lowlands, spewing smoke and steam, lava and boulders in its active phases. Make sure you visit the hot springs and explore the 'hanging bridges' through the forest. The area has good options for walkers and there's lots to do for adventurous families.

Stunning rainforest backed beaches

Stunning rainforest backed beaches

Manuel Antonio National Park

Perhaps the most beautiful coastal scenery in all Costa Rica - emerald green wildlife-laden rainforest tumbling onto white-sand beaches lapped by turquoise waters - what's not to love!

Itinerary map for Costa Rica 'Young Explorer's Costa Rica' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 San José
  • 2 San José
  • 3 San José
  • 4 Tortuguero
  • 5 Tortuguero
  • 6 Sarapiqui
  • 7 Sarapiqui
  • 8 Sarapiqui
  • 9 Arenal
  • 10 Arenal
  • 11 Manuel Antonio
  • 12 Manuel Antonio
  • 13 Manuel Antonio
  • 14 Manuel Antonio
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Young Explorer's Costa Rica'


San José

On arrival in San José you are met and taken to a comfortable hotel with a pool and lovely extensive gardens filled with flowering plants where you stay for the next 3 nights.


Today is free to relax after the long flight and enjoy the gardens and facilities at your hotel.


La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Today you visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens, a nature park with a series of gorgeous waterfalls and with some very good extra attractions with a nature focus. There’s a large butterfly house, a hummingbird gallery which attracts 26 different species, and a ranarium where you can see the colourful leaf-frogs and poison dart frogs up close as they roam about their special landscaped enclosure. There is also a chance to see monkeys, snakes and rescued big cats. A great introduction to Costa Rica’s nature.


Flooded forest of Tortuguero

Early this morning you catch a short flight to the flooded forest of Tortuguero. On arrival you travel by boat to your lodge by the national park where you stay for 2 nights. After lunch you join a visit to Tortuguero village where your guide explains the area’s history and habitats. The local beach is favoured by nesting turtles between July and October when you can join carefully managed night walks to see them.


Today you join a boat tour through the narrow rivers and channels of the flooded forest to see some great wildlife. Here you could see three-toed sloth sunning themselves in the morning sun, basilisk lizards getting ready to skip over the water surface, tree frogs hiding under leaves, kingfishers darting along the river edge, monkeys bustling about in the trees and black river turtles lined up on a dry log ready to plop back into the water as you pass.


Sarapiquí rainforest

This morning you travel by boat through the waterways to a dock, where you travel onwards by road to the lowland rainforests of Sarapiquí where you stay 3 nights at a lodge set in a private biological reserve with 9km of jungle trails and one of the longest suspension bridges in the country. The rest of your afternoon is free to explore the forest in the lodge’s grounds.


La Selva Biological Station

This morning you visit the Organisation for Tropical Studies’ inspiring La Selva reserve for a tour with a resident naturalist guide. OTS La Selva is one of the world’s most important centres for research into tropical rainforests. Its reserve holds 3900 acres of old growth and undisturbed tropical wet forests with enormous species diversity: more than 1900 plant species, 330 tree species, and 436 species of birds. You should see toucans, parrots, trogons, hummingbirds, monkeys, peccaries, agoutis, and coatis. It is common to see biologists and conservationists hard at work in the field or in the lab and your guide will be happy to try to answer questions about their research projects. After an inspiring, informative tour you have the rest of the day free.


Chocolate tour and rainforest night walk

Morning free to enjoy your lodge grounds before an early afternoon chocolate tour to learn about producing chocolate–growing, harvesting, fermenting, drying, milling, and tasting! In the evening you are taken on a guided night walk into La Tirimbina reserve in search of nocturnal creatures such as porcupines, frogs, possums, kinkajous and tarantulas.


Arenal volcano and hot springs

Travelling onwards to Arenal you stay for 2 nights at a lodge with a great view of the volcano. In the late afternoon you visit the hot springs to relax in the warmth of the thermal waters, with the rumblings of the volcano in the distance.

DAY 10

Hanging Bridges

With a local naturalist guide you visit the Hanging Bridges–a system of trails and suspended walkways through the forest where you could see sloths, possibly a troupe of howler monkeys, and lots of birds, as well as enjoying some beautiful views over the forest canopy and out across the valley below. Afternoon free to relax by the hotel pool.

DAY 11

Manuel Antonio National Park

Today travel down to Manuel Antonio on the mid-Pacific coast where you stay for 4 nights at a family-friendly hotel set on the cliff top with a free shuttle service down to the beach.

DAY 12

Join a guided walk into Manuel Antonio NP (closed Mondays) with some of the most beautiful scenery in Costa Rica and a forest teeming with wildlife. Afternoon free.

DAY 13

Free day at Manuel Antonio.

DAY 14

Free day at Manuel Antonio.

DAY 15

Travel to San José airport (about 3h) for your flight home.

Guide prices for 'Young Explorer's Costa Rica'

Choose to travel by private transfers or selfdrive. Based on two adults and two children under 10yrs old sharing a room

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Mid-range hotels, private transfers whole family price £12,150 £12,255
Mid-range hotels, selfdrive (Montero Sport) whole family price £11,475 £11,765
Prices are per person and include:
  • all travel in Costa Rica
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
  • shared services of resident Englihs-speaking naturalist guide in Tortuguero
  • private guided excursions on days 3, 7, 8, 10 and 12
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc

Customer reviews for 'Young Explorer's Costa Rica'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average customer rating 100%

Seasonal information for 'Young Explorer's Costa Rica'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 San José 24°C rainfall 28mm
2 San José 24°C rainfall 28mm
3 San José 24°C rainfall 28mm
4 Tortuguero 30°C rainfall 383mm
5 Tortuguero 30°C rainfall 383mm
6 Sarapiqui 30°C rainfall 254mm
7 Sarapiqui 30°C rainfall 254mm
8 Sarapiqui 30°C rainfall 254mm
9 Arenal 30°C rainfall 194mm
10 Arenal 30°C rainfall 194mm
11 Manuel Antonio 32°C rainfall 65mm
12 Manuel Antonio 32°C rainfall 65mm
13 Manuel Antonio 32°C rainfall 65mm
14 Manuel Antonio 32°C rainfall 65mm

Typical weather for January


Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Young Explorer's Costa Rica'

Days 1 - 3



Average rating 4.8 (297 ratings)

Hotel Bougainvillea is a very nice 3-4 star hotel set among ten acres of lush flower filled gardens and surrounded by coffee plantations and citrus orchards. Situated in Heredia it provides a quiet first/last night hideaway just 15 minutes from the international airport and from downtown San José. Bedrooms are rather bland, but spacious with two double beds, a sitting area and the full range of facilities. Most of the rooms have free wi-fi internet access. Every room has a balcony offering marvelous views of the mountains on one side and the San José skyline on the other. There is a light and pleasant dining room, a large inviting swimming pool and 2 tennis courts. This is a good option for gardeners, birdwatchers and those who prefer to stay out of the city centre.  It is not ideal if you intend travelling around Costa Rica by shuttle bus transfers.

Day 5

Mawamba Lodge


Average rating 4.5 (245 ratings)

Mawamba Lodge is set amongst 15 acres of lush tropical gardens and within easy walking distance of Tortuguero village. The hotel's 54 rooms blend perfectly with the surrounding exuberant jungle vegetation. From the basic wooden bungalows you can hear a cacophony of sounds as you lie in bed. Ranchos with hammocks tucked away in the gardens are perfect for relaxing after a day of adventure. Private nature trails and an open sky butterfly farm provide the opportunity to discover different species of trees, palms trees, heliconias and many other plant species that abound in the tropical rainforest. There is also a red-eyed tree frog project by the swimming pool, bar and a buffet style restaurant. The package here includes all meals, morning and afternoon boat trips through the canals to observe the abundant wildlife. Although rustic, we like this lodge for its size and position in Tortuguero.

Mawamba Lodge
Days 6 - 8

La Tirimbina

La Virgen de Sarapiquí

Tirimbina Lodge is set within the Tirimbina Rainforest Biological reserve next to the Sarapiquí river. It offers 18 simple rooms each with A/C, ceiling fan, wifi, private bathrooms with hot water, telephone, coffee machines, Smart TV's and safe. There are 6 deluxe rooms with a queen and single bed and small private terrace with view to the gardens, and 12 standard rooms with a queen bed and a shared terrace with views to the gardens. It also has rooms available for scientific research and a budget option of shared accommodation in a quadruple room with bunk beds. The restaurant serves typical Costa Rican cuisine and some international dishes operating a buffet breakfast and a la carte lunch and dinner.

There is a small onsite gift shop which also sells snacks and soft drinks.

The reserve itself is extensive with 9km of trails which are accessed by walking across one of the longest hanging bridges in Costa Rica (262m long and 22m high) which is suspended above the Sarapiqui river. A variety of wildlife can be seen on the property from mammals such as howler monkeys, agouti and tayra to poison dart frogs, snakes and more than 365 species of birds. There are many activities on offer at the reserve led by the resident naturalist guides, from night walks to birdwatching, bat and frog tours and chocolate production tours. The lodge is run by a a non-profit organisation working on three fronts: education/ecotourism/resarch to ensure conservation of this private national wildlife refuge.

The lodge holds the top level 5 leaves CST (Certification in Sustainable Tourism).

David Attenborough stayed here in May 2019 to film footage for his 'Green Planet' BBC series broadcast in January 2022.

La Tirimbina
Days 9 - 10

Lomas del Volcán


Average rating 4.4 (18 ratings)

Lomas de Volcán is a mid-size, rustic-style hotel set in landscaped tropical gardens 3.5km from La Fortuna town with views of Arenal volcano.

The hotel has 47 wooden cabin style bungalow rooms, each with a/c, two queen-sized beds, cable T.V, mini-fridge, private bathrooms with hot water, telephone, coffee maker, safe, wifi, and terraces for guests to sit out on.

Hotel facilities include a restaurant serving local and international cuisine, a swimming pool, jacuzzi, in-room massage service, parking and 1.5km of nature trails.

Lomas del Volcán
Days 11 - 14

Si Como No Resort Spa & Wildlife Refuge


Average rating 5.0 (2 ratings)

One of Manuel Antonio's most established hotels, and a good option for families.

Si Como No is noted for its colourful and fun style of architecture. Set high in the hills, its 50 rooms are in lush gardens of tropical plants with views over the surrounding jungle or out to the Pacific ocean. Each room has a/c, ceiling fan, hairdryer, coffee machine, a safe and no TV. The hotel has received a certification for sustainability.

There are 2 swimming pools, one for adults only and the other suitable for families with a waterslide. Each of the pools has a wet bar.  

Si Como No has 2 restaurants: 'Claro Que Seafood Grill' open for lunch and dinner and the 'Rico Tico Jungle Grill' offering Costa Rican cuisine, a kids menu and a swim up bar with special fresh tropical cocktails.

The hotel has its own cinema which shows a different movie every night, a full service spa, and Regalame souvenir shop. The hotel's own wildlife refuge across the road has forest trails and houses a reptile lagoon, butterfly enclosure and amphibian garden. Guided tours by day or night can be arranged with the hotel's naturalist guides.   

There is no beach at the property but guests can take advantage of the free shuttle to Manuel Antonio beach. This runs throughout the day.

Si Como No Resort Spa & Wildlife Refuge