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'Costa Rican Odyssey'

What makes this trip special?

Lots of easy-to-see wildlife

Lots of easy-to-see wildlife

Tortuguero

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

Lush lowland rainforest

Lush lowland rainforest

Sarapiqui

At the foot of the mountains, where the rainforest is at its lushest, Sarapiqui is home to a myriad of flora and fauna and is a must-see destination for birdwatchers and natural history enthusiasts.

Costa Rica's most active volcano

Costa Rica's most active volcano

Arenal

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.

Forest in the clouds

Forest in the clouds

Monteverde

The cool, misty mountain village of Monteverde is the most famous and commercial cloud forest in Costa Rica. Plenty of places to stay and things to see and do from nature walks to high-adrenalin zip-lines

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 'Costa Rican Odyssey' holiday

Itinerary

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

Designer's notes

Discover the wildlife of flooded forest, rainforest, cloud forest and dry forest, including the world famous sites of Monteverde and La Selva in a convivial small group. We also see two of the country’s largest and most active volcanoes, a cowboy ranch in Guanacaste, and visit both the Caribbean and the beautiful central Pacific coast.

We stay at good quality comfortable mid-range hotels and lodges and are escorted throughout by an experienced and knowledgeable professional naturalist guide with excellent English. An excellent way to experience Costa Rica.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Costa Rican Odyssey'

DAY 1

San José

We meet in San José in the early evening at a comfortable mid-range hotel our base for the first two nights. You will be collected from the international airport on arrival for the drive to the hotel

DAY 2
BL

Poas Volcano & Doka Coffee Estate

After breakfast the group assembles this morning in the lobby of the hotel for a morning drive through lush coffee cultivation regions then cloud forest up to the stunted trees and bush on the slopes of Poas Volcano. We then continue on to the volcano itself, where we walk to the crater’s lip to peer down onto the hot aquamarine lake below (clouds allowing!). This is followed by a visit to Doka coffee estate. Here we tour the plantation where we learn about the processes involved in cultivating, harvesting and roasting the coffee beans. Note: if Poas volcano is very active the local authorities don't allow visitors, in which case we will substitute the volcano visit with an entry to La Paz Waterfall Gardens where in addition to some scenic waterfalls there is a hummingbird gallery, walk-in butterfly house and ranarium for close up views of the jewelled tiny frogs.

DAY 3
BLD

Tortuguero flooded forest

This morning we descend at first through the Braulio Carillo National Park, then through banana plantations, to Caño Blanco dock on the Caribbean Coast . From here a boat ride (1½ hr) takes us along the waterways of the flooded forest into Tortuguero National Park. We stay 2 nights at a cabin-style lodge with a swimming pool and gardens.

DAY 4
BLD

A full day at Tortuguero. We explore the smaller channels of the flooded forest by boat with the lodge’s naturalist guide for wildlife viewing. We hope to see three-toed sloths, large iridescent blue morpho butterflies, howler monkeys, white-faced and spider monkeys, toucans, poison dart frogs and the Jesus Christ or Basilisk lizard.

DAY 5
BL

Sarapiqui

After breakfast we travel by boat (1½ hr) and road (2 hr) to Sarapiquí to stay 1 night. The afternoon is free to enjoy the lodge's facilities, relax by the pool or in the gardens, walk or birdwatch.

DAY 6
BL

La Selva Biological Station, to Arenal

Today we visit nearby La Selva Biological Station, one of the world’s most important centres for research into tropical rainforests. One of La Selva’s bilingual naturalists joins us for a guided walk and provides an overview of their research, education and conservation programmes. Showy birds such as toucans, parrots, trogons, and hummingbirds, and mammals such as monkeys, peccaries, agoutis, and coatis, are seen frequently. After lunch we drive to La Fortuna near Arenal Volcano (2½hrs) where we stay for 2 nights at a mid-range lodge outside La Fortuna with good views of the volcano (currently no red lava can be seen from the volcano).

DAY 7
B

Arenal Volcano and hot springs

This morning we visit the Arenal Volcano reserve "Mirador 1968 trail". Here you follow an interesting walking trail over old lava flows from past eruptions which on a clear day gives you some excellent up close veiws of the volcano. Afternoon free to relax in the grounds of our hotel and enjoy the view of the volcano and relax in the on-site hotsprings.

DAY 8
B

lake crossing, transfer to Monteverde cloudforest

Today we take a shared ferry boat transfer across Lake Arenal then a 1½hr drive up to Monteverde. The scenery en route is reminiscent of the low Alps and dairy farming is a main occupation. This afternoon we visit the hummingbird gallery where a string of sugar water feeders are kept constantly replenished at the edge of the cloud forest to the delight of the local hummingbirds . We stay 2 nights at a mid-range hotel.

DAY 9
B

Cloudforest Reserve and canopy walkway

Early this morning we take a guided walk in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, home of the Resplendent Quetzal which is best seen January-May when the aguacadito tree is fruiting. We then experience the cloud forest from the Sky Walk, a wonderful trail via a series of suspended walkways at canopy height. The walk-ways are sturdily built with strong wire mesh from floor to the handrails, which are set high for security. Most people feel sufficiently steady to be absorbed by the wonderful sights that only this system can provide, with rare view of the orchids, bromeliads, mosses and lichens that weigh down every bough.

DAY 10
BLD

Tropical dry forest & cowboy culture

Today we drive down from the mountains to the Gulf of Nicoya in Guanacaste state where the dry season is so very pronounced that woodland trees shed their leaves to minimise water loss. This is Costa Rica's cowboy ranching region after lunching in this culturally important area we travel to Carara on the mid Pacific coast for one night.

DAY 11
B

Boat trip on the Tarcoles river & visit to Carara reserve

We take a boat trip on the Rio Tarcoles to see the mangroves and watch sea and water birds such as boatbilled heron and black-necked stilt, with a good chance to see crocodiles and alligators. We then visit Carara Reserve, a transitional mix of 'dry' and 'rain' forest ecosystems. Mammals include monkeys, armadillos, agoutis and most of the large felines- though, or course, the latter rarely allow themselves to be seen. Birds include toucans, trogons, guans and macaws. The sequence of todays activities will be influenced by the tides. It is in this coastal area that one can witness the wonderful sight of scarlet macaw returning from their feeding grounds to their roosts in the mangroves (particularly reliable between January and March). We then drive a short distance south along the central Pacific coast stay for 2 nights at a mid-range hotel situated on a beach.

DAY 12
BL

Manuel Antonio National Park

This morning, taking a box lunch, we visit inside the Manuel Antonio National Park for some of the most beautiful scenery in Costa Rica, along a series of headlands including Cathedral Point, a classic tombolo or island connected to the land by a sand spit. Breakers wash up to a rainforest teeming with wildlife - monkeys, coatimundi, racoons, sloths, iguanas, toucans and parrots. There are sparkling white sand beaches (the nearest is 1km from the entrance), coral reefs and forest hiking trails. Box lunch in the park, in the mid afternoon we return to relax back at the group's hotel and enjoy the pool or on the beach.

DAY 13
BL

Garden & folk art, return to San José

This morning we visit Else Kientzler Garden and the folk art of Sarchí, on our way back to San Jose for your final night in Costa Rica downtown in the capital.

DAY 14
B

Walking tour of San Jose, depart Costa Rica

For those whose chosen international flights permit, this morning you have a walking tour in downtown San Jose (entrance fees not included) then in the afternoon you will be transferred to San Jose Airport in time to catch your international flight home.

The maximum number of passengers for this tour is just 12, which means we travel with ease and flexibility, group dynamics are relaxed, and we are better engaged with the places we visit and the wonderful experiences we will have. Wildlife experiences are a particular focus of this trip, and are much better with such a small number.

Departure dates and prices

tour code starts ends price per person single supplement
CRO19/1 11-Jan-19 24-Jan-19 £2,495 £665
CRO19/2 01-Feb-19 14-Feb-19 £2,495 £665
CRO19/3 01-Mar-19 14-Mar-19 £2,495 £665
CRO19/4 21-Mar-19 03-Apr-19 £2,495 £665
CRO20/1 10-Jan-20 23-Jan-20 £call £call
CRO20/2 31-Jan-20 13-Feb-20 £call £call
CRO20/3 28-Feb-20 12-Mar-20 £call £call
Prices are per person and include:
  • all transport within Costa Rica
  • all accommodation (sharing a double/twin room)
  • meals as indicated B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
  • shared services of an experienced English speaking local Natural History guide who accompanies the group throughout
  • entry fees to all attractions and National Parks listed below
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc

Customer reviews for 'Costa Rican Odyssey'

Average customer rating 96%

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Tortuguero and Arenal Hot Springs

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Wildlife watching in Tortuguero

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The diversity of the country, 'the jungle' and the company of the group, we all gelled well.

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Tortuguero and Monteverde.

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La Selva, Carara and Monteverde.

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Tortuguero and Monteverde.

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Tortuguero & Monteverde.

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Tortuguero, Selva and Palmar Sur

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Fantastic holiday! I thoroughly enjoyed the trip

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I really enjoyed turtle beach, the whole experience was magical.

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Tortuguero, Arenal, Monteverde, Central Pacific coast

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Tortuguero and San Gerardo de Dota

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We loved the wet rainforest in Tortuguero and Sarapiqui. The night and day boat trips were very good

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Tortuguero, excellent guide, organisation, knowledge, manner. All brilliant

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Mangrove boat trip on Tarcoles river

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Mangroves by boat was amazing.

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Canal trips, Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano and Ecotermales.

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The night excursion at Tortuguero and the boat trip of Guanacaste.

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We had a lovely introduction to Costa Rica, the only thing missing could have been some history/culture - perhaps a museum visit in the capital. A lovely trip. Thanks for organising it.

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Boat trip and Carara Reserve. Would have liked more time there.

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Difficult to say as so many highlights!

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The night boat excursion at Tortuguero and the boat trip of the Guacalillo were particular highlights.

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Well balanced. Best were Tortuguero, Monteverde& Arenal

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Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja and Central Pacific Coast

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Osa Peninsula was fantastic.

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Seeing the wildlife and plants and a lot of different areas. Victor and Rafa were really excellent and helped make the holiday.

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Mangrove boat trip, Monteverde Cloud Forest, hot springs.

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Tortuguero and Tarcoles - wildlife seen from the water.

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I enjoyed every day.

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Seasonal information for 'Costa Rican Odyssey'

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 Tortuguero 30°C rainfall 383mm
4 Tortuguero 30°C rainfall 383mm
5 Sarapiqui 30°C rainfall 254mm
6 Arenal 30°C rainfall 194mm
7 Arenal 30°C rainfall 194mm
8 Monteverde 24°C rainfall 141mm
9 Monteverde 24°C rainfall 141mm
10 Carara 32°C rainfall 8mm
11 Jaco 32°C rainfall 18mm
12 Jaco 32°C rainfall 18mm
13 San José 24°C rainfall 28mm

Typical weather for January

rainchart

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

Hotels for 'Costa Rican Odyssey'

Days 1 - 2

Bougainvillea

Heredia
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Average rating 4.8 (249 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.

Bougainvillea
Days 3 - 4

Evergreen Lodge

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Average rating 4.2 (25 ratings)

Evergreen is located in the northeastern corner of Tortuguero, 5 minutes by boat from the main entrance to Tortuguero National Park. The lodge has 55 comfortable rooms, with private bathrooms, hot water, and ceiling fans. Facilities include a swimming pool, restaurant and bar, canopy platforms on-site.

Evergreen Lodge
Day 5

La Quinta de Sarapiqui Lodge

Sarapiqui
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Average rating 4.3 (125 ratings)

This is a pleasant, small, mid-priced hotel, with good sustainable tourism credentials. It is run by a Costa Rican family who do everything they can to make their guests' stays enjoyable. Accommodation is in 25 rather uninspired concrete bungalows, each with private bathroom, tiled floors, ceiling fans and a/c, a small private terrace with rocking chairs and views of the garden. Built on a former working farm the owners have planted an attractive garden on this deforested, riverside site. There is a swimming pool, children's' play area, butterfly garden, a poison dart frog garden and an interesting exhibition room about tropical insects. This is a good sensible choice particularly for families, people with mobility problems and those non-birding spouses who would like an open, sunny base while in the Sarapiqui area. Great home cooking - the best we've tasted in Costa Rica.

La Quinta de Sarapiqui Lodge
Days 6 - 7

Arenal Paraiso

Arenal

Hotel Arenal Paraiso is a motel style accommodation set at the base of the Arenal volcano. Rooms are clean and spacious and feature lovely views of the volcano and surrounding gardens. The hotel has onsite hot springs set in tropical gardens where guests can relax and enjoy volcano views. There is also a bar, restaurant, and a spa and wellness centre offering a variety of treatments. Local activities and excursions can be booked locally from the lodge including canopy zip lines and horseback riding.

Arenal Paraiso
pools and hot springs onsite
Days 8 - 9

Monteverde Cloud Forest Lodge

Monteverde
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Average rating 4.7 (10 ratings)

Monteverde Cloud Forest Lodge is located on approximately 70 acres of primary and secondary forest with 5 km. of private trails where over 180 species of birds have been spotted.

The lodge comprises 18 wooden rooms in separate buildings with hot water and private bathrooms. There is a bar and small restaurant on-site. Horse riding and bike-riding can be arranged, etc. Ideal for birdwatchers.

N.B the lodge is around a 7 minute drive from Santa Elena town - you either need to have a hire car or be content spending your whole time based at your hotel as there are no nearby restaurants unless you get a taxi to Santa Elena

Monteverde Cloud Forest Lodge
Cabins in the grounds
Day 10

Cerro Lodge

Tarcoles
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Average rating 4.2 (20 ratings)

Cerro Lodge located on a farm in Tarcoles just 10 minutes from the Carara National Park.

Described by themselves as an intense birdwatching spot, the lodge is in a prime position to spot scarlett macaws on a daily basis.

A small lodge, they pride themselves on operating as sustainably as possible.

 

Cerro Lodge
Lodge grounds
Days 11 - 12

Hotel Club del Mar

Jaco
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Average rating 4.3 (31 ratings)

Club del Mar is a beachfront hotel set in landscaped tropical gardens located at the far end of Playa Jaco just along from Playa Hermosa. Deluxe rooms have king or two queen-sized beds, covered balconies with ocean view, A/C, fans, telephone, coffee maker, hair-dryers and safe. Hotel facilities include a swimming pool, volleyball court, open-ailargr 'Las Sandalias' restaurant serving international and local cuisine, beachside 'Tiki' bar, spa treatments such as facials and massage and tours desk.

Hotel Club del Mar
Exterior
Day 13

Presidente

San Jose
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Average rating 4.3 (76 ratings)

Hotel Presidente is located in the heart of downtown San José, on the corner of Central Avenue Boulevard and 7th Street, just 20 minutes from the San Jose international airport. Each of the 80 guest rooms split between standard and superior rooms and suites have either two queen-sized beds or a king-sized bed, A/C, wireless internet, hair-dryers, mini-fridge, 32" cable LCD T.V, safe. Hotel amenities include a restaurant, honesty bar in reception, spa services, 24/7 gym, casino, concierge service, computer for guest use, rooftop bar and terrace with panoramic city views.

Presidente
Exterior