The Central American country is known for doing things differently. From its stunning array of wildlife to its approach to sustainability, it really is quite unlike anywhere else in the world–and anyone who pays a visit is in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Discover a world of nature and the astonishing beauty and diversity of Costa Rica with our 12-day tour

Costa Rica may be a small country, but the astonishing diversity of flora and fauna flourishing beneath its verdant rainforest canopies puts many of its neighbours in the shade. It more than pulls its weight on the global stage – the country’s longstanding commitment to protecting wildlife and promoting green living have attracted international interest from those intrigued by its inventive and often revolutionary approach to sustainability, environmental conservation and progressive social ideals.

Bordered by Nicaragua and Panama, and lying between the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica is a country that straddles two worlds. Its numerous smoldering volcanoes, brightly coloured lizards and craggy crocodiles hint at an ancient, prehistoric past, while its young population and forward-thinking approach to sustainability put it at the cutting edge of 21st-century innovation.

“a magnet for curious types who are keen to witness for themselves how some of the problematic realities of the modern age can be confronted with a little bit of creative thinking and a lot of natural flair”

The central American country’s government abolished its armed forces in 1949 and since then the money recouped has been pumped into social and environmental initiatives such as education, healthcare and infrastructure. As a result, standards of living are relatively high – the poverty rate is significantly below that of many countries in the region, and literacy rates are impressive. Economically the country is in rude health as well; in addition to a vigorous tourism industry, the agricultural and technology sectors are booming. All of this combines to make Costa Rica a magnet for curious types who are keen to witness for themselves how some of the problematic realities of the modern age can be confronted with a little bit of creative thinking and a lot of natural flair.


More than half (51.5%) of Costa Rica’s land mass is covered by rainforest, and most people live in urban areas; about one fifth of the population is concentrated in San José.

The park is named after its most important inhabitants – sea turtles. 20 miles of coastline in the park are used by the four sea turtle species that lay eggs there.

The bird population in Tortuguero National Park is diverse. There are over 375 different species that live in the park, including peacocks, blue herons, toucans, kingfishers, and parrots.

Any visitor to Costa Rica is immediately presented with a vast array of stunning scenery; lush rainforests, glistening jungle-fringed beaches, teeming rivers and towering volcanoes await the intrepid traveller, while the country’s towns and cities, particularly the capital San José, contain a wealth of architectural and cultural treasures, including world-class museums and galleries, presidential palaces and dazzling public gardens. In the country’s protected nature reserves, home to an astonishingly rich diversity of wildlife – including many endangered species – butterflies and hummingbirds flit through the air while the whoops of mantled howler monkeys and birdsong echo from treetop to forest floor.

In Braulio Carrillo National Park, deep and mysterious crater lakes have formed in the calderas of dormant volcanoes, while cloud forests high above sea level and lower-altitude tropical forests provide drastically varied habitats to the country’s many indigenous species. Crocodiles lurk lazily beneath the surface of the freshwater rivers in nearby Tortuguero National Park, which is also home to the somewhat less intimidating green turtle. Indeed, the park is the site of the world’s first green turtle research station, where conservationists work to protect the breeding and nesting habitats of these beautiful and placid creatures. The best way to explore the region’s waterways is by boat, and guided boat tours are available to anyone who wants to experience this dramatic and evocative aspect of the country’s landscape.

“the birdsong at dawn is like having your own orchestra playing to wake you up”

Early risers who manage to drag themselves out of one of the lodge’s comfortable beds at sunrise will be rewarded – perhaps the best time to see wildlife is first thing in the morning, before the humidity becomes too stifling. As well as thousands of birds and insects, the observant visitor has a chance to catch sight of some of Costa Rica’s more elusive endangered species, including sloths, ocelots, jaguars and cougars. “There is definitely the sense that the early mornings are the best time to see anything – getting out of bed is definitely worth it!” says Tiffany.


Almost 20% of Costa Rica’s annual GDP is spent on healthcare, education, clean water, sanitation and infrastructure – markedly higher than many of its neighbours.

The Arenal volcano produces energy for Costa Rica – Next to the eruptive natural wonder at the Arenal Volcano Natural Park is a human-enlarged lake that supplies more than 40% of Costa Rica’s hydroelectric supply. Its taps the natural winds and volcanic activity to produce this power.

Eruptive Period began in 1968 – Currently, the Arenal volcano has been erupting since 1968 when three large craters broke free from the mountain. In September of 1968, one of the craters began emitting lava. This natural wonder is the youngest of all of the Costa Rica volcanoes.

Beyond biodiversity, Costa Rica is notable for its agricultural wealth. And it just so happens that three of its major exports – pineapples, chocolate and coffee – are mouth-wateringly delicious. The Sarapiqui region is at the heart of the country’s chocolate industry, and visitors have the opportunity to observe the humble cocoa bean’s journey from cacao tree to chocolate bar – and of course, to sample the finished product. Sarapiqui is also known for its organic pineapple crop, and no visit would be complete without tasting the sweet fruits of nature’s labour. Anyone in need of a caffeine fix will be spoilt for choice by the variety – and quality – of the coffee available, and might even get a chance to learn about the remarkable process of turning an unprepossessing coffee cherry into a steaming hot cuppa.

“you realise how there’s almost an entirely different world that exists just a few feet above your head. Everything about it – the trees, the birds, the monkeys – was amazing, and so colourful”

At Arenal Volcano visitors can leave ground level and head up into the trees on the hanging bridges that traverse the rainforest canopy – one of the highlights of Tiffany’s visit. “Being up in the treetops gives you a completely different perspective on your surroundings,” she says. “It makes you realise how there’s almost an entirely different world that exists just a few feet above your head. Everything about it – the trees, the birds, the monkeys – was amazing, and so colourful. Make sure you remember to bring binoculars – and insect repellent.”

Back on earth, the lava fields around the currently dormant volcano add an extra dimension to the scenery. In places there is something almost lunar about the landscape, and the stunning contrast between the greyish-black rock and surrounding verdant rainforest means that breathtaking panoramic vistas are in rich supply. The volcano is intermittently active – the last eruption was in 2010 – and its subterranean rivers of molten lava heat the region’s natural hot springs, many of which are accessible to the visitor in search of relaxation after a day spent white-water rafting, ziplining or hiking nearby.


Costa Rica covers just 0.03% of the earth’s surface but is home to almost 4% of the total estimated species on the planet; a remarkable 500,000 species are contained within its borders

In addition to the lush jungles teaming with wildlife there’s also a mangrove estuary in the park. The estuary consists of both fresh and salt water and covers approximately 18 hectares

Manuel Antonio is not only one of the most diverse spots in Costa Rica, but also in the world. Nearly 200 species of birds and over 100 species of animals reside in the park, including the endangered squirrel monkey. This biodiversity makes Manuel Antonio a huge draw for eco-tourists, birders, and more.

Not far from Arenal is Tarcoles, a small town at the mouth of the sweeping Rio Grande Tarcoles river, whose mangroves provide the habitat of one of the world’s largest wild crocodile populations. And a little further down the coast the Manuel Antonio National Park offers yet more stunning views – this time across the Pacific Ocean – as well as gleaming white sandy beaches. “The beaches in Costa Rica are really spectacular,” says Tiffany. “Taking a dip at the end of the day is the perfect way to cool off after a day’s hiking, and lounging on a hammock on the beach is bliss. Just thinking about it makes me wish I was still there….”.

“Costa Rica’s warm welcome, inspirational experiences and unique landscapes are guaranteed to imbue even the most world-weary and seasoned of travellers with a new, vibrant and colourful lease on life”

The phrase ‘pura vida’ (‘pure life’) has become the unofficial motto of Costa Rica, and it is thrown about with enthusiasm and relish almost everywhere in the country. It is easy to see why. The thriving vibrancy of Costa Rica’s wildlife is mirrored in the life-embracing and dynamic approach of the country’s people, and the natural elan with which they go about their daily lives is infectious. And one can’t help but admire their ability to combine a focus on protecting their environmental heritage with a pragmatic and bold approach to tackling the challenges of the future – climate change, green energy and sustainable agriculture.

While only the lucky few might catch a glimpse of some of the country’s more endangered wild inhabitants, Costa Rica’s warm welcome, inspirational experiences and unique landscapes are guaranteed to imbue even the most world-weary and seasoned of travellers with a new, vibrant and colourful lease on life.

Tortuguero National Park
DAY 1-3

Day 1

The tour begins in Costa Rica’s capital San José, a friendly and safe city characterised by distinctive colonial-style architecture and a rich history.

Day 2

Explore Braulio Carrillo National Park’s dormant volcanoes and crater lakes before heading to the Caribbean lowlands. The day continues with a guided river cruise through Tortuguero National Park’s rainforest and a tour around its green turtle research station. At the end of the day relax at a welcome reception and dinner, before heading to your eco-lodge for the night.

Day 3

Start the day early with a dawn bird-watching excursion, then set off on a nature cruise through Tortuguero National Park, home to howler monkeys, sloths, toucans and caimans, as well as endangered species including jaguars, tapirs, ocelots, cougars, river otters and even manatees.

DAY 4-5

Day 4

A boat ride will take you to the Sarapiquí region, an important centre for tropical rainforest research. At an organic pineapple plantation you can learn about this exotic fruit and taste a few for yourself, before heading to your eco-lodge in the heart of the rainforest.

Day 5

The day starts on a sweet note, as you discover the process of producing chocolate from the cocoa bean and sample the finished product. Then embark on an exhilarating Sarapiquí River rafting adventure before returning to your rainforest lodge for a traditional Costa Rican dinner.

Arenal Volcano
DAY 6-8

Day 6

The dawn chorus provides the soundtrack to the start of your day as you set off on an early-morning bird watching tour along Sarapiquí’s natural forest trails. Then head to Arenal Volcano, where spectacular views and tranquil surroundings await.

Day 7

Leave the earth behind as you ascend into the treetops on a guided walking tour along Arenal’s hanging bridges. Afterwards you will have the choice of either embarking on a thrilling zip lining experience, or a slightly more relaxing hike along the trails and lava fields of Arenal Volcano National Park.

Day 8

Today offers a river safari down the Peñas Blancas River or, for the more adventurous, an exhilarating white water rafting expedition on the San Blas River. You will also have the opportunity to relax in the soothing waters of one of the region’s hot springs, before rolling up your sleeves for a hands-on cooking demonstration.

Manuel Antonio National Park
DAY 9-12

Day 9

Today you will set off for the Pacific coast, taking in a jungle crocodile safari, a bird-watching excursion and the Tarcoles river on the way. At the world-renowned Manuel Antonio National Park you can soak up the views and experience the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Day 10

Relax and enjoy the beauty of Manuel Antonio National Park, where you can make the most of the luxurious amenities of the resort, the nearby nature trails and beautiful white sand beaches.

Day 11

After a morning spent exploring Manuel Antonio National Park, where you can swim in the inviting blue ocean or go in search of three-toed sloths, agoutis, squirrel monkeys and iguanas, bid goodbye to the coast and return to San José for a farewell dinner.

Day 12

The tour concludes.


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If you want to find out more about the COSTA RICA – WORLD OF NATURE TOUR then you can request a no-obligation quote below or call 0800 804 8373 to speak to a travel adviser.

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