International Expeditions’ Costa Rica tour treks across the lush rainforests, cloud forests, mountains and coastline encounters a wealth of wildlife, but also allows time to bond with the friendly people during a relaxing dinner with locals and tour of a coffee plantation — encompassing the natural and human history of this rich land. Forming a natural bridge between North and South America, this peaceful country contains a phenomenally diverse concentration of birds, primates and butterflies, and its far-reaching national parks and reserves have long-been considered the showplace of tropical conservation. For a true rendezvous with nature, Costa Rica travel is calling!
Commotion in the Canopy
Spend your days on our Costa Rica tour with a host of wildlife! As you travel through the lowland jungles, monkeys create a commotion in the canopy, in the company of toucans and macaws. Daily guided rainforest excursions with our Master Naturalists are the perfect time to take in Costa Rica’s symphony of wildlife.
Discover Flexible Fun & Adventure
Not only will you experience the volcanic fireworks of Arenal, swim in natural hot springs and glide along Caribbean waters, IE’s Costa Rica tour features your choice of horseback riding, white-water rafting, trying a canopy zip-line and more!
Experience Culture on Our Costa Rica Tour
While the friendly locals in Costa Rica are often called “ticos,” you’ll be calling these welcoming people “friend!” Taking advantage of IE’s decades of travel to Costa Rica, your small group will be welcomed like family to a traditional meal hosted by Dona Mireya at the Hidalgo Family Hot Springs and when meeting Monteverde’s Quaker settlers on our Costa Rica tour.
U.S. / San José
Fly independently to San José, where we meet our guide and transfer to our hotel. (Meals Aloft)
San José / Tortuguero After an early flight from San José to Tortuguero, we take a boat to our hotel and enjoy a peaceful morning to relax. After lunch, visit the small village of Tortuguero, bordered by crashing ocean, lagoons and jungle. Our time will include a visit to the Caribbean Conservation Corporation Museum, where we learn about the Atlantic green sea turtle. You can take a night walk in the rainforest. Spend the next two nights of our Costa Rica travel itinerary at the Evergreen Lodge. (B,L,D)
Tortuguero National Park
Our Costa Rica tour visits the flooded forests of Tortuguero, established to protect the largest nesting ground of green sea turtles in the Caribbean and the surrounding lowland rainforest — home to jaguars, manatees and the endangered great green macaw. During the summer months, thousands of turtles come ashore on these world-famous beaches to lay their eggs. By boat, we glide along the black waters surrounded by towering trees, looking for keel-billed toucans, colorful parrots and the basilisk lizard, also called the “Jesus Christ lizard” because it runs across the water! As we explore the park's canals, look for all six species of New World kingfishers, as many as eight species of parrots, toucans, oropendolas and more, as well as the raphia palm, which has the largest leaves of any plant. Capuchin and spider monkeys may be seen crossing the river in daring leaps. (B,L,D)
Tortuguero / Sarapiquí
Depart the Caribbean this morning for the primary forests, swamps and banana plantations of Sarapiquí, an important region for conservation of birds, butterflies, insects and plants. The crystal Sarapiquí River snakes through the region, beginning in the old crater of the Poas Volcano – joining with the waters of several tributaries such as the Rio Sucio and Rio Puerto Viejo. The moderate rapids are particularly attractive to rafting enthusiasts. However, the banks of the river are also home to monkeys, iguanas, sloth, river turtles and crocodiles, among others. Specialists have identified 79 bird species, mammals such as coyotes, weasels, rabbits, skunks and some cats. Most of the park is covered by primary forest, where there are about 6,000 species of plants representing half of Costa Rica’s native species. Spend two nights at the charming Sueño Azul Lodge. (B,L,D)
Listen to the morning songs of the forest’s birds and frogs on a ride through the Costa Rican lowlands en route to the Cascades. Swim in the natural pools of spring water created by these small waterfalls. Gaze at beautiful tropical butterflies in their natural environment at the on-site Butterfly Garden before walking the trails into the heart of the jungle. After lunch at the hotel, you have an afternoon free to relax or take a variety of tours, including white-water rafting, horseback riding, visiting the canopy zip line or biking...perfect for creating your ideal Costa Rica travel adventure! (B,L,D)
Sarapiquí / Arenal
Departing Sarapiquí, this morning we explore the Arenal Hanging Bridges, fourteen bridges designed to blend with the environment. As we walk these trails, we’ll see flowers and wildlife typical of the rainforest, and enjoy imposing views of Arenal Volcano, active since 1968. In the afternoon we visit the Hidalgo Family Hot Springs for a chance to enjoy soaking in thermal waters surrounded by rainforest. Enjoy a traditional Costa Rican dinner prepared by our host, Doña Mireya. Our accommodations at the Arenal Springs Resort offer an unobstructed view of the volcano. Arenal presents a remarkable spectacle: a continuously active volcano with erupting lava showers, smoke and steam. If the weather cooperates we will see a stunning display of volcanic fireworks. (B,L,D)
Arenal / Monteverde
A boat takes us across Lake Arenal to an ecological farm, where we enjoy lunch and continue our Costa Rica tour. Travel to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, the richest and most complex tropical cloud forest in the New World. The abundance of life associated with the cloud forest is astounding. Within the general heading of "cloud forest" there are actually six distinct forest types at Monteverde, each with its own separate, yet interwoven, plant and animal life. The Monteverde Cloud Reserve contains over 2,000 species of plants, including a wide array of orchids, mosses, ferns and bromeliads. Once settled into the El Establo, we’ll be visited by one of the area’s original Quaker settlers to learn about the history and current issues of this sprawling agricultural community. The community was founded in 1951 by a group of American Quakers, most from Alabama. (B,L,D)
Monteverde We explore the renowned Monteverde Reserve, looking for tropical birds including parrots, motmots, hummingbirds, toucans and the star attraction: the stunning resplendent quetzal. Monteverde features tumbling waterfalls, giant tree ferns and a lush blanket of mosses and epiphytes, and encompasses six different ecological zones. Cap off your day with a coffee tour. Specialized guides will point out the most important aspects of coffee, its harvesting and processing. Your coffee guides will also highlight the importance of the golden bean on Costa Rica’s social, cultural and economic development. Prior to returning to El Establo, our Costa Rica tour itinerary visits the Butterfly Garden, with many kinds of brilliantly colored native butterflies along with medicinal plants and a leaf-cutter ant colony. (B,L,D)
Monteverde / San José / U.S.
Return to San José for our return flight home. If you are making your own international flight arrangements, please note that your departure flight reservations should be made for 2 pm or later. Earlier departure flights will require a separate transfer at your expense. (B)
Please Note: Accommodations are subject to change.
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.
Options and Extras
What's included in the price of IE’s Costa Rica tour?
- Wildlife excursions on land & by boat
- Choice of horseback riding, white-water rafting, canopy zip line & more in Sarapiquí
- Tour of local coffee farm
- Arenal Hanging Bridge excursion
- Daily rainforest walks
- Swimming in natural pools & hot springs
- Traditional dinner with Doña Mireya
- Flight to Tortuguero
- Visits to two Butterfly Gardens
- Guided tours & enriching lectures by Master Naturalists
- Nightly briefings on history, wildlife & conservation
- 22 meals
- Tips to porters & to waiters for included meals
- Bottled water on transfers
- All entrance fees
- Transfers on group arrival & departure dates
What visas are required for Costa Rica travel?
There are no visas required for U.S. or Canadian citizens to enter Costa Rica.
What vaccinations are required for Costa Rica travel?
No immunizations are required for entry into Costa Rica from the U.S. or for re-entry into the U.S.
What kind of weather can you expect on my Costa Rica tour?
Temperature in Costa Rica varies little from season to season and the main influencing factor is altitude. San José, at 5,085 feet, has a climate that the locals refer to as the ‘eternal spring. Lows average a mild 59°F year round while highs are a pleasant 79°F. The coasts are much hotter with the Caribbean averaging 70°F at night and over 86°F during the day; the Pacific is 4-6°F warmer.
What are the luggage restrictions on IE’s Costa Rica tour?
Travel light! We will be flying from San Jose to Tortuguero, and the luggage limit on that flight is one 25-pound suitcase and one 10-pound carry-on per person. Your carry-on bag cannot exceed 33 linear inches (L+W+H) and your checked suitcase or duffel bag cannot exceed 50 linear inches (L+W+H) per person. Any excess baggage charges are at your own expense and must be paid in advance. Laundry service is available at the hotels at an additional expense.