Want to experience the best of Costa Rica’s glorious tropical paradise? With our expert naturalist guide, you’ll explore the cloud forests of Monteverde, whose treetop canopies are home to the elusive quetzal and filled with blue morpho butterflies, follow hanging bridges suspended high in the forest near towering Arenal Volcano, hike to the breathtaking, 200-foot-high La Fortuna Waterfall, and even have the chance to ride a zip line. Our grand finale is Tortuguero National Park, where you’ll explore by boat through waterways sheltering a fantastic array of wildlife. Charming lodges keep you comfortable as you experience this natural wonderland.
We thought the trip was well scheduled and our time well spent. We were kept moving and steered to different places and experiences to make the most of our trip, which was just what we wanted. The hotels were excellent, as was the food!
— Gregg S., Boise, ID
Monteverde Cloud Forest
After an overnight in San Jose, we head to magical Monteverde Cloud Forest, set in the highlands at a cool 4,700 feet. Our Trip Leader unlocks the secrets of the forest as we hike along paths amid ferns, mosses, and exquisite plants, while high above, the dense green canopy shelters countless tropical birds, including the resplendent quetzal, sacred bird of the Mayas and Aztecs. During our visit to the Jardin de las Mariposas, we discover more than 40 shimmering species of butterfly residing in this enchanting garden, and hike nature trails in nearby Curi-Cancha Reserve, noted for its phenomenal wildlife—keep your camera handy for sightings of white-faced capuchins and howler and spider monkeys. We also have the option of taking an exhilarating ride on the canopy zip line. Soaring along nearly two miles of cables, you’ll see the forest from a whole new perspective. We unwind after our active days at welcoming Monteverde Lodge, set in lovely gardens surrounded by cloud forest.
Crossing Lake Arenal by private boat, we take in our first views of magnificent—and still active—Arenal Volcano. A perfect cone shape rising 5,300 feet from gentle green hills, Arenal first became active in 1968 when it erupted in spectacular fashion. A series of hanging bridges brings us right into the high rainforest canopy, where more than 350 species of birds and a colorful array of butterflies reside. A hike through forests and meadows leads us to the base of stunning La Fortuna Waterfall, where you can take a dip in the cool waters. Soak in a gorgeous natural thermal spring, then watch for the nighttime glow and red lava flows of Arenal Volcano from our boutique resort nestled among 120 acres of primary rainforest overlooking the mountain.
Tortuguero National Park
Set along natural inland waterways of the Caribbean and accessible only by boat or air, Tortuguero protects one of the last large areas of tropical rainforest in Central America. In this emerald world, we’ll head out by boat to explore its maze of tranquil blackwater canals overhung with rainforest that provides a rich habitat for caimans, manatees, monkeys, three-toed sloths, river otters, and dazzling birdlife including all six species of kingfishers found in the New World, three species of toucans, eight species of parrots, and the slaty-tailed trogon. Green sea turtles nest here (July-October) as well as leatherbacks (March-May), and we’ll be sure to visit the Green Turtle Research Station for fascinating insights about turtle migration and behavior. Our classic Caribbean-style lodge, set right at the river’s edge, grants us the best access to explore this incredible wildlife haven. Fly to San Jose for a final overnight and depart on Day 9, or join one of our exciting extensions.