Costa Rica Wildlife Exploration Holiday
April 1, 2023 - April 14, 2023£807 – £4135
If you crave wildlife adventure while immersed in rainforest wilderness, this tour is perfect for you. Journey from the remote northern coastal jungles through long, to the beautiful Caribbean beaches, then travel to deep within the vast south western rainforests of Osa – the most pristine in Costa Rica. Marvel at the sheer abundance of flora and fauna seen on varied outings from your lodges’ comfortable accommodation, guided by those who truly value their natural heritage. Return home with a warm glow and a keen sense of what it means to be in tune with mother nature.
Travelling to the Caribbean lowlands and coasts as well as the forests of the south you can see a plethora of mammal, reptile, amphibian and bird species; learn about rainforest ecology; enjoy raft and boat trips through jungle-clad rivers and lots more.
What follows is a short day by day summary of the itinerary, it is hard to explain the exact day to day breakdown of the trip as that largely depends on the wildlife as well as which activities you decide when staying at certain places where there are options.
Top Animals on Tour
Upon arrival to San Jose International Airport, you will received by our representative and then take the private transportation (approx. 1 hours) to your accommodation. When staying here today you are free to leave the hotel and explore the city (unguided); San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica with a population of nearly 400,000 people. The city is located in the centre of Costa Rica in the Central Valley allowing for routes that lead to all regions of the country so it is a melting pot of people. It is not difficult to see that this is the pulse and economic centre of Costa Rica.
Pacuare Nature Reserve
This morning you will be collected at the hotel in San Jose and transferred in a private vehicle to Alcantarilla in Matina, Limon. From here you will have a boat transfer to the lodge in the reserve. There are several accommodation options in the reserve and you will be in the Casa Grande Ecolodge. This a wooden house perched on pillars has a large balcony where you will find hammocks, chairs and tables, making it a perfect place for observing wildlife. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included during your stay here. Please note that there is no electricity in the house. You will have the afternoon to explore on your own around the grounds, beach and forest. There are also some activities available (some at extra cost) whilst staying here, we have not included anything specific on this day, you are advised to speak to the local staff at the reserve to discuss what is available today. These activities include visiting the John Denham Visitor Centre, Introduction to the Marine Turtle Monitoring Program and Research Protocol at Pacuare Reserve, Night Marine Turtle Census (included tomorrow night), Day Marine Turtle Census, Day Jungle Walk, Night Jungle Walk, Observation of Flora & Fauna Tour, Boat Expeditions Through the Canals, Craftsman for a Day (Workshop on Local Crafts) and Caribbean Cuisine Workshop.
Pacure Nature Reserve
Today we have not scheduled anything, instead (as described in day 2) you can discuss with the staff what activities are available, but at night we have scheduled the night marine turtle census. You will then be taken by the turtle researchers and volunteers to hopefully see huge leatherback turtles as they come ashore (at this time of year in peak numbers) to lay their eggs. During the day you are free to explore the area, there is wildlife around including primates and many bird species.
This place is basic and not the usual tourist destination, but we chose here as it is the best and most reliable place in the world for seeing leatherback turtles which was the major focus of this trip.
This morning you will depart the reserve and take the boat back to Alcantarilla, Matina and from here take a private vehicle transfer to the resort in Sarapiqui. Sarapiqui is first and foremost a stunning eco-destination off the tourist radar that offers numerous activities to keep nature lovers’ and thrill seekers’ hearts pounding. Activities include mountain biking, rappelling, white-water rafting, horseback riding and wildlife activities include bird watching and general wildlife observation. After your arrival to the resort you will have the rest of the day to rest or discuss with the staff about what other activities are available.
Today is a free day around Sarapiqui to explore on your own. This area is well known for amazing bird-watching opportunities as well as a wealth of other activities. Your accommodation will have a range of activities in the area for you to choose from and book. Including bird-watching, visiting forest stations, night walks, photography tours etc. If you are interested in any activities it is important to inform us if you would like to select a specific tour time at the time of reservation. If you do not inform us, we will select the most popular time that other travellers have selected. These activities are not a private tour unless specifically stated that is what you want at the time of booking and we can then make those arrangements in advance for you. If you would like a private activity on this day, we will need to know this in advance.
This morning you will have a private transfer to San Jose, where you will catch an internal flight to Drake Bay, once here you will have a shared transfer from the airstrip to the resort in Drake Bay.
Drake Bay is home to some of the most beautiful palm studded beaches in Costa Rica and an abundance of wildlife in the nearby Corcovado National Park.
Dominating Drake Bay is the Osa Peninsula, which is one of Costa Rica’s last frontiers and will remain that way thanks to the protection of lands within Corcovado National Park. It’s so wild that a writer from National Geographic named Corcovado as one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. Corcovado is one of the last remaining strongholds for numerous species including jaguars, Baird’s tapirs, and scarlet macaws.
The beauty of the Osa is breath-taking with lush jungle-lined hills teaming with wildlife that crash into the sea on three sides of the peninsula. Drake Bay is the most popular town for visitors to Corcovado as it is the closest to the San Pedrillo and Sirena Stations which have more wildlife than other stations. Drake Bay is only accessible by boat from Sierpe or plane from select destinations. We don’t have anything planned for today as you will not arrive until the afternoon and after a long day travelling it is best to rest ahead of a few days exploring the region in more depth.
Corcovado National Park
Today you will go by boat to the Sirena Ranger Station located at the heart of Corcovado National Park, from here you will be on foot as you take a guided nature hike through the several different eco-systems of this wonderful national park.
During the one hour boat ride to Sirena Ranger Station you may see interesting marine and bird life which is a nice way to start this wildlife exploration. Once onshore you’ll have lunch at the ranger station then go with your naturalist guide into the jungle to explore the various habitats and their inhabitants!
Some favourites include the large Baird’s tapir (Central America’s largest land mammal), a large groups of collared peccaries, a spectacled caimans, tiny and endearing tent-making bats, stunning green eyelash pit-vipers and many monkeys. Corcovado National Park is unique in that it is one of the only places in Costa Rica where all of the country’s monkey species live. There are also a lot of bird species as well, some of our most memorable species that could be seen here include red-capped manakin, green kingfisher, great tinamou, crested guan, scarlet macaw, and the gorgeous crested owl.
This morning you will leave the lodge and board a boat for about an hour to get out to Cano Island. Whilst here you will snorkel over a stunningly beautiful protected coral reef. Along the way to the island you can look for interesting sea life such as dolphins and sea turtles. Your bilingual guide will provide you with clean, high quality snorkelling gear and take you to the best snorkelling places.
After your first snorkelling adventure, you’ll get off the boat at the island to take a refreshing water break and walk around. Hiking is restricted to the beach area and only drinking water is allowed on the beach. Then you will go for another snorkelling adventure before heading back. Once on the mainland you’ll have your packed lunch.
Cano Island is an amazing marine biological reserve located at 53km from the shore with virgin blue waters making it the perfect tropical paradise for snorkellers and divers. It is home to and spectacular variety of stunning marine flora and fauna and is famous for having Costa Rica’s largest concentration of coral-building organisms along the Pacific Ocean. Visitors have rated Cano Island as having the best snorkelling and diving in Costa Rica! With fantastic underwater visibility, you have opportunity to observe and swim alongside sea turtles, dolphins, stingrays, manta rays, moray eels, barracudas, tuna, snapper, parrot fish, puffers and more. This forever-changing panorama is a powerful experience for those who venture below the surface to investigate the variety of marine life found near the coral reefs. Marine life is also abundant in the general outliers of the island and you can sometimes see white tipped reef sharks, and occasionally whale sharks and humpback whales.
Corcovado National Park
Today’s Corcovado National Park tour is one of the best wildlife hikes in Costa Rica. You will first leave and begin the tour from Drake Bay where you will meet the boat captain and board the waiting boat. A 30-45 minute boat ride over to the protected park will give you an opportunity to look for marine life and shore birds.
Once you arrive at the San Pedrillo Ranger Station you will go on a guided hike of approximately 2 miles through a wide variety of eco-systems supporting different kinds of wildlife in their natural habitats.
The rich biological diversity of the Corcovado National Park is astounding and around San Pedrillo you have a chance of seeing as many as four species of monkeys, as well as white-nosed coatis, two species of sloths, silky anteaters, and much more. Bird lovers will be enchanted by a wide variety of birds, including tanagers, flycatchers, kingfishers, manakins, trogons, crested guans, and spectacular scarlet macaws and toucans.
Today you will have a whale watching boat trip off the coast of the Osa Peninsula in search of dolphins and whales. The waters off of this coast are rich in marine life and one of the top places in the world for observing marine mammals.
Large resident pods of dolphins make it possible to see dolphins here all throughout the year. We most commonly see Pantropical spotted dolphins, common bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, long-beaked common dolphins and roughtooth dolphins. Other species of dolphins also make their appearance from time to time.
The very best time to see Humpback Whales is with our Southern migration, between mid-July through October. Our Northern migration Humpback Whales can be seen mid-November through April.
Manuel Antonio National Park
This morning you will leave Drake Bay in a shared vehicle and transfer to the Manuel Antonio area which is home to some of the most beautiful white sand, palm studded beaches in Costa Rica and an abundance of wildlife in the near by Manuel Antonio National Park.
The next couple of days will see you explore the park in more depth. Located on the scenic Central Pacific coast, Manuel Antonio National Park pairs perfectly with several other top Costa Rica destinations including Arenal Volcano, Monteverde and Corcovado National Park. Sun worshipers will love the gorgeous jungle-lined beaches and vibrant sunsets. Nature lovers can get up close and personal with exotic wildlife in the national park and surrounding forest. Adventurers will be blown away by the abundance of amazing adventures!
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is loaded with wildlife such as sloths, various monkeys, toucans, and parrots. Your bilingual naturalist guide will lead the way down forest paths and a new boardwalk pointing out an abundance of flora and fauna.
Manuel Antonio National Park contains a charming combination of rain forest, beaches, and coral reefs. These beaches are the most beautiful in the country, lined with lush forest. The forest is home to both the two-toed and three-toed sloths, toucans, iguanas, the rare and adorable Central American squirrel monkeys, millions of colourful little crabs and much more. The trail that winds around Punta Catedral affords some spectacular views. The park is easy to reach, south of the town of Quepos in Puntarenas province, and is near a good selection of hotels and restaurants.
Right next to Manuel Antonio National Park is Damas Island; this island is a small mangrove island that is fill of wildlife. The best way of exploring the island and its waterways is with a kayak safari. This amazing experience gives you the opportunity to see numerous species of wildlife. The refuge is home to large populations of spectacled caimans and American crocodiles which can be observed at nearly every turn! In addition you may see Panamanian white-faced capuchin monkeys, silky anteaters, sloths and other mammals. Birdwatchers will enjoy checking off many endemic or migrating species including parrots, toucans, roseate spoonbills, herons and other waterfowl.
Some experience in open-seat kayaking is preferred (but not essential), plus a reasonable fitness level is recommended since this adventure involves kayaking in an open seat kayak. This fun filled half day wildlife expedition includes transportation, bilingual guide, and a meal.
San Jose – Home
This morning you will leave the accommodation at Manuel Antonio National Park and travel in a private transfer to Alajuela and San Jose International Airport in time to catch your return flight home (we can include an extra night in San Jose if you decide to fly home tomorrow – this extra night will be extra and added to your balance).
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The climate in Costa Rica is hot all year round in the plains and along the coasts, while it’s milder in the plateau, that is, in the so-called tierras templadas.
Temperature variations are low because the country is located near the Equator, so the main difference between the seasons is found in the rains. Anyway, most of the country is so rainy that it is covered with rainforests. So expect some rain but mostly hot and humid weather conditions.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including all breakfasts and many lunches and some dinners (more information available on request). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. All transfers are included, some in private vehicles and some in shared vehicles.
All our excursions including guided walks, boat & canoe trips and park entrance fees are included (where activities are mentioned).
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars in addition to your camera as well as appropriate clothing; which should be both light and durable walking clothes as well as swim wear and one warmer outfit, as the highlands can be a little cooler. Broken in and comfortable, waterproof walking boots are essential. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. You can bring your own snorkelling equipment if you want, but it will be provided for the snorkelling activities.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. We have also provided night vision goggles which can record, so you can monitor the area after dark, as well as camera traps which will be set up around the hide for your trip and any pictures / videos taken with these will be free for you to have and use.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the meals provided, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure. Please also note that some of the activities are not included and there are some free time in Pacaure and Sarapique and if you wish to do any activities during these days, they will be charged extra.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend KLM as a good airline for flights to San Jose from the UK. One of the best websites to search for the best fares for these flights is www.skyscanner.net. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
Visas and Health Information
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities will be issued a tourist visa on arrival into Costa Rica. These are free and easy to obtain. We recommend you check with your home countries Costa Rican embassy or consulate for specific information to your nationality.
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Costa Rica, but it is recommended to be protected against MMR, Yellow Fever, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A & B as well as taking a form of Malaria prophylaxis. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Costa Rica as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Reviews of this Holiday
Mr & Mrs. Menendez - Boulder, Colorado
Coady Jones, Maxine Wheadon & Will Klitsch - UK
Ms. Jennifer Paton - Cardiff
Madison & Heather - Calgary, Canada
Madeline & Jim Collette - Cadiz