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Wander forest trails in search of toucans and monkeys, sip coffee at source and watch coatis rummaging for coconuts on a remote beach as macaws fly overhead. This unique itinerary, tailormade to you, combines unforgettable wildlife experiences with time relaxing in delightful small lodges.
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On arrival in San José you are met and taken to your hotel overlooking the Central Valley. This evening is free to relax after your long flight. Please note international flights are quoted separately.
This morning your 4x4 hire car will be brought to you at the hotel. A member of our local team will take you through your intended driving route, offer advice and answer any questions you may have. Then drive down towards the Caribbean to head into the tropical rainforests of Bananito where you'll spend the next two nights.
Today is yours to explore independently or arrange a local guide. Immerse yourselves in the jungle and discover the history of your lodge, on the very cusp of conservation efforts in the country. The land was originally purchased to be exploited for logging, it was the owner's offspring who convinced him to preserve the forest rather than chop it down.
Emerge from the rainforest to drive down to the southern Caribbean coast, and the laidback village of Cahuita. Along the way, you might like to take a stop at one of the animal rescue centres to see something of their work to protect the fantastic wildlife. Settle in this afternoon, perhaps with a refreshing dip in the pool, or a wander through the extensive gardens, often full of birds and other wildlife.
Walk in the national park which fringes the Caribbean coast before enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and great beaches. This morning you head into the park with your guide, looking out for howler and capuchin monkeys, sloths, butterflies and birds. The afternoon is free for you to soak up the atmosphere of Cahuita and its surroundings.
You have another full day to to explore this beautiful slice of Costa Rica's Caribbean side. It can be as active or as relaxed as you choose, but if you're lucky you might encounter some of the sea turtles which use the beaches to nest.
Change environments as you leave the warm Caribbean and drive up to the central highlands, one of the agricultural centres of the Costa Rica. This area is one of the country's finest for fresh produce, so you can certainly expect to eat well, in the friendly company of your hosts.
Today is spent on and around the historic finca, exploring coffee production, a crucial component of Costa Rican life. You get a thorough overview of the entire coffee process, in many ways unchanged over the centuries. Follow the process through the mill before a 'cupping' session - essentially a tasting of different beans - before you return to the finca for lunch on the patio.
Set off south today, winding your way south along the Cordillera de Talamanca and up into the beautiful cloudforests surrounding Cerro Chirripo, Costa Rica's highest mountain.
Spend the day with your guide, walking some of the numerous trails to unlock the beautiful landscape around you, such as within the Cloudbridge Reserve. You will uncover some of the wonderful landscapes, and discover how the locals interact with them.
Another day with your guide to explore the area. You can spend the afternoon seeing and tasting the small scale local production of chocolate, cheese and sugar cane. The valley is also rich in birdlife, with a notable number of endemic species, so it's well worth seeing what you can spot.
Drive to Sierpe from where you take a boat into the mangroves of the Sierpe River, teeming with wildlife, to the small village of Drake Bay on the edge of the Osa Peninsula. It is a friendly village which, like most of Osa, feels very much like an island.
Today you explore at your own pace, perhaps take a boat a little way off shore to Caño Island. The island itself, once an Indian burial ground, offers some pretty walks and good snorkelling off the beach. The biggest draw is perhaps the boat journey itself however, with pods of dolphin often accompanying you en route.
Visit the Corcovado National Park with your guide today for fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities. The park remains largely untouched and harbours an incredible biodiversity, including 140 species of mammals, 367 birds and 177 amphibians and reptiles. You can expect to see several species of monkey, sloth and a host of birdlife during your guided walk. Rather than take the early afternoon boat back to Drake Bay, tonight you stay at the ranger station itself.
The morning is yours to discover more of the park and its abundant wildlife, before you head back to Drake Bay this afternoon and the comfort of your delightful lodge.
The majority of the day is yours to relax, walk along the coast and look for wildlife. There is a path which runs all the way from Drake Bay along the coast so you can take yourself off walking very easily. Everywhere you look there is wildlife, from iguanas in the trees to morphus butterflies on the flowers and pelicans in the sky.
Ideally you will fly in and out of San José. This being the case, Travel by bumpy road the 45 minutes to the village of Puerto Jimenez from where you fly back north to San José. Here you are met to help you make the transition to your international flight home. If this quick summary has whetted your appetite for a tailor-made trip to Costa Rica, we'd love to talk to you about tailoring something that is just right for you. See below for various ways to get in touch or request a full PDF itinerary for more details of this trip.
This holiday is primarily conceived of as a journey for lovers of wildlife and landscapes. It is about being in the great outdoors, exploring new landscapes and ecosystems and seeing the incredible range of birds, plants and animals which surround you. It has the added dimension of taking you off the beaten track to smaller towns and villages where opportunities to mix with the locals and settle into the country are much greater than is the case in Costa Rica's more 'obvious' destinations.
As this is a tailor-made holiday, the level of exertion is determined by you and you alone. What we provide for you is local information based on our first hand experiences to help you create the best possible trip. Sometimes it makes sense for us to include structured activities at the planning stage, other times you are better off waiting until you get to Costa Rica. It is part of our job to advise you which option is best for you in which parts of the country.
It is part of our job to get to know you, what you like or don’t like doing and any particular interests or requests that you have. We then advise you what we think is the best way to approach your trip, working with you to tailor it to you. It’s possible that what you have seen here is ideal for you, but equally we can tinker with it to get it just right if not. Because the hotels on this particular trip are usually an integral part of the destination, we can’t change them without changing the content of your holiday.
Departs any day to suit you, from December through August.
The weather in Costa Rica is defined by the dry season (December - April), and the 'green' season (May - November). However, this is not particularly helpful given the sheer range of micro-climates in the country. It's pretty much always wet and cool in the cloudforest for instance, and it's pretty much always hot on the south Pacific, which has roughly opposing rainy patterns to the Caribbean side. The only time of year that constant heavy rain will impact the Pacific side is likely to be late September through to early December, although this time can often be quite nice over on the Caribbean. December generally is hit and miss, you could be lucky and have great weather on both sides, though equally it's not unknown to start getting pretty wet on the Caribbean side, which continues into January.
In early May you have the transition from dry to wet season, and this can bring heavy rains and storms on the Pacific side, so somewhere in May there is usually a week of dramatic weather in the west. It can also be somewhat grey/damp in the east, so on balance probably not the optimum month. The best months, therefore, are February through April, when it should be largely dry in most places. July and August are typically drier than the months either side, so while you will see some rains, there will be plenty of sunshine too.
The price is per person based on two people sharing and includes:
First-class accommodation with breakfast and some lunches and dinners
Large 4x4 vehicle with GPS delivered to your hotel
Guided excursions as described
Transfers to and from San José airport with welcome briefing
Costa Rica Holiday Guide with personal recommendations
Costa Rica driving guide
Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best routing is into and out of San José (SJO).
Over the course of this trip you stay in a series of very comfortable lodges and small hotels. In Costa Rica particularly, we choose our accommodation very carefully since we want you to be both comfortable and get a sense of the country hosting you. This suggested itinerary is based around what are essentially small 4* hotels.
For more details, please get in touch to request a detailed PDF itinerary.
With much of Costa Rica suffering somewhat under the weight of growing visitor numbers, we instead direct you towards some of the quieter unspoilt areas that we fell in love with. As well as bringing a share of the economic benefit to places where fewer people stay, this approach eases the burden on the famous sights and helps protect other areas through thoughtful eco-tourism. Everyone wins; the destination, the wildlife, the locals and you, the traveller.
Costa Rica is a country of farmers, a friendly place which, combined with its huge biodiversity and variety of ecosystems, makes it a very natural magnet for tourism. But it’s easy to leave without any real sense of place or the way people live here. That is why we are so passionate about helping you stay in the right places and travel with as much good information as possible to help you to stop and meet people, see something of daily life. You’ll also have an insight into the meeting of economic reality and conservation, a tricky balance which Costa Ricans seem to manage so much better than most parts of the world.
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