Costa Rica: Nature's Showcase

Code: CTWHW

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Activity types:

  • Coastal
  • High Mountains
  • Wildlife

Level

  • Easy
More information

Difficulty indicator

Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.

More about difficulty levels

From £2,779.00 - 11 to 14 nights

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Prices are per person

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Holiday overview

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Costa Rica, on the land bridge between North and South America, is a country of extreme natural diversity. From mountains and volcanoes, cloud forest and coastal rainforest, stunning pacific beaches and friendly rural villages, it offers so much in its small area.

A country with no armed forces and with over 20% of the country a protected national park, Costa Rica is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and those seeking untouched and beautiful natural surroundings.

Holiday highlights

  • Great natural variety in a small area
  • Dominical and the undeveloped Marino Ballena National Park
  • Walks around the active Arenal volcano and the rainforest canopy
  • Boat ride through the Cano Negro Wildlife reserve, on the Nicaragua border
  • Astounding tropical bird life
  • The hills of San Gerado de Dota, in search of the rare quetzal bird
  • Expert walking and naturalist guides
  • Optional extension to the Corcovado National Park on the Pacific beaches

Price includes:

  • 11 nights’ accommodation in en-suite rooms
  • Full Board from dinner on arrival to breakfast on departure
  • A full programme of guided walks led by local guides 
  • All sightseeing and entrance fees
  • Travel by air-conditioned coach/minivan
  • Tips

Accommodation

Stay in a selection of well equipped resort hotels and country and rainforest lodges, all with lovely tropical gardens close to nature.

The Buena Vista hotel  (2nts at start, and 1nt at end) is situated a little outside San Jose, among coffee fields and enjoys views along the central valley across the capital toward Poas volcano. 

The Tilajari Resort (3nts) at Arenal is a luxurious 4-star country lodge with large well-appointed rooms and a range of facilities including a butterfly garden. A highlight of the resort is the extensive grounds, with a private rainforest reserve in front of the hotel.

In San Gerado de Dota, the Savegre Mountain Lodge (2nts) is relatively basic in terms of facilities and amenities, but its great attraction lies in its closeness to nature, and great location surrounded by untouched cloud forest and accompanied by birdsong. Nights can be cool here at 2,000m altitude, but it is a very atmospheric place.

On the Pacific Coast, the Cristal Ballena Resort (3nts) is an excellent 4-star hotel set in extensive tropical gardens with splendid views over the ocean and extensive facilities including large rooms with balconies, a swimming pool and spa.

As an extension option, the Casa Corcovado (3nts) is offered. Tucked away in the trees and cooled by the Pacific Ocean, the lodge is a 170 acre private reserve bordering Corcovado National Park. The lodge has been constructed to be in harmony with the landscape. Individual bungalows offering comfort without taking away from the natural surrounding and furnishings are by Costa Rican artisans. 


On occasion we may need to change the accommodation listed above. If this happens, your replacement accommodation will be of the equivalent standard or higher. In the rare instance this is not possible, we will contact you in advance.

Itinerary

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A mixture of sightseeing and a choice of walks. Easier walks range from 3-6 miles (4.75-9.6km) with up to 600 feet (180m) of ascent; harder walks are from 6-12 miles (9.5-19.25km) with very little ascent. Some paths are narrow and muddy. Options are offered each day.

Day 1: To San Jose - Fly to San Jose and on arrival meet the local guide, transfer to the hotel for 2 nights.

Day 2: Poas Volcano - Visit the Poas Volcano National Park, with its spectacular crater filled with emerald green water. Walk by a hummingbird observation area and a refreshing waterfall.

Day 3: To Arenal - Travel to the lush San Carlos valley (3 nights), stopping en route in the traditional town of Sarchi. This afternoon there will be time to relax and explore the lovely natural surroundings.

Day 4: Arenal - Today there are choices of walks around Arenal volcano, with extraordinary views, or the amazing experience of the Arenal Hanging Bridges in the primary rainforest canopy.

Day 5: Caňo Negro Wildlife Reserve - Take a slow river boat ride through the 20,000 acre Caňo Negro Wildlife Reserve on the lookout for howler monkeys, caimans, turtles, sloths, brightly coloured butterflies and exotic birds.

Day 6: To San Gerardo de Dota - Journey south, stopping at the Gold Museum with its collection of pre-Colombian artefacts, into the mountainous spine of Costa Rica near the Cerro de la Muerte for 2 nights.

Day 7: San Gerardo de Dota - A variety of trails are possible in the cool mountains, winding around the cloud forest of the Talamanca mountains and by the Savegre river. This is an area of wonderful bird life, including the rare resplendent quetzal and a large variety of hummingbird species.

Day 8: To Dominical - morning walk beside the rushing Savage River. After lunch we cross over the continental divide, where on a clear day it’s possible to see both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Dropping into the San Isidro valley we make our way over the coastal mountains to the Pacific Ocean.  Stay near Dominical for 3 nights.

Day 9: Marino Ballena National Park - Explore this quiet and relatively undiscovered national park, with its large sandy beaches, tidal pools, and great marine and bird life. Coastal trails offer views of the Pacific Ocean not easily forgotten.

Day 10: Marino Ballena National Park - A further day for exploration of the national park and also to relax in the peaceful surrounds of the hotel. This area is renowned for its visiting whales and dolphins and it is possible to take an optional whale watching cruise, as well as an optional mangrove cruise.

Day 11: To San José - Travel overland back to San José (1 night), calling in at various places on the journey including an area where it’s possible to see scarlet macaws.

Day 12: To London - Transfer to the airport for the departure flight.

Day 13: London - Early morning arrival.  


Extend your stay - Corcovado National Park extension

Continue on your adventure and travel further down the Pacific coast to the Corcovado National Park, the largest primary forest on the American Pacific coastline, and stay at the excellent Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge. The tropical waters surrounding the Osa Peninsula are an amazing marine habitat for whales, dolphins, sea turtles and more.

Day 11: To Corcovado - Transfer by land to the Sierpe river dock and take the boat directly to the Casa Corcovado Lodge, arriving in time for lunch. Afternoon is free to explore the jungle trails or relax on the beach.

Day 12: Corcovado National Park - Guided tour on the trails of the national park, with wildlife including spider monkeys, toucans, poison dart frogs, sloths and much more. There will also be plenty of time to relax on the coast.

Day 13: Beach and ocean - we explore the pristine waters, bays and coastline of the Pacific Ocean. Go to an excellent spot for snorkeling, the ‘Coral Garden, and then to a secluded beach sheltered by coconut palms. Hike up to the interior of the island or to stay awhile at the magnificent viewpoint.

Day 14: To San Jose - Take the boat up the Sierpe river and fly to San Jose. Stay 1 night at the Buena Vista Hotel. Afternoon at leisure.

Day 15: To London - Transfer to the airport for the departure flight.

Day 16: London - Early morning arrival.

Please note there will be no local leader in Corcovado, but there will be an English-speaking driver/guide. You will be getting in and out of boats, so please take waterproof sandals, or footwear you don't mind getting wet. Tips are not included for the extension. Conditions will be very hot and humid. All that said, as one guest described it - it's a tremendous experience, it's the icing on the cake!

General Information

Passport

A full passport is required and must be valid for one day beyond the date of departure from Costa Rica.

Visas

British citizens with full right of residence in the UK do not require a visa for Costa Rica. Those who do not have British passports should check requirements with the embassies or consulates of Costa Rica.

 

Health advice

Before booking, you should check with your doctor to see if any health precautions are needed. The following websites provide a wealth of information on travelling and health: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk   www.traveldoctor.co.uk

Medical services are not free to visitors and health insurance is therefore a necessity.

Vaccines: Hepatitis A, Typhoid & Tetanus vaccinations are recommended. Diphtheria, malaria and rabies prevention may be recommended too.

Mosquitoes, chiggers and a little biting black fly can present a problem if you are allergic to bites. Ticks are present but no diseases are known to be spread by them. Most people are not bothered at all. A spray repellent with DEET is recommended. Malaria is present in Costa Rica, although more towards the south and Atlantic coast, away from the areas we will visit. We would urge you to consult your GP before you depart for up to date information.

Climate

Costa Rica experiences two seasons: wet and dry. Departures are planned for the dry season but even then, due to travelling through tropical rainforests, there may be a number of wet days, especially inland. Temperatures depend on place and altitude. San José has an average year round temperature of 22°C / 72ºF. The days can be fairly hot but temperatures drop a little at night. The highlands around San Gerado de Dota in particular are cold at night.

Money

The official currency is the Colon. Colones cannot be obtained in the UK, but can be exchanged from US Dollars in Costa Rica. US Dollars are also widely accepted. Travellers cheques are no longer accepted at most banks. Major credit cards are accepted in larger hotels, although you may have problems using them in some of the more rural locations we will visit. There are ATM’s available. Traveller’s cheques are not advised.

Tipping

Tips are included on this holiday. (but not on the extension to Corcovado)

For flights information please see Dates and Prices tab 

 

Leaders

Nancy Sears

Nancy has been lecturing, leading walks and nature viewing tours in Canada, the United States and Costa Rica for over 20 years. Although her home is in Eastern Canada her passion for all things in the natural world led her to Costa Rica, where it was love at first sight.

She looks forward to returning each winter to share this wonderful country with others.

Nancy has been leading our HF Holidays groups for 18 years, always with excellent feedback. Her knowledge and experience of the natural history of Costa Rica has a huge positive influence on your enjoyment of this wildlife paradise. 

Reviews

Date & Rating Customer Review HF Holidays says
14 Apr 2016, 2:17 p.m.

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Service review:

Generally a good service: not cheap but accommodation, leaders, travel etc of a good standard.

Product review:

Only complaint is with HF's information, which could more properly be described as misinformation. For example HF said to take own snorkelling equipment to Corcovado, but this is not needed What is required by hotel guides is a long-sleeved light coloured t shirt. Landing at Corcovado is wet, and not to everyone's taste. There is little actual need for walking sandals unless going to Corcovado, but boots are widely recommended for forest walks.
6 Mar 2016, 5:48 a.m.

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Brochure on this trip was not accurate in some places, otherwise handled well

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Guides did an excellent job. Only the heat was a problem for me.
3 Mar 2016, 10:35 a.m.

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Ex support from leaders both in crisis and as we went along. Good quality hotels and transport, knowledgable guidance.

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as interesting as I had hoped
2 Mar 2016, 10:51 a.m.

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Love walking with like minded people. Organisation and leadership wonderful. good food and hotels.

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Saw a great deal of country in different ecosystems. leadership great from Tour guide and expert.
2 Mar 2016, 9:18 a.m.

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But the extension had no he rep

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As above
28 Feb 2016, 3:30 p.m.

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Service review:

Nancy and Noel were fantastic. Everything was well organised and well paced. Their knowledge and enthusiasm were infectious. Our driver was really, really good and thoughtful.

Product review:

The hotels were great. We particularly like the one in Gerado da Dota. We enjoyed learning about the birds of the different areas. A very enjoyable holiday.
28 Feb 2016, 8:46 a.m.

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Excellent

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Very good
15 Apr 2015, 1:50 a.m.

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Smooth, efficient, high quality hotels, excellent leaders

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wonderful leaders, local guide was fantastic, hotels and meals very fine
30 Mar 2014, 9:24 a.m.

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We keep coming back.

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Exceedingly well organized. Excellent guides. Good variety of locations visited.
15 Mar 2014, 7:42 p.m.

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One of the best designed holidays we have ever taken with the most exceptional guides we have ever had.

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Excellent content something for everyone

Read more reviews from feefo

Dates & Prices

Date Description Nights Brochure price Book
15 Feb 2017 CTWHW - Costa Rica Nature's Showcase
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 15 Feb 2017, 6:20 a.m.
  • Arrive: 15 Feb 2017, 3:45 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: San Jose Juan Santamaria International

Flight - Return

IBERIA INTL AIRLINE

  • Depart: 26 Feb 2017, 5:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 27 Feb 2017, 1:15 p.m.
  • Depart from: San Jose Juan Santamaria International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
11 £3,379.00 Book Now
15 Feb 2017 CTWHW - Costa Rica Nature's Showcase 11 £2,779.00 Book Now
15 Feb 2017 CTWHW - Costa Rica & Corcovado National Park 14 £4,114.00 Book Now
15 Mar 2017 CTWHW - Costa Rica Nature's Showcase
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 15 Mar 2017, 6:30 a.m.
  • Arrive: 15 Mar 2017, 4:10 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: San Jose Juan Santamaria International

Flight - Return

IBERIA INTL AIRLINE

  • Depart: 26 Mar 2017, 5 p.m.
  • Arrive: 27 Mar 2017, 3:10 p.m.
  • Depart from: San Jose Juan Santamaria International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
11 £3,379.00 Book Now
15 Mar 2017 CTWHW - Costa Rica Nature's Showcase 11 £2,779.00 Book Now
15 Mar 2017 CTWHW - Costa Rica & Corcovado National Park 14 £4,114.00 Book Now
15 Nov 2017 CTWHW - Costa Rica Nature's Showcase
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 15 Nov 2017, 6:30 a.m.
  • Arrive: 15 Nov 2017, 4:10 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: San Jose Juan Santamaria International

Flight - Return

IBERIA INTL AIRLINE

  • Depart: 26 Nov 2017, 5 p.m.
  • Arrive: 27 Nov 2017, 3:10 p.m.
  • Depart from: San Jose Juan Santamaria International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
11 £3,379.00 Book Now
15 Nov 2017 CTWHW - Costa Rica Nature's Showcase 11 £2,779.00 Book Now
15 Nov 2017 CTWHW - Costa Rica & Corcovado National Park 14 £4,114.00 Book Now

Prices are per person

Information

  • Single room: £540 (2016), £590 (2017)
  • Extension to Corcovado National Park from £1,335
  • Non-member associate fee: (2016) £5 per person; (2017) £10 per person