Costa Rica Birds & Wildlife in Depth 15 days Self Drive
During this 15 day itinerary, you will discover the best of Costa Rica’s scenery and wildlife travelling from the central highlands to the tropical rainforests at Sarapiqui, then on to the northern wetlands and the Caribbean lowland. Self drive in Costa Rica is hassle free and provides a great deal of freedom whilst maximising of the expert guiding at each lodge (where applicable). You will visit Pacific coastal regions and the Corcovado National Park, and everywhere encounter hundreds of bird species and other mammals, reptiles, insects and amazing flora – an unforgettable wildlife experience.
- 100s of species of tropical birds and other wildlife
- Diverse habitats
- Varied and spectacular scenery
- Stay in superb eco lodges
- Choice of activities
- All breakfasts, plus other meals where shown in itinerary
- Transfers as indicated
- Tours and excursions where shown in itinerary
- Domestic flight on last day
- Local taxes
- Vehicle Hire
So much to experience
Our popularitinerary Suggestions
All our itinerary holidays are fully customisable
Arrive and transfer to Heredia
Transfer from airport to Hotel Bougainvillea set in tropical gardens in Heredia. Spot your first birds, such as hummingbirds, tanagers, kingbirds and flycatchers in the grounds and walk amongst the lush tropical vegetation or just relax and enjoy the hotel’s varied facilities.
Transfer by boat and road to Sarapiqui. Stay two nights at the Selva Verde Lodge, located in tropical gardens, deep in the rainforest. Rooms here are on elevated platforms linked by wooden walkways. Lots of walking trails for birdwatching and to see native flora.
Guided birdwatching tour
Guided birdwatching tour in Sapapiqui, one of the few habitats of the endangered green macaw.
Transfer to Cano Negro in the northern wetlands area to stay at Natural Lodge for two nights. The reserve is home to 150 species of birds as well as the emerald basilisk lizard, iguanas, river turtles and other wildlife.
Wetlands boat tour
After breakfast, take a wetlands boat tour along the many waterways and lagoons, home to colourful flora, countless bird species and many mammals including howler, white-faced and spider monkeys. Later, take a guided walk with a hotel naturalist to a location where many birds and animals congregate to feed.
Breakfast at Cano Negro and then drive to the Arenal region to stay at the Hotel Casa Luna, set in lush tropical gardens, 2 km outside La Fortuna, with views of the currently inactive volcano and the surrounding rainforest. Lots of birds and native plants to be seen right in the hotel’s own environs.
Early start this morning to drive to the base of the Arenal volcano. Here can be seen lots of species of birds, some through scopes. Look out for all sorts of Caribbean lowland species, including great blue herons and various hummingbirds. Relax in the afternoon or walk the hanging bridges of the Arenal rainforests.
Transfer this morning to Puntarenas on the Gulf of Nicoya to stay at Ensenada Lodge on a full board basis. This is a National Wildlife Refuge on the Pacific coast, with all rooms facing the sea. This is also a working farm with horse riding and other activities available.
Spend time around the lodge and within the reserve birdwatching. Look out for the many birds in the mangroves and around, including Montezuma oropendula, bellbird, white iris, great egret and the many parrots, herons and pelicans.
Carara National Park
Drive today to Quepos with a stop at Carara National Park. This is home to the largest population of scarlet macaws in the country along with many other birds. Continue on to Santa Juana lodge for two nights on full board basis. Enjoy spectacular views from the terrace of your casita.
Manuel Antonio National Park
After breakfast, travel into the Manuel Antonio National Park for a guided, three-hour walk in the rainforest. Your guide, with his spotting scope, will point out the massive variety of flora and fauna. If you wish, go on to the Punta Catedral peninsula and maybe take a swim off one of the finest beaches in the Americas.
This morning, transfer to Sierpe and then by boat to Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, described by National Geographic as the most biologically intense place on earth. Here, you will stay for three nights full board at the ocean view Aguila de Osa Inn, your base for activities and relaxation.
Corcovado National Park
Take a guided tour today by boat into the heart of the Corcovado National Park. From the ranger station take any of a number of trails to view many species of plants, insects, animals and birds such as scarlet macaws, Baiurd’s tapir, peccaries, sloths, iguanas and monkeys.
Make your own choices today. From the hotel you can go kayaking, sport fishing, diving, snorkelling, riding, etc., or do more birdwatching on rainforest and mangrove walks. Alternatively, on your last full day in Costa Rica, simply relax and enjoy the pristine surroundings.
San Jose International Airport
After breakfast, transfer to the airfield for your local flight back to San Jose International Airport for onward or return travel.
A view from Above
Bougainvillea, San Jose
Upon arrival at this beautiful hotel set within 10 acres of lush tropical gardens home to a variety of plants and bird life it will be hard to believe that you are just a 10 minute drive from downtown San Jose and the international airport.
Offering a true feeling of Costa Rican lifestyle and hospitality the hotel is set amidst the coffee farms of Santo Domingo de Heredia and is famous for the exceptional personal service offered to its guests.
Large bedrooms with private balconies offering beautiful views, a superb outdoor pool, tennis courts, a fantastic restaurant, a welcoming cocktail bar and a wide variety of excursions on offer make this intimate hotel an even better choice for your stay in the Costa Rican capital.
Hotel Casa Luna, Arenal
Located at the base of the stunning Arenal Volcano this beautiful eco-friendly lodge offers spectacular views and luxury accommodation in a lush tropical rain forest environment.
Surrounded by farmland and a beautiful creek the lodge has its own private rainforest trail for guests to explore at their leisure and a wide range of superb activities are on offer giving guests the chance to fully experience this remarkable area.
A magnificent swimming pool, a beautiful rustic-style restaurant and an indulgent spa add to the feeling of luxury here and with so much to see and do we're sure you will never want to leave this tropical paradise.
Aguila De Osa Inn, Osa Peninsula
Feeling adventurous? The Aguila De Osa Inn is the place for you. A superb hotel in a remote, undeveloped area of the Osa Peninsula surrounded by lush rainforest and inhabited by spectacular wildlife.
The boat trip to the hotel is your perfect introduction to Drake Bay, the shoreline the hotel sits atop. After your “dry-landing” and a climb to the cliff-top you will be greeted with a cocktail by the hotel’s enthusiastic staff who will show you around the resort..
The spacious lodgings are designed with local wood and bamboo. Handcrafted fixtures and fittings give the rooms a native feel. Large screened windows and ceiling fans keep them cool and airy, a welcome place to relax after the day’s adventures.
Santa Juana Lodge, Manuel Antonio
High on a hilltop above the Manuel Antonio national park and beautiful coastline you will find the Santa Juana Lodge. This mountain resort, immersed into the jungle, is a truly authentic Costa Rican experience.
If you are keen to explore the more rural areas of Naranjito and villages of Santa Juana, you will not be disappointed. The eco-lodge is an important part of the local community and is run in harmony with the people and land around it.
The accommodation here comprises split-level cabinas, crafted from sustainable, locally sourced wood. The beautiful constructions offer high vaulted ceilings, king size beds, comfortable lounge areas and kitchenettes. Screened sliding windows lead onto panoramic terraces with spectacular views over the ocean.
Natural Lodge Cano Negro
A 4 hour drive from San Jose, and 2 hour trip from La Fortuna, this lodge is one of few in the local area. Situated on the banks of the River Frio and surrounded by beautiful wetlands it is a bird-watcher’s paradise. With tours available direct from the hotel and plenty to see and do a short walk away, you will have ample opportunity to experience this lovely part of Cano Negro.
The hotel’s accommodation is arranged into blocks of 6-8 air conditioned cabins. All have two comfortable double beds, spacious bathrooms and are supplied with coffee makers and televisions. A seating area is available through sliding doors to sit and enjoy the birdlife in the gardens.
Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapiqui
A firm favourite among eco-travellers, Selva Verde has been championing sustainable tourism in the area for thirty years. This rustic lodge overlooks the Sarapiqui River and is just 2 hours from San Jose.
The naturalist owner/managers promote conservation throughout the area and provide environmental education to locals and visitors alike. Guests enjoy being immersed in the rainforest whilst knowing they are contributing to the conservation of this beautiful area.
The lodge is crafted of stilted wooden structures, linked by covered walkways. Each room has screened windows, comfortable beds and private bathroom. There is a deck with hammocks for you to relax and spot the varied species of birdlife enjoying the bird-feeders in the grounds.
Located in La Ensenada National Wildlife Refuge in the province of Punta Arenas on the Gulf of Nicoya, Ensenada Lodge offers a fantastic combination of excellent accommodation, adventure and tranquillity in one of Costa Rica's finest nature and bird watching destinations.
This family run refuge offers guests the chance to fully immerse themselves in the day-to-day life of the ranch. Take a horseback ride, stroll through the vast space looking out for the abundant birdlife or simply sit back and soak up the stunning views of Nicoya Gulf.
However you choose to spend your time at this beautiful lodge you can be assured of a peaceful stay in the heart of nature and a great night's sleep in one of the lodge's comfortable private cabins.
Too much to choose from? This is where we come in
Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Costa Rica adventure for you.
With countless travel experiences and an enduring hunger for adventure, Amy knows exactly what’s needed to craft a holiday of a lifetime. Her experience and generosity of spirit are legendary and she’ll help you build an itinerary that will make all your dreams come true.
Mike has more than 15 years of experience in the travel industry and continues to be inspired by the people, places and wildlife he discovers. His in-depth personal knowledge of a diverse range of destinations ensures your adventure itinerary will be a holiday like no other.
With a lifetime of unforgettable nature and adventure based travel under his belt, Simon shares his passion, enthusiasm and hands-on experience to help create the perfect itinerary for every client.