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.
Namibia Birding and Photography GuideAn accomplished and experienced Namibia birding and photographic guide, Toni holds a Namibia Academy for Tourism and Hospitality Level 3 qualification (the highest level attainable in Namibia) and is widely renowned for her extensive knowledge of the cultures, ornithology, flora, astronomy and wildlife of the country. Read more >
Wildlife Guide & PhotographerAndy is a 6th generation Falkland Islander, with a passion for wildlife, plants and photography. Raised in the Falkland Islands, Andy developed a close affinity with the Islands natural environment at a young age. School holidays where spent in the ‘camp’ or countryside with friends and family. For more than 10 years, Andy had the privilege of spending a time on Sea Lion Island, visiting his mother who managed one of the Islands premier tourist destinations. Read more >
Photographer and founder of the Travel Photographer Of The Year awardsA fascination with natural light and a passion with nature, landscape and travel underpin Chris Coe's photography. His images often have a striking simplicity and graphic quality. More recent work has introduced a subtlety with experimentation with both movement and light.Read more >
Falklands Expert & GuideBorn in Chartres in the West Falklands, Jenny grew up on the family farm where her love for animals was nurtured by the25,000 sheep, horses and cows that lived alongside her. Forever a nature, conservation and wildlife enthusiast Jenny has travelled extensively throughout the Falkland Islands, visiting each and every wildlife island at least once, and even travelling around some by yacht. Read more >
Special Guest LecturerExclusive to this voyage, Doug Allan, a multi award winning polar photographer and cameraman, will be your special guest lecturer. Doug has been on over 20 expeditions to Svalbard to film its wildlife, and knows the wonders of this area more than most. Read more >
Special Guest Photography GuideChris was 32 when he finally realised he really did want to be a photo-journalist and walked out on his career in IT sales to become a wildlife photographer Read more >
- 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
ITINERARY14 Nights 15 Days
- Day 1 | Arrive and transfer to Heredia
- Days 2-3 | Sarapiqui
- Days 4-5 | Cano Negro
- Days 6-7 | La Fortuna, Arenal
- Days 8-9 | Ensenada
- Day 10-11 | Carara National Park, Manuel Antonio
- Days 12-14 | Sierpe
- Day 15 | Local flight to San Jose International Airport
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.
Your Itinerary Accommodation
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.
Each of the simply yet stylishly decorated bedrooms have been finished to a high standard and offer a very high level of comfort and relaxation. Each room has its own private balcony with views overlooking the Central Valley and the stunning surrounding mountains or the hotel's beautiful gardens, and all rooms have WiFi, ceiling fans and comfortable king-size beds.
The hotel's gardens are its pride and joy and many a lazy afternoon can be spent strolling through in search of a wide variety of native birds, frogs and plant life. Should you wish to venture further afield the hotel staff are very experienced in offering advice on the best ways to see what this part of the world has to offer. A personal service is guaranteed here so no matter what you wish to see or do the staff will be delighted to arrange this for you. Why not take a tour to the Irazu and Arenal volcanoes and hot springs, experience the thrill of Rafting in one of the nearby mountain rivers, visit the national parks or take a San Jose city tour. With a wide variety of excursions on offer you will be sure to find something to suit you.
It is this along with its unique location that makes this welcoming hotel such a great find and a fantastic place to stay to enjoy all that is special about this wonderful part of the world, and after a long day of exploring you can return to your beautiful hotel and enjoy a drink by the pool or a delicious meal in the restaurant overlooking the gardens.
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.
Each of the 24 rooms at Hotel Casa Luna have been designed to perfectly combine a rustic authentic Costa Rican feel with modern and stylish features. Pure white walls create an open and airy space and the colonial-style doors and furniture offer a throwback to days gone by. All of the bedrooms are situated amongst delightful tropical gardens creating the feeling of being right in the jungle and all feature queen size beds, air-conditioning, cable TV and en-suite bathrooms. The 18 upper floor rooms also have balconies with beautiful views over the gardens and some even have spectacular views of the volcano.
Guests at Casa Luna can enjoy a wide range of delicious home-cooked meals in the rustic style restaurant set amongst the tropical gardens, or enjoy a signature "magma" cocktail at the Luna bar.
At Casa Luna you can spend a lazy day by the beautiful swimming pool or for the more adventurous traveller there are a wide range of exciting activities available including ziplining through the rainforest, walking across Arenal's famous hanging bridges, visits to spectacular caves and waterfalls, rapel tours, bird watching walks and, of course, visits to the majestic Arenal Volcano.
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.
The Restaurant Rio Selva is an open air delight. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served on long shared tables, creating a friendly, convivial atmosphere. The gourmet kitchen serves the best of local produce and fresh seafood. Many fruits and vegetable are grown in the hotel grounds.
A variety of trails lead from the hotel grounds into the encircling rainforest. There are around 350 different species of bird in the Aguila De Osa region, so take a guide or a comprehensive bird-book to see how many you can spot. To see a different side of the forest, take a night tour and experience the frogs, insects and other creatures that only come out at dark.
Cano Island Biological Reserve is accessed by a 45 minute boat ride and is a paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers. Lightweight kayaks are available from the dock and the Agujitas River is a short paddle away. Whale and dolphin sightings are frequent here, so make the most of it and take a guided boat trip out to sea.
After a long day of exploring, head to the Jungle Terrace for cocktails and appetizers and swap stories with other guests whilst you wait for dinner to be served.
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.
The resort has a rustic, open-air restaurant serving a complimentary breakfast each morning. Meals are available throughout the day from the traditional Campesino menu.
Wrangler guided horseback tours of the lush trails around the lodge are a popular activity here. Guides can also take you out in the 4x4s to explore the slopes of the Fila Chonta mountain range or to swim in the Rio Rodeo waterfalls.
Those interested in the local community here can visit the nearby coffee plantation or learn about the reforestation programme in Santa Juana.
Seeking relaxation? Visit the Oasis gardens for some meditation or try yoga on the specially built platform by the waters of the Rio Rodeo.
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.
In the well-kept grounds there is a large swimming pool with a delightful outdoor bar at its centre, offering fruit juices and cocktails throughout the day.
The popular Jabiru Restaurant offers local and international cuisine at set meal times through the day. Food here is sourced from farms and producers in the community. There is also the lively Congo Bar serving alcoholic and soft drinks into the evening.
If you are keen to spot animals on your trip then a boat ride into the wetlands is a fruitful experience with over 160 mammals, including the alligator, living here. Or venture out in a canoe to see the areas the motor boats can’t reach.
Eco –tourists can take a trip to the nearby La Finca farmstead, where tours are available to learn about the produce grown here for agricultural and medicinal use. A short 20 minute walk from the resort is the bird sanctuary, a safe haven for over 300 types of bird and a photographer’s dream.
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.
A Costa Rican locally sourced buffet is served in the restaurant with tea, coffee and snacks available throughout the day. In the evening there is also La Terrazza restaurant, offering Italian delights including pizzas freshly baked in the wood fire oven.
There are many trails leading from the hotel, where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the rainforest. Or why not try the Zip Line Adventure and see the canopy from a little higher up!
Guided boat/raft trips are available on the river, where you can benefit from the expert’s local knowledge and tips on the best spots for sightings. After dark you can experience the jungle on a guided night hike, perfect for spotting the more nocturnal creatures residing in the rainforest.
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.
Each of the lodges accommodation units feature private bathrooms with hot water, comfortable beds and spacious terraces on which guests can relax in a hammock and soak up the beautiful Costa Rican sunsets.
The lodge also has a great restaurant and a large swimming pool.
What Our Customers
Enjoyed the numerous lodges we stayed in which gave a good flavour of Costa Rica. We saw so much, in so little time but never felt rushed….. all in all a great holiday. Thanks.
Considering the standard of accommodation and level of guiding, I think we got great value for money and would happily go again. Although I loved seeing the turtles and hummingbirds the best bit had to be rafting into camp at Pacuare Lodge, best lodge ever!!!
Great views of a huge range of birds, animals and insects etc so a very successful trip. Despite the weather, I did and saw so much every day, an action packed two weeks, thanks for the free bins, they came in most useful.
How WILDFOOT creates your holiday Adventure
Talk to someone who knows. Our specialist consultants are here to help you every step of the way – here’s how..
Talk to a specialist
Visit the wildfoot website for inspiration on your choice of adventures and destinations, then call us and speak to one of our specialists for first hand advice. We can start the planning process straight away, if you are ready.
Create your personal
Your specialist consultant will set the ball rolling and work with you to choose the right itinerary (and the right ship, if you are going to the arctic or antarctic) just for you, to suit your requirements and budget.
Help right up
We will answer any questions about your trip that may arise and, when you have paid your balance (12-15 weeks prior to departure), we will send you your detailed itinerary and go through it with you.
We are still there for you even when you have left home – our partners overseas are there to assist, especially for emergencies and you can contact us at any time in the uk by e-mail or telephone.