16 Day Costa Rica Experience Self Drive
This comprehensive itinerary takes in all the highlights of Costa Rica and is designed for travellers who wish to experience the amazing natural diversity of this quite beautiful country which has both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, wetlands and rainforests, volcanoes and valleys and hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles and insects as well as rich flora. You have the freedom of Self Drive but all of the expert guiding (where applicable) at each lodge. You will not be disappointed.
- 100s of species of tropical birds and other wildlife
- Multiple habitats and eco-systems
- Stay in eco-lodges in tropical surroundings
- Visit Caribbean, central and Pacific regions
- 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
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.
Drive to Turrialba in the Central Valley for two nights on full board basis at Rancho Naturalista. This Spanish colonial style hotel is set on the Caribbean slopes of the Cordillera Talamanca, a birdwatcher’s paradise with lots of species to be seen.
Guided tour of the base of the Cerro Silencio to see large flocks of tanager plus raptors, such as hawk eagles and many more, including possibly red-fronted parrotlets.
Tortuguero National Park
Drive up the north east Caribbean coast to the Tortuguero National Park, 770 sq.km. of rainforest, mangrove swamps, beaches and lagoons and home to myriad birds and wildlife. Afternoon culture and nature tour of Tortuguero village. Full board accommodation at Mawamba Lodge.
Morning tour of Mawamba Park, home to butterfly farms, a frog garden and river turtles. Afternoon boat excursion on Tortuguero canals to see wildlife and spectacular flora. Hope to see manatees, caimans, various monkeys and possibly, sloth and jaguar. Hundreds of bird species too.
Transfer by boat and road to Sarapiqui. Lunch at Rio Danta restaurant. Stay two nights at the Selva Verde Lodge, located in tropical gardens, deep in the rainforest. Lots of walking trails for birdwatching and to see native flora.
Guided birdwatching tour in Sapapiqui
Guided birdwatching tour in Sapapiqui, one of the few habitats of the endangered green macaw.
Casa Luna Hotel
Drive to the rustic-colonial style Casa Luna Hotel, set in lush, tropical gardens, about two miles from the small town of La Fortuna. Relax and enjoy an environment rich with birds and plants, or look for nearby activities such as zip-lining riding or rafting. The area is overlooked by the currently dormant Arenal Volcano.
Arenal Hanging Bridges
Take a half day tour to the Arenal Hanging Bridges, a stretch of the rainforest with a series of winding trails and bridges. Walk through the canopy trail across 16 suspended bridges with a guide to point our wildlife and interpret this unique environment.
Palo Verde National Park
Transfer to the Rancho Humo at the Palo Verde National Park for two nights on full board basis. This is an area of great diversity, with mangroves, swamps and both saltwater and freshwater lagoons. Due to its varied topography it is thought to be home to more than 250,000 birds in the wet season and is one of the most important migratory bird sites of the Mesoamerican Pacific.
At leisure in the park.
A full day to explore this incredible National Park and spot some of its varied wildlife, otherwise feel free to relax and treat yourself to a spa treatment at the lodge.
Santa Juana Lodge
Move to the central Pacific coastal region for two nights at Santa Juana Lodge, a 40 minute drive from the town of Quepos. This eco-friendly lodge is on the edge of the Manuel Antonio National Park, the smallest in Costa Rica. Apart from birds, various monkeys, sloths coatis and iguanas live here.
Manuel Antonio Park
Guided tour of the Manuel Antonio Park, including a 3 hour walk through the rainforest spotting birds, animals and a massive variety of flora. Look out for howler, squirrel and white-faced monkeys. Full board accommodation at Santa Juano Lodge.
Esquinas Rainforest Lodge
Move on to yet another national park, the Piedras Blancas for a last two nights at the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge on full board basis. Monkeys, toucans and iguanas are often spotted in the gardens here. Hike through the forest or go kayaking. More than 300 species of birds inhabit this area.
San Jose International Airport
Transfer to the Golfito airstrip for a local flight back to San Jose International Airport.
A view from Above
Esquinas Rainforest Lodge
Esquinas Rainforest Lodge is the perfect jungle retreat for ecotourist visitors wishing to get off the beaten track and experience the sounds and sights of a tropical rain forest in a tranquil, undisturbed atmosphere. The lodge is surrounded by the untouched wilderness of the Piedras Blancas National Park, where guests can enjoy activities such as bird watching, horse riding, hiking as well as kayak and boat trips in nearby Golfo Dulce.
Mawamba Lodge, Tortuguero
Mawamba Lodge is a 15 acre beach front property situated on a sand strip between the Tortuguero Canals and the Caribbean Ocean. It is surrounded by lush gardens, pristine beaches and the amazing Tortuguero National Park with its abundance of wildlife, this really is a perfect retreat for nature lovers.
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.
Rancho Naturalista, Turrialba
Known as one of Central America's finest birdwatching premises this tranquil lodge offers superb hospitality, stunning views of the smoking Turrialba volcano, delicious gourmet food and bright and airy lodgings.
Situated within its own private forest reserve in the Central Talamanca mountain range this beautiful lodge offers bird watchers and nature lovers alike a unique getaway where relaxation and being at one with nature is the order of the day.
Over 450 species of birds have been recorded here and many of these can be spotted by simply sitting out in the grounds of the lodge. Alternatively expert guides are on hand to take you through the private trails and if birding isn't your thing don't worry there will still be plenty of adventurous things for you to do here!
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.
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.
Rancho Humo, Guanacaste
Nestled amongst 50,000 acres of protected nature conservancy wetlands this authentic luxury estancia is a nature and bird lover's paradise.
Situated along the impressive Tempisque River on the Nicoya Peninsula the ranch occupies a prime position inside the Palo Verde National Park where an abundance of wildlife thrives and roams freely, and where numerous ecosystems prosper such as mangrove, wetlands, dry tropical rainforest and a huge variety of flora and fauna.
Spend a day at the beautiful Palo Verde National Park, take a boat tour on the Bebedero River or visit the working cattle farm for an authentic ranch experience before returning to the luxuries of this high-end hotel for delicious meals and a refreshing dip in the swimming pool.
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.
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.
Amy’s abiding love of adventure travel has taken her to some of the most incredible wildlife-rich places on Earth. Her vast experience and genuine desire to share her knowledge makes her an outstanding and invaluable person to help you organise your wildlife adventure trip.
Simon’s deep passion for and first-hand knowledge of a vast range of destinations all over the world gives him the ideal skills to help you create a truly unforgettable wildlife inspired adventure to the most exciting places on the planet.