“A 2 week holiday, travelling in a small group with expert guides, from coast to coast, national park to nature reserve. This is where wild dreams come true.”
Tortuguero National Park | Cahuita National Park | Sloth Sanctuary | La Marta Wildlife Refuge | Turrialba Valley | Savegre Cloud Forest | Osa Peninsula | Drake Bay | Caño Island | Dolphin and whale watching in season | Sierpe | Corcovado National Park
Description of Costa Rica wildlife holiday, small group
This two week Costa Rica wildlife holiday, travelling with a small group and expert wildlife leader, takes you from one stunning Costa Rican coast to the other, with a cornucopia of creatures in between. Even though it is a small country, it is bursting with biodiversity, and this trip certainly covers many of its most beauteous spots.
With a quarter of Costa Rica protected, on this trip we visit national parks, wildlife refuges, cloud forest and marine reserves. It is also superbly set up for tourism, allowing us to stay in wonderful, small and locally owned accommodation along the way, from eco lodges located in tropical gardens to a stunning waterfront accommodation on the Osa Peninsula, only accessible by boat.
The trip starts inland, in the capital San Jose and then, using private minibus, we head to the Caribbean Coast to explore two amazing national parks, with two days in each. First, we go to Tortuguero NP, which we travel through by boat as this is the only way to access it and see its eponymous turtles, otters, caiman and manatees. On land, we hope to see monkeys, caiman, iguanas, butterflies and myriad birdlife. From here to Cahuita NP, where you can hike on trails that dip in and out of coast and jungle, or take an optional snorkelling trip out on the reef.
These wildlife experiences, combined with adventures into some of the world’s most stunning natural environs continue back inland for a few days, discovering the fantastic flora and fauna of La Marta Wildlife Refuge. This is a more mountainous area, richly forested and opening up into a tropical world of waterfalls, rivers and caves.
One more inland idyll before hitting the Pacific coast is Savegre Cloud Forest, where we have two nights to enjoy, in particular, its extraordinary birdlife. The Forest is most famous for being home to the elusive and exquisite Resplendent Quetzal. There are few things more resplendent, however, than the final few days of this trip which are spent on the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park. This is home to about fifty per cent of Costa Rica’s incredible wildlife, from scarlet macaws to manatees, tayras to tapirs. We take a trip to Caño Island, where we hope to see dolphins and, in season, humpback or even orca whales. The former come here between July-November and the latter December-April. Osa Peninsula is one of the most exotic ways to end a wildlife holiday, with plenty of beach time too so that you can chill out before your return to the real world.
Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.
We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!
Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.
Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.
“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.
“The accommodation will be basic” Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.
“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.
“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson
Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando
Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
Responsible tourism: Costa Rica wildlife holiday, small group
Accommodation and Meals: We spend two weeks in a combination of hotels and eco-lodges around Costa Rica. We use fairly small, family run and locally staffed establishments which ensures that we are benefiting local communities. Our local operator is a leading member of the Rainforest Alliance and has been awarded a "4 Leaf" award from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute for their sustainable tourism practice & dedication to improving standards. An example of eco-friendly accommodation on this trip is the Drake Bay Wilderness Resort, a family run business in a stunning location on the Osa Peninsula – the first resort of its kind in the area.
Activity: Being a wildlife based tour, we are very conscious of our effects on the environment and how we can reduce negative impact and aid conservation. On this trip we visit national and private parks, including Tortuguero and Corcovado, where entrance fees directly support conservation efforts. We also visit Aviarios del Caribe, the sloth sanctuary, an educational visit to increase awareness of the dangers that sloths face and the rehabilitation process for those injured animals coming into the centre.
Local Craft and Culture: Although this is a largely nature based trip, we incorporate as much benefit to local people as possible. One of the ways to support local people and boost the economy is to buy crafts in some of the remote regions that we visit, such as Tortuguero and Cahuita. Having the opportunity to purchase locally made handicrafts encourages cultural exchange and provides a significant form of alternative income. Guides are careful to explain that any souvenirs on sale over the duration of the trip which are made from animal parts, shells or local hardwoods should not be purchased.
UK office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.