Costa Rica small group tour

“13-day small group tour of Costa Rica featuring guided nature trails, river boat safaris and eco-lodge accommodation in the biodiverse national parks of the north and on the Pacific coast. Price includes UK flights.”


Rainforest and wetlands in Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge | Corcovado National Park | Diverse forest treks, river safaris and seashore expeditions | Quality eco-lodge accommodation | 500-plus bird species | Unusual and unique fauna, from sloths to quetzcals |

Description of Costa Rica small group tour

Costa Rica is a natural paradise of dazzling colour and sound, a place whose teeming jungles and palm-fringed shores spurred National Geographic call it “the most biologically intense place on earth”. In contrast to Africa, birds and monkeys take the spotlight here – though the nature gods may also let you glimpse puma and jaguar.

Trekking the rainforest and wetlands around the Lowlands' Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge, get acquainted with howler monkeys, white-faced Capuchin monkeys and over 500 bird species – including the rare and raucous Great Green macaws. And did we mention the sloths?...

Costa Rica beautifully marries jungle and seashore – you even walk along a tropical beach to enter the Corcovado National Park. This secluded 164 square-mile idyll hosts half the country's species in its 13 varied ecosystems, from cloud-wreathed mountain forests to mangrove swamps. Hiking trails are haunted by all Costa Rica's primates (Squirrel, Howler, White-faced Capuchin and Spider monkeys), as well as tamandua (anteater), two and three-toed sloths, peccary, plus tapirs (including the endangered Baird's tapir). Add the country's largest population of Scarlet macaws.

Visiting the Carara National Park in the Central Pacific region, the meeting of dry and tropical forest results in a wonderful diversity of fauna and flora. One of Costa Rica's best-kept secrets, meanwhile, is the steamy Los Angeles Cloud Forest Reserve, a serene enclave where over 250 bird species vie for attention with Howler monkeys and coatimundi.

Avian fans will also enjoy the Savegre Cloud Forest – home to the rare and notoriously shy Resplendant Quetzal, whose males are a symphony of green and red with metre-long tail feathers. There's also an optional excursion to Los Quetzales National Park, home to some wonderful hummingbirds.

Plant life is explored too, including botanical and medicinal gardens at your eco-lodge in the San Carlos Rainforest. Here, you will also take a three-hour riverboat safari to the small town of Boca San Carlos, glimpsing crocodiles, herons and kingfishers along the way. Other watery forays include exploring the Guacalillo Estuary and Tarcoles River to discover the unique life of mangrove ecosystems, whose avian wonders include heron, Roseate spoonbills

Even a trip to the beach offers wonderful wildlife opportunities, including optional excursions to the remote shores of the Osa Peninsula to see the nesting sites of a host of sea turtles (Olive Ridley, Green turtles, Hawksbill and Leatherback). Kick back with a wild flavour...

Travel Team

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Holiday type

Small group holiday

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?
Big experiences
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?”
Valerie Parkinson
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.
Roshan Fernando
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 small group tour

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.


Accommodation and Meals:
We spend 11 nights 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 Macaw Lodge, an eco-resort that is completely off grid and uses solar power to generate all of its electricity. Made of sustainable wood, it fits beautifully with its forest surroundings. We also stay at Luna Lodge which has been awarded a "5 Leaf" award for its sustainable tourism practice. Luna Lodge generates benefits and growth for the community by creating jobs and supporting local small businesses. The hotel also has internal processes for waste management, water and energy saving which it encourages guests to participate in. In addition, during this holiday we supply drinking water in large containers to enable you to re-fill your own bottle, helping to significantly reduce plastic waste. Recycling is widely available and encouraged in Costa Rica.

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 Los Angeles Cloud Forest, Carara and Corcovado, where entrance fees directly support conservation efforts. We also visit an area called Boca Tapada, where the surrounding rainforest and wetlands have been designated as a biological corridor and provide wildlife habitat for a large diversity of species, including an important nesting site for the endangered Great Green macaw. Whilst in national parks and reserves we are always careful to visit with a naturalist guide who will ensure we adhere to local guidelines, such as sticking to footpaths and respecting the environment, flora and fauna.

Local Craft, Culture and Community:
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 Boca San Carlos. 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. Local people are employed in the hotels and restaurants, and products and food supplies are sourced locally so that small communities are supported and directly benefit from our visit. Tour guides and drivers are almost always Costa Rican – they are paid a fair wage and given training opportunities to enhance their knowledge.

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.

Group size
We operate small group tours that have a low impact on the communities we visit and we always ensure our operations do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. This allows us to stay in unique and characterful accommodation that would not have benefitted from tourism due to their limited size.

1 Reviews of Costa Rica small group tour

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 27 Jul 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

As we were mostly in National Parks, the wildlife would be at the top of the list. Due to the knowledge and diligence of our guide, Alex Castro, we saw and identified every kind of bird, mammal, lizard and butterfly as well as plants.
Travelling along a busy road one day he saw a sloth with baby up a tall tree and we were able to obtain wonderful photos with the added aid of his telescope.
The accommodation was top class and in remote rainforest with excellent choice of food.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Having read previous reviews we took every kind of waterproof material. Considering the time of year we were very lucky with the weather and didn't even have to put on a rain jacket. It is mostly hot and humid except for the higher altitudes (fleece or merino layer there) so any of the light, quick dry clothes are best. Montbell clothing which we bought in Australia but may be
European or American was excellent.Take bug spray/gel with a Deet of over 25 - we had one of 80 and didn't get one bite.Water shoes also for crossing creeks in Corcovado N P. Walking poles.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Local staff were used at all the accommodation. As alot of the remote locations were solar powered, it taught us to be careful with usage. Costa Rica, it seems to me, is unique. It disbanded its army in 1948 and has spent the money on
schools, health and the environment. It aims to be 100 percent renewable by 2020. They have kept 25 percent of the country green so that a large amount of their income is from tourism. I think that they deserve our support.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent at every level

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