Costa Rica wildlife holiday, Coastal Secrets

“A two 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.”

Highlights

Tortuguero National Park | Cahuita National Park | Sloth Sanctuary | La Marta Wildlife Refuge | Turrialba Valley | Savegre Cloud Forest | Osa Peninsula | Drake Bay | Caρo Island | Dolphin and whale watching in season | Sierpe | Corcovado National Park

Description of Costa Rica wildlife holiday, Coastal Secrets

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 Caρo 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.

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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
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.

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.


Community

The Impacts of this Trip

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.

Climate

8 Reviews of Costa Rica wildlife holiday, Coastal Secrets

4 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 13 Feb 2020 by

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


The wild life and diversity of the country

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


Be prepared to get wet. It rains a lot and is very humid even in the dry season. Don't expect to dry your clothes - everything is damp.
Having said that, it's a fantastic trip. Just GO and leave your good clothes and bling at home. Our guide Jorge was excellent - he saw things with the naked eye that we needed a telescope for. He was very knowlegable and in our free time he organisd lots of extra outings. Even saw a quetzal!!!

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


Yes, the whole country is very environmently friendly. Plenty of safe free drinking water - no plastic bottles required, just a good refillable one.
Don't expect AC!

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


Fabulous!!!

Reviewed on 03 Feb 2020 by

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


seeing the country

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


prepare fully for wide range of weathers and for wet landings

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


it may have done

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


enjoyable

Reviewed on 10 Nov 2019 by

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


Boat trips in Tortoguero, Walking on lava field at Arenal, Walking through cloud forest, Seeing all the wildlife in company of expert guide

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


Take good binoculars, Take plenty of T-shirts and light walking trousers /shorts
You won’t need smart clothes, Take low denomination dollars - local shops/cafes may not accept $50/$100 dollar bills

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


In the sense that we stayed in hotels/lodges in the main which supported environmental projects. Also spent money in local small restaurants and shops

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


Great/ fantastic wildlife. Country is stunning and trip well organised with very knowledgeable guide

Reviewed on 06 Oct 2019 by

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


The walks

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


Be prepared for uphill stuff and some places vertigo instilling scenery.

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


Definitely benefitted local people

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


Excellent

Reviewed on 18 Aug 2019 by

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


I loved the boat rides and seeing the humpback whales, and also the humming bird garden.

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


Make sure you bring insect repellent and also wet weather stuff.

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


Very much so

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


Wonderful holiday. We were not in the more touristy areas of Costa Rica so in that sense it felt very personal. We did plenty of walking, ate lots of healthy food
and the lodges we stayed in were in the midst of the wildlife we had come to see.

Reviewed on 05 Feb 2019 by

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


Seeing such a variety of animals and birds every single day. But the highlights must be the quetzals, the racket of the howler monkeys and of course the sloths.

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


Be prepared for long long days in the mini bus when transferring between national parks. Still lots to see but through a window! Also very little downtime to just relax and enjoy your surroundings.

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


The majority of tourism of course benefits the local economy and must indirectly
benefit the country’s goals for the environment and their conservation targets.
Had little opportunity to meet and talk to Ticos.

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


A full-on trip! Wildlife galore.
I will definitely be back in Costa Rica soon.

Reviewed on 24 Jan 2019 by

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


There were many as we saw several different habitats! I loved the Cloud forests and the rainforests especially being able to walk some of the trails on my own as then I can experience the forest more quietly and directly and see animals and bird life that is not possible when people on a group walk are chatting. The group were great too with lovely people to share experiences with.

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


Invest in a reasonably good pair of binoculars! Several people on my trip just had very small binoculars so struggled to see things, but when I lent them mine they would say "ohhh!!" Makes a big difference to your enjoyment of the wildlife.

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


To some extent yes as there were several lunches and dinners when we ate out at local restaurants thus were spending money locally. Also we had a visit to a woman who ran her own small dairy farm and learned about her way of life which was really interesting. Several of the lodges we stayed at recycled and one made their own compost. We learned from our guide that the partner organisation supported a local rural school by getting them school supplies and by sponsoring and organising trips for the children to some of the best wildlife sites in Costa Rica.

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


Very enjoyable indeed and would recommend it to anyone especially if this would be someone's first time in that area or first time someone would be doing a wildlife trip. The only reason I am not rating it with 5 stars is that I personally prefer to stay in much smaller lodges, whereas we often stayed in very large lodges although they were well run and well organised.

Reviewed on 13 Mar 2019 by

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


Sloths

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


Drink lots at altitude; a number of us suffered from altitude headaches and nausea.
A travel kettle and supplies were welcome as was that other travel essential, a wash basin plug.

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


Well, we spent some money. We also filled our water bottles from bulk water in the hotels rather than buying bottled water.

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


Poor. Long bumpy journeys in a mini bus with uncomfortable front and rear seats. Didn't see as many birds as I expected; one needs to be interested in lichen, lizards, termites, ants, spiders etc as well! And I was also disappointed by the lack of mountain scenery.

Read the operator's response here:

We would like to thank Maryanne for her feedback regarding her holiday in Costa Rica, although we are very sorry that some aspects of the holiday did not meet her expectations. We regret that she found the journeys to be long and the transportation to be uncomfortable; the feedback about our ‘Costa Rica's Coastal Secrets’ tour is usually overwhelmingly positive, so we are very sorry that Maryanne’s experience was not so positive.

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