Costa Rica self drive holiday, natural history

Tailor made self-drive holiday around Costa Rica for two weeks, with an emphasis on wildlife, national parks and rainforests. And several other spots off the tourist trail.
San Jose San Gerardo de Dota Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí Alajuela Arenal Volcano Liberia Rincón de la Vieja tropical dry forest Central Pacific rainforest / coast
£2095excluding flights
15 Days
Tailor made
More info
Price includes 4x4 car hire and 14 nights accommodation with breakfast.
Excursions available at extra cost.
We can arrange flights from the UK
Make enquiry

Description of Costa Rica self drive holiday, natural history

This two week Costa Rica holiday is a self drive, tailor made itinerary, which takes in some of the country’s cultural and natural highlights, as well as some of the most stunning off the beaten track secrets.

Our carefully crafted itinerary below can be tweaked to suit your time frame and interests but some of our guests’ regular favourites include not only famous sites such as Arenal Volcano but lesser known gems like San Gerardo de Dota cloud forest, Sarapiqui and La Selva rainforests. Or Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park which has hiking trails that lead to volcanic features of sulphurous mud pools and hot springs.

We organise off the beaten track accommodation for you that have Costa Rican conservation principles at the core of what they do, as well as being in wonderful locations. Driving from one to the next in a rented four wheel drive, taking as long as you like in each place, as we create an itinerary to suit you.

The best time to visit Costa Rica on a self drive holiday is between the months of December to April when the weather is hot and dry. The rainy season is between May and November, but this is also a beautiful time of year as everything is so green. Indeed, it is sometimes called the ‘green season’ locally. Rain is usually limited to afternoons with short bursts. It is also worth noting that this is also the time of year when turtles lay their eggs on local beaches which is a wonderful sight. The worst months in terms of rain are September and October.

Price information

£2095excluding flights
Price includes 4x4 car hire and 14 nights accommodation with breakfast.
Excursions available at extra cost.
We can arrange flights from the UK
Make enquiry

Departure information

We offer a complete tailor made service allowing you to decide where you stay and what to do

Travel guides

Costa Rica wildlife
Costa Rica
Little Costa Rica is an adventure playground on an enormous scale. Adventurers can negotiate its rain and cloud forests on foot, horseback, mountain b...

Holiday information

Tailor made tour:
This holiday has been carefully designed to be the best of its type. You can choose it with confidence straight 'off-the-peg', for any date. You can add days before or after the itinerary if you have more time available. We can also design something just for you on a fully tailor-made basis. A tailor-made service naturally adds a little to the cost of a trip, but you are making sure that you get the most from your valuable holiday time and from the rest of your budget. When it comes to planning things in detail our advisers are a phone call or email away. They know Costa Rica exceptionally well, and there's nothing they like better than to share that knowledge with you. We are based in London, fully independent members of AITO, with full financial and legal protection.
Our top tip:
Take plenty of chill-out time in each place when putting together your tailor made itinerary.
Trip type:
Tailor made.
Activity level:
3-4* lodges and small hotels
Accommodation, 4x4 car hire, all breakfasts.
Check out the Casado (set lunch) at soda cafes, around £2.45
Can be tailor made for solo travellers at extra cost.


8 Reviews of Costa Rica self drive holiday, natural history

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 13 Mar 2023 by

It was a fantastic and very memorable trip throughout. The quantity of wildlife and numbers of different species that we were able to witness in their natural habitats was amazing. The guides were all extremely knowledgable and very friendly. Read full review

Reviewed on 15 Feb 2023 by

Everything was fabulous and well organised... Fantastic. Read full review

Reviewed on 08 May 2023 by

We had a great time in Costa Rica Read full review

Reviewed on 03 Apr 2019 by

We found everyone we met very friendly, accommodating and eager to talk. This is a country totally geared to tourism and ensuring that everything runs like clockwork - unique in this part of the world. The food was much better than we had anticipated. Overall it was a fascinating and enjoyable holiday Read full review

Reviewed on 10 Dec 2018 by

Most memorable was the morning bird trip at Sarapiqui which was excellent. Read full review

Reviewed on 11 Feb 2018 by

Our favourite part of the holiday was the three days we spent in the Tortuguero area, a fabulous experience. Going out on the boats early in the morning to watch wildlife was amazing. Read full review

Reviewed on 17 Jan 2015 by

Fantastic, absolutely loved it! Read full review

Reviewed on 24 Feb 2014 by

The very best moment was kayaking in Tortuguero: just four of us and a guide exploring the rainforest by river at dawn. The cries of the howler monkeys echoed across the morning mist, and we got up close to crocodiles, turtles and incredible water birds. Priceless! Read full review

Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.

Planet and people

As an in depth specialist tour operator to Costa Rica responsible tourism is at the very heart of what we do. To us, this means much more than a simple donation to a charity for each client. We try to build long and constructive involvements with local guides, guest houses, wildlife lodges, and hotels, in the course of which we, and our clients, can make lasting wide-ranging contributions to the wonderful places and people we engage with. In this itinerary we use several lodges that fit with this philosophy perfectly, employing local guides and bringing long-term benefits to the local community. We are the first tour operator in the UK to form a partnership with the Rainforest Alliance to work towards the implementation of best management practices in sustainable tourism. In real terms this means that we are working with hotels who are making a positive impact on their local community – socially, environmentally and economically.

Outlined below are hotels we use that employ sustainable tourism methods.

Trogon Lodge employs energy saving tactics and contributes the local economy, helping to demonstrate that ecotourism is a more sustainable long term way to earn income than destroying or altering habitats for short term gains. The Lodge employs interpretive nature guides who are either trained in biology or have significant local knowledge of the habitat and provides books, posters, maps, photographs and other ways to inform guests and visitors about the biology of the area. It helps train and employ local people at fair wages and informs guests, staff and visitors on the importance and value of a healthy ecosystem and describes how to best enjoy the area without impacting it.

La Quinta de Sarapiqui Country Inn provides jobs for people in the local community (95% of their positions go to local workers). They have developed collaboration programs with local schools, consisting of cultural exchanges with their guests and including donations for improvements to installations and the acquisition of educational materials. They sponsor local cultural and sports activities. They grant four scholarships to students from the local high school. They are involved in community development and local environmental associations and in all the activities meant to improve quality of life in the community of Sarapiquí. They have adopted environmental protection measures through programmes for recycling, saving resources, and the use of non-contaminating products, and they educate tourists about these programmes.

Hacienda Guachipelin is focused on being a self-sufficient community, using energy production methods that are ecologically correct. For example, the water heaters use solar energy and electricity is produced by a water wheel. The property comprises 1600 hectares of land, of which 700 hectares are set aside for the conservation of the tropical dry forest; 575 hectares are used as pastureland; and 325 hectares are being reforested with species in danger of extinction. They are currently working on a methane gas biodigestor. It's a system to process sewage water, grease from the kitchen and other organic residues. Out of the process methane and liquid fertilizer is obtained. The gas is being used on the workers kitchen on the first stage. On the second stage, gas will be used in the hotel's kitchen. This way they are reducing the need for petroleum bi-products. From the effluent they obtain liquid fertilizer. This is used to fertilize the pastures of the Hacienda.

On this trip you will visit National Parks at Sarapiqui and Carara. The entrance fee goes toward the conservation of these protected areas.

Popular similar holidays

Costa Rica self drive holiday

Costa Rica self drive holiday

From £1660 10 days excluding flights

Exploring Costa Rica by hire car, your way

Costa Rica wildlife holiday

Costa Rica wildlife holiday

From £4549 - £5499 16 days including UK flights

An amazing variety of Costa Rican wildlife

Costa Rica highlights holiday & beach

Costa Rica highlights holiday & beach

From £1995 13 days excluding flights

Short highlight itinerary covering city, forests and beach