Activity and nature holiday in Costa Rica

“This exciting tailor made holiday balances Costa Rica’s adrenalin sports with unique activities and wildlife – how much of each you do is up to you.”


White-water rafting on the Pacuare River | canopy walk, stand up paddle boarding and hot springs at Arenal volcano | Cano Negro wildlife refuge by canoe | dormant volcano hike | Rincon de la Vieja tropical dry forest | horse riding and ranching | Monteverde cloud forest | canopy ziplining and nocturnal forest walk | Tamarindo beach | surfing

Description of Activity and nature holiday in Costa Rica

This activity and nature holiday in Costa Rica is perfect for anyone with a sense of adventure and a love of wildlife; anyone who finds themselves feeling a bit restless after a few hours lying on a beach. Of course, you can come to Costa Rica to chill out, but this suggested 14 day itinerary emphasises the active and adventurous fun to be had in this dynamic little country, from canopy walkways and treetop zip lines, to rafting on the Pacuare River *, hiking, horse riding and surfing.

Costa Rica is more than just an adventure playground, though. It has unique wildlife, dramatic scenery, towering volcanoes and excellent beaches on both its Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

This activity and nature holiday can be completely tailor made to suit your interests and preferences. Choose the standard of accommodation you prefer, from mid to top range, or opt for a mixture. You can decide how you travel once here, too, choosing between self driving, private transfers and shared buses. And you can, of course, select the exact mix of activities and excursions that appeals to you – the itinerary below is just a suggested starting point from which to build your holiday.

Costa Rica’s short dry season lasts from December to April, and this is also peak season. May to November is the ‘green season’ which typically features short bursts of rain in the afternoons clearing in time for spectacular sunsets and warm, sunny mornings. Many visitors to Costa Rica prefer this time of year, as prices can be reduced, the scenery is refreshed and it’s less busy. There are other benefits, too, including seeing turtles laying eggs on some beaches. We wouldn’t recommend travel to Costa Rica in September and October, as this is when the rains are heaviest.

*Children must be 12 years or older to join in with the rafting detailed in the itinerary below.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailormade throughout the year and can be adapted to suit your interests, budget and requirements as necessary
Our top tip:
Remember to pack wet weather gear and light, fast-drying clothes for activities.
Trip type:
Tailor made. Min. age 12.
Activity level:
13 nights hotel or lodge.
Can be tailor made for solo travellers at extra cost.
Breakfasts, 4 lunches, 1 dinner. Try the set casado lunches at "soda" cafes, around £2.45.
Accommodation, all transport, all listed activities.
Holiday type

Tailor Made Specialists in Costa Rica

Our specialists have carefully designed this holiday 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. For inspiration, we provide informative brochures and a comprehensive website. 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.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Activity and nature holiday in Costa Rica

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 a few of the hotels we use on this tour and the sustainable tourism methods they employ.

Pacuare Lodge is a good example of how a very comfortable lodge can be built in a remote forested location with a strong commitment to conservation, improving life in nearby communities, and mitigation of their environmental impact through recycling, using organic ingredients and reforestation, to offer you a carbon-neutral stay. Accessed by white water rafting Pacuare's eco-friendly bungalows are nestled between the river and their private nature reserve, which conserves 300 hectares (740 acres) of primary rainforest. The buildings are made of wood from tree farms and palm thatch collected in the rainforest by their Cabecar Indian neighbours. Each bungalow combines sustainable practices such as solar-heated water and low-impact septic systems with comforts such as orthopaedic mattresses and spacious bathrooms. They assist three primary school located along the river route used to access the lodge and a jaguar research study in the Pacuare Protected Zone. They have attained level 5 certification - the highest possible under Costa Rica's COST sustainable tourism rating system which is verified by Rainforest Alliance.

Volcano Lodge & Gardens has a very different location situated in the popular resort town of Arenal but is involved in a number of outreach projects in its local community. Their buying department is pledged to do everything in their power to locate and purchase products which are biodegradable, returnable, reusable, recycled, or recyclable. The hotel's rubbish is separated and packed then given to a local women's association Z13 who can sell the glass, plastic, aluminium. Profits are used to assist low income families and a local orphanage and safe house put in place to educate and protect abandoned children. They sell T-shirts the profits from which are used to promote urban beautification and cleaning work along local rivers and roadsides. They have a reforestation project offering guests the opportunity to plant an endemic tree at the base of Arenal Volcano.

Capitan Suizo on the coast at Tamarindo supports a non-profit organization which works towards the improvement of national parks. It carries out the responsible disposal of rubbish, produces and uses only organic fertilizer, carries out environmental awareness education in schools, financially support various local committees and have signed the Code of Conduct for the protection of children and young people from commercial sexual exploitation in Costa Rica. They regularly host events so that guests can get acquainted with Costa Rican culture. There are atmospheric evenings with Marimba music, folkloric dance performances by local students, and sometimes host local handicraft demonstrations when the artisans have an opportunity to showcase and sell their creations.

On this trip you will visit National Parks at Arenal volcano reserve, Rincon de la Vieja and Monteverde. The entrance fee goes toward the conservation of these protected areas.

4 Reviews of Activity and nature holiday in Costa Rica

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 25 Feb 2015 by

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

Hard to pick one element in a full, adventure-packed schedule. For thrills, the zip-lining (up to 50 mph on runs as long as 500 yards) wins narrowly over white water rafting on the Pacuare river (52 rapids up to class 4 over 20 miles in over 3 hours), largely because we have been rafting before. But we were also thrilled by the geology (stunning volcanic craters, rainforest canopies, tropical beaches) and and the wildlife (crocodiles, motmots, iguanas lurking for breakfast scraps etc etc)

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

Travel as light as you can; but be sure to pack wet weather gear and light, fast-drying clothes. Get up early to enjoy sunrises and perfect temperatures (sun sets by 6). Be prepared for long, shared minibus rides, often on slow bumpy roads. Be patient when things don't quite run to time (but they weren't too bad). Be sure to plan your itinerary carefully and avoid travelling around the congested San Jose area as far as possible. Make sure you use guides if you want to enjoy the wildlife - they spot things even experienced nature lovers just don't. The cost of living in Costa Rica is quite high - expect UK prices for dining out and even in
supermarkets. Obviously take sunscreen and insect repellant (especially when venturing into humid rainforests - insects are not a major problem elsewhere)

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

I really hope so! Certainly the local economy needs tourism.

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

Excellent. We packed a lot in but it was well worth the effort of early starts. We travelled around a lot but again we are very glad we did so.
The company we selected, from a shortlist provided by Responsible Travel, was very good indeed - providing a great programme initially and then reacting very quickly and imaginatively to our needs and enforced changes.
We would be interested in going back to Costa Rica at some future point (shame it isn't closer and less expensive!) and would definitely ask the tour provider to help us organise it.

Reviewed on 03 Jan 2014 by

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

Costa Rica itself - the friendly people; the environmental focus; the variation in scenery & the birds & animals.

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

Talk to the operator. They came up with lots of good ideas.

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


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

It was a great holiday

Reviewed on 22 Apr 2014 by

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

Many parts of it were memorable. We loved staying at Tortuga Lodge.
I loved snorkeling around Cano Island off the Pacific coast. Especially when a sea turtle joined us.
One of my daughters said that her highlight was kayaking in the Tortuguero National Park.
Another daughter said her highlight was ziplining in Selvatura Cloud Forest

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

We had 3 nights in most places; this was a good idea. We did not feel too rushed, and had time to relax.
Definitely need repellant with DEET if you visit Tortuguero.
The local guides were all fantastic.
We had opted not to go to the Arenal area as a friend had told me that it was very touristy. All the people that we met who had been there told us that they were underwhelmed by the experience and that it was indeed very touristy.

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

We did get that impression. Certainly in the areas we visited ecotourism seems to be a crucial part of the local economy. We were very impressed with the environmental programmes (like recycling) that are an integral part of life in the areas of Costa Rica that we visited. (Tortuguero, Osa, Monteverde)

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

4 - 5 stars.

We all had a wonderful time. I was travelling with my daughters who are teenagers and young adults

Reviewed on 23 Sep 2013 by

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

We loved the white water rafting on the Pacuare River and zip-lining in the canopy above Monteverde Cloud Forest, wicked!

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

Take modern sports clothing for forest hikes, rafting and zip-lining (these fabrics are the only ones that dry quick enough to be used again), lots of water and a change of clothing/shoes when going on adventure tours.

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

Yes; in financial terms we supported local restaurants and other businesses and as out holiday was in Costa Rica which has 100% renewable energy sources we had the minimum impact on our environment.

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

Excellent, highly enjoyable and eye-opening!

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