Responsible Travel Guide: Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a haven for wildlife, rainforests, pristine beaches, and rumbling volcanoes. Here’s ou....Read More
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Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coastline is far less travelled than its Western sister, the Pacific. If you’re planning on visiting Costa Rica between March and November, this is the perfect itinerary, traversing layers of dense and abundant rainforest, and networks of rivers and finishing up on the coastline for beach bliss.
The adventure kicks off in San Jose, with two nights to relax and recalibrate. Tour the coffee plantations of the highlands, the famous Poas Volcano and the waterfall gardens of La Paz.
A light aircraft will then escort you to the Land of the Turtles – Tortuguero National Park. Only accessed via air and boat, thousands of acres of extraordinary protected land are home to animals of the river, jungle, and sea. This hugely biodiverse destination is a hotspot for nesting turtles and hosts hatchlings of four different species every year. Trek through the forests and spot some of the country’s most iconic creatures, before following the winding waters South.
Raft down the river to Pacuare Lodge, a family-owned bamboo structure lost in the rainforest. Arguably the most epic stay in the country, the only way in and out is by six-seater 14ft inflatable raft, tackling Class I-IV rapids. Serine and unapologetically wild. Enveloped in primary rainforest, enjoy evenings by candlelight and uninterrupted views of the wilderness surrounding.
2 nights in San Jose, staying at Finca Rosa Blanca
3 nights in Tortuguero National Park, staying at Tortuga Lodge
3 nights in Turrialba, staying at Pacuare Lodge
3 nights in Cahuita, staying at Le Cameleon
Following a few days of adventure, cruise further south for some much-needed beach bliss on the bohemian Caribbean Coast. Puerto Viejo has a relaxing charm and a youthful atmosphere, and once again provides outstanding wildlife encounters. Day trip to Cahuita National Park and snorkel amongst protected iridescent coral, rent bikes and follow the pathways with the coast and enjoy delicious fresh food in the revitalising sunshine.
Today you’ll touch down in Costa Rica. You’ll be met by our Wayfairer Representative at the arrivals gate and driven to your hotel in the highlands for a couple of nights.
Finca Rosa Blanca is a pioneering sustainable property, a world away from the bustling centre of San Jose but still only a 30-minute drive from the airport. In the hills of Heredia with stunning views, the abundant coffee crops surround the lodge in a 30-acre plantation. Each and every guest is welcomed at the finca with the warmest hospitality - making it a perfect stop for one or two - or longer - nights on any Costa Rica itinerary.
This morning you’ll be driven to the central valley just beyond San Jose. The drive time is 1.5 hours, and you’ll begin your adventure at Poas Volcano. Almost a mile across, this is the largest active crater in the world, and today you’ll witness the great geothermal forces that formed Costa Rica’s undulating landscape. Although Poas is active, you won’t be here to witness an eruption or any lava flow, just a truly unique landscape with plentiful opportunities for scenic pictures.
Following a visit to Doka Coffee Estate, our guide will take you to La Paz Waterfall Gardens to experience your first taste of the cloud and rainforest. Keep your eyes peeled and ears pricked for the colourful hue and vibrating buzz of hummingbirds passing you on your trail.
Domestic flights in Costa Rica only hold 12 passengers, and this is an experience in its own right. This morning you’ll be guided through check-in and fly over the forest and valley for just 30 minutes.
Upon arrival at Tortuguero Airport, you will make your way across the river to Tortugua Lodge & Gardens, which is only accessible via boat. Greeted by warm hosts, you’ll be welcomed into your lodge in the land of the turtles.
Nestled between the Tortuguero River and gorgeous plantation-style gardens, this is the only hotel in the area with its own private nature reserve. Enjoy an afternoon getting to know your wild surroundings, and kick back at the Green Turtle Restaurant and try exquisite dishes curated to any dietary needs using local ingredients with gourmet touches.
Tortuguero gets its name from its famous inhabitants - the endangered green sea turtles. At 51,870 protected acres, this is one of the largest areas of tropical rainforest in Central America. It is one of the most important nesting sites for these beautiful creatures, and March to October is the best time for this.
A nature and wildlife lovers' paradise, spend your days at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens on nature walks and boat trips led by the lodge’s experienced naturalist guides. Follow quiet trails to turtle nesting sites in season and kayak up the Tortuguero River. In the evenings, you’ll be able to explore the Twilight Trails surrounding the property and discover the unseen creatures who make themselves apparent only as the forest loses light.
Wake up in wildlife bliss, and looking out onto the river just beyond your door, prepare for another day of adventure and discovery. Three species of monkeys (spider, howler and white-faced capuchin), three-toed sloths and river otters are frequently seen along the natural inland waterways and canals. Caiman, iguanas, river turtles, basilisk lizards and poison dart frogs inhabit the area, accompanied by the song of over 320 colourful species of bird. All six species of kingfishers found in the new world, three species of toucans, eight species of parrot and other neotropical species, such as the salty-tailed trogon, white-collared manakin and the purple-throated fruit crow, live here. If you’re lucky, spot the endangered great green macaw.
No roads lead to Pacuare Lodge, it is only accessible by rafting down the river. Today's adventure awaits, and you’ll be taken on a wild ride to your next destination. Board a boat from Tortuguero and cruise down the river south, to arrive at La Pavona. After a short drive, meet our team from the lodge, who will brief you before you raft down to Pacuare Lodge in Turrialba.
On the way, you’ll drive through Costa Rica’s old capital city, Cartago, where farmlands and green spaces act as a blanket on the slopes of Irazu and Turrialba Volcanoes. The journey once you’re riding down the white waters of the Pacuare River only takes an hour (depending on river conditions), and it’s the perfect introduction to the shores of paradise along unspoiled tropical rainforests.
Today, explore the rainforest from the leafy treetops.
After a 15-minute hike into Pacuare’s private reserve, you’ll reach the first platform. The area surrounding the eco-lodge is a haven for birdwatchers and nature seekers and offers a glimpse into Costa Rica’s incredible biological diversity. Before exploring the canopy’s delicate environment, you will receive a thorough review and demonstration of all safety guidelines.
Then you’re off to face the exotic beauty of the rainforest head-on. This adventure tour offers dramatic views, rappelling down towering trees and sliding along cables from tree to tree as you descend the jungle-cloaked mountain toward the Pacuare Lodge. The final, thrilling rappel leaves you steps away from the main lodge.
El Tesorito Creek flows out of the mountains behind the Pacuare Lodge into a narrow gorge in the midst of the rainforest. This afternoon, enjoy an outdoor adventure that includes rock climbing, a descent down a small waterfall, sliding along cables, swinging through the jungle like Tarzan, and rappelling down a 30-meter (100-foot) rock face.
You’ll rappel down shorter walls - between two and 20 meters (six to 65 feet) - before undertaking the thrilling rappel down a 30-meter (90-foot) cliff. This tour can be taken right after lunch.
The Pacuare River Valley is home to the ancestors of the Cabécar indigenous people, who have lived in the middle of the rainforest for 3,000 thousand years. Following breakfast, set off on a 30-minute hike through the forest. With your local guide, you’ll be introduced to the flora and fauna that indigenous people have long relied on. Visiting the Cabécar Rancho is an immersive cultural experience.
Since time immemorial, the Cabécar Indians - Costa Rica’s largest indigenous group - have lived in harmony with the rainforest in the mountains near the Pacuare River. These indigenous people traditionally live in small family groups scattered across the jungle. Their remote location has helped them to maintain their customs, language and culture.
At the Pacuare Lodge, you’ll enjoy the opportunity to experience their way of life in relative comfort and without invading their privacy. Members of the community have benefited from positive tourism in the Nairi Awari Indigenous Reserve to build a typical Cabécar Rancho (thatched house) a short hike from the lodge, where the son of a local shaman provides visitors with an introduction to his people’s culture and customs.
Take some well-deserved R&R today. The Jawa Juü Spa is a unique experience for the mind, body, and soul. The rainforest’s natural energy is harnessed to create a healing environment unlike any other.
The name Jawa Juü is derived from a Cabécar term meaning “the house of the healer.” The spa treatments integrate the wisdom of ancient cultures and their traditions of spirituality and healing. We seek to preserve the past and grow with the future as an oasis of renewal and restoration.
Today you’ll bid farewell to Pacuare Lodge and head south down the river towards the Caribbean Coastline. The journey will take under three hours to get there, and it will be incredibly scenic along the way.
Upon arrival at Playa Cocles, you’ll be greeted by the team at Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel. This beautifully chic and modern lodge will be your base for the next four nights; relax on the coast and swim in the ocean.
The next few days are yours to unwind and relax. Pay a visit to Cahuita National Park, which is best known for its protected coral reefs close to the shore. During the dry season, there’s excellent snorkelling, and we can hook you up with a guide. You’re likely to see up to 500 species of fish that live on the reef.
Pop down the road to the Jaguar Rescue Centre to hear the incredible story of the resident animals there. The Jaguar Rescue Center is a temporary or permanent home for ill, injured and orphaned animals. With a focus on monkeys, sloths, other mammals, birds and reptiles, the JRC provides veterinary services, round-the-clock care and comfort to animals that would otherwise be unable to survive in the rainforest or the waters of the Caribbean.
Stroll down the rugged beaches, and swim in the sea just outside the hotel.
Today we’ll transfer you back to San Jose for your international flight departure home.