Nature Travel Specialists

nature tours & travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Australia & New Zealand, South & Central America, Southeast Asia and more




Costa Rica

white-faced capuchin

with Dr Barry Knisley

November 7 - 14 2015


Costa Rica is wildlife, rainforest and adventure. It is pretty much an entire country devoted solely to nature tourism, and a leader in the field. If nature and the outdoors is your style of vacation, then Costa Rica has plenty for you. You can be sitting in a cloud forest observing spectacularly colorful birds before breakfast after being woken by the Howler Monkeys, have a look at the extremely cheeky Capuchins on the way back to the hotel, and keep an eye on a Green Iguana while enjoying some of the world's best coffee during breakfast. Afterwards ease out the bumps with a relaxing loaf in a thermal hot springs, followed by a massage.

Our trip to Costa Rica is led by Dr Barry Knisley, FC Professor of Biology from 1969 to 1979, where he taught a variety of biology courses, served as Department Chair, and developed a field biology program; he's a multiple visitor to Costa Rica.

The tour concentrates on the natural highlights of the country, including the Caribbean foothills rainforest, Arenal Volcano and the cloud forest of Monteverde on the central mountain spine of the country. In addition to the nature and wildlife, we've included a bit of pampering at Tabacon Thermal Springs and Spa - a truly amazing place - and the opportunity for some more adventurous act ivies along the way. There's enough free time to not feel rushed, and to simply enjoy the beauty around you, or to pursue personal interests.



Day 1 - Home City/San Jose/Sarapiqui
Fly from your home city to San Jose today. After passing through immigration and customs you are met and transferred to your rainforest lodge, home for the next three nights. It is suggested you get some colones via an ATM in the airport before leaving. Tonight enjoy a welcome dinner and discussion about the coming week’s travel.         (D)


Day 2 – Sarapiqui
Selva Verde Lodge rainforest lodge, located in the foothills of the Caribbean slope, is famous for its birds, monkeys and other mammals both on the grounds and in the surrounding forest. We’ll take full advantage of this variety during our stay. This morning discover the wildlife and flora of the foothills rainforest, the richest region of Costa Rica at La Selva Biological Station, operated by the Organization for Tropical Studies. The station has been conducting research since 1968, hosting university courses and scientists, and producing many publications. We spend the entire morning here, exploring the trails and forest and learning much about this complex ecosystem – and of course seeing some great wildlife. After lunch at the station we return to Selva Verde, with free time to explore the grounds.          (B,L,D)


Day 3 – Saripiqui
This morning start early with a two hour river trip, looking for wildlife as the day begins. The quiet travel by boat enables us to see birds and other animals that we may have difficulty seeing otherwise. Return for breakfast, then we continue to discover the fauna and flora of Selva Verde’s grounds. After lunch there are several optional tours, including one that will be of special interest to dedicated photographers, or just those who want great photos to take home with them, or to see the tropical birds close up and at your leisure. The Nature Pavilion, a private reserve a short distance away, is a family-owned reserve has been set up specifically to allow visitors the best in bird viewing and photography. Feeders of various kinds have been placed around the cleared area, with perches strategically placed to give great close-up views from the covered pavilion (complete with seats). An added boon for photographers is the uncluttered background, enabling uncluttered shots. However, these are not tame birds (or the agoutis that come to clean up), but wild birds that have got used to both a free lunch (and breakfast and dinner) and the presence of people. So the flashing glimpse of colored feathers that may have been had on a walk in the forest is revealed as a stunning beautiful bird. This also offers excellent sightings, and a different style of photograph, as birds often sit in the trees resting and preening after feeding. Early evening we transfer to La Trimbina for dinner then this evening discover the forest and its wildlife in a different light, with a guided night walk.          (B,L,D)

arenal volcano
Day 4 – Sarapiqui/La Fortuna
Transfer today to La Fortuna, at the base of the active Arenal Volcano. Although no longer spewing lava, it still smokes from the center cone, giving a special backdrop to the town.          (B,D)



Day 5 – La Fortuna
Discover Arenal and surrounds today. Start this morning with a guided walk along the Hanging Bridges, which give a unique viewpoint of the rainforest. A track leads to a rainforest-clad valley, then with both tracks and a series of suspension bridges you make you way up the valley, much of the time at the level of the canopy of the forest, and above it. This is literally a bird and monkey eye view of the trees and vines. In motmotaddition views across the canopy down the valley are wonderful in themselves. Our guide will not only lootabacon thermal streamk for birds such as motmots, which nest low in the banks adjacent to the trails, but also about the rainforest itself. After returning to the lodge and lunch we’ll spend the afternoon hiking on the side of the volcano, through open areas, forest, and the volcanic lava field. Our guide will give us a deeper understanding of the geology of the area and how the many eruptions have affected the forest and the land around La Fortuna. Finally tonight a special treat. We transfer to Tabacon Hot Springs, surely the most extensive and beautiful hot springs in the world. There are many separate pools and streams, all clothed in luxurious vegetation, where you can soak away any muscle fatigue from your activities over the last few days, or just enjoy the warm mineral waters coming from underground within the volcano. As you rise higher up the streams, getting closer to the source, the water becomes hotter, so much sure you start low to get accustomed to the temperature, which does get quite hot. In addition to the waters themselves there is a full service spa, and you enjoy a lavish themed buffet dinner at your leisure.          (B,L,D)

Day 6 – La Fortuna/Monteverde
This morning you transfer to a dock on Lake Arenal, where you take a ferry boat across the water to the other side. This ride gives great views of the volcano and the national park around it. On arrival on the other side you are met and transferred to Monteverde, high in the Costa Rican cloud forest. Monteverde was started by a group of Quakers from Fairhope, Alabama, who left there to find a place where they could pursue their peaceful beliefs free from harassment. They establish farms, shared the fruits of their labor, and made an early commitment to the conservation of the rainforest and the animals that live there. Your delightful hotel room has a small balcony with views of the rainforest, so keep an eye out for toucans and monkeys that regularly traverse the trees just outside your room. Tonight dinner isn't included, giving us an opportunity to visit the small township and try a restaurant of our own choice.           (B,L)

Day 7 - Monteverde
This morning take a private guided tour in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. This is quite different to the lush, large-leaved rainforest you have previously been in; here a large part of the needed moisture is supplied by clouds and fog, and as these reduce the amount of sunning reaching the plants leaves are smaller (in addition to smaller leaf size caused by the cooler temperatures) and bromeliads are widespread. Your guide will explain the forest to you, all the while looking for the birds that live here, especially the famous Resplendent Quetzal. You are staying here which during the best time to see this magnificent bird, and the guides, who communicate with each other, will be careful searching can still find individuals, usually high up in the canopy searching for the small avocados which are their primary food. But your guide has a scope, so if found, you can still get good views, if not good photos. Just outside the entrance a small store has many hummingbird feeders, and we take time to enjoy the spectacles of dozens of hummingbirds arguing with each other over the feeders. This afternoon we visit Selvatura, which has canopy walkways, an
extensive butterfly house, and a hummingbird garden. You have the included options of just taking a guided walk on the canopy walkways, or zip lining for a mile through the forest canopy. Tonight we have a farewell dinner and recap the week we’ve spent in Costa Rica.       (B,L,D)


Day 8 - Monteverde/San Jose/Home City
We are transferred to the airport this morning for our afternoon flight back to the US, arriving late tonight.             (B)


Tour Information

Information about cost, what's included and what's not, other information about the tour and reservation information can be found here.