Expedition Details


Explore Costa Rica’s national parks and reserves on a journey from mist-shrouded cloud forests to volcanic landscapes and coastal jungles. Spot bright-winged birds in Carara Park National Park, and venture deep into Monteverde’s rain forest to search for monkeys, sloths, and rare orchids. Discover the ecosystems surrounding the smoldering Arenal Volcano, and encounter a wealth of wildlife along hidden waterways in Tortuguero National Park.

Trip Highlights

  • Experience the extraordinary biodiversity of Monteverde, one of the world’s finest nature reserves.
  • Marvel at scarlet macaws, sloths, monkeys, and peccaries on a walk in Carara Park National Park.
  • Explore the rain forest surrounding Arenal Volcano on bridges suspended through the treetops.
  • Glide along the waterways of Tortuguero National Park and look for caimans and toucans.

Itinerary - 9 Days

Day 1 — U.S./San José, Costa Rica

Fly to San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and transfer to our hotel upon arrival. Gather for a welcome dinner this evening.
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Cariari San José (D)

Day 2 — San José/Tarcoles River/Monteverde

After an early breakfast, head to the town of Tarcoles, which lies in the buffer zone of Carara National Park. Enjoy a tour on the Tarcoles River where you'll have the opportunity to see a wide variety of birds and the American crocodile in its natural habitat. Continue to Monteverde and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before exploring the Curi Cancha Wildlife Refuge. Later, we'll hear from an early Quaker settler on Monteverde. Lodging tonight is a family-owned retreat with picturesque views of the cloud forest.
Hotel Fonda Vela or Hotel de Montaña Monteverde (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Monteverde

Visit the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens to see dozens of local species. Then spend the day exploring the cloud forest. Here, the dense foliage is bathed in year-round moisture created by cooling winds coming off the ocean. Walk along trails rich with butterflies, insects, and reptiles, and cross suspension bridges for a bird's-eye view of the canopy. Identify some of the 500-plus species of orchids, and search for tapirs and mantled howler monkeys. With luck, we’ll spot the rare resplendent quetzal—a sacred bird in Maya and Aztec cultures.
Hotel Fonda Vela or Hotel de Montaña Monteverde (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Monteverde/Arenal National Park

After breakfast, visit a family-owned farm that practices sustainable agriculture and traditional sugar processing. Take a walking tour of the farm and see the original trapiche sugar press. Then head into the northern highlands to the beautiful lake situated at the base of Arenal Volcano—one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Glide across tranquil waters in small boats, and dine at a restaurant on the lake’s far side before checking into our hotel, featuring panoramic views of the volcano.
Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa or Hotel Royal Corin (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Arenal Volcano

Venture into the rain forest surrounding Arenal Volcano, traversing an extensive network of bridges that loop through the treetops. From up here in the canopy, observe a variety of birds, including toucans, antbirds, and hawks, and keep an eye out for monkeys, jaguars, and coatis. This evening, take a dip in our lodge's soothing thermal pools, heated by the Arenal Volcano.
Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa or Hotel Royal Corin (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Arenal/Tortuguero

Take a charter flight to Tortuguero and board a boat bound for the rustic Aninga Lodge. Located on the Caribbean coast, Tortuguero is a lowland wet tropical forest accessible only by water or by air. Settle into your charming private bungalow raised above the rain forest floor and enjoy lunch at the lodge’s restaurant. Later, explore the canals of Tortuguero National Park in small boats, on the lookout for howler, spider and capuchin monkeys, and caiman, as well as ibis, tiger herons, curassow, and other bird species.
Aninga Hotel & Spa (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Tortuguero

Explore Tortuguero on another boating excursion, or kayak the park waterways. Enjoy time to relax at the lodge pool, or take a walk along a nearby nature trail. Later, visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy to learn about the history of the region and important conservation work taking place on Tortuguero’s beaches. Stroll through the village and dine at a local Afro-Caribbean restaurant.
Aninga Hotel & Spa (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Tortuguero/San José

Considered a food of the gods by the ancient Maya and Aztec, cacao has deep roots in Costa Rican culture. Cacao beans were used as a currency in pre-Columbian times, and chocolate was the country’s major export until the tobacco and coffee booms in the 1700s and 1800s. On our return to San José, pay a visit to one of Costa Rica’s top chocolatiers and taste a variety of exquisite confections. Then join the artisans in tempering chocolate at a workshop overlooking the mountains of the central valley. Later, celebrate our journey at a farewell dinner in San José.
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Cariari San José (B,L,D)

Day 9 — San José/U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home

Related Trips

Lindblad/National Geographic Logo

This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.


  • Dec 21 - 29, 2018
  • Jan 04 - 12, 2019
  • Jan 18 - 26, 2019
  • Feb 01 - 09, 2019
  • Feb 22 - Mar 02, 2019
  • Feb 27 - Mar 07, 2019
  • Mar 04 - 12, 2019
  • Mar 09 - 17, 2019
  • Mar 14 - 22, 2019
  • Mar 19 - 27, 2019
  • Mar 24 - Apr 01, 2019
  • Mar 29 - Apr 06, 2019
  • Apr 04 - 12, 2019

Expedition Cost



Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $500. International round-trip airfare between the U.S. and San Jose, Costa Rica is not included in the expedition cost.

Add this trip as an extension to your Costa Rica and Panama Canal expedition on the National Geographic Quest. Please call for details.

Activity Level


Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.