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The flourishing jungles of Costa Rica are serene and untouched, punctuated by the iridescent blue flash of a morpho butterfly, the mist of a waterfall, or the rhythmic call of a howler monkey. Discover the incredible biodiversity hidden under the canopies of three distinct rain forests, exploring with top naturalist guides. Ride white water through lush river canyons and fly tree to tree on zip lines strung through the forests of Limón. Survey leafy treetops from the peak of a dormant volcano in the northern highlands. Then head into the coastal primary forests of the Osa Peninsula to discover a magnificent array of wild species.
Join a private guide for a canopy walk in the lush forests surrounding Arenal Volcano.
Trek deep into the jungle with a private guide to meet with a family of Cabécar Indians, Costa Rica’s largest and most isolated indigenous tribe.
Explore the unsurpassed biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula with a naturalist.
Itinerary - 9 Days
Day 1 — Arrive San José, Costa Rica
Arrive in San José and transfer to your downtown hotel, a historic Victorian mansion converted into a luxury inn. On this evening at leisure, consider visiting the old town for a look at the city’s colonial architecture. Or stay close to home and relax in the hot tub on the hotel’s rooftop deck. Hotel Grano de Oro
Day 2 — Pacuare River
Venture into the Costa Rican jungle on your way to the secluded Pacuare Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge that can only be reached via the resort’s namesake river. Conquer Pacuare’s rapids with fellow guests on a rafting trip through dramatic black-rock canyons blanketed in emerald-green ferns and mosses. Or ride in a four-wheel-drive vehicle to the river’s edge, cross via hanging gondola, and hike to your palm-thatched bungalow. Unwind and unplug in a true jungle sanctuary, where dinners are lit by candle and travel is done by boat, foot, or zip line. Pacuare Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 3 — Pacuare River
Join an early morning birding walk in the rain forest to spot toucans, bright hummingbirds, and many other species in the leafy forest canopy. This afternoon, choose one of two options: go on a rainforest hike to a typical Cabécar rancho (thatched house), meet with the son of a tribe shaman, and gain rare insights into his people's ancient traditions—an experience exclusively for Nat Geo travelers. Or embark on a canopy adventure, rated easy to intermediate, that will send you soaring along a series of zip lines strung through the treetops surrounding your lodge. Pacuare Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 4 — Pacuare River/Arenal National Park
This morning, head out on one last white-water rafting adventure. Or depart for the northern highlands after breakfast, allowing for an evening at leisure in Arenal National Park. While the park’s main attraction is the mighty Arenal Volcano, its network of hiking trails, rivers, and hanging bridges create a jungle playground for nature lovers. Settle into your lodge and soak in its private hot springs, naturally heated by the very volcano that rises up before you. Lost Iguana Resort & Spa (B)
Day 5 — Arenal National Park
Today, get a monkey's-eye view of the rain forest on a guided two-mile walk through the treetops. Traverse a series of hanging bridges, getting close-up views of the unique ecosystem of the jungle canopy. Then head to La Fortuna waterfall, which tumbles some 200 feet into a gem-colored natural pool. Take a refreshing dip before returning to your hotel for an evening at leisure. Lost Iguana Resort & Spa (B, L)
Day 6 — San José/Osa Peninsula
Transfer to the San José Airport and catch a flight to the Osa Peninsula. Your home for the next three nights is
Lapa Rios Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge celebrated for its wildlife conservation efforts in the surrounding region. From your bungalow, perched on a ridgeline in a private nature reserve, enjoy spectacular views of the shimmering waters where the Pacific Ocean meets the Golfo Dulce. Lapa Rios Lodge (B, D)
Day 7 — Osa Peninsula
Explore the unmatched biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula’s rain forests, beaches, and waters on a variety of naturalist-led group excursions. Swim beneath rushing waterfalls, learn about the medicinal uses of local plants, discover diverse marine life in one of the world’s only tropical fjords, or follow the sounds of nocturnal wildlife through the nighttime jungle. Spot white-faced capuchin monkeys, poison dart frogs, sloths, and the occasional coati. Lapa Rios Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 8 — Osa Peninsula
Enjoy a full day to explore the area on a variety of excursions. Learn about the lodge’s innovative sustainability efforts with naturalists. Visit a local school built with lodge funding. Plant a seedling in an area of secondary rain forest growth, or simply relax with a book in a hammock on your terrace. As a National Geographic traveler, you’ll be invited to join a naturalist on a private hike along a forest stream to a stunning waterfall. Swim in the fall's crystal-clear natural pool and then enjoy a memorable lunch in the forest canopy, overlooking the waterfall from high above. You may also choose to take an optional day trip to nearby Corcovado National Park. Lapa Rios Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 9 — Osa Peninsula/San Jose/Depart
Rise with the sun to catch a vivid display of bird activity in the budding light of dawn. The endemic black-cheeked ant tanager and the endangered scarlet macaw are but two of the rare birds among the area’s 300-plus avian species. Later, drive to Puerto Jiménez and fly to San José, where you will catch your international flight home. (B)
About Private Expeditions
National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. Simply select a trip and decide whom you'd like to travel with and when you want to travel. We'll take care of the rest.
Prices are per person, double occupancy and are subject to availability. Single traveler prices are available upon request. For 2018 price inquires please call our reservations specialists.
Internal flights between San José and the Osa Peninsula are an additional $360 (subject to change). International airfare to and from San José is not included in the expedition cost.
A holiday surcharge may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals.
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Other Important Details
This trip is available to children age 7 and older. The level of physical activity can be decreased or increased based on your preference. Please contact our reservations specialists for details or to customize this trip if your children are under 7 years.