Discover a Wilder Side of Costa Rica on a Guided Adventure into Remote Natural Realms
Day 1: San Jose, Costa Rica
Arrive in San Jose, the country's capital, where our Costa Rica ecotour begins with a welcome dinner.
Days 2 & 3: Tiskita Jungle Lodge
This morning, fly to Tiskita Jungle Lodge in the heart of a 300-acre private rain forest reserve on Costa Rica’s remote south Pacific coast. squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, white-faced capuchins and sloths swing through the trees, and 270 bird species thrive in the lush habitat. Secluded Tiskita is the only accommodation in this undeveloped area. Tiskita’s hand-built cabins, crafted from fallen hardwood trees, survey the sea from a high ridge. Meals are prepared with fresh local fare, including more than 125 types of organic tropical fruit grown on the estate. On a hike through the grounds, we’ll examine a wide array of exotic fruit trees, and, if certain fruits are in season, we may get to taste some unfamiliar varieties. This is also an excellent chance to see birds and monkeys that are attracted to the orchards and open areas. We’ll also take an in-depth rain forest hike and walk to the beach village of Punta Banco.
Day 4: Ballena Marine National Park / Uvita Beach
Follow the Pacific coast northward by road, stopping along the way to look for wildlife as we pass the Sierpe Terraba National Wetland and Piedras Blancas National Park. The thick rain forest is home to a number of rare trees and five species of wild cat: ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, puma and jaguar. After lunch at a local restaurant, we arrive at our hotel adjacent to Ballena Marine National Park, a system of coral reefs and islands that harbors some of the richest undersea life in Costa Rica. Hiking paths leave directly from the grounds, offering a chance to look for wildlife including howler monkeys and green iguanas. Our destination this afternoon is Uvita Beach, a spot known for its unique whale’s tail shape, turquoise waters and serenity, since few travelers venture here. Swim or dip your feet in the ocean, rest in the shade of palm trees swaying in the breeze, or take advantage of sunset photo opportunities before returning to our hotel for dinner.
Day 5: Sierpe River Cruise / Stone Spheres
Traveling along the central coast, we reach the Sierpe River, where we board a private boat to explore its vast mangrove ecosystem. The Terraba and Sierpe rivers flow from their headwaters on the southern slopes of the Talamanca Mountains to the Pacific Ocean where they form a river delta that comprises the Sierpe Terraba National Wetland. This network of channels and waterways weaves through Costa Rica's largest mangrove swamp, protecting that prolific birdlife and wild animals. Floating down the river, we may see American crocodiles, rainbow boas, green iguanas, white-face capuchin monkeys, long-nosed bats, roseate spoonbills, ospreys, kingfishers, frigate birds and a variety of egrets. Next, we stop at Palmar Sur to visit the Finca 6 archaeological site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where we'll see the mysterious pre-Columbian stone spheres discovered here in the 1930s when the United Fruit Company was clearing land for banana plantations. These perfectly carved orbs range in size from a bowling ball to massive spheres weighing 16 tons.
Day 6: Cerro de la Muerte—Talamanca Mountains
Driving into the Talamanca Mountains, we cross Cerro de la Muerte, the highest point along the Costa Rican section of the Pan-American Highway. On hikes through the cloud forest, we’ll pass vivid bromeliads and orchids as we scout for wildlife. This region is home to Baird’s tapir, wild boar, monkeys
and coati. The rich habitat is also the territory of six species of neotropical cats including jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay, oncilla and jaguarundi, though we are not likely to see them as they are extremely elusive. Ferns and mosses flourish in the constant drip of the mists, while birds add dashes of color to the canopy. We’ll hope to spot the resplendent quetzal, the biggest prize among the 600 different bird species found here. Overnight at 7,200 feet at Savegre Mountain Hotel within a private biological reserve replete with tropical birds.
Day 7: Los Quetzales National Park
This high-altitude habitat will thrill bird lovers, as it is home to a multitude of vibrant species including many endemics. A morning nature walk reveals a wide array of birds, and we may see the emerald toucanet, golden-browed chlorophonia
and spangle-cheeked tanager. This habitat is ideal for the resplendent quetzal, a revered and endangered bird of striking beauty. Listen for their deep, melodious calls as we quietly track these elusive birds. An afternoon walk along a flowing stream reveals a cascading waterfall fed by the Savegre River. This evening we bring our adventures to a close over a farewell dinner.
Day 8: San Jose / Depart
After breakfast, transfer to San Jose for flights home. Those travelers who have added the Arenal Volcano extension will continue to Arenal today.