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Frequently Asked Questions
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Costa Rica offers gorgeous landscapes and enthralling wildlife year-round, so there is no best time to visit. However, it is important to consider various seasonal changes when deciding when to travel. Departures during the dry season months of December through April bring slightly warmer temperatures and drier weather, but because of the warmer climate, there may be more travelers throughout the country. Green season departures are in July and August, and though precipitation is likely during this time, the rains bring an abundance of wildlife. July and August are months of new birth and wildlife transition, as well as peak season for green sea turtles and humpback whales.
The annual average temperature of Costa Rica is always above 75°F. The cool, dry season lasts from mid-December through April, and the warm, wet season occurs from mid-April to late November. The mountainous areas we’ll visit experience cooler temperatures, while the coasts are warmer. It is particularly chilly in December and January due to rain and humidity. Though it rains significantly more during the wet season, there is a year-round possibility of precipitation in Costa Rica, so come prepared with good rain gear. The dry season may experience less-frequent, lighter rain showers. Temperatures can also fluctuate greatly from day to night, so packing layers is advised.
Costa Rica’s green season lasts from mid-April to late November and is wetter than the dry season. Our green season departures are in July and August. Rain during the green season is always possible, especially on the coast and even in the highlands. During these months, the rain is rarely severe enough to spoil the adventure and wildlife is particularly abundant.
Though rain is likely during the green season, some days may only experience light showers or possibly no rain at all.
The country is located between 8 and 11 degrees north of the equator, which is below the path of most hurricanes. Costa Rica is generally not included in the “Hurricane Belt” of other Caribbean islands, so it is most often not affected by hurricanes.
Costa Rica is one of the best places to see an abundance of typical rain forest and cloud forest animal life. You may see howler monkeys, white-faced capuchins, spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys, sloths, jaguars (although rare), tapirs, agoutis, anteaters, kinkajous, tayras, bats, quetzals, black-mandibled toucans, sea turtles, crocodiles, tree frogs and much more.
While our trips are not explicitly designed for birders, Costa Rica is one of the top birdwatching destinations in the world. About 10 percent of the world’s total number of recorded bird species are found within the country. There are approximately 850 bird species in Costa Rica, some of which include toucans, scarlet macaws, frigate birds, Pacific parakeets, hummingbirds and blue-crowned motmots. Though wildlife sightings are never guaranteed, it is likely you’ll also encounter resplendent quetzals. These iridescent-green birds live in rain forests with dense vegetation and cloud cover. They are fairly tricky to spot, so keep your eyes open when we visit the cloud forest.
We’ll explore Costa Rica by plane, 4x4 vehicle, boat and on foot. For longer distances, we’ll be taking chartered flights and driving in spacious and comfortable Toyota Coasters, but we’ll also go on private boat cruises and various nature walks.
We recommend packing layers so you can be prepared for a wide variety of temperatures and climates. Bring short- and long-sleeved shirts, long pants, a rain jacket, sun protection and sturdy walking shoes. If you are on a Natural Jewels of Costa Rica trip, which departs during the green season, adequate lightweight, waterproof rain gear (jacket and pants) is essential.
Our Costa Rica trips are rated as moderately active. Guests must be able to walk at least two miles over uneven and rugged terrain, typically in warm and humid conditions. All activities are optional, though we may not always have an alternative option for guests who choose to opt out of certain activities. On our Natural Jewels trip, the Active Walking Departure itinerary is rated as difficult because guests must be able to walk at least five miles over uneven terrain and with inclines. Pleaseclick here for the explicit physical requirements of this Costa Rica adventure.
The Natural Jewels of Costa Rica itinerary is an all-encompassing 10-day trip that covers a broad range of terrain and habitats. This trip includes private boat tours, chartered flights, a visit to Corcovado National Park, special green season departures and one special Active Walking Departure in March. The Costa Rica Wilderness Explorer tour is eight days long and brings guests to the less-traveled Southern Pacific coast and Cloud Forest Reserves. We also offer Private Custom Costa Rica Adventures, where travelers can choose from an array of forest, beach, mountain and ecological activities to craft a dream tropical adventure.
Our accommodations on the tour are spacious, comfortable and conveniently located in close proximity to wildlife. We stay at a combination of contemporary, luxurious hotels and jungle lodges immersed in the lush rain forest near national parks and reserves. All of our accommodations provide various amenities and room for relaxing while placing guests in the heart of Costa Rica’s natural wonders.
Costa Rican cuisine is fairly simple and mild, with a heavy reliance on beans, rice, fruits and vegetables. Potato and corn dishes, pork, beef, plantains, gallo pinto, tamales and a wide array of tropical fruits and vegetables are available. We will have many opportunities to try traditional Costa Rican food in both San Jose and at jungle lodges.
There will be various guided hiking opportunities during the trip through terrain that includes rain forests, mountains and beaches, as well as optional additional nature walks for guests who are interested. We also offer an Active Walking Departure on our Natural Jewels tour, which is much more focused on hiking.
Our Natural Jewels of Costa Rica trip offers the opportunity to snorkel at Isla del Caño. (Note: Our green season departures during July and August include an extended boat excursion to Isla del Caño to look for whales, dolphins and other sea life, instead of snorkeling, and our Active Walking Departure will have an additional day of hiking with the option to snorkel.) Our Wilderness Explorer itinerary offers the chance to swim at Ballena Marine National Park, should weather and conditions allow. Please check out our specific itineraries for further details. We can also arrange for snorkeling on our Custom Costa Rica Adventures, weather permitting.
The official currency of Costa Rica is the colon, but U.S. dollars are widely accepted throughout the country, so you will likely not need to exchange money. We recommend you have enough cash on hand for souvenir purchases, gratuities and incidentals. Most larger shops and restaurants accept credit cards and Visa and Mastercard are most widely accepted.
Internet access will be available at almost all of our accommodations in the lounge/main areas, but phone service will be limited or nonexistent through most of the country. Natural Habitat Adventures encourages guests to “unplug” from technology on this trip in order to fully enjoy the immersive nature experience.
Costa Rica is a terrific destination for visitors of all ages, and children will love the wide array of adventure activities and wildlife to discover. The minimum age requirement for our Costa Rica trips is 12 years old. Our Expedition Leaders are known for their excellent rapport with kids and for their humor, relatability and genuine love of children. Your kids will leave Costa Rica with lifelong memories of not only the beauty of the country, but also of special moments with our guides. We offer a Custom Family Costa Rica Adventure where the minimum age is only 6, though certain activities such as zip lining and rafting require an age minimum of 9 years. There are plenty of activities designed especially for children on this trip, including hands-on research sites, a private float trip, a visit to a cacao plantation, a canopy tour, nature wildlife walks and additional adventure opportunities such as rafting, zip lining and snorkeling.
Yes! We will happily craft your dream itinerary. Please call our office at 800-543-8917 for details on group size and pricing.
Guests are responsible for arranging round-trip airfare from their home city to San Jose. We recommend using the Natural Habitat Adventures’ Travel Desk, as they are intimately familiar with the special requirements of each trip and can arrange the most efficient travel. However, you are also free to book your own travel arrangements. Make sure to arrive in San Jose on or before day one of the itinerary. Please check the Getting There & Getting Home information on the Dates, Prices & Info page for info on required arrival and departure times for this adventure.
Costa Rica’s capital city sits in the Central Valley and offers a combination of cultural and natural attractions. The National Theatre of Costa Rica, Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, and the Plaza de la Cultura are popular cultural destinations, showcasing ornate Spanish colonial architecture. La Sabana Metropolitan Park, Morazán Park and the Parque Zoológico Nacional Simón Bolívar feature nature trails, botanical gardens and activities for children and adults alike. Visit San Jose’s central market to chat with locals and search for handmade souvenirs, and check out the city’s many restaurants and bars. Nat Hab is happy to reserve a hotel room for you in San Jose before your Costa Rica tour begins, but please note that pre-nights are subject to availability at the time of booking.
Yes, we offer two options to extend your time in Costa Rica. See our extensions below: Arenal Volcano Extension
Spend two nights at the renowned Arenal Observatory Lodge located directly across from Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica’s most famous volcano. Go on guided nature hikes surrounding the lodge, visit Danaus Eco-Center, and search for wildlife around the volcano for two full days. Costa Rica & the Panama Canal
Spend eight days exploring rain forests and tropical beaches on a small ship nature adventure with our partner Lindblad Expeditions. Transit the Panama Canal, take advantage of learning from naturalist guides on board and discover the country’s incredible biodiversity from both land and sea.