People and Nature

From £1955 pp excl flights
13 Days
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Everyone knows that Costa Rica is an incredible destination for nature lovers and this holiday certainly has you covered, with stops in a little-visited bird-filled cloud forest, a community-run reserve and the wild, beachside Manuel Antonio National Park. But while most visitors don’t get to see real Costa Rican life beyond the parks and tourist hotspots, you’ll stay with 3 different local communities. From small-scale sustainable farmers to an indigenous people’s association to vanilla growers turned ecotourism hosts, you’re sure to experience the ticos’ unforgettable warmth and hospitality.

Day to Day Itinerary

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This is a suggested itinerary. Dates, stops & activities are all flexible.

14 Days: San Jose - Nacientes Palchimal - San Gerardo - Bríbripa Kanèblö - Los Campesinos - Manuel Antonio

Activities: staying with communities, rural life, local food, glamping/ecolodges, coffee tour, birding, cloud forest, wildlife hikes, beach

Day 1: Arrive at San Jose airport, where you will be met and taken to your hotel. Depending on when you arrive, you may have time to do a walking tour around the centre of town.

Day 2: After breakfast meet your wonderful naturalist guide, who will be with you to until day 9 of your holiday and head to Nacientes Palmichal Rural Lodge, 1 hour outside San Jose. Here you will meet a real coffee-growing community, experience Costa Rican campesino life and stay in a beautiful mountain town, situated among crystal clear rivers and streams that feed San Jose. Soak in the tranquil natural ambiance on a hike or horseback ride to the entrance of a nearby wildlife reserve. (B/L/D)

Or if you want to learn more about what the community does, you can make tortillas 'campesino' style with Doña Mery and learn how to grind, toast and taste one of the best coffees in the world at the 'Paraje de Bendicion' sustainable cattle ranch. At the ranch you can also see biogas production, participate in traditional cheese-making and tour the small-scale farm, complete with chickens, geese, turkeys, ducks and rabbits. Enjoy the other face of the capital city – rural San Jose! (B/L/D)

Day 3: Continue your journey to a very special nature reserve, the San Gerardo Cloud Forest, a great alternative to the far more visited Monteverde cloud forest further north. The large 62,000 hectare reserve contains diverse forest zones and more than 175 identified bird species, including the famous Resplendent Quetzal (which lives here year round) and trogons, hummingbirds, great tinamou, sooty robin and woodpeckers, among others. You might also be lucky enough to spot bigger animals including felines, tapirs, brockets and coyotes. (B/L/D)

Day 4: This morning is worth an early start as, accompanied by an expert guide, you could find over 80 identified bird species. During peak viewing season (Dec-May) you will see at least 20-25 different species, while the main viewpoint of the walk is renowned worldwide as the place to glimpse the largest known gathering of the famous quetzales. Add in lush flora and fauna along the way and this 2 hour tour makes the perfect combination for bird and nature lovers. In the afternoon explore the self-guided trails around the lodge and discover some of the waterfalls hidden in the forest. (B/L/D)

Day 5: Today's trip will immerse you in a different world, with a culture and history of its own, in an area of spectacular views over the surrounding mountains and rivers. The Bríbripa Kanèblö Association was formed by Bribri people, the largest indigenous group in Costa Rica, to preserve and practice their language, customs and traditions. After lunch with community members, walk to the area known as the savanna to sit and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Legend has it that giants inhabited this land before the Bribri, but they were so destructive that the god Sebu ordered they be buried at this site. Before bed, enjoy a scrumptious dinner cooked over a wood fire in traditional Bribri style. (B/L/D)

Day 6: The morning will be spent learning about the Bribri's special relationship with their land and about indigenous farming and harvesting techniques, then in the afternoon you have time to choose an additional activity, visit other indigenous communities around the area, or simply relax in the peaceful surroundings. (B/L/D)

Day 7: Drive north down from the mountains towards the coast, but before you reach the sea you will spend a couple more days exploring Costa Rica's unparalleled natural splendour in the company of friendly ticos. The people of Quebrada Arroyo community, the guardians of Los Campesinos Reserve, use ecotourism to support their community as well as helping regenerate the primary and secondary forest. They have built and maintained shelters and trails for walkers as well as accommodation, so you can stay right in the middle of the forest.

Upon arrival you will be served a tasty typical lunch prepared on a wood stove, then after you've settled in you can traverse an amazing 40m high, 127m long hanging bridge next to the impressive Los Chorros waterfall, to reach clear natural pools perfect for a swim. In the evening, share stories with the locals while enjoying a homemade dinner. (B/L/D)

Day 8: At 05:30 your local guide will take you for a walk on the Mirador El Pacifico Trail (approx 2.5 hours), sharing stories of his adventures in the forest and explaining the uses of native plants. Your journey will include crossing a forested gorge by aerial tram, with stunning views over the Rio Savegre Valley to the Pacific Coast. Upon your return, enjoy a typical local breakfast and the rest of the day is yours to explore the community and reserve at your own pace. (B/L/D)

Day 9: This morning take a short private transfer to Manuel Antonio National Park. With lush green forest creeping onto the beautiful white sands and warm Pacific waters, the park epitomises Central America's rugged western coast and is one of Costa Rica’s most popular and scenic national parks. Explore the well-marked trails surrounded by prolific wildlife such as toucans, sloths and several species of monkeys, try surfing or go snorkelling, which is excellent when the water is clearest (Dec - May). Your guide will leave you today, so why not make the most of it and take a guided wildlife walk, or simply spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach or by the pool. (B/L)

Days 10 - 12: Free for you to relax, explore the reserve further or try an optional activities like a sunset catamaran ride, horseback riding, white water rafting, surfing lesson or canopy tour. (B)

Day 13: Sadly it's time to say goodbye to paradise as you are transferred to the airport in time for your return flight home. (B)

Prices from: £1955 per person
Services included: hotels on shared room basis, meals, transfers and activities as mentioned, entry fees, English speaking guide, 24 hour assistance
Services not included: flights, drinks, tips and personal expenses
Note: stops can be extended, added or cut - just ask us!

Best Time To Travel

Best time to visit: December - April
Dec – Apr sunny and dry but cooler than the Summer. Jun – Aug rain showers, hot and humid. Sep & Oct heavier rain, hot and humid.
Nov & May are a mix and great for avoiding crowds

Add a Mini Experience

These unique short trips and one day tours could make your holiday even better! They can be added into any itinerary and are designed to help you further explore the cultural, natural and social diversity of Costa Rica

Glamping & Cloudforests Volcanoes & Rafting Hanging Bridges Southern Caribbean Secret Jungle Adventure