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The Best of Southern Costa Rica

Tour Code: CRI03

A 14-day birdwatching and wildlife holiday to southern Costa Rica, including three nights in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica's flagship wildlife reserve and one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth!

14 days from £4795(inc flights) Land Only Price: £4095 SRS: £495

We begin this tour with three nights in the moss-draped cloudforests of the Talamanca Mountains. Here we will have our first taste of Costa Rica’s dazzling variety of hummingbirds, tanagers and other birdlife, plus the stunning Resplendent Quetzal, one of the most beautiful birds in the world! Next we drive south to the pre-montane forests of Las Cruces Biological Station and the lowland tropical rainforest of Piedras Blancas National Park, before transferring by boat to what should be the highlight of the holiday, a 3-night stay in Corcovado National Park, the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Costa Rica’s protected areas. Corcovado has been named the world’s most ‘biologically intense place’ by National Geographic and is one of the best places in the country to look for mammals including Baird's Tapir, Mantled Howler Monkey, Central American Spider Monkey and Northern Tamandua. Birds are also abundant and include Costa Rica’s largest population of Scarlet Macaws, plus White Hawk and perhaps the rare White-crested Coquette. Lastly we head back to San Jose, via Carara National Park, for our flight home.

  • Three nights in a beach-front lodge on the edge of Corcovado National Park
  • Explore the moss-draped cloudforests of the Cordillera de Talamanca
  • Numerous colourful tanagers, trogons, toucans & motmots
  • Birds include Resplendent Quetzal, Rufous-tailed Jacamar & White Hawk
  • Hear Corcovado ‘dawn chorus’ of Mantled Howler Monkeys, birds & other wildlife
  • Night walks in Piedras Blancas NP in search of frogs, snakes & nocturnal birds
  • Look for Northern Tamandua, Baird's Tapir & Central American Spider Monkey
  • Explore trails around Las Cruces Biological Station & Wilson Botanical Gardens
  • Led by a UK leader & expert local naturalist guides


All included in the price except for dinner on Day 1 and lunch on Day 13 (allow £30).


Comfortable hotels and rainforest lodges, all with private facilities.

White Hawk (Sarah Jessup)

White Hawk (Sarah Jessup)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly San José and overnight.

Day 2/3 Talamanca Mountains.

Day 4/5 Las Cruces Biological Station.

Day 6/7 Piedras Blancas National Park.

Day 8/10 Corcovado Nationa lPark.

Day 11/12 Carara National Park.

Day 13 Depart San José.

Day 14 Arrive London

Even in a country as biologically rich and diverse as Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park is special. Named ‘the most biologically intense place on Earth’ by National Geographic, this vast tract of untouched rainforest, cloudforest, wetlands and pristine palm-fringed beaches is a natural history treasure-house second to none! The diversity and abundance of wildlife here is staggering. For example, the park protects 500 species of tree (a quarter of the species in Costa Rica), over 6,000 species of insect, 140 species of mammal, 116 species of amphibian and reptile, and more than 400 species of bird. Despite this abundance of life, Corcovado is rarely included on the traditional birding and wildlife circuits of Costa Rica, primarily due to its location in the far south-west of the country. What is needed, therefore, is a wildlife holiday that focuses primarily on this southern, less visited, half of the country and this exciting Naturetrek itinerary does just that!

As well as a 3-night stay in Corcovado National Park we will also visit a contrasting range of habitats and elevations from the highland forests of the Talamanca Mountains and Las Cruces Biological Station to the lush lowland rainforests of the Pacific coast. We begin our holiday, however, with a flight to San José, the Costa Rican capital. After one night on the edge of the city, we commence our journey south by climbing into the moss-draped cloudforests of the Talamanca Mountains for two nights, home to the spectacular Resplendent Quetzal, one of the most beautiful birds in the world! Here we will get our first taste of the huge variety of birdlife that occurs in Costa Rica. Hummingbirds, such as Magnificent and Fiery-throated, zip to and fro between flowering shrubs and hummingbird feeders. Mixed tanager and warbler flocks often include such gems as Collared Whitestart and Flamethroated Warbler, whilst elegant Swallowtailed Kites glide overhead.

Moving on, we complete our journey into southern Costa Rica by travelling down the mountainous spine of the country to Las Cruces Biological Station. Las Cruces is a working ecological research station, set in the Wilson Botanical Gardens at 1,500 metres above sea level and only 5 kilometres from the Panama border. It protects 300 hectares of pre-montane wet forest and is home to over 350 species of bird and 2,000 species of plant. Species to look out for include Speckled and Goldenhooded Tanagers, Red-faced Spinetail and Fiery-billed Aracari, plus Central American Agouti which wander around the grounds looking for palm nuts.

Next we descend from the mountains into the lowland tropical rainforests of Piedras Blancas National Park. Here we will spend two nights at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, a simple but comfortable retreat on the edge of the forest, where Slaty-tailed Trogon, Rufous Jacamar and Buff-rumped Warbler are amongst some of the garden highlights. As well as birdwatching during the day in search of King Vulture, Orangecollared Manakin, Cocoa Woodcreeper and many others, we will also take a night walk in search of some of Costa Rica’s nocturnal inhabitants. These should include the attractive Red-eyed Tree Frog, perhaps an owl or two, or even a snake such as Eye-lash Pit Viper or Fer-de-lance.

For the undoubted highlight of our holiday we board a boat for the 2-hour journey down the Sierpe River and along the palmfringed Pacific coastline to Drake’s Bay on the northern edge of Corcovado National Park. On arrival, we will transfer to a comfortable beach-front lodge for three nights, our base whilst we explore this ‘jewel in the crown’ of Costa Rica’s protected areas. Corcovado National Park covers 424 square kilometres of the Osa Peninsula and protects the largest tract of primary rainforest left on the Pacific coastline of the Americas. Commoner mammals to look out for include Mantled Howler Monkey, Central American Spider Monkey, Squirrel Monkey and Northern Tamandua. The rare Baird’s Tapir is also frequently seen during early morning walks, although it would take a great deal of luck to find one of the elusive Jaguars or Pumas which still prowl the forests in good numbers. Birdlife is prolific and includes Costa Rica’s largest population of Scarlet Macaws, plus White Hawk, Baird’s Trogon, Long-billed Antwren, Blue-throated Goldentail and the rare White-crested Coquette. Even the Harpy Eagle, the greatest avian predator in the Americas, still retains a toe-hold in the remoter, littlevisited, areas of the park!

Finally, we will break the journey back to San José with a couple of nights on the edge of Carara National Park. Here we will search for a final few Costa Rican birds and mammals, before completing our return to the Costa Rican capital in time for our flight home. 

Resplendent QuetzalRio Sirena River in Corcovado National ParkKing VultureCentral American Spider MonkeyRufous-tailed JacamarSlaty-tailed TrogonNorthern TamanduaMantled Howler MonkeyScarlet MacawsAgami Heron. Tim Melling.Sierpe River, Costa RicaAmerican Crocodiles. Tim Melling.Eye-lash Pit ViperBaird's Tapir. Tim Melling.Caiman. Tim Melling.Chestnut-mandibled Toucan. Tim Melling.Emerald Glass Frog. Tim Melling.Golden-hooded Tanager. Tim Melling.Green Violetear Hummingbird. Tim Melling.Male White-throated Mountaingem. Tim Melling.Red-eyed Tree Frog. Tim Melling.Scarlet Macaws. Tim Melling.Volcano Hummingbird. Tim Melling.Central American AgoutiFiery-billed AracariGreen Violetear HummingbirdWhite-faced CapuchinSwallow-tailed KiteSunbitternSlaty-tailed TrogonResplendent QuetzalPurple-throated Mountain-gemMontezuma’s OropendolaMagnificent HummingbirdKeel-billed ToucanChestnut-mandibled ToucanBrown-throated Three-toed SlothBoat-billed HeronBrown prionid long-horned beetle (Brian West)Departure from casa corcovado (Brian West)Bare-throated Tiger Heron (Brian West)Northern Tamandua (Brian West)Common Black Hawk (Brian West)Cicada Emerging (Brian West)Golden Orb-Weaver (Brian West)Central American Spider Monkey (Brian West)White Ibis (Brian West)American crocodiles (Brian West)Sunset over the pacific (Brian West)Red-eyed Tree Frog (Brian West)Scintillant Hummingbird (Brian West)Magnificent hummingbird (Brian West)Magnificent Hummingbird (Brian West)Green Spiny Lizard (Brian West)Flame Coloured Tanager (Brian West)Silk moth caterpillars (Brian West)Ready for the harvest (Brian West)Danalid Butterfly (Brian West)Central American Agouti (Brian West)Pinanga Coronata flowers and fruit (Brian West)Chestnut - mandibled Toucan (Brian West)Striped basilisk (Brian West)In the rain forest (Brian West)Spectacled Caiman (Brian West)Spot-banded Daggerwing (Bran West)Agami Heron (Brian West)Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Brian West)In the mangrove forest (Brian West)Costa Rica BeachCosta Rica BeachFirey-throated Hummingbird

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Sat 23rd February 2019 - Fri 8th March 2019



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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £4095 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Costa Rica

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