Costa Rica wildlife tour

“Costa Rica is a nature lovers' dream. This tailor made tour spends time in classic national parks as well as lesser known private reserves for a wildlife vacation to remember.”


San Jose | Boat tour in Tortuguero National Park | Caribbean and Pacific Coasts | Sea Turtle Museum | Turtle nesting from July-Sep | Quetzal tour in Savegre | Manuel Antonio National Park | Golfito | Optional: jungle walks, kayaking, snorkelling, waterfall treks in Piedras Blancas National Park

Travel Team

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Departure information

This trip is only for tailor made departures throughout the year to suit your requirements
Our top tip:
If you want to see nesting sea turtles, July-September are the peak months.
Trip type:
Tailor made.
Activity level:
Superb ecolodges in reserves, plus 2 nights San Jose.
This tour can be tailored for solo travelers at extra cost.
Accomm., listed activities, guide, transport, transfers.
All breakfasts, 8 lunches, 7 dinners.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your vacation will help support conservation and local people.

Our Wilderness and Wildlife itinerary takes you to some of the country’s most ecologically diverse areas, offering you the chance to experience some of the amazing wildlife Costa Rica has to offer. Except from your first and last night in San José, every day is spent in either a publicly or privately owned reserve (5 in total), ensuring that the majority of your money will go back into conservation.

Our partners who organise your trip on the ground represent 28 community organisations around the country which combine traditional ecotourism with community-based tourism, where visitors meet Costa Ricans who are conserving their forests and rivers and practising sustainable agriculture. As such, conservation is an integral part of all our vacations in a country which is the world leader in environmentally-friendly tourism.

Many of the accommodation options we offer in Costa Rica are located in rural communities, natural reserves, or indigenous territories that have not changed their way of life to adapt to the needs and tastes of mass tourism. They all meet our environmental criteria, including energy and water conservation, locally-sourced food and providing information to guests about ecological issues and how behave appropriately. You also have the opportunity to get more directly involved in community conservation efforts.

Often, the lodges go well beyond this: using environmental education, community awareness campaigns and legal action, they confront the many threats to wildlife on a daily basis. They are involved in a large variety of other initiatives such as environmental education, watershed and forest protection, solar energy, organic farming and biogas production.

The Impacts of this Trip

Whilst this is a wildlife and nature-orientated itinerary, it also incorporates various ways to benefit the communities in the areas you visit. Each of the visits to reserves include a local guide, in addition to the main guide who accompanies you throughout your vacation.

The two lodges that you will stay at both have strong ties to their local community. Playa Nicuesa Lodge employs 98% of their workforce from the nearby area and provides them with ongoing training in English and business development. The lodge has spent a considerable amount of time developing a relationship with local hunters, who have often been involved in poaching in the private reserve. The lodge runs a programme to retrain these hunters and employ them as guides and trackers for the lodge’s guests. It also buys all of the produce for its operations from the nearby area, supporting the local economy.

Cusinga Lodge not only employs staff from the local area, but also works with indigenous communities to offer sustainable tourism experiences that generate additional income for them. They have close relationships with schools in the area, offering them year round complimentary visits to increase their pupils’ knowledge about science and conservation issues.

In addition, the profits made by our Costa Rican partner are reinvested in capacity building programs, promotional campaigns and micro-loans for their member communities. Each year they provide technical assistance and workshops on diverse tourism related activities, such as Creole cooking workshops, marketing skills or product development, as well as running a rural tourism fair to promote responsible tourism.


3 Reviews of Costa Rica wildlife tour

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 08 Nov 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Can't pick any one, there were too many. Cable car across a forest valley? Wild toucans and Macaws? Being buzzed by humming birds? Exotic fruit and food? Poison dart frogs? Pre Colombian Gold & Jade Museums? The list goes on.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

It was a tailor made vacation so parts could be adjusted to suit the needs of other
people. Trails can be difficult and strenuous so you need to be prepared for this and have suitable clothing and footwear. We underestimated the heat and humidity so cool, well ventilated clothing is a must. We also needed to wade through calf deep water, so take footwear that can cope with this. The boat transfer to and from Drakes Bay has the potential to soak your luggage so ensure you have enough waterproof bags to protect the things you want to keep dry, bin liners would suffice. Ignore the advice to take toilet paper, or at least check your particular destinations.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, we visited a number of reserves run by local communities so our spend provided them with the means to sustain these.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Ok, two previous vacations booked through Responsible Travel have set a VERY high bar and raised our expectations, but we were not disappointed. We want to feel that our trips are more of an expedition than vacation, we want to get off the beaten track and to be guided by knowledgeable people who can teach us about the environment we are walking through. We also like to experience the local culture and eat local food. We got all of this and more. I cant give you 5 stars because that would be unfair to the people who organised the other two trips, but it was on a par with these. I am recommending you to adventurous colleagues.

Reviewed on 03 Apr 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Seeing all the wildlife in Costa Rica

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared to be on the go a lot and give yourselves some free time at the end!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Very much so, most places we stayed in were run by local people and I made sure I bought all my souvenirs from a craft cooperative

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Reviewed on 01 Feb 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Very difficult to choose! The wonderful thing about the vacation was the diversity of places we visited and stayed in. Visiting Los Campesinos was a particular highlight - the remoteness, spectacular landscape, and incredibly friendly community made it a joy.

Seeing sloths in Manuel Antonio was another high point.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

We went in late November, which some other operators advised against, but so long as you take a robust waterproof and don't mind the odd downpour, it seemed a lovely time of year to travel.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Traveling by air, and transferring by anything other than public transport/walking, of course has some inherent limitations in terms of sustainability. However, nearly all of the places that we stayed were clearly hugely mindful of ensuring benefits to the local community and wildlife, so it definitely felt very positive in that respect.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Fantastic. Cannot recommend the agent highly enough. Our primary contact there both before and after the trip, listened so carefully to what we were looking for, and tailored the itinerary and accommodation perfectly. As such it was a brilliant mixture of wildlife, walking, landscapes, relaxation and adventure.

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