Costa Rica vacation, tailor made

“This tailor made tour keeps costs down using comfortable shuttle buses, whisking you to several of the country’s unique ecosystems in 12 days – from cloud forest and jungle to beach and volcano.”


Boat tours in Tortuguero National Park | Wildlife walks in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve | Arenal volcano | Boat trip across Lake Arenal | hanging bridges | Manuel Antonio National Park & beach

Description of Costa Rica vacation, tailor made

This Costa Rica vacation is tailor made, but manages to remain affordable thanks to the use of modern, shared minibuses between each of the country’s natural highlights. This is a great way to tour the key highlights – beginning in Tortuguero, named after the green turtles that nest on its Caribbean shoreline, but whose protected rainforests also shelter sloths, otters, caimans and several species of monkey. Your eco lodge here has its own private canal, and the jungle wildlife is best spotted during gentle, early morning boat tours. By night, observe turtles laying their eggs on the moonlit beaches during the nesting season.

Next you’ll take a shuttle bus to Monteverde, via San José. This is one of Costa Rica’s most famous protected areas, and offers a whole new ecosystem: the cloud forest. This is one of the world’s richest habitats, and Monteverde is home to some 400 bird species along with 100 mammals. If you’re lucky, you may spot the resplendent quetzal. Well marked trails here are ideal for self guided nature walks. Another bus takes you onwards to El Arenal Volcano. It’s not been active for some time, but it’s still a gorgeous sight, especially reflected in the waters of Arenal Lake. End your tailor made Costa Rica vacation on the Pacific coast, on the beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. The popularity of this beach means there is a wide choice of accommodation here to suit all budgets. Explore the lush jungle backing on to the beach, and seek out monkeys, iguanas, sloths, armadillos – and some 350 species of birds.

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Vacation type

Tailor made vacation

This trip is run by a company which specialises in only Central and South America vacations. It can be tailormade to create a unique vacation for your individual requirements by travel experts with intimate knowledge of the destination. The length of stay, standard of accommodation and even the itinerary can all be amended and tailored to suit your preferred style of travel and budget. Quality and value are the hallmark of these trips.

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.

Ecotourism in Costa Rica is one of the key activities of its tourism industry. The country was a pioneer among of several in Latin America turning to ecotourism as a way of responding to the growing demand for responsible travel. Eco-friendly lodges and activities draw visitors to the many extensive national parks and protected areas around the country, and you will be impressed by the slick and professional way in which these policies have come to fruition.
Our local partners in Costa Rica, with whom we work to select accommodation and activities for you, have a declared policy of adhering to responsible attitudes toward waste and water management and energy resources. They aim to strengthen these principals through management practices of their employees. The companies seek to minimize the impact of visitors on the landscape and its wildlife, respecting the fragility of the ecosystems. They aim to respect local communities, supporting conservation and development initiatives. As part of their work, they engage in activities to promote the human development of the communities they visit.

You will be traveling in shuttle buses - saving fuel on private transfers - operated by a group of companies with a strong commitment to sustainable tourism which participates in various projects around the country.

Your accommodation virtually throughout is in lodges which are dedicated to the conservation of the natural environment and wildlife.

Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast has incredible biological variety owing to the existence of 11 different habitats, including rainforest, swamps, beaches and lagoons. It’s home to the manatees, caiman and crocodiles, which live in the channels; and endangered jaguars, three species of monkeys and three-toed sloths among a multitude of mammals thriving in the forest, along with reptiles and375 species of birds. There are more than 400 species of trees and approximately 2,200 species of plants. Tortuga Lodge is a leader in the field of environmental protection here. It’s a secluded lodge encompassing jungle trails, a private canal and an isolated beach on the Caribbean Sea. The lodge provides highly trained staff and guides, local descendants of the first settlers in the area who came from Jamaica, Costa Rica’s main Caribbean city of Limon (also of Jamaican descent) and Blue Fields, Nicaragua. Your guides will insure that you see the “hidden Tortuguero” because they live here all year round and make a constant study of the environment. The beaches are a key nesting ground for endangered sea turtles, including hawksbill, loggerheads, green and leatherbacks. Tortuga Lodge supports scientific study of these creatures and protects their breeding grounds.

Following your visit to Tortuguero you will be heading to the mountains to explore the trails and observe the rich flora and fauna in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Administered by the tropical Science Center, the reserve was set up by Quakers to conserve its unique wildlife-filled landscape and protect it from the threat of hunters, mine prospectors and land developers. If you elect to take a guided tour in the reserve, your entrance fee will contribute to the sustainability of this policy.

You move on to the area around Arenal volcano, staying at Volcano Lodge. The hotel proprietor established a reforestation project called “Leave your mark on Costa Rica”. This ongoing project as thus far involved the planting of over 3,000 trees in the region. You, the hotel guest, can participate by planting a tree yourself here: inquire at the hotel.

Even when you are relaxing on the coast at the end of your vacation, you are on the doorstep of the Manuel Antonio National Park, which conserves its endemic wildlife. Your hotel here, Villa Bosque, is very much concerned with ecological good practice and is a participant in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism scheme - established by the Costa Rican institute for Tourism - promoting eco-friendly initiatives. The hotel has participated in beach clean-ups, donates money annually to the national parks organisations, and is a member of an organisation devoted to the preservation of the titi monkey, threatened with extinction on the Pacific coast.

The Impacts of this Trip

The lodges and hotels we have chosen for you are active in their support of their local communities.

Tortuga Lodge on the Caribbean coast supports local organisations, donating annually to support turtle research and helping to build the museum. They also provide support for the volunteers of Global Vision International, and rebuilt the school in neighbouring San Francisco, also donating musical instruments and cost of traditional clothing fora children's dance troupe there. Tortuga Lodge regularly donates to the police force and Tortuguero village school. Arrangements can be made in advance if you want to combine your vacation stay there with volunteer opportunities locally.

El Establo Hotel in Monteverde is involved with cultural initiatives in the local community. One of their projects is to assist with the provision of costumes for a local children’s dance troupe (you may be able to see one of their performances; inquire at the lodge).

Your hotel Villa Bosque on the Pacific coast gives financial support to the Asociación Pro Bienestar del Anciano San Francisco de Asis in the neighbouring port of Quepos. This organisation provides support and assistance to elderly members of the community, including food, physiotherapy, medication and the purchase of a microbus.


3 Reviews of Costa Rica vacation, tailor made

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 12 Jan 2019 by

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

The wildlife watching was truly exceptional. In every location, we saw wonderful things, plants, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, birds (!!!!) and mammals. It was easy and rewarding to see a great variety of species.

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

Bring binoculars. You will see even more that way. Bring dollars to use within the Costa Rica tourist circuit. We brought local currency and often ended up paying higher prices (!) due to variable exchange rates.

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

Yes the vacation did seem to benefit local people and support conservation, particularly in Tortugero and Monteverde, much less so in Manuel Antonio. Personally, I wouldn't include the latter in a trip of this sort (although the beaches were truly lovely). Reducing environmental impact was perhaps less consistent, as, apparently, the desire to meet a wide range of tourist expectations somewhat conflicts with that aim. I do think that more of the hotels/lodges could achieve more in this area, and perhaps there are ways that we, as tourists, and you as a tour promoter, could do more to let them know that we genuinely care about this. As an example, when they say leave the towels on the rails if you don't want them replaced, we really are happy not to have new ones; it is confusing that we nonetheless sometimes got replacement towels. (I am going to make a note to leave in hotels in future, asking them NOT to replace used towels.) Recycling was sometimes but not always possible. I guess more could be done to conserve/reuse water on a large scale in commercial premises. And always-on refrigerators (which we did not once use) and air conditioning is wasteful. I appreciate that it is particularly difficult when there is a lot of tourism to know whether people will care more for 'luxury/comfort' than environmental care, but I do wish it were possible to let the tourist industry and its providers know that many(?) of us really do care more for the latter than the former.

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

Exceeded expectations (which were high to start with!).

Read the operator's response here:

We were delighted to read you had such a wonderful trip and the vacation exceeded expectations. Thank you also for your suggestions on improvements to reduce the environmental impact for visitors. I have passed these on to our product manager for Costa Rica and our Sustainable Travel steering group. We take considerable pride in offering sustainable vacations with minimal impact on the environment (as well as maximum support for community development) and will be reiterating our expectations in this regard as well as discussing these simple yet important measures with the respective hotel management. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Reviewed on 16 Mar 2017 by

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

The sheer variety, wonderful scenery, plants, birds and people. Enjoyed Nicaragua hugely, people just so friendly. Some luxury at 2 / 3 places, but all were absolutely fine, and one of the more modest places in El Castillo was just so
friendly, and very clean. A very well organised tour.

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

Don't miss out on Nicaragua. We were a little nervous but without justification. A little Spanish helped us get more out of the experience, but that's always the case with travel in our view. We were glad we had drivers rather than self-drive as many of our locations were remote and some were accessible only by water. Also we learned so much by chatting to the drivers and guides and that way you do put more into the local economy rather than multinational car rental firms!

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

Yes. Conservation is fairly embedded in Costa Rica but tourism of this sort can really help in Nicaragua.

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

Hard to fault. We had a fabulous time. I would not say it was on a shoestring though! The tour operator and Lina were excellent.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. We’re delighted you feel that your vacation met your expectations regarding responsible travel and that you had such a wonderful time in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, two very contrasting but equally delightful destinations.

Reviewed on 23 Apr 2016 by

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

We were paticularly impressed with the quality of the hotels we had chosen. A favourite was the Arenal Observatory Lodge with it's wonderful location. The Hotel Bougainvillea in San Jose was also excellent with fantastic gardens. My husband's main reason for choosing Costa Rica was for the bird watching and he was more than happy.

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

Be sure that the hotel you choose is in the best location for your activities. Also make sure that you have a good vacation company.The company who ran our trips reliability and organisation were second to none.

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

On the whole, yes.

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

This vacation was extremely enjoyable. I would not say it was the best vacation I have been on as it was primarily a bird watching vacation for my husband, but it was certainly up there with the best.

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