Self drive vacation in Costa Rica

“This self-drive adventure puts you in control of where you go and when, but provides peace of mind in the form of a personalised itinerary and pre-booked accommodation.”

Highlights

Off the beaten track self-drive | Costa Rica's lesser-visited corners | Sleep in the cloud forest | Seek the Resplendent quetzal | Dolphin watching & snorkelling | Sleep at a ranger station in the jungle | Bird watching hotspots | Huge variety of monkeys & mammals | Visit local cacao plantation & a coffee farm | Stroll or horse ride along the beach | See turtles laying eggs | Surfing & swimming opportunities |

Travel Team

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Departure information

This trip can be tailormade with departure dates to December through September
Our top tip:
Allow a bit of extra budget to book some local tours that you may not have planned for.
Trip type:
Tailor made to suit your preferences.
Activity level:
Leisurely/moderate – how much you do is up to you.
Accomm:
16 nights very good standard hotels/lodges.
Solos:
Solo travelers welcome. Single rooms available.
Meals:
Some included if requested; local recommendations given as per planned itinerary.
Included:
Accommodation, 4WD car hire, listed activities and guiding.
Vouchers
Accepted

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.

Environment
We are passionate advocates of what Costa Rica has to offer visitors, but also of protecting and maintaining the country’s habitats and native cultures. As such we have been careful to ensure our partners on the ground are as equally committed to responsible travel practices as us. Our tours are structured to create the least possible impact on local ecosystems.

Most of our trips are conducted on an independent basis, usually with a hire car, and we encourage clients to book any day tours on the ground with local companies. This gives clients the freedom to explore at their own pace as well as insuring the money spent directly benefits the local economy. When we do book tours in advance group sizes never exceed 15 passengers: the standard size being six to eight in any given group. Not only does this help to keep the effect on the local environment to a minimum, it also means clients receive more attention from the guide, and therefore a richer overall experience.

There are now many properties jumping on the eco bandwagon in Costa Rica, with varying degrees of authenticity. We give priority to hotels and lodges with proven ecological credentials, built with sensitivity to the local environment. We only suggest hotels and lodges where we have stayed ourselves, or where our partners on the ground have stayed, and which we believe to be the best in their area. This does not necessarily mean those with the obvious trappings of comfort, but rather those who have an established ethical outlook and a long-term vision for preserving their local surroundings.

Together with our partners on the ground we also support a series of local projects directly. The Neotropica Foundation works with communities and schools to improve environmental education, helping local people to live in a more sustainable way. One project currently underway is the “Amigos de la Naturaleza” which seeks to introduce primary school children to the basic concepts of sustainable living, such as protection of water resources, the responsible management of waste and the conservation of national parks.
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

The guides we use for walks in the national parks are all trained naturalists and many live locally to the area. They are experts in the flora and fauna of the region and are incredibly passionate about passing on their knowledge, so clients have a greater understanding of local environment and the delicate balance of regional ecosystems. Where possible we only use small, locally run properties, who stand up for their employees’ social rights and offer an honest wage. One of our favourite jungle lodges, for example, supports three primary schools located in the villages of Bajo de Tigre, Los Angeles, and Guyacán, downriver from the lodge itself. The lodge donates a percentage of its bookings to the school boards, which in turn use the money for vital materials and services for the schools. The lodge has also improved and maintained previously disused local roads, along with a cable car used by local residents to cross the river.

Similarly, one of our preferred beach retreats on the Pacific coast has set up a comprehensive program of sustainable projects, working with the local community to increase awareness of environmental and social matters. Projects so far include setting up the first public library in the region for residents, as well funding a composting station and a recycling initiative.

We also directly support the following organizations: Paniamor Foundation is a private non-profit, non-partisan, organization created in 1987 and works to protect the social interests of vulnerable and disadvantaged Costa Ricans. The foundation runs several schemes, including the Social Development Programme, which works with children aged 13 to 18 from deprived communities. The programme seeks to promote values, knowledge and skills that will empower the children to exercise their rights and responsibilities for their own personal growth, and that of their families, peers, and communities of origin. For almost 20 years World Vision has been working hand in hand with the local communities in the Chorotega and Northern Huetar regions to promote sustainable development practices.

Among the schemes they have initiated are: the Economic Development programme, which generates sources of employment and agricultural funding in rural areas; the Prevention, Emergency and Rehabilitation programme which works in the area of emergency prevention and offers relief and rehabilitation to victims of disaster; the Promotion of Justice programme, which helps to foster respect for the rights of children and women through better education.

Climate

9 Reviews of Self drive vacation in Costa Rica

4 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 15 May 2017 by

It was a great family vacation.... Drake bay is a beautiful spot with lots of nature around, nice excursions and beautiful beach at the door step Read full review

Reviewed on 10 Apr 2016 by

Amazing. A learning experience that was exciting and fun every day. Read full review

Reviewed on 04 Jun 2016 by

Book it now! Read full review

Reviewed on 04 Feb 2015 by

Fantastic vacation and a slice of paradise! Excellent, Excellent, Excellent! Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Jan 2015 by

I think the most memorable for the adults was staying on the Osa Peninsula which was perfect in every imaginable way for us. The kids liked that too but would say that learning to surf in Uvita or white-water rafting were most memorable. Read full review

Reviewed on 19 Feb 2014 by

It was all memorable but probably the two things which stand out were the tour to Torteguero and the one day trip to the Corcavado national park from Uvita. Read full review

Reviewed on 08 Jan 2014 by

We had a great vacation...the eco lodge was amazing with a spectacular view, a private beach, surrounded by rainforest and beautiful gardens full of tropical birds like Toucans and Colibris, and a fantastic restaurant with delicious fresh pure food!! Read full review

Reviewed on 04 Aug 2013 by

The most memorable part of the vacation was rafting to Pacuare Lodge and then rafting out again 2 days later. 28km of rafting in all...It was an excellent vacation with a great mix of nature, conservation and thrills. Read full review

Reviewed on 23 Mar 2013 by

The diversity of mammal, bird and reptile life was the most memorable part of the vacation Read full review

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