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[10 days] Forests & Shorelines of Costa Rica: An Ecotourism Adventure Costa Rica

  • Trip Type: Small-Group (Guided)
  • Group Size: Min 6, Max 12
  • Departure Date: Multiple Fixed Dates
  • Trip Start: 26 Mar, 2023
  • Trip End: 4 Apr, 2023
  • Duration: Extended (10+ days)
  • Physical Rating: Easy

Squadrons of pelicans swoop down from a ‘Jurassic Park’ volcano backdrop and glide unsteadily across the silvery water of a sandy bay. Walking beneath the high cathedral of the jungle canopy, its lime green light streaming down, you hear howler monkeys whoop and bark. Armored iguanas clattered up thick trunks as a rare quetzal bird darts in a turquoise flash through the cloud forest: The ‘Rich Coast’ of Costa Rica derives its name with good reason.

Costa Rica has become the ‘poster child’ for sustainable ecotourism throughout the world. It is an active example of how linking tourism with a protected area can lead to the simultaneous growth of both its socioeconomic and environmental sectors.

This fantastic and relaxing ecotourism adventure avoids some of the more heavily visited areas. This will allow you to immerse yourself in Costa Rica’s wondrous natural biodiversity and culture without the crowds. You will also learn about the country’s successes in ecotourism, which offers a path to recovery for the rest of the world. Costa Rica has a tropical and subtropical climate contributing to the fact that it has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Its location between North and South America means that it is home to species from both continents.

We visit 3 national parks as a part of this ecotourism adventure: Corcovado (home to the Tapir), Quetzales National Park ( home to the Quetzal), and Marino Ballena National Marine Park, where the mangrove forests and coral reefs support incredible diversity. The wildlife of Costa Rica is central to this adventure but there are no guarantees as to what you will see – this is an opportunity for us to walk through the natural environment and notice what is around us, rather than an ‘arranged’ viewing.


  • Gentle walking and wildlife watching in Quetzales, Corcovado & Marino Ballena National Parks
  • A boat trip to Cano Island to explore its archaeological discoveries
  • Snorkel off the Pacific South Coast to enjoy the varied and colorful marine life
  • Enjoy the pristine natural environment of the Osa Peninsula
  • Visit and tour a local organic coffee farm with coffee tastings included
  • Learn about ecotourism in Costa Rica
  • Stay in 4* hotel accommodation in unspoiled locations

Seasonal Notes:

Traditionally, Costa Rica has enjoyed two main seasons; 1) the dry season lasting from December to April, with hot, dry, and cloudy weather; 2) the wet season from May to November, with more humid and overcast conditions, and higher rainfall in many regions. With global climate change, the seasons have become less defined at either end of the season, and the transitional months of April & November make for a pleasant time to visit, with fewer crowds and better value for money. This is why we schedule our trips around these months.

  • In November you can expect warm temperatures with balmy evenings (average max of 31ºC / 88ºF and min of 72ºF). Rains during the afternoon or early evenings are common.
  • In March and April, we enjoy the end of the dry season. The daytime temperatures are warm (mid–high 20sºC / 77-84ºF) and there is a risk of some thunderstorms. It is the high season as well, so it will be busier than in November.

📋 Itinerary

This is a set itinerary but if would like to change the dates, privatize the trip, or customize in some way, contact Yugen Earthside for more information.

Day 1: San Jose [Costa Rica] (arrival day)
Walking Tour of San Jose including National Theatre.
Day 2: Quetzales National Park & Talamanca foothills.
Visit a conservation project for a chance to see Quetzal.
Day 3: Coffee tour on an organic farm in Providencia.
Gentle walking to waterfalls.
Day 4: Marino Ballena National Park on the central Pacific Coast.
Gentle walking in a pristine natural environment.
Day 5: Explore Marino Ballena National Park; relax or sign up for an optional excursion (e.g. horseback riding).
Day 6: Travel to Sierpe River & on to Drake Bay (boat transfer).
Relax and explore independently or sign up for an optional activity (e.g. sea kayaking, bird watching, night rainforest tour, or horseback riding).
Day 7: Gentle walking in Corcovado National Park, perhaps the most biologically intense place on earth.
Day 8: Cano Island with the option to snorkel (included).
Day 9: Sierpe River & transfer to Alajuela via Tarcoles River for a safari boat tour.
Day 10: San Jose (departure day)

🌱 Sustainability

Our View on Sustainability
We believe in sustainable, responsible & meaningful travel. We offer small group travel to less-visited areas, we use local operators and suppliers, and we link to a local charitable project in need of support. This offers travelers a chance to learn about daily life in our destination and not just the bits that tourists usually see.

Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency
We were one of the first members of the Tourism Declares a National Emergency and have our Climate Action Plan published on their website.

Ecotourism Experience
Costa Rica is at the forefront of ecotourism. This ecotourism adventure has a number of systems in place to manage the impact of increasing tourist arrivals. One example is the Blue Flag program, which promotes development while curbing the negative impacts of mass tourism. The Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) encourages businesses to become sustainable whether it is by using recycled products, using water and energy-saving devices, or focusing on waste management.

Tourism Dispersal
By working with a local operator, we promote tourism dispersal. This benefits travelers, the local communities, and the environment as it takes travelers away from the most heavily trafficked areas like the primary rainforest of the Osa Peninsula.

Reusable Water Filtration Bottle
Clients booking this tour will be eligible for a subsidized purchase of a reusable water filtration bottle (Pure Hydratation's "Aquapure Traveller").

Leave no Trace
One of our mantras is ‘Take only Photos, Leave only Footprints’. Please ensure that you throw any litter away responsibly or take it back to your accommodation so we can keep Costa Rica beautiful.

Carbon Offsets
We donate 35 GBP/client ($48 USD, 40 EUR) using international air travel to the charity WeForest to plant & maintain 15 trees in the fight against global deforestation.

Community Projects
We will carry out a Community Impact Assessment to assess how a visit from our group may affect local communities.

Low Carbon Impact
Hiking is a low carbon impact activity.

We can accommodate vegetarians and various dietary requirements on this adventure. Please get in touch if you have specific dietary needs and we can liaise with you directly.

Conservation Project
We will visit a conservation project focused on the protection of the Quetzal (a type of bird). We'll be guided by a naturalist and ornithologist to learn more about the Quetzal, which we are very likely to spot.

Local Crew
We use local guides, locally run accommodation, and local activity providers, all of which support the local economy.

The hotel we use for the first night of our adventure in San Jose has set up partnerships with various local, charitable projects. We are working with them to build a relationship with Asoni: a program where after-school centers in high-risk neighborhoods offer children a safe place to play, learn, rest and meet friends.

  • Clear sustainable travel policy
  • Social / Environmental Impact
  • Tourism Dispersal
  • Behavioral Awareness Education
  • Small Group Travel
  • Listen to Community Feedback
  • Adhere to Strict Environmental Standards
  • Conserve Ecosystems/Preserve Biodiversity
  • No Animal-Harming Tourism
  • No In-Destination Flights
  • Local/Organic Restaurants
  • Participate in Certified Carbon Offsetting
  • Donate to Reputable Climate or Energy Group
  • Responsible Waste Management
  • Support Suppliers Managing Waste Properly
  • Provide Local Employment
  • Fair Wages / Fair Trade
  • Ensures Good Working Conditions
  • Supports Local Businesses
  • Tours Benefit Local Community
  • Connect Travelers to Local Products
  • Engage with Local Communities
  • Provide Authentic Experiences

📌 Location

Use the Google map to orient yourself about where in the world this trip is. The location indicates the starting point for this trip.

A specific route map is included in the downloadable detailed itinerary.

🏷️ Pricing

Prices vary based on a single room or double room occupancy.
Prices fluctuate depending on whether you travel in the high or low season – unique to departure dates.
Prices exclude flights to/from the destination.
See the full list of price inclusions and exclusions in the downloadable detailed itinerary.

  • Single room supplement

    Private room for 1 person

    $ 695

Optional Add-ons

  • Horse Riding in Ballena National Park (Day 5)
    $ 60
  • Sea Kayaking off the Osa Peninsula (Day 6)
    $ 65
  • Bird Watching Tour (Day 6)
    $ 70
  • Night Rainforest Tour (Day 6)
    $ 60
  • Horseback Ride in the Jungle (Day 6)
    $ 90
  • Half Day City Tour of San Jose
    $ 75

ℹ️ Other Info

If you're ready to book this trip or have any questions, contact us!

Book with confidence: To reserve your spot on a tour, a $350 deposit will be required. However, you can book with complete peace of mind as this deposit will be 100% refundable until 56 days prior to the trip start date.

What happens if we cancel your trip?
If we are forced to cancel your trip because it is not viable (due to COVID-related travel restrictions), or if we cannot manage your health and safety on a particular itinerary, or because we do not have the numbers to reach our minimum (usually 4, but occasionally 6), then we will ask you to select one of the following options:

  • Move your booking monies to a new adventure in 2022 or 2023. Your monies are fully protected by the Travel Trust Association.
  • Accept a credit refund note: this is a 100% financially protected note that can be used at any time for a future adventure with us. Your monies are fully protected by the Travel Trust Association.
  • Request a refund: if you are in a situation where you need to request a refund, then we will be able to arrange that for you. We will process this within 14 days of receiving your bank details, but often the refund will be with you much sooner than that.

What happens if you cancel your trip?
To provide you with as much flexibility as possible in these changing times, if you cancel your trip up to 56 days before your adventure, you can:

  • Move your booking to a new date or new adventure without any cancellation charges.
  • Accept a credit note, with no expiry date, for the value of your booking, to be used against a future adventure.
  • Request a refund: we will offer you a refund of monies paid excluding all non-refundable costs (ie supplier payments already made). Where possible, we have negotiated with our suppliers to accept payment 30 days before the start of an adventure, but this is not always possible. We will process any refund request within 14 days of receiving your bank details, but often the refund will be with you much sooner than that.

If you cancel your adventure 56-30 days before the trip: clients will lose their deposit.

If you cancel your adventure 29 or <29 days before your departure, then you will lose your entire payment.

This trip takes place on the following dates. Book for when you feel comfortable and safe to travel. You may also privatize this trip (only travel with those whom you book the trip with) and choose your own departure date.

  • November 20th - 29th, 2022
  • March 26th - April 4th, 2023
  • April 9th - April 18th, 2023
  • November 19th - 28th, 2023

Suitable medical and travel insurance is compulsory including cover for Covid-19 medical expenses. You must also demonstrate that you have travel insurance, either acquired from one of the insurers supervised by the General Superintendency of Insurance of Costa Rica or international insurance endorsed by the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism, which covers at least accommodation and medical expenses generated by the COVID-19 disease.

If you choose to use your usual insurance company, you must request from the insurer, a certification issued in English or Spanish, stating at least three conditions (as well as the policy naming you specifically):

  • Validity of the policy to cover your visit to Costa Rica.
  • Guarantee coverage for medical expenses in cases of pandemic disease COVID 19 in Costa Rica, for at least US $50,000.
  • A minimum coverage of US $2,000 for extended lodging expenses due to pandemic disease.

Without these requirements being met, you will not be able to enter the country.

Please be fully vaccinated and boosted before traveling. You may also need proof of a negative Covid test before arrival to the country. Keep a mask and hand sanitizer with you at all times.

In order to enter Costa Rica, you will be required to fill out and take with you a digital health pass.

When landing on Costa Rican territory, everyone must wear a mask and comply with the strict protocol of the air terminal, respecting physical distancing, using the disinfection mats, having your temperature taken, and following any other health instructions.

Special precautions:

The Covid-19 situation is region and country-specific, and at the time of publication, here are some measures we're taking to ensure the health and safety of our travelers:

We will only run an adventure when:

  • The FCDO (the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office; a UK government body) has approved non-essential travel to the destination (this is because we're a UK-based company)
  • Where travel restrictions are not deemed prohibitive
  • Where we can run our itinerary adhering to local rules & guidelines
  • Where we have links with local operators ‘in country’ for an accurate insight into conditions
  • Where our Risk Assessment deems it is safe to do so

All our trips focus on:

  • Small-group or private travel, so the number of people you're interacting with will be limited
  • Off the beaten track destinations, so you'll spend a lot of time outdoors in the fresh air, not in crowded cities
  • Caring for the communities we visit, which means acting mindfully of their health and well-being

We'll also do the following:

  • Ask you, upon booking, to complete a confidential health screening questionnaire
  • Only stay in Covid-19 compliant hotels following the appropriate protocols
  • Only go to restaurants with protocols complying with local requirements for food hygiene and social distancing
  • Minimize public transportation and ensure our drivers adhere to Covid-19 protocols

Q: What does the Physical Rating of "Easy" mean?
You need to be in good physical health to enjoy your active holiday, but you don’t need to be an experienced hiker. These itineraries offer a mix of sightseeing and easier walking for around 2-4hrs a day, with an emphasis on sights and cultural experiences.

Walks will be well marked or on defined pathways, and often around sites of interest. The expected amount of descent/ascent will depend on the landscapes of the destination, but will not exceed 400m/day, and will often be much less. Walks are at low altitudes (below 3000m).

You will not be required to carry more than a daysack with water and essentials.  Ensure you are aware of the weather conditions likely in the destination you are visiting and have a pair of comfortable and worn-in walking shoes/boots.

Q: What are the accommodations like?
We fully believe in, and practice, Responsible Tourism and are using hotels run by locals. The accommodations on this adventure really accentuate your experience. We put time and effort into building our relationship with accommodation suppliers to ensure you have a great trip. We choose accommodation based on cleanliness, comfort, safety, proximity to our route (to avoid unnecessary extra travel), and a warm client welcome, as well as reliability in their service to us.

Wherever we can we will choose smaller, more characterful, individual hotels, but in areas where tourism is still developing, or in remote areas (like the mountains), we may not have a wide range of options.  An aspect of our adventures is to escape the ‘trappings’ of modern Western lifestyles and to experience new things with are exciting and memorable and reflect the countries we are visiting.

The list below gives information on our first choice of accommodation for this adventure. Where hotels and refuges are fully booked or unavailable, we will use an alternative of a similar standard, and equally well situated. We will provide you with an accurate list of accommodation, with contact information to leave with relatives, prior to departure on your adventure.

  • San Jose (Day 1): 4* Hotel President, family-owned, centrally located hotel. Ensuite rooms with wifi, bar & restaurant.
  • San Gerardo de Dota (Day 2 & 3): Saverge lodge; rustic 4* spa hotel set in a nature reserve. Ensuite rooms with wifi. Bar & Restaurant.
  • Marina Ballena National Park (Day 4 & 5): Hotel Cristal Ballena: 4* boutique hotel & spa situated on a hill between the Pacific Ocean and the rainforest-covered mountains. Pool, bar, park & spa. Ensuite rooms with wifi.
  • Drake Bay (Day 6 - 8): Jinestes de Osa 3* Hotel just off the water in Drake Bay, Osa Peninsula. Spectacular bay views, ensuite rooms with wifi. Bar & Restaurant.
  • Alajuela (Day 9): Buena Vista Chic 4* Boutique Hotel in a relaxed colonial Spanish style. Small pool. Ensuite rooms with wifi. Bar & Restaurant.