Explore the rich bio-diversity of La Selva Tropical Forest, Brallio Carillo and Cahuita, La Armmistad and Volcan Baru National Parks. We include time on both the Caribbean and Pacific Coast visiting Bocas del Toro, an area filled with gorgeous beaches described by Lonely planet as "a biologists fantasy" and La Cusinga/Ballena Marine Park with opportunities for scuba diving, snorkelling, swimming and nature viewing.
Why Costa Rica and Panama?
- Accessible biodiversity
- Strong protection for conservation in national, regional and private reserves
- Great infrastructure (roads, lodgings, eateries, communication systems)
- Incredible variety of nature and culture
- Authentic connections to local ways of life
When to go?
- Dry season - December to June
- still expect some wet weather
- Green season - July - November
- don't avoid this time of the year with fewer travellers, wildlife spotting is great, many cultural festivities
Why travel with us?
We pride ourselves on the excellent caliber of our local guides, some who have been with the company for over 2 decades. Each individual nature guide has been chosen for their level of expertise, knowledge, people skills and sincere enthusiasm. They enjoy sharing their country with you, and have connections built over time with local communities that add great value to your stay. They can take you to special places not typically on standard tour packages, getting up close and personal to nature, wildlife, photography and local culture. We support local businesses. These departures can be modified or customized for groups of 2 or more persons so you can expect your program to be informal and personal.
Guided by Local Naturalist Escorts (1 in Costa Rica, 1 in Panama)
2020 Departure Dates & Costs
Private departures daily with local guides December to July
Tour cost: $ 4,365 USD per person from San Jose
Single room supplement $ 890 USD
Day 1: To San Jose
Flight to San Jose. On arrival, clear customs and be met by your escort and transferred to your accommodation.
Day 2: San Jose - Manzanillo - Caribbean (B,L,D)
After breakfast depart to the Caribbean/Atlantic Coast. The road winds through plantations of Heart of Palm, Banana, Pine Apple, Beef pastures and tropical Rainforest. En route stop at farmers fruit stands to try exotic flavors and as many times as wildlife comes across our way. Lunch and continue to the Port of Limon and south to Puerto Viejo. Overnight Punta Cocles Hotel for 3 nights, a comfortable hotel immersed in the rain forest with swimming pool. The accommodation part of the hotel is across the street from a quiet and delightful beach which is part of the hotel grounds. 3 nights Cariblue Jungle and Beach Caribbean Hotel.
Day 3: Cahuita National Park (B,L,D)
Full day at one of the most beautiful Caribbean National Parks. Here we find a great diversity of flora and fauna. A morning hike followed by free time for swimming and snorkelling. Picnic lunch. In the afternoon an optional 4 kilometre walk in an area of the park that follows the coastline. Alternatively return to the hotel for some leisure time.
Day 4: Cocles - Manzanillo (B)
Day of leisure to enjoy hiking or swimming on your own. Tours can be booked locally from the hotel.
Day 5: Bocas Del Toro, Panama (B,L,D)
After breakfast, drive to the Panama border (about 1 hour) and cross into the Island Province of Bocas del Toro. It is another hours drive to Changuinola, the town where we leave our vehicle and take a small boat for 30 minutes to Colon Island where we will spend 2 nights. Five hundred years ago, Christopher Columbus named this tropical Paradise. Here we find lush rainforest alongside coral reefs. Over 90% of the island is still covered in tropical forest where a myriad of plants, reptiles, mammals and birds make their home. The islands offer the visitor a great diversity of attractions and natural environments, uncommon to other regions of our continent: luxurious rain forests with an abundance of fauna and flora, sunny islands, beaches that compete with the Caribbean best, coral reefs in crystal clear water, mangrove islets in a lake-like scenery, Guaymi Indian villages and a national marine park that protects examples of the ecosystems and natural resources coexisting within the Archipelago boundaries. Some free time to explore. Two nights at the Bahia Hotel where you can relax in the friendly atmosphere of a beautifully restored and grand old building, full of history. The Bahia Hotel is the original turn-of-the-century HQ of the United Fruit Company and still houses a 100 year old safe that was used to hold funds for payment to the small banana producers. 3 nights at the Bocos Inn. Oceanfront rooms.
Day 6: Espadilla Island (B,L,D)
A boat trip to the remarkable and pristine Espadilla Island with swimming and snorkeling. Overnight at the Bocos Inn. Oceanfront rooms.
Day 7: Bococs Del Toro (B)
Day of leisure to enjoy hiking or swimming on your own. Tours can be booked locally from the hotel.
Day 8: Baru National Park (B,L,D)
Depart the island by boat (45 minutes) and drive around Laguna Chiriqui and up the Talamanca mountains. Enjoy the drive through different ecosystems from coastal forest to cloud forests. We cross the Continental Divide and arrive at the quaint town of Volcan. Three nights at Los Quetzales Hotel, tucked away in the highland cloud forest of the Volcan Baru National Park located 7260 feet above sea level.3 nights at the Los Quetzales Hotel or similar.
Day 9/10: Baru National Park - La Armistad (B,L,D)
Two days to explore the misty forests that slope down the Talamanca Mountains. We have an opportunity to see the elusive Resplendent Quetzal, Three-wattled Bellbird, Black-faced Solitaire, Volcano Hummingbird, Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher and Prong-billed Barbet in their cool habitat of orchids, bromeliads and wild avocados.
Shared with neighbouring Costa Rica and recognized in 1982 as a Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Amistad is located at a point on the Central American land bridge where flora and fauna from North and South America reach their maximum species mix, with great ranges in altitude, precipitation, soils and temperature. We spend the morning hiking and exploring La Amistad in the area of El Reto in search of Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Andean Pygmy-Owl, Barred Becard and many other western highland species. After lunch at a local restaurant we drive to Baru Volcano National Park located along the Talamanca mountain range and also being the highest point of the country (3,475 meters above sea level). The Baru Volcano and La Amistad parks are part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Here we will search for Buffy Tuftedcheek, Resplendent Quetzal, Ochraceous Pewee, Silvery-throated Jay, different hummingbirds and other highland species.
Day 11: Return to Costa Rica - La Cusinga (B,L,D)
After breakfast, drive to the Costa Rica border. Continue our drive along the southern coast and check-in at La Cusinga Hotel. Cabins have a great ocean view with a private terrace and private bath with hot water. Enjoy birds galore, mammals, reptiles, fungi, flowers, even 1,000-year-old Ajo trees. In the afternoon take a small walk through the rainforest and end up at the Playa Arco, a very secluded and safe beach, and for years one of the best-kept secrets in Costa Rica. Three nights at La Cusinga Lodge.
Day 12: La Cusinga (B,L,D)
Day to relax.
Day 13: Ballena National Marine Park (B,L,D)
A day trip by boat to Ballena National Marine Park where we hope to see whales and dolphins in the offshore waters. Overnight La Cusinga Hotel.
Day 14: La Cusinga - San Jose (B,L,D)
We will depart for San Jose with a stop enroute at Cerro de la Muerte, a mountain top close to 12,000 ft. Some time in the morning to explore the fragile and unique ecosystem called Paramo, a treeless habitat with dwarfed bamboos, home of the Sooty Robin, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Large-footed Finch, among others. Continue on to San Jose. Overnight at the Quetzales Lodge.
Day 15: San Jose Departure (B)
Morning at leisure. Departure to San Jose airport for our flight home.
For private departures, customization (changes) are permitted. Some travellers may choose to substitute La Cusinga area in Costa Rica for more time in Panama at either Chiriqui Highlands or Gamboa Rainforest/Soberania National park.
- 14 nights accommodation
- Ground transportation with qualified Naturalist and driver
- Meals as per itinerary (B,L,D)
- Transfers enroute
- Tours and sightseeing, entrance fees
- All hotel taxes
Your tour does not include:
- Airfare to Costa Rica and any airport taxes
- Meals not mentioned in itinerary
- Insurance of any kind
- Tips and gratuities
- Items of personal nature (telephone, laundry etc.)
Customized natural history tours are available for individuals and groups to Costa Rica at any time. We also have promotional air rates from major cities in north America to San Jose. Ask us for details.
What our clients say...
"As usual your trip to Costa Rica was a 10+ vacation. Your trips are special because of the amount of time and effort you put into them." K. Cutler, Ontario
"We drove to the Rio Sarapiqui and got into a riverboat captained by "Eagle Eye Juan," who spoke no English but man, could he point. Within seconds the sightings began. Big fat iguanas lying in stupor along tree branches, legs dangling. Birds of all descriptions: honey creepers, tanagers, kingfishers, kiskidees, herons, jaconas, antbirds, manakins, parrots, wrens, blackbirds, doves, woodpeckers, toucans. Toucans! Proboscis bats. Sloths. A caiman posed on the sandy river bank, looking like a slightly amused concrete garden ornament. Never moved, never blinked. I thought I had seen all the wonders of Costa Rica in two hours." C. & I. Finlayson, British Columbia
"Not only did we see many rare birds and other wild animals, we also experienced several climate zones, ranging from steaming rainforests along the two coasts to the high altitude. We spent the hottest part of the days with a cool drink, just reading or doing nothing, while listening to the Howler monkeys; at night we were lulled to sleep by the chirping of cicadas and frogs, and we were woken up at sunrise by singing birds." H. & I, Jaeger, Ontario