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Costa Rica's Wild Pacific: Sea Turtles, Rainforest, and Volcanoes

Explore Costa Rica's breathtaking and biodiverse Pacific coast including sea turtle nesting beaches, spectacular rainforests, and an active volcano.

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Overview

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore the spectacular rainforest of the Osa Peninsula, called "the most biologically intense place on Earth" by National Geographic.
  • See nesting olive ridley sea turtles and hatching baby turtles, with the chance to witness a mass nesting event, or "arribada," on the nesting beach that hosts the word's largest concentration of nesting turtles.
  • Visit an active volcano and its surrounding hot springs, mud pools, waterfalls, and more.

Oceanic Society invites you on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to explore Costa Rica’s beautiful Pacific coast, with an itinerary tailor-made to bring you face to face with marine and terrestrial wildlife. Known for its world-class biodiversity and strong commitment to environmental protection, Costa Rica is considered by many to be the world’s best ecotourism destination.

Our expedition goes beyond the standard ‘tourist trail’ as we visit sea turtle nesting beaches, explore an active volcano, and spend time amid the rainforest of the remote Osa Peninsula, called “the most biologically intense place on Earth” by National Geographic.

We’ve timed our trip to coincide with the nesting season for the olive ridley sea turtle, and we’ll visit the nesting beach that hosts the world’s largest concentration of nesting turtles and is one of a mere half-dozen places on Earth at which olive ridley turtles nest en masse during the daytime in phenomena known as “arribadas.”

Beyond sea turtles, we’ll explore an active volcano and its surrounding waterfalls, mud pools, and geothermal hot springs, we’ll have options for horseback riding, kayaking, and more. Our trip ends with three nights and two days in the rainforest of the southern Osa Peninsula, one of the world’s most spectacular, where we may see four species of monkeys, colorful birds like the Scarlet Macaw, endangered tapirs, poison dart frogs, and much, much more.

Trip Dates & Cost

2018: November 10–17. $3,900 per person.* Group size limit: 12

2019: To be announced Group size limit: 12

* Trip price does not include international airfare. There is a single supplement fee of $800. A surcharge of $385 / person will apply to groups with less than 8 total participants. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.

Photos
Naturalist

Brian Hutchinson is Oceanic Society's vice president of outreach, co-founder of the State of the World's Sea Turtles Program, and program officer of the IUCN-SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group. Brian holds a B.A. in zoology from Connecticut College, and has been working to advance global marine conservation for more than a decade.

Itinerary

The following itinerary is provided for informational purposes and is subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances or circumstances beyond our control. Note: (B, L, D) denotes the meals provided each day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).

Day 1 | November 10 | Arrive into Liberia, Costa Rica, transfer to Ostional
Arrive to Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR, before 3pm). We will then take an approximately 3 hour drive to our hotel, the Hotel Luna Azul, near Ostional Wildlife Refuge on the Pacific coast. Once everyone is settled into our hotel, we will have a welcome dinner and a general orientation. (D)

Day 2 | November 11 | Ostional Wildlife Refuge
We’ll start the day with a leisurely breakfast followed by a short presentation on the olive ridley sea turtle and its unique mass nesting behavior which takes place at the nearby Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. Today, we will visit a turtle conservation program at nearby Playa Guiones to learn about their work and possibly see hatching baby turtles, and we’ll relax on a beautiful isolated beach. At night we’ll visit Playa Ostional to look for sea turtles nesting and baby turtles making their inspiring journeys to the sea. Overnight at Hotel Luna Azul. (B, L, D)

Day 3 | November 12 | Ostional - Rincón de la Vieja
After an optional early morning nature walk around our hotel grounds followed by breakfast, we’ll drive inland towards the volcanic mountain range and Rincón de la Vieja volcano where we will stay at a lodge that used to be a large cattle ranch and boasts hot springs and waterfalls on-site. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to participate in one of the many options for adventure that are offered by our hotel, including horseback riding, hiking, tubing, canyoning, and canopy/zip lines. The hotel is well known for their horseback riding trips. Overnight at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin. (B, L, D)

Day 4 | November 13 | Rincón de la Vieja Volcano - Osa Peninsula
This morning we will take a beautiful hike on the well-maintained Pailas Trail inside Rincón de la Vieja National Park. On our hike, we will see many volcanic mineral mud pools bubbling away in myriad colors. The tropical dry forest is special here and you will find some of the most spectacular ficus trees and large, healthy groups of howler monkeys. In the afternoon we will have a long transfer to the Osa Peninsula. As we drive to the airport in Liberia we will enjoy many nice vistas, and we will then board a flight to Puerto Jimenez (possibly with a stop in San José) on the south Pacific Coast. We will then transfer to our hotel (~ 1 hour), the award-winning Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge on the Osa Peninsula. (B, L, D)

Day 5 | November 14 | Exploring the Osa Peninsula Rainforest
Today we will join field biologists with the nonprofit organization Osa Conservation on their wildlife monitoring activities. They conduct many research programs throughout the Osa Peninsula, including sea turtle monitoring on Playa Piro, which hosts four sea turtle species: primarily olive ridleys and some green turtles, with rare hawksbills and leatherbacks. This area has beautiful natural surroundings and abundant wildlife including monkeys, sloths, birds, tapirs, frogs, and much more. Today is all about exploring this biodiversity hotspot. Depending on the researchers’ schedule, we may have the opportunity to visit the sea turtle nesting beach at night to watch for nesting turtles under the stars. Overnight at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge. (B, L, D)

Day 6 | November 15 | Corcovado National Park
Today we will travel into Corcovado National Park, called “the most biologically intense place on Earth” by National Geographic and considered to be the crown jewel of Costa Rica’s national park system. Corcovado is home to the last remaining old growth wet forests on the Pacific coast of Central America and encompasses 13 major ecosystems from lowland tropical forest to cloud forest, mangrove swamps, beaches, and more. Here we will hike along the trails with our guide and try to see the special plants and wildlife that are found here, including four species of monkey, birds including colorful Scarlet Macaws and toucans, tapirs, jaguars, pumas, peccaries, and more. If the weather is calm it is also possible to do a full day trip by boat to Caño Island for snorkeling, observing dolphins, and possibly migrating humpback whales departing from their place of birth. Overnight at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge. (B, L, D)

Day 7 | November 16 | Crossing the highlands of Costa Rica
Today we will travel towards Costa Rica’s central valley, taking a route through the highlands where we can find different ecosystems like the páramo (a type of high altitude tropical grass/shrubland) and cloud forest. We will take some time along our route to hike in this area before continuing to our hotel near the San Jose airport. We will end the day with a farewell dinner. Overnight at the Marriott or similar in the central valley. (B, L, D)

Day 8 | November 17 | Departure
Transfer to Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in time for your flight home. The trip to the airport should take about 45 minutes. (B)

Cost Includes: 7 nights of accommodations, activities as described, meals as described, ground transportation to each destination and domestic air from Liberia to Puerto Jimenez, airport transfers, meeting with some conservationists, and a dedicated Oceanic Society naturalist.

Not Included: International airfare to Liberia (LIR) and from San Jose (SJO), tips, alcoholic beverages, meals not listed above, airport taxes, any activities not described, tour leader gratuity.

Accommodations

Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge

Participants will stay in a variety of hotels that offer a balance of comfort, amenities, and proximity to our planned activities.

Hotels are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances, and will be substituted with a comparable alternative.

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