On this 16-day luxury itinerary, you'll go off-the-beaten-path in Costa Rica. First, it's the waterfalls of the Vara Blanca region and enjoying horseback-riding excursions in the Talamanca Mountains. Then it's off to the southern Osa Peninsula, the most biodiverse region in the country, where you'll hike through unspoiled rainforest to secluded beaches while enjoying the local wildlife.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a private tour of La Paz Waterfall Gardens
  • Go horseback riding around the Talamanca Mountains
  • Visit local coffee farms and farmers markets
  • Take a birding tour on a private nature reserve on the Osa Peninsula
  • Hike through rainforests to secluded beaches on the remote Osa Peninsula

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Costa Rica - Private Transfer to Vara Blanca VaraBlanca
Day 2 Private Tour of La Paz Waterfall Gardens VaraBlanca
Day 3 Private Transfer to San Isidro del General San Isidro del general
Day 4 Exclusive Horseback Riding Adventure San Isidro del general
Day 5 Private Tour of Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary San Isidro del general
Day 6 Exclusive Horseback Coffee Country Adventure San Isidro del general
Day 7 Luxury Tasting of San Isidro Farmer’s Market San Isidro del general
Day 8 Guided Horseback Excursion and Farm Experience San Isidro del general
Day 9 Private Charter Flight to the Osa Peninsula Puerto Jiménez
Day 10 Birding and Waterfall Hike With a Private Guide Puerto Jiménez
Day 11 Private Guided Medicine Hike and Rainforest Walk Puerto Jiménez
Day 12 Exclusive Osa Trail Hike and Matapalo Adventure Puerto Jiménez
Day 13 Sunset Birding With a Private Guide Puerto Jiménez
Day 14 Osa Peninsula Private Nocturnal Nature Walk Puerto Jiménez
Day 15 Exclusive Plant a Tree Experience Puerto Jiménez
Day 16 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Costa Rica - Private Transfer to Vara Blanca

Vara Blanca is located near the Poás Volcano
Vara Blanca is located near the Poás Volcano

Welcome to Costa Rica!

Upon arrival at Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), in the capital of San José, the driver of your private car service will meet you. Rather than stay in the city, you'll immediately kick off your grand Costa Rica luxury adventure with a 45-minute drive north to Vara Blanca.

This secluded town in the mountains of Heredia Province is situated on the Continental Divide between the volcanoes of Poás and Barva. It's a tropical cloud forest region, and the higher altitude results in the flourishing green rainforest shrouded in near constant mists. You'll arrive at a luxurious eco-lodge in time for a gourmet dinner at the hotel's restaurant. Or, if you want to explore a bit, your driver can whisk you off to any number of delicious local restaurants within 10 minutes of the Lodge.

Day 2: Private Tour of La Paz Waterfall Gardens

La Paz Waterfall Gardens
La Paz Waterfall Gardens

After breakfast, you'll enjoy a private guided visit to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which is located north of Costa Rica's capital of San José. La Paz is a protected area and expansive open-air theme park home to a wide variety of natural attractions. These, of course, include the namesake waterfalls as well as wildlife habitats and even a butterfly enclosure and aviary home to exotic birds.

The special thing about La Paz is that it is home to all the exotic wildlife you'll continue to encounter over the course of your adventure in Costa Rica. Fauna you'll see in the habitats include big cats, tropical snakes and frogs, various monkeys, and many types of hummingbirds and other exotic avian species. To arrive at the waterfalls you'll follow a network of jungle trails amid stunning tropical scenery until you reach the falls, at which point you'll be able to admire them and snap photos from different perspectives. 

At the end of the park tour, you'll return to your deluxe room in a luxury lodge where you'll overnight.

Day 3: Private Transfer to San Isidro del General

Sunset over San Isidro del General
Sunset over San Isidro del General

In the morning, your English-speaking guide/driver will transfer you to the airport in San José where you'll board an exclusive charter plane for the 45-minute flight to San Isidro del General.  Located in the Talamanca Mountains, San Isidro del General is a charming tourist town with a famous and massive farmers market. Here 200 vendors sell every kind of fruit and vegetable you can imagine. It's the perfect spot to pick up some delicious, exotic produce.

Upon arrival to San Isidro, you'll transfer 25 minutes by private car to your deluxe eco-resort. You'll then have the rest of the day free to relax and enjoy the hotel's facilities.

Day 4: Exclusive Horseback Riding Adventure

Horseback Riding in San Isidro del General
Horseback Riding in San Isidro del General

After breakfast, you'll embark on an exclusive half-day horseback riding adventure through the valley around San Isidro del General. You'll transfer to los establos (the stables), where you'll meet your billingual caballista (guide), who will promptly introduce you to your horse. After a brief safety demonstration on the basics of riding, it will then be time to begin the excursion.

The trip will take you around the beautiful countryside with its rolling green hills and multiple fincas (farms). You can choose between one of three distinct trail rides, each leading through areas as different as they are scenic. Regardless of which route you choose, you'll enjoy plenty of beautiful Costa Rican mountain scenery and have many opportunities to interact with friendly locals.

After the ride, you'll return to your eco-resort, where you'll overnight.

Day 5: Private Tour of Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary

The turquoise cotinga is one of many beautiful birds you can see at the sanctuary
The turquoise cotinga is one of many beautiful birds you can see at the sanctuary

Today you're in for another unique excursion in the beautiful San Isidro del General region. This time you'll enjoy a half-day private tour of Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary. Located over 192 acres in the cloud forest near the Frio River, it was the passion project of the late Dr. Alexander Skutch, a renowned ornithologist, botanist, and author.

The tour involves a nature hike along the sanctuary's nearly three km of trails. Along the way, your bilingual guide will point out the unique flora and fauna of the region. Exotic birds common here include trogons, manakins, wrens, tanagers, antbirds, and falcons. Also, you'll most certainly catch glimpses of white-faced capuchin monkeys playing in the trees, and you'll even see some ancient Pre-Columbian petroglyphs. 

After the tour, you'll return to the luxury eco-lodge where you can spend the remainder of the day relaxing.

Day 6: Exclusive Horseback Coffee Country Adventure

Costa Rican coffee is some of the best in the world
Costa Rican coffee is some of the best in the world

In the morning you'll venture to the nearby town of Cedral, which is located in the foothills of the Talamanca Mountains and lies in the middle of Costa Rica's coffee country. The plan for today is to, of course, visit some local coffee farms, but you won't be doing so on foot. That's right, it's time to mount up for a horseback-riding tour of rural Costa Rican life. 

Your private guide will lead you on this half-day tour of Cedral's coffee fincas (farms). You’ll ride through the region along unpaved roads, admiring prime views of the rainforest and the Rio Cedral River along the way. The community here pride themselves on their coffee-growing heritage, and this excursion allows you to meet landowners who plant, harvest, and sell their own organic coffee. Best of all, it's sustainably produced, a tenet that is integral to Costa Rican rural culture. 

After the coffee tour, you can retire to your deluxe room in the eco-resort and spend the remainder of the day however you see fit.

Day 7: Luxury Tasting of San Isidro Farmer’s Market

The San Isidro Farmer’s Market
The San Isidro Farmer’s Market

Depending on the schedule, you'll be able to experience the wonders of San Isidro del General's famous feria (market). Residents look forward to this event all week, when at dawn on Thursday the region's farmers and food purveyors set up over 200 stalls and proffer their goods until Friday afternoon. You'll find everything here from vegetables and tropical fruits to fresh fish, meats, artisanal jams, and homemade bread and cheeses. 

The tour of the market lasts half a day. This should give you ample time to sample all of the deficiencies and stock up on provisions and gifts for family and friends back home. Afterward, you'll return to your luxury eco-resort where you can enjoy a nice long nap after the heavy feeding.

Day 8: Guided Horseback Excursion and Farm Experience

Don Nery´s farm experience
Don Nery´s farm experience

This outing allows you to experience Costa Rican farm life like a local. In the morning you'll hop on a saddle and ride a short distance from San Isidro del General to Don Nery’s family farm. On a tour, you’ll get a glimpse of the variety of crops grown here, which includes everything from sugarcane and coffee to plantains.

This is a hands-on farming experience where you'll extract juice from sugar cane, milk a cow, and even learn to make cheese. You'll also check the chicken coop for fresh eggs and interact with other farm animals. This all culminates in trying some of the fresh cow's milk, a tasting of a traditional Costa Rican drink made from sugarcane, and of course, sampling the homemade cheese.

Afterward, you'll return to your eco-resort in San Isidro del General.

Day 9: Private Charter Flight to the Osa Peninsula

The unspoiled coast of the Osa Peninsula
The unspoiled coast of the Osa Peninsula

In the mid-morning, your driver will transfer you to the airport at San Isidro del General. You'll then hop a private plane and embark on a brisk and scenic 25-minute charter flight south to Puerto Jiménez. This secluded town is situated on the coast of the Golfo Dulce ("sweet gulf") and it's all located on the famous Osa Peninsula, which is the most biodiverse region in Costa Rica. 

Upon arrival in Puerto Jimenez, a driver will meet you and you'll transfer 45 minutes to Lapa Rios, a luxury eco-lodge that offers a number of environmentally conscious tours and excursions. After checking into your bungalow, you can then spend the remainder of the day unwinding. Perhaps head down to the nearby secluded beach for some sunbathing.

Day 10: Birding and Waterfall Hike With a Private Guide

Keep an eye out for toucans
Keep an eye out for toucans

Today you'll enjoy not one but two outdoor adventures in the secluded and exotic Osa Peninsula. 

First, it's a two-hour birding tour that begins at 6:30 am. There are over 360 bird species on the Osa Peninsula, and embarking on a guided hike around the 1,000-acre private nature reserve of Lapa Rios is a great place to spot them. Not only will you see exotic birds, but you'll also catch glimpses of the famous blue morpho butterfly as well as monkeys in the trees. High-quality binoculars will be provided during the tour, as will tea, coffee, and a light snack.

Then, at 11 am, you'll begin a two-hour hike through the rainforest towards the Carbonera River, which is a great area to spot endemic species such as poison dart frogs and other unique creatures. Once at the river, you'll hike along the banks en-route to a secluded waterfall. The falls here plunge down into a tropical lagoon perfect for swimming, and you're more than welcome to take a dip.  

After the tour, you'll return to your bungalow in Lapa Rios.

Day 11: Private Guided Medicine Hike and Rainforest Walk

Epic views of primary rainforest on the ridge walk
Epic views of primary rainforest on the ridge walk

Today you'll enjoy two half-day adventure excursions into the rainforest accompanied by English-speaking guides. The first is a visit to a garden of medicinal plants followed by a nature hike in the rainforest around Lapa Rios Lodge. Along the way, the guides will point out the various trees and plants whose seeds and leaves have been used by indigenous groups and locals for centuries to treat a wide variety of ailments.

Then it's time for Lapa Lodge's famous Rain Forest Ridge Walk. This involves a downhill hike on the ridgeline among the towering trees and tropical plants. During the walk, your guide will point out the unique flora and fauna endemic to this part of the Pacific Lowland Rainforest, and every step of the way you'll enjoy breathtaking views over the ridge to the unspoiled primary forest of the Osa Peninsula.

After the day of hiking, you'll return to your luxury bungalow where you can relax in a hammock or by the pool.

Day 12: Exclusive Osa Trail Hike and Matapalo Adventure

The remote beaches of the Osa Peninsula
The remote beaches of the Osa Peninsula

You're in for a treat as today you get to enjoy one of the most famous excursions in the region: hiking the Osa Trail. This 2.3 km route takes about three hours to complete and offers a comprehensive rainforest experience. The hike takes you through the region's most remote primary rainforest amid towering trees with hanging vines that are 500 years old.  During the hike, your guide will point out the rarest exotic flora and fauna of the region, as everything from sloths and peccaries to ocelots and jaguars. 

But the day doesn't end there. After the Osa Trail, you'll embark on a hike down through secondary rainforest to the coast of the Osa Peninsula and the village of Matapalo. The beautiful Pacific beaches here are tranquil and deserted, making them almost undiscovered natural wonders. En-route, your guide will point out some of the most colorful creatures in the rainforest, from endangered scarlet macaws to various species of primates, including howler and capuchin monkeys. 

 At the end of the day you'll return to your luxury bungalow at Lapa Rios. 

Day 13: Sunset Birding With a Private Guide

Sunset birding adventure on the Osa Peninsula
Sunset birding adventure on the Osa Peninsula

You'll be able to spend most of the day relaxing, as today's activity occurs when the sun goes down. That's when many birds are returning to their nests for the evening, and it's a perfect excuse to get out and view them.  On this sunset birding adventure, you and your guide will seek out the 360 species of local and migratory birds that call this region home.

Types of exotic birds you can see include hummingbirds, trogons, black-cheeked ant-tanagers, turquoise cotingas, orange-cheeked manakins, marbled wood quails, spot-crowned euphonias, and more.  All in all, it's a memorable experience for novices and keen birders alike. 

After the sunset birding tour, you'll return to your bungalow in the luxury eco-lodge.

Day 14: Osa Peninsula Private Nocturnal Nature Walk

A night hike is a great opportunity to spot the famous red-eyed tree frog
A night hike is a great opportunity to spot the famous red-eyed tree frog

When the sun goes down on the Osa Peninsula, the insects and amphibians come out. This two-hour nocturnal nature tour embarks after dinner and is a great activity for the whole family. With your hiking boots laced up and your flashlight in hand, you'll follow your guide into the forest to uncover all types of exotic nocturnal creatures you'd never get to see during the day. These include bats, spiders, kinkajous, various frogs, snakes, and many other wonders of this hidden, nocturnal world.

After the tour, you'll return to your luxury eco-lodge.

Day 15: Exclusive Plant a Tree Experience

Plant a tree
Plant a tree

A big part of sustainable tourism is offsetting one's carbon footprint. There are good ways to accomplish this while traveling through Costa Rica, and one of them is by promoting reforestation. The Lapa Rios Lodge has such a program, and today they'll invite you to plant a seedling in an emerging forest. The seed will be of a certain type of tree, and your host will explain its characteristics and its role in the surrounding ecosystem. Plus you'll get a certificate to commemorate your reforestation efforts. 

After the tree-planting ceremony, you'll return to your bungalow at Lapa Rios.

Day 16: Departure

Farewell, Costa Rica!
Farewell, Costa Rica!

At the appropriate time, you will transfer approximately 45 minutes from your eco-lodge to the airstrip at Puerto Jiménez for a private 50-minute charter flight to San José. Upon arrival in the capital, you'll transfer to the international airport where you'll catch your flight home. Adios and come back soon!

Map

Map of Costa Rica Luxury Eco-Adventure: Cloud Forests, Waterfalls, & Exotic Animals - 16 Days
Map of Costa Rica Luxury Eco-Adventure: Cloud Forests, Waterfalls, & Exotic Animals - 16 Days