Self-Drive: Birdwatching 11d/10n


This itinerary focuses on locations and hotels that are particularly good for birdwatchers. Many offer their own birdwatching tours (not included in the itinerary). So, this is a ‘DIY’ birding tour, allowing to spend as much time as you want to discover Costa Rica’s colorful birdlife. In 15d/14n you will have a chance to visit most parts of the country and certainly, to explore the richest habitats in depth, like the San Gerardo de Dota region, home of the famous Quetzal, the northern Lowlands with its many waterways, attracting numerous species, or the dry tropical forest of Guanacaste and the transition region around Carara, where you’ll find one of the last natural habitats of the Scarlet Macaw in Costa Rica.

Day 1

Peace LodgeHummingbirdWelcome to Costa Rica!

Upon arrival at the airport, you’ll be met by an English-speaking airport guide, who will hand you your welcome package and help you with any questions you may have. Afterward, take the shared transfer to your hotel in Heredia, where you will spend your first night. If you arrive before sunset, explore the hotels beautiful garden and try to recognize as many birds as possible. Enjoy your first night in Costa Rica and get ready for an unforgettable experience.

Hotel Bougainvillea
Meals: none
Activities: none

Emblematic birds: Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus lessonii), Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi), Green-breasted Mango (Anthracothorax prevastii), White-naped Brush-finch (Atlapetes albinucha)
Other important species: Guanacaste tree (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), Cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), Bromeliads (Bromeliaceae), Forrers Leopard frog (Lithobates forreri), Bougainvillea

Day 2

Heredia – San Gerardo de Dota

Early in the morning you can enjoy the hotel´s beautiful gardens and observe the birds during one of the most active times of the day. Afterward, pick-up of your rental car, you need a credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Diner´s Cub) and your valid national driving license.
Head south towards San Gerardo de Dota, a small community in the Talamanca Mountain Range clad in Elfin montane rainforest, draped in bromeliads and mosses and other epiphytes. It is home to many endemic and elusive species of plants and animals. This is one of the best places in the world to spot the spectacular Resplendent Quetzal.

On the way, you can stop at Los Quetzales National Park for an optional hike (not included) or go straight to your hotel and take advantage of its hiking trails that are perfect for birding.

Please keep in mind that this is a mountain region and it can get quite chilly at night. Bring some warm clothes, as well as a weatherproof jacket or a poncho for when you go hiking.

Accommodation: Savegre Lodge
Meals: Breakfast
Included Activities: none

Emblematic birds: Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), King-tailed Silky-flycatcher (Ptilogonys caudatus), Collared Trogon (Trogon collaris), Highland Tinamou (Nothocercus bonapartei)
Other important species: Tapir (Tapirus bairdii), Black Oak (Quercus costarricensis), White Oak (Quercus copeyensis), Montane Alligator Lizard (Mesaspis monticola), Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera), White Orchid (Sobralia Leucoxantha)

Day 3

Savegre Lodge HummingbirdSan Gerardo de Dota

The Savegre Lodge is surrounded by a spectacular cloud forest offering fantastic scenery and wonderful opportunities for great bird photography. You could not be in a better place, especially if you are hoping to catch a glimpse of the iconic bird playing such an iconic role in Mesoamerican mythology: the Resplendent Quetzal. The reserve has at least 30 km of walking trails, carefully designed to cater to the interests and physical capabilities of all visitors; at least half of these trails lead through primary forest. There are tours and activities for wildlife and nature enthusiasts, and it is generally agreed that this is a place full of sensory stimuli: Walking through the mystical cloud forest, listening to the birdsong, and with some luck, you might spot some of those perfectly camouflaged, amazing mimetic insects hiding on the tree barks.

Some optional tours, all of which can be booked at the hotel (shared, from 1-5 participants) are:
• Quetzal tour, 3 hours
• Full-day birdwatching-tour
• Half-day birdwatching-tour (also on a private basis available)
• Horseback riding tour
• Visiting the Savegre Waterfall

Accommodation: Savegre Lodge
Included meals: Breakfast
Included activities: none

Day 4

SunbitternSan Gerardo de Dota – Turrialba

When you are ready to continue your journey head over towards Turrialba, passing through Cartago along the way. On the way, you will also pass through small towns emblematic of the rural life in this part of Costa Rica. Your hotel on this night is specialized in birdwatching and is also known for its fresh, homestyle cooking. A relaxing place in a homey ambiance surrounded by beautiful gardens and the sounds of the birds.

Important: the last part of the road (about 1.8km) is made of gravel, therefore a 4-wheel-drive vehicle is highly recommended.

Accommodation: Rancho Naturista
Included meals: Breakfast, dinner
Included activities: none

Emblematic birds: Snowcap (Microchera albocoronata), Tawny-chested Flycatcher (Aphanotriccus capitalis), Purplish-backed Quail-Dove (Zentrygon lawrencii), White-crowned Manakin (Dixiphia pipra)
Other important species: White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica), Northern raccoon (Procyon lotor), Brazilian Free-tailed Bat(Tadarida brasiliensis)

Day 5


The hotel has a private reserve with trails that you can explore on your own. Or, alternatively, you can organize an early morning private bird watching tour with a local English-speaking guide and, explore the various trails spotting some of the 450 species of birds that have been recorded in the area (tour not included).
On the balcony at Rancho Naturalista, the hummingbird feeders are renown to attract many species of hummingbirds, such as the
Violet-crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica), White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora), Green Hermit (Phaethornis guy), Green Thorntail (Discosura conversii), Violet Sabrewing (Campylopterus hemileucurus), Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer (Chalybura urochrysia) and Green-crowned Brilliant (Heliodoxa jacula). On the Verbena Hedges at Rancho Naturalista, the Snowcap is a frequent visitor along with the Black-crested Coquette (Lophornis helenae) and the Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti).

Enjoy all three meals today and the welcoming hospitality in this lodge.

Other activities available in this region (optional, to be booked and paid for at the hotel):

• Morning or afternoon bird tour
• Cultural tours: Sugar mill tour, Spanish lessons, dancing lessons, painting class, cooking class
• Adventure tours: Swim in a mountain stream, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, canyoning, and zip-lining

Accommodations: Rancho Naturalista
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Included activities: none

Day 6

Maquenque ToucanTurrialba – Sarapiquí

Enjoy the morning in Turrialba and, after lunch here, continue the trip to the area of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. On the way, you will be passing through Costa Rica’s agricultural heartland with its as orange, coconut, yucca, macadamia nuts, papaya, and pineapple plantations. Sarapiquí is a ‘hot-spot’ for bird watchers, 54% of Costa Rica’s native bird species can be found here.
Your accommodations here will be at Selva Verde Lodge, which has been attracting birdwatchers from all over the world for decades. The Lodge protects over 200 hectares of rainforest that are home to more than 300 species or birds, as well as 120 species of mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. The forest also protects a huge number of trees and plant species. The trail network allows you to explore the rainforest on your own. With a little luck, you will be able to spot some of the emblematic species of this region.

Accommodation: Selva Verde Lodge
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch
Included activities: none

Emblematic birds: Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus), Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias), Snowy Cotinga (Carpodectes nitidus), Agami Heron (Agamia agami)
Other important species: Red-eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas), Brown Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni), Black Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata), Mountain Almond Tree (Dipteryx panamensis), Blue Jeans Poison Frog (Oophaga pumilio)

Day 7


Today, we recommend a morning hike on the lodge’s trails or a morning visit to the Tirimbina Reserve (at an additional entrance fee). As a non-profit organization, the Tirimbina Reserve protects the rainforest and promotes conservation. In this humid tropical forest, influenced by the Caribbean climate, there are both endemic birds as well as migrating birds that are found in September and October.

Other activities available in Sarapiquí area are (optional, to be arranged and paid for at the hotel):

  • A guided chocolate tour at the Tirimbinas reserve, learn everything you ever wanted to know about the process of making chocolate from cacao seeds.
  • A visit to the Ecofarm ‘Finca Surá ‘ where you gain an insight into the local life and agricultural growing methods.
  • There are also some adventure activities available, such as rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking, or hiking, a night hike and more!
  • Or relax at the lodge, go for another hike on your own, discovering the trails of the hotel´s own reserve.

Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Included meals: Breakfast
Included activities: none

Day 8

Maquenque CanoeSarapiquí – Boca Tapada

Today continue your journey to Boca Tapada, a hidden gem, off the beaten track. This remote region is situated on the Río San Carlos, in the far north of the country, near the border of Nicaragua. Here, life continues at a slower pace and in harmony with nature.
Your Eco-Lodge for the next two nights is located just north of Boca Tapada, in the middle of the Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge, which protects an area of 60.000 hectares. It is situated right on the shores of a lagoon and is a perfect place to spot for birds and other animals.

Your stay includes a guided morning walk in the rainforest, free use of canoes on the lodge’s small canal, planting a tree, and a visit to the local school of Boca Tapada (during school months). Other tours, such as a boat trip on the San Carlos River, can be booked at the Lodge at an additional fee.

If you wish as close a contact with nature as possible, the hotel has Tree Houses (Bungalows in the trees), perched more than 12 meters above the forest floor, in extraordinary trees in the rainforest, providing an excellent eye-to-eye view with the wildlife that is busy in the canopy.

Accommodation: Maquenque Eco-Lodge (upgrade to Treehouse available)
Included meals: Breakfast
Included activities: guided morning walk in the rainforest, free use of canoes on the lodge’s small canal, planting a tree, and a visit to the local school of Boca Tapada (during school months)

Emblematic birds: Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus), Slaty-tailed Trogon (Trogon massena), Ocellated Antbird (Phaenostictus mcleannani), Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana), Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma)
Other important species: White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica), White-faced Monkey (Cebus capucinus), Kapok Tree (Ceiba pentandra), Green Basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons)

Day 9

Boca Tapada Green ParrotBoca Tapada

You have all day at your disposal to explore the private reserve, the waterways or pursue any of the included activities at this lodge. Or, just enjoy the pool and relax in the beautiful scenery of the lodge grounds.

Other optional activities available that are not included, are e.g. horseback riding tours, or a visit to a botanical garden.
Near Maquenque there is a lodge called Pedacito de Cielo, famous for its great food. If you want to sample it, make a reservation and meet the friendly local owners.

Accommodation: Maquenque Eco-Lodge (upgrade to Treehouse available)
Included meals: Breakfast
Included activities: guided morning walk in the rainforest, free use of canoes in the lodges small canal, planting a tree, and a visit to the local school of Boca Tapada (during school months).

Day 10

Volcano ArenalBoca Tapada – Arenal

Continue your journey to La Fortuna, known for the famous Arenal Volcano. Although the volcano has been inactive since 2010, its perfect cone-shape is very impressive. You can enjoy the hotel’s swimming pool and jacuzzi, as well as the 800-meter (0.5 miles), paved access trail through gardens and rainforest and around 11 km of well-maintained trails.
Many interesting optional activities are available in this region, such as relaxing in one of the numerous hot springs, hiking through old lava fields in the Arenal National Park, or taking a tour through the canopy via hanging bridges, go mountain biking, horseback riding, river rafting, hiking, or visit the La Fortuna waterfall, take an adrenaline-fulled zip-line tour, or go on a boat ride through the Caño Negro Reserve to spot crocodiles, monkeys, sloths, and birds.

Accommodation: Arenal Observatory Lodge
Included meals: Breakfast
Included activities: none

Emblematic birds: Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens), Golden-hooded Tanager (Tangara larvata), Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus), Passerini’s Tanager (Ramphocelus passerinii), Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis)
Other important species: Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata), White-faced Monkeys (Cebus capucinus), Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus), Coati (Nasua narica)

Day 11

Lago Arenal – Palo Verde

Enjoy a free early morning guided walk on the trails of the Arenal Observatory Lodge. The walk is guided by a local naturalist guide and departs every morning at 8:30 am from the reception. The duration is approximately 2.5 hours. The walk takes you across hanging bridges, through lush tropical gardens, and into the primary and secondary rainforest. Your guide will stop along the way to point out interesting aspects of the ecology and wildlife of the tropical rainforest you are passing through. The tour is heading for the beautiful waterfall of the Danta River and finishes by a cattle pastures, where the lodges open-air Jungle Bus will transfer you back to the hotel. Possible wildlife sightings include many of the 400+ species of birds, howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, coatis, anteaters, sloths, green iguanas, snakes, and insects.
Afterward, head towards the Palo Verde National Park. This is a must-see destination for birdwatchers! The last section of the road to the park leads through rice fields on both sides. Keep your eyes peeled as many birds can be spotted here. Your accommodation for the next two nights is a biological station. Although the rooms and services are basic, the location is superb, right inside the national park and by the lagoon with its many resident birds.

Additional information:

  • Since the Biological Station is located inside the National Park, you must pay an entrance fee (currently around USD 12 per person and day).
  • For safety reasons, hiking in sandals or barefoot is prohibited.
  • Make sure to protect yourself from insects, especially during the wet season, but also at other times. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, a hat, and don’t forget the insect repellent.
  • Meal schedule: Breakfast 06:30 am, lunch: 12:00 noon, dinner: 06:00 pm. Meals cannot be taken at other times.
  • The roads are in good condition. However, drive careful and watch out for the animals.

Accommodation: OTS Biological Station
Included meals: Breakfast, dinner
Included activities: none

Emblematic birds: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis), Fulvous Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna bicolor), Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja), Great Egret (Ardea alba), Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)
Other important species: Green Iguana (Iguana iguana), White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), Peccary (Pecari tajacu), Palo Verde Tree (Parkinsonia aculeata), Real Guayacan Tree (Guaiacum sanctum), Pochote Tree (Bombacopsis quinata)

Day 12

OTS Palo Verde BirdsPalo Verde

Palo Verde is a fairly secluded area of swamp, mangrove, lagoons, marshes, grasslands, and forest, where at least 279 species of birds such as storks, egrets, ibises, darters, divers, and spoonbills may be observed. Birding is particularly good here during the months of January, February, and March, when the Guanacaste region is very dry and the Palo Verde National Park represents an important source of water for the animals that live in the region, which includes numerous species of waterfowl. During the North American winter months, the mangroves turn into a temporary residence for many migratory species. There are numerous hiking trails in the national park.

Accommodation: OTS Biological Station
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Included activities: none

Day 13

Macaw Lodge Bird Palo Verde – Carara

Today, continue to the Central Pacific region. On the way there, you can stop at the Tárcoles bridge, famous for the crocodiles that can be seen in the river bed. Your hotel is located relatively close to the Carara National Park (entrance fee not included), a beautiful park protecting one of the last transitional forests, where tropical dry and tropical wet habitats meet. Carara is one of the best birdwatching areas in all of Costa Rica. Fiery-billed araçari and the chestnut-mandibled toucan are common in this region. Also, scarlet macaws can be seen in flight as they migrate daily between the wet forest interior and the coastal mangrove swamps.

Accommodation: Macaw Lodge
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Included activities: none

Emblematic birds: Fiery-billed Araçari (Pteroglossus frantzii), Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao), Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens), Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius)
Other important species: Common Basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus), Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor), Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides)

Day 14

Costa Rica Central Pacific AraCarara

Today enjoy the nice setting of the lodge. You might like to take a morning walk before breakfast. Afterward, you could visit the waterfalls on the hotel’s property, where you can take a dip and admire the beautiful setting in the forest.
In the afternoon, you could arrange a boat tour through the Mangroves in Guacalillo (optional), known as the richest mangrove forest on the Central Pacific coast. The Guacalillo Estuary and the Tárcoles River provide an opportunity to observe one of the largest crocodile colonies in the world, as well as one of the most important conservation areas for the beautiful scarlet macaw. With its colors bright red, orange, blue, and yellow, and its long tail and pointed wings, it is easy to recognize the scarlet macaw as it flies above the boat, and you can easily hear it in the tops of the mangroves in the estuary. This ecosystem is an important mating and nesting ground for many species of birds and also shelters numerous mammals and reptiles.

Accommodation: Macaw Lodge
Included today: Breakfast, dinner
Included activities: none

Day 15

Carara – San José Airport or extension program

Today it is time to head back to San José/Alajuela for your return flight home. Allow plenty of time (3h30min recommended) to deliver your rental car back to the office near the airport. A shuttle will take you from there to the terminal for check-in. If your flight departs early in the morning we recommend booking an additional night in the Central Valley.

Included meals: Breakfast (depending on flight schedule)


This itinerary is fully customizable regarding your choice of vehicle and class of hotel and type of room. To receive an accurate quote, please inquire, with your specific preferences.

Costa Rica’s capital is San José and its international airport is Juan Santamaria Airport, located in Alajuela province, just outside the capital, in the Central Valley. Most journeys in this country start and finish in San José. However, Liberia Airport in the north Pacific region of Costa Rica is another option as an international arrival and/or departure point, for travelers coming from the US or Canada.
  • Transfer airport – city hotel, shared service
  • Overnight stay at the mentioned hotels or similar in rooms with private bathroom
  • Meals as per description
  • Rental car with basic insurance as follows:
    – 1-2 pax: SUV Economic 4WD Manual (Suzuki Jimny or similar)
    – 3 pax: SUV Compact 4WD Manual or Automatic with tiptronic (Ssang Yong Korando or similar)
    – 4 pax: SUV Intermediate 4WD Manual (Hyundai Tucson IX35 or similar
    Pick-up: Day 2, Hotel Bougainvillea,
    Drop-off: Day 15, Adobe Rent A Car office near the International Airport
  • Documentation with information about the country in English
  • International Flight
  • Additional options for the rental car (e.g. insurances except for basic insurance, GPS, Drive Relaxed Package, fuel, highway tolls, etc.)
  • Entrance fees for national parks and charges for optional activities
  • Optional tours
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Airport departure tax SJO, currently USD 29 per person (often included in air ticket
  • any kind of insurance except for the obligatory car insurance)


Costa Rica is a tropical country and rain must be expected at any time. However, there is a distinct dry season, which usually runs from about December to April. From April/May to December is ‘green season’, with regular rains, although it does not rain all day every day. Rather, rains or thunderstorms occur in the afternoon or at night. But weather patterns also vary depending on the location within the country. The Caribbean coast has much less predictable weather patterns than the rest of the country.

Although Costa Rica lies in the tropics, much of its terrain is mountainous and thus has a very pleasant climate with warm, rather than oppressively hot temperatures. In the highlands, you might even need a sweater at night.

Since many regions of Costa Rica lie in the WET tropics, you might want to bring some zip-lock bags to keep important documents or items dry.


The busiest and most expensive times to travel in Costa Rica are Christmas and Easter. These are times when not just tourists are present everywhere, but Ticos also travel at these times.

Wildlife Watching

Costa Rica has a rich presence of wildlife and you may be able to observe many birds and animals even from the terrace or garden of your hotel. But undoubtedly, the best way to observe nature is in one of the many national parks, and better still, with a knowledgeable guide.


Excellent places to observe animals are around waterways or lakes. Thus, Tortuguero National Park offers a very rewarding experience, not just for turtle observation. But if you visit this are between July and September you may visit the beaches with a guide to watch sea turtles lay their eggs. It is the only nesting site for Loggerhead turtles in Costa Rica.

Other species, such as Olive Ridley and the Pacific Green Turtle only nest on certain beaches along the Pacific coast, most notably in northern Guanacaste and Nicoya peninsula.

Adventure Activities

There are many adventurous activities available in Costa Rica, from Canopy zip-lines to diving, from rappelling to whitewater rafting or horseback riding. It is a fantastic place to enjoy such pursuits. However, make SURE that your travel insurance covers adventurous activities. Not all do!


Dollars are widely accepted, but the exchange rate is usually bad. It is always best to pay with local currency. But rather than taking cash and exchanging it locally, it is usually better to withdraw cash in local currency from an ATM machine. ATM machines are commonly found in all major tourist areas. Many businesses accept Visa or Mastercards but may charge a hefty 7-9% processing fee on purchases.


Generally speaking, Costa Rica is a pretty peaceful country. However, that does not mean that it is entirely risk-free. As everywhere in the world, it is important to keep your wits about you and remain alert to your surroundings. Most hotels have safety deposit boxes or will keep valuables safe at the front desk safe. To avoid losses, it is best to leave valuable items at home.

Download the official guide to staying safe in Costa Rica, from the Tourist board


Costa Rica uses 110V for regular appliances and 220V for major appliances. US appliances can be plugged straight into the outlets, but European traveler will need to bring an adapter. Some remote eco-lodges may not have electricity at all, or only switch it on for a few hours each day. 


It is easy to make calls in Costa Rica as the telecommunications system is well developed. Mobile phones are also commonly used. To make an international call you must dial 00 before your country code. Costa Rica’s country code is 506. Many, even small hotels, offer free WIFI to their guests.


Please note that many beaches are not safe for swimming due to strong rip tides. Some beaches, especially on Nicoya Peninsula have lifeguard during the main season. Always take heed of warnings by the locals.

Golfo Dulce, in the far south, is the safest area for swimming in Costa Rica.

Driving in Costa Rica

  • Travel with your current driver’s license and passport, or a copy of your passport and entry stamp page and rental car papers.
  • All passengers and the driver must drive with their seatbelts fastened.
  • Since street lighting is not very common in Costa Rica it is advised that you only drive during daylight hours
  • Be aware of the wildlife at all times, but especially at dawn and dusk.
  • If an approaching vehicle is flashing its headlights or you see a makeshift traffic cone fashioned from branches, SLOW DOWN, as this means that there is probably an accident or a broken down vehicle ahead.
  • Costa Rica may FEEL like a safe haven, but theft from vehicles is not a rarity. Never leave anything of value in your car and always keep your doors locked, even if you step out of the car to take a picture for just a minute.
  • If you are involved in an accident, do not move your vehicle. Wait until a police officer arrives and prepares a report. You can also report the accident by calling 911.

Download the official driving safety tips flyer for drivers from the Costa Rican Tourist board here

As the weather can be so variable you should think in layers and prepare for all kinds of weather. However, obviously, you’d need warmer clothes during the cold half of the year.


  • Passport
  • (Driver’s License)
  • Sun hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Rain poncho, windproof jacket
  • A warm sweater (in the mountains it can get quite cool in the evenings)
  • Sturdy, closed sneakers or walking boots (on jungle excursions Tewas and the like are not acceptable)
  • Flashlight
  • Camera equipment (tripod)
  • Binoculars
  • Batteries/charger if needed for your equipment
  • Spare pair of glasses
  • Personal medicines
  • Adapter plug (only for non-US standard appliances)
  • Ziplock bags to keep things dry
  • Insect repellent
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Day pack
  • Swimsuit
  • A long pair of trousers and long sleeved shirts (protects agains mosquitos and scratches on jungle walks)

Costa Rica is fairly casual, so there is little need to bring formal attire unless you intend to go wining and dining at one of the upscale restaurants.


Rental Car Categories:

SUV Economic 4WD ST/J – Suzuki Jimny or similar

Gear change: Manual transmission
Maximum Adults: 2
Maximum Suitcases: 1 large, 2 small
4WD: Yes
Doors: 2
Fuel: Gasoline
Motor: 1.3 L

SUV Compact 4WD/L – Daihatsu Bego/Ssang Yong Korando or sim

Gear change: Daihatsu Bego: Manual transmission / SsangYong Korando: Automatic transmission with Tiptronic)
Maximum Adults: 3
Maximum Suitcases: 2 large, 1 medium, 1 small
4WD: Yes
Doors: 4
Fuel: Gasoline
Motor: 1.5 L (Daihatsu BeGo) / 2 L (Ssang Yong Korando)

SUV Intermediate 2WD ST/Q – Hyundai Tucson/Creta or similar

Gear change: Manual transmission
Maximum Adults: 4
Maximum Suitcases: 2 large, 2 medium, 1 small
4WD: No
Doors: 4
Fuel: Gasoline
Motor: 2.0 L

SUV Intermediate 2WD AT/R – Hyundai Tucson/Creta or similar

Gear change: Automatic transmission
Maximum Adults: 4
Maximum suitcases: 2 large, 2 medium, 1 small
4WD: No
Doors: 4
Fuel: Gasoline
Motor: 2.0 L

SUV Intermediate 4WD ST/D – Hyundai Tucson IX35 or similar

Gear change: Manual transmission
Maximum Adults: 4
Maximum Suitcases: 2 large, 2 medium, 1 small
4WD: Yes
Doors: 4
Fuel: Gasoline
Motor: 2.0 L

SUV Intermediate 4WD AT/F – Hyundai Tucson IX35 or similar

Gear change: Automatic transmission
Maximum Adults: 4
Maximum Suitcases: 2 large, 2 medium, 1 small
4WD: Yes
Doors: 4
Fuel: Gasoline
Motor: 2.0 L

SUV Standard 4WD AT/H – Hyundai Santa Fe or similar

Gear change: Automatic transmission
Maximum Adults: 5
Maximum Suitcases: 2 large, 2 medium, 2 small
4WD: Yes
Doors: 4
Fuel: Gasoline
Motor: 2.4 L

Pick-Up Double Cabin 4WD/K – Isuzu DMax/Mitsubishi L200 

Gear change: Manual transmission
Maximum Adults: 5 without luggage or with luggage in the open cargo area, 2-3 with luggage inside of the cabin
Maximum Suitcases: Cargo area (open, no cover available) or inside the cabin (fewer passengers)
4WD: Yes
Doors: 4
Fuel: Diesel
Motor: 2.5 L

SUV Full Size 4WD AT/G – Mitsubishi Montero Sport or similar 

Gear change: Automatic transmission
Maximum adults: 5
Maximum Suitcases: 2 large, 2 medium, 2 small
4WD: Yes
Doors: 4
Fuel: Diesel
Motor: 2.2 L

SUV Premium 4WD AT/O – Ford Explorer or similar 

Gear change: Automatic transmission
Maximum Adults: 5
Maximum Suitcases: 2 large, 2 medium, 2 small
4WD: Yes
Doors: 4
Fuel: Diesel
Motor: 2.3 L

Sedan Mini ST/N – Hyundai Grand i10 Hatchback or similar 

Gear change: Manual transmission
Maximum Adults: 2
Maximum Suitcases: 2 small
4WD: No
Doors: 3
Fuel: Gasoline
Motor: 1.25 L

Sedan Intermediate AT/A – Hyundai Elantra or similar 

Gear change: Automatic transmission
Maximum Adults: 3
Maximum Suitcases: 1 large, 1 medium, 1 small
4WD: No
Doors: 4
Fuel: Gasoline
Motor: 1.8 L

We work with a wide range of accommodations, but preferably with those that have been certified by the Costa Rican ‘sustainable tourism’ label. This label certifies tourist businesses according to their ecological standard. Certification is graded from 1-5, with 5 being the highest level. Some smaller lodges have not been certified, yet make every effort to run their operations ecologically responsible


However, our preferred options may not always be available, in which case we search for the next best option.

Accommodations for this itinerary:

HEREDIA: Hotel Bougainvillea***(*), Garden View, 1 night
SAN GERARDO DE DOTA: Savegre Lodge***, Standard, 2 nights
TURRIALBA: Rancho Naturalista**(*), Standard,  2 nights
SARAPIQUI: Selva Verde Lodge***, Standard Sarapiquí, 2 nights
BOCA TAPADA: Maquenque Eco-Lodge***, Bungalow, 2 nights (upgrade to Treehouse, for best canopy view)
ARENAL: Arenal Observatory Lodge***(*), Standard, 1 night
PALO VERDE NP: Palo Verde Biological Station OTS*, Standard, 2 nights
CARARA: Macaw Lodge**(*), Standard, 2 nights

We make every effort to choose eco-certified hotels for our self-drive itineraries. Furthermore, we offer these self-drives with Adobe, an eco-certified rental car company:


About Adobe :

Carbon Neutral

In 2011, pursuant to the Declaration on the Verification of Carbon Neutrality, we were verified by the Carbon Neutral Unit of EARTH University, for complying with the criteria of INTE-ISO 14064-1 and INTE 12-01-06, evaluated against the criteria of the Standard INTE-ISO 14064-3, according to the concept of Neutrality of CO2eEmissions. In 2016, we renovated this verification, so the Company is Carbon Neutral in all it´s Operations nationwide.

Certification for Sustainable Tourism

Certification for Sustainable Tourism – CST – is a program of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) designed to classify and to differentiate tourism companies according to the extent in which their operation approaches a sustainability model, regarding natural, cultural, and social resources. On this evaluation, we achieved the five levels with a score of 100.

Blue Flag Ecological Program

The Blue Flag Ecological Program is an award that is granted yearly, which rewards effort and voluntary work. Besides, it promotes safe competition and community organization for the benefit of present and future generations. During the second year in which we were assessed, we achieved the blue flag of the ecological program with four stars for our central offices in San Jose.  This year, we achieved, 5 out of 5 stars, plus an extra star for the family involvement of employees with the project.