Schools - Costa Rica Walks & Wildlife

A great wildlife discovery trek - through rain and cloud forest





From $3,060 Land only

Book this holiday

Holiday Overview


  • Learn about the Geology of this volcanic landscape
  • Explore the Corcovado National Park by boat
  • Trek on the slopes of Arenal Volcano
  • See a wide range of wildlife including the elusive quetzal

With its tropical rainforest, active volcanoes, deserted beaches, colourful wildlife, perfect climate and friendly people, Costa Rica is a great destination for a school group and well named the ‘jewel of Central America'. We begin our amazing adventure holiday with some scenic hiking beneath Volcan Arenal and on Rincon de la Vieja, where we climb to the crater rim for views of its bubbling lake. Heading south, we stop off at the Pacific beach town of Dominical, before embarking on a 3-day trek into the Corcovado National Park. Journeying by boat and including a trip out to Cano Island for hiking and snorkelling, we will be on the lookout for dolphins, whales and turtles. Our wildlife bonanza holiday is rounded off as we go in search of quetzals and other exotic bird species at San Gerardo de Dota and in the El Copal Reserve. This walking and wildlife holiday takes us to the lesser-known places away from the crowds, yet allows us to experience the best of this remarkable country.

Is this holiday for you?

This adventure tour is designed to be an exploration of the fantastic wildlife and landscapes of Costa Rica. It is not intended to be a long or continuous walking holiday. We have a couple of days which are 6 hour walks, which will be through the forest, and we may experience slippery mud underfoot as rain showers are not unusual in Costa Rica. The main focus during these walks will be looking for wildlife and observing the different climatic zones and types of rainforest. A fun and interesting way for your pupils to learn outside the classroom. We spend some time on boats admiring the forest, beaches and islands - so you should not have a fear of water! The majority of the holiday is leisurely, with a number of short and longer walks and other activities. We have one night where we have to carry our own belongings to the rustic forest lodge, our main baggage will go with the vehicle.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Arrive in San Jose and transfer to the hotel.
  • Visit Poas Volcano and transfer to Arenal.
  • Arenal Volcano walk to the green crater lake on Cerro Chato (1140m).
  • Pass Arenal lake and transfer to Rincon de la Vieja. Short walk in the forest.
  • Walks in the tropical dry forest of Rincon de la Vieja.
  • Second full day walking in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
  • Transfer to the Savegre River, stop to see the crocs, and walk to Los Campesinos.
  • Walk through the Los Campesinos forest. Transfer to Uvita on the Pacific Coast.
  • Transfer by vehicle and boat through the mangroves on the Rio Sierpe to Corcovado National Park.
  • Boat ride, snorkelling and beach. Possibly see dolphins and tropical fish.
  • Walk and exploration of Corcovado National Park forest and its 12 mile untamed beach.
  • Transfer by boat along the Rio Sierpe and take the vehicle back to the Savegre Valley.
  • Resplendent Quetzal bird viewing and rural forest walks.
  • Morning walk in El Copal reserve and transfer to San Jose.
  • Transfer to the airport and depart San Jose.

Land Only

The price of our trips does not include international air travel to the start location in the destination city and country. The start location for joining the trip is identified for each trip. It's usually a centrally located hotel. KE can easily arrange all airport transfers for you.

International Air Travel

Please contact us at KE for air travel advice. We will be happy to discuss the flight arrangement which best suits your group.

2 teachers FREE

The Guide Price assumes that 2 teachers will accompany the group. Their Land Only costs are covered by the group's payment.

Guide Price $3,060*
Park Fees/permits N/A
Other Charges N/A

* We give a price estimate for all of our school trips. This is based on 12-16 pupils and includes two free teacher places. If you are interested in a specific trip, we will send you a quote letter. You may wish to take extra teachers or add on additional days and this can all be included into your quote, on request.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • transfer

Holiday Itinerary

  • Arrive in San Jose and transfer to the hotel.

    Rendezvous at group hotel. KE Land Only package services begin with the overnight stay at the group hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

  • Visit Poas Volcano and transfer to Arenal.

    After breakfast at the hotel we depart for Poas Volcano National Park. We transfer up to the crater rim for views of the bubbling turquoise crater lake through the steamy mist. The coloured waters are a beautiful contrast to the dense luxuriant forest that surrounds it. We get our first taster of Costa Rican forest by walking to the second crater – Laguna Botos through the cloud forest. This lake contains cold water and flows into the Rio Angel. After returning to our vehicle we transfer to La Fortuna, the small town at the foot of Arenal Volcano. Approx 4 hours transfer.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

    • Time 2 hrs walking

  • Arenal Volcano walk to the green crater lake on Cerro Chato (1140m).

    Arenal is Costa Rica’s best known volcano, it is a large symmetrical mountain built on layers of ash, rock and lava, almost 2000m high. From 1968 to July 2010 it was an active volcano throwing lava and smoke high into the air. Now we can enjoy the walking trails through the lava strewn slopes in relative peace! Our morning hike takes us on one of these trails through the forest and if the weather conditions are favourable then we can cross Cerro Chato mountain (1140m) to the green crater lake nestled in the forest. There are a variety of trails in the Arenal National Park and we will choose one to suit the weather and under foot conditions. Arenal is very rich in animal life and it is possible that we may see three different spices of monkey, sometimes peccaries, and then the beautiful toucan and numerous other birds. In the afternoon there is an optional visit to the thermal hot springs. Dinner and overnight in Arenal. Apporx 1 hour transfer.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

    • Time 4 - 6 hrs walking

  • Pass Arenal lake and transfer to Rincon de la Vieja. Short walk in the forest.

    Leaving Arenal after breakfast we transfer northwards alongside Arenal Lake in the direction of Rincon de la Vieja. We stop at the Las Pumas Rescue Shelter to see several big cats, saved here but close to extinction in the wild, including the jaguar, puma and ocelet. Continuing our journey we pass the town of Liberia before turning off to the dry forest and savannah landscapes of Rincon de la Vieja. Our lodge is close to the park entrance and situated in beautiful grounds. There are many short walks that we can take from the lodge in the afternoon. Alternatively we can participate in an optional zip wire tour, from platforms high in the forest canopy. Overnight Rincon de la Vieja. Approx 2-3 hours transfer, short walks.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

    • Time 1 hr walking

  • Walks in the tropical dry forest of Rincon de la Vieja.

    After breakfast we start our first full day's hike. In the National Park we find tropical dry forest with enchanting waterfalls, steaming vents, hot springs and bubbling mud pools; there are many different walks to choose from and this will be dependent on the weather. We may walk the 3 hour circular Las Pailas Trail (the Caldrons), which offers the best views of the active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. The forests around us contain a host of wildlife and if we are lucky we may see armadillo, coastis, tapir, sloth and kinkajous. After lunch we may take another 3hr circular walk toward the beautiful La Cangreja Waterfall, where we'll have a chance to swim in its inviting natural pool. Overnight Rincon de la Vieja.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

    • Time 6 hrs walking

  • Second full day walking in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park.

    Another full day in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Today we will walk past impressive mud spots and fumarole's spouting hot steam, along the 'hot river' and then through the 'haunted wood' to the Santa Maria ranger station. Throughout our 6hrs walk, we are surrounded by forest full of bird life including toucan, quetzal, parrots and hummingbird. Please note that all walks in the park are subject to weather conditions and may vary. Return to lodge.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

    • Time 6 hrs walking

  • Transfer to the Savegre River, stop to see the crocs, and walk to Los Campesinos.

    This morning we transfer to the Central Pacific region. At the Tarcoles River we stop and observe the enormous crocodiles basking under the bridge an incredible site. Continuing south we pass Quepos on the coast and a little further (at a town called Londres) we stop and continue on foot. We take our overnight belongings (our main luggage remaining with the vehicle) with us as we walk through the farmland to the small community of Quebrada Arroyo. The community originally farmed vanilla but due to devastation from pests, weather and poor soil they have now made the reserve into a conservation area and are working on natural regeneration and environmental monitoring to fight illegal hunting and tree felling. The project has progress very well over the last decade and the forest is now beautiful. We stay in rustic bungalows in dormitory style rooms. The food is all freshly prepared local dishes around the hearth, and being here gives us a true insight to how sustainable tourism can work with the local community. Our lodge is surrounded by extraordinary forest and waterfalls, and we can swim in the natural pools. Approx 5 hours driving.

    • Accommodation Gite / Hostel

    • Meals bld

    • Time 3 hrs walking

  • Walk through the Los Campesinos forest. Transfer to Uvita on the Pacific Coast.

    We pack up our belongings, have breakfast and set off our on walk from the lodge back to the vehicle. We take an alternative route to yesterday and have a local guide who will give us an interpretive walk through the forest, stopping at lookout points with fantastic views of the forest, farmland and the Pacific Ocean over to Manuel Antonio. At El Silencio we meet our awaiting vehicle. From here we transfer to Uvita on the Pacific coast with its tropical sandy beaches. Overnight Uvita. Approx 1 hour transfer.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

    • Time 4 hrs walking

  • Transfer by vehicle and boat through the mangroves on the Rio Sierpe to Corcovado National Park.

    Leaving Uvita after breakfast we transfer to Sierpe. Here the next section of our adventure begins. We board our private boat, with the personal belongings that we need for the 3 days whilst in Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula. We travel down the Rio Sierpe through wildlife rich mangrove forests before coming out into Drake Bay. Here we experience the expanse of the Pacific as we follow the coastline with the tropical forest falling into the beaches and the ocean. It is possible that we will see much wildlife along the shore before we reach our accommodation for the next few days. Our simple thatched hut lodge accommodation is on a small hill around 100m from the beach. The only way to get here is either by boat (as we have arrived), walk or by light aircraft to Drake Bay and then in a boat to the camp. Here we are truly away from the average tourist and it is a magical experience. The accommodation is simple and remote, and with this comes a feeling of being totally submerged in the wildlife and this pristine environment. We settle into our cabins, which is home for the next three nights, and have the opportunity to relax, swim and relax as we enjoy the peace of this remote and idyllic spot of paradise. Approx 4hours transfer, 45 minute boat ride.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

  • Boat ride, snorkelling and beach. Possibly see dolphins and tropical fish.

    On our boat trip today we may see schools of dolphin, and possibly barracuda or manta rays. We have plenty time to stop off and snorkel from the boat before continuing to the beautiful San Josecito beach on the mainland where we have lunch. Here we have further opportunities to snorkel and observe the fantastic underwater life, including sea turtles, a vast array of colourful tropical fish, sea urchins, lobsters and giant conchs. We can also take a short walk on along the coastal path, where we have plenty of opportunity to observe the bird and animal life. We return to our lodge in the late afternoon for a refreshing drink and dinner.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

  • Walk and exploration of Corcovado National Park forest and its 12 mile untamed beach.

    This morning we depart by boat along the untamed 12 mile Corcovado beach on the Osa Peninsula. Inhabited by jaguars and not many a human it is considered one of the most intense biological places on earth and we will really feel this today. We disembark on the coast near the Sirena Ranger Station and walk to this research station in the midst of the rainforest. We walk along some of the many trails here with the possible sightings of anteaters, peccary, sea turtles and many birds. In the afternoon we return to the boat and our lodge. Approx 3 hours boat ride.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

    • Time 3 - 5 hrs walking

  • Transfer by boat along the Rio Sierpe and take the vehicle back to the Savegre Valley.

    Leaving our Corcovado we journey back along the Rio Sierpe along the same route we arrived to our vehicle. We are reunited with our main baggage and transfer to San Isidro del General, the country's highest road crossing the Cerro de la Muerte (3400m) and into the beautiful Savegre Valley. We stop at San Gerardo de Dota (2200m), a world famous place for seeing the Resplendent Quetzal. Overnight hotel. Approx 45 minute boat ride, approx 5 hours transfer.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Resplendent Quetzal bird viewing and rural forest walks.

    An early breakfast and we have an exciting morning walk in the forest to find the Resplendent Quetzal. These birds are bright green and red with tuffy plumage on their heads, and the breeding males have very long tails. After our walk we return to the vehicle and transfer to the Orosi Valley. From Purisil we hike alongside the Tapanti National Park and arrive at the remote and beautiful El Copal Reserve. This reserve was set up by a couple who owned an unproductive sugarcane and cattle farm. In the 1990’s they decided to change their ways and conserve the area, now they have a bio diverse reserve with many birds and protect the natural history of their land. The area is also an important corridor between the Tapanti National Park and the Cierra del Muerte valley. The friendly accommodation is a simple rustic eco-lodge with dormitory rooms, run by the couple and serve delicious local, home cooked meals. Overnight El Copal. Approx 2 hours transfer.

    • Accommodation Ecolodge

    • Meals bld

    • Time 2 hrs walking

  • Morning walk in El Copal reserve and transfer to San Jose.

    After a relaxed breakfast we have a morning walk of approx 2hrs through the El Copal Reserve with its tropical birds to the village of El Humo. Here we board our vehicle and transfer to Cartago. Here we visit the splendid basilica - The Lady of the Angels. We then continue onto San Jose. Total transfer time approx 3 hrs. We have the rest of the afternoon at leisurely for some souvenir shopping or relaxing, before we have a celebratory final meal with the group.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bl

    • Time 2 hrs walking

  • Transfer to the airport and depart San Jose.

    There is a single timed transfer to the airport, where KE group package services end.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • An experienced English speaking local leader
  • A qualified UK KE Schools Leader
  • A single timed airport transfers
  • Meals as per the Meal Plan
  • All transfers on private vehicle or boat
  • Boat trips in Bahia Drake and Corcovado
  • Entrance fees at the National Parks: Volcan Poas / Volcan Arenal / Volcan Rincon de la Vieja / Isla del Cano and Corcovado
  • Visit of the private reserves at Los Campesinos and San Gerardo de Dota
  • Travel Insurance
  • Departure tax on leaving Costa Rica (if applicable)
  • Tips for guides and drivers
  • Optional visits (e.g. Thermal hot springs at Arenal and canopy tour)
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc

Costa Rican food is generally flavourful but fairly mild (not too spicey). The most popular dish is ‘gallo pinto’ which is black beans and rice. Main meals are based around beans and rice, and will be accompanied by vegetables or fried plantains, and meat (chicken or beef) or fish. Dessert is usually a selection of fruits. Breakfasts are usually fruit and yogurts and sometimes eggs. Lunch can vary from sandwiches to rice and beans!

All meals are included
A single group transfer will be arranged on day 1 of the itinerary from San Jose Airport. This transfer will normally be in the late afternoon/early evening on Day 1. The KE local guide or a representative of our local agent will assist with the transfers between the airport and the group hotel in San Jose. On the last day of the land only itinerary a transfer is arranged from hotel in San Jose to the airport to coincidence with the flights that leave in the late afternoon/early evening.

Land Only clients must inform the KE office of their flight details and should let us know if a transfer is not required. Hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with your booking confirmation.
During this holiday the group will spend 2 nights in a centrally located hotel in San Jose. We have 2 nights at lodges in Arenal. On 5 further nights we stay in a selection of small local hotels and lodges, all of which have relatively good facilities. When in Los Campesinos and El Copal we stay in rustic cabins with basic facilities. These 2 nights are in dormitory rooms of 4-6 people per room with shared bathroom facilities. In Corcovado we stay in simple lodge/cabin accommodation. The cabins are clean and have an en-suite toilet & shower. Each cabins accommodates 2 or 3 people. These are located on a small hill approx 100m walk from the beach. There is no electricity here although a generator is switched on every evening for a few hours. When it goes off we experience the total magic of darkness that only such a remote area can have. A torch/flashlight is essential! The showers here at the Corcovado lodge are not heated, but with the warm temperatures in this area this is not a problem for most. The ambience and wildlife surrounding these small simple accommodations in the remote locations far out weighs their rustic nature.

If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. Depending on availability, it may be possible to pre-book single rooms for all nights except at Los Campesinos and El Copal. For additional hotel prices and single supplement costs please refer to the dates and prices page of the trip on our website.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

All KE school adventures are led by a specialist UK KE Schools leader. During the trip the leader will be assisted by an English-speaking local guide and on trek will be supported by a trek crew including a cook, camp staff and porters or baggage animals and their handlers
We estimate that £100 will be sufficient to cover your spending. Tips for drivers and trek staff, airport tax (on departure from San Jose, it is possible you will be required to pay US$29 airport tax, occasionally this is included in your airline ticket) and other incidental expenses such as snacks and drinks. The optional visit to the hot springs at Arenal is approx US$30, and the canopy walk at Rincon de la Vieja is approx US$50. It is not necessary to purchase local currency (Colon) outside the country. You can exchange money at the airport on arrival. Credit and bank cards can be used to withdraw cash at ATMs in San Jose or at the airport and often this is at the most favourable rate of exchange though your credit card company may make a charge for this. Credit cards can also be used at most restaurants in San Jose, and are particularly useful for more expensive souvenirs. US dollars can be used directly to purchase most goods and services in Costa Rica though not necessarily at the most favourable rate of exchange.
Tipping is the accepted way of saying thank you for good service. Tips do not form part of the wages of your local guides, porters and trek crew but they are very much appreciated. Most groups will want to show their appreciation to the local staff who work so hard to make the trip a success. Normally, tips are given at the end of the trek and this is best done as a group. Most groups will give the tips with a bit of ceremony (or sometimes a party) on the last evening, to mark the end of the trip. As a guide, we recommend that each pupil contributes £30 to these tips. Your KE School Adventure leader will help you make arrangements for a fair distribution of tips among the trek crew.
For the overnight at Los Campesinos (day 7) you will need to carry your personal belongings as there will be no access to your main baggage on this night. When in Corovado National Park (days 9-12) you will need to consider bringing a smaller/lighter bag. You can bring along your trek bag (if it weighs less than approx 15kg), otherwise you will need to leave your main bag with the driver in Sierpe and take a smaller bag to Corovado. Bedding is provided, so you do not need to carry a sleeping bag. There is no restriction on the weight of your trek bag other than that imposed by your airline. However, lightweight clothing is the order of the day for the majority of this trip and you will have a more comfortable travel experience if you pack as light as possible.

Our holidays are normally designed with minimal 'down time' at the start of the trip, but having a day or two at the beginning will have the additional benefit of allowing you time to get over the stress of travelling across time zones, leaving you refreshed and ready for your holiday. We can easily arrange for you to have additional nights and airport transfers.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday involves going to moderately high altitude.  During the course of your trip you will reach altitudes in excess of 2500 metres.  Most people will have no difficulty with this level of altitude but before coming on the holiday, we recommend you read the advice on trekking at high altitude.  You can also talk to one of our trekking experts if you have any concerns about altitude.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

You must bring the following items:

  • Hiking boots
  • Sandals (like tevas suitable to get wet)
  • Socks
  • Trekking trousers (trek pants)
  • Lightweight waterproof overtrousers (rain pants)
  • Underwear
  • Baselayer shirts
  • Shirts or T-shirts
  • Fleece jacket or warm jumper
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Warm hat
  • Eyewear - Sunglasses
  • Daypack c. 35-45 litres
  • Headtorch (Headlamp) with spare bulb and batteries
  • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
  • Water bottles 1 Litre (2 pint) x2
  • Washbag and toiletries
  • Antibacterial handwash
  • Small towel
  • Small padlock (to lock your KE trek bag)
  • Basic First Aid Kit, including: Antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, Insect repellent (DEET), and re-hydration salts (Dioralite). Glucose tablets and multi-vitamin tablets are also a good idea.

The following items are optional:

  • Trekking poles
  • Trainers / sneakers for travelling in
  • Sheet sleeping bag (although bedding is provided)
  • Mosquito net (in most establishments they are provided or the windows have netting, however it is prudent to bring one as well)
  • Spare laces
  • Shorts
  • Travel clothes
  • Swimwear
  • Binoculars
  • Umbrella
  • Gaiters
  • Pocket-knife (note: always pack sharp objects in hold baggage)
  • Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)
  • Camera, film / memory cards, batteries etc
  • Snorkel & Mask – a certain amount of snorkel and masks are available in Corcovado, but if there is a large group then the equipment will need to be shared.


For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

Visa Costa Rica

UK and USA passport holders do not require a visa for short stays.

Transit via USA

You will require an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), and you must get this before boarding any US-bound aircraft or ship, or entering on a land border. The fee is USD$14 and you should apply for it at

NOTE: This is required if you are transiting through the USA and you must have a Machine Readable Passport to apply for an ESTA

You should contact your doctor or travel clinic to check whether you specific require any vaccinations or other preventive measures. You should be up to date with routine courses and boosters as recommended in the UK e.g. diphtheria-tetanus-polio and measles-mumps-rubella), along with hepatitis A and typhoid. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required if travelling from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited for more than 12 hrs through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. On holidays to more remote areas you should also have a dentist check up. A good online resource is Travel Health Pro.

The unit of currency in Costa Rica is the Colon. 

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

The months that we have chosen to run this trip usually offer stable weather conditions in Costa Rica. The days are warm and generally sunny with average temperatures between 20 - 30°C. At the high points of the trip, on the crater rim of Poas and Rincon de al Vieja the temperatures will be cooler. Costa Rica is a tropical country and it can rain anywhere at anytime, however there are 2 main seasons. The wet season is generally May to early December, and the dry season during the rest of the year. When it rains it can get humid and muddy very quickly.

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