Hike and Photograph Among Costa Rica's Turtles and Nature's Bold Colors


Global Adventure - Hike and Photograph Among Costa Rica's Turtles and Nature's Bold Colors

Imagine being in Costa Rica to see the Atlantic Green back turtles laying eggs and the eggs hatching, and to photograph the unique and extraordinary resident and migrating birds, flowers and wildlife of this stunning and diverse Central American country, on this ecologically sensitive walking/hiking adventure!. Explore on foot through Tortuguero National Park and nearby remote private reserves in search of specific birds, trees, insects, flowers, wild animals, and walk a forest trail to natural hot springs found in this volcanic area. A local naturalist/photographer will be with us at all times. A trip preview will be on September 25, 7 PM Goodman A at the Seattle Program Center. NOTE: The trip price shown is for the deposit only. For more trip price details see the Leader's Notes below.

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  • Moderate
  • Moderate
  • Pace: <1 mph

Arrive at the Juan Santamaria International Airport on or before Saturday September 19, 2020  at 9:30 PM.  We will be met by our Costa Rica Expeditions guide who will take us to our hotel.  On Monday, September 28 you will return to San Jose by 6 PM. for the connection with your international flight on Tuesday September 29 early in the morning.

Itinerary Highlights:   The north-central area of Costa Rica contains an amazingly diverse habit in a mini-area comprising tropical rain forests, cloud forests, the Caribbean watershed and  a volcanic mountain range.  Exploring nature in Costa Rica, photographic occasions abound endlessly. There are sloths, monkeys, bold, colorful birds and red-eye tree frogs high in the trees.  On the ground, glimpse Agouti, iguanas, coatimundi, collared peccary, tapir, Rhinoceros beetle, snakes, glass frogs, butter flies, bats, colorful moths, beautiful Bromeliads, orchids and flowers.  In the waterways search for green-back sea turtles, caimans, Jesus Christ lizards who literally walk on water and river otters. 

We will meet in San Jose, the capitol of Costa Rica, staying the first night at a hotel overlooking San Jose.  Your glimpses of nature will start here on the 10 acres of stunning gardens which was awarded the title of “Best Garden in Costa Rica”.  Start birding and taking pictures of the over 50 different species of birds. The outstanding breakfast buffet is served in the garden room.

The private bus and driver and a naturalist/photographer who will be with us through-out the entire trip, will meet us in the morning to drive through the country side of forests and coffee and fruit plantations.  We may see a sloth high in a tree as we journey to the boat which will transfer us to our hotel on a private rainforest preserve bordering Tortuguero National Park.  There are no roads to this National Park.

Early each morning before breakfast, a naturalist will accompany us to see nature when it is most active. Later on, we will explore the park by boat to observe and photograph birds and the animals of this area.   Free time will allow you to relax, go to the colorful little town of San Francisco and participate in the “The world Adventure Program, a cultural immersion program of talking in English with school children.   In the evening or early morning our group of 10 people can walk with a National Park ranger to find and observe turtles laying their eggs or the eggs hatching.

From the Caribbean Watershed, we will transfer to the Arenal Volcano National Park region, home to a remarkable biodiversity and variety of habitats of a rain forest. The Arenal Volcano is spectacular, sitting amid the green farm lands. We will explore this area on a long, guided walk with our naturalist guide.  During the walk we may hear Howler monkeys and see the beautiful large billed toucan, tree frogs and a 600 year-old almond tree.  The relaxing hotel where we will stay for 3 nights has a trail, 2,600 ft, long, through the regeneration and gallery forest that they have preserved.  You will be able to enjoy nature at your pace or with our naturalist.

In the morning we will visit the Arenal Mistico Hanging Bridges which were designed to blend in with the natural environment, leaving the forest virtually undisturbed.  There are 8 fixed bridges and 6 hanging bridges from which you will see the significant diversity of plants and wildlife of rainforests. The unobstructed views from the bridges is a photographers’ delight.

Nearby is Tenorio Volcano National Park, a very diverse park with a cloud forest in the higher areas and rain forest in the lower areas.  A hike will lead us to Rio Celeste, a river that literally turns blue due to the emanation of sulfur from the volcano and precipitation of calcium carbonate.   The geologic activity in this area produces hot springs with surprisingly high temperatures up to 130o.  One evening we will walk on a forest path to a natural, thermal-springs to relax in 6 natural pools ranging in temperature from 100-109o set in a natural river gorge.

La Fortuna Waterfall, a highly pictured dramatic waterfall will provide a chance to test your muscles on the steep descent.  Others can enjoy the natural environment at the top of the falls, seeing more birds, animals, flowers and plants.

Our final stay will be at very outstanding private preserve, Bosque d Paz, located in the Caribbean Watershed of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range cloud forest.  This private reserve is large and is surrounded by National Parks in the central volcanic conservation Area.  We will hike on the property to a waterfall while listening for Howler monkeys, seeing a variety of ants, and seeing Agouti and coatimundi.  At night we will have a chance to see animals of the night who frequent the lodge most nights.  On the outside of the lodge is a white sheet with a heating element above the sheet.  An amazing colorful variety of moths cling to this sheet.  The lodge was built from downed wood in the preserve.  The meals using local ingredients are superior 5*!  Be sure to bring a fleece or puffy!  It is cool here!

Cultural experiences will follow before we return to San Jose.  The owner of a near-by, very small, local village store makes traditional Costa Rician Sweets.  We will see her making the sweets on a wood stove and forming it my hand.  Of course, you will be bringing some of her sweets home with you.   We will visit a working coffee farm seeing all steps from the planting to the final processing of the beans.   Quality Costa Rician coffee will be available to take home.  In Sarchi, home to the colorful Costa Rican oxcart., recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage symbol, which features intricate designs and a signature “song” produced by the chime of the rotating wheel. We will visit the ox cart museum to see the fabrication of the ox carts ,constructed with traditional equipment.  These small carts are constructed to fit the  size of the coffee bags hauled from the fields to the factories.  The ox yolks and the carts are hand painted, a skill still practiced and requiring a very steady hand.

After a once-in-a-lifetime adventure,  we return to San Jose and then home .

Time of Year:   Mid-September is a dry season and you will have the greatest chance of viewing the Atlantic Green back Turtles laying their eggs and the eggs hatching allowing the baby turtles to escape to the ocean.  This is also a great time of year to iew and photograph both resident and migratory birds, unique wildlife during the day and at night in rain forests, cloud forests and the Caribbean Watershed of the Central Volcanic Mountain range,experiencing first hand the remarkable biodiversity and variety of habitats of the area  

Lodging:   Lodging will be in comfortable and relaxing small hotels and lodges  all with en-suite facilities, some with swimming pools and often open dining areas to observe the wildlife and birds.  Rooms are double occupancy.

Food:   All meals will be provided except on the evening of arrival in San Jose and lunch and dinner on September 28.  Special diets can be arranged with advance notice.   Coffee and tea are included with breakfast. Fruit juices may or may not be included with breakfast.  Drinks with lunch and dinner are not included.  Costa Rician, hot and spicy as Mexican food. is very tasty with all the natural fruits of Costa Rica.

Leader’s Experience:   Patti Polinsky has led many Mountaineers hikes, climbs, field trips, Global Adventure trips and private trips. This will be her 4th trip to Costa Rica.   She directs the Winter Sports and the Mountaineers’ famous Mushroom weekend at Meany Lodge. She is also a founding member of the Peak Society, was Mountaineers Directors’ Secretary and received the Service Award from the Mountaineers.

Participant Requirements:   Must be a current Mountaineers member with an up-to-date waiver on file.   This trip is focused on taking the time to find, observe the sea turtles laying eggs and the eggs hatching and photograph many of the unique resident and migratory birds, plants, animals and insects of the country, and as such, is not designed for trekkers and climbers looking for a fast paced workout or adventure trip. Must enjoy communing with nature through listening, looking and photographing the birds, butterflies, reptiles, snakes and animals of the tropic while walking or hiking (longer walks) with our naturalist guide, Federico.   As some walks are in rain forests, some trails may be muddy and slippery, and some of the walks may be as long as 4 hours on sometimes steep terrain.  For this reason, the trip level is stated as moderate and participants should be fit for several hours of walking and have sound joints and balance to negotiate potentially rough, steep and slippery trails.  Most days, one can take a non-strenuous, naturalists’ walk in the area of the hike or remain at the lodge.  See daily trip profile, attached.

Trip Price Detail:   $4,395 including all lodging, meals (except night of arrival and last night), private transportation, all entrance fees, (some are $80/pp where part of the fee supports the conservation of the area), to parks, reserves, private facilities, special activities as mentioned in detailed description, and a guide/naturalist/photographer with us the full time.  Your travel insurance, drinks with lunch and dinner, airfare to San Jose, Costa Rica are not included.  International medical and emergency evacuation insurance are required, and trip interruption and trip cancellation insurance are highly recommended.           

Registration Instructions:   Please complete the online application form which will be forwarded to the leader for their review and approval.  After the leader’s approval, please pay the 50% deposit ($2,200) in order to hold your space on the roster. Space is strictly limited to 10 people (including leader). Registration will close July 1, 2020.  The balance of the payment is due June 20, 2020.

As soon as you have completed your deposit and made it to the roster, please complete the Trip Agreement and Release forms at the buttons below.

application     trip agreement   release

Cancellation Policy: If you cancel because of an emergency, you may receive a refund less expenses incurred and a $100 administrative fee.


Hike and Photograph Among Costa Rica's Turtles and Nature's Bold Colors

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

After receiving your deposit, the leader will send out a series of letters or emails providing information to help participants succeed on the trip, including recommended and required gear, recommended maps and guidebooks.


Trip Reports