Costa Rica

Posted on February 19, 2019 by admin_jjroot

The span of the Costa Rican territory, from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, is only 200 miles. The variety of landscapes and microclimates that can be enjoyed in one day make this country a paradise destination. Costa Rica is known for its beaches, volcanoes and immense biodiversity. Roughly a quarter of its area is made up of protected jungle, rich with wildlife including spider monkeys and quetzal birds.

Program Includes: 

All ground transfers in air-conditioned motorcoach.

  • Superior accommodations throughout as indicated or similar.
  • Professional guide will accompany the group with a minimum of 10 travelers.
  • An escort from Hogle Zoo will accompany the group with minimum 10 travelers on the main program and 10 on the extension.
  • All meals as specified.
  • Bottled water in vehicles.
  • All park entry fees on main program and extension.
  • All applicable hotel and lodge taxes and gratuities for baggage handling.
  • Complimentary baggage tags and passport wallet.

Escorted by: A Hogle Zoo Staff Member

Dates:  November 9-17, 2017

Cost: approximately $5,190 Per Person, Double Occupancy

Departure City: Salt Lake City
(Other Departure Cities Available Upon Request)

For more information call (801) 584-1737.


Days 1 ~ November 5
Salt Lake City/San Jose

Your journey begins as you board your aircraft en route to San Jose. Upon arrival, you will be escorted to your accommodation, the Bougainvillea, where your evening is at leisure. Set among ten acres of lush gardens, the unique and comfortable Hotel Bougainvillea, located at the outskirts of a pleasant residential area in San Jose, provides a quiet hideaway where guests can truly experience the world famous natural beauty of Costa Rica. The grounds of the hotel are spectacular – being surrounded by coffee plantations, citrus orchards and lush gardens provides an enticing setting for walking through the winding trails, tennis, or relaxing by the swimming pool. Each of the 83 rooms has twin double beds, tub or shower, and a separate seating area. The furniture is made of Costa Rican hardwoods and rooms have cable television. In addition, each room has a balcony offering marvelous views of the mountains on one side and the San José skyline on the other. Enjoy a welcome dinner at your hotel this evening.

Overnight at HOTEL BOUGAINVILLEA. (D) www.hb.co.cr

Day 2 ~ November 6

La Ensenada National Wildlife Refuge

After an early morning departure from San Jose, you will travel west through the beautiful scenic roads of Costa Rica until you reach the La Ensenada National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is located on the Pacific coast in the province of Puntarenas, on the Gulf of Nicoya. Your beautifully-situated lodge boasts open lawns and extensive views out over the Gulf of Nicoya towards the hills of the Nicoya Peninsula and beyond; you will be able to enjoy some spectacular sunsets from here. The 865-acre property is registered as a private wildlife refuge. It is an ideal place for naturalists, nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike.

Accommodation here is simple but charming, the comfortable villas all contain two beds, en suite bathrooms and spacious verandahs complete with a hammock, where you will surely want to sit back and enjoy a superb sunset. Because of its family management you will have the opportunity to participate in the daily activities of the farm which is a most unique and wonderful experience. The most important activities at the ranch include raising cattle and horses, as well as the production of salt and fruits.

After a delicious lunch, embark on an afternoon hike. At La Ensenada there are easy walking trails making it an excellent wildlife spot for many species of monkeys, and birds. Green Kingfisher and American Pygmy Kingfisher return to their favorite perches after each fishing plunge. Two species of Sac-wing bats roost on huge tree trunks. The Rufous-naped Wren symphony begins at daybreak, about 5:00 a.m., a most wonderful way to awaken. Listen for howlers and look for other mammals also, including white-faced capuchins, tamandua, prehensile-tailed porcupine, variegated squirrels, coati, and white-tailed deer. Sightings might include the Pacific Screech-Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, and Turquoise-browed Motmot.

Overnight at the LA ENSENADA LODGE. (B,L,D) www.laensenada.net

Day 3 ~ November 7

La Ensenada National Wildlife Refuge

This morning after a delicious home style breakfast you will embark on a boat tour along the canals of the Abangares River for a visit to the mangrove forest, an important ecosystem. Crocodiles may greet you as well as an occasional raccoon dining on its breakfast of crabs or iguanas. You may also glimpse Roseate Spoonbills, various hawks, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, egrets, Wood Storks, White Ibis, shorebirds, gulls and terns. The ever-present howler monkeys will serenade you as you glide over the water on your voyage.

After lunch, you will spend the afternoon hiking around the lodge itself. The dry forest habitat represents the prevalent forest type of the northern Pacific lowlands. Most of the canopy trees are leafless in the dry season and some may even flower. Many large trees have short trunks and wide, umbrella-shaped crowns; smaller ones are often gnarled. The underbrush will still have its leaves and will be dominated by stiff, small-leaved spiny shrubs and woody lianas. This is the habitat of the Thicket Tinamou, Banded Wren, Black-headed Trogon and the Scrub Euphonia. After a day of bird viewing, your efforts will be rewarded with a delicious dinner and the warm company of your fellow birders.

Overnight at the LA ENSENADA LODGE. (B,L,D)

Day 4/5 ~ November 8/9

Monteverde Cloud Forest

After breakfast continue to Monteverde, one of the most beautiful cloud forests in the world. This afternoon, prepare yourself for a very unique experience, the Selvatura Treetop Walk on hanging bridges. You will be surprised to find yourself – like the birds – admiring Mother Nature from the top of the trees. This is because from the beginning of your walk you will be ascending – step-by-step – until you find yourself as high up as the vegetation that will surround you (from 150 to 510 feet). Here, a series of eight bridges await you in order to safely walk without any worries. The almost 2-mile walk is an unforgettable experience with the excitement of looking to one side and seeing the tops of the trees and at the same time feeling the sensation of walking among the clouds.

Your second day here is spent exploring the Monteverde community and the private Cloud Forest Reserve with your naturalist-guide. Monteverde is a rich and complex cloud forest reserve which protects six different ecological communities, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and a renowned field site for biological research. Note that a “cloud forest” differs from a “rain forest”. In particular, a cloud forest will generally receive less rain on an annual basis than will a rain forest. However, a cloud forest generally has more humidity and (because of its higher altitudes) more cloudiness than a rain forest. The reserve encompasses about 10,000 acres, with many interesting trails to wander through the thick tropical vegetation. You’ll recognize many familiar house plants growing freely in the wild, including schefflera, bromeliads, and ferns, as well as some more exotic species. Although it’s difficult to spot them, more than 320 species of birds are resident, including the seasonal Resplendent Quetzal, considered by many to be the most beautiful bird in the Americas, as well as the Three-wattled Bellbird, Black Guan, Umbrellabird, Spangled-cheeked Tanager, Orange-bellied Trogon, Emerald Toucanet (you usually hear them more than see them), and numerous other specialties. Among the 100 species of mammals are the Baird’s tapir, jaguar and ocelot (all rarely seen), howler monkey, kinkajou, and prehensile-tailed porcupine.

For the adventurous at heart there is an optional (extra cost) exhilarating excursion available at the Sky Trek, a system of trails, suspension bridges, and zip lines that offers visitors the opportunity to observe and appreciate tropical vegetation from different vantage points. The system is integrated with a gorgeous Cloud Forest trail, 1 ½ miles long. Enjoy a different perspective of the Monteverde Cloud Forest that not many people have a chance to see—as most of the wildlife found in the Cloud Forest is living or feeding in the tree tops. Along with the 11 cables zipping through the canopy forest, two suspended bridges 160 feet off the ground, and some of the most beautiful trails in the Cloud Forest, take advantage of the Sky Trek’s observation tower that is 70 feet off the ground, where on clear days you can see the Arenal Volcano. This view reveals lush green gardens of mosses, ferns, flowers, and epiphytes growing on every tree.

Your lodging will be at the Fonda Vela Hotel, located on a 35-acre property, full of lush forests and verdant pastures that are excellent for birding and hiking. In this tranquil setting, you may see parrots and emerald toucans that come to feed in the fruiting trees occasionally. During certain months, the Fonda Vela is excellent for seeing Resplendent Quetzal, Three-wattled Bellbird and Keel-billed Toucans. Horses graze in the pasture below. The Fonda Vela Hotel has nine buildings nestled in the landscaped property, designed with natural lighting, privacy and warmth. All have large windows with views of the forest allowing the outside beauty to be a part of a cozy interior.  Their 20 junior suites, where you will be accommodated, have a small refrigerator, table, king and queen-size beds, a comfortable sofa and telephones.

Overnights at the FONDA VELA. (B,L,D Daily) www.fondavela.com

Days 6/7 ~ November 10/11

Tarcoles River/Carara National Park

Drive this morning to Villa Lapas which is located in the transition zone between the dry and moist forest of the Pacific lowlands. En route, you will stop at the Tarcoles River which is legendary for bearing one of the most important crocodile populations in Costa Rica. Some of these animal reach more than four meters long! In addition to the crocodiles, you can also watch the great diversity of birds of this area, including Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, Pelicans, Frigatebirds, Scarlet Macaws and countless others.

The Villa Lapas Hotel is located in the province of Puntarenas, only 75 minutes from the capital of Costa Rica. Its strategic location next to the Carara Biological Reserve is key to the beauty that surrounds the facilities. The property is surrounded by one of the last tropical rain forests in the Pacific coast. The area protects numerous indigenous plants and animals and there are many possibilities to observe the secrets of this natural treasure. The resort offers 47 rooms, all with balconies enjoying vistas of either river, garden or pool views. In addition all rooms come fully equipped with a/c, telephone, and en suite bathrooms.

If time permits, you may want to indulge in an optional canopy walk located in Villa Lapa’s own private reserve. “Villa Lapas Sky Way” is a union of natural trails and hanging bridges (hammocks) throughout a wonderful rain forest of centenary trees. Depending on the time which you take this tour, you can see many species of birds and animals. This trail has a length of 2.5 km with a descending slope. This tour is very accessible for children and adults of all ages offering total security from any kind of danger. This new attraction consists of 5 bridges, four of which are 1000 meters long (329 feet), each, and the fifth is half that length. They are totally built in metal and have holds with metallic towers, as well as a fence and plastic rail for added security and comfort.

In the evening, bird in nearby Carara Biological Reserve, or take a hike on one of the trails within Villa Lapas. This reserve is one of the last remaining tracts of tropical rainforest on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, and as such plays a vital role in providing refuge for an amazing array of native plant and animal life. The biological diversity is astounding due to the geographic location of the reserve in the transition zone between the Mesoamerican dry forest and the Pacific Coast tropical rainforests. Enjoy the raucous flight of Scarlet Macaws, the dexterous foraging of White-faced Monkeys, the search for brightly colored Harlequin Poisondart Frogs, or the deceptively lazy flight of a large Blue Morpho Butterfly.

Overnights at the Villa Lapas Hotel. (B,L,D Daily) www.villalapas.com

Days 8 ~ November 12

Cerro De La Muerte Mountains/San Gerardo De Dota

Today you will travel to Costa Rica’s southern region where your next escapade awaits you at the Cerro de la Muerte Mountains. In English, Cerro de la Muerte translates to Death Hill; it was not named, as one might imagine, for a spot where many men had fallen to their deaths. The area became infamous for the number of brave souls who lost their lives to the bitter cold as they negotiated this 11,500-foot-high section of the trail. These highlands are Costa Rica’s largest protected region; composed of 13 different units summing up a total preserve of 95,000 hectares. This area also is the northernmost extent of the páramo habitat – a highland shrub and tussock grass habitat more common in the Andes of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru than in Costa Rica. You will be overwhelmed by the variety of flora and fauna in this area… the mountainous oak forest, which is the principal forest type of high elevations. The dominant trees are magnificent oaks reaching 125 ft. in height, like the wild brazilletto and winter’s bark tree. Undoubtedly, it is not only the perfect spot for nature enthusiasts, but for birdwatchers as well. Savegre is a very peaceful place where you can enjoy yourself walking through the cloud forest. Follow the hiking trails covered with tree ferns, palms and multicolored mushrooms, lichens and bromeliads. Many of the giant oak trees are more than 100 years old.

 The Savegre Mountain Lodge is located in San Gerardo de Dota, near the Cerro de la Muerte Mountains, where more than 170 species of birds, including the Resplendent Quetzal and other exotic wildlife reside. Accommodation is offered in twenty cabins, surrounded by one of the finest examples of highland cloud forest on the planet, and set in a valley so spectacular that a post card photographer might pass it up because nobody would believe it was true. All cabins come fully equipped with en suite bathrooms, hot showers and heating. Enjoy a delicious home-made meal in the lodge’s dining room, while watching the Fiery-throated, Gray-tailed Mountain Gem, Scintillant and Volcano hummingbirds, frequenting the numerous feeders at the balcony of your dining room. In addition there is a bar area and a small gift shop. The unique surroundings of the lodge consist of apple orchards, a small dairy farm and trout farm. Personal attention and family hospitality from three generations of the Chacon family, which have been farming in this lovely valley since 1955, are just a few of the reasons you will definitely want to come back.

Overnight at the SAVEGRE MOUNTAIN LODGE. (B,L,D)



 Day 9 ~ November 13

Savegre Private Forest

Bird watching is one of the main attractions at Savegre…the beautiful environment of biological corridors makes this attractive region a paradise, where more than 170 species of birds peacefully coexist with man. Various migratory species arrive throughout the different seasons of the year joining the native species to add still more colorful views for birdwatchers. Among the visitors are the orioles, warblers and raptors. A few of the natives include the Yellow-winged Vireo, the Flame-throated Warbler, Tufted Flycatcher, Volcano Junco and various others.

Your hike today will be mostly focused on the Resplendent Quetzal. In the early 1500’s, the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico. There, as a gift from the Aztecs, he received a headdress of Quetzal feathers. Only Aztec royalty had the privilege of wearing such highly esteemed adornments. The jade-green plumes of the Quetzal may have been considered more valuable than gold. Today this extraordinarily beautiful bird claims as its habitat a vast territory from Mexico to Panama. The Quetzal can be found in cloud forests at altitudes of between 4,000 and 10,000 feet. The clouds in the forests are the product of rising warm air cooling quickly. The results are year-round lush vegetation in verdant tones and massive trees that reach one hundred feet or more into the fog. In this way the bird can live up to its name. “Quetzal” is taken from the Aztec word quetzalli, meaning “precious” or “beautiful.” The bird’s body measures about 14 inches in length, about the size of a pigeon. However, it has tail feathers which can extend as long as three feet. Both the male and the female are an iridescent emerald and golden green with tail feathers in iridescent blues and greens with white under tails. The green camouflages them in the rain forest. The male has a head crest and red breast feathers with a white under tail. The females are duller and have fewer red breast feathers and short tail plumes. The Quetzal is truly a splendid bird.

Through the years, these safe and comfortable walking trails are traversed by people of all nationalities, ages and walks of life – each with a different objective … scientific investigation, adventure, a bit of exercise, birdwatching or simply to find the peace that comes with the beautiful cloud forest and pure fresh air. The lodge has 35 kms of forest trails, mostly through virgin woods. The altitude varies form 7,220 feet to 11,384 feet. Enter the forests into a cathedral-like setting with columns of hundred-year old trees, multi-colored plants and mushrooms, celestial choirs of birds, and multitudes of insects, amphibians and mammals that will make your walk magical and unforgettable.

Overnight at the SAVEGRE MOUNTAIN LODGE. (B,L,D)

 Days 10/11 ~ November 14/15

Sarapiqui/Selva Verde

You will reach your accommodation, the Selva Verde Lodge, in the afternoon. Founded in 1985, Selva Verde Lodge is located in the lush lowlands of northeastern Costa Rica on a very large, private tract of tropical rain forest and rich second-growth habitats. It is adjacent to Braulio Carrillo National Park and the Organization for Tropical Studies field station, La Selva. While at Selva Verde, you may schedule an array of activities suited to your every interest and ability, from relaxing in a hammock and absorbing the wonder of the forest, to canoeing on the Sarapiquí, or hiking Selva Verde’s rain forest trails with a resident naturalist. Delicious meals featuring the local cuisine are served by gracious, native Costa Ricans. An open and spacious dining room with its thatched roof harmonizes well with the jungle ambience. The resident managers, fluent in English and Spanish, are attentive to your every need.  Beyond its roughly 500 acres of preserved rain forest, the lodge boasts a resident naturalist, local guides and an ever-expanding reference library. The Lodge provides ample accommodations in 45 double rooms with private baths and showers. The rooms are well maintained and open into large, spacious, wooden balconies.

In addition to any extra activities you may choose to partake in, you will be going on a white-water rafting trip on the beautiful Sarapiqui River. Winding through the region of the “Eternal Spring,” this river offers some of Costa Rica’s most lush and vibrant scenery. Free-flowing, it has its origins in clear mountain streams that tumble down through thick rainforest, finally joining together in the crystal waters of the beautiful Sarapiquí. Verdant forest reaches right up to the river’s sun-basked banks. If Matisse had come to Costa Rica, this is what he would have painted! This narrow, low-volume river is ideal for white-water novices, as well as families, all of whom will enjoy its moderately flowing rapids, interspersed with tranquil stretches. The journey is also excellent for bird-watchers and other nature lovers, as the river stretches its way through lush vegetation that is home to hummingbirds, toucans, woodpeckers, and scores of other native bird species. Don’t miss this classic tropical river experience! After a short safety briefing, you will rig your raft and begin the journey downriver. Lunch is served on the banks of the river.

Overnights at the SELVA VERDE LODGE. (B,L,D Daily) www.selvaverde.com/lang/en

Day 12  ~ November 16

Virgen Del Socorrro Reserve/La Paz Waterfall Garden/Heredia/San Jose

This morning you will have the chance to visit the Colonia Virgen Del Socorro, a farming community and a birding area located about one hour from Puerto Viejo. Explore La Virgin Del Socorro, a middle elevation forest on the Caribbean slope of the central Volcanic Mountain Range that runs along the canyon of the Sarapiqui River. The humidity carried by the trade winds coming from the Caribbean ocean created the perfect habitat for a great variety of epiphytes which provide food for over 400 species of birds. Some hummingbirds and tanagers are all indigenous to the area. En route, stop at Heredia, one of the most beautiful provinces in Costa Rica, known for its verdant coffee plantation covered hills and volcanic national parks. The Braulio Carrillo and Tapanti National Parks sit in the north of Heredia and are packed with a plethora of wildlife. Due to the constant rainfall, these parks offer bird lovers a rare glimpse of the quetzal, one of the most culturally significant birds in Central America. After lunch, drive back to San Jose and your charming hotel, where the remainder of the day is at leisure.


Days 13 ~ November 17

San Jose/Salt Lake City

This morning after breakfast, drive back via private transfer to the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose. Sadly it is now time to say “adios” to hospitable Costa Rica. (B)


DEPOSIT: $750 per person, due at time of booking

Reservations must be accompanied by the guests’ full name.

FULL PAYMENT: Due 95 days prior to departure.

In the event that reservations must be cancelled, refunds will be made according to the following schedule:

  • Up to 75 days prior to departure, less $250 handling fee.
  • 74-60 days prior to departure, deposit is forfeited.
  • 59-45 days prior to departure, less 50% of tour cost.
  • Less than 45 days prior to departure, no refund due.
  • These cancellation fees are also in addition to any imposed by airlines.

As many advance logistical arrangements have been made prior to the operation of these trips, we must adhere to the cancellation policies. We strongly suggest guests purchase trip cancellation insurance.

* All prices, inclusions and dates may be subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control.



For more information about the Zoo’s Travel Program call 801.584.1737 or email the Zoo’s Travel Coordinator.