In the butterfly garden
In the butterfly garden*

Welcome to paradise! On this Nature Discoveries trip to friendly, peaceful Costa Rica, you will see monkeys, showy birds, colorful flowers and many unusual creatures that most people only know from nature specials. You will gain a unique, first-hand insight into the inner workings of the tropical rainforest, the most fascinating ecosystem on our planet. We're pleased to offer this trip to southern Costa Rica, returning to some places we haven't been to in many years. Whether you are a returning Costa Rica traveler eager to see a new part of this special country, or it is your first visit, you will be thrilled with the sights, sounds, and discoveries you will make on this trip.

This carefully planned itinerary to southern Costa Rica brings us into diverse ecosystems, each with its own special birds, plants, and animals. With the help of your experienced guides, you will learn firsthand about Costa Rica's natural wonders. Your discoveries about tropical nature will become an exciting, visceral experience, infinitely more compelling than seeing a rainforest special on TV.

We'll visit a variety of ecosystems and environments. We begin in the cloud forest high on the slopes of the Talamanca Mountains. Then we'll head to the magnificent south Pacific coast, where we'll have a nice mix of beaches and forest. There will be snorkeling opportunities, as well as walks rich with birds, butterflies and wildlife. We culminate in the south at one of the finest botanical gardens in the New World tropics, comfortably located in mid-elevation forest.

Green-crowned brilliant hummingbird
Green-crowned brilliant hummingbird*

Our lovely accommodations on the slopes of the Talamanca Mountains are in cloud forest, where the birdlife is wondrous and the plant life almost ethereal. You'll understand why the quetzal was the sacred bird of the Aztec when you see a male, with its brilliant blue-green plumage, red-breast, and with long flowing tail feathers. From our lodge we'll also visit Cerro de la Muerte, an accessible, and fascinating area high in the Talamancas.

Next is the south Pacific coast, near to some of the most remote and pristine area of protected lowland rainforest in the country. It is an rich and diverse ecosystem. We'll walk on the extensive trail system at our lodge, where birds abound and butterflies can appear and disappear almost magically, in the subdued light of the rainforest. There is a chance to swim or snorkel amongst colorful fishes as well.

Our journey brings us further south, nearly to the border of Panama. We'll visit Wilson Botanical Gardens, renowned for its extensive collection of tropical plants. Its grounds and nearby protected forest reserves are home to yet a different, amazingly diverse group of birds, plants, butterflies, and other rainforest creatures.

Mating treefrogs
Mating treefrogs*

Each year we plan our trips to Costa Rica near the end of the dry season. It is the best time to see a great variety of colorful tropical birds. Many that will be returning to North America to nest are still present, and many resident species will be singing and quite visible, as it is the beginning of the nesting season for many of them.

Your leader is Steven Daniel of Nature Discoveries.  We will be joined by an experienced in-country guide as well. Together they will take care of the myriad details to assure a smooth trip. And they'll also point out the subtle interactions and wonders from birds to flowers, lizards to bugs, to deepen your understanding of tropical rainforests. You're certain to learn a lot and have a lot of fun along with way!

Steven has led trips to Costa Rica yearly since 1988. He brings a special love for this country, and will help you understand the lives of the fascinating birds, plants, and wildlife you'll see. He has done botany research in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, and enjoys exploring every square meter of this country. Whether birds, insects, unusual tropical fruits, or magnificent rainforest trees, you can be sure you will get a special insight into the complex workings of tropical forests that most visitors miss. Steven has led groups to unique destinations worldwide including the Amazon, Alaska, Utah, Yellowstone, the Galapagos, and Iceland. He has a M.S. from Cornell University, and, in addition to coordinating trips for Nature Discoveries, teaches natural history courses at Monroe Community College.

Our trip to Costa Rica is our longest running trip and always a favorite. We work with hotels, lodges, and other companies that are primarily Costa Rican owned and operated. Thus, much of the income from Nature Discoveries trips is channeled directly into the Costa Rican economy. With the serious plight of rainforests today, it is important that countries like Costa Rica realize direct benefits from ecotourism. This helps to affirm the important notion that saving rainforests can make economic sense.

* All photographs are taken by Steven Daniel and are the property of Nature Discoveries, Inc.

Comments from Nature Discoveries Trips to Costa Rica

Highlights: "seeing 6 resplendant quetzals, three species of monkeys in the wild, sloths and all those hummingbirds... The interaction with our guides, driver, and most of the Costa Rican people was delightful."

"Steve and Federico were superb....as a team, awesome....I was so impressed with their knowledge of plants and animals and how they play a part in the ecosystem."

"Outstanding variety — from walking in majestic cloud forest to the giant trees at Carara, to the boat trips in Tortuguero."