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Wild Guanacaste & Monteverde: Costa Rica’s Mangroves, Mists & Mountains

Example 9 Day Cruise aboard National Geographic Quest
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Discover the best of Costa Rica on this 9-day itinerary combining time inland with days at sea. Spend a few days exploring the lush green cloud forest of Monteverde, where you'll find hundreds of species of orchids, jewel-bright birds and butterflies, and a network of suspension bridges that invite you to see the cloud forest from a new perspective. In Puerto Caldera, board the National Geographic Quest and set off on an exploration of the Guanacaste region, a highlight of Costa Rica's Pacific coast. Snorkel, swim, and kayak warm waters rich with marine life and colorful reefs. Join a hike with a naturalist guide in some of Costa Rica's finest National Parks and Conservation Areas, where you'll spot unique wildlife in pristine, protected habitat, and explore the striking landscapes surrounding active volcanoes. 
Hiking Costa Rica's stunning rainforestsExplore the rain forest canopy up closeA howler monkey in the rain forestLook for unique birds and other wildlife in the rain forest!Discover stunning waterfalls in the jungleExplore beautiful Costa RicaSnorkel with incredible sea turtlesExplore beautiful Costa Rica
  • Glide through a mangrove forest to see egrets, spoonbills, and ibises
  • Venture through the Guanacaste Conservation Area by kayak or on foot
  • Look for wildlife such as anteaters at Curu National Wildlife Range
  • Hike for stunning views of active volcanoes amid the lush rainforest
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: San Jose, Costa Rica

Upon arrival in San José, Costa Rica, a short drive brings us to the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel.

Day 2-3: Monteverde Cloud Forest

  • Hotels
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
A scenic drive takes us to Monteverde Cloud Forest, an acclaimed private reserve. Bathed in cool, year-round moisture, the forest is covered with mosses and 300 species of orchids. Walk trails rich with butterflies and bird life. Ascend the Skywalk, a series of suspension bridges, for a bird’s-eye view of the rain forest canopy. Learn about life in the early Monteverde community from a family member of one of the original Quaker homesteaders. Spend each night at a charming, family-owned lodge.

Day 4: Monteverde | Puerto Caldera | Embark

Transfer to Puerto Caldera and embark our ship the National Geographic Quest. Enjoy a sunset dinner onboard as we chart a course for the Guanacaste region on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.

Day 5: Zapotal Beach | Bahia Huevos

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Drop anchor off remote Zapotal Beach, where we’ll spend the morning soaking up the sun or snorkeling in waters fringed by offshore islets which create outstanding habitat for a variety of tropical fish. Or, choose to walk along a rarely used 4-wheel drive track which takes us back into a beautiful gallery forest. The area is rich with bird and plant life and our naturalists describe the intricate web of life in these oceanside ecosystems.
After lunch on board, we cruise north to the Papagayo Peninsula, dropping anchor in Bahia Huevos. Our Zodiacs take us on an exploration of the bay and the peninsula. If conditions, permit, we drop kayaks and paddleboards and explore the nearby mangroves.

Day 6: Santa Rosa National Park | Guanacaste Conservation Area

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Depending on conditions today, we may choose to explore Santa Elena Bay in Santa Rosa National Park, Junquillal Wildlife Refuge, or Cuajiniquil Bay, all part of the extraordinarily biodiverse Guanacaste Conservation Area. While venturing out by kayak or taking a relaxing Zodiac cruise, we immerse ourselves into the tropical environment, alive with color. Yellow and black great kiskadees sally from exposed perches looking to capture a flying insect for an evening meal and orange-fronted parakeets chatter overhead. Predators such as mangrove hawks may take wind setting out on a late afternoon hunt, while ringed kingfishers, richly colored in brick red and deep blue, wait patiently, watching the shallows for a fish’s silvery flash.

*Please note: National Geographic Quest will sail to Nicaragua overnight where necessary immigration requirements will be completed prior to returning to Costa Rica on Day 4.

Day 7: Rincón de la Vieja National Park | Hacienda Guachipelin

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Our adventure today continues as we set off inland to explore Rincón de la Vieja National Park. This mountainous region is also a part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area and encompasses more than 34,000 acres. The area, with its forests carpeting the sides of two active volcanoes, is alive with geothermal activity as gurgling, bubbling mud pots spout, and steam rises above the canopy. Choose between several enticing options today including a hike through the transition zone where tropical dry habitat meets the temperate cloud forest. Here, we keep an eye out for exotic wildlife, with the possibility of encountering mantled howler monkeys, and regionally special birds including the noisy and conspicuous white-throated magpie-jay. Alternatively, after a short hike into the forest, opt to swim below Las Chorreras Waterfall. Or, choose to ride horseback across lush meadows, or soar through the canopy by zipline before enjoying a sumptuous lunch served poolside at Hacienda Guachipelin while local marimba guitarists play and fresh ceviche is prepared.

Day 8: Curu National Wildlife Refuge | Isla Tortuga

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Along the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, and in many ways demarcating the line between the wetter jungles of the south and Guanacaste’s drier environment, sits Curu National Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica’s first private national wildlife reserve. Learn about the hundreds of species of birds, reptiles, and mammals that inhabit this thriving ecosystem while exploring the park’s tracks and trails. Here we look for white-faced capuchin monkeys, turquoise-browed motmots, and with luck, scarlet macaws. The northern tamandua resides here, and while often elusive and quiet, this primarily arboreal member of the anteater family may be spotted.
Later, as we enjoy lunch onboard, cruise to a cluster of offshore islets collectively called Isla Tortuga. Choose to stand-up paddleboard, kayak, or simply relax on the beach shaded by swaying palms and tropical vegetation. As the sun begins to set on our Guanacaste adventure, a waterside barbecue dinner awaits--the perfect way to finish our voyage.

Day 9: Puerto Caldera| Disembark | San José

Disembark after breakfast in Puerto Caldera. Drive to the airport in San José for flights home. 


National Geographic Quest

National Geographic Quest
Lounge aboard National Geographic Quest

San Jose - Hotels

Monteverde Cloud Forest - Hotels

Dates & Prices

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Category 1
Cabins feature two lower single beds that can convert to a Queen, a writing desk, and two portholes. Individual climate controls. Shampoo, lotion, and hair dryer are available in cabin bathrooms, as well as an Expedition Essential Kit.
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Category 2
Cabins feature two lower single beds that can convert to a Queen, a writing desk, and two portholes. Individual climate controls. Shampoo, lotion, and hair dryer are available in cabin bathrooms, as well as an Expedition Essential Kit.
National Geographic Quest Cabin
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Category 3
Cabins feature two lower single beds that can convert to a Queen, a writing desk, and a large view window. Individual climate controls. Shampoo, lotion, and hair dryer are available in cabin bathrooms, as well as an Expedition Essential Kit.
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Category 4
Cabins feature two lower single beds that can convert to a Queen, a writing desk, sliding glass door, and small, private balcony. Individual climate controls. Shampoo, lotion, and hair dryer are all available in cabin bathrooms, as well as an Expedition Essential Kit.
National Geographic Quest Cabin
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Category 5
Cabins feature two lower single beds that can convert to a Queen, large view windows, an expanded bathroom, writing desk, ample storage space, and a convertible sofa bed to accommodate a third person. Each cabin has individual climate controls. Shampoo, lotion, and hair dryer are all available, as well as an Expedition Essential Kit.


Single supplement varies by itinerary. A solo traveler matching program may be available, but is subject to availability. 

  • 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 8 Dinners
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Assistance by the onboard National Geographic Photography Expert
  • Beer, wine, cocktails, and spirits aboard the ship. We are also pleased to offer a selection of super premium wines and liquors that are available for purchase.
  • Complimentary Starlink-enabled Wi-Fi internet is available to all guests aboard Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic fleet, enabling email, messaging, and social media.
  • Park and site entrance fees, special access permits, and port taxes
  • Excursions, hotels, and airport transfers, as indicated in the itinerary 
  • Selection of exploration tools curated to your destination, such as Zodiacs and glass-bottom boats, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, snorkeling equipment (including wetsuits, masks, and fins), and other state-of-the-art gear
  • Guidance and company of leading expedition staff
  • All meals as indicated in the itinerary, both aboard and onshore. Meals are inspired by regional cuisine and locally sourced where possible
  • Hors d’oeuvres inspired by regional cuisine and locally sourced where possible
  • 24-hour access to snacks, premium coffees and teas, non-alcoholic beverages, and filtered water
  • Presentations on your destination by expedition staff and expert guest speakers
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
  • The services of a physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or paramedic  where available
  • Morning stretch classes and 24-hour access to exercise equipment where available
  • 24-hour access to lounges, observation decks, library stocked with regionally relevant literature, and other shared spaces 
  • Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Crew gratuities
  • Laundry, spa treatments, scuba diving, Wi-Fi and phone services (except when indicated as included)
  • We strongly recommend our guests to take Travel Protection Plan. A Plan with comprehensive coverage to protect you from cancellation fees, costs incurred due to trip delays/interruption, damaged or lost baggage, medical assistance, and evacuation during your travels
  • Airfare (except flights when indicated as included), pre- and post-expedition extensions, additional hotel nights, and private transfers (except when indicated as included)
  • Travel protection plans and passport, visa, and immigration fees 
  • Enhanced and premium Wi-Fi plans, which may enable video chat, web browsing, and streaming (connectivity permitting)



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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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