Flexibility is a hallmark of our expeditions

Spend three days inland in Monteverde’s cloud forest, a rarified, mountain rainforest strung with suspension bridges, and then explore the unique landscapes, climate and wildlife of one of Costa Rica’s richest regions, Guanacaste aboard National Geographic Quest. The day-to-day itinerary outlines what you’ll do, but we will always remain flexible in our approach to take advantage of sightings and opportunities for discovery.


  • DAY 1: U.S./San Jose, Costa Rica

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

  • DAY 2-3: Monteverde Cloud Forest

    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. (B,L,D)

  • 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. (D)

  • DAY 5: Zapotal Beach/Bahia Huevos

    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. (B/L/D)

  • DAY 6: Islas Murcielagos/Santa Rosa National Park/Guanacaste Conservation Area

    Today we set our sights on Islas Murcielagos (also known as the Bat Islands) in the World Heritage-designated Guanacaste Conservation Area. Weather permitting, don a snorkel and fins to discover a rich underwater world or hike into the upper reaches of the islands for commanding views over the full length of this rarely visited archipelago.

    Back onboard, we sail towards the mainland while enjoying a delicious lunch on board. Depending on conditions, 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. (B,L,D)

    **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

    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. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 8: Curu National Wildlife Refuge/Isla Tortuga

    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. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 9: Puerto Caldera/Disembark/San José/U.S.

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

Please note: All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.

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