Overview & Highlights
A Costa Rica wildlife and relaxation holiday with a difference: avoid the busy, commercialised places in favour of less visited, but equally beguiling spots with excellent small eco-lodges.
- Guided excursion in Carara National Park and Rio Tarcoles crocdile spotting
- Guided excursions and activities at Santa Juana Lodge
- Guided excursion to spot quetzals in San Gerardo de Dota forests
- Whale-watching at Uvita (depending on season)
For decades Costa Rica has been a leading light in conservation, and as a result over a quarter of its territory is given over to well managed national parks and private nature reserves. Many of the parks are popular and much visited, with many facilities of all kinds for tourists, all of which provides for a very different experience from the remote wilderness adventure that many wildlife enthusiasts are hoping for.
So for this holiday we have selected a few of our favourite parks and reserves which, although situated in stunning locations, don’t have the infrastructure to receive hoards of visitors. Among them are Carara National Park and the rugged hills and beaches close to Ojochal. Accommodation is in delightful rustic eco-lodges, usually small and family-run, which offer the opportunity to understand how real life is lived in these bucolic areas. Again, we’ve picked out the best. At these lodges you’ll have the opportunity to participate in optional or included activities, anything from crocodile spotting to coffee tours.
Please note (Jan 2022): Not all lodges featured in this holiday are currently accepting guests. Your Travel Expert will be happy to suggest alternatives.
Transfer from the airport to your countryside lodge.
Guided discovery of the Carara National Park and crocodile spotting on Rio Tarcoles.
Transfer to Santa Juana Lodge inland from the Pacific coast.
Activities from the lodge.
Transfer to Trogon Lodge close to San Gerado de Dota.
Guided activities from the lodge.
Transfer to Ojochal area.
Activities from the lodge
Travel north up the coast to Dominical and Playa Uvita.
Free time on the beach or explore the area.
Transfer to San José.
Transfer to the airport for your international flight.
Things to do
We proudly offer the widest range of activities, excursions and one-of-a-kind experiences across all our destinations, tried and tested personally by our travel experts.
Browse our unrivalled portfolio of accommodation . Every option has been carefully chosen by our team of travel experts, so you can rest assured that you’ll relax in utter comfort.
Costa Rica / San Jose, central highlands and central valleys
Costa Rica / San Jose, central highlands and central valleys
Santa Juana Lodge
Costa Rica / Savegre valley and Chirripo foothills
Costa Rica / Pacific coast
La Cusinga Ecolodge
Costa Rica / Pacific coast
Yaba Chigui Lodge
What our clients say
97% of our clients rated their experience with us as Excellent or Good.
The Bolivian deserts and salt flats, I found a new favourite country in South America. Outstanding scenery, the night sky with a full and clear sight of the Milky Way, several planets and a myriad of stars, friendly people and an area which I had little prior knowledge of.BD, Hartlepool
This was our fourth holiday with JLA, all have been wonderful experiences, different in their own ways, all with excellent tour leaders, different characters each with a passion for the countries they takes us into. Your Tour leaders are your assets do value them.HW, Bury St. Edmunds
It was a terrific, well-designed tour to some of the most impressive historic sites in the world. The local expert guides were of a particularly high standard and our overall tour guide was excellent even giving each of us a going-home present from her home country Guatemala.DP, Chichester
An excellent holiday that certainly lived up to expectations. Very happy to have travelled again with JLA, after our first trip with you from Brazil to Peru, with an extension to Ecuador (just 26 years ago!) Thanks again.DA, York
Enjoyed the trip to the equator while in Quito. Loved Alausi, very interesting place, people. Cuenca was lovely, very easy to get around, felt safe, staff at hotel very helpful, happy hour cocktails 2 for 1 delicious! Las Cajas national park very interesting. The Galapagos week was fantastic! Staff really professional, islands and wildlife more than I imagined, learnt to snorkel, scenery fantastic. The group were also really nice, and as a single traveller this made my holiday really special. And on the whole the weather was very sunny and warm. Enjoyed the picnics we had during our trips in the Andes, which the tour leader arranged, especially the exotic fruits which she advised us to try.JC, Bury
So many memorable moments on this tour but watching the sunset and enjoying the independence day parades in Cartegena were particularly special and playing the traditional Colombian game of tejo was great fun.HP, Richmond
It was a fantiastic holiday, visiting really varied and fascinating locations in an amazing country, and well paced too. One of the reasons I was able to go on the Gaucho tour was that I could fit it into a two weeks holiday from work, but a lot of your tours are a bit too long for that.DB, London
This tour is an excellent introduction to Brazil and will appeal to anyone with an interest in wildlife and landscapes. In the Pantanal, there are excellent chances to get quite close to many birds, mammals and reptiles. But having an armadillo sit on my foot at dinner was quite a surprise.KM, Basingstoke
The whole experience was wonderful. Loved every place we went even Buenos Aires which I thought might not appeal. We went to see the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, it was a very moving and emotional experience.LP, Lasswade
Seeing the people on the Uros islands demonstrate how they cook, the amazing Iguassu Falls, seeing a toucan close up (at Iguassu), all the different Inca sites, seeing the traditional dress and witches market in La Paz, the herbal drinks being explained in Asuncion, sunset on sugarloaf mountain and chilling out on Ilha grande.PW, Leatherhead
Excellent as usual! I like the small groups, the local guides and drivers, the home stays, private home restaurants.MP, Seaton
Seeing Machu Picchu for the first time, it was breath taking! and enjoying the company of a good set of fellow travellers.IE, Coventry
JLA provided great planning from the start to the end, took all the hassle out of booking flights, bus, train and mini bus travel. Included excursions were excellent and well thought out, with a great tour leader.
Overall an absolutely fantastic holiday. Arranged at last minute, there is no way that we would have been able to organise something like this on our own. Everything ran smoothly, the group leader was extremely helpful and the group got on very well together, in spite of a large age range. Thanks very much!RB, Kettering
Please describe the most memorable experience/aspect of your trip? "In Galapagos; swimming with a playful Sea Lion, having a penguin swim right under my tummy and watching white tipped sharks cruise by all in the same snorkel session!"
"Journey Latin America came highly recommended to us, in turn we highly recommend them to you."DM, Marlborough
Just top notch. Great group of fellow travelers. Great tour leader. Chile was a surprise to me and in a good way. More diverse culture than I expected. People were very friendly. So glad I made the trip.JW, USA
The train journey from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu was amazing - the landscape was breathtaking, and the tour leader explained so much to us on the way.DC, Pinner
The whole trip was well-organised allowing our group to maximise the time we had in beautiful Peru. We covered a large distance, but the pace was just right, and the accommodation was excellent. Thank you for a wonderful experience.
For me, the Uros Reed Islands. I loved it. The Islands, the boat trip, the people. Incredible. Loved seeing the condors. Loved Cusco and Areequipa. Loved the cable cars. Loved Lake Titicaca. Loved the Sacred Valley. Loved Ollantaytambo.CS, Winscombe
An extremely memorable trip, well organised, with knowledgeable and passionate guides. I'm so lucky to have had this great experience and not to have had the worry of organising it!JB, Bristol
Seeing the Condors taking flight first thing in the morning in the most stunning setting is a memory that will live with me forever. Looking down from the Sun Gate and seeing the full extent of the magical setting of Macchu Picchu was awe-inspiring.CD, Corbridge
It was a wonderful trip. It was all good. In saying what I say next that is not to denigrate anything else. However, here we were at the vineyards outside Mendoza. It is a beautiful day weather-wise. We have had a fine tour of the vineyard and winery. The vineyard is itself beautiful and peaceful. Now we are in a lovely modern building for the 'lecture' and tastings. I am feeling very happy. Can it get any better? Yes. I look beyond the lecturer out of the window and there I see the beauty of the vineyard and 'just' behind that of the high Andes. Breathtaking!IM, London
I have been travelling for over half a century but his was my first organised tour and it was wonderful. As I said on my return I would go again next week if my diary was not full, I needed a rest and was not minded to spend as much again so soon.
This was a wonderful holiday which exceeded our expectations. The scenery was magnificent, the hotels were always welcoming and comfortable, the tours were all exciting and informative and our tour leader was always helpful and accommodating.WG, Pinner
Most memorable?? - Too many to mention, just Aisen itself really.JH, Swindon
Overall, the holiday was excellent. As a single traveller, it was great that the group - a mixture of couples, pairs and singles got on very well together, which added to the enjoyment. The specialist guides were very good especially our guide at Cusco, Machu Picchu and Pisac.PW, Beaconsfield
The ubiquitous music and dance of Cuba and the infectious joie de vivre of its truly multicultural people who seem to live life to the full with the little they have. Cuba is a fascinating country and this comprehensive trip showed us not only its spectacular variety of scenery and its rich history but gave an insight into the resourcefulness of its people and how they cope in their struggle for survival and freedom. I'm sure we only scratched at the surface but I'm curious to learn more (and I must learn to speak more Spanish).DC, London
Climbing Villarica Volcano on a beautiful sunny day. Reaching the summit to see incredible views over the Andes and Lake District, the skyline peppered with snowy cones of of the volcanos, then peering into the gently smoking crater to see lava bubbling beneath us. Totally awesome!!!AP, Norwich
Our first trip to S. America was a wonderful experience from start to finish. Everything was very well organised and we couldn't have had a better group leader than tour leader. The local guides were very knowledgable and enthusiastic to share their country. When we booked this holiday we thought it would be our only trip to S. America, primarily to see Machu Picchu but now hearing the tour leader talk about other tours she has run we are eager to see more of the continent with JLA.FM, Aberdeen
This was a great trip taking in all the highlights of Chile and southern Patagonia before finishing off with a visit to Buenos Aires. The highlight was hiking in Torres del Paine but there were memorable moments throughout. Our tour leader was excellent throughout, helping everybody achieve their individual goals and really adding to the group holiday experience.GD, Cranleigh
This tour brings Mexico's cultural and historical diversity vividly to life, and is an excellent introduction to this important Latin American country.JF, Cambridge
This really is Extremes of Chile going from desert conditions to frozen mountains. He prepared for some tiring travelling - and some stupendous scenery.DR, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Everywhere we stayed the local staff were particularly helpful and cheerful. As an older member of the group I particularly appreciated we stayed 2-3 nights giving me time to relax and enjoy local amenities.RI, Shrewsbury
Tailor made holiday
Our specialists have been expertly crafting award-winning tailor-made holidays to Latin America for 40 years. We would be delighted to create a truly personalised trip which perfectly matches your wishes and requirements.
Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert
Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.
Inspired by this trip
Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.
Your edit for Latin American inspiration
Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.View Extraordinary Inspiration
Real Latin America Experts
Ben Line - Travel Expert
Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.
Sophie Barber - Travel Expert
Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert
Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.
Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert
A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.
Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert
Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.
Millie Davies - Travel Expert
Having caught the travel bug as a child, Millie has travelled all over Latin America before making her home in Buenos Aires for 3 years.