Wonderful 16 day bird watching tour, exploring some of Costa Rica's best wildlife locations
On this wonderful 16 day Costa Rica Birds & Nature Tour, you will explore some of the best locations for birding and wildlife that this amazing country has to offer, while staying away from the over-populated and touristy areas. This itinerary includes the non-stop BA service from London Gatwick to San Jose and is being offered as a small group tour, but can also be tailor-made for independent travellers.
Though relatively small in size, Costa Rica is home to one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, but the country’s natural wealth is no accident. In the mid-20th century, Costa Rican leadership realized the importance of conservation for the future of the nation and today, 27 percent of Costa Rica is officially protected. The sheer diversity of its exotic flora and fauna is staggering, so whether you are exploring the cloud forest, humid Caribbean lowlands, arid mountain peaks, dry Pacific forests, mangroves or coral reefs, wildlife is always highly accessible and the bird watching is sublime.
Scheduled dates :
21st November – 6th December 2020 (slightly different itinerary)
14th – 29th January 2021
11th – 26th February 2021
11th – 26th March 2021
Day 1 – San Jose.
Upon arrival at the airport in San José you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at Hotel Bougainvillea. (DB)
Day 2 – Sarapiquí Rainforest – Selva Verde Reserve – Caribbean Lowlands
Before breakfast, explore the beautiful botanical gardens at Bougainvillea, where you are likely to spot Blue-crowned MotMot, numerous hummingbirds and tanagers. You will then depart for Selva Verde Lodge after breakfast, with a stop on the way at El Tapir, garden home of the Snowcap and the Yellow-eared Toucanets in the Braulio Carrillo National Park area. Arrive at Selva Verde Reserve in time for lunch. The Reserve protects 500 acres of primary and secondary rainforest and is home to more than 370 species of birds, 100 species of amphibians and reptiles, 80 species of mammals and more than 300 species of trees. Selva Verde provides opportunities to see species such as the Keel-billed Toucan, White-winged Becard, Sunbittern, Acadian Flycatcher and the endangered Great Green Macaw; as well as mammals including Howler and White faced monkeys, Agoutis and Coatis; amphibians and reptiles such as the big Green Iguanas, Emerald Basiliscus and the popular Red- eyed Tree Frogs, Green and Black Frogs and Blue Jeans poison Frogs. Later in the afternoon, you will explore the rainforest gardens before getting ready for dinner. Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve. (LD)
Day 3 – Selva Verde – Caribbean Lowlands.
Grab your binoculars or camera for an optional early morning birding hike in the Selva Verde Reserve. The Reserve is home to one of the largest almond trees in all of Central America, which provides habitat for the endangered Great Green Macaw. Return to the lodge for a delicious breakfast and then continue looking for birds and wildlife at Selva Verde’s on-site botanical garden. Continue hiking along the banks of the Sarapiquí River, looking for Montezuma’s Oropendola, Tiger Herons, and several varieties of kingfishers, morpho butterflies, turtles and lizards. After lunch in the lodge’s Costa Rican restaurant, enjoy a chance to spot birds and wildlife during a two hour boat safari on the Sarapiquí River, keep your eyes peeled for the Caimans, Iguanas, Green Ibis and much more. Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve. (BLD)
Day 4 – Selva Verde – Caribbean Lowlands.
This morning we will depart the lodge for an early morning bird and wildlife hike at the nearby Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) La Selva Biological Field Station. La Selva is a great place to find Peccaries and wild flowers, as well as Trogons, Great Curassow and other species of birds. In the afternoon if you wish, you can hike on the Ocelot Trail of the Selva Verde Reserve. After dinner, there will be an exciting guided night walk with your guide to look for rainforest nocturnal wildlife including Glass Frogs, Bats and insects. Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve. (BLD)
Day 5 – Selva Verde – Caribbean Lowlands.
We head this morning to the foothills of the volcanos in the Central Mountain range, Cinchona hummingbird feeders and San Fernando Waterfall lookout point. Keep your eyes peeled for White hawk, Barred hawk, Swallow tailed kite, Prong-billed barbet, Red-headed barbet, Common chlorospingus, Silver-throated tanager, American dipper, Torrent tyrannulet, Violet sabrewing, Green-thorntail and the very special Costa Rica endemic Coppery-headed emerald. Return to Selva Verde for lunch and in the afternoon, we will visit Cope’s Place in Guapiles searching for owls and other special species. Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve. (BLD)
Day 6 – Savegre Nature Reserve – Highlands.
After a leisurely breakfast, depart for San Gerardo de Dota in the highlands of the Talamanca Mountain Range. We will enjoy lunch en route at Casa Tangara, the home of our ground operator in Costa Rica, Serge Arias. This will include a visit to the feeders, where we will search for Buff-fronted Quail Dove, Purple-throated Mountain Gem, Prong-billed Barbets and more. The San Gerardo Valley is situated approximately 7,000 ft. above sea level and combines highland oak and cloud forests with open grasslands and forest edges. A diverse mix of birds and other animals inhabit the area, including large numbers of the strikingly beautiful Resplendent Quetzal, the stars of the area. Overnight at Savegre Hotel, Natural Reserve & Spa. (BLD)
Day 7 – Savegre Nature Reserve – Highlands.
This morning, you can go birding along the upper trails of a local oak forest in the Savegre Reserve looking for the Resplendent Quetzal. In addition to quetzals, the region is home to a number of birds that are only found at this elevation, such as the Collared Trogon, Emerald Toucanet, Fiery-coloured Tanager, Marbled Wood-Quail, Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, Buffy Tuftedcheek and Tufted Flycatcher. We will enjoy lunch at Miriam´s Place where will have great chances to spot the White-throated Mountain Gem, Acorn Woodpecker, Large-footed Finch and more. We will enjoy lunch at the local Miriam´s place where will have great chances to spot the White-throated Mountain Gem, Acorn Woodpecker, Large-footed Finch and more, then enjoy visiting the lodge’s scenic waterfall trail, looking for Talamanca regional endemics like the Collared Redstart and Volcano Hummingbird. Overnight at Savegre Hotel, Natural Reserve & Spa. (BLD)
Day 8 – Savegre Nature Reserve – Highlands.
Today we will visit the Paramo at the highest point of the Pan-American Highway, the Continental Divide at 10, 000 ft above sea-level, in search for two very special endemic birds, the Volcano Junco and the Timberline Wren. Enjoy the breathtaking view and unique ecosystem in one of the paths of Los Quetzales and Tapanti National Park. We will stop for lunch at the restaurant Paraiso Quetzal and spend some time at their hummingbird feeders, looking for the popular Fiery-throated Hummingbirds and Lesser Violet-ear, as well as searching the gardens for the Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher. Return to Savegre and after dinner experience a cloud forest night hike, searching for the Dusky Nightjar in the open areas of the lodge, then look for various owl species such as the Bare-shanked Screech-Owl, Mottled Owl and the elusive Unspotted Saw-whet Owl. Overnight at Savegre Hotel, Natural Reserve & Spa. (BLD)
Day 9 – Cristal Ballena – Southern Pacific
After breakfast we depart for the Bahia Ballena area in the Osa region of the Southern Pacific with an optional visit to Bosque del Tolomuco Feeding Station. The journey follows the Pan-American Highway, the highest road in Central America, at over 3000 m (9840 ft) above sea level and also the Coastal Road overlooking the Pacific Ocean, finally arriving at Hotel Cristal Ballena. This is a first class accommodation for bird watching and wildlife in the South Pacific lowlands of Costa Rica, nestled in a 12 hectares reserve next to the Ballena Marine National Park, a protected area where you can find coral reefs, a sanctuary for breeding whales, dolphins, turtles, seabirds and other endangered species. In the evening explore the gardens and forest trail overlooking the stunning Pacific Ocean in search of the Fiery-billed Aracari, Baird’s Trogon, Bay-headed Tanager, Long-billed Hermit, and more. Overnight at Hotel Cristal Ballena (BLD).
Day 10 – Cristal Ballena – Southern Pacific
We will spend the morning exploring the gardens and trails of Cristal Ballena Reserve in search for endemic birds, sloths and monkeys. Based on the tide we will have the opportunity to take an optional walk after lunch in the Oro Verde Ecotourism Biological Reserve which is a private reserve of 155 hectares with primary and secondary forest managed by a local family, a place that will not disappoint you. Returning to the hotel, enjoy the view and continue birding the gardens and boundaries of the reserve. Later tonight there is an optional hike. Overnight at Hotel Cristal Ballena (BLD)
Day 11 – Cristal Ballena – Southern Pacific
Today, after breakfast we will visit Sierpe Town, with a fascinating boat tour through the mangroves searching for the endemic Mangrove Hummingbird, crocodile and caiman, as well as the colourful Scarlet Macaws. We will have lunch in the village close to the wetlands and on the way back, we will visit the famous Stone Spheres Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the afternoon we will have some time in the hotel grounds or at the swimming pool before dinner. Overnight at Hotel Cristal Ballena (BLD)
Day 12 – Macaw Lodge – Central & Southern Pacific Lowlands.
After breakfast, check out and begin the journey to the Central Pacific and Macaw Lodge, which is located between two life zones, the humid tropical forest and the high humidity pre-montane forest and is surrounded by expanses of rural roads, pastures, mature and secondary forests and organic farming plots. These bioclimatic, ecological and landscape conditions make it possible for an abundance of wildlife to live in the Central Pacific. We will have lunch en route, before arriving at the lodge, and will spend the afternoon resting or exploring the beautiful gardens, looking for birds and many other fascinating creatures. Overnight at Macaw Lodge. (BD)
Day 13 – Macaw Reserve – Central & Southern Pacific Lowlands.
Wake up literally surrounded by nature, enjoy breakfast overlooking the lake in front of the restaurant and get ready for a wildlife walk in search of more birds, frogs and mammals in the botanical gardens and primary forest of the Macaw Reserve with your guide, including a visit to a waterfall. Return to the Lodge to enjoy lunch in front of the lake. In the afternoon, relax at the lodge or take an optional hike on the main road looking for more wildlife and birds including the endemic toucan Fiery-billed Aracari. Overnight at Macaw Lodge. (BLD)
Day 14 – Macaw Lodge – Carara National Park – Central & Southern Pacific Lowlands.
After breakfast, we take a day trip to Carara National Park with a visit to the crocodile bridge. The park consists of transitional forest and is home to many humid forest bird species that are only found in southwestern Costa Rica. Keep your eyes peeled for the Golden-naped Woodpecker, Baird’s Trogon, Orange-collared Manakin, Riverside Wren, and the colourful Scarlet Macaw. Do not miss the reptiles of the park. Enjoy lunch in the area and in the after-noon we will travel back to our lodge with time for birding on the local roads. Overnight at Macaw Lodge. (BLD)
Day 15 – Departure
Leaving the coast, we will make our way back to San Jose Airport in time for your flight home, stopping en route for lunch. (BL)
Day 16 – Land in the UK