The sheer diversity of Costa Rica’s exotic flora and fauna is staggering, so whether you are exploring the cloud forest, humid Caribbean lowlands, arid mountain peaks, dry Pacific forests or mangroves, wildlife is highly accessible.
On this wonderful 16 day tour, you will explore some of the best locations for birding and wildlife that this amazing country has to offer, while keeping away from the overly touristy areas. The itinerary can be tailor-made for you, which gives you the flexibility to travel when you want and with a schedule that exactly suits your requirements.
There is a new non-stop BA service from London Gatwick to San Jose, as well as non-stop Thomson charter flights to Liberia or if you are flying from an airport in the North, it could be easier to go via a European or US airport.
Day 1 – San Jose.
Upon arrival at the airport in San José you will be met and transferred to your hotel, which is located close to the airport and just 10 minutes from downtown San José, but is surrounded by 10 acres of the most wonderful tropical gardens. Overnight at Hotel Bougainvillea. (DB)
Day 2 – Sarapiquí Rainforest | Selva Verde Reserve | Caribbean Lowlands
You will depart for Selva Verde Lodge after breakfast, with an optional 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 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 can 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 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 take an optional hike on the Ocelot Trail of the Selva Verde Reserve. After dinner there will be an exciting guided night walk with the Selva Verde resident guides 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.
Enjoy your last morning in the Selva Verde Reserve by having breakfast overlooking the feeding stations while watching for Toucans and Oropendolas. The rest of the day is free to bird in the area, relax amid the trees and birds by the pool and do your own thing or alternatively you can join an excursion to Cinco Ceibas Reserve in Finca Pangola for lunch and a boardwalk tour looking for Great Green Macaws, as well as monkeys. Cinco Ceibas is the only site in Central America where the jungle is accessible by means of an elevated boardwalk. The name Cinco Ceibas was derived from five giant kapok trees that can be observed during your trip. The walk is through a lowland flood zone tropical rainforest that hosts tremendous biodiversity. 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 Moutain Range. 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. Arrive at the lodge in time for lunch and in the afternoon, enjoy a walk along trails in the cloudforest or relax in the gardens. 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-colored Tanager, Marbled Wood-Quail, Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, Buffy Tuftedcheek and Tufted Flycatcher. Return to the lodge for lunch and in the afternoon, enjoy visiting the lodge’s scenic waterfall trail, looking for Talamanca regional endemics like the White-throated Mountain Gem, Collared Redstart and Volcano Hummingbird. Overnight at Savegre Hotel, Natural Reserve & Spa. (BLD)
Day 8 – Savegre Nature Reserve / Highlands.
Visit the Savegre Lodge on site hummingbird garden today, where you can spend the morning watching the amazing species coming to the feeders. This is great opportunity to take photographs or get close to your favorite hummingbirds of the highlands of Costa Rica. Lunch will be at the lodge and in the afternoon you can relax at the Lodge, enjoy the facilities of the excellent Del Rio Spa or bird the gardens and Creek Trail of the Reserve with your guide. After dinner experience a cloudforest 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 – Macaw Lodge / Central & Southern Pacific Lowlands.
After breakfast, check out of the lodge and begin the journey to the Central Pacific county of Turrubares, with a stop for lunch en route. The journey follows the Pan-American Highway, the highest road in Central America, at over 3000 m (9840 ft) above sea level. Macaw Lodge 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. Overnight at Macaw Lodge. (BD)
Day 10 – Macaw Lodge / Turrubares Hills | 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 11 – Macaw Reserve | Carara National Park | La Ensenada Wildlife Refuge | Northern Lowlands
After breakfast, check out and travel on to Carara National Park (entrance fee to be paid locally), 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 the trip to La Ensenada Wildlife Refuge. The lodge is located on the Tempisque River, Gulf of Nicoya in the Province of Puntarenas. The area along the river is known for its dry forest system, attracting a variety of birds such as Herons, Bellbirds, Ibis, Pelicans and others. Check in and later in the evening experience the sunset of the Nicoya Gulf while taking your trip notes or just relaxing at the pool. Overnight at La Ensenada Lodge. (BD)
Day 12 – Gulf of Nicoya | La Ensenada Wildlife Refuge | Northern Lowlands
This morning after breakfast, take a tractor ride to the lagoons and salt ponds for more wildlife and birds including a visit up one of the hills at the reserve to enjoy the great view towards the mangroves and the gulf. In the afternoon take a break or continue looking for more birds and wildlife with your guide on the La Ensenada trails. After dinner there is an optional night hike in search of the dry forest night creatures. Overnight at La Ensenada Lodge. (BLD)
Day 13 – Gulf of Nicoya | La Ensenada Wildlife Refuge | Northern Lowlands
After breakfast, there will be an opportunity for birding on a boat ride on the Tempisque River and Nicoya Gulf. The river passes through the Palo Verde National Park and encompasses mangroves, swamp, both freshwater and saltwater lagoons and provides a crucial habitat for various species of crocodiles, monkeys, and birds. The area attracts millions of birds, including species such as the Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, Little Blue Heron, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Frigatebird, Osprey, Tropical Kingbird, the rare endangered Jabiru and the Mangrove Hummingbird, endemic to Costa Rica. After lunch, you will have a free afternoon or an optional hike with your guide for more wildlife and landscapes of the Costa Rican dry forest lowlands. Overnight at La Ensenada Lodge. (BLD)
Day 14 – San Jose | Central Valley
Leaving the coast, we will make our way back to San Jose, stopping en route for lunch. Check in at our hotel and relax or explore the beautiful botanical gardens at Bougainvillea, where you are likely to spot Blue-crowned MotMot, numerous hummingbirds and tanagers. Overnight at Hotel Bougainvillea. (BD)
Day 15 – Departure
A last leisurely morning to enjoy the wonderful gardens, pool and amenities at Hotel Bougainvillea. Then after lunch, transfer to the international airport in San Jose for your flight home. (B)
Day 16 – Land in the UK