BIRDING COSTA RICA - TOUR OPTION 1 -9 DAYS
Rain Forest Central Mountain Range / Rain Forest Caribbean Lowlands / Lower Mountane Rain and Cloud Forest
Braulio Carrillo National Park / La Selva Biological Station / Arenal National Park / Monteverde Reserve
Stay overnight in San Jose – at the Airport Hotel,
Optional: If you arrive early enough in the afternoon we can visit El Rodeo. El Rodeo is a small protection zone near the town of Ciuda Colon, And is one of the best birding sites in the Central Valley. Although it is only 30 minutes from San José, you feel quite removed from the hubbb of the big city. One of the best birding areas at El Rodeo is the University for Peace, a small school run under the auspices of the United Nations that seeks to educate students from around the globe in peace, tolerace and acceptance. The university maintains a small forest preserve on campus and a system of trails lead through it. These trails are open to the public for a nominal entrance fee, and the habital, which is primarily secondary forest, is some of the best in the area. The habitat found at El Rodeo is a reminiscent of North Pacifi dry forest. Some of the birds that can be found here are Long-tailed Manakin, Canivest's Emerald, Plain-capped Starthroat, and many other North Pacific specialties can be seen.
Day 2 – Braulio Carrillo National Park and arrival at Heliconia Island Hotel.
Our first birding day will start with a early breakfast. We will head east from San Jose on the Guápiles Highway the Zurquí tunnel transports you from the modern world into the rainforest and cloud forest of Braulio Carrillo National Park, as we drive the views are breathtaking. The park is 117,300 acres (47,500 hectares, 183 square miles, 140 times the size of central park NYC, 4/10ths the size of Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado) and range from 118 feet (36 meters) 9,500 feet (2900 meters). Because of the park's large size and its varied climate it is home to several distinct life zones. Ranging from high-altitude cloud forest to tropical lowlands rainforest, it boast one of the highest levels of biodiversity in Costa Rica. More than 90% of the park is covered in primary forest, providing a unique snapshot of ancient ecological conditions. More than 500 species of birds including Resplendent Quetzals, Bare-necked Umbrellabird, Snowcap, Brown-billed Scythebill, Black-crowned Antpitta, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Flame-throated Warblers, Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers, Yellow-eared Toucanet, and Latticed-tailed Trogon. After birding the morning we will have in a Restaurant near Braulio Carrillo. After lunch we will return to Braulio Carrillo for a couple of hour birding in the afternoon. We will then drive to Heliconia Island in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, where we will rest through the night.
Day 3 - Full day birding La Selva Biological Station
This day we will start with a great breakfast at 6:00a.m. And then we will go to our next excellent birding destination for a full day, La Selva Biological Station. Dr. Leslie Holdridge could be considered the father of rain forest science in Costa Rica. He established La Selva as a study site on mixed plantations for the improvement of natural resources management in 1954. Since its purchase in 1968 by the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) it’s been declared a private Biological Reserve and grown into one of the premier sites in the world for research on tropical rain forest. La Selva is covered with what is technically known as tropical pre-montane wet forest and more commonly referred to as rainforest. There is no better place in Costa Rica to learn about this ever more endangered ecosystem. La Selva is a fabulous birding destination with over 400 species recorded in the area. Terrific birding opportunities are available in the more open areas both outside and inside the entrance gate. It's perhaps the best place in Costa Rica to see tinamous, which are normally very secretive but have become accustomed to the presence of humans. The highly endangered Great Green Macaw regularly puts in an appearance at La Selva, La Selva is a great place to see many species of hummingbirds and tanagers, including the beautiful Passerini's Tanager; Snowy Cotinga, Long-tailed Tyrant, Semiplumbus Hawk, Broad-billed Motmot, Rofous Motmot, just to mention a few. After birding in La Selva we will go back to Heliconia Island Hotel.
Day 4– Morning Birding at Heliconia Island and departure to Arenal Spring.
This day after breakfast we will bird watch all morning at Heliconia Island, and then departure to La Fortuna de Arenal where we will stay at The Observatory Lodge.
Day 5 – Full day birding at Arenal Observatory.
Positioned within Costa Rica’s fertile northern lowlands, the Arenal Volcano is an unavoidable presence while traveling within this part of the country. It is tall and imposing and has a reputation that precedes itself. Arenal’s perfectly symmetrical shape makes it a sightseer’s dream, while its abundance wildlife including lot of birds. Until 2010, it was Costa Rica’s most active volcano. Much to the enjoyment of its visitors, Arenal spewed enormous amounts of lava, gas and ash on a regular basis. That eruptive cycle – which began with the infamous eruption of 1968 – ended recently. In October 2010, Arenal entered into an indeterminate resting phase. For the time being, visitors will be unable to watch the much-loved explosions, although that could change within a matter of months or years. Travelers to Arenal will still enjoy its bountiful sights, sounds and activities. Overlooking the active Arenal Volcano the Arenal Observatory Lodge is an extraordinary location for birding and wildlife observation. Located within the Arenal Conservation Area it offers the chance to explore a the Caribbean Slope's. Its strategic location and elevation of 2,400 feet produces a combination of lowland and middle elevation species. The clouds move through the area quite constantly producing intermittent rain showers pretty much any time of the year. Birding around Arenal Observatory can produce a great variety of birds, just at the feeders you could watch Green Honeycreepers, Shinning Honeycreepers, Crimson-collared Tanagers, Passerine's Tanager. On the forest edge as well as garden areas you could easily find Hepatic Tanager, Orange-bellied Trogon, Black-crested Coquette, Green Thorntail, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Gray-headed Kite, White Hawk, Crested Guan, Great Curassow, Gray-headed Chachalacas, and tons of Montezuma Oropendolas.
Day 6 – Morning birding at Hanging Bridges and departure to Monteverde.
Regularly one can count between 50 and 60 species of birds during this walk, what makes it, one of the most productive bird watching walks of the region and the country.
Arenal Hanging Bridges is an eco-touristic project of trails and bridges where the main target is the observation and protection of nature. Their private natural reserve, with almost 250 hectares of Tropical Rain Forest, has a vast variety of species from the location.
Day 7 – Full day birding at San Luis de Monteverde.
San Luis is a key area for the conservation of local biodiversity, harboring a wide range of flora and fauna and a significant number of migratory species. The upper part of San Luis is surrounded by Bosque Eterno de los Niños (Children’s Eternal Forest) belonging to the Asociación Conservacionista de Monteverde (Monteverde Conservation League) and Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde (Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve), owned by the Centro Científico Tropical (Tropical Science Center) which also owns an important protected area in lower San Luis. Surrounded by mountains, San Luis’ unique environment and spectacular vistas make this an attractive area for rural ecological tourism. We will be birding in a section of rainforest located in a section of rainforest surrounding Santa Elena, where there is an emerging a 100 meters (330 ft) impressive waterfall, we will be in a area where we will have the chance to see species of birds from both the Caribbean and the Pacific side overlapping, including Rufous-browed Peppershrike, American Depper, the endemic Golden-bellied Flycatcher, Golden-browed Chlorophonia.
Day 8: Morning birding at Curi Chancha Reserve and departure to San Jose.
After breakfast we will birdwatch Curi Cancha Reserve. The Monteverde Region with the Santa Elena town as the center is situated in the Cordillera of Tilaran at an altitude of between 1200 and 1500 meters above sea level. This Preserve extends down to both the Caribbean and Pacific slopes. The resultant combination of climatic and geographic factors creates temperature and humidity gradients, which change dramatically over relatively short distances. Wind sculptured elfin woodlands on the exposed ridges, whereas protected cove forests have majestically tall trees festooned with orchids, bromeliads, ferns, vines, and mosses. Poorly drained areas support swamp forest, while parts of the Preserve, dissected by deep gorges, have numerous crystal clear streams tumbling over rapids and waterfalls. The variable climate and large altitudinal gradient has helped to produce an extremely high biodiversity. The Preserve supports four different bioclimatic communities (Life Zones). There are over 100 species of mammals, more than 200 species of birds, including Three-wattled Bellbird, Bare-necked Umbrellabird and Resplendent Quetzal. After the mourning birding we will eat lunch and then birdwatch on the road as we head back to San Jose.
Day 9: back to the Airport
After breakfast I will take you back to the Airport.
2 pax: 1900 per person – price base on double standard rooms
4 pax: 1400 per person - price base on double standard rooms
6 pax: 1200 per person - price base on double standard rooms
Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.
English/Spanish bird guide with field scope and field guide, pick up and drop off from airport, hotels, transportation, lodging, meals and park entrance fees.
Gratuities, alcoholic beverages, items of personal nature, airport departure tax, or international and local airfare. Due to gasoline price fluctuation, and the fact that birding sometimes requieres chasing birds driving extra time, the cost of gas is hard to calculate and is not included in the price, I prefer you to full the tank as we go along the way.
Easy to moderate hiking is required. For birders with moderate limitations I am are able to make a special itinerary. Either way, birders will have a fantastic opportunity to views an impressive number of bird species, and the experience will be an enjoyable one.
NOTES:The above birding itineraries are based on what are essentially popular routes for birders. It can be shortened or extended. All trips are available year round.
Interest on this trip, Contact me