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Birding Tours of Costa Rica

 From Quetzals to Macaws Journey     Nov 30-Dec 14 2015             

This journey was created in order to introduce the participants to a new experience of birding if they have never been in the Neo-tropics.

Design thinking on birders that wish to see most colorful and representative species of Costa Rica, families such as Trogons, manakins, macaws, puffbirds, etc. The trip’s goal is help birdwatchers with their identification skills, behavior and other major field marks to recognize common and frequent species without sacrificing quality.



Savegre Mountains, Pejibaye’s Rainforest, Cahuita National Park, Sarapiqui Area, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Ensenada Dry Tropical Forest, Carara National Park.


Talamanaca Mountains there is not destination in Costa Rica more full filling for endemic birds, although the number of species in the highlands in the country are far less than rainforest lowlands, the exceptional number of endemics far exceeds those ones in areas as Corcovado National Park or La Selva. Hummingbirds, flycatchers, vireos, trogons, wrens, are some the families that had been isolated for millions of years; creating specialization of species therefore endemics. Among some of the most beautiful birds are found the Resplendent Quetzal and perhaps the only place in which can be found all year round. Giant oaks, misty mornings and crisp air are many of the wonderful things that make this destination a favorite among us....



Day 1  Paraiso de Quetzal Lodge. Arrival to Costa Rica departure to the Talamanca’s highlands; birding along the road for endemics such as Timberline Wren, Junco Volcano, Volcano Hummingbird, Flame throated Warbler, etc.. Upon arrival lunch and garden birding. No Meals included


Day 2  Paraiso de Quetzal Lodge Birding before breakfast. In Search of Resplendent Quetzal.

Early birding in search for always elusive Zeledonia, Tapaculo and Resplendent Quetzal. Birding at the lodge’s grounds, roadsides, gardens and river edges. All meals included.


Pejibaye’s mid elevation rainforest is without doubts the best birding place in Costa Rica, it lies beneath the caribbean slope of Talamanca Mountains near Tapanti National Park, its unique geographical position benefits the area with an exuberant forest cover, intermountain valleys, river gorges and more importantly very little human presence.

The lower forest near the lodge is a magnet for tanagers, orioles, shrike vireos, oropendulas, toucans, hummingbirds, etc. Its understory with uneven vegetation is fantastic for manakins, spinetails, finches, wrens, sparrows and even tinamous. In a single mixed flock over 30 species are found songwrens, antthushes, antpittas are common on the understory darkness, meanwhile grosbeaks, 17 species of tanagers, woodcreepers, woodpeckers, flycatchers, also the not often found yellow ear toucanets glide from branch to branch in the forest canopy. Pejibaye’s Rainforest is the best place to find Snowcaps anywhere!! The charm of the hotel staff and the unrivaled privacy of this lodge make a supreme combination for birdwatching


Day 1   Copal Lodge. Leisurely take a breakfast pack and get ready to intense birding at Pejibaye’s Rainforest, birding along roadside, farms, cattle fields, etc. Once at the lodge explore the surrounding forests, birdwatch on site. Around the lodge in the mid of the day large eagles and other raptors are present, mixed flocks are very abundant and near the lodge forests, snowcaps, spinetalis, forest sparrows are also spotted. All meals included.


Day 2   Copal Lodge. Early birding at the lodge grounds. Over 180 species had been recorded from the deck, King Vulture, Ornated Hawk Eagle, Collared Trogon, Snowcap, Lovely Cotinga, Scarlet rumped Cacique are some of the many sighted within your room area. All day we will be on and off from the deck depending on climate and bird species found on the previous day. All meals included.



Sarapiqui is a real rainforest experience with vast areas to cover, primary rainforest, active and non active pasture fields, river edges, canopy bridges, thick understory, etc. Cotingas, macaws, oropendolas, guans, eagles, toucans are some of the many species to find. At Gavilan Lodge daily birds to spot are Green Ibis, Sunbittern, Jacamars, Tanagers, Orioles, Woodpeckers, Tityras, etc.

Botanical gardens nearby offer great opportunities to spot a dozen or more species of hummingbirds and its adjacent forest always bring good surprises as Little Tinamou, Lattice tailed Trogon, Cinnamon Woodpecker, and much more. The Braulio Carrillo National Park is a real rainforest experience with the largest mixed flocks ever including favorites such as Sharpbills and Umbrellabirds


Day 1  Gavilan Lodge. Traveling to the Braulio Carrillo is breath taken, its 95% of the forests has never been altered by human hands, dozens of small waterfalls, evergreen vegetation makes this little piece of jungle one of the best places in Costa Rica to visit. More than 400 species had even recorded within the park area & adjacent villages. Our first visit is a local’s farm in search for Spectacle Owl, Long tailed Tyrant, Great Potoo, White throated Crake and the least goes on!! Lunch on a nearby restaurant and visit the national park to try to find Sharpbill, aracaries, mix flocks of tanagers, orioles, woodpeckers, barbets, woodquails, rare wrens, etc. All meals included.


Day 2   Gavilan Lodge. All day long birding at the lodge grounds. At the lodge, the nearby riparian forests holds a good biodiversity of birds, such as Sunbittern, Green Ibis, Bright rumped Atila, Fasciated Antshrike, Rufous tailed Jacamar to mention few. We will also visit couple local spots for guans, toucans and more. All meals included.


Arenal Volcano Area is well known for its active summit, but little is talk about its great bird diversity and its evergreen rainforest. Coming across Quail doves, mix flocks, soaring eagles, elusive antpittas are just another day in paradise. Bordering forest near the lake it could be very successful, the complex vegetation of many different ages makes this piece of Costa Rica a must to visit for birdwatchers.

Great Currasows in the middle of the paths, active Black throated Wrens on tangled vines, silently perched raptors on expose death tree trunks, hyperactive Coquettes going from flower to flower are just part of a daily birding


Day 1   Breakfast at the lodge; follow to departure to La Fortuna. Arenal Observatory Lodge. Upon arrival we are going to explore the hotel grounds, for a good number of honeycreepers, tanagers, oropendulas, some hummingbirds and many other forest birds such as trogons, pygmy tyrants on the hotel private preserve. The remaining part of the afternoon we will take a drive to the Arenal Lake area in hopes to find guans, parrots, motmots, toucans, etc. B Included.


Day 2   Arenal Observatory Lodge. Exploring its private 600 hectares of primary, secondary forests. Early birding to the forest nearby the Arenal lake which its mostly secondary forest where a good combination of micro habitats increase the birding possibilities such as Long tailed Tyrant, Broad billed Motmot, Crested Guan, Keel billed Toucan, White Hawk, Thicket Antpitta, and maybe Ornated Hawk Eagle B Included.


Day 4   Monteverde Cloud Forest Lodge. Early birding give us the best results, today we will search Collared Forest Falcon on the nearby forest, along with Yellow naped Parrots, Long tailed Manakin, Spectacle Owl, Lesser Ground Cuckoo before a well deserve breakfast. After it, we will explore adjacent marshes for limpkins, hawks, sparrows, seedaters, etc. Lunch and drive to Abangares River Mouth for long legged birds, kingfisher, and North American migrants. All meals included.


Day 5  Monteverde Cloud Forest Lodge. Due our proximity to cloud forest we will have an early departure before the center opens to the public.

On the afternoon we will visit lower elevations semi dry forest transition cloud forest. A entire new ecosystem that aloud altitude migration for many species such as Three wattled Bellbird. All meals included.


Ensenada private preserve area in which thousands of birds inhabit during the migration from the north, also a fabulous place to find dry tropical forest specialities such as Thicket Tinamou, Long tailed Manakin, Lesser ground Cuckoo, and the rare Jabiru stork. The areas is a seasonal flooded flatlands with semi deciduos forest evergreen riparian vegetation, mangroves small shrubs and bushes are a great combination for birding possibilities.


Day 1  Departure to Guanacaste’s lowlands. Upon arrival exploration of the local spots, lunch at the lodge follow to a relax time until 3:30 pm for more birding on the nearby forests such as Mangroves; forest edges.

Due the high temperatures during 11 am to 1 pm we strongly suggest to take some resting time and continue birding after 3 pm we would travel to some local Salinas for migratory shorebirds. All meals included.


Day 2   Ensenda Lodge. Birding with sunrise; visit the local swamps, marshes, forest before and after breakfast. Departure to Central Pacific.  B Included


Carara National Park is by far one the best birding place all year round in Costa Rica.Within the national park protects the second largest population of Scarlet Macaws, easy access to all trails, mangrove swamps, pasture fields and forest edges. There are very few places in the country where more than hundred species can be found in one trail.

Meandrica’s trail it has become an icon for quality birding, tinamous, trogons, wrens, antpittas, manakins, cotingas, bellbirds, antshrikes are among the most common birds in the forest. The nearby forested edges give as a good number of open field birds, jays, blackbirds, greenlets, rails, ground doves, motmots, hawks, parakeets, owls are among many of the avifauna found in these habitats.


The mangroves at Rio Grande de Tarcoles are very rewarding on a good day along the river edges 5 species of kingfishers can be spotted, more than a couple dozens of shorebirds, herons, egrets are also easy to find but the most remarkable species are the ones with a restricted range or to the mangroves such as vireos, warblers, cuckoos, flycatchers, the elusive Rufous necked woodrail and the only true Costa Rican endemic Mangrove Hummingbird.


Day 1    Departure to Jaco beach; stopping along the way for some lunch and hummers. South Beach Hotel.  Upon arrival birding in the nearby forest edges, pasture and rice fields. Tons of good species such as Southern Lapwing, Double striped Thicknee, Red breasted Blackbird, etc.

B Included


Day 2   Breakfast on the go! The early bird catches the worm”, today we will visit one of the best birding sites in Central America, Carara Nat.

Park is a combination of ecosystems, that aloud an amazing number of endemics, birds with restricted ranges and many other beauties with more than 500 species recorded antbirds, macaws, hummingbirds, euphonias, tanagers, flycatchers, cotingas, wrens, manakins and dozen more families are daily sightings. B Included


Day 3   Departure to the International Airport. Breakfast at local restaurant after a boat trip to the mangroves. Travel a for half hour to birdwatch about 3 hour boat tour to Tarcoles River Mangroves in which it’s a combination of deforested areas, river edges, mangrove forest and river mouths are impressive. Herons, egrets, vireos, hummingbirds, frigatebirds, shore birds, waders, cuckoos, macaws, parrots, hawks, also looking for White throated Magpie Jay, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Black headed Trogon and much more are among the common groups of birds sighted; although the boat tour main goal is to find the mangrove specialties such Mangrove Hummingbird, Cuckoo, Vireo, Warbler, Rufous necked Woodrail, Panama & Scrub Flycatchers & American Pygmy Kingfisher.

On the afternoon we will visit open farm lands, forest patches, river edges and more pasture fields; the goal here is to find seedaters, raptors, parakeets, flycatchers, lapwings, anis,ducks, species that are not longer found at the national park due their habitats disappearance.

B Included.






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*Photography by Randall Ortega 2007.