Where should I start my birding journey?
Most birders usually hope to see the big colorful birds, such as Macaws, Toucans and Trogons, right from the beginning. If you don’t have much time in Costa Rica, we recommend that you go straight for the lowlands of either the Pacific or Caribbean Slope. It’s best if you visit open areas rather than high canopy forest such as Braulio Carrillo or Osa Peninsula. Easy viewing of the main birding favorites is best at Sarapiqui or Carara. Nonetheless if you have not read much about Costa Rican birds, CRBJ would like to guide you step by step for you to understand forest dynamics, locations, distances to cover ( very important to realize that Km or miles have no real value in terms of distance, we understand each other by hours from point A to point B.
How do I choose my destinations and hotels?
Above all, we recommend that you focus on access and infrastructure. For example, if you have any physical, time or budget constraints, we strongly recommend that you visit more popular and easily accessed destinations. Obviously, the more remote the destination, the more expensive and strenuous your journey will be. If you want to learn more about local accommodations, we would be happy to recommend a great hotel or lodge in any region.
How do I choose a tour company?
Most all birders agree that the quality of your birding experience depends entirely on the expertise and capabilities of your guide. When choosing a tour company for your journey, be sure to consider the following: 1) how many people will be in the same tour (tour groups should not exceed 6 people), 2) is your guide a local expert of the region or someone who only visits the region a couple times a year, and 3) how much experience does your guide have as a birder in Costa Rica.
Is it safe to travel in Costa Rica independently?
Although we recommend that you travel in the company of an experienced tour company, it is relatively safe to travel independently in Costa Rica. If you prefer to arrange your own journey, we have some suggestions to consider when traveling in Costa Rica: 1) never leave your car unlocked, 2) always keep your equipment with you – parked cars are an easy target for prospective thieves, and 3) be aware of common scams to avoid dangerous situations. Check Trip Advisor.
Once in the forest, should I be afraid of snakes?
While this is the tropics and there are many species of snakes found both on the ground and in the trees, snakes typically keep to themselves and avoid contact with humans. However, you should always be careful and never wear sandals when hiking in the forest. Can I trust a hotel website?
Be careful when selecting your hotel. It’s easy for a hotel to exaggerate its facilities and services on its website. If it’s a larger hotel, use popular online travel forums like TripAdvisor.com to read traveler reviews on the property. We tend to recommend smaller family-owned Costa Rican hotels, as the quality of service almost always exceeds that of the more commercialized hotels and the whole lodging experience is far more enriching.
What activities are there for my family members while i am off birding?
It really depends where you are going to be, but here some ideas and suggestions. Frog ponds, butterfly farms, snake gardens, surfing lessons, sea kayak, yoga classes, massages and spa treatments.
Its safe to drink tap water?
Since there are far too many different organizations divided by region was hard to give an percentage of how much of Costa Rica has potable water in which some cases some areas we don’t visit for birding. But in general terms almost 80% of Costa Rica´s water supply its potable, yet here a list of areas to avoid drinking tap water. Tortuguero National Park, Down town Limon and Puntarenas.
Mosquitoes and other insects?
Welcome to the tropics, its pretty well know that at least half or weird looking creatures come from countries like Costa Rica and the great Hollywood phenomena about making things far more scary and dangerous as they really are. In Costa Rica there are certain regions during some months of the year that we need to be careful, yet those regions change constantly do the poor or very good sanitary planning done by the local authorities. Denge, Yellow Fever, Malaria, Chikunkugya, and most recently Zika are present in Costa Rica. Yes you read quite well nearly all of them are in this tiny gem but only one of them present a real problem for the citizens. Dengue is a common mosquito transmitted disease during the rainy season ( May-November) yet most of the areas affected are large to medium sized populated towns such as Puntarenas, San Jose, Limon, Liberia to mention few, this mosquito does not represent any kind of problem in the rainforests, as funny as it sounds because requires unhealthy water conditions very rare in nature where there is very little human intrusion. Mosquito repellent it’s a safe bet everywhere you go and by the way Costa Rica its not even 10% of the number of mosquitos I had experienced in North America. (Randall Ortega personal comment).
Tipping in Costa Rica its very common although most restaurants have a 10% built on its tag price and some hotels were its call all included meals are not. Basically if they do charge to your bill rarely gets to their hands. Drivers, local guides, hotel personnel such as maids, don’t get any part of hotel´s revenue of that 10%. So, tipping its very welcome, no matter how small, yet its hard to place a number on what is appropriate but CRBJ considers that $10 per day per driver or guide per person it’s a good start. As for hotels staff and waiters in local restaurants $2-10 dollars per stay or visit its consider correct.