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Birding Tours of Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Richness     February 5-19-2011              14 nights-15 Days

Destinations:Sarapiqui Lowlands, Tenorio Volcano, Solimar Hacienda, Carara & Talamanca Mountains.
Why these destinations?
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, oropendulas, 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. Our visit to will extend to the lower base of Braulio Carrillo National Park Our goal here is to target rare birds such as Sharpbill, Rufous ground vented Cuckoo, Bare necked Umbrellabird, Snowcap, Lattice tailed Trogon, etc.

Tenorio Rainforest definitely the best canopy birdwatching at Heliconias Lodge with net of suspended tree top bridges this rainforest its an impressive destination for birders. Some of the best highlights are Tody Motmot, Bare necked Umbrellabird, Ornate Hawk Eagle, Slaty breasted Tinamou, Yellow eared Toucanet and few hundred more species. We will also explore local trails at the lodge and on nearby private forests.

Hacienda Solimar  private preserve located on the Palo Verde Wildlife Refuge 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, small shrubs and bushes are a great combination for birding possibilities.

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.

Talamanaca Mountains there is not destination in Costa Rica more fulfilling 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 crispy air are many of the wonderful things that makes this destination a favorite among us.... Birders!

DAYS 1 - 6 Sarapiqui, Braulio Carrillo, Tenorio Volcano, Guanacaste Lowlands.

Day 1. February 5. Arrival to Costa Rica, Overnight at Sarapiqui Lowlands ( 3 hours ). 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 350 species had even recorded within the park area & adjacent villages. Birding ( if possible ) at the lodge’s garden common species are Long tailed Tyrant, Fasciated Antshrike, Bright rumped Atila, Blue ground Dove, Masked Tytira, Red lored Parrot, Black cowled Oriole, Dusky faced Tanager & the least goes on!! Dinner at the lodge. Meals are not included.

Day 2. February 6. Morning at the lodge grounds. At Gavilan Lodge, the nearby riparian forests holds a good biodiversity of birds, such as Sunbittern, Green Ibis, Spectacle Owl, Rufous tailed Jacamar to mention few. We will also visit couple local spots for guans, toucans and more. After lunch we will visit open fields for parrots, oropendulas, woodpeckers, etc... All meals included.

Day 3. February 7. After a good typical breakfast a short travel distance will put us at the base to Braulio Carrillo Nat. Park is one of the most successful places to find mix flocks, both fruit eaters and insect eaters its also home to some of the most elusive species such as Sharpbill, Umbrellabird, Black crowned Antpitta, etc. Our goals are mixed flocks, and the always rare Umbrellabird. Meals at a local restaurants. All meals included.

Day 4. February 8. . A long journey awaits for us, breakfast at the lodge and departure to the northern Guanacaste rainforest, the only places in which the canopy is just a step away. Tenorio Lodge.
Several suspended bridges, easy trails and tons of rainforest to explore for Nunbirds, Tinamous, Motmots, owls, woodpeckers. All day at the lodge grounds. All meals at the lodge. Breakfast Included.
Day 5. February 9. A day for exploring the rainforest canopies, its wildlife & flora. Tenorio Lodge.
The most remarkable bird of this lodge is Tody Motmot, and today we will work our ways to the forest to find this bird and hundreds more. All day at the lodge grounds. Breakfast Included.

Day 6. February 10. Early visit to Bijagua’s Private Reserve, a small family owned property with a great number of species including Slaty Breasted Tinamou, Tody Motmot,  Smoy brown Woodpecker, White fronted Nunbird among many other species such as seedaters, tanagers, woodcreepers, etc..

Day 7. February 11. Leisure breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant and departure to Guancaste’s lowlands. Hacienda Solimar. 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. All meals included.

Day 7. February 12. Birding with sunrise; visit the local swamps, marshes, forest before and after breakfast. Hacienda Solimar. Due the high temperatures during 11 am to 1 pm we strongly suggest to take some resting time and continue birding after 3 pm. All meals included.

DAYS 7 - 15 Carara National Park, Tarcoles River, Talamanca Highlands.

Day 8. February 13. Breakfast at local restaurant after a boat trip to the mangroves. Arenal Pacifico Hotel.
 Travel a for half hour to birdwatch about 3 hour boat tour to Tarcoles River Mangroves in which 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 specialities such Mangrove Humminbird, 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. All meals included.

Day 9. February 14. Breakfast on the go! “ Arenal Pacifico Hotel.
 The early bird catches the worm”, today we will visit one of the best birding sites in Central America, Carara nt. Park is a combination of ecosystems, that aloud an amazing number of endemics, birds with restricted ranges and many other beauties with more than 400 species recorded antbirds, macaws, hummingbirds, euphonias, tanagers, flycatchers, cotingas, wrens, manakins and dozen more families are daily sightings. All day at the park, lunch at a local restaurant & dinner at Jaco Beach Town. All meals included

Day 10. February 15. Breakfast on the go! Arenal Pacifico Hotel. 
 We are still going to visit the amazing Carara, but daily targets are going to be antpittas, tinamous, uncommon quaildoves,  flycatchers, woodcreepers, becards and hopefully more than glimpse of Three Wattled Bellbird and King Vultures. But the order to the trail visit will vary, we are going to visit first primary forest early in the morning and semi-open forests at Meandrical’s trail on the afternoon.  All meals included.

Day 11. February 16. Birding before breakfast and leisurely departure to the highlands of Talamanca. Savegre Lodge.
Cerro de la Muerte is the best destination for endemic birding, nearly 50 species can be found within this area hummingbirds, wrens, nightjars, jays, owls and more. The gardens and adjacent forest a fill with birdlife. All day birding at the lodge grounds. All meals included.

Day 12. February 17. Exploring the Oak’s forest for Silvery throated Jay, Barred Becard, Silvery fronted Tapaculo, Zeledonia, Ruddy Woodcreeper and many more highland endemics. Breakfast afterwords and continue birding on open areas and nearby forests for Chlorophonias, Emerald Toucanets, Flame colored Tanager.. All day birding at the lodge premises.  All meals included.


Day 14. February 18. In search of Quetzal. Savegre Lodge. Talamanca Highlands is a world renown destination for the most beautiful bird in the Americas. Resplendent Quetzals inhabit this valleys all year round. A full day search for Quetzals and prime highland endemics, visit to the Paramo forest for Junco Volcano, Timberline Wren & Dusky Nightjar. All meals included.

Day 15. February 19. Relax breakfast and good bye paradise, transfer to the international airport!! Breakfast Included.


Price per participant 6 pax $ 3,300 ( double accommodation )
**Single supplement add $250 u.s**

  1. All lodging
  2. All meals except arrival day.
  3. All ground transportation
  4. All park fees
  5. All activities
  6. Pro-birder guiding the entire trip
  7. Costa Rica Bird Check lists

Non included                                                                

  1. Airfare
  2. Gratuities
  3. Travel Insurance
  4. Alcoholic drinks

What to bring on your trip to Costa Rica

Tennis shoes with good traction or Hiking boots with good ankle support (waterproof)
Comfortable sandals or flip flops
Swim wear
Underclothes and socks
Neutral colored clothing for rain forest hikes
Several cool long sleeve shirts and short sleeve shirts
Hat for sun protection (breathable)
2-3 pairs of light weight long pants for rain forest hikes
Lightweight rain jacket (neutral color only)
Casual beach clothing(t-shirts, shorts, sun dresses)
Long pants and a fast drying sweater for the city/mountains (temp. are cooler there)
Lightweight gloves for cooler areas
Rubber boots can be bought in Costa Rica for $12 us.

Small hiking backpack for day trips
Small first aid kit
Camera (optional)
Sun block and Bug Spray (Avon’s Skin So Soft)
Several pencils
Daily journal
A passport purse (to carry money, credit cards, etc... wear it close to your body)
Any needed medications, anti-diarrhea, or any prescriptions
Alarm Clock
Money,credit cards, identification
About $50-200 in cash (not tears in bills, small bills are better)
Travelers checks (American Express or Visa)(can exchange some of them for Colones at the the local banks or hotel front desk)
Visa credit card widely accepted in Costa Rica, except rural towns(keep phone number of credit card company separate.)
Photo copies of passports and driver’s license(kept in a separate place) IUse a credit card to call US from your hotel room or local phone.
For local calls in Costa Rica, purchase a phone card at pharmacies or supermarkets-use public phones (1000 colones)
You can also purchase a phone card here for international calls ($9 for 12 minutes to US)

What people are saying!
“ We very much appreciated the opportunity to visit with you and watch you work.  I can only think of one other person I’ve met during my 30+ years of bird watching who possessed a similar skill level.  My husband grew up birding in a large US city and was exposed to much larger community of excellent bird watchers.  Even he was impressed by your comprehensive knowledge of the birds and your ability to mimic them.  You skills are superlative and we heartily recommend your tours to anyone considering a birding trip to Costa Rica. “
Cindy/Bill Franklin, Arkansa-US
“Ce fut un plaisir incontesté de partager ton expérience illimitée sur les oiseaux du Costa Rica pendant 12 jours consécutifs très intenses.Je recommande à tous les ornithologues amateurs et avancés de profiter de tes talents d'imitateurs de chants d'oiseaux et de tes nombreuses connaissances de la faune ailée, de ton dynamisme, de tes compétences et ta détermination à satisfaire tes clients devenus tes amis à la fin de tes excursions.
Merci mille fois Randall pour cette merveilleuse aventure et au plaisir de retourner te voir dans un avenir rapproché pour satisfaire une fois de plus ma passion des oiseaux”.

Nicole Felx
Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, Canada

“I would like to say, that two people made this trip very special. First my friend Pat, without her the materialization of the trip would not be possible and second our guide Randall, without him, well nothing would be possible.
I am yet to come across someone who can reproduce so many bird calls without the aid of any technology. His vocal chords are good enough. Sometimes, when the birds responded, it would be difficult to differentiate between the bird and the bird-guide.”

Nilanjana Sengupta, India

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*Photography by Randall Ortega 2007.