Costa Rica | An Introduction to Neotropical Birding

Costa Rica | An Introduction to Neotropical Birding

About this trip 

If you’ve always wanted to go birding in Costa Rica— or never taken a birding trip abroad at all —this program is a great introduction to the neotropical birds of Central America. You’ll spend time in the Caribbean lowlands and the mountainous southern highlands, seeking out species typical of the differing elevations and habitats. Our local birding guides are experts at identification by both sight and sound, and they’ll help ensure your group spots as many of the country’s 900-plus species as possible. Combine that with its accessibility and friendly people, and Costa Rica is a perfect destination for beginners and more advanced birders alike. Plus, you’ll discover wildlife like frogs, monkeys, bats, and sloths.

Highlights

  • Take guided hikes in the private, 500-acre rainforest reserve at Selva Verde Lodge, which provides habitat to more than 350 bird species, including the endangered Great Green Macaw.
  • Ascend the 328-foot suspended walkway at Tirimbina Biological Reserve for the chance to see species that spend their time high within the forest canopy layer.
  • Visit Nectar & Pollen Reserve, a private reserve adjacent to Braulio Carrillo National Park, where some interesting possibilities include the Snowcap, Long-tailed Tyrant, Cinnamon Woodpecker, and White Hawk.
  • Search for the Resplendent Quetzal, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Ruddy Treerunner, and other high-elevation species in the cloud forests of the Talamanca Mountains.
11 Travelers

$1,995

Land Cost

Group size

Book 10 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

13 Travelers

$1,875

Land Cost

Group size

Book 12 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

San José

Day 1

Upon arrival in San José, you will be met and taken to the nearby Villa San Ignacio, nestled in Costa Rica's picturesque Central Valley. Check-in begins at 3 pm. Elevation is 3,100 feet.

Overnight at Villa San Ignacio

Sarapiqui

Day 2

This morning, meet for breakfast and an orientation in the hotel restaurant, followed by an introduction to tropical birding from a local expert. Check out of the hotel and travel by bus to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where you will have lunch and then visit the hummingbird gardens and butterfly farm. Continue on, stopping en route at a café in Cinchona known for its many hummingbird feeders. This afternoon, arrive to Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve and take a hike in the reserve with your guide. Selva Verde's reserve protects 500 acres of rainforest, and the lodge offers many covered walks, birding trails, and lookout points, with opportunities to see species such as the Keel-billed Toucan, Great Green Macaw, White-winged Becard, Sunbittern, Acadian Flycatcher, and Wood Thrush. Boots are available for use if the trails are muddy. Take an optional walk this evening to discover nocturnal frogs and insects. Elevation change: From 3,000 feet above sea level in San José to approximately 225 feet in Sarapiquí, with the highest point visited today at 6,200 feet at La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge

Sarapiqui

Day 3

Begin the day with early morning birding. After breakfast, set out to explore the reserve again on a different trail. Selva Verde's reserve is home to one of the largest almond trees in all of Central America, which provides habitat for the endangered Great Green Macaw. This afternoon, explore Tirimbina Biological Reserve on a guided hike. The trails at Tirimbina are designed to afford excellent opportunities for viewing rainforest biodiversity. As a large proportion of life in the rainforest thrives in the canopy layer, visitors can experience the richness of treetop flora and fauna from a 328-foot suspended canopy walkway spanning one of the many stream valleys in the reserve. After dinner at Tirimbina, enjoy an informative talk on the lives of bats.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge

Sarapiqui

Day 4

Depart early this morning for the Organization for Tropical Studies La Selva Biological Station. Established in 1968, La Selva is world-renowned for scientific research on rainforest ecosystems. Be on the lookout for the Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Crested Guan, Great Tinamou, Pied Puffbird, and Spectacled Owl as possible sightings. Return to the lodge for lunch. Your afternoon is free to participate in optional activities such as a boat ride on the Sarapiquí River, whitewater rafting or horseback riding (arranged at reception upon arrival and paid on-site), spending time by the pool, or looking for avian visitors in Selva Verde's botanical garden area. Later this afternoon, enjoy a guided birding hike, or take in the river views from the patio overlooking the Sarapiquí River.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge

San Gerardo de Dota

Day 5

Early this morning, check out of the lodge and depart for San Gerardo de Dota. En route, stop at Nectar and Pollen Reserve where some interesting possibilities include the Snowcap, Long-tailed Tyrant, Cinnamon Woodpecker, White Hawk and others. Have lunch en route, and then check in at the hotel in San Gerardo de Dota, a small community in the Talamanca Mountains that sits at an elevation of about 7,220 feet. The forest surrounding the hotel is home to massive oaks, colorful plants, and an incredible variety of animal life: birds, insects, mammals, and amphibians. The famous valley is a paradise for birdwatchers, with more than 170 species recorded here. The crown jewel is the magnificent Resplendent Quetzal, which lives in the region year round. After settling in at the lodge, spend some time walking around the extensive gardens, where you may find resident Talamanca Hummingbird, Lesser Violetear, White-throated Mountain-gem, Volcano Hummingbird, and the tiny Scintillant Hummingbird. Fiery-throated Hummingbird and Violet Sabrewing are seasonally present, and even Flame-colored Tanager and Slaty Flowerpiercer come in for up-close views, offering excellent photo opportunities.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Savegre Hotel Natural Reserve & Spa

San Gerardo de Dota

Day 6

Spend the morning exploring the upper trails at Savegre in search of Resplendent Quetzal and some of the other species present here. Board 4x4 vehicles to travel up to the beginning of the trail system. The large centennial oaks of the forest are laden with lichens and mosses that contrast with the colorful bromeliads, adding to the striking atmosphere of this forest. Explore the trails in search of such specialties as Spotted Wood-Quail, Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl, Resplendent Quetzal, Collared Trogon, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Ruddy Treerunner, Ochraceous Pewee, Barred Becard, Wrenthrush, and Golden-browed Chlorophonia, just to name a few. After lunch, continue birding around the lodge and area trails. Dinner is at the lodge this evening.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Savegre Hotel Natural Reserve & Spa

San José

Day 7

After some early morning birding around the lodge, have breakfast and journey to Cerro Buena Vista in Los Quetzales National Park to look for Volcano Junco, among other high-elevation (10,400 feet) species. En route to San Jose, stop at Paraíso del Quetzal for lunch. Upon arrival at the hotel, check in and take some time to freshen up and relax. Attend a farewell dinner this evening.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Villa San Ignacio

Farewell!

Day 8

Transfer to the airport for flight home.

Breakfast- included