Costa Rica Birdwatching Tour 13 days | 12 nights Minimum 2 pax


Exceptional!

Although a small county, Costa Rica is home to one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world including more than 900 species of birds spread over 27% of protected land. Birding is possible all over the year; however, migration periods are the best seasons to find higher numbers of resident and migratory species: the autumn migration from North America to South America from August to December and the winter migration when birds go back to the North from January to May.

Birdwatching Vacation Package includes:
  • Private arrival transfers with English speaking assistance
  • Daily breakfast and other meals as specified in above description
  • 2 nights at Bougainvillea Hotel, Standard Garden View
  • 2 nights at Savegre Lodge
  • 2 nights at Rancho Naturalista Hotel
  • 2 nights at Selva Bananito Lodge
  • 2 nights at Selva Verde Lodge
  • 2 nights at Maquenque Eco Lodge
  • Lodging taxes
  • Private departure transfer
  • According to selected mean of transportation: car rental or private English speaking guide and minibus from day 2 to day 12.
Not Included: 
  • Departure tax (US$29 per person), tips, optional tours, alcoholic beverages, personal expenses, air tickets to/from Costa Rica

Itinerary


Arrival: Meet and greet at Juan Santamaría International airport and private transfer to your hotel.

Night in Bougainvillea Hotel, STD Garden View Room, breakfast included

Immersed in 10 acres of astonishing and lush gardens, the Bougainvillea Hotel gives its guests the benefits of the city while staying in a close to nature, relaxing environment.
Surrounded by 10 acres of lush tropical gardens, Hotel Bougainvillea is only a 30-minute drive from Juan Santamaría International Airport, in an area called Santo Domingo de Heredia.

Despite its central location between Heredia and San José, this privileged location has kept its rural charm, with colonial adobe houses and beautiful churches. The hotel offers 81 rooms with view either to the Central Valley and surrounding mountains or to the beautiful tropical gardens. All of them are completely equipped with two full size beds, flat screen TV, telephone, safety deposit box, coffee maker, radio alarm clock, ceiling fan, hair dryer and free wireless internet access.

The tropical gardens are one of the hotel’s best attributes. Full of trees, plants, flowers and bushes, the gardens are particularly attractive to birds. Hummingbirds, blue crowned motmots, palm tanagers, tropical kingbirds, boat-billed flycatchers are frequently observed. Guests will find a large variety of traditional and international dishes in Vitrales Restaurant. The bar offers a cozy atmosphere, accented by a fireplace, perfect for a quiet dinner and long conversations. Other amenities include a nice swimming pool, gym, sauna, two lighted tennis courts, souvenir shop and five well-equipped conference rooms, with magnificent garden views. It also offers room service from 6 am to 9 pm, laundry service, safe deposit box at the reception, free local calls and a parking lot.

Notes:
It is possible to include other birding hotspots as the Poas Volcano, the Barva Volcano and the mountains of La Carpintera from this location.


Heredia to San Gerardo de Dota - Breakfast Included at the Hotel. 

Beginning of this interesting itinerary that will take you to visit some of the most famous birding spots in the country. Two options are offered:
1. Drive your rented car (Hyundai Tucson 4X2or similar, automatic transmission).
2. Meet your private guide who will be with you all along this interesting trip.

About Car Rental

Car rental does not include any insurance option. Mandatory basic coverage, required by law, as well as other optional types of insurance can be contracted directly with the car rental agent when car will be delivered. A hold (US$1000) will be placed on the client’s credit card for a security deposit. No debit cards or cash are accepted for the deposit. Additional insurance or second driver option can also be included before signing the contract.

Located just 85 km southwest of San Jose, San Gerardo de Dota lies near the Inter-American Highway on the western slopes of the Cerro de La Muerte. An amazingly stunning habitat for a plethora of bird and flora species, this region is most well known for being the primary habitat for the resplendent Quetzal, Costa Rica’s most famous bird. Sitting at an altitude of 2200 meters above sea level, this town offers tourists crisp mountain air, lush cloud forests and some of the best birding in the country

Considered to be among the most striking birds in the world, the quetzals here nest in the nearby cloud forest and can be frequently spotted during the months of April and May, their breeding season. Besides the quetzal, a number of other birds found here include tanagers, woodpeckers and hummingbirds making this area truly a birdwatchers haven.
 
Night in Savegre Lodge: Standard Room - All meals included

Savegre Lodge is located near the small community of San Gerardo de Dota, on the Talamanca mountain range, about 90 kilometers from San José. This mountain hotel offers two room categories: 21 standard amidst the beautiful gardens and 30 junior suites. All rooms have telephone, coffee maker, safe box and hair dryer. The restaurant offers a la carte or buffet style with a wide variety of options, including fresh trout, the house specialty.

The hotel has a private reserve of 400 hectares of which 80% is primary forest and the rest is regenerating forest. Guests can also enjoy horseback riding, trout fishing in ponds or Savegre River or hiking on trails. The hotel also offers a bar lounge, gift shop, laundry service, internet access and Spa.

The reserve is ideal for bird watching. About 180 species of birds have been reported, including the Resplendent Quetzal and endemics such as the White-Throated Mountain Gem, the Collared Redstart, the Volcano Hummingbird and the Black-cheeked Warbler.


San Gerardo de Dota Bird Watching Day

1. For clients who have chosen to self-drive, we have included Savegre’s bird watching half-day tour, which includes guide and transfers.
2. Full day for bird watching with your private guide

San Gerardo de Dota is one of the best places for birding (it is the only destination in Costa Rica mentioned in the book Fifty Places to Go Birding Before You Die: Experts Share the World's Greatest Destinations.)

Morning birdsong heralds the start of an unforgettable experience in the cloud forest. During breakfast the hummingbirds give you an indication of what your excursion will be like. After meeting your guide at the hotel reception, you set out on your walk.

Hotel Savegre’s bird list has more than 170 species and some are endemic to the zone. Along our trails, you will be able to find the most elusive and hard-to-spot species, real trophies for birders who want to increase their life list. The tour consists of short walks around the hotel or in the private reserve. Mornings, just after dawn, are the best time for seeing most species.
 
Night in Savegre Lodge: Standard Room - All meals included. 


San Gerardo de Dota to Turrialba

1. Private transfer to Turrialba.
2. Drive your rented car.

Situated 40 miles east of the city of San Jose, the beautiful Turrialba Valley is irrigated by the pure and wild waters of the Reventazon River, which converted these lands into a rich agricultural area over a hundred years ago.

Rains throughout the year create a green collage of primary forests, biological corridors, reforested areas, and extensive plantations of coffee, macadamia and sugar cane, demonstrating a perfect balance between agricultural development and the conservation of the wealth of nature.

The location of Rancho Naturalista within the Cordillera Talamanca serves as a great magnet to many resident and migratory birds. Over 430 species have been recorded from the diverse habitats within the area, including the large area of protected forest in the lodge grounds and surrounding adjacent land.
 
Night in Rancho Naturalista: Standard Room - All meals included. 

Rancho Naturalista is set at an altitude of between 2528 and 3850ft (766 and 1167m) on the Caribbean slopes of the Talamanca Mountains. The lodge is 2 ½ hours (65 Km/40 miles) east of San Jose and about ½ hour (20 Km / 12 miles) from the town of Turrialba.

The lodge’s balcony and many rooms provide stunning views of Turrialba and Irazu volcanoes. The main building of the lodge is in a traditional Spanish colonial style. It has a comfortable sitting room with a large internal and external dining area, along with a birding balcony, where over 250 species have been recorded. Guests will also find many bird related books and internet access. Some guestrooms are located within the main building, on the upper floor, next to the balcony. The Casitas, located near the main building, offer more privacy and have forest or volcano views. Most Casitas feature two bedrooms with a private bathroom.

At Rancho Naturalista the atmosphere is warm and relaxed, and the staff are friendly and welcoming. This comfortable lodge is famous for its excellent food, well prepared, and made with the best fresh local ingredients. Food is served family style, with a great variety at the table so that each guest can select the dishes and amounts of his or her choice. All meals are included in the stay. Rancho Naturalista has its own delicious mountain spring water that is tested regularly and certified to be pure and safe.

The weather is almost perfect year-round, not too hot and not too cold. Rancho Naturalista is a wonderful getaway for bird watchers, hikers, photographers and naturalists.


Bird Watching at Rancho Naturalista

Day to explore the private reserve and bird watching.

1. For clients who have chosen to self-drive, we have included the morning bird watching tour in the hotel
2. Full day for bird watching with your private guide

Rancho Naturalista’s location within the Cordillera of Talamanca serves as a great magnet to many resident and migratory birds; Over 430 species of birds have been recorded in the private forest reserve and within the local area.

Rancho Naturalista falls neatly into the Endemic Bird Area Number 19, ‘Central American Caribbean Foothills and Lowlands EBA’ and is home to many species that are high on the ‘wanted’ list of many visiting birders.

Some of the most common resident birds are the Grey-headed Chachalaca, the White-crowned Parrot, the White-necked Jacobin, the Blue-crowned Motmot, the Collared Aracari, the Keel-billed Toucan, the White-collared Manakin, the Passerini’s Tanager, the Golden-hooded Tanager and the Montezuma Oropendola.
 
Night in Rancho Naturalista: Standard Room - All Meals Included.


Turrialba to Selva Bananito

1. Drive your rented car to Salon Delia where you will be picked up and take you to Selva Bananito Lodge.
2. Private transfer to Selva Bananito Lodge & Reserve.

Nestled in a pristine region of Costa Rica’s Caribbean area, the Talamanca Mountains, the Private Reserve Selva Bananito is an important buffer zone or transition area to the International Park La Amistad.

Selva Bananito Eco lodge has achieved worldwide recognition thanks to its efforts in nature conservation, in particular watershed conservation, as a key element to provide a source of income for socio economic growth for local communities, and the protection of natural resources that Costa Rica Ecotourism strives to pursue and achieve.
 
Night in Selva Bananito Ecolodge: Superior Room - All Meals Included

Selva Bananito Lodge is built on a family farm, of which only one third of the property is actually used for farming. In 1994 the family decided to declare the untouched two thirds of the farm (850 hectares or 2,000 acres) a private, biological reserve and built the lodge as an alternative source of income.

Selva Bananito Ecolodge has been built with recycled waste wood from logging activity that took place several decades ago. One important thing to know… there is no electricity in the lodge which creates a quiet and relaxing environment, very much in tune with the surroundings.

However, if guests need to recharge any batteries, the lodge will arrange it through the farm management. The lodge has five spacious standard rooms and six even more spacious superior rooms, with ample decks with spectacular views and comfortable hammocks. Each room has solar heated warm water and an ample restroom and shower area. LED reading lamps powered by solar energy are provided.

The main office is located in the building opposite the entrance to the rooms. Here guests may leave valuables for safekeeping. Following the main road downhill, you will find the Rancho, which has a dining area, bar, and small library upstairs, and kitchen and personnel facilities downstairs. Meals are served here and can be a nice opportunity to meet and socialized with other guests. The guests can choose among several activities such as bird watching, guided walks through the rain forest, horseback riding, rappelling or tree climbing.

Selva Bananito Lodge and Reserve offers tranquility, beauty, close contact with nature, and the opportunity to experience the rain forest first hand. It also offers an insight into agriculture in the humid tropics. Moreover, Selva Bananito takes an active stand in environmental protection and by choosing to visit Selva Bananito Lodge, guests become an integral part of this conservation process.
 
Selva Bananito stay includes: Lodging, two way transfers between Salón Delia / Selva Bananito Lodge, buffet breakfast, lunch, three course dinner, and natural fruit juices.


Selva Bananito Bird Watching Day

Full day in Selva Bananito Reserve.

1. For clients who have chosen to self-drive, we have included a guided bird watching tour in the hotel and a natural History Hike. Guests can also choose one of the following tours: Rainforest tour, introductory tree-climbing or horse ride through the farm.

2. Full day for bird watching with your private guide. You can also choose one of these tours: Rainforest tour, introductory tree-climbing or horse ride through the farm.

Night in Selva Bananito Ecolodge: Superior Room - All Meals Included. 


Selva Bananito to Sarapiquí

After breakfast, departure to another famous birding spot in Sarapiquí. 

1. Private transfer to Sarapiquí.

2. Drive your rented car. 

Sarapiqui stands out for its primary forests, swamps, and the Sarapiqui river, in a biologically rich territory, with temperatures that oscillate between 26°C and 28°C; a hot, humid land which can be explored by way of the dense network of trails within the protected areas which are of great importance for the conservation of birds, butterflies, insects and plants.
 
Night in Selva Verde Lodge: Bungalow - All Meals Included.

The Selva Verde eco lodge is a heaven for nature lovers, birdwatchers, scientists, photographers, students, and for those who like adventure. It is located very close to the lowlands of northeastern Costa Rica, Sarapiqui, within the private reserve of Selva Verde Rainforest, which protects more than 500 acres of primary and secondary rainforest.

This reserve has been identified as a key part of the La Selva in San Juan Biological Corridor, part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor initiative, a proposal that links the preserved habitat from southern Mexico and Belize to Panama. The lodge buildings are incorporated into the rainforest on elevated wooden platforms and walkways that blend in with the natural surroundings. The covered walkways allow guests to stroll and observe wildlife while staying dry during the rains.

The river lodge has forty rooms set in blocks of four and accommodates one to four guests with two double or queen beds. Each room has a desk, clothing rack, ceiling fans, and private bath with solar heated water and double sinks. Verandahs surround each block of rooms, and offer ample wildlife viewing and relaxing opportunities from chairs and hammocks. The lodge also offers five bungalows, equipped with air conditioning, coffee maker and mini refrigerator.

These bungalows are separated from common areas and are ideal for honeymooners or for those who want more privacy. No smoking inside the rooms. Guests also have at their disposal a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, gift shop, laundry services, computer and ample parking. The lodge founded the Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center, nonprofit organization whose mission is to support conservation through educational programs and community development that favor the encounter between local people, volunteers and guests.


Sarapiquí Bird Watching Day

1. For clients who have chosen to self-drive, we have included the guided morning bird watching tour in the hotel.
2. Full day for bird watching with your private guide in the grounds of the hotel or in other birding spot in the area.

Keel-billed Toucans, Great Green Macaws, Wood Thrushes, Grey-necked Wood Rails, Sun bitterns and Violet Crowned Woodnymphs are just a few of the birds that inhabit the Selva Verde Rainforest Reserve. Grab your binoculars and join the lodge’s naturalist guide for an early morning bird walk on the grounds of Selva Verde. Morning is a very active time for the birds, so you can count on sighting several of the stunning tropical species that inhabit Selva Verde. Every morning is different, but it is always exciting! Your guide has a keen eye and a high-powered scope, so you can get close up views of birds you might not otherwise notice. Selva Verde Lodge is one of the established reserves involved in the Costa Rican Bird Route. A new addition to Costa Rican eco adventure, the recently opened Bird Route consists of twelve birding sites, teaming up established biological reserves and newly created reserves, to offer a variety of bird watching opportunities and products in the San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor of northeastern Costa Rica.
Binoculars can be rented at reception.

Other recommended spot in the area:

Nature Pavillion Costa Rica

The mission of the Costa Rica Nature Pavilion Nature Park is to promote environmental awareness through exciting up-close and personal encounters with nature. These experiences bring guests insights and an appreciation for the vital role reforestation plays in the environment.

As a result of reforestation efforts throughout the past 25 years, the Costa Rica Nature Pavilion Nature Park has become home and feeding grounds to over 225 bird species, half of the species in Sarapiqui, giving it one of the highest diversities of bird species in Costa Rica.

In addition, the Nature Pavilion Nature Park offers the possibility to observe and take photos from inside a custom designed and spacious (83 square meters, 900 square feet) open air covered Nature Pavilion.

This design offers outstanding observation opportunities and excellent photography in both rain and shine. The Pavilion is conveniently located 25 meters from a secure parking area. For guests’ convenience, they offer refreshments, free Wi-Fi and free battery charging stations.
 
Night in Selva Verde Lodge, Bungalow, all meals included


Sarapiquí to Boca Tapada

After breakfast, departure to the northern plains, next to San Carlos River.
 
1. Drive your rented car.
2. Private transfer to Sarapiquí.

Boca Tapada is located in the Northern lowlands, near the mouth of the San Carlos river which forms the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. This remote and off the beaten path area of Costa Rica is home to a rich biodiversity of plants and animals and it is specially known for being one of the few remaining nesting sites in the area of the endangered Great Green Macaw.
 
Night in Maquenque Lodge, Standard room, all meals included

Opened in 2009, this lodge is located within the 60-hectares Maquenque Eco Preserve in Boca Tapada, in the Northern lowlands of San Carlos. Surrounded by tropical rainforests, on the flanks of the river, this lodge has 14 beautiful and spacious bungalows with private bathroom, ceiling fans and a terrace with a nice view to the lagoon, excellent for bird watching.

Guests will also enjoy swimming in the refreshing pool, walking in the property’s trails with a bilingual naturalist local guide, canoeing on the lagoon or visiting the green garden and fruit orchard. El Paso de las Lapas Bar & Restaurant serves delicious dishes made with fresh vegetables and fruits grown in the green garden.

This area is one of the best places in Costa Rica for the observation of the Great Green Macaw (Ara Ambigua) thanks to the great concentration of almendro tree found in the region. The world population is only about 7.000 individuals.

In Costa Rica, this specie is currently limited to approximately 600 Km2 of tropical very wet forest in the Northern part of the country and it highly depends on the almendro tree (Dipteryx panamensis) both for feeding and nesting. In addition, guests can enjoy a wide variety of activities such as bird watching, horse riding, kayaking on San Carlos River, planting a tree or visiting the Boca Tapada Elementary School.


Boca Tapada Bird Watching Day

1. Full day for bird watching with your private guide in the grounds of the lodge.
2 For clients who have chosen to self-drive, we have included the guided morning bird watching tour in the hotel and a safari raft ride in the river.

Guided morning bird watching tour:

This is the one of the best places in Costa Rica for bird lovers with over 410 bird species, including some migratory species, as well as the Great Green Macaw (in endangered), the Scarlet Macaw, some toucans, oropendolas, honeycreepers, tanagers, euphonias and jacamars, just to mention a few ! The tour starts at 5:30 am, the time when most birds are very active. At first, the naturalist guide will take you through the gardens and lagoons until there are enough sunlight to start walking into the forest.

Departure time: 5:30 am
Return time: 7:30 am

What to bring? Comfortable clothes (trousers, blue jeans, t-shirts), raincoat, insect repellent, camera and binoculars.
Rubber boots are also available.
 
Night in Maquenque Lodge, Standard room, all meals included


Boca Tapada to Central Valley

After Breakfast, drive back to the Central Valley.

1. Private transfer with your private guide that accompanied clients all along the trip.
2. Drive your rented car.
 
Night in Bougainvillea Hotel: Standard Garden View Room - Breakfast Included


Departure: 

Private transfer to the International Airport on time to take your flight back home or continue your bird watching adventure in Costa Rica with a stay in the Osa Peninsula.

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