Esquinas Rainforest Lodge is a small and exclusive ecolodge located in one of best places for birdwatching in Costa Rica in the extreme south of the country. Here you will be immersed in a tranquil environment surrounded by several acres of untouched tropical rainforest at the edge of Parque Nacional Piedras Blancas. Esquinas Rainforest Lodge might not be the most famous among the Costa Rica birding lodges, it is however a great option for people interested in the many endemic bird species of the very diverse Osa Peninsula. Also woth mentioning is that Esquinas Rainforest Lodge is one of the few lodges in Costa Rica that is 100 % Carbon neutral thanks to the reforestation of 2334 rainforest trees in the nearby La Gamba.
Esquinas Rainforest Lodge is far away from everything and located in the extreme south of the country, about 30 km northwest of the town of Golfito, in the humid southern pacific lowlands close to the Osa Peninsula. Golfito has an airport with daily flights from San José that will take about 30 minutes one way. From Golfito it is another 30 minutes by car or taxi to get to the lodge. It will take you about 6 to 7 hours to get to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge from San José by good paved road, except for the last 5 kms which are unpaved .
Esquinas Rainforest Lodge offers 14 specious rooms all equipped with a private bathroom with hot water, a ceiling fan and screened windows. Every room has a private sitting area with relaxing rocking chairs with nice garden views. The main building houses the reception, bar, restaurant, lounge, a small souvenir shop and natural history library and was build using local materials with an impressive roof made out of 60 000 palm-leaves ! There is also a refreshing natural pool thet is filled with the water of a nearby forest stream and there is a network of trails going through rainforest and through colourfull tropical gardens.
• Birding and wildlife attractions:
Birding tours in Costa Rica are not complete without including the rich avifauna of the southern part of Costa Rica, characterized not only by a high diversity but also by many unique, endemic species. Especially the Osa Peninsula, which protects one of the last vast tracts of untouched lowlands rainforest in Central America offers some of the most spectacular birding in Costa Rica. However, the Osa Peninsula is also one of the least accesable areas which makes it logistically quiet complicated (and therefore expensive) to get there …Esquinas Rainforest Lodge is an exception and is one of the most accesable Costa Rica birding lodges where one can enjoy the typical avifauna of the Osa Peninsula. The direct surroundings of the lodge and the nearby gardens and forest edge offer already spectacular birding. Early in the morning Great Currasows wander around often in the botanical garden foraging on fallen fruits , Crested Guans and Gray-headed Chachalaca’s can also be around. The first moments after surise the garden might also prodcuce the timid Black-faced Antthrush walking around on the floor…this is much easier than to go look for it in the dark forest interior…The many heliconia’s around the lodge are a magnet for hummingbirds and it is possible to get a lazy chair in the lounge and watch several species humm by. Stripe-tthroated and Long-billed hermit are common, but also Brozny hermit and Band-tailed Barthroat, Charming Hummingbird, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird and Violet-headed Hummingbird are around. White-crested Coquette is reported and so is White-tipped Sicklebill but are very hard to see. Colourfull tanagers like Cherrie’s Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Red-legged, Green and Shining Honeycreeper ans also Blue Dacnis often hang out near the lodge and can be seen relatively easy, also pretty Blue-crowned Motmot, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Spot-crowned Euphonia and Violaceous Trogon shouldn’t be missed near the lodge. A little harder is Olivaceous Piculet and Golden-naped Woodpecker. Both Fiery-billed Aracari and Chestnut-mandibled Toucan are frequently seen at the forest edge and the Riverside Wren is surprinsingly easy to see in the hotelgardens. At night Spectacled Owl can be heard, and with some luck and patience seen also and Short-tailed Hawks fly around in the open garden area. The rainforest surrounding Esquinas Rainforest Lodge offers great birding but acces is quite challanging since trails are often muddy and steep. We reccomand to try to bird the forest birds at the edge and along the flatter first 100 m of the forest trails. You will have good chances to bump into a mixed species flock and see the local specialities. The endemic Black-cheeked Ant-tanager is a common bird in the foret interior, and can even be seen sometimes in the gardens near the forest egde. Other species than might be joining the flock are White-winged Tanager, White-throated Shrike-tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Rufous Piha, Golden-crowned Spadebill, Scale-crested Pygmee-tyrant, Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner, Black-striped Woodcreeper and the noisy Scarlet-rumped Caciques. Much harder are the Great and Little Tinamou, often heard but very hard to seen. Same for Uniform Crake (I have however seen them walking around in the garden also), and the timid Ruddy Quail-dove. There are several lecks of Orange-collared Manakin and also Blue-crowned Manakin and Red-capped Manakin are around. Ask the local guide at the lodge where to look for them…And if you’re done birding the gardens and forests then you can start birding the acces road going though agricultural area like ricefileds, pasturelands and palmplantations in the small town of La Gamba. Surprisingly this areas can produce some spectacular birds species that are almost impossible to see anywhere else in the country. It is along this road that in 2009 both Sapphire-throated Hummingbird and Veraguan Mango were reported for the first time in the country foraging along the red flowers of some Erythrina trees. These trees are often planted as living fences bordering the pasturelands and attract besides hummingbirds a wide variety of other birds; both Crimson-fronted Parekeet, Orange-chinned Parakeet and the Brown-throated Parakeet like to feed on their juicy petals. Besides that Red-lored, Mealy Parrots, White-crowned and even Blue-headed Parrots are a common sight in La Gamba. The wet pasturelands and rice-fields are great for spotting Seedeaters, sometimes mixed groups of Variable Seedeater, White-collared Seedeater, Thick-billed Seedfinch, and the rare Yellow-bellied and Ruddy-breasted Seedeaters can be seen. Red-breasted Blackbirds and Fork-tailed Flycatchers should be around also and are quite easy to see…With some luck Scrub Greenlet is around and even the (for Costa Rica) rare Wattled Jacana can be seen walking between the Northern Jacanas. Harder is Pale-breasted Spintail, Striped Cuckoo and Great Antshrike who all favor the more dense brushes. Also expect many raptors here: Roadside Hawk and White-tailed Hawk are common, so is Crested and Yellow-headed Caracaras. Pearl Kite has been reported but is not easy to find. There is an active colony of Crested Oropendolas near the turoff of the Interamerican Highway with unpaved road to La Gamba. Giant Cowbirds can be seen here also…As you can see…you will have a lot of work whenbirding in Esquinas Rainforest Lodge…