Costa Rica’s Southern Endemics

Day1: arrival – Hotel Bougainvillea

Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by an English-speaking representative of Aratinga Tours and transferred to Hotel Bougainvillea, located in a nice neighborhood at the edge of San José. The well-maintained botanical gardens of the hotel offer a great introduction to birdwatching in Costa Rica. Here you can encounter some common species like Great Kiskadee, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager and Blue-crowned Motmot.

Day 2 + 3: San Gerardo de Dota – Hotel Savegre 

After having picked up your rental car  your Costa Rica birding adventure can start and you will head towards the Cerro de la Muerte. This beautiful mountain is covered with virgin cloudforest and is part of the endemic-rich Talamanca mountain chain. This is one of the best places in the world to spot the spectacular and mythical Resplendent Quetzal. Besides that you can observe many regional endemics like Collared Redstart, Spangled-cheeked Tanager, Black-cheeked Warbler and Yellow-thighed Finch. Hotel Savegre  is a nice and comfortable hotel at the edge of the cloudforest and the beautiful Savegre river. It is the ideal starting point from where to explore the abundant avifauna of the area. On day 3 a private guided birdtour is scheduled with a local guide in search of the Quetzal and other local specialties…

Day 4 + 5: Rivas – Los Cusingos – Talari Mountain Lodge

Birdwatching in Costa Rica is nowhere as relaxed as in Talari Mountain Lodge; the semi-open area of the gardens and surrounding shrubs and pasturelands makes the birds quite easy to see here. Talari Mountain Lodge is located in Rivas, at the Pacific foothills of the Talamanca mountain range around 800 masl.  Fruit feeders attract some colorful tanagers that can be approached very well for bird photography like Green and Red-legged Honeycreepers and the beautiful Speckled Tanagers. On day 5 a private guided birding tour is scheduled in Los Cusingos, a small biological reserve and the former property of the legendary ornithologist Dr. Alexander Skutch. In Los Cusingos you will first explore the semi-open gardens and forest edge, the ideal place to spot the endangered Turqoise Cotinga and colorful Tanagers. Afterwards you will enter the rainforest in search of typical forest birds like Red-capped Manakin, Blue-crowned Manakin and Rufous Piha.

Day 6 + 7: San Vito – Las Cruces biological station

The beautiful botanical garden of the Las Cruces biological station is another Costa Rica birding classic. The biological station offers simple clean bungalows with direct access to a  botanical garden, good forest trails and a canopy observation tower, located in the outskirts of San Vito. Here you find yourself in the lush middle elevations montane forest of Southern Costa Rica, where many interesting endemic species can be found like Spot-crowned Euphonias, Snowy-bellied Hummingbirds and with some luck the endangered Turqoise Cotinga and White-crested Coquette. Besides that some birds that are hard to see elsewhere can be easily observed here like White-throated Thrush, Speckled Tanager, Crested Oropendola and Bran-colored Flycatcher. On day 7 you will be accompanied by a private local guide on a half day birding trip.

Day 8 + 9 + 10: Parque Nacional Corcovado – Bosque del Rio Tigre Lodge

Bosque del Rio Tigre Lodge is among the top Costa Rica birding lodges; it is a very isolated little lodge at the edge of Parque Nacional Corcovado, catering mostly to birders and nature-photographers. From a lazy chair one can easily observe some spectacular bird species like the Fiery-billed Aracari, the strict-endemic Black-cheeked Ant-tanager (Costa Rica only !), Dot – winged Antwren and Black-hooded Antshrike. Your friendly hosts Liz and Abraham are enthusiastic nature-lovers and will be glad to show you the lek of the Orange-collared Manakins, where colorful males will be showing off their bizarre dance to impress females. On days 9, 10 and 11 you will be accompanied in the morning by local bird specialist Abraham, who is very familiar with the local avifauna and will be glad to show you all the local specialties…

Day 11 + 12: Parque Nacional Carara and Tarcoles area – Hotel Villa Lapas

To end your Costa Rica birding tour in style you will spend your last days near Parque Nacional Carara, a beautiful piece of untouched nature protecting one of the last transitional forests between tropical dry and tropical wet forests. The result is an interesting and very diverse species mix with influences from both areas. Besides that Carara is one of the last places in Costa Rica with a healthy population of Scarlet Macaws. You will stay in Hotel Villa Lapas, conveniently located about 2 kms from Parque Nacional Carara. In the morning of day 12 a private local bird guide will join you in Carara NP in search of local specialities like Baird’s Trogon, Streak-chested Anptpitta and Royal Flycatcher. In the afternoon you will make a private boat-tour on the Tarcoles Rivier.  First you will explore the open areas near the river mouth to observe Herons, Osperys, Common Black Hawks, Anhinga’s and Roseate Spoonbill; afterwards you will head towards the mangroves to look for Kingfishers (up to 5 species) and some true mangrove specialists like the endemic Mangrove Hummingbird (Costa Rica only !), Mangrove Warbler, Mangrove Vireo and Panama Flycatcher.

Day 13 + 14: Alajuela – airport – Hotel Buena Vista

You will go back to the Central Valley and stay your last night in the beautifull Hotel Buena Vista. Here you are in the middle of the coffee-plantations with a panoramic view of San José downtown. The hotels gardens attract some interesting bird species like White-eared Ground-sparrow, Plain Wren and Yellow-throated Euphonia. In the late afternoon you rencal car will be picked up in the hotel. The next day (day 14) you will be transferred to the airport. End of trip.

What is included ?

  • All accomodations in double rooms with private bathroom.
  • 3 meals a day from breakfast day 2 until breakfast day 14
  • English meet-and-greet at airport + private transfer to first hotel on day 1; private transfer to airport on day 14
  • Half day birdwatching tours with local English-speaking birdguides as described above
  • Rental Car SsangYoung Korando 4 x 4 + full cover insurance + mobile router that generates Wifi signal + cell phone with 60 min credit for local calls from day 2 till day 13
  • Detailed information package: practical information, background information, road map + checklist of birds of Costa Rica
  • Acces to English-speaking help-desk of Aratinga Tours during your Costa Rica tour. 7 days a week, during office hours

Extra costs

  • Personal expenses
  • Entrance fees National Parks and other reserves ( in this case 15 usd pp for Los Cusingos Reserve and 10 usd per person for Parque Nacional Carara, to be paid at the entrance; all other entrace fees are included)
  • International flight
  • Tips for local guides

Price (per person, with 2 persons participating,  staying in double rooms) :

  • 01/05 -30/06 + 01/09 – 15/11 2017: 2300 usd
  • 01/07 – 31/08 2017: 2400 usd
  • 16/11/2017 – 30/04/2018: 2595 usd
  • 01/05 – 30/06 + 01/09 – 15/11 2018: 2395 usd
  • 01/07 – 31/08 2018: 2500 usd