Birding Costa Rica’s rich Caribbean Avifauna

Day 1: arrival – Hotel Bougainvillea

Upon arrival you will be welcomed by an English-speaking representative of Aratinga Tours and transferred to Hotel Bougainvillea, quietly located in a nice neighborhood a little outside of San José. The beautiful hotel gardens offer a great introduction to birdwatching in Costa Rica with some  common Costa Rica bird species like Great Kiskadee, Blue-crowned Motmot, Hoffman’s Woodpecker, Squirrel Cuckoo and Blue-gray Tanager.

Day 2 + 3: Parque Nacional Tortuguero – Mawamba Lodge

The next day you will travel to the Caribbean lowlands, en route passing through the vast wilderness of Parque Nacional Braulio Carillo. In Caño Blanco you will continue by boat to Mawamba Lodge, a tranquil jungle lodge with beautiful gardens and a swimming pool at the edge of the rainforest. On day 3 you will be able to explore the beautiful rainforest of Parque Nacional Tortuguero by motorized canoes during two scenic boat ride. Slowly you will pass small jungle canals in search of some typical rainforest birds like Keel-billed and Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, Red-lored Parrots, and water birds like Anhinga’s and Bare-throated Tiger-herons. Also other animals can be observed like White-faced Capuchin Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, Green Iguana’s and Emerald Basilisks.

Day 4, 5 + 6: La Selva and Parque Nacional Brualio Carillo – Selva Verde Lodge

Your next destination is the biodiverse region of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, where you will stay in Selva Verde Lodge. Here, the surrounding rainforest and the Sarapiqui river attract a lot of interesting birds like the Sunbittern, Fasciated Tiger-heron, Broad-billed Motmot and Black-throated Trogon. On day 5 you will make a private guided hike in La Selva , one of the most famous biological stations in the neotropics and one of the classic and most productive places for birdwatching in Costa Rica. Here you will be spoiled with colorful birds like of Parrots (up to 9 species including the Great Green Macaw), Trogons, Tanagers and Toucans (up to 3 species) at the forest edge. Besides that you will have access to an extensive trail system penetrating a beautiful piece of lowlands virgin rainforest in which you can expect some of the more elusive typical forest birds like Tinamous, Antbirds and Woodcreepers. On day 6 you will visit the Parque Nacional Braulio Carillo with a private local bird guide. This national park is a little higher than La Selva so different birds can be expected. Most move around in enormous mixed species flocks. Local specialties include Black-and-yellow Tanager, Blue-and-gold Tanager, Emerald Tanager, Tawny-crested Tanager, Lattice-tailed Trogon and with some luck you night even get a glimpse of the majestic Ornate Hawk-eagle.

Day 7 + 8: Arenal Volcano – Arenal Observatory Lodge

Arenal Observatory Lodge is a comfortable lodge with a spectacular setting at the edge of the rainforest and right in front of (but at safe distance from) the active Arenal Volcano. The beautiful gardens of the lodge, fruit feeders and forest edge attract some easy to see birds like the colorful Crimson-collared Tanager, Passerini’s Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager and Crested Guan. Besides that the many verbena flowers in the garden attract many hummingbirds including Violet-headed Hummingbird and the spectacular Black-crested Coquette. On day 8 you will make a private guided birdwalk partly through the canopy passing by large suspension bridges. This is the ideal way to see a bit more of the fauna and flora of the canopy. You will be on the lookout for local specialties like White-fronted Nunbird , Song Wren, Ocellated Antbird and the rare Yellow-eared Toucanet.

Day 9 + 10: Parque Nacional Juan Castro Blanco – Hotel Bosque de Paz

You will continue your way towards the Central Valley, where you will be staying at the edge of the impressive cloudforest of Parque Nacional Juan Castro Blanco in Hotel Bosque de Paz. This comfortable hotel is unique in its isolated setting, undisturbed quietness and spectacular fauna and flora. Several hummingbird species, the Black Guan and Chestnut-capped Brush-finch can be enjoyed from nearby at the feeding stations of the hotel garden. A good network of trails gives access to the cloudforest where you can enjoy typical highland birds like Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Azure-hooded Jay and Black-faced Solitaire among others. On day 10 you can enjoy a morning birdwalk with a local English-speaking guide through the private cloudforest reserve of the hotel.At night you can watch the rare and shy Paca’s coming to the corn feeders…

Day 11 + 12: Turrialba – Rancho Naturalista

Rancho Naturalista is one of the most famous Costa Rica birding lodges. Its combination of excellent service, spectacular setting, tranquility and abundant avifauna is unique. More than 400 bird species have been observed here, from which half have been seen from the famous birding balcony. Here you can enjoy from nearby Montezuma Oropendola, Black-cheeked woodpeckers, Gray-headed Chachalaca’s and Collared Aracari’s coming to the bananafeeders and several spectacular hummingbird species at the sugarfeeders: Green Thorntail, White-necked Jacobin, Green-breasted Mago and with some luck even the rare Snowcap. A half day birding tour on the private rainforest property of the hotel grounds is scheduled programmed on day 12. Look out for the elusive Dull-mantled Antbird, Spotted Woodcreeper, and the spectacular Rufous Motmot among many others.

Day 13 + 14: Hotel Buena Vista – airport

You will go back to Alajuela, where you will spent your last night in Hotel Buena Vista, a little hotel surrounded by coffee plantations with a spectacular view of the Central Valley. 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
  • Shuttle transport (comfortable tourist vans and boats shared with other tourists) from day 2 until day 4
  • Rental Car Daihatsu Bego 4 x 4 + full cover insurance + mobile router that generates Wifi signal + cell phone with 60 min credit for local calls from day 4 till end of 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
  • International flight
  • Entrance fees National Parks and other reserves ( in this case 15 usd pp for Parque Nacional Tortuguero and 12 usd pp for Parque Nacional Braulio Carillo, te be paid at the entrance. All other entrance fees are included)
  • Tips for local guides

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

  • 01/05 – 15/11/2017: 2190 usd
  • 16/11/2017 – 30/04/2018: 2420 usd
  • 01/05 – 15/11/2018: 2260 usd