The highlands of Costa Rica run all the way through the country in the direction northwest – southeast and comprises 4
mountain ranges: the “Cordillera de Guanacaste” in the north, the “Cordillera de Tilarán” with the active Arenal volcano, the Cordillera Central with the Poas, Irazú and Turrialba volcano and the “Cordillera Talamanca”: the mountain chain of southern Costa Rica that continues in Western Panama with the highest and oldest mountains of Costa Rica with peaks of almost 4000 mts. The highlands are characterized by a much cooler climate than the lowlands and also have high humidity with a wet season from more or less May untill December. The typical cloudforests characteristic for Costa Rica´s highlands make this ecozone unique. In a cloudforest almost every cm2 of all trees is completely covered with ephifytes like bromeliads, ferns, mosses, and even orchids, which gives it its mystical and unique appearance. Interesting areas of clouforest that are accesable in Costa Rica can be found in San Gerardo de Dota, on the Poas volcano, the higher parts of Parque Nacional Braulio Carillo, in Parque Nacional Tapanti and in the Monteverde and Santa Elena area. A visit to the Costarican cloudforests is of special interest for all who takes birdwatching in Costa Rica seriousl; not only are the Costarican highland birds chracterized by a high degree of endemism with 47 unique bird species nowhere else to be found, also one of the most mystical and spectacular birds of the western hemisphere can be found here: the resplendent Quetzal. The male of this large red-and-green member of the Trogon family has a tail of almost 1 meter long and its observation is an absolute highlight for many birding tours in Costa Rica. Aratinga Tours will be glad to assist you in arranging accomodations and (local) guides in order for you to see the Resplendent Quetzal with almost 100 % certainty.
Only on the highest peaks of the Cordillera de Talamanca in Southern Costa Rica one can explore the so called “paramo”-vegetation: this is a unique vegetation with large grasses and other herbs, mini bamboos and many mosses and club mosses. The extreme weather with high humidity and low temperatures make paramos low in biodiversity and biomass, but they have a high degree in endemism with unique plant and animal species. Some typical paramo-specialist that can be observed in Parque Nacional Chirripó, Parque Nacional Voclan Irazú and on the Cerro de la Muerte are Volcano Junco, Timberline Wren, the very local Peg-billed Finch, Sooty Robin and Volcano Hummingbird. These Costa Rica birds can only be seen in the paramos and nowhere else…
Costa Rica birding lodges withing the Costarican highlands that we reccomand are Hotel Savegre and Hotel Bosque de Paz.