Arenal Observatory Lodge

• Introduction:

Arenal Observatory Lodge has a spectacular setting located far away from everything and emersed in the thick rainforests surrounding the stunning Arenal Volcano. Nowehere else you will find better views of the almost perfectly cone shaped Arenal volcano. But Arenal Observatory Lodge is more than that. Thanks to its remoteness and proximity to well protected raonforest, birds are just everywhere and Arenal Observatory Lodge has become the ideal place for birdwatching in Costa Rica for those who are interesetd in the diverse avifauna of the Caribean middle-elevations

• Location:

Arenal Observatory Lodge is located in the Arenal area at about 20 kms west of the town of La Fortuna and at only 2,7 km from the Arenal Volcano (but still at safe distance and not in volano risk area). Estimated driving time from San José to get to Arenal Observatory Lodge is 3,5 hours passing by beautifull green landscape of authentic rural Costa Rica interupted by patches of rainforest. (Geographical coordinates: 10 ° 26´ 8.65´´N; -84° 42´ 4.78´´)

• Facilities:

Arenal Observatory Lodge offers 15 spaceous standard rooms of which 9 have volcano views and 6 forest view, 24 Smithsonian rooms, which are even more spaceous and all have magnicicent volcano views. There are also 2 Junior Suites. All rooms offer private balconies and have coffee makers. Besides that there is a good restaurant and bar serving international meals and beverages. A lrage deck in front of the restaurant is a favorite place among guests to just relax and enjoy the view of the  volcano and the raindforest  and to watch the birdactivity around the fruitfeeders. An extensive network of well-maintained trails pass by pristine rainforest and beautifull gardens planted with colourfull tropical flowers and fruit trees attracting many birds. A swimming pool and jacuzzi are located in the middle of the clourfull gardens.

• Birding and wildlife attractions:

Hepatic Tanager
Hepatic Tanager

Arenal Observatrory Lodge is located in the unique Caribean foothill belt, Costa Rica’s most diverse life zone in avifauna. Partly because both highland and lowlands birds mix here, but also because many birds only live in the foothills. More than 370 species have already been reported in the lodge an its surroundings. This makes Arenal Observatory Lodge an absolute top-location for birding tours in Costa Rica.
The fruit feeders are ideal to get familiar to some of the more common species of the area and to observe and photograph them from just a few meters distance. Expect to be in eye-contact with Montezuma Oropendolas, Brown Jays, Black-cheeked Woodpeckers, Blue-gray, Palm, Golden-hooded and Passerini’s Tanagers, Silver-throated Tanager, Green and Red-legged Honeycreepers. Even Keel-billed and Chestnut-mandibled Toucans might show up. Under the feeders  other birdspecies can be seen attracted by the small pieces of banana’s and papaya’s fallen to the ground  from the feeder, including White-tipped Dove and Grey-chested Dove, Black-striped Sparrow, Orange-billed Sparrow and even the spectacular Great Currasow…
Along the garden trails the birding is diverse and realtively easy. Try to check out the fruiting fig trees and you will be able to see many birds, including the one mentioned before and some possible other ones …keep an eye out for White-throated Thrush and the colourfull Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Bay-headed, Rufous-winged and Emerald Tanagers. Even Orange-bellied and Violaceous Trogon might hang out here. Pay special attention to Lovely Cotinga, one of the most precious and  most sought for  birds of Costa Rica. The Cotinga has been reported on several occasions around the garden area of Arenal Observatory Lodge.
Along the well maintained forest trails another set of birds can be expected. The birding in the forest is a little harder and you will have to accidently bump into a mixed species flock in order to observe birds. But some interesting species might be seen like Song Wren, White-breasted Wood-wren, Tawny-faced Gnatwren, Golden-crowned Warbler, Tawny-crowned Greenlet, Black-headed Nightingale-thrush, Scale-crested Pygmee-tyrant, Spotted and Wedge-billed Woodcreeper and Russet Antshrike. Also look out for the Broad-billed and Rufous Motmot. Fruiting trees and especially fruiting fig trees in the forest are a magnet for Bay-headed tanager and other frugivores with possibilities for  Yellow-eared Toucanet…Besides that if you are lucky to bump into a army-ant swarm expect a birdfeast with possible Bicolored and Spotted Antbird. Immaculate Antbird and even Occelated Antbird has been reported here also. Another famous bird is the Thicket Antpitta, this shy ground-bird however is much more heard than seen. During your stay in Arenal Observatory Lodge one should scan the sky constantly for raptors, both Black Hawk-eagle, White Hawk and Barred Hawk can be seen occasionally…
At night Black-and-white Owl sometimes hangs out around the big lights along the acces road hunting for big moths…
Besides birds  Mantled Howler Monkeys and Central American Spider Monkeys are quite common around the lodge and so are the White-nosed Coatis, that can be seen sometimes even wandeing around near the restaurant and rooms begging for leftovers. Coyotes are somteimes heard but are hard to see…