Birding Costa Rica’s 4 Ecozones

Day 1: 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 gardens of the hotel offer a great introduction to birdwatching in Costa Rica. Here you can expect some common species like Great Kiskadee, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager and Blue-crowned Motmot.

Day 2 + 3: Selva Verde Lodge – La Selva biological station

After having picked up your rental car you will drive through the vast wilderness of the Parque Nacional Braulio Carillo towards Selva Verde Lodge. This is a nice jungle lodge surrounded by tropical vegetation at the edge of the rainforest and the Sarapiqui river and a magnet for many interesting birds of Costa Rica. Selva Verde Lodge is one of the best places in the country to spot the bizarre Sunbittern. Other interesting species that can be seen here are White-collared Manakin, Bay Wren and Orange-billed Sparrow among many others. On day 3 there is an early private birdwalk scheduled in La Selva, a biological station bordering Parque Nacional Braulio Carillo, with more than 400 species on its birdlist ! Targets here are the endangered Great Green Macaw, Great Currasow, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Rufous Motmot and the Snowy Cotinga…

Day 4 + 5: Hotel Bosque de Paz– Parque Nacional Juan Castro Blanco

You will continue your way towards the Central Valley, where you will be staying in the cozy Hotel Bosque de Paz, at the edge of the impressive cloudforest of Parque Nacional Juan Castro Blanco. 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. Besides that you can explore the well-maintained trail system of the hotel giving easy access to their own private cloudforest reserve and look for some spectacular birds of Costa Rica like  Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Azure-hooded Jay and Black-faced Solitaire among many others. On day 5 you can enjoy a guided morning birdwalk through in the company of a local English-speaking birdguide. At night  you can watch the rare and shy Paca’s coming to the corn feeders.

Day 6 + 7: La Ensenada Lodge – Hacienda San Joaquin

When crossing the continental divide you will enter a completely different world with dry and semi-open savannahs making place for the humid rainforest vegetation of the Caribbean lowlands. La Ensenada Lodge is one of the few Costa Rica birding lodges that gives access to typical tropical dry forest and wetlands of the northwestern part of the country. Here you will experience a completely different avifauna with typical species like Turqoise-browed-Motmot, White-fronted Parrot and White-throated Magpie-jays. Besides that you will be able to observe many sandpipers and plovers in the nearby salt ponds. On day 7 you will make a guided excursion to Hacienda San Joaquin, one of the largest cattle ranches in Costa Rica. You will visit a wetland with good chances of spotting the rare Jabirú, Snail Kite, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Limpkin and Bare-throated Tiger-heron. Afterwards you will enter the tropical dry forest where your guide will show you the roosting place of a Spectacled Owl and with some luck the Long-tailed Manakin can be seen.

Day 8 + 9:Hotel Villa Lapas – Parque Nacional Carara

Next stop is Hotel Villa Lapas, a lovely property is tucked away in a small valley covered with rainforest and is conveniently located at about 2 kilometers from Parque Nacional Carara. This is a beautiful piece of untouched nature protecting one of the last transitional forests between tropical dry and tropical wet forests. Birds to look out for are the Long-tailed Manakin, Riverside Wren, Royal Flycatcher, Orange-collared Manakin, Yellow-billed Cotinga and the timid Streak-chested Antpitta among others. Besides that Carara is one of the last places in Costa Rica with a healthy population of Scarlet Macaws. In the morning of day 9 there is a private guided birdwalk scheduled in Parque Nacional Carara; in the afternoon you will make a private boat-excursion on the Tarcoles river, where you will first explore the open areas near the river mouth to observe herons, Sandpipers, Plovers, Anhinga etc…afterwards you will continue to the mangroves to spot Kingfishers and some true mangrove specialist like the endemic Mangrove Hummingbird (Costa Rica only), Mangrove Black Hawk and Mangrove Vireo.

Day 10+ 11: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge – Parque Nacional Piedras Blancas

Esquinas Rainforest Lodge is an isolated lodge located in Costa Rica’s southern lowlands at the edge of the beautiful rainforest of Parque Nacional Piedras Blancas. This remote Costa Rica birding lodge is the ideal place to enjoy the diverse avifauna of this area in complete tranquility. In the morning you will wake up with the sounds of Parrots and Howler Monkeys. On day 11 there is a private  guided birdwalk with a local guide who will try to show you the endemic  Black-cheeked Ant-tanager (Costa Rica only !), Baird’s Trogon and Red-capped Manakin, among others; around the lodge in the more open areas you can expect region endemics like Fiery-billed Aracari. Spot-crowned Euphonia. The wet pasturelands along the access road of the lodge offer great habitat for some other interesting species hard to see anywhere else like Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Yellow-bellied Seadeater, Brown-throated Parakeet and Blue Ground Dove.

Day 12 + 13: Hotel Savegre  – San Gerardo de Dota

After the ascend of the Cerro de la Muerte (3400 masl) you will go down to San Gerardo de Dota in the beautiful Savegre valley. This area is covered with virgin cloudforest and belongs to the endemic rich Talamanca mountain chain. This is one of the best places of the world to spot the spectacular resplendent Quetzal, a highlight for many on a Costa Rica birding tours… Besides that you can encounter many (near-)endemics like Collared Redstart, Spangled-cheeked Tanager, Sulphur-winged Parakeet and Yellow-thighed Finch. Hotel Savegre is a beautiful hotel at  the edge of the cloudforest and the scenic Savegre river. It is the ideal starting point from where to explore the abundant avifauna of the area. On day 13 you will have a private guided birdtour with a local birdguide in San Gerardo de Dota in search of the Quetzal and other highland specialties.

Day 14+15: Hotel Buena Vista – airport

You will go back to Alajuela, where you will spent your last night in Hotel Buena Vista. Here you are in the middle of the coffee-plantations with a beautiful view on the Central Valley. The hotel garden attracts some interesting bird species like Hoffman’s Woodpecker, White-eared Ground-sparrow and the Plain-capped Starthroat. The next morning (day 15) you will be transfered to the airport. End of trip.

What is included ?

  • All accommodation in double rooms with private bathroom.
  • 3 meals a day: from breakfast on day 2 until breakfast of day 15
  • English Meet and greet upon arrival + private transfer to first hotel on day 1 + private transfer to airport on day 15
  • Birding tours with English speaking birdguides as described above
  • Rental car from day 2 until day 15: SsangYong Korando 4 x 4 (or similar)+ full cover insurance + mobile router that generates Wi-Fi signal
  • Detailed  information package: practical information, background information, road map + birdchecklist.
  • Access 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: 10 usd per person for Parque Nacional Carara: to pay at entrance; all other entrance fees are included)

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

  • 01/05 – 30/06 2022: 2710 usd
  • 01/07 – 31/08 2022: 2790 usd
  • 01/09 – 30/10/2022: 2820 usd
  • 01/11 2022 – 30/04/2023: 3025 usd
  • 01/05 – 30/06 2023: 2850 usd
  • 01/07 – 31/08 2023: 2900 usd
  • 01/09 – 30/10/2023: 2945 usd

If you prefer not to drive a rental car, please ask a quote for transportation by private transfers…