Natural History organizations, Junior Naturalist clubs, extended families, photographers are invited to call us to set up your own exclusive itinerary escorted by our fully qualified local ornithologists.
2020 Departure Dates & Costs
Private daily departures January to April based on groups of 4 or more persons
Tour Cost from San Jose: $ 3,985 USD per person based on twin sharing
Add $ 375 for group size of 2 persons
$ 975 single supplement
We are able to assist with airfare from your home city to join up with this trip
Day 1 Arrive San Jose
On arrival in San Jose, clear customs and be met by your guide and be transferred to the Bougainvillea Hotel.
Day 2 San Jose - Sarapique (B,L)
Start early drive to Sarapiqui County where the famous La Selva Biological Station is located. Have a short detour to Visit Poas volcano en route, if weather allows, see its crater from the rim after a 1 mile long walk along lush cloud forest, home of the colourful Volcano Hummingbird, Magnificent Hummingbird, Yellow thigh Finch, Black and yellow silky flycatcher and many other highland species. Stop at La Virgen del Socorro, a family owned farm, for a short nature trail walk and lunch. Continue driving down on the Caribbean slope of the mountain across the continental divide stopping along the way to explore the altitudinal gradient, its impressive waterfalls and its tropical flora and fauna. Arrive to Selva Verde Lodge for a well deserved relaxing rest 2 nights. Photo of owls by A. Arias
Selva Verde Lodge, is located on a very large, private tract of virgin tropical rainforest and rich second-growth habitats. It is adjacent to Braulio Carrillo National Park and the Organization for Tropical Studies' field station, La Selva. This lodge is dedicated to educating its guests on the wonders and natural beauty of Costa Rica's unique and fragile tropical rainforest. Beyond its roughly 500 acres of preserved rainforest, the lodge boasts a resident naturalist, local guides for bird watching and other guided tours and an ever-expanding reference library.
Day 3 La Selva (B, L)
Early start. After breakfast drive to La Selva for a day visit. At the confluence of two major rivers in the Caribbean lowlands of Northern Costa Rica, La Selva comprises 1,600 hectares (3,900 acres) of tropical and premontane wet forests and secondary forest. Visit the Biological Station run by the Organization for Tropical Studies. Hike its well-maintained forest trails and look for oropendolas, parrots, tanagers, woodcreepers, antbirds, manakins and so many other species of neotropical birds.
Day 4 LA Selva - La Fortuna (B, L)
Today we travel northwest driving through farmland and forest for 3 hrs before we reach the town of Fortuna, the gate to one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Arenal volcano, which started this last period of activity 30 years ago and still releases rocks and lava on its slopes. With any luck we may be able to observe the red lava flowing down from the pointy top. 2 nights at Arenal Observatory Lodge, which has 30 rooms, most with a view of the volcano. The lodge sits on 870 acres of land adjacent to the Arenal Volcano National Park. Up to 300 species of birds have been spotted in the area around the lodge. In the evening you might wish to visit the hot springs for a relaxing end of the day, always keeping an eye on the Giant -- a flow of incandescent red lava can run down its slopes at any time.
Day 5 Arenal Volcano (B, L)
In the morning visit the Arenal Hanging Bridges, a complex of 6 hanging suspension bridges rising above the jungle canopy, and almost 2 miles of trails through the lush rain forest. The bridges provide an observe the flora and fauna from the ground level to the top of the trees. Walk the trails where you will see many varieties of heliconias, flowering ginger, hopefully hear howler monkeys, and see many varieties of butterflies, as you learn about the complexity and beauty of the rain forest. Lunch and afternoon at Arenal National Park enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding topography and beautiful Arenal Lake. This mid elevation rain forest is home to tanagers, toucans, flycatchers, wood creepers, tityras, birds of prey and more.
Day 6 La Fortuna - Monteverde (B,L)
It's the day to drive up to Monteverde, which is only 8 miles away as the quetzal flies, but by road is 90 miles! Lunch enroute and late afternoon arrival at Monteverde. 2 nights Fonda Vela or similar.
Day 7 Monteverde Cloud Forest (B,L)
Early morning at Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Look for one of the most famous inhabitants, the Resplendent Quetzal who should be in mating time and offering good opportunities to see its most elegant courtship flights. Monteverde is home for many other interesting species such as the Emerald Toucanet, Black Guan, Purple Throated Mountain Gem, Black faced Solitaire, Violet Sabrewing and Blue Crowned Motmot, just to mention a few. Afternoon visit to another great nature hot spot, the Ecologico Sanctuario.
Day 8 Monteverde - Ensenado (B, L)
Drive to La Ensenado National Wildlife Reufge with its 1000 acres located on the Pacific Coast in the Central Guanacaste area. Note: This area offers the same species as Santa Rosa without the 4 extra hours of driving. 2 nights Ensenado Lodge. The family run ranch/lodge is an ideal place for horseback riding; for naturalists, for bird watchers and nature lovers. The villas face the Nicoya Gulf. The most important activities of this ranch are cattle and horses the production of salt and fruit. Guests have the opportunity to participate in the daily activities of the farm, as well as ride and become part of the typical life of Costa Rican ranch. As well as the dry forest, the gulf of Nicoya has mangroves offering a great diversity of habitant and inhabitants.
Day 9 Ensenado Wildlife Refuge (B)
Full day to explore Ensendao Refuge with its dry forest and its mangrove areas.
Day 10 To Villa Lapas (B,L)
We start a journey that will take us from the C.R. - Nicaragua border to the C.R. - Panama border, splitting the long driving in two and adding a visit to Carara National Park. Lunch en route and mid afternoon arrival at Villas Lapas hotel for 1-night stay. We may watch the large Crocodiles on river and from the same spot hopefully see scarlet macaw pairs fly over heading to their roosting mangrove island. Carara National Park comprises a transitional forest where most species from the rich southwest merge with species from the Tropical Dry Forest. It's one of the most birding-productive spots in the country. Very early morning outings are the best.
Day 11 Villas Lapas - San Vito (B, L)
Early morning visit to Carara National Park and depart for San Vito, a pleasant town at 3,150 feet altitude close to the Panama border. This is a long days drive (7 hours). 2 nights Wilsons Lodge in Wilsons Botanical Gardens. The gardens are owned by the Organization for Tropical Studies and include more than 7,000 species of tropical plants from around the world. All of this luscious flora has attracted 330 species of birds.
Day 12 La Amistad International Park (B,L)
Full day to explore La Amistad International Park and the surroundings of the Las Tablas section of the Park, mid-elevation and high lands on the Talamanca Mountain Range. Look for the endemic Lance tail Manakin, Gray Tail Mountain Gem among others.
Day 13 San Vito to Savegre (B,L)
Morning to explore San Vito area. There are many habitats surrounding the Tropical studies station. We will start our drive back to San Jos, stopping in route at the Cerro, a mountain top close to 12,000 ft. This is one of the highest peaks in Costa Rica, about 3,500 m; it has the Paramo ecosystem, a highland (above the tree line) "praire" with species of plants and animals that don't live anywhere else but there. Overnight at the Hotel Savegre (for 2 nights) in La Cerro de La Muerta. The Savegre Mountain Hotel, also is located in San Gerardo de Dota, a small community in the Talamanca mountains. Here you will find a deep cloud forest filled with massive oaks and other native species. The woods serve as a sanctuary for a large number of mammals and innumerable species of insects, amphibians, amazing plants and colorful birds, a paradise for birdwatchers. Photo of quetzal by M. Fallas
Day 14 Savegre (B,L)
Some time this morning to explore the fragile and unique ecosystem called Paramo, a tree-less habitat covered by small bushy plants, home of the Sooty Robin, Silvery fronted Tapaculo, Large footed Finch, among others. Return to lodge for afternoon at leisure.
Day 15 La Cerro - San Jose (B,L)
Morning outing, returning to hotel for breakfast. Leisurely drive onwards to San Jose, and possibly some time this afternoon for some last-minute shopping. Check-in at our hotel.
Day 16 San Jose Departure (B)
Morning at leisure on the grounds of the hotel. Transfer to the airport for an early afternoon flight home.