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Costa Rica

Our comprehensive tour to the most astounding birdwatching destination in all of Central America, which is expected to record almost every endemic and near-endemic, including Resplendent Quetzal, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Wrenthrush, Snowy Cotinga, and many more.

Next Dates

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Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

6

Deposit: $

TBD

Add a Title

Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

Deposit: $

TBD

Costa Rica is rapidly becoming one of the most expensive birding destinations in Latin America. We believe our pricing is fair given our small group size and included tips for contracted local guides/drivers.

Accommodation:

All comfortable hotels.

Walking difficulty:

Mostly easy, with the occasional uphill trail.

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

Day 1: The tour starts this afternoon in San José (SJO), the capital of Costa Rica. We will drive to our hotel on the slopes of Volcán Irazu for an overnight stay.


Day 2: Early morning, we’ll make our first attempt at finding the near-mythical Unspotted Saw-whet Owl. Irazu Volcano is indeed one of the better sites to find this scarce species. Bare-shanked Screech Owl, Costa Rica Pygmy Owl, and Dusky Nightjar are three near-endemics we also have good chances of finding. We’ll then spend the morning on the spectacular slopes of the volcano, where we will be looking mostly for the uncommon Buffy-crowned Wood Partridge, the somewhat erratic Peg-billed Finch, near-endemic Volcano Hummingbird, Volcano Junco, and Timberline Wren. We will get used to the range of regional mountain endemics like Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Yellow-winged Vireo, Flame-throated Warbler, Yellow-thighed and Large-footed Finches, and dedicate effort toward locating the nomadic Maroon-chested Ground Dove, here present year-round. Resplendent Quetzal will provide a common background noise and we’ll maybe see a few males displaying over the course of the morning! Migrant warblers should be all around, including Black-throated, Green, Blackburnian, Wilson’s, and Townsend’s Warblers. We will then start our descent and drive towards Rancho Naturalista, located in the Caribbean foothills, not without making a stop in the central valley coffee plantations for the endemic Cabanis’s Ground Sparrow. We will also stop at a wetland and near some rivers, where we stand a good chance of finding Fasciated Tiger Heron, Sunbittern, White-tailed Kite, Purple Gallinule, Blue-winged Teal, and other waterbirds. We’ll then reach the legendary Rancho Naturalista for a two-night stay.


Day 3:  This morning, we will be visiting El Copal reserve, where we have good chances of finding the rare Blue-and-gold Tanager and Yellow-eared Toucanet along the trails. The avifauna in the Caribbean foothills is extremely diverse, and we’ll also go after some other regional specialties like Short-tailed Pigeon, Green-fronted Lancebill, Green Hermit, Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner, Middle American Leaftosser, Brown-billed Scythebill, Russet Antshrike, Slaty Antwren, Dull-mantled Antbird, the Central American version of Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Rufous-browed Tyrannulet, White-throated Spadebill, Rufous Mourner, Song Wren, and White-ruffed Manakin, among many other great birds. The flowering bushes will certainly provide us with our first sightings of Snowcap and Magenta-throated Woodstar. In the afternoon, we will explore the lodge grounds and trails for Snowcap, Black-crested Coquette, the near-endemic Tawny-chested Flycatcher, White-ruffed and White-crowned Manakins, and the scarce Ashy-throated Bush Tanager. Many other more widespread birds occur here, such as Grey-headed Chachalaca, Grey-chested Dove, Keel-billed Toucan, demonstrative Montezuma Oropendolas, Cocoa and Streak-headed Woodcreepers, Mistletoe Tyrannulet, Speckled and Golden-hooded Tanagers, and many more. In recent years, male Lovely Cotingas have been visiting the garden, so we’ll cross our fingers for one to be around! We will also visit a nearby grassland patch for White-throated Flycatcher and look for Sunbittern along the nearby rivers. Migrant warblers should be plentiful at that time of the year, and maybe we’ll find a stunning Golden-winged Warbler. Night at Rancho Naturalista.


Day 4: After some final birding at Rancho Naturalista, we will transfer to Cachi for an overnight stay. Near Cachi, we will be looking for several scarce birds like Black-breasted Wood Quail, Costa Rican Pygmy Owl, White-bellied Mountaingem, the endemic Coppery-headed Emerald, Scintillant and Black-bellied Hummingbirds, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, and Sharpbill, and there is now even a habituated Scaled Antpitta at a feeder! Many other great birds occur at this foothill site, and we’ll make sure not to miss any regional endemics. Night in Cachi.


Day 5: After a few hours birding near Cachi, we’ll make our way to the Cerro de la Muerte and have lunch at a birder-friendly guesthouse with feeders attracting Buffy-crowned Wood Partridge, the rare and near-endemic Buff-fronted Quail Dove, and Prong-billed Barbet, among others. The gardens usually hold near-endemics like Black Guan, Purple-throated Mountaingem, Spangle-cheeked Tanagers, and Silvery-fronted Tapaculo. After lunch, we’ll continue higher in the Cerro de la Muerte and start our explorations. We might well already find a few regional specialties like the monotypic Wrenthrush (or Zeledonia), Ochraceous Pewee, Resplendent Quetzal, Large-footed Finch, Sooty-capped Chlorospingus, or even our first Spotted Wood Quails. Night at Cerro de la Muerte.


Day 6: We will have a full day of birding the cloud-forest of this region in search of key species like Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, the endemic Grey-tailed Mountaingem, Ruddy Treerunner, Lineated Foliage-gleaner, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, the rare Silvery-throated Jay, Black-capped and Golden-bellied Flycatchers, Long-tailed and Black-and-Yellow Silky Flycatchers, Dark Pewee, Torrent Tyrannulet, Mountain Elaenia, Wrenthrush, Sooty-faced Finch, and Golden-browed Chlorophonia, among many other great birds. At night, we will have another chance to find Bare-shanked Screech-Owl, Unspotted Saw-Whet Owl, and Dusky Nightjar. Night at Cerro de la Muerte.


Day 7: Should we have missed regional targets, we’ll spend another morning birding the Cerro de la Muerte, and then start driving to San Isidro. Late afternoon, we’ll begin our explorations of the San Isidro area, where we could well already find the main target of the area: Turquoise Cotinga! Night in San Isidro.


Day 8: We’ll spend some time around San Isidro in the morning and then move to Alexander Skutch’s reserve, where a nice variety of birds can be seen in the gardens. Highlights include the near-endemic Garden Emerald, White-crested Coquette, Charming Hummingbird, Olivaceous Piculet, Golden-naped Woodpecker, Slaty-tailed, Baird’s, and Gartered Trogons, Fiery-billed Araçari, Black-hooded Antshrike, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Red-legged and Shining Honeycreepers, Rufous-breasted Wren, Rufous Piha, Northern Bentbill, Orange-collared and Red-capped Manakins, and many more. We will then make our way to the Wilson Botanical Garden in Las Cruces for a two-night stay. We will visit a nearby reed patch in search of Chiriqui Olive-crowned Yellowthroat and, road conditions permitting, pay a visit to an Ocellated Crake site. The gardens usually hold several night birds like Mottled Owl and Tropical Screech Owl, so we’ll spend some time out at night! Night in Las Cruces.


Day 9: We will have a full day in the Las Cruces area, mostly birding the Botanical Gardens in search of White-tailed Emerald, White-crested Coquette (if we’re lucky!), Marbled Wood Quail, Ruddy Foliage-gleaner, Isthmian Wren, Elegant Euphonia, and Costa Rican Brushfinch, among many others. Night in Las Cruces.


Day 10: After some final birding in Las Cruces, we will make our way towards the Pacific lowlands for two nights. We will first stop at Agua Buena for the most-wanted Rosy Thrush-Tanager and then visit some open habitat and rice fields near Ciudad Neily, where Veraguan Mango, Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, Red-rumped Woodpecker, and Paint-billed and Grey-breasted Crakes are regularly recorded. We will arrive in the Golfo Duce region in time for some initial explorations. Night at a lodge near the town of Golfito.


Day 11: One of the highlights of the Golfo Duce region is the endemic Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, our major target of the morning. Black-hooded Antshrike and Spot-crowned Euphonia are also high on the list. Around the lodge, we can find Bronzy Hermit and Uniform Crake, and other cool targets include Tawny-winged Woodcreeper, King Vulture, Costa Rican Swift, Blue-black Grosbeak, Velvety Manakin, and Chiriqui Foliage-gleaner. At night, we will go out and look for Striped and Spectacled Owls and Tropical Screech Owl. A local subspecies of Choco Screech Owl also occurs here, and it might well be proven to be a distinct species so we’ll put in some effort! Night near Golfito.


Day 12: This morning, we will visit sites for two rare birds: the ethereal Yellow-billed Cotinga and the endemic Mangrove Hummingbird. We will then proceed towards Carara National Park, arriving in time for some initial exploring. Night near Carara National Park.


Day 13: During the early morning, we will walk the trails of the National Park in search of the special targets of the northern lowlands like Great Tinamou, Marbled Wood Quail, Scarlet Macaw, Critically Endangered Yellow-naped Parrot, Slaty-tailed and Black-headed Trogons, Black-faced Antthrush, Streak-chested Antpitta, Stub-tailed Spadebill, Bicoloured, Spotted, and Chestnut-backed Antbirds, Pacific Royal Flycatcher, Rufous-and-white and Rufous-breasted Wrens, and lots of others. Along the forest edge and more open habitat that we will be exploring, we can find Stripe-headed Sparrow, Scrub Euphonia, White-throated Magpie-Jay, White-necked Puffbird, Barred Antshrike, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Crested Caracara, Blue-black and Yellow-faced Grassquits, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Banded Wren, and more. In the late afternoon, we’ll take a boat ride on the Tarcoles River, giving us opportunities to observe more of the riverside specialties of the region. We will be cruising through mangroves and along river banks, where Roseate Spoonbill, Boat-billed Heron, the stunning Turquoise-browed Motmot, Panama Flycatcher, Northern Scrub Flycatcher, Mangrove Vireo, Mangrove Warbler, and many more feature. Mangrove Hummingbird and Yellow-billed Cotinga are also sometimes seen here. Night near Carara National Park.


Day 14: After another morning birding the Carara area in search for missing targets, we will drive to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, where we will spend the next two nights.


Day 15: The wonderful cloud forest of Monteverde hosts a vast array of interesting species, and for the first morning, we will be looking for the unique Three-wattled Bellbirds, showing their long wattles while emitting their tremendously loud vocalisation! Other great birds that we will look for are Black Guan, Black-breasted Wood Quail, Chiriqui Quail Dove, Resplendent Quetzal, Lineated Foliage-gleaner, Ruddy Woodcreeper, the uncommon Grey-throated Leaftosser, Streak-breasted Treehunter, Azure-hooded Jay, Slaty-backed Nightingale-thrush, Long-tailed Manakin, and White-eared Ground Sparrow. Lots of hummingbirds can usually be found at feeders, including Violet Sabrewing, the endemic Coppery-headed Emerald, Stripe-tailed and Blue-vented Hummingbirds, Purple-throated Mountaingem, Magenta-throated Woodstar, and others. Night at Monteverde.


Day 16: We will be looking for any remaining target this morning, and start driving back to the dry Pacific lowlands to La Ensenada Sanctuary. A few stops could well hold species like Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, Mangrove Rail, and other waterbirds. We will arrive at La Ensenada in time for some birding, including Pacific Screech Owl after dusk. Night at La Ensenada Lodge.


Day 17: We will spend this morning looking for the numerous Pacific coast specialties on offer at La Ensenada, including Thicket Tinamou, Spot-bellied Bobwhite, Lesser Ground Cuckoo, Mangrove Cuckoo, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Plain-capped Starthroat, Panama and Nutting’s Flycatchers, Banded Wren, White-throated Magpie-Jay, Stripe-headed Sparrow, Streak-backed and Spot-breasted Orioles, and others. Mudflats near the property usually hold hundreds of waders, including Marbled Godwits. This afternoon, we will drive to the nearby Cordillera de Guanacaste to Celeste Mountain Lodge. We will arrive in time for some initial birding. Night at Celeste Mountain Lodge.


Day 18: The foothill forest of the dormant Volcán Tenorio is home to many exciting species that we will be looking for this morning, including the rare Black-eared Wood Quail, Tody Motmot, Purplish-backed Quail Dove, Checker-throated Stipplethroat, Tawny-faced Gnatwren, White-throated Shrike-tanager, and many more widespread species. If we find an army-ant swarm, we might well be lucky enough to observe feeding Ocellated, Bicoloured, or Spotted Antbirds, or maybe even the legendary Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo, sometimes seen in this area! Another rare bird we’ll be on the lookout for is Slaty-backed Forest Falcon. Lovely Cotinga used to be recorded in the region, but the nearby road is now a highway so chances for it are here very slim. In the late afternoon, we will take a boat ride to the Medio Queso marsh, where Yellow-breasted Crake, Sora, Pinnated Bittern, Nicaraguan Grackle, and Nicaraguan Seedfinch all feature, among large numbers of other waterbirds and passerines. We will then proceed to our lodge in the Caño Negro area, where we will go out after dark looking for Great and Common Potoos and Striped Owl. Night in Caño Negro.


Day 19: This morning, we will embark on a boat and explore the Rio Frio and Lago Caño Negro, where we will aim to find the superb Agami Heron and weird Boat-billed Heron, the strange Sungrebe, five kingfisher species including Green-and-rufous, plus many other more common waterbirds. Some birding near the lodge will likely produce Grey-headed Dove, Spot-breasted and Canebrake Wrens, or Nicaraguan Seedfinch, among others. After lunch, we will drive to Volcán Arenal, and on our way stop at a little reserve where Uniform and White-throated Crakes visit some feeders. We’ll then get to our lodge for an overnight stay and start our visit to this fabulous destination. Night at Volcán Arenal.


Day 20: We will spend most of the day birding the trails around our lodge, and if the sky is clear, enjoy great views of the majestic Volcán Arenal. The foothill forest has a lot on offer, and among many specialties, we’ll be on the lookout for Great Curassow (here at one of the easiest places on the planet!), White and Semiplumbeous Hawks, Black-crested Coquette, Green Thorntail, Keel-billed Motmot, Thicket Antpitta, Streak-crowned Antvireo, Ocellated and Bare-crowned Antbirds, Nightingale and Bay Wrens, Black-headed Saltator, Crimson-collared Tanager, and the near-endemic Black-and-yellow Tanager. In the afternoon, we’ll drive to La Selva Biological Research Station, where we will spend the next two nights. We will arrive in time for some late birding and spotlighting for Crested, Mottled, and Black-and-white Owls, Middle American Screech Owl, and mammals like Kinkajou and Sloth. Night at La Selva.


Day 21: One of the most popular reserves in Central America, La Selva really has it all! We’ll have a full day to explore the fantastic diversity hosted by its vast expanses of lowland primary rainforest. Among many fabulous species, we’ll be focused on finding Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Agami Heron, Olive-backed Quail Dove, the now Critically Endangered Great Green Macaw, Pied Puffbird, Chestnut-coloured and Cinnamon Woodpeckers, Tiny and Semiplumbeous Hawks, Black-crowned Antshrike, Black-capped Pygmy Tyrant, White-collared Manakin, and Snowy Cotinga. Night at La Selva.


Day 22: We will have a final morning of birding at La Selva before transferring to Braulio Carrillo National Park for the next two nights. On the way, we will visit a nearby site where Spectacled and Crested Owls and Great Potoo are known to roost, and we’ll probably be lucky enough to observe a small colony of Honduran White Bats roosting under palm leaves. We will arrive at Braulio Carrillo in time for some initial exploration.


Day 23: Our primary target for the next day and a half is the incredible Bare-necked Umbrellabird, which has become much more difficult after disappearing a few years back from its most accessible and traditional lek. Braulio Carrillo is now a site that offers good chances of connecting with the species, as it occurs in the Caribbean foothills outside of the breeding season. Many other specialties lurk in these forests, like Barred Hawk, Ruddy and Olive-backed Quail Doves, the rare Lattice-tailed Trogon, Ocellated Antbird, Thicket Antpitta, Sharpbill, Nightingale Wren, and Blue-and-gold Tanager. Rarer birds like Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo and Black-crowned Antpitta (or Pittasoma) are sometimes seen here, but we will consider ourselves very lucky if we happen to find one of these two rarities! Night at Braulio Carrillo.


Day 24: We will have a final morning of birding at Braulio Carrillo for any remaining targets before driving back to San José, where the tour ends in the afternoon at the airport.