Colourful Costa Rica

Please email us on

info@birdwatchingtrips.co.uk

for information about our February 2025 tour to colourful Costa Rica!



Resplendent Quetzal male 3

The amazing Resplendent Quetzal has to be top of our most-wanted list!



As an example, this is our 2023 itinerary for our exciting 16-day/15-night birdwatching trip to Costa Rica, simply jam-packed with amazing colourful birds and charismatic wildlife. Our February 2025 itinerary will be similar but slightly different so please email us if you would like more information on our next year's tour.

Here is a summary of our 2023 itinerary, our 2025 tour will follow a very similar schedule:

  • Day 1 - Arrive - San Jose Central Valley
  • Days 2-3 - Northern Pacific Lowlands
  • Days 4-5 - Rincón de la Vieja Region
  • Days 6-7-8 - Caribbean Lowlands
  • Days 9-10-11 - Turrialba - Caribbean Foothills
  • Days 12-13-14 - Talamanca Highlands
  • Day 15 - San Jose Central Valley
  • Day 16 - Departure to Airport


Though relatively small in size, Costa Rica is home to one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Encompassing four birding zones and numerous micro ecosystems, Costa Rican birds and wildlife are everywhere in their natural habitat. Costa Rica is home to more than 50 species of Hummingbirds, so whether in cloud forest, humid Caribbean lowlands, arid mountain peaks, dry Pacific forests or mangroves, hummingbirds are highly accessible to visitors. The country’s natural wealth is no accident. In the mid-20th century, the Costa Rican leadership realized the importance of conservation for the future of the nation. Today, 27 percent of Costa Rica has been officially designated as protected land and rather than devoting resources to developing a military, Costa Rican officials instead chose to build educational and social security programs. The country remains peaceful, friendly, and open. Costa Ricans are so friendly and really appreciate the many natural treasures of their country.

Keel billed Toucan 2

Everybody loves a toucan! This is Keel-billed Toucan



Itinerary

Day 1 - Central Valley - Arrival.

Arrive in San José at Juan Santamaria International Airport. You will be met and transferred by our driver straight to our lovely hotel where you can check in and settle in, and if time allows explore the bird rich botanic garden. We enjoy dinner at the hotel and time to meet your fellow travel companions.

Day 2 - Northern Pacific Lowlands.

Optional pre-breakfast walk in the hotel garden, it is full of birds. After breakfast we check out and depart for our first base, a wonderful wildife refuge in the region of the Tempisque River, Gulf of Nicoya. During the morning, we will visit the famous Carara National Park, this place consists of transitional forest and is home to many humid forest bird species that are only found in south-western Costa Rica. Keep your eyes peeled for the Golden-naped Woodpecker, Baird’s Trogon, Streak-chested Antpitta, Black-hooded Antshrike and the colourful Scarlet Macaw. Arrive at our lodge in time for lunch and in the afternoon we will explore the incredible dry forest of the reserve. This is home to iconic species such as Black-headed Trogon, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Double-striped Thick-Knee and more.

Day 3 - Northern Pacific Lowlands.

This morning we take a wonderful boat ride on the Tempisque River, a wonderful way to see the abundant birds and wildlife. This area attracts huge numbers of birds, including such sought after species as the Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, Bare-throated Tiger Heron and Boat-billed Heron. During the afternoon, go birding in a safari-style tour across the hacienda and reserve, we will see the White-throated Magpie-Jay, Laughing Falcon, Mangrove Hummingbird, Elegant Trogon, Turquoise-browed Motmot and the gorgeous Long-tailed Manakin.

Day 4 - Rincón de la Vieja Region

This morning we depart our hotel and head towards the Guanacaste Volcanic Mountains, the home of the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, where we will stay at a lodge placed at the foot of the volcano. Lunch will be taken en route; we will check in during the afternoon and have enough time to explore the manicured gardens and facilities in search of wonderful birds. This area is becoming a new birding destination in Costa Rica, for the combination of Dry Forest and Caribbean Lowlands specialists in the same area – an unusual combination of habitat including some of the most elusive and rare birds to be found in these special places.

Double striped Thick knee 1

Close encounter with a bizarre Double-striped Thick-Knee



Day 5 - Rincón de la Vieja Region

We will start the day with a full morning birding on the pailas trail, or commonly called “calderas”. We will have a fantastic lunch and during the afternoon, we will go birding along the Oropendola Trail and the National Park network of trails for some special birds including Tody Motmot, Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Nightingale Wren, Lattice-tailed Trogon, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Collared Forest-falcon, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Banded Wren, Olivaceous Piculet and more. We return to the lodge during the afternoon allowing time to enjoy the gardens before our dinner.

Day 6 - Caribbean Lowlands – La Fortuna

This morning after breakfast we depart for the Northern plains and the famous Arenal Volcano area. Travel comfortably aboard our private coaster (small coach which we use throughout the tour) through rolling mountains and meadows, patches of lush rainforest and cloud forest and picturesque Costa Rican villages en route to our next lodge, located within the Arenal Volcano National Park. We will have lunch during our journey to our hotel, after check in we will enjoy the views of the volcano and watch the wildlife roaming in the lodge grounds, a relaxing afternoon after a morning of travel. We will have an optional evening birding walk in search for Great Curassow and Emerald Tanager.

Day 7 - Caribbean Lowlands – La Fortuna

We will enjoy our delicious breakfast on the deck of the hotel overlooking the stunning volcano. During the morning we will have an excursion to the Suspension bridges for birding and searching for more Caribbean and North Plain specialists including Black-crested Coquette, Speckled Tanagers, Guans and more. Crossing our fingers, because if we are lucky, we can end the walk with one of the biggest raptors of all in the Neotropics, the Ornate-hawk Eagle. We will return to the lodge for lunch and then during the afternoon, take your time to relax or explore the lodge gardens and trails.

Crested Guan CR 2015 1

We look for Crested Guans in the forest



Day 8 - Caribbean Lowlands – La Fortuna

After breakfast we depart for a fantastic boat tour to Caño Negro National Park, at the Northern Wetlands. Here we will be searching for dazzling kingfishers, gorgeous Agami Herons, rare Sungrebes, raptors and a lot more. Two of the most sought-after species here are the Nicaraguan Seed Finch and the Nicaraguan Grackle. Lunch will be taken during the tour and in the afternoon, take some time to relax and enjoy this beautiful area. In the evening we enjoy a wonderful traditional dinner experience.

Day 9 - Turrialba - Caribbean Foothills

After breakfast, depart from our lodge to our new base in the Turrialba region, a fantastic place for birds and wildlife. We will make a stop on the way at Cinchona hummingbird feeders during the morning for more stunning views of these “jewels” of Costa Rica. We spend the afternoon observing some of the vast array of species of birds attracted to the tropical fruits, flora and hummingbird feeders at the lodge. Highlights include Ruddy Quail-Dove, Grey-headed Chachalaca, Lineated Woodpecker, White-crowned Manakin, Thicket Antpitta, Great Tinamous, Barred Forest-falcon and the Snowcap, a stunning hummingbird, which is considered the star of the region. Keep your eyes peeled for White Hawk, Barred Hawk, Prong-billed Barbet, Red-headed Barbet, Silver-throated Tanager, American Dipper, Torrent Tyrannulet, Violet Sabrewing, Green Thorntail and the very special Costa Rica endemic Coppery-headed Emerald – these hummingbirds are beautiful. We enjoy our lunch on the way and arrive at our lodge in the afternoon.

Day 10 - Turrialba - Caribbean Foothills

We spend this day looking for birds and other wildlife in the grounds of our lodge and its many trails through the forest with a chance to see species we did not see yesterday and perhaps of spot some of the more elusive birds. With over 400, yes you read that right four hundred, species of birds recorded here we will not be short of birds. You may catch a glimpse of the Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher, Long-billed Gnatwren, White-winged Becard, Yellow-crowned Euphonia, Eye-ringed Flycatcher and the Central American endemic Tawny-chested Flycatcher.

Day 11 - Turrialba - Caribbean Foothills

In the morning we visit a lake for Great Potoo, a giant nightjar and well worth seeing at its daytime roost, Cabanis Ground Sparrow – a wonderful hard to see species - and water birds such as the Yellow-crowned Night-heron, a colony of Cattle, Snowy and Great Egrets, Northern Jacanas and more. Return to lodge for lunch and in the afternoon we will visit some local hotspots including a protected area to photograph the beautiful Sunbittern – this bird is mind-blowing and a real thrill if we are lucky enough to see one.

Long tailed Silky Flycatcher 1

Stunning Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher



Day 12 - Highlands

During the morning we depart for the Talamanca Highlands, with a stop en route for lunch with a chance to see wonderful bird species like the Buffy-crowned Wood-partridge usually impossible to see elsewhere, the Buff-fronted Quail-Dove, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo and more. After lunch and watching the amazing birds from the comfort of the veranda here, in the afternoon we depart for our accommodation in the highlands. This beautiful hotel is situated approximately 7,000 ft. above sea level and combines highland oak and cloud forests with open grasslands and forest edges. We love this area with its Spring-like climate and amazing birds and scenery. A diverse mix of birds inhabits the area, including large numbers of the strikingly beautiful Resplendent Quetzals, our main target in the area, a must-see bird.

Day 13 - Highlands

Early morning, we have the internationally famous Quetzal Tour, which consists of going birding along the upper trails of a local oak forest, looking for Quetzals. Back at the hotel we enjoy breakfast in the restaurant and birding continues along the trails during this morning. The region is home to several species that are only found at this elevation, such as the Collared Trogon, Emerald Toucanet, Flame-coloured Tanager, Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Black-capped Flycatcher, Costa Rican Pygmy Owl, Silvery-throated Jays and Tufted Flycatcher. Enjoy birding along the lodge’s scenic waterfall trail, looking for Talamanca regional endemics like the White-throated Mountain-gem, Collared Redstart, Volcano Hummingbird, and Black-cheeked Warbler.

Flame coloured Tanager male

Flame-coloured Tanager shows off for our group



Day 14 - Highlands

During the morning, we will visit the continental divide and the highest point of the mountains, an area in the Subalpine Paramo, in search for two very special endemic birds that only occur in this rare ecosystem, the Volcano Junco and the Timberline Wren. If it is clear of cloud the views are breath-taking and a very different area from those visited previously – Costa Rica keeps surprising. Lunch time, we visit a very special restaurant in the San Gerardo de Dota Valley and spend some time at the hummingbird feeders for the popular Fiery-throated Hummingbirds, White-throated Mountain-Gem and search the gardens for the Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher. In the afternoon we will visit a special photographic centre to have more opportunity to observe highland species.

Day 15 - San Jose Central Valley

We will have one last morning enjoying the birds of the highlands with perhaps another sighting of the magnificent Resplendent Quetzal and we will then leave after lunch for the capital San Jose. Farewell dinner in our beautiful hotel.

Day 16 - Departure for the Airport

After breakfast and a last look at the birds of Costa Rica in the hotel gardens, we will make our way back to San Jose Airport in time for your flight home.

Fiery throated Hummingbird

Fiery-throated Hummingbird, perfection in a small package!



This Birdwatching Trips Costa Rica tour includes:

15 nights’ accommodation in ensuite twin/double rooms in comfortable hotels and lodges, all meals from evening meal on Day 1 through to breakfast on Day 16, bottled water throughout the trip, guiding by Alan and Ruth plus an expert English-speaking bird guide who will provide field guides and telescope for your use throughout the trip, transport throughout the tour in a comfortable air-conditioned minicoach, entrance to all reserves, all boat trips and other excursions as mentioned in the itinerary, a printed checklist of the birds and wildlife we encounter. Expect to enjoy around 350 species of birds!

Not included are:

International flights to and from San Jose, Costa Rica; departure tax US$ 30 payable at the airport as you leave the country; any additional nights’ accommodation, any additional excursions you may wish to take, any additional snacks; alcoholic drinks; travel and medical insurance; any items of a personal nature, tips for guides and any other people you feel deserve a tip – at your discretion.

Red legged Honeycreeper 1 Day 1

Watch Red-legged Honeycreepers at the feeders while you enjoy your breakfast!



While we do not book your international flights for you, we recommend using Trailfinders (www.trailfinders.com) in the UK to make your flight arrangements as they are able to offer you excellent advice and prices as well as the protection of their ABTA bonding.

The price of this fully-inclusive tour for six guests as itemised above is £TBC per person, on the basis of sharing a double/twin ensuite room. Sorry but we have to pass on the single room supplement of £TBC that we are charged by the hotels.

Roseate Spoonbills x 2

Feeling in the pink? How about a Roseate Spoonbill or two?



General Tour Information:

Difficulty:

This tour to Costa Rica includes some quite long hikes over uneven and sometimes steep terrain at a slow birding pace. Please contact us if you have any concerns over your participation. We will have some flexibility over participation in activities during the tour as we have three guides on hand and one can return to the lodge/minicoach early if anyone desires.

Payment:

Payment can be made by cheque or electronic bank transfer. We ask for 20% deposit upon booking with the balance due by 70 days before travel. Full payment details are provided on our Booking Form which we are happy to send you. Please ensure you also see our Terms and Conditions . We are compliant with the Packaged Travel Regulations 2018 to give you full protection. All monies are held in a trust account until after the tour is completed for your protection.

Visas:

Tourist Visas are not needed to visit Costa Rica. Please note that there is a mandatory departure tax of US$ 30 to be paid at the airport before checking in for your flight home. This can be paid in cash or by debit/credit card.

Cancellation:

Please ask us if you would like us to send you a copy of our Terms and Conditions detailing cancellation arrangements.

Travel and medical Insurance:

Please make sure you have the correct insurance cover in place for this tour before the start of the trip. We will ask you for your policy name and emergency claim phone number before the start of the tour.

Fiery billed Aracari CR 2016 1

Who can resist a Fiery-billed Aracari? Not us!



Of course, if you have any questions about our tours, please don’t hesitate to ask, we are here to make the tour perfect for you. Please contact us on

info@birdwatchingtrips.co.uk for more information or to book your place.

We look forward to hearing from you and sharing Colourful Costa Rica with you!

Scarlet Macaw 2

From the large, colourful and noisy Scarlet Macaws ...




...to the tiny Black-crested Coquette, Costa Rica has so many wonderful birds to enjoy!



Howler Monkey howling 1

Wonderful mammals include roaring howler monkeys...



Three toed Sloth Costa Rica 1

... and slow-moving three-toed sloths



Iguana on river bank 1

Not forgetting amphibians too...



Blue jeans frog

... including blue-jeans frogs



Butterfly Costa Rica 1

And then there are the butterflies.....!



We hope we can share the wonderful wildife of Costa Rica with you!



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