- Fly from London to San José, arriving this evening, and transfer to our overnight hotel, just outside the capital.
- Accommodation: San José, 1-night
- We drive north and then turn west along the lower slopes of the volcanic range, continuing to the Caribbean-slope forests around Lake Arenal. Towering above the lake is Volcan Arenal, an imposing cone on the horizon surrounded by lake Arenal, the main source of energy to the country.
- In the afternoon we will go on a nature walk searching for birds and wildlife in the surroundings. The next day we visit the Arenal hanging bridges, the most beautiful environmentally-friendly projects in Costa Rica. We spend time walking the trails and crossing the bridges with a stunning view on the canopy of this lowland tropical pristine rainforest.
- Accommodation: Fortuna, Volcan Arenal, 2-nights on full board basis.
- We drive east from the central valley across the active volcanic zone, and down into the forests of the Caribbean lowlands, towards Costa Rica’s border with Nicaragua. We spend the afternoon birdwatching in the mountains and lowlands before heading to our lodge.
- The next morning, we enjoy a walk to La Selva Biological Reserve, which covers an expanse of lowland rainforest and is a fabulous birding destination with over 400 species recorded in the area. La Selva is great for ‘big birds’ and we also have the chance of seeing mammals like howler monkeys, pecari, agoutis and sloths. We spend the afternoon on walking trails in the private reserve around the lodge and in El Tigre marshes where a few species fairly easily seen from the roadside include green ibis, yellow-bellied elaenia, olive-crowned yellowthroat, giant cowbird and the superb Nicaraguan seed-finch.
- Accommodation: Sueño Azul Lodge, Sarapiqui, 2-nights on full board basis
- This morning we head for Costa Rica’s foremost birding lodge, Rancho Naturalista. We stay here for the night in comfort and make the most of its private reserve - home to some 430 birds - and its delightful hummingbird feeders, while enjoying the spectacular view of Turrialba Volcano.
- The area is also rich in butterflies and moths, and a large percentage of Costa Rica’s estimated 12,000 moths are found here!
- Accommodation: Rancho Naturalista, 1-night on full board basis.
- We spend the day driving up to the Cerro de la Muerte highlands, where we stay at a superbly situated lodge in a wonderful sheltered mountain valley. The lodge is set among huge cloud forest oaks, with a mountain stream – complete with American dippers – tumbling over rocks.
- The next day we rise early to find the sought-after resplendent quetzal at its most active – sometimes right by the lodge. We go on to visit an area of mature highland forest with high oak trees.
- Accommodation: San Gerardo de Dota, Cerro de la Muerte, 2-nights on full board basis.
- We now head north to the Pacific coast with time to watch birds en route. We stay at a lovely property located close to Carara National Park and Tarcoles River. During our stay we visit the road bridge that crosses the Tarcoles River with the aim of seeing scarlet macaws as they return to their roost in the mangroves just before dusk.
- In the afternoon, we take a boat trip along the Tarcoles River and into the Guacalillo Estuary, whose mangroves host the largest population of American crocodiles in Central America, and offer great opportunities to see freshwater birds, waders and shorebirds. At this time of the year, we are likely to see some wintering waders from North America, as well as terns and black skimmers, while magnificent frigatebirds fly overhead.
- Accommodation: Near Carara National Park, 1-night on full board basis.
- Early this morning we visit Carara National Park, an important reserve of Pacific lowland transitional forest, where South American tropical rainforest meets Central American dry lowland forest. This is an excellent place to see various species of antbird, as well as trogons, woodpeckers and a bewildering array of flycatchers. Mammals here include white-faced capuchin and howler monkeys, two-toed sloth and tamandua, a small anteater. We then have a short drive west toward the Pacific Coast, heading into the much drier and more open lowlands of Guanacaste.
- The next morning we go on a three hour boat tour to Palo Verde National Park and the Bebedero River to look for raptors. Some exotic mammals should join the party, including monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas and raccoons.
- In the afternoon we visit the 11,000-hectare Hacienda Solimar, a farm dedicated to cattle-rearing and wildlife conservation, where we can expect to see a wide variety of wetland birds, including the mighty jabirú. This is a birding paradise, especially at this time of the year when many migratory species are present and the breeding season is in full swing.
- Accommodation: Guanacaste, 2-nights on full board basis.
- This morning we return to the Central Valley and San José, and end the day with a farewell dinner.
- Accommodation: San José, 1-night on full board basis.
Day 13 Depart for the UK
Day 14 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
We stay in hotels or lodges with all rooms en suite. Some of the lodges are remote, and have simpler-style rooms, often in cabins.
All meals are included, with the exception of dinner on day of arrival and lunch on our final day.
Costa Rica has more bird species to the square mile than any other country on earth. The varied habitats and National Parks that we visit on this tour yield and amazing diversity of birdlife, from macaws, antbird species, magnificent frigatebirds to the most beautiful bird in tropical America, the resplendent quetzal.
- Resplendent quetzal
- Scarlet macaw
- Fiery-throated hummingbird
- Two-toed sloth
- Collared peccary
- White-faced capuchin
Our tour takes us through an amazing diversity of landscapes –spectacular mountains and active volcanoes, pristine beaches and lowland rainforest, high cloud forest and tropical wetlands.
Some forest trails can be steep in parts, but we take this slowly. Although we travel up to over 3,000 metres, we will not be walking much at the higher altitude.
During out stay on Solimar estate, we take a boat trip amongst the mangroves adjacent to Palo Verde National Park.
On this tour we will travel to over 3,000 metres above sea level.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – San José – London.
Ground transportation is by small coach or minibus, with driver.