Kaleidoscope of Bird Diversity

Costa Rica

Cost: $7,550
Leader: Paco Madrigal
Group Size: 10
Days: 16

Safari Overview

Lush and verdant throughout the year, Costa Rica is a fantastic place for bird lovers. This small country sustains some of the world’s most productive ecosystems. Explore various tropical environments with your fully vaccinated leader, Paco Madrigal, through Savegre River Valley, Carara National Park, La Selva Biological Station, and Tortuguero National Park to maximize your experience. Spring boasts exceptional weather and more animal activity, including migrating birds along the Continental Divide, the backbone of Costa Rica, plus monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, peccaries, and agoutis. Enjoy the friendly people and delicious food of Costa Rica at brilliantly situated lodges while you explore this Central American hotspot.


  • Explore Costa Rica by bus, boat, and foot for magnificent bird and animal watching.
  • Search for the resplendent quetzal, one of the most beautiful birds in Central America.
  • Discover many forest types, such as tropical rain, cloud, and tropical dry.
  • Experience La Selva Biological Station, a tropical ecosystem research hotbed with more than 600 species.


  • Click the buttons below to view sample detailed itineraries. Contact us so one of our skilled trip coordinators can work with you to finalize dates for your limited time only trips!

Start Booking Your Limited Time Only Trip Today

If you have a group size that is the same or similar to one of our scheduled departures, you may be able to take over a scheduled trip if no one else has signed up yet.

Please call or email us to set up your limited time only trip today! If you don’t see your destination of choice on our website, please contact us to see if it is something we can arrange for you.

Updated: August 2021

Print Trip
Description Lodge Meals
Arrive and meet your guide in San José, Costa Rica. Hotel Bougainvillea, San José D
Experience the cloud forests of the Savegre River Valley and the resplendent quetzal. Savegre Hotel, Savegre River Valley B, L, D
Discover rainforest habitats of Carara National Park on the banks of the Tarcoles River near the Pacific coast, including a mangrove boat tour. Hotel Villa Lapas, near Carara National Park B, L, D
Explore the tropical dry forests, marshlands, estuaries, and mangroves of Guanacaste Peninsula. La Ensenada Lodge, Abangaritos B, L, D
View active Volcán Arenal and walk in Arenal National Park on tropical forest trails with great birding. Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal National Park B, L, D
Explore tropical lowland rainforests of the Caribbean slope along the Sarapiqui River, including visits to Braulio Carrillo National Park and the La Selva Biological Station, a worldfamous tropical research facility. Selva Verde Lodge & Reserve, Chilamate B, L, D
Boat to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast to explore rich narrow waterways through the rainforest by boat. Laguna Lodge, Tortuguero National Park B, L, D
Return to San José for a farewell dinner. Hotel Bougainvillea, San José B, L, D
Flights homeward. D

Our Trip Leaders

Paco Madrigal

Paco has over 20 years of experience guiding wildlife, natural history, and birding tours throughout his native Costa Rica. He grew up in Sarapiqui near the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) Station and inherited his family's passion for the diverse local plants and animals. He was part of the very first World Wildlife Fund (WWF) intensive Naturalist training program and helped build and worked at La Selva Biological Station before following his dream of starting his own tour company. His deep knowledge and charming personality make him one of our best leaders.

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Arrive in San José, Costa Rica

Arrive in San José by this evening for an overnight at your hotel, located on ten acres of beautiful gardens that attract a multitude of birds including some you might not see on other parts of the trip!

Savegre River Valley

Enter the misty, highland cloud forests in the Talamanca Mountains and the Savegre River Valley where you will look for numerous species of flora and fauna. The jewel of these forests is the resplendent quetzal, considered by some, to be the most beautiful bird in Central America. You will also bird watch on the Savegre Hotel’s private 400-hectare nature reserve, visiting bird feeding stations and walking through gardens, along trails in the forest, and along the Savegre River.

Carara National Park

Situated on the banks of the Tarcoles River, near the Pacific coast, Carara National Park is located in a unique climate zone that joins the humid southern coastal region and the dry climate of the northern Pacific area, creating a rich mix of species from both regions. A highlight of the Carara Reserve is the chance to watch the orange-collared manakin dancing in its lek, an aggregation of males performing competitive displays to attract females who are ready to mate. Explore bird-rich trails through the forests in search of tiger-herons, antbirds, rufous-tailed jacamar, trogons, and royal flycatchers. Become one with the sights and sounds around you while looking for a cooperative mixed flock foraging together, or even a glance at one of the mammal species: collared peccaries, tayras, tamanduas, or agouti. Around midday, when the birds are less active, you’ll find beautiful butterflies like blue morphos flitting about. One of the high points of your visit in Carara may be the morning and evening stops at the Tarcoles River bridge to watch scarlet macaws fly to and from their nighttime roost in mangroves.

Embark on a two-hour mangrove boat tour along the Tarcoles River in search of giant crocodiles, along with shorebirds, water birds, and raptors in the river and bordering mangrove forest. If time allows, you will also explore the visitor center and walk through the habitat that is home to the great curassow and great tinamou, both seen side by side!

Guanacaste and La Ensenada National Wildlife Refuge

The Guanacaste Peninsula has a vast diversity of wildlife habitats, including tropical dry forests, marshlands, estuaries, and mangroves. Drive through the Pacific Lowlands, on the Pan-American Highway, passing through the arid landscapes of the Guanacaste-Gulf in the Nicoya region, which has distinctive flora and fauna endemic to this unique area.

Explore La Ensenada National Wildlife Refuge on the Pacific Coast of the Gulf of Nicoya. You will stay at a family-managed lodge and ranch within the refuge where you will visit natural habitats, including dry forest and mangroves. Listen for mantled howler monkeys calling in the distance and look for other mammals including white-headed (-faced) capuchins, northern tamandua, white-nosed coati, and white-tailed deer. You can also see Pacific screech-owls and ferruginous pygmy-owl.

Arenal National Park and Volcano

Drive east into the highlands of the Continental Divide and down the Caribbean Slope to Lake Arenal for your first sight of the breathtaking Volcán Arenal, Costa Rica’s youngest and most active volcano. Arenal last erupted in 2010 but can still become active at any time. Along your route, you’ll have time to stop for birds and picturesque views.

The Arenal Observatory Lodge, located within Arenal National Park, offers wonderful views of the volcano, sunsets over Lake Arenal, as well as tanagers, hummingbirds, and several species of warblers at the feeders – all viewed from the comfort of the outside deck. Extensive trails around the lodge provide opportunities to walk through montane rainforest in search of woodland bird species, monkeys, and midday butterflies. In the evening, you can choose to go owling in search of black-and-white owl, mottled owl, and striped owl.

Sarapiqui riparian zone and La Selva Biological Station

Sarapiqui riparian zone and La Selva Biological Station

Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean

Travel by boat to Tortuguero National Park. Navigate through small resort areas and agricultural land, as well as secondary forest before reaching your lodge just outside the park.

At Tortuguero National Park, you will traverse the rich labyrinth of peaceful, narrow, and wide waterways, keeping an eye out for active wildlife along the banks and overhead. This area boasts 320 bird species, including tiger-herons, Agami heron, white-fronted nunbird, and all six species of kingfishers belonging to the Americas. You may also see caiman, iguanas, poison dart frogs, freshwater turtles, basilisk lizards, Honduran white tent-making bats, and three species of monkeys that frequent the banks. Also keep an eye out for slaty-tailed trogon, Montezuma’s oropendola, American pygmy kingfisher, bare-throated tiger-heron, and sungrebe.

If you have time, you may visit the Caribbean Conservation Center to see the outstanding exhibits of nesting turtles and forest ecology, with information on recent leatherback turtle activity in the area.

Return to San José

Depart, by boat, downstream through Tortuguero National Park where brown-throated (three-toed) sloths are sometimes visible in the trees. Drive from the Caribbean coast through Braulio Carrillo National Park en route to San José. Tonight, enjoy a farewell group dinner at your lodge.

Fly home

Costa Rica Limited Time Only Trips

Explore this lush and diverse country full of colorful birds and wildlife with our experienced and knowledgeable guide.

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Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Cost Per Person
Trip Cost, double occupancy Starting at ~$7,550
Single Supplement Starting at ~$800

Costs are per person for two people, double occupancy, not including airfare, singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.

Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $500
Final 150 days before departure Remaining Balance

Payments are due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space.


Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $500 per person, which can be applied toward another trip if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.


  • All leaders, transport, park entry fees, and permits for all activities unless described as optional.
  • Transfers on Day 1 and Day 16 between the San José Airport and Hotel Bougainvillea.
  • Accommodations for the nights of Day 1 through Day 15.
  • Meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 16.
  • Bottled water throughout the trip.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included

  • All airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Round-trip airfare is approximately $450 to $800 between the US and San José, Costa Rica, depending on origin.
  • Passport and visa fees.
  • Gratuities – tipping is always discretionary. However, we suggest budgeting about $18 to $25 per participant per day for Day 2 to Day 15 with our leader (about $252 to $350 total per participant).
  • COVID testing costs.
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance and trip cancellation insurance. For more information see travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation Form.


Fitness Level

You will view most wildlife by walking along trails or from small boats. Walks are generally a few hours and include flat trails, uneven terrain, and hills. Paco will offer optional night walks when he thinks it will enhance your overall wildlife experience; these walks are weather and moon dependent.


Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in San José, Costa Rica (SJO) by the evening of Day 1. Depart from San José, Costa Rica (SJO) anytime on Day 16.



Lodging ranges from rustic to modern, all with private baths. While most lodges do not have air conditioning, some have fans. Almost all lodges have open-air dining and common areas.



You will travel by air-conditioned mini-bus and occasionally by boat.


Read our current Terms and Conditions.