Arrive in San José, Costa
Arrive in San José for an overnight at your hotel.
Lush and verdant throughout the year, Costa Rica is a fantastic place for bird and nature lovers. This small country sustains some of the world’s most productive ecosystems. Explore various tropical environments through Savegre River Valley, Carara National Park, and La Selva Biological Station to maximize your experience. Discover toucans, aracaris, macaws, hummingbirds, and other, plus monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, peccaries, and agoutis. Enjoy the friendly people and delicious food of Costa Rica at beautiful, well-situated lodges while you explore this Central American hotspot.
|Jan 30||Arrive and meet your guide in San José, Costa Rica.||Buena Vista Hotel, San José|
|Jan 31-Feb 1||Experience the cloud forests of the Savegre River Valley and the resplendent quetzal.||Savegre Lodge, Savegre River Valley||B, L, D|
|Feb 2-4||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|
|Feb 5-7||View active Volcán Arenal and walks in Arenal National Park on tropical forest trails with great birding.||Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal National Park||B, L, D|
|Feb 8-10||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 world-famous tropical research facility.||Selva Verde Lodge & Reserve, Chilamate||B, L, D|
|Feb 11||Return to San José.||Hotel Bougainvillea, San José||B, L, D|
|Feb 12||Flights homeward.||B|
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 surrounded by 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 also 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.
Arrive in San José for an overnight at your hotel.
Enter the misty highland cloud forests in the Talamanca Mountains and the Savegre River Valley to 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’ll also bird watch on the Savegre Hotel’s private 400-hectare nature reserve, visiting hummingbird feeding stations and walking through gardens, along trails in the forest, and along the Savegre River.
Situated on the banks of the Tarcoles River, near the Pacific coast, Carara National Park is 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. 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 agoutis. When the birds are less active, you’ll find beautiful butterflies like blue morphos flitting about. Enjoy 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, shorebirds, waterbirds, and raptors. If time allows, you will also explore the visitor center and walk through habitat that is home to the great curassow and great tinamou, both seen side by side!
Drive into the highlands of the Continental Divide and down the Caribbean Slope to Lake Arenal with your first sights of the breathtaking Volcán Arenal, Costa Rica’s youngest and most active volcano. 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, mottled, and striped owls.
Drive to Selva Verde Lodge, located in the tropical lowlands of Sarapiqui. Spend three nights at this lodge, situated on 500 acres of tropical forest adjacent to Braulio Carillo National Park and the Organization for Tropical Studies’ (OTS) La Selva Biological Station.
You’ll explore the wildlife-rich riparian zone along the banks of the Sarapiqui River for the great green macaw, an endangered species that feed almost exclusively on the almonds of the almendro tree (Dipteryx panamensis) commonly found here. Meander the walkways at your lodge and look for poison dart frogs, millipedes, and many bird species. Enjoy your early morning coffee at the fruit feeding station to see who will make an appearance!
Visit La Selva Biological Station, one of the world's most important sites for tropical ecosystem research where scientists and students come from around the world to study tropical ecology. La Selva is home to more than 420 bird species, 500 butterfly species, 120 mammal species, 55 snake species, and hosts a variety tree species on its 4,000 acres of old growth and disturbed tropical wet forest. Paco knows this area very well from spending his youth here and working as a naturalist. La Selva is the most likely place to find any of three species of tinamous in Costa Rica, plus woodpeckers, aracaris, tanagers, rufous motmot, trogons, caciques, purple-throated fruitcrow, and snowy cotinga. Also look out for peccaries (wild pig), agoutis, coatis, sloths, and the monkeys that frequent this area.
Return to San José for a farewell group dinner at your lodge.
Travel by boat to Tortuguero National Park, navigating through small resort areas, agricultural land, and secondary forest before reaching your lodge just outside the park.
At Tortuguero National Park, you will traverse the rich labyrinth of peaceful waterways, keeping an eye out for active wildlife along the banks and in the trees. 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.
Explore this lush and diverse country full of colorful birds and other wildlife with our experienced and knowledgeable guide.
|Type||Cost Per Person|
|Trip Cost, double occupancy||$6,550|
Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare, singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.
If you are a single traveler, we will find a roommate for you, but if we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement. Single rooms cost extra and are subject to availability.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$500|
|Final||August 30, 2021||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 $150 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.
Temperatures vary greatly – the Pacific coast is often hot while the cloud forests can be cool. Although December through May is the dry season, expect rain anytime. The average temperatures in January range from 54°F (12°C) at night to 88°F (31°C) during the day, depending on the location within the country.
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 January 30. Depart from San José, Costa Rica (SJO) in the afternoon on February 12.
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.
"Paco Madrigal was superb. Extensive knowledge of flora and fauna, and he seemed to know everyone at every lodge we stayed at. He knew where to find the birds, and how to get into the best position for photography."
Paco Madrigal is by far the best guide we have ever had in our four visits to Costa Rica! It was great to see him again after we first had him as a guide at Selva Verde and La Selva 21 years ago as part of our first visit.
I wanted to see a Resplendent Quetzal much of my life, so I would have to say seeing 4-5 at one time was quite a highlight of the trip.