Costa Rica ........ 2nd to 17th February 2019
With its amazing contrast of habitats, marvellous scenic locations, exquisite birdlife, friendly people and small size, it is not difficult to see why Costa Rica attracts birdwatchers from all over the world. Costa Rica has a democratic government, no army and the highest literacy level in the region, making it a prosperous and stable country. There is a very positive attitude to national parks and wildlife reserves, with the highest percentage of land area devoted to these, of any country in the world. Rainforests, cloud forests, volcanos, palm-fringed beaches, mangroves and estuaries hold such avian jewels as Scarlet Macaw, Resplendent Quetzal, Rufous Motmot, Sunbittern, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Lanceolated Monklet, Turquoise Cotinga, Northern Royal Flycatcher, Green Honeycreeper, Boat-billed Heron and Magnificent Frigatebird. Costa Rica is a real gem - and in relation to its size, has the highest avian diversity on earth. With all these attributes it is a must for birdwatchers, whatever their level of expertise! Our fabulous itinerary covers the prime sites and venues, including: La Selva, Braulio Carrillo, Cerro de la Muerte, Carara, Guanacaste and Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge – the very best of Costa Rica.
Day 1: Depart UK on a direct flight to San José arriving in the evening. We’ll then transfer to our hotel.
Overnight – San Jose
Days 2 - 4: On Day 2 we’ll transfer to Arenal Observatory Lodge for 3 nights. This superb location, nestled in the Arenal Volcano National Park, is one of the top bird areas in Costa Rica, with over 500 species recorded. Observing the bird feeders and walking the trail system will yield a splendid variety of bird species. White Hawks, Laughing Falcon, Crested Guan, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Great Curassow, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Blue-crowned Motmot are just a tiny mouth-watering sample of species possible along with Manakins, hummingbirds, toucans, trogons and tanagers.
Overnights – Arenal Observatory Lodge
Days 5 - 6: Just miles from the Nicaraguan border lays a phenomenal bird-watching and natural heaven – Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge – the largest wetland in Costa Rica and a Ramsar Site of international importance. The reserve incorporates lagoons, rivers, rainforest and open environments and therefore has a diverse avifauna with large concentrations of birds in some areas. Around 300 species have been recorded, from many families – kingfishers, herons, cormorants, raptors, owls, woodpeckers, parrots, antbirds, manakins and tanagers. Jabiru, Boat-billed Heron, Anhinga, Snail Kite, Laughing Falcon, Black-necked Stilt, Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, Hoffman’s Woodpecker, Ringed Kingfisher, Spectacled Owl, Black-headed Trogon, Mangrove Swallow and Tropical Gnatcatcher are just a mouth-watering small sample of the birdlife present.
Overnights – Cano Negro
Days 7-9: On Day 7 we’ll transfer to the Caribbean Lowlands. During our stay in the Selva Verde area, we will explore the lodge grounds and have excursions to Braulio Carrillo and also La Selva Biological Reserve – areas of pre-montane tropical forest. The marvellous array of fauna includes Sunbittern, White-throated Crake, Red-lored Parrot, Squirrel Cuckoo, Lattice-tailed Trogon, Rufous Motmot, Immaculate Antbird, Fasciated Antshrike, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Keel-billed Toucan, Blue-and-Gold Tanager, White-throated Shrike Tanager, Spider Monkey, Tayra and River Otter amongst a host of other species.
Overnights – La Quinta Lodge
Days 10-11: On Day 10 we’ll travel to the Cerro de la Muerte Highlands and the San Gerardo Valley in the Talamanca Mountains looking for high zone species including White-throated Mountain-gem, Large-footed Finch, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Sooty Thrush, Flame-throated Warbler, Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, Timberline Wren, Flame-coloured Tanager, Volcano Junco and the fabulous Resplendent Quetzal.
Overnights – Savegre Mountain Lodge
Days 12-14: On Day 12 we’ll head for the Pacific Coast, with emphasis on the wonderful Carara National Park and the Tarcoles Estuary. Carara reserve is an area of Pacific Coast lowland rainforest and is particularly famed for its population of Scarlet Macaws, but there are many more much sought-after species. These include Boat-billed Heron, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, Spectacled Owl, Baird’s Trogons Pale-billed Woodpecker, Dot-winged Antwren, Streak-chested Antpitta, Orange-collared Manakin. A boat trip on the Tarcoles Estuary will give us close encounters with herons, waders, terns, Magnificent Frigatebirds and mangrove specialities, such as American Pygmy Kingfisher, Yellow (Mangrove) Warbler, Mangrove Vireo, Panama Flycatcher and Mangrove Hummingbird. We will also have an excursion to the Guanacaste Region. Birds here include Jabiru, Bare-throated Tiger-heron, Double-striped Thick-knee, Lesser Ground-cuckoo, Collared Forest-Falcon and Black-headed Trogon.
Overnights - Villa Lapas, Carara
Days 15 & !6: After more birding in the Carara area during the morning of Day 15, we travel to the airport in San José for our return overnight flight to the UK.
Tour ref: AA1952
Single Room Supplement: £485
Leaders: Peter Dedicoat & Local Guide
Max. Group: 10 plus Leaders
Economy class scheduled return flights (UK-San José-UK), accommodation based on twin occupancy, all meals, ground transportation in Costa Rica, entrance fees and services of leader and guides.
Travel insurance, drinks, departure tax and items of a personal nature.