GRAND COSTA RICA TOUR
|Duration:||19 days, 18 nights|
|* This tour is available for any dates of your choosing provided guide services and accommodations are available.|
Our Costa Rica Grand Tour features excellent birding sites in northern, central, and southern Costa Rica. Sites covered include La Ensenada, Monteverde, sites near Bijagua, Arenal, La Selva, Guapiles, Brauulio Carrillothe Talamanca highlands, Osa Peninsula, and the Pacific lowlands. The tour has the potential of recording over 400 species in 17 days. The best time to take this tour is during early dry season from January-March. During this time birds are in full breeding plumage and are most active. Accommodations are excellent throughout the tour except on Osa Peninsula where they are basic yet comfortable.
The tour begins with a transfer to the dry woodland and savanna of La Ensenada Wildlife Refuge north of Alajuela. From there the tour visits middle elevation sites of the Tilaran Cordillera, notably Monteverde Cloud Forest and Selvatura. The former is a likely place to see Resplendent Quetzals and the latter is one of the best places to see Three-wattled Bellbirds. The tour then proceeds north to Bijagua, where private forest reserves offer some of the best birding in Costa Rica. When army ant swarms are active, obligate followers such as Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo and Ocellated Antbird are very possible. A stakeout site near the lodge is one of the most reliable places to see Lovely Cotinga. The tour then continues to Arenal National Park area, where birding the park and private forest reserve is excellent. A morning visit to a private reserve in Fortuna should allow great views of some very rare, normally secretive crakes. A transfer to the Caribbean slope follows. A full day of birding La Selva Biological Reserve and sites around Puerto Viejo will be highly productive. The final morning will feature a visit to a private finca where a local guide has conditioned Thicket Antpitta to come into view. A nearby site should produce views of Crested Owls and other interesting species. This visit will be followed by a stop to look for Snowcap and Black-crested Coquette and some forest birding in Braulio Carrillo National Park. After lunch, the tour proceeds to the Talamanca highlands. A stop at Cerro de la Muerte should produce several high elevation species during the transfer. A full day will be spent birding the valley of San Gerardo de Dota, where Resplendent Quetzals are to be found along with many other highland specialties. While quetzals can sometimes be seen, often from a distance, near the lodge, they are best seen much closer on nearby fincas in the highlands. On the last morning in the highlands we'll visit one of those fincas to get excellent views of this fantastic species. From there the tour continues south to Osa Peninsula followed by an afternoon of birding near the lodge upon arrival. During two full days on Osa, numerous specialties including the endemic Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager will provide highlights of the tour. An early departure the last morning features a stop at a reliable site for Yellow-billed Cotinga and another stop for some localized swifts while en route to Carara National Park. A full day will be devoted to birding Carara National Park. The park features transitional forest where the ranges of many northern and southern specialties overlap. For this reason, Carara offers some of the best birding in Costa Rica. Late afternoon offers viewing of Scarlet Macaws when they reliably appear at feeders on the lodge grounds. The last morning features a visit near Orotina featuring stakeouts of Lesser Ground-Cuckoo and several owls with a local guide. This will be followed by a boat trip in early afternoon on the Tarcoles River before returning to Alajuela.