CLASSIC HOTSPOTS BIRDING TOUR
|Duration:||9 days, 8 nights|
|* This tour is available for any dates of your choosing provided guide services and accommodations are available.|
DAY 1 - ALAJUELA
International flights arrive in the afternoon or evening. Everyone gathers at the Hotel Aeropuerto, a 5-minute taxi ride from the international airport. Night in Alajuela.
DAY 2 - OROTINA & TARCOLES
Early departure for Orotina. Meet with local guide who has stakeouts for Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Spectacled Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, and Black-and-white Owl. Early in the season he may also have a site for the very difficult Rufous-necked Wood-Rail in the mangroves near Caldera. Also possible there is Mangrove Hummingbird. Look for White-throated Magpie-Jay, which is at the very southern end of its range around there. After arrival and check-in do some birding around the lodge. Likely species include Cinnamon Hummingbird, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Hoffmann's Woodpecker, Lesser Greenlet, Rufous-naped Wren, and Melodious Blackbird. Afternoon take a boat trip up the Tarcoles River. Likely species include Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Common Black-Hawk, Amazon Kingfisher, and Double-striped Thick-knee. Around the river mouth are Mangrove Hummingbird, Panama Flycatcher, Mangrove Vireo, and Mangrove Warbler, a color morph of the Yellow Warbler. Back at the lodge, Scarlet Macaws typically visit the gardens in late afternoon, offering close-up viewing. Night at Cerro Lodge.
DAY 3 - CARARA NATIONAL PARK
All day bird Carara National Park. The park is in a transitional zone between northern and southern Pacific coastal areas and attracts a nice combination of northern and southern species. Bird the Laguna Meandrica trail through secondary forest paralleling the Tarcoles River. This trail is wide and fairly level, affording easy walking. Specialties typically seen along the trail include White-whiskered Puffbird, Baird's Trogon, Black-hooded Antshrike, Slaty Antwren, Chestnut-backed Antwren, Orange-collared Manakin, Rufous-naped Wren, Black-bellied Wren, Rufous-and-white Wren, Cherrie's Tanager, and Spot-crowned Euphonia. With luck one could also find Long-tailed Manakin and Rufous-breasted Wren. At the end of the trail are some ponds where roosting Boat-billed Herons are normally present in thick understory near the river. Also present sometimes are Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks. After lunch at the lodge, bird the Headquarters Trail at Carara. This trail goes through primary forest where species composition is quite different. The trail is flat, paved, and easy. Notable species possible include Gray-chested Dove, Bronzy Hermit, White-whiskered Puffbird, Black-hooded Antshrike, Streak-chested Antpitta, Tawny-winged Woodcreeper, Northern Bentbill, Stub-tailed Spadebill, Riverside Wren, Long-billed Gnatwren, Orange-billed Sparrow, and Yellow-throated Euphonia. Night at Cerro Lodge.
DAY 4 - TRANSFER & TALAMANCA HIGHLANDS
Morning birding around Tarcoles. Mid-morning depart for the Talamanca Highlands, stopping en route for birding and lunch. A visit to the antenna area atop Cerro de la Muerte should produce several high elevation specialties, notably Volcano Hummingbird, Timberline Wren, Peg-billed Finch, Sooty-capped Chlorospingus, Volcano Junco, and Large-footed Finch. After arrival and check-in, visit the lodge's new hummingbird gardens. Species likely there include Green-crowned Brilliant, Magnificent Hummingbird, Scintillant Hummingbird, and Gray-tailed Mountain-gem. Also likely is Slaty Flowerpiercer feeding among the flowers. Along the road, a stretch of flowers reliably attracts Stripe-tailed Hummingbird. Night at Savegre Mountain Lodge.
DAY 5 - SAN GERARDO DE DOTA
Morning drive high up the mountain behind the lodge and bird the trail going back down. Certainly the prime attraction is Resplendent Quetzal, often seen in the forest there. Other highland species of note include Spotted Wood-Quail, Ruddy Pigeon, Barred Parakeet, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Lineated Foliage-gleaner, Streak-breasted Treehunter, Ruddy Treerunner, Mountain Elaenia, Yellow-winged Vireo, Black-faced Solitaire, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, Black-cheeked Warbler, Wrenthrush, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Peg-billed Finch, and Flame-colored Tanager. The afternoon will be devoted to looking for Resplendent Quetzal along a section of the road where it is usually seen if it wasn't seen earlier. Alternatively, if it is still present along the River Trail, bird there instead. Night at Savegre Mountain Lodge.
DAY 6 - PARAISO QUETZALES & SARAPIQUI
Very early departure and excursion to Paraiso Quetzales, where they have a program for getting good views of quetzals on a local finca. Breakfast at the lodge and view hummingbirds coming in to feeders. This site is the best place to see Fiery-throated Hummingbird, a high elevation species not normally present in the valley. Transfer to Sarapiqui on the Caribbean slope with lunch en route. Afternoon bird sites around Puerto Viejo. The main target species there are Canebrake Wren, a split from Plain Wren, and Gray-crowned Yellowthroat. Raptors such as White Hawk, Gray-lined Hawk, and Bat Falcon are also possible. Night at La Quinta Inn.
DAY 7 - LA SELVA BIOLOGICAL STATION
All day birding La Selva Biological Station, where over 400 species have been recorded. Access is restricted for most groups, but we can usually get exceptional access because our guides are Costa Rican and most have previously worked at La Selva. Birding is along the entrance road, in the clearing around the visitor center, and along an extensive network of trails through primary and secondary forest. It's preferable to bird the forest interior early when bird activity is at its best. Several hundred species are possible and we see different ones on every visit, which is typical when birding in rainforest. Possibilities include Great Tinamou, Semiplumbeous Hawk, Chestnut-colored Woodpecker, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Fasciated Antshrike, Great Antshrike, Black-crowned Antshrike, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Bare-necked Umbrellabird, White-collared Manakin, Crimson-collared Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Dusky-faced Tanager, and many more. If an army ant swarm is encountered, obligate and opportunistic army ant followers such as Bicolored Antbird, Ocellated Antbird, Gray-headed Tanager and Red-throated Ant-Tanager are very possible. It's worth spending all day at La Selva, with a rest during the hot part of the day back at the lodge. Night at La Quinta Inn.
DAY 8 - GUAPILES & BRAULIO CARRILLO
A local guide has a site where he can lure out the very secretive Thicket Antpitta for good viewing and photos. The morning will be spent with him. Various other birds could be seen as well, including Short-billed Pigeon, Crested Owl, which the same guide often has staked out, Great Potoo, Cinnamon Woodpecker, and Pale-billed Woodpecker. After a couple hours with him, continue down the road with a short stop near El Tapir Nature Reserve to look for Snowcap, Black-crested Coquette, Violet-headed Hummingbird, and Blue-throated Goldentail. Then bird one or two trails in Braulio Carrillo National Park. The area around Braulio Carrillo is often very rainy, so this part of the morning is optional. The birding can be very good, especially for mixed species tanager flocks. Some of the notable birds thinclude Tawny-crested Tanager, Blue-and-gold Tanager, Emerald Tanager, and Ashy-throated Chlorospingus. Other possibilities include Yellow-eared Toucanet, Tawny-throated Leaftosser, Sharpbill, Tawny-faced Gnatwren, White-throated Shrike-Tanager, Tawny-capped Euphonia, and possibly a forest-falcon. After lunch back at the lodge, transfer back to Alajuela with a birding stop at La Paz Waterfall Gardens where the main target birds are Black-bellied Hummingbird and Coppery-headed Emerald. Night at Hotel Aeropuerto.
DAY 9 - END OF TOUR
Tour ends with breakfast at the hotel. International flights home.