Costa Rica | Birder`s Paradise: Sarapiquí, Carara, Savegre, and the Pacific Coast

Costa Rica | Birder`s Paradise: Sarapiquí, Carara, Savegre, and the Pacific Coast

About this trip

Join Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory and Costa Rican bird expert Mario Córdoba on this 10-day program to discover the abundant species of neotropical birds and other wildlife inhabiting this small but biodiverse country. Begin in the tropical lowland rainforests before making your way to the dry forest of the Pacific coast. The journey culminates in the high-elevation cloud forests of the Talamanca Mountains. You will have the chance to identify hundreds of bird species while learning about the natural history of Costa Rica and the latest conservation initiatives to protect its precious ecosystems. Be an observer of the beginnings of the great spring migration of birds to breeding grounds in the north, neotropical and raptor migrants will be moving!

Highlights

  • Bird the trails of the world-renowned La Selva Biological Station, where more than half of Costa Rica’s species have been recorded.
  • Visit the property of Costa Rican artist Cope, where you may see Spectacled Owl, Crested Owl, and Great Potoo.
  • Spend a full day in Carara National Park, an ecologically diverse hotspot due to its location at the convergence of northwestern tropical dry forest and humid southern Pacific rainforest.
  • Seek out regional endemics like the Volcano Junco and Large-footed Finch, plus the highly coveted Resplendent Quetzal, in the high elevations of Cerro Buena Vista in Los Quetzales National Park.
  • Cruise along the Tárcoles River and watch for mangrove specialties such as the rare Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, Mangrove Hummingbird, and Mangrove Vireo.

Meet your leaders

Margie Menzies

Margie joined the Hawk Ridge staff as a Naturalist in 2011 and currently is the Education Program Director for Hawk Ridge. She loves birds, learning, and sharing the natural world with people of all ages. She also is the Naturalist at Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center in Schroeder, MN and works with passerine banding at Hawk Ridge during migration and with three MAPS stations studying summer breeding birds at Hawk Ridge, Wolf Ridge, and Sugarloaf Cove.

Mario Córdoba

Mario Córdoba Hidalgo has been a nature guide in Costa Rica for more than two decades. During all these years he has expanded his knowledge and appreciation for the country’s unique features and introduced many visitors to its beauty and biodiversity. Born in 1973 in Quesada, San Carlos, he spent his early years exploring nature with his local Boy Scout troop. This was the onset of his lifelong passion for the natural world. After completing primary and secondary school, he went on to attend the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica for his professional training in ecotourism. He learned the trade as a tour guide at places like Arenal Volcano and Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. He has been leading tours for Holbrook Travel since 1996.

San José

Mar 10, 2022

Upon arrival at the airport in San José, you will be met by your local guide and transferred to the hotel. Check in starts at 3 pm.

Overnight at Hotel Bougainvillea

Sarapiqui

Mar 11, 2022

This morning, meet for breakfast and an orientation in the hotel restaurant, followed by an introduction to tropical birding from a local expert. Check out of the hotel and travel by bus to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where you will have lunch and then visit the hummingbird gardens and butterfly house. Continue on, stopping en route at a café in Cinchona known for its many hummingbird feeders. This afternoon, arrive to Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve and take a hike in the reserve with your guide. Selva Verde's reserve protects 500 acres of rainforest, and the lodge offers many covered walks, birding trails, and lookout points, with opportunities to see species such as the Keel-billed Toucan, Great Green Macaw, White-winged Becard, Sunbittern, Acadian Flycatcher, and Wood Thrush. Boots are available for use if the trails are muddy. Take an optional walk this evening to discover nocturnal frogs and insects. Elevation change: From 3,000 feet above sea level in San José to approximately 225 feet in Sarapiquí, with the highest point visited today at 6,200 feet at La Paz.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge

Sarapiqui

Mar 12, 2022

Depart early this morning for the Organization for Tropical Studies La Selva Biological Station. Established in 1968, La Selva is world-renowned for scientific research on rainforest ecosystems. Be on the lookout for the Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Crested Guan, Great Tinamou, Pied Puffbird, and Spectacled Owl as possible sightings. Return to the lodge for lunch. This afternoon take a river boat trip on the Puerto Viejo River (if water levels permit), to experience La Selva from a different perspective. With luck we might spot a Sunbittern or Green Ibis, in addition to other residents along the river, including Spectacled Caiman.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge

Carara

Mar 13, 2022

Optional early morning bird walk. Breakfast and then depart for the Pacific Coast. En route stop at Casa de Cope, where a local artist has created excellent habitat for birds and wildlife on his property. There are chances to see Spectacled Owl, Crested Owl and Great Potoo. Upon arrival at the hotel, check in and have some time to freshen up before having dinner at a local restaurant.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Selva Color Ecolodge

Carara

Mar 14, 2022

Take an early morning bird walk before breakfast. Depart hotel for breakfast at a local restaurant then set out for a full day at Carara National Park, one of the birding hotspots of Costa Rica. The park is located in the Central Pacific region, one of the most ecologically diverse areas of the country. The intersection of northwestern tropical dry forest with the humid rainforest of the South Pacific region, concentrated in a relatively small area, produces an interesting combination of species from both ecosystems. Keep your eyes open for Golden-naped Woodpecker, Baird's Trogon, Orange-collared Manakin, Riverside Wren, Black-hooded Antshrike, Dot-winged Antwren, Long-billed Gnatwren, and Chestnut-backed Antbird. Before dinner at the lodge, watch for Scarlet Macaw from a nearby bridge. Later this evening go on a night walk to look for owls before having dinner at a local restaurant.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Selva Color Ecolodge

Dominical

Mar 15, 2022

Check out then have breakfast before going on a boat ride along the Tárcoles River. Watch for both water and shore birds, like Double-striped Thick-knee, Roseate Spoonbill, jacanas, and ducks. The Tárcoles River basin is one of the most important in the Pacific coastal region; it drains virtually the entire western side of the Central Valley. Tárcoles hosts an amazing diversity of wildlife along its banks. The river is a perfect place to catch a glimpse of mangrove specialties such as the rare Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, Mangrove Hummingbird, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Panama Flycatcher, Mangrove Vireo, Mangrove (Yellow) Warbler, and Scrub Greenlet. Perhaps the most famous of all its inhabitants are the enormous American crocodiles that live on its banks. Travel south to Dominical for the night.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Hacienda Baru

San Gerardo de Dota

Mar 16, 2022

After breakfast, begin your transfer to the tropical cloud forest realm of San Gerardo de Dota's Savegre Hotel Natural Reserve & Spa (elevation: 7,300 feet). Encompassing nearly 1,000 acres, Savegre's reserve is just five miles from the country's newest national park, Los Quetzales, and home to one of Costa Rica's avian treasures, the beautiful Resplendent Quetzal. Arrive at hotel and settle in at the lodge, spend some time walking around the extensive gardens where you may find resident Talamanca Hummingbird, Lesser Violetear, White-throated Mountain-gem, Volcano Hummingbird, and the tiny Scintillant Hummingbird. Fiery-throated Hummingbird and Violet Sabrewing are seasonally present, and even Flame-colored Tanager and Slaty Flowerpiercer come in for up-close views, offering excellent photo opportunities.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Savegre Mountain Hotel, Natural Reserve & Spa

San Gerardo de Dota

Mar 17, 2022

Spend the morning exploring the upper trails at Savegre in search of Resplendent Quetzal and some of the other species present here. Take 4x4s about one mile uphill to the beginning of the trail. The large centennial oaks of the forest are laden with lichens and mosses that contrast with the colorful bromeliads, adding to the striking atmosphere of this forest. Explore the trails in search of such specialties as Spotted Wood-Quail, Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl, Resplendent Quetzal, Collared Trogon, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Ruddy Treerunner, Ochraceous Pewee, Barred Becard, Wrenthrush, and Golden-browed Chlorophonia, just to name a few. Leisurely afternoon with another walk around the grounds and trails in the area.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Savegre Mountain Hotel, Natural Reserve & Spa

San José

Mar 18, 2022

Early morning birding and after breakfast check out and depart towards San José. Journey to Cerro Buena Vista in Los Quetzales National Park to look for Volcano Junco, Large-footed Finch, Sooty-capped Chlorospingus and Timberline Wren, among other high-elevation (10,400 feet) species. Lunch at Paraiso Quetzal. Arrive at the hotel in the evening in time to freshen up for a farewell dinner.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Villa San Ignacio

Departure

Mar 19, 2022

Transfer to the airport for the flight home. Check out is at 12 pm.

Breakfast- included