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How Far in Advance Should You Plan a Birding Trip to Costa Rica?

Birding Costa Rica is fun, easy, and always exciting! This birdy nation is so easy, some people do birding trips to Costa Rica all on their own. However, a lot more do their birding in a tour setting. It's nice to bird on your own but tours have some big advantages.

As with every destination, when you go on a birding tour in Costa Rica, you don't have to worry about where to go birding, where to stay, where to eat, how to get around, and other essential details. The tour company takes care of those logistics, and the guide or tour leader makes sure everything works out.

Like getting point blanks looks at a gorgeous male Red-headed Barbet.

If you share the tour with a group, the tour cost should also be less than doing it on your own. However, whether birding Costa Rica by yourself, or in a tour setting, there's another vital factor to consider. That factor is the timing for trip planning.

How far in advance should you plan a birding trip or tour to Costa Rica? What time of year is best for birding in Costa Rica?

See this blog post for answers and more about logistics for birding tours in Costa Rica!

Costa Rica is a Popular Destination

Costa Rica is fantastic and popular for birding! It's also a major tourism destination in general. These truths mean that Costa Rica has lots of tourism infrastructure, but they also mean that the most popular hotels can get booked far in advance.

If you try to plan your trip at the last minute, you could be in for investing a lot of time in finding places to stay. Some of the more popular destinations could also be easily booked solid.  They might not be ideal for birding either. Maybe, maybe not, but you never really know what a place is like until you have been there.

That right there is one of the best reasons for taking a tour, or at least working with an experienced local tour provider.

I am reminded of a small, cozy place near green space and not that far from the airport. Sadly, I found that it's also next to a road that hosts loud motorbikes and other vehicles in the middle of the night.

If a couple clients hadn't mentioned that unfortunate fact, I would have never known about it. Needless to say, we just can't recommend that place anymore.

However, there's lots of other, great places we work with. We work with them because we know they deliver a quality birding experience. Since they are good and popular birding sites, we also realize that we have to work with them pretty far in advance.

Taking a Birding Trip in the High Season

For effective trip planning, birding seasons mean everything. That's especially true for the high season. In Costa Rica, if you want to visit the country any time between January and April, think about your trip at least a year in advance. If not and you want to stay at the most popular sites, you could be out of luck.

Taking a tour helps but even then, tour companies usually need to fill a tour by a certain date. High season tours in particular, frequently fill up pretty far in advance. There might eventually be a space or two available but it's better to sign up for a tour in advance than waiting three or two months before the tour.

Now if you happen to be a tour leader who wants to work with a local tour company, for best high season results, you should contact the company at least a year and a half in advance. There is some leeway with places to stay and visit but for the best high season group tours in Costa Rica, it's pretty risky to plan your trip at the last minute.

Taking a Birding Trip in the Low Season

What about the low season? Won't that work too? Yes and no. While there are certainly more rooms available from May to November, there's still a surprisingly high number of tourists in Costa Rica. Folks traveling on their own probably won't have much problem but groups are another matter.

Once again, if you want your birding group to stay in popular places, it' still worth contacting a local tour provider at least a year in advance. That said, the good thing about the low season is that if you can't plan that far in advance, there might still be room at the most popular spots, and there will also be other suitable options.

The other thing worth mentioning about low season trips is the weather. Yes, it does rain more but the plus side is that birds are more active on cloudy days with some rain. We have honestly had some of our best birding days in low season weather!

Planning a birding trip to Costa Rica can be daunting, especially if you want to bring a group. It helps to have a local birding tour company plan the logistics at least a year in advance. However, if you want to bring a group or do a tour with just a few months notice, we might be able to help. After all, we do know all of the local providers for lodging, meals, and other details needed for a stellar birding trip to Costa Rica.


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