The best of Costa Rican Bird Photography
RESUME OF ITINERARY:
Day 1. January 16 Mega-diverse Caribbean Lowlands (arrival am)
Day 2. January 17 Mega-diverse Caribbean Lowlands
Day 3. January 18 The magic of the Cloudforest
Day 4. January 19 The magic of the Cloudforest
Day 5. January 20 Caño Negro, vast wetlands
Day 6. January 21 Caño Negro, vast wetlands
Day 7. January 22 Arenal Volcano
Day 8. January 23 Arenal Volcano
Day 9. January 24 Central Pacific
Day 10. January 25 Central Pacific
Day 11. January 26 The pristine Highlands
Day 12. January 27 The pristine Highlands
Day 13. January 28 San Jose
Day 14. January 29 FLIGHT HOME (departure at am)
Day 1. – Welcome to Costa Rica and the home of the Toucans! (night in Laguna del Lagarto or similar)
Arrival at the Juan Santa Maria Intl. Airport, Costa Rica by midday.
You will be welcome at the airport by your guide and driver. Immediately we will start our drive to your first (and one of the best) bird photo hotel. A relatively long distance but it will worth it to take maximum advantage of our time! we will be having our fist tropical birds in a close feeder and with the beautiful landscape of rainforest.
We will potentially do one stop in the way to have lunch in a place with hummingbird feeders to have our first hummingbird experience taking photos of the endemic White-bellied Mountain Gem, Green-crowned Brilliant, Green Thorntail and Coopery-headed Emerald and and we will continue toward our Hotel to arrive in the afternoon on time to use the feeders.
Day 2. – Caribbean lowlands and the best fruit feeders in country (night in Laguna del Lagarto Lodge or similar)
This hotel is one o the best hotels for bird photography in Costa Rica as it has a unique deck with a bird feeder in front that is absolutely spectacular for Yellow-throated, Keel-billed Toucan and Collared Aracari. Is also a great feeder for parrots like Orange-chinned Parakeet, Brown-hooded and White-crowned Parrot. Red-legged and Shinning Honeycreepers, Golden-hooded and Passerines Tanagers provide so much fun and the interactions of all these birds for the best bananas always gives unique photos opportunities.
This very same day later in the morning we will be waiting to take photos of the King Vulture, Turkey Vulture and Black Vulture in case it comes down to feed in a little comfortable hide the hotel has set for us.
Day 3. Cloudforest –The hummingbirds galore! (night at Bosque de Paz or similar)
Early morning birding around the hotel entrance road for our last chance for Fiery-billed Aracari and Scarlet Macaw pictures in case we still want to improve the pictures we already have. Then head to our next hotel.
Arrive at Bosque de Paz. Bosque de Paz Lodge for lunch time, this is an excellent cloud forest site with some of the best hummingbird feeders in the country that get so close than pictures with short focal distance lens are best. 300mm f2.8 and 200mm f2 are ideal. Get to the lodge and rest after the long drive or/and spend some time at the feeders taking bird photographs with the last light of the day.
Day 4. – Cloudforest (night at Bosque de Paz or similar)
Full day at hotel´s gardens photographing hummingbirds, guans and sparrows that gets to the lodge feeders. Violet Sabrewing, Green-crowned Brilliant, Green Hermit, White-bellied Mountain-Gem, Black-bellied Hummingbird, among others are regular at these nectar feeders. Your guide will use native flowers baited with sugar water to bring the hummingbirds to dramatic poses and get spectacular shots.
Black Guans and White-naped Brush-finch are abundant at the corn feeders and even sometimes Buff-fronted Quail Dove gets there. At night the corn feeders are taken by Pacas (a type of big and spotted endangered rodent) and we will try to get shots of it.
Day 5. Wetlands and kingfishers (Caño Negro Natural Lodge or similar)
After the early morning at the hotel feeders we will start our drive to the spectacular wetlands of Caño Negro. A unique system of wetlands in the far north that is maybe the best place in central america for getting all species of Kingfishers and other waterbirds like Sungrebe and Agami Heron.
We will have lunch on the road and get to this stunning place stopping a few miles before our destination to birdwatch an open road that normally provides good chances for Herons, Egrets, American Kestrel, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater and Red-breasted Blackbird.
Day 6. Wetlands and kingfishers (Caño Negro Natural Lodge or similar)
We will start our early morning with a boat tour through Caño Negro wetlands, Green, Amazon, Ringed, Belted, American Pygmy and the elusive Green-and-rufous Kingfishers, Ahinga, Neotropic Cormorant, Agami Heron, Greenand Glossy Ibis and even the Black-collared Hawk are among the birds we will find there.
Afternoon at the nearby roads around the Refuge looking for the seedeater with the biggest bill of Central America the Nicaraguan Seed Finch and the outstanding Jabiru in the open pastures. Red-breasted Meadowlark and Ruddy-breasted Seedeater can also be targets for this afternoon.
Day 7. The stunning Arenal Volcano (Arenal Observatory Lodge or similar)
Drive to Arenal Volcano area. Depneding on time and the birds we still need we can stop in a local wetland in the way for Pinnated Bitern and Black-collared Hawk and then have lunch on a feeder in where Yellow-winged Tanager usually comes by.
Once we get to Arenal we will spend a while on local bird feeders photographing Black-headed and Buff-throated Saltator, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Crimson-collared Tanager, Passerine’s Tanager, Orange-chinned Parakeet among others. The specialty of this feeders are the White-throated Crake a normally highly secretive rail but at this place it becomes very reliable. Also Boat-billed Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron have a roosting site nearby.
Lunch at a local Chinese restaurant and then if we need it or depending on time we will go back to the feeders or head toward the hotel.
Day 8. The stunning Arenal Volcano (Arenal Observatory Lodge or similar or similar)
Birding is extraordinary here plus the constant presence of Arenal Volcano will always give great scenery for spectacular photographs. We will spend the early morning in the Lodge grounds. Potential target species are Bare-necked Umbrellabird, Striped-breasted Wren, White-throated Shrike-Tanager, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Black-crested Coquette, Green Thorntail and Lovely Cotinga. Afternoon we will walk the Peninsula road looking for White-fronted Nunbird, Keel-billed Motmot, White Hawk and Ornate Hawk-Eagle.
Day 9. Central Pacific, Scarlet Macaw and the Tarcoles river boat tour (night at Villa Lapas or similar)
After a nice breakfast we will head to the first birding destination, the pacific lowlands. We will stop for lunch on route to visit a wonderful and small restaurant with some of the best feeders for tanagers located in between San Ramon and San Carlos areas in a road side area called San Luis. Once in the place the chances for Speckled Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager and many more are spectacular and the close ups allow the use of high quality optics with a short distance focus like 300mm.
We will spend the afternoon locally in vicinity of the hotel looking for the elusive Scarlet Macaw! Also around the same area Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Pearl Kite, Fiery-billed Aracari and Yellow-naped, White-fronted and Orange-fronted Parrots are possible; the Pacific Screech-Owl and Black and White Owl should give us good photo opportunities at night too. Also the Striped Owl that we normally get at the hotel entrance road perched on the electric wires!
Day 10. Central Pacific, Scarlet Macaw and the Tarcoles river boat tour (night at Villa Lapas or similar)
This morning we will start early with a very productive boat tour in the mangroves and hopefully get Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork, 3 species of Kingfishers and Mangrove Hummingbird. Later in the morning (or maybe in the afternoon) we will invest some time exploring the entrance road of the hotel looking for the elusive Fiery-billed Aracari and Keel-billed Toucan; also Slaty-tailed, Black-throated and Gartered Trogons. Rufous-tailed Jacamar and White-whisked Puffbird inhabit this roadside forest too. Scarlet Macaw will be a major target all the time we spend in central pacific and the photographic opportunities are usually numerous.
Afternoon drive on the roadsides around a place called Guacalillo and visit Guacalillo Mangroves an area quite productive for dry forest species like Turquoise-browed Motmot, Masked Tityra, Streak-backed Oriole, Black-headed Trogon, and Ferruginous Pygmy Owl among many others. At the end of the day we will get to an ideal site for photography the sunset.
Day 11. The mystic highlands of Talamanca (Savegre Hotelor similar)
After breakfast we will continue toward our next hotel.
Arrive in late morning at the hotel and then depending on time spend some time at the hummingbird feeders or give it a try to our main target here, the Resplendant Quetzal in the afternoon. The guide will inform you what will be the most convenient activity based on the recent reports of the Quetzal behavior.
Day 12. The mystic highlands of Talamanca (Savegre Hotel or similar)
Early morning looking for a good photograph opportunity of the world famous Resplendent Quetzal.
We will have lunch at the hotel and spend the afternoon in the hotel gardens and at a private deck for Hummingbird photography getting stunning pictures of the endemic Fiery-throated Hummingbird plus Magnificent Hummingbird and Lesser Violetear. Also the hotel grounds normally provide a fantastic opportunity for birding and photography. This location can produce species like Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Black-thighed Grosbeak, Large-footed Finch, Yellow-thighed Finch, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Peg-billed Finch, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Sooty-capped Bush-Tanager, Black Guan, Sulfur-winged Parakeet, White-throated Mountain-Gem, Black-faced Solitaire, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Sooty Thrush and Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher.
Bare-shanked Screech-Owl and Dusky Nightjar will be some of the nice endemics we will have good chances to photograph on a night hike.
Day 13. Rodeo Inn or similar
Early morning birding around the hotel feeders for some last chances of getting more hummingbird photographs. If we had missed the first day chance for Quetzal photos we will go again today early morning. And after lunch we will drive to our San Jose city to stop in town and then walk around the historic area of the central avenue, stopping in a little local market for souvenirs to buy for family and friends back in home. Early dinner at one of the best restaurants in the country and then we will drive back to the airport.
Day 14. FLIGHT HOME
After a delicious breakfast we will head to the airport to catch the plane back home. If time allows we can also stop in the town again to get any additional souvenir and pictures of the iconic buildings.
14 days in Costa Rica - 13 nights lodging
Transportation on spacious bus.
Fuel of the bus included through the trip.
Specialized guide with Spotting Scope, Portable speaker + Ipod with Costa Rican bird calls to play-back calls of a bird if necessary and a laser pointer to help locate birds in the field.
Accommodation in all hotels.
All times meals starting on day one lunch and ends of day 14 breakfast.
Entrance fees to all National Parks and Private Reserves indicated
Two Quetzal Photography Tour in highlands of Costa Rica.
Use of private deck for photography birds in different locations.
Private use of a hide to photograph King Vulture.
One boat tour in Tarcoles river.
One boat tour in Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge.
Airfare and airport taxes
Items of personal use, toiletries
Travel insurance (We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. In the event that you need to cancel your trip due to medical or other reasons, this insurance will protect you)
Medical expenses, prescription drugs and other items of personal use.
Additional tours offered in hotels (Spa, massage, etc.)
Alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and anything else not listed on the menus of restaurants.
Any other expense or extra tour not listed as included above
Price for the all inclusive itinerary
USD $3884 per person in double room
USD $4343 per person in Single room