15 days

Birds of paradise

Tour description:

Day 1: Arrival to Costa Rica – Juan Santamaria’s International Airport

Day 2, 3 & 4: Talamanca Highlands

Day 5, 6 & 7: Central Pacific

Day 8, 9 & 10: Arenal Volcano 

Day 11, 12, 13 & 14: Sarapiquí



Talamanca Highlands

There is not destination in Costa Rica more fulfilling for endemic birds, although the number of species in the highlands in the country are far less than rainforest lowlands, the exceptional number of endemics far exceeds those ones in areas as Corcovado National Park or La Selva. Hummingbirds, flycatchers, vireos, trogons, wrens, are some of the families that had been isolated for millions of years, creating specialization of species, therefore endemic. Among some of the most beautiful birds are the Resplendent Quetzal and perhaps the only place in which it can be found all year round. Giant oaks, misty mornings and crispy air are among many of the wonderful things that make this destination a favorite among us…. Birders!

Birding highlights: 
  • Spotted Wood-quail
  • Resplendent Quetzal
  • Silvery throated Jay
  • Sulphur winged Parakeet
  • Dusky nightjar
  • Costa Rican Pygmy Owl
  • Buffy Tufted Check
  • Flame throated Warbler
  • Blue throated Toucanet
  • Maroon chested ground Dove
  • Fiery throated Hummingbird


Carara National Park

Is by far one the best birding places all year round in Costa Rica and perhaps in all of Central America. Within the national park protects the second largest population of Scarlet Macaws, easy access to all trails, mangrove swamps, pasture fields and forest edges. There are very few places in the country where more than hundred species can be found in one trail. Meandrica’s trail has become an icon for quality birding, tinamous, trogons, wrens, antpittas, manakins, cotingas, bellbirds, antshrikes are among the most common birds in the forest. The nearby forested edges give as a good number of open field birds, jays, blackbirds, greenlets, rails, ground doves, motmots, hawks, parakeets, owls are among many of the avifauna found in these habitats. The mangroves at Rio Grande de Tarcoles are very rewarding on a good day along the river edges 5 species of kingfishers can be spotted, more than a couple dozens of shorebirds, herons, egrets are also easy to find but the most remarkable species are the ones with a restricted range or to the mangroves such as vireos, warblers, cuckoos, flycatchers, the elusive Rufous necked woodrail and the only true Costa Rican endemic Mangrove Hummingbird.

Birding Highlights: 
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Orange collared Manakin
  • Fiery billed Aracari
  • Baird’s Trogon
  • Riverside Wren
  • Crane Hawk
  • Red Breasted Blackbird
  • Mangrove Vireo
  • Mangrove Hummingbird
  • Scrub Greenlet
  • Cherrie ‘s Tanager
  • Great Tinamou
  • Northern Royal Flycatcher


Arenal Volcano Area

Is well known for its active summit, but little is talked about its great bird diversity and its beautiful rainforest. Coming across Quail doves, mix flocks, soaring eagles, elusive antpittas are just another day in paradise. Bordering forest edges by the lake is very successful, the complex vegetation of many different ages makes this piece of Costa Rica a must to visit for birdwatchers. Great Currasows in the middle of the paths, active Black throated Wrens on tangled vines, silently perched raptors on exposed death tree trunks, hyperactive Coquettes going from flower to flower are just part of a daily birding.

Birding Highlights: 
  • Scaly breasted Wren, 
  • Black crested Coquette, 
  • Thicket Antpitta, 
  • Ornated Hawk Eagle, 
  • Ocellated Antbird, 
  • Three wattled Bellbird, 
  • Fasciated Tiger Heron, 
  • Keel billed Motmot, 
  • White fronted Nunbird, 
  • Brown capped Tyrannulet,
  •  Long tailed Tyrant, 
  • Black headed Nightingale Thrush.



It is a real rainforest experience with vast areas to cover, primary rainforest, active and no active pasture fields, river edges, canopy bridges, thick understory, etc. Cotingas, macaws, oropendolas, guans, eagles, toucans are some of the many species to find. At Gavilan Lodge daily birds to spot are Green Ibis, Sunbittern, Jacamars, Tanagers, Orioles, Woodpeckers, Tityras, etc. Botanical gardens nearby offer great opportunities to spot a dozen or more species of hummingbirds and its adjacent forest always brings good surprises as Little Tinamou, Lattice tailed Trogon, Cinnamon Woodpecker, and much more. The Braulio Carrillo National Park is a real rainforest experience with the largest mixed flocks ever including favorites such as Sharpbills and Umbrellabirds.

Birding Highlights: 
  • Great green Macaw 
  • Nicaraguan Seed Finch 
  • Green Ibis, Snowy Cotinga
  • Slaty breasted Tinamou
  • Shiny Cowbird
  • White collared Manakin
  • Great Potoo
  • Bare necked Umbrellabird
  • Sharpbill
  • Blue and gold Tanager
  •  Short tailed Nighthawk 
  • Spectacled Owl



 Day 1. Arrival in Costa Rica. Pick up by NGCR staff, transfer to San Jose’s overnight hotel. Briefing about the tour. Overnight at the most convenient hotel according to the flight’s arrival time.. Dinner not included. 

Day 2. Cerro de la Muerte. Early departure to the Savegre Valley; birding along the road for endemics such as Timberline Wren, Junco Volcano, Volcano Hummingbird, Flame throated Warbler, etc. Upon arrival lunch and garden birding.

Day 3.San Gerardo de Dota. Birding before breakfast. In Search of Resplendent Quetzal. Early birding in search of the elusive Zeledonia, Tapaculo and Resplendent Quetzal. All day birding at the lodge grounds, roadsides, gardens and river edges.

Day 4. San Gerardo de Dota.  Birding after breakfast to oak forest, where dozens of birds are found in the dense understory or high in the canopy. Redstars, silky flycatchers, woodcreepers, woodquails, becards and some eagles are among others to search for. In the late afternoon we will visit several local spots for endemic warblers.

Day 5 .On the way to the Central Pacific.  Departure after breakfast, might be a few stops on the way for birding.

Day 6. Central Pacific. Breakfast at a local restaurant after a boat trip to the mangroves. Traveling for half hour to birdwatch is about a 3 hrs boat tour to Tarcoles River Mangroves in which a combination of deforested areas, river edges, mangrove forest and river mouths are impressive. Herons, egrets, vireos, hummingbirds, frigatebirds, shore birds, waders, cuckoos, macaws, parrots, hawks, also looking for White throated Magpie Jay, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Black headed Trogon and much more are among the common groups of birds sighted; although the boat tour main goal is to find the mangrove specialities such Mangrove Hummingbird, Cuckoo, Vireo, Warbler, Rufous necked Woodrail, Panama & Scrub Flycatchers & American Pygmy Kingfisher. On the afternoon we will visit open farm lands, forest patches, river edges and more pasture fields; the goal here is to find seedaters, raptors, parakeets, flycatchers, lapwings, anis,ducks, species that are no longer found at the national park due their habitats disappearance.

Day 7. Central Pacific.Breakfast on the go! “The early bird catches the worm”, today we will visit one of the best birding sites in Central America, Carara National Park is a combination of ecosystems, that aloud an amazing number of endemics, birds with restricted ranges and many other beauties with more than 400 species recorded antbirds, macaws, hummingbirds, euphonias, tanagers, flycatchers, cotingas, wrens, manakins and dozen more families are daily sightings. All day at the park, lunch at a local restaurant & dinner at Jaco Beach town.

Day 8. Arenal Volcano area. Upon arrival we are going to explore the hotel grounds, for a good number of honeycreepers, tanagers, oropendolas, some hummingbirds and many other forest birds such as trogons, pygmy tyrants on the hotel private preserve. The remaining part of the afternoon we will take a drive to the Arenal Lake area in hopes to find guans, parrots, motmots, toucans, etc.

Day 9. Arenal Volcano area.  Birding all day at the hotel grounds.
Exploring its private 600 hectares of primary, secondary forests with unlimited possibilities and good chance for Bare necked Umbrellabird. The hotel is in front of the most active volcano in Central America; its views are majestic and unrivaled. Upon request a visit to Baldi Hot Springs (non included)

Day 10. Arenal Volcano area. Early birding to the forest nearby the Arenal lake which is mostly secondary forest where a good combination of microhabitats increased the birding possibilities such as Long tailed Tyrant, Broad billed Motmot, Crested Guan, Keel billed Toucan, White Hawk, Thicket Antpitta, and maybe Ornated Hawk Eagle.

Day 11. Sarapiqui. Traveling to the Braulio Carrillo is breathtaking, its 95% of the forests have never been altered by human hands, dozens of small waterfalls, and evergreen vegetation makes this little piece of jungle one of the best places in Costa Rica to visit. More than 350 species had even recorded within the park area & adjacent villages. Our first visit is to a local’s farm in search of Spectacle Owl, Long tailed Tyrant, Great Potoo, White throated Crake and the least goes on!! Lunch at a nearby restaurant and visit the national park to try to find Sharpbill, aracaries, mix flocks of tanagers, orioles, woodpeckers, barbets, woodquails, rare wrens, etc.

Day 12. Sarapiqui. Birding all day at the lodge grounds. At the lodge, the nearby riparian forests hold a good biodiversity of birds, such as Sunbittern, Green Ibis, Bright rumped Atila, Fasciated Antshrike, Rufous tailed Jacamar to mention a few. We will also visit a couple local spots for guans, toucans and more.

Day 13. Sarapiqui. Visit to the world known La Selva Biological Station, which is some of the best birding in the area with large forested areas combined with secondary vegetation and gardens. Dozens of birds are found upon arrival, guans, tanagers, motmots, toucans, becards, euphonias, etc. Several hours at La Selva and continue to explore close by grounds for Great Green Macaw, Bat Falcon, etc.

Day 14: Half Day birding  in La Selva Biological Station. Overnight in San Jose.

Day 15: Departure day. Transfer to the airport based on your flight itinerary (3 hrs prior taken off)


Costa Rica