Calle la Barca, Puntarenas Province, Tarcoles, 61102

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What do you need for bird watching in Costa Rica?

Most items seem to be common sense, however it doesn’t hurt to mention them anyway. The basic idea is that you pack some items as sometimes those items may be hard to find in our local stores. You may also find yourself in remote natural areas far from commercial centers. You don’t want to waste your precious time in Costa Rica trying to locate batteries or chargers or even worse, a specific type of medicine. Remember to check your hotel room carefully before moving into the next location, it is well recommended to take an extra look in the bathroom, under the bed and check the electric plugs on the walls or counters.

What kind of optics do you need to bring?

Best binoculars for bird watching recommended are in the range 8×42, 10×42 ideal for the habitat encountered here. They are bright enough and with a reasonably wide field of view and so are ideal for when mixed species flocks move through the understory. However if you have your own equipment feel free to bring it.

Spotting Scope

Normally the local guides have a high quality spotting scope for bird watching, but if you feel you want to have your own scope on the trip then you most certainly can bring it.

Camera Equipment

If you’re going on a photo focused tour then bring the equipment you might need for the kind of photography you plan on doing in the habitats you are hoping to find yourself in. Long fast telephotos or zooms for birds shot in dim understory or macro for insects and such.

If you are just going for a more casual kind of bird photography with maybe some landscape shots thrown in for good measure, then maybe going with a smaller camera such as a general purpose bridge camera with one of the newer super zooms.

In either case protecting the gear from the occasional downpour with waterproof camera bags or lens covers will ensure your gear is safe.


Footwear: Bring sandals if you like but don’t only bring sandals. River shoes and cross trainers are also handy.
Tee shirts: Three to five should do it with two of them being nylon shirts that wick away sweat. These are especially good for hiking in hot and humid areas.
Long-sleeve activewear shirt: At least one or two long sleeve shirts made of nylon or other materials that help you cool off in hot weather. Very handy for outdoor activities
2 dressy shirts: When you go out to dinner or dancing.
3 pairs of shorts: Ideal for hot weather of course but not so much for exploring the forest.
Sarong: To cover up on the beach.
2 lightweight trousers: Nylon travel pants are ideal, especially the ones with zip off pant legs. Jeans aren’t as useful because they aren’t so comfortable in tropical weather.
7 or more underwear
7 or more pairs of socks
A light jacket: You will need this for birding in highland sites.
A bandana, cap, or wide brimmed hat: All of these keep the bugs away from your hair and head and can shade your eyes. Always useful.
A mesh bag: Not to wear but to hold your wet clothes.

A Packing List for Costa Rica