Costa Rica Group Birding Trip - Quest for the Agami Heron

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This 10 night/11 day birding and nature adventure gives avid bird watchers the chance to see some of Costa Rica’s rarest and most exciting bird species, plus, for the naturalist in all of us, the opportunity to experience one of nature’s most special and rarest gifts, the nesting of the ancient Leatherback Sea Turtles.

While birding and nature are the focus of the trip, the star attraction is visiting the Agami Heron nesting site. Imagine, if you will, up to 100 colorful individuals in a small grove of trees. The adults flashing a gorgeous burgundy and grey with long silver plumes atop their heads, and the chicks, a small ball of fluffy white against the deep green of the forest is a magical thing to see. A chance to experience this wonder of the avian world, should not be missed.

Costa Rica Group Birding Trip 1

The Costa Rica Focus Touch:

  • ✓ Private meet and greet at the Juan Santa Maria (San Jose) International Airport.
  • ✓ 24/7 in-country assistance
  • ✓ 18+ years of experience
  • ✓ Personal attention
  • ✓ In-country experts

Overview: Itinerary at a Glance

  • Day 1: Arrive San Jose Costa Rica
  • Day 2: San Gerardo de Dota | Savegre Lodge
  • Day 3: San Gerardo de Dota  | Savegre Lodge
  • Day 4: Turrialba | Rancho Naturalista
  • Day 5: Turrialba | Rancho Naturalista
  • Day 6: Parismina | Pacuare Reserve Camp
  • Day 7: Parismina | Pacuare Reserve Camp
  • Day 8: Sarapiqui  | Hotel Sueno Azul
  • Day 9: La Fortuna | Arenal Observatory Lodge
  • Day 10: La Fortuna |Arenal Observatory Lodge
  • Day 11:  Transfer to SJO Airport and Fly Home

costa rica group birding trip map

Day 1: Arrive San Jose, Costa Rica

Welcome to Costa Rica! We will meet you at the San Jose International Airport. Your private guide will meet you at the airport and transfer with you to the charming Hotel Bougainvillea. Check in and enjoy the spectacular gardens at the hotel.  This evening join your group for a Welcome Dinner.

Hotel Bougainvillea / Meals: dinner

costa rica group birding tour 1 day 1

Day 2: San Gerardo de Dota | Savegre Lodge

Today after breakfast you’ll travel about 3 hours (depending on how many stops you make for birds) from the Central Valley to the foothills of the Talamanca Mountains and the town of San Gerardo de Dota. You’ll pass through farmlands, rolling green hills, and begin to gain elevation. Keep a sweater or fleece handy, you’ll notice the drop in temperature as climb above the paramo and into the mountains. You’ll make several stops along the way to look for the endemic species of the different habitats.

Savegre Lodge is a lovely mountain lodge set within its own private reserve within the Talamanca Mountain Range. Travel over the highest peaks in Costa Rica, through the paramo, and into a gorgeous valley of white oak trees and lush forests to one of the richest birding areas in Costa Rica. We’ll be exploring the highlands looking for the Quetzal, Flame-throated Warblers, Long-tailed Silky Flycatchers and much more.

After check-in, enjoy a delicious lunch then meet your guide for a birding walk around the gardens and trails of the Savegre Lodge.

Savegre Lodge / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

costa rica group birding tour 1 day 2

Day 3: San Gerardo de Dota | Savegre Lodge

A full day of birding today at the private reserve of Savegre Lodge. You will walk the trails with your guide and be entranced by the beautiful white oaks, and golden moss of this stunning forest. The array of bird species is astounding. Savegre is the best location to find the Resplendent Quetzal as well as the endemic Flame-throated Warbler, Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher, and the Yellow-thighed Finch. In the afternoon, stroll along the river looking for dippers, and phoebes and relax in the gardens surrounded by hummingbirds, tanagers, and warblers as the sun sets.

Savegre Lodge / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

costa rica group birding tour 1 day 3

Day 4: Turrialba | Rancho Naturalista

You’ll depart after breakfast, driving Northeast towards the town of Turrialba. You’ll pass through the town of Cartago, the original capital city of Costa Rica, and then head into the country passing small towns, beautiful green hills, rivers, and forests. Your guide will stop along the way for birds and other sites.

The premier birding lodge in Costa Rica, Rancho Naturalista is one of the finest bird watching lodges in Central America. Several species of hummingbirds, as well as many other birds, can be seen right from the spacious balcony where you also have a great view of the distant smoking Turrialba volcano. It’s a wonderful getaway for birders, photographers, and naturalists.

Rancho Naturalista / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

costa rica group birding tour 1 day 4

Day 5: Turrialba | Rancho Naturalista

The birding activity starts early in the morning at sunrise when the birds become active. Meet your guide on the balcony for a quick cup of coffee or tea at dawn. Then it’s birding on the balcony to see what comes to the feeders, off to the insect light to see some of the insect feeding species like the Red-throated Ant-Tanager, and birding around the lodge. You will come back for a full breakfast at 7:00 am. After breakfast, you will head out on the trails in the private forest reserve to look for mixed species flocks. Several different species can be seen foraging together in the canopy and understory of the forest.

Return to the lodge for lunch and a rest and late afternoon head into the forest, just a short walk from the lodge to the Hummingbird Pools where hummingbirds arrive to dip in the fresh spring water of the stream each evening. In the cool green of the forest understory is an observation deck above a rainforest stream. There you will have an amazing look into a private world as you sit and enjoy the amazing sight of these beautiful gems of the rainforest. See the striking Purple-crowned fairy, the Snowcap with its gleaming white cap, and the vibrant colors of the Violet-crowned Woodnymph and more. Also, other species besides Hummingbirds visit this area including the Tawny-throated Leaftosser, the Dull-mantled Antbird, Great Tinamou and many more

Rancho Naturalista / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Costa Rica group birding tour 1 day 5

Day 6: Parismina |Pacuare Reserve Camp – Casa Grande Ecolodge

Today after breakfast you’ll head Northeast towards the Caribbean Coast and the remote, lush, Pacuare Reserve. Your drive will take you about 3 hours. You’ll reach the small town of Matina where you’ll leave the coaster and board your boats to travel through the river to the lodge.

Imagine a place hidden in a dense jungle forest along the Caribbean Sea, a quasi-island surrounded by the ocean and canals. You can only get there by boat. A place with no electricity and where howler monkeys, egrets, herons, and kingfishers herald your arrival. No crowds, no traffic, no luxury… all left behind for the unique chance to experience raw nature, to be a part of something great, to observe, to learn and maybe teach others as well. Our goal during our stay is to experience two incredible acts of nature; the nesting of the Agami Heron and the Leatherback Sea Turtles.

IMPORTANT: Staying at the Pacuare Reserve is a RUSTIC experience. There is no electricity, no Wifi; just the basic comforts. Some bedrooms have a shared bath, some share the downstairs shower. The cabins have a shared shower and bathroom. Based on the makeup of our group, rooms will be assigned about 30 days prior to our arrival.

Pacuare Reserve Lodge / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Costa Rica group birding tour day 6


Day 7: Parismina | Pacuare Reserve Camp – Casa Grande Ecolodge

We are in for an amazing day as we start the morning exploring the canals of Southern Tortuguero by boat, we’ll then go to visit the nesting site of the Agami Heron, bird watch the surrounding forest, and finally participate in the Leatherback Turtle Census in the evening. We will breakfast on meals at the lodge, but today is a full immersion into nature.

Pacuare Reserve Lodge / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

costa rica group birding tour 1 day 7

Day 8: Sarapiqui| Hotel Sueno Azul

This morning after breakfast we’ll depart by boat from Parismina and return to the small port at Matina to pick up our coaster and head Northwest for about 3 hours to the small town of Sarapiqui. We’ll pass through banana groves and pineapple plantations, small towns, and farms for check-in at our Hotel, Hotel Sueno Azul.  Sueno Azul is known for its rustic ambiance combined with modern comforts. This unique hotel continues to give homage to indigenous civilizations from the Sarapiqui area.

Take some time to relax or enjoy the pool in the heat of the day. Late afternoon your guide will walk you around the grounds and gardens at Hotel Sueno Azul. This is a great place to spot the Great Green Macaw, among other Caribbean Species.

Hotel Sueno Azul / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Costa Rica group birding tour day 8

Day 9: Arenal | Arenal Observatory Lodge

Today you WIll have an early morning breakfast and then head to one of the top birding destinations in the country, La Selva Biological Station. You’ll spend the morning exploring the trails and gardens. The species richness of La Selva is outstanding, with more than 2,077 species of plants; 125 species of mammals (72 of them bats); 470 species of birds; 48 amphibian species; 87 species of reptiles; 45 species of freshwater fish; and tens of thousands of insects, arachnids and other arthropods. In the early afternoon, you’ll break for lunch and then head West towards the  Arenal Volcano. You’ll drive through beautiful rolling hills, farmlands with fields of yucca, groves of bananas, and acres and acres of pineapples, and soon the majestic peak of the Arenal Volcano will appear on the horizon. You’ll arrive at the Observatory Lodge for check-in.

Arenal Observatory Lodge is a preferred destination for bird watching in Costa Rica, with more than 500 species of birds found on the grounds and surrounding forest.

Arenal Observatory Lodge / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Costa Rica group birding tour day 9

Day 10: Arenal | Arenal Observatory Lodge

Today you will spend the day with your Naturalist Guide exploring the trails and gardens around the Observatory Lodge. This is truly one of the best places in Costa Rica for spotting wrens, antbirds, tanagers, hummingbirds, raptors, cotingas, woodpeckers, woodcreepers and so much more. It’s a true birdwatchers paradise. The forest is also home to many mammals. We’ll be looking for agoutis, anteaters, armadillos, peccaries, and much more. Enjoy this fabulous day of birding and interaction with nature.

Arenal Observatory Lodge / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Costa Rica group birding tour day 10

Day 11: San Jose | Transfer to the San Jose International Airport – fly home

This morning you’ll depart your hotel and transfer back to the SJO Airport for your flight home.




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