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costa rica volcano jungle beach tour

‘Birding on a Budget’ Itinerary 

Day 1: Arrive San Jose | Welcome to Costa Rica

Arrive in San Jose, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Relax and enjoy the lush gardens and inviting swimming pool. Enjoy the on site restaurant or explore the surrounding area to try some of Costa Rica’s local specialties.
Hotel Villa San Ignacio / Meals: Breakfast

Birding on a Budget in Costa Rica, Day 1 - Villa San Ignacio

Day 2: Caribbean Slope / Great Green Macaws & Toucans

Today after breakfast you will take a lovely scenic route north to the Caribbean slope. You’ll pass through banana plantations, groves of pineapples, small towns and farmland until you reach the Tirimbina Lodge and Research center. Check in and enjoy the grounds until it’s time for your evening activity.

In the evening – Night walk

Come and discover the rainforest in this unique opportunity at night! During this tour you will be guided across Tirmibina’s suspension bridge and explore the rainforest after dark, when many of the rainforest animals are most active. You may have the opportunity to spot animals like sloths, the red-eyed tree frog, porcupine, kinkajou and more.

Tirimbina Lodge / Meals: Breakfast
Birding on a Budget in Costa Rica - Day 2


Day 3: Caribbean Slope / Primary Rainforest Birding

During today’s tour a local guide will share their knowledge about the birds and wildlife of the area while you walk together along the river and into the primary and secondary Caribbean tropical rainforest. This area is rich with many species including Tanagers, Honeycreepers and Herons.

Some outstanding species that can be found are Sunbittern, Snowy Cotinga, White Fronted Nunbird, Black-Crested Coquette, Great Green Macaw, Keel-Billed Toucan and many more. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for sloths, tree frogs, lizards, and snakes. This is a vibrant area with a vast array of flora and fauna, perfect location for avid birders and nature lovers.

Tirimbina Lodge / Meals: Breakfast
Tirimbina Lodge Birding in Costa Rica

Day 4: Caribbean Foothills| Arenal Volcano Area

After breakfast depart for the Arenal Volcano area. The drive is only about 2.5 hours. You’ll arrive at the lovely Arenal Observatory lodge with time for birding the grounds on your own. The Observatory Lodge has a huge observation deck overlooking the Arenal Volcano and an expansive garden. There is a total of 870 acres of forest and an excellent trail system. This is the premier birdwatching location in the Arenal area.

Arenal Observatory Lodge / Meals: Breakfast
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Birding on a Budget Tour, Day 4

Day 5: Caribbean Foothills | Hanging Bridges

This morning, join the hotel naturalist in the reception area at 6:00 a.m. to participate in the morning bird watching walk. Your Naturalist will spend 2 hours exploring the trails and gardens, looking for the top species of the area. You’ll return to the hotel at 8:00 a.m. for breakfast.

More than 500 species have been registered on the grounds and forest of the lodge. Keep watch for the black-crested coquette, yellow-eared toucanet, great curassow and many more. The diverse habitat provides a true paradise for bird watchers.
In the afternoon it’s time for a Nature Adventure. Your Naturalist and driver will arrive after lunch to take you to the famous Mistico Hanging Bridges. This 1.9 miles (3 km) of trails are lush and beautiful and offers spectacular views of the Arenal Volcano.

Guests will have chances to see Monkeys, Agoutis, Coatis, Peccaries, Sloths, snakes and frogs. For birdwatchers, keep your eyes peeled for the Plain Antvireo, Spotted Woodcreeper, Northern Barred-Woodcreeper, White-fronted Nunbird, Scarlet-rumped Caciques, Keel-billed Motmot, Rufous Motmot, Broad-billed Motmot, Purplish-backed Quail-Dove, Violaceous Trogon, Keel Billed Toucan, Great Curassow and Crested Guan.

Arenal Observatory Lodge / Meals: breakfast
Toucan in Costa Rica, Birding on a Budget Tour Day 5

Day 6: Central Pacific | Scarlet Macaw Territory

Today you’ll depart the Caribbean and head to the Pacific Coast. This area is an extremely important habitat for birds and animals. The primary rainforest here provides habitat for Northern and Southern species. It’s a natural wildlife corridor for all migrating species. Arrive at your hotel and take time to enjoy the surrounding forest and trails, or have a swim in the swimming pool.

Cerro Lodge / Meals: Breakfast
Scarlet Macaws at VIlla Lapas Lodge in Costa Rica

Day 7: Central Pacific | Carara & Crocodiles

In the morning you’ll visit Carara National Park. Few places in Costa Rica boast the diversity and grandeur of Carara National Park. Being a key location as a wildlife corridor between northern and southern Costa Rica, Carara creates a sanctuary for a huge variety of animals and birds. More than 400 species are possible in this region. Together with your naturalist guide, you’ll explore the trails looking for the top species of the area. Be sure to take time to observe the size of the trees in this beautiful protected area. After your time at Carara, you’ll continue to the banks of the Tarcoles River. There you’ll board your boat with your Naturalist Guide and captain and explore the canals, mangrove, and river mouth of the Tarcoles. The Tárcoles River is a shelter for approximately 56 types of birds and is a refuge for the famous scarlet macaws as well. The enormous Central American Crocodiles will also be seen, patrolling the water ways. Have your binoculars and cameras at the ready!

Cerro Lodge / Meals: Breakfast
Carara National Park, Birding on a Budget in Costa Rica, Day 7

Day 8: Talamanca Highlands | Hummingbirds

Today after breakfast you’ll head south, traveling down the Pacific Coast. Enjoy the gorgeous scenery. You’ll be able to see the waves crashing along the shore and with luck Scarlet Macaws flying overhead. You’ll leave the warm coastal area and head into the Talamanca Mountains. You’ll see the vegetation change and feel the temperatures drop as you gain elevation. You’ll arrive at your hotel in the afternoon with time to enjoy the trails and gardens on your own.

The Bosque (forest) at Tolomuco Lodge offers a quiet environment for birdwatching. There are numerous well maintained trails for easy hiking and birding along the way, as well as great open areas and forest edges where a lot of the bird life concentrate. The large hotel verandah is ideal for birding early morning and late afternoon. Common species include Tanagers, Hummingbirds, and Parakeets. This rustic lodge is an ideal place to enjoy nature and serenity.

Hotel Bosque del Tolomuco / Meals: BreakfastTalamanca Mountains, Birding on a Budget in Costa Rica, Day 8

Day 9: Talamanca Highlands | Baru National Wildlife Refuge Birding Tour

Baru National Wildlife Refuge conserves 330 hectares (815 acres) of tropical rainforest, mangroves, wetlands, river banks, and beach front. This wide variety of ecosystems means a high level of biodiversity, and that is why Bird Watchers have sighted over 365 species in the refuge. Your tour will include exploring the different habitats, looking for the areas top species.

Have your binoculars and cameras ready to spot the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Red-lored Parrot, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Gartered Trogon,Golden-hooded Tanagers, Red-legged and Green Honeycreepers, Blue Dacnis, Yellow-crowned Euphonia and many more. Besides that some of the southern endemic species are relatively easy here like Spot-crowned Euphonia, Fiery-billed Aracari and even Golden-naped Woodpecker.

Hotel Bosque del Tolomuco / Meals: Breakfast
Birding on a Budget Tour, Talamanca Highlands, Day 9

Day 10: San Gerardo de Dota | Highland Endemic Species

Today you’ll travel just 90 minutes from Tolomuco further into the Talamanca Mountains to the Quetzal Paradise Lodge. This area is the number one spot in the country to see the Resplendent Quetzal and many other exceptional birds. Get checked into your hotel and hit the trails searching for the areas top species including

Orioles, Warblers, Raptors, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, Yellow-winged Vireo, the Flame-throated Warbler, Black-cheeked Warbler, Yellowish Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Tufted Flycatcher, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Zeledonia, Torrent Tyrannulet, Collared Trogon, Scintillant Hummingbird, Volcano Hummingbird, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Spotted Wood-Quail.

Quetzal Paradise Lodge / Meals: Breakfast
Day 10: San Gerardo de Dota | Highland Endemic Species0

Day 11: San Gerardo de Dota | Quetzal Country

This morning you’ll depart the lodge with your Naturalist Guide for an easy 1.5 kilometer walk to the Quetzal habitat. You’ll walk for about two hours through gorgeous white oak forest, rich with orchids and bromeliads. Your guide will share information about the natural history of the area, help you spot the top species, and of course, help you find the Resplendent Quetzal.

Quetzal Paradise Lodge / Meals: Breakfast
Day 11: San Gerardo de Dota | Quetzal Country

Day 12: San Jose | Last night in Paradise

It’s time to leave the highlands and return to San Jose. You’ll depart after breakfast, and make your way back to the city. You’ll have the afternoon to relax, and indulge in your stories and memories of the past 12 days. Your afternoon is free to enjoy the amenities at your hotel.

Hotel Villa San Ignacio / Meals: Breakfast

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Costa Rica Focus is a birding tour company that offers customized Costa Rica birdwatching tours for individuals or groups of people and guided by a knowledgeable birding expert who will help you spot and learn about the beauty of the birds of Costa Rica. Let’s talk about your Costa Rica birding vacation!

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