Costa Rica: The Birding Hotspots

Discover the top birding ecosystems of Costa Rica in a 10 to 14 nights holiday. Find from 200 to 500 different species of birds during this holidays, including the country key species: Resplendent Quetzal, Great Green Macaw, Sunbittern, Toucans, Scarlet Macaw, Jabiru and much more.

The tours visit the most important ecosystems for birds and wildlife: rainforest (caribbean lowlands), cloudforest (highlands), premontane & tropical humid forest (central & souther pacific lowlands), mangrove and dry forest (dry northwest lowlands).

Recommended itinerary

Day 1      San José

Upon arrival at the airport in San José drive or transfer to your hotel. Overnight at Hotel Bougainvillea. 

Day 2      Sarapiquí Rainforest | Selva Verde Reserve | Caribbean Lowlands                                          

Following breakfast begin the journey to Selva Verde Lodge, passing Braulio Carrillo National Park in route. Protecting 500 acres of primary and secondary rainforest and home to more than 370 species of birds, Selva Verde provides opportunities to see varieties such as the Keel-billed Toucan, White-winged Becard, Sunbittern, Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, and the endangered Great Green Macaw. In the afternoon enjoy a chance to spot birds and wildlife during a two hour boat safari on the Sarapiquí River. Return to the lodge to settle in, and then gather for a lecture on natural history and conservation presented by one of Selva Verde’s resident naturalist guides. Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve.

Day 3      Selva Verde Reserve | Caribbean Lowlands                        

Grab your binoculars for early morning guided birding hike in the Selva Verde Reserve. The reserve is home to one of the largest almond trees in all of Central America, which provides habitat for the endangered Great Green Macaw. Return to the lodge for a delicious breakfast, and then continue looking for birds at Selva Verde’s on-site botanical garden. Continue birding along the banks of the Sarapiquí River, looking for Montezuma’s Oropendola, Tiger Herons, and several varieties of kingfishers. Then discover the secrets of the primary forest of Selva Verde during a birding and nature walk with an expert guide in the afternoon. Tonight is an exciting guided night walk to look for owls and other nocturnal wildlife. Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve. 

Day 4      La Selva (OTS) | Cinco Ceibas | Caribbean Lowlands

This morning depart the lodge for early morning birding at the nearby Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) La Selva Biological Field Station. Transfer to Cinco Ceibas Reserve in Finca Pangola for lunch and birding. Cinco Ceibas is one of the largest members of the Costa Rican Bird Route and the only site in Central America where the jungle is accessible by means of an elevated boardwalk. The name Cinco Ceibas was derived from five giant kapok trees that can be observed during your trip. The walk is through a lowland flood zone tropical rainforest that hosts tremendous biodiversity. Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve. 

Neotropical birds Sunbitters

Day 5      Braulio Carrillo National Park | Savegre Nature Reserve | Highlands

After an early breakfast, depart for San Gerardo de Dota. During the journey is an opportunity to stop for birding at the Quebrada Gonzalez Ranger Station at Braulio Carrillo National Park. This is a good location for possible sightings of hawk-eagles and other raptors. This afternoon, enjoy a guided walk along trails in the cloud forest in the Savegre Nature Reserve. Overnight at Savegre Hotel, Natural Reserve & Spa. 

Day 6      Savegre Nature Reserve | Highlands

After breakfast, go birding along the upper trails of a local oak forest in the Savegre Reserve. The San Gerardo Valley is situated approximately 7,000 ft. above sea level, and combines highland oak and cloud forests with open grasslands and forest edges. A diverse mix of birds inhabits the area, including large numbers of the strikingly beautiful Resplendent Quetzal. In addition to quetzals, the region is home to a number of birds that are only found at this elevation, such as the Collared Trogon, Emerald Toucanet, Fiery-colored Tanager, Marbled Wood-Quail, Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, Buffy Tufted cheek, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Elegant Euphonia, and Tufted Flycatcher. Return to the lodge for lunch. This afternoon enjoy birding along the lodge’s scenic waterfall trail, looking for Talamanca regional endemics like the White-throated Mountain Gem, Collared Redstart, Volcano Hummingbird, and Black-cheeked Warbler. Overnight at Savegre Hotel, Natural Reserve & Spa. 

Quetzal Costa Rica

Day 7      Macaw Reserve | Central & Southern Pacific Lowlands

The day begins with another early morning guided bird walk before breakfast. Check out of the lodge and begin the journey to the Central Pacific canton of Turrubares. The journey follows the Pan-American Highway, the highest road in Central America, passing over 3000 m (9840 ft) above sea level. Macaw Lodge is located between two life zones, the humid tropical forest and the high humidity pre-montane forest, and is surrounded by expanses of rural roads, pastures, mature and secondary forests, and organic farming plots. These bioclimatic, ecological, and landscape conditions make it possible for an abundance of birds to live in the Central Pacific, surpassing 300 species of migratory and resident species. Overnight at Macaw Lodge. 

Day 8      Macaw Reserve | Carara National Park | Central & Southern Pacific Lowlands

Begin with an early morning bird walk around the lodge. Following breakfast, journey to Carara National Park for the day, one of the top birding spots of Costa Rica. The park consists of transitional forest and is home to many humid forest bird species that are only found in southwestern Costa Rica. Keep your eyes peeled for the Golden-naped Woodpecker, Baird’s Trogon, Orange-collared Manakin, Riverside Wren, and the colorful Scarlet Macaw. Overnight at Macaw Lodge. 

Macaw Lodge

Day 9      Macaw Reserve | La Ensenada Wildlife Refuge | Dry Northwest Lowlands

After breakfast take a natural history and bird watching tour this morning to discover the secret birds hiding in the gardens of Macaw Lodge including a visit to a waterfall. Transfer to La Ensenada Lodge and Wildlife Refuge. The lodge is located on the Tempisque River, Gulf of Nicoya in the Province of Puntarenas. The area along the river is known for its dry forest system, attracting a variety of birds such as herons, bellbirds, ibis, pelicans, and others. Check in at the lodge and this afternoon take a tractor ride to the lagoons and salt ponds for more birding. Overnight at La Ensenada Lodge. 

Day 10   Tempisque River | La Ensenada Wildlife Refuge | Hacienda Solimar | Dry Northwest Lowlands

This morning take an early birding followed by breakfast and departure to Hacienda Solimar. At Hacienda Solimar, observe a variety of birds among the dry scrub including the Lesser Ground Cuckoo, Spot-breasted Bobwhite, and do not miss the rare endangered Jabiru. After lunch return to the lodge for afternoon birding during a boat ride on the Tempisque River. The river passes through Palo Verde National Park and encompasses mangroves, swamp, and both freshwater and saltwater lagoons, providing a crucial habitat for various species of crocodiles, monkeys, and birds. The area attracts millions of birds, including species such as the Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, Little Blue Heron, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Boat-billed Heron, and Tropical Kingbird. Overnight at La Ensenada Lodge. 

birding La Ensenada

Day 10   La Ensenada Wildlife Refuge | San José

Begin with an early morning guided birding hike followed by breakfast. Check out of the lodge and return to San José. Overnight at Hotel Bougainvillea. 

Day 11   Departure or extension

After breakfast, transfer to the international airport in San José for your flight home.

This program can be customized to fit with your needs. Ask for  extensions to Tortuguero, South Pacific, Arenal Volcano or other destinations. Send us an e mail info@wildtravelcentralamerica.com for pricing or customize your tour.