Call Lead-Guide Steve "Esh" Eshbaugh today at 406.570.2428 with your questions about this trip.
Single Supplement: $700
Final Payment Due: December 29, 2021
Maximum Group Size: 12
Minimum Group Size: 8
Slots remaining: 6
Maximum Participant to Guide Ratio: 6:1
Guides: Steve Eshbaugh & expert local guide
Target # birds: 250
Level: Easy to Moderate
ONLY 6 SPACES LEFT!
Tour prices are given “per person, double occupancy” and include a donation to ASVO (Asociación de Voluntarios para el Servicio en Áreas Protegidas)
All trip materials, including detailed daily itinerary, list of what to bring, recommended field guides and pre-trip reading materials, checklist of likely birds & other wildlife.
All services of our leaders/guides.
All transportation upon arrival to destination city.
All accommodations during tour dates.
All entrance fees to museums, parks, etc.
All meals (except alcoholic beverages) are included, typically from breakfast on the first full day through breakfast on the last full day.
Tour prices DO NOT include round-trip international airfare, passport/visa fees, arrival taxes, baggage fees, single-supplement fees, telephone calls, laundry, room service, souvenirs, and tipping of United States-based guides & drivers (optional but highly recommended).
Tour deposit is refundable, minus a $200 processing fee up to 120 days prior to departure.
Note: Tour costs, itineraries and dates are subject to change. Prices may be affected by international currency exchange rates or necessary itinerary changes.
We strongly recommend participants purchase trip insurance to cover full trip costs.
We offset all trip impacts by purchasing carbon offsets to reduce our carbon global footprint.
Deposit for two: $800
Costa Rica National Parks
March 25-April 6, 2022
Merlin Birding is partnering with Horizontes Tours to offer this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Everybody has likely heard tales from friends who have visited Costa Rica. The whole country is set up to cater to nature enthusiasts. Lodges serve local foods to delight any pallet. Tropical fruits add to any breakfast, and gallo pinto (rice and beans) for breakfast, covered with Lizano Sauce is a true treat.
Although only about the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica is home to over 850 species of birds and 140 species of mammals. We'll make every effort to see as many species as we can, including a night hike, a boat trip and many early morning excursions. We'll visit habitats ranging from a hot and humidl-owland tropical rainforests to a high-elevation, cool cloud forests. These varied habitats allow for a wide diversity of birds and other wildlife.
With over 25% of Costa Rica's land protected as parks and preserves, vital, high-quality bird habitat abounds. This trip provides an excellent opportunity to see a wide range of resident Costa Rican birds, including the Resplendent Quetzal, Scarlet Macaw, Keel-billed Toucan and so many others, as well as numerous dazzling neotropical migrants.
You will find the self-labeled "Ticos" to be incredibly generous and friendly people, welcoming you with open arms. Our selected lodges are situated specifically in or very near prime bird habitat. Viewing platforms, flowering plants and hummingbird galleries enhance birding. Without ever stepping on a trail, we are likely to see dozens of bird species.
The Resplendent Quetzal is a target of almost all birders, and when you spot one you'll quickly understand why. Our trip is timed to coincide with fruiting season for avocados, the favorite food of the quetzal, making spotting them much more likely. We're spending three nights in the cloud forest to enhance our chances of spotting one of these magnificent birds.
Lodging Note: We will stay in basic lodges that will be clean and comfortable. This trip is not geared to be a luxurious excursion but one that optimizes the participants chances of seeing numerous bird and other wildlife at a minimal cost. Lodges are selected for their proximity to wildlife. Many mornings your alarm "bell" will be the call of howler monkeys.
ITINERARY AT A GLANCE:
March 25: Arrive in San Jose, transfer to Hotel Bougainvillea.
March 26: Drive Palo Verde National Park area. Overnight: Ensenada Lodge.
March 27: Palo Verde National Park Boat Tour, afternoon exploration, overnight Ensenada Lodge.
March 28: Transfer to Tenorio National Park area, overnight Celeste Mountain
March 29: Early morning walk in Tenorio National Park, transfer to Sarapiqui region, overnight La Quinta de Sarapiqui.
March 30: La Selva Biological Station (morning bird walk & night hike); overnight La Quinta de Sarapiqui.
March 31: Transfer to Savegre Lodge, San Gerado de Dota area; overnight Savegre Lodge.
April 1: Explore Cloud Forest, overnight Savegre Lodge.
April 2: Explore Cloud Forest, overnight Savegre area.
April 3: Transfer to Carara National Park area, overnight Villa Lapas.
April 4: Morning birding, afternoon boat tour, overnight Villa Lapas.
April 5 Return to San Jose, Overnight La Riviera Hotel, Farewell Dinner.
April 6: Fly home
March 25: Fly to San Jose: Your flight must arrive by tonight in San Jose. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU arrive on March 25th). You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to our hotel. Overnight Bougainvillea Hotel.
March 26: You'll awaken to unfamiliar bird calls. We'll have a short time before breakfast to tour the stunning 10-acre gardens. With luck, you'll see your first spectacular bird, the Blue-crowned Motmot. Over 50 bird species are listed as possibilities, many with unfamiliar but poetic sounding names, like the Sooty-capped Chlorospingus, White-eared Ground Sparrow and your first Costa Rican hummingbirds, the Steely-vented Hummingbird and the Green-breasted Mango.
After breakfast, we'll depart for Palo Verde National Park area located near the Gulf of Nicoya. An ideal place for naturalists, birdwatchers and all nature lovers in general, Ensenada Lodge looks out over the Gulf of Nicoya. Birds we'll search for include the strangely-adorned and common White-throated Magpie Jay; surrounding forests may yield our first Gartered Trogon. The docks will surely harbor numerous terns and perhaps a Roseate Spoonbill. We almost surely will have spotted at least one monkey species, and with luck three of the four that are commonly found in Costa Rica. Overnight La Ensenada Lodge.
March 27: Today is going to be a truly exceptional day. We will take a morning boat trip after breakfast into the depths of Palo Verde National Park. Along the way, we'll spot American Crocodiles basking along the banks. We might also see spectacled caimans, alligators, and perhaps a basilisk lizard (Jesus Christ lizard), which will delight as it runs across the surface of the channel. As we enter Palo Verde, you will instantly see why it was chosen for National Park status. These super-productive wetlands are home to a great many birds, including thousands of Wood Storks. We'll also search for Great Currassow, Scarlet Macaw, White Ibis, Northern Jacana and the massive Jabiru Stork. It takes tremendous luck, but ocelots also frequent this park.
We'll return to La Ensenada Lodge for an afternoon hike or tractor-ride of the grounds. Our bird list is likely to be over 50 species at this point, along with numerous mammalian and reptilian sightings. Overnight La Ensenada Lodge.
March 28: After birding around La Ensenada in the morning, we'll do the transfer to Bijagua town, adjacent to Tenorio Volcano National Park. After checking in, we'll do a hike to the stunning Celeste River. We'll also see some natural hot springs and fumaroles along the way. Back at our lodge, the birding can be frenetic on the grounds. Targets include the brilliantly-colored Passerini's Tanager, along with Crimson-collared Tanager, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Red-lored Parrot, Purplish-backed Quail-dove, Tody Motmot and Lattice-tailed Trogon. We'll surely hear the distinctive, humorous call of the bizarrely-adorned Three-Wattled Bellbird, and will hope locate the bird by keying on it's loud call. Overnight at Celeste Lodge.
Waterfall on the Celeste River
March 29: This morning we'll transfer to the Sarapiqui Region. After arriving at La Quinta de Sarapiqui, we'll wander the grounds. Collared Aracari frequent this area. The owners have been planting numerous almond trees for over 20 years, hoping to attract Great Green Macaws back to the locale where they were once spotted frequently. We'll also keep our eyes lower, as the hotel is home to two species of poison arrow frogs: strawberry (blue jeans) and the simply stunning black-and-green. We'll relax the rest of the afternoon, enjoying the butterfly garden. Basilisk lizards also frequent the grounds around the hotel. You'll be grateful for the welcome relief provided by air conditioning in this hot and exceptionally humid environment. Overnight La Quinta Sarapiqui.
March 30: Today will be an extraordinary day. We'll get an early start and head to La Selva Biological Station, on the edge of Braulio Carillo National Park. This might be the most studied area of tropical forest on the planet, and you'll quickly see why. A number of hummingbirds frequent the feeders here. Before we step into the reserve, we might spot Snowy Cotingas perched on tree branches. Occasionally, Great Green Macaws provide a fly-over and Gartered Trogons are frequently spotted in the trees by the footbridge. In the reserve targets will include Bare-necked Umbrella Bird, Red-capped Manakin, Great Antshrike, Short-billed, Red-billed, Pale-vented Pigeons, White-necked Jacobin, Bronzy Hermit, Band-tailed Barbthroat, Russet-naped Woodrail, Gray Hawk, Spectacled Owl, Broad-billed Motmot, Green Kingfisher, Keel-billed and Dark-mandibled toucans, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, and Rufous-tailed Jacamar. Overnight at La Quinta Sarapiqui
Mammal sightings are also common. We'll search for collared peccary, tamandua, spider, howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys, agouti and coatimundi. There is something here for everyone.
For lunch we'll return to La Quinta and escape the heat in our cabins for a bit. We'll bird the grounds in the late afternoon, but another treat awaits after dinner. We'll return to La Selva for a night hike. Kinkajous might be spotted working the canopy overhead. We'll also marvel at the "eye-shine" of various spiders that inhabit the forest floor. The sounds will be somewhat haunting and uniquely different from our daytime excursion. Perhaps we'll have the good fortune of spotting a Black-and-White Owl hunting the grounds.
Northern Emerald Toucanet
March 31: Transfer to Savegre Hotel. Before breakfast, we'll take advantage of the early-morning hours and search the grounds for birds we missed during the past two days. A four-hour drive, our longest of the trip, will take us to Savegre Lodge. A lunch stop outside San Jose will break up the journey. Savegre Lodge has stunning birds throughout the grounds, with excellent habitat for many hummingbirds, including Volcano, White-throated Mountain-gem, Stripe-tailed, Talamanca (Magnificent) and Fiery-throated hummingbirds. Rivers near the hotel are preferred habitat for the tiny Torrent Tyrannulet. The familiar American Dipper often works the streams. Overnight at Savegre Lodge.
April 1: Savegre Lodge near Quetzales National Park. After an early breakfast, we'll walk one of the many trails of Savegre Lodge. The morning song of the birds heralds the beginning of an unforgettable experience in the cloud forest. After lunch, we'll walk a different trail to bird and search for other natural wonders. Overnight at Savegre Lodge.
April 2: Explore Savegre Lodge: Today we'll enjoy our last full day in the cloud forest. Where we'll explore will depend largely on what we have and haven't seen over the past two days. Tonight will be our last evening in this fabulous ecosystem.
Overnight at Savegre Lodge.
April 3: We'll bird along this three-hour trip, taking advantage of shade-grown coffee plantations to see what rarities we can spot. Tarcoles, near our destination, is known for the massive crocodiles that lurk under the Tarcoles Bridge. The area is also home to a dazzling number of Scarlet Macaws. Overnight at Villa Lapas.
April 4: We'll venture into Carara National Park after breakfast. Target birds will include Crested Guan, Great Tinamou, Squirrel Cuckoo, Costa Rican Swift, Little Hermit, Purple Crowned Fairy, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Black-headed Trogon, Orange-collared Manakin, Black-crowned Tityra, Orange-billed Sparrow and many more.
After lunch, we'll take a boat tour up the Tarcoles River. We're sure to see numerous American crocodiles and a number of waterbirds as well. Tonight will be our last night before heading back to San Jose. We'll make sure to enjoy the Macaws returning to roost. Villa Lapas literally translates to Macaw Village. Overnight at Villa Lapas.
April 5: We'll leave Villa Lapas for San Jose by mid-morning, taking advantage of several outstanding roadside birding stops. We'll arrive in San Jose with plenty of time to visit boutiques to shop for unique Costa Rican gifts. Tonight we'll have a celebratory farewell dinner. Many flights depart insanely early from San Jose, so we'll retire early to get some much-needed sleep. Overnight at La Riviera.
April 6: Depart for home.