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COSTA RICA

Birding the Hotspots of Costa Rica

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Road Scholar
Program #12848RJ
13 Days | 12 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderately Challenging
While all of our learning adventures offer extraordinary value, our "Best Value" programs were rated by our participants themselves who thought their dollar went particularly far.
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Elevation Note
Elevations up to 7,220 feet (San Gerardo de Dota).

Equipment Requirements
Scopes are recommended but not required. We recommend wide angle binoculars, something within the range of 7x35, 8x40 or even 10x50 with good light gathering characteristics. Although light and comfortable, pocket binoculars don't work as well on low light conditions, especially inside a rain forest.

For programs between October and April, a copy of a field guide for North American birds is recommended, as there are many northern migrants in Costa Rica.

Itinerary for Feb 16 — Feb 28, 2013

Expand all
Type: Hotel

Contact info:
No Info.
Alajuela, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +(506)2 442-8595
web: www.hotelbuenavistacr.com

Room amenities: Color TV.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar,pool, gift shop, baggage storage, airport shuttle, and laundry service.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Additional nights before: Prices subject to change.
Additional nights are subject to hotel availability.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day One: Saturday, February 16 - Depart U.S./Arrive to San José
Arrive To: Arrive in San José's Juan Santamaria International Airport.

Proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. Please use the exit door on the right. The Road Scholar representative will be waiting outside the exit door with a Road Scholar sign (only applies to Road Scholar group flights).

Transfer to the hotel and check-in, followed by time at leisure.

Please note that this is an international travel day; no meals or program activities are scheduled on this day. Hotel check-in usually begins at 3PM.

Lodging: Hotel Buena Vista

Type: Lodge

Description: Eco-lodge located near the Carara National Park. The property owns a private reserve (secondary growth forest) where guests can hike and view a variety of plants and wildlife.

Contact info:
No info.
Carara, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +5062-637-0232
web: www.villalapas.com

Room amenities: Air conditioning and telephone.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, pool, chapel, and zip lines.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Two: Sunday, February 17 - Carara – Birding the Tárcoles River.
Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Program orientation.

Lecture: Introduction to Birding in the Tropics.

Transfer to the Carara area.

Arrive at the hotel and check-in.

Lunch: Lunch at the hotel

Afternoon: Birding field trip via boat on the Tárcoles River.

The Tárcoles River basin is one of the most important in the Pacific coastal region virtually draining the entire Western side of the Central Valley. Tarcoles hosts an amazing diversity of wildlife along its banks and on the extensive mangrove areas near its estuary. Perhaps the most famous of all its inhabitants are the enormous crocodiles that live on its banks. These crocodiles (Crocodilus acutus) have been studied by numerous local and foreign specialists and featured in TV specials, including several of National Geographic Brady Barr’s Wild Reptiles.



Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Villa Lapas Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: Eco-lodge located near the Carara National Park. The property owns a private reserve (secondary growth forest) where guests can hike and view a variety of plants and wildlife.

Contact info:
No info.
Carara, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +5062-637-0232
web: www.villalapas.com

Room amenities: Air conditioning and telephone.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, pool, chapel, and zip lines.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Three: Monday, February 18 - Carara – Carara National Park.
Breakfast: Early morning coffee and cookies at the hotel.

Morning: Early morning birding at the Villa Lapas private reserve (lodge trails) including the Skyway -- which is a walk through the rainforest crossing through 5 hanging bridges 200 ft high.

Return to the lodge for a late morning breakfast.

The remainder of the morning will be at your leisure to enjoy the hotel grounds.

Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.

Afternoon: Field trip to Carara National Park.

Costa Rica's Central Pacific Region is one the most ecologically diverse areas of the country. The intersection of the Northwestern Tropical Dry Forest habitats with the Humid Rain Forests of the South Pacific region, in a relatively small area, produces a very interesting combination of species from both ecosystems. In addition, the mountain ranges are very close to the coast resulting in an array of elevations and some peculiar climatic conditions that contribute to the abundance of wildlife.

The rich variety of habitats in this area makes an ideal home for a large variety of birds including the endemic Mangrove Hummingbird and the Yellow Billed Cotinga.

Return to the hotel.

Lecture: The Ecology and Conservation of the Scarlet Macaw.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Villa Lapas Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: The lodge offers accommodations in comfortable villas facing the Gulf of Nicoya.

Contact info:
Abangaritos
Puntarenas, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +5062-289-6655
web: www.laensenada.net

Room amenities: Spacious balcony with sitting area and ceiling fan.

Facility amenities: A restaurant, extensive grounds, and an outdoor swimming pool.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Four: Tuesday, February 19 - Tempisque – Birding the Gulf of Nicoya.
Breakfast: Early morning birding.
Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Transfer to Gulf of Nicoya area (Tempisque).

Arrive at the lodge and check-in. This region of Northwestern Costa Rica is characterized by an endangered life zone known as semi-deciduous or Tropical Dry Forest. Little used trails throughout the property make for excellent birding in the forest around the lodge.



Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.

Afternoon: Birding along the lodge’s trails.

Product of a huge tectonic depression, the Gulf of Nicoya is a somewhat closed water inlet, fed by the waters from the major rivers in Guanacaste region. The sediments carried by the rivers, estuaries and deltas, contributed to the creation of extensive mangrove habitats inside the gulf. Here many marine species have found a perfect nutrient-rich environment for breeding. Mollusks, crustaceans and many species of fish are attracted to the natural crib offered by the Gulf of Nicoya, and with them, hundreds of marine birds.



Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.

Evening: Night birding walk.

After dinner, venture into the reserve. Use powerful lights to spot eyes. We will be looking for nocturnal species such as owls, nightjars, potoos and thick-knees.

Lodging: La Ensenada Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: The lodge offers accommodations in comfortable villas facing the Gulf of Nicoya.

Contact info:
Abangaritos
Puntarenas, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +5062-289-6655
web: www.laensenada.net

Room amenities: Spacious balcony with sitting area and ceiling fan.

Facility amenities: A restaurant, extensive grounds, and an outdoor swimming pool.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Five: Wednesday, February 20 - Tempisque – Gulf of Nicoya by Boat.
Breakfast: Early morning birding.
Breakfast at the lodge.

Morning: Boat ride in the Gulf of Nicoya for birding and exploration of the fringing mangrove forests.

Return to the lodge.

Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.

Afternoon: Afternoon cart ride (pulled by a tractor) and birding around the lodge grounds.

Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.

Lodging: La Ensenada Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: Attractive lodge located within walking distance of the Caño Negro National Wildlife Reguge. Comfortable bungalows are surrounded by well-tended gardens and walkways.

Contact info:
Caño Negro
Caño Negro, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +5062-471-1426
web: www.canonegrolodge.com

Room amenities: Air conditioning, fan, and safety box.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, pool, jacuzzi, mini golf, meeting room, and laundry service.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Six: Thursday, February 21 - Caño Negro – Introduction to the Caño Negr...
Breakfast: Early morning birding.
Breakfast at the lodge.

Morning: Depart for Caño Negro.



Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant en route.

Afternoon: Continue to Caño Negro with birding en route.

Arrive at the lodge for afternoon birding on trails around the lodge.

Often described as Costa Rica’s Everglades, Caño Negro acts as an expansive drainage basin for numerous rivers in the country's northern section. Like the Everglades, this large "water filter" attracts numerous species of birds and waterfowl and has been protected as a wildlife reserve. During the dry season, much of the flooded estuary dries up and many of the birds migrate only to return with the rain. Caño Negro’s most common visitors are birds, leaving much of the area to be explored by the few who venture to this frequently overlooked corner.

Lecture: Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge and Wetlands

Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.

Lodging: Caño Negro Natural Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: Attractive lodge located within walking distance of the Caño Negro National Wildlife Reguge. Comfortable bungalows are surrounded by well-tended gardens and walkways.

Contact info:
Caño Negro
Caño Negro, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +5062-471-1426
web: www.canonegrolodge.com

Room amenities: Air conditioning, fan, and safety box.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, pool, jacuzzi, mini golf, meeting room, and laundry service.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Seven: Friday, February 22 - Caño Negro - Birding the Costa Rican Wetlan...
Breakfast: Early morning coffee and cookies at the lodge.


Morning: Boat field trip though the wetlands with a site lecture on wetland bird species.

This remote 22,000 acre tropical wetland teeming with wildlife is one of Costa Rica's undiscovered gems. Here, we explore a portion of Costa Rica that is considered by many the best example of Mesoamerican wetlands. Explore the lagoons and canals by boat to look for some of the 350 species of birds found in the refuge. In addition, spot caiman, crocodiles & a variety of monkeys. Birdlife dominates the area, boasting the largest colony of neotropic cormorants in Costa Rica and a colony of Nicaraguan grackle. Egrets, anhingas, Roseate Spoonbills and other waterfowl gather by the thousands.

Return to the lodge for a late morning breakfast.

The remainder of the morning will be at leisure.

Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.

Afternoon: Excursion to the town of Caño Negro, followed by an afternoon boat ride and site lecture.

Return to the lodge.

Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.

Lodging: Caño Negro Natural Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: Nature Lodge built along the banks of the Sarapiqui River. Room modules are built on elevated platforms, surrounded by tropical vegetation. A large tract of private primary and secondary rainforest is accessible via a hanging bridge.

Contact info:
Chilamate
Sarapiqui, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +8004517111
web: www.selvaverde.com

Room amenities: Safety boxes, ceiling fans, phones, screened windows, and hair dryers.

Facility amenities: Meeting rooms, restaurant, and bar.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Eight: Saturday, February 23 - Sarapiqui - Introduction to the Rainforest....
Breakfast: Breakfast at the lodge.

Morning: Transfer to Sarapiqui with birding en route.

Situated in the Caribbean lowlands, 40 miles from San José, Sarapiquí is one of the richest sites for birds in Middle America with well over recorded 400 species. Nearby, the La Selva Protection Zone and the Braulio Carrillo National Park form the only significant corridor of forest on the Caribbean slope linking the highlands with the lowlands - a corridor crucial to birds and animals that undertake seasonal altitudinal migrations.

Arrive at the lodge and check-in.

Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.

Afternoon: Orientation to the lodge.
Birding in the on-site rainforest reserve.

Tropical Rainforests are found only in a restricted area around the Equator that covers less than 20% of the Earth’s surface. Within the rainforests are more than one third of all species in the planet. Every year scientists surprise the international community with the discovery of new species in both well known and unexplored areas of rainforest. The importance of rainforests for the human community is immense in terms of biodiversity, eco-tourism, oxygen production, water production, new drugs and medicines, etc. These delicate and specialized ecosystems are also the most susceptible to changes in the global weather patterns and air temperature variations.



Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.

Evening: Lecture: The Birds of the Sarapiqui Region.

Lodging: Selva Verde Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: Nature Lodge built along the banks of the Sarapiqui River. Room modules are built on elevated platforms, surrounded by tropical vegetation. A large tract of private primary and secondary rainforest is accessible via a hanging bridge.

Contact info:
Chilamate
Sarapiqui, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +8004517111
web: www.selvaverde.com

Room amenities: Safety boxes, ceiling fans, phones, screened windows, and hair dryers.

Facility amenities: Meeting rooms, restaurant, and bar.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Nine: Sunday, February 24 - Sarapiqui - Organization for Tropical Stud...
Breakfast: Early morning birding and a site lecture on rainforest species at the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) La Selva Biological Field Station.

Breakfast at La Selva Biological Field Station.

Morning: Continue birding at OTS La Selva.

The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) is a non-profit consortium that includes 63 universities and research institutions from the United States, Latin America and Australia. In the early 1960's, scientists from U.S. universities forged working relationships with colleagues at the Universidad de Costa Rica in the interest of strengthening education and research in tropical biology. Intense interest led to the founding of OTS, to provide leadership in education, research and the responsible use of natural resources in the tropics.



Lunch: Return to Selva Verde Lodge for lunch.

Afternoon: Time at leisure.

Continue birding field trip in La Selva Field Station.

La Selva was originally established, as a farm dedicated to experimentation on mixed plantations for the improvement of natural resources management. It was purchased in 1968 by the Organization for Tropical Studies and declared a private biological reserve and station. La Selva has become one of the most important sites in the world for research on the tropical rain forest. Over 240 scientific papers are published yearly from research conducted at the site. La Selva comprises 3,900 acres of tropical wet forests and disturbed lands. Located within the tropical and pre-montane wet forest, the Station is the home for more than the half of the 886 species of birds in Costa Rica.

Transfer back to the lodge.


Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.

Lodging: Selva Verde Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: The Savegre Mountain Hotel is located in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica. The hotel is at an elevation of approximately 7,220 ft and is situated in a private cloud forest reserve that borders the Los Quetzales National Park. Its private reserve has earned a reputation for being one of the best places to spot the elusive Resplendent Quetzal--one of the country's most colorful birds.

Contact info:
San Gerardo de Dota.
San Gerardo de Dota, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-27401028
web: www.savegre.com

Room amenities: Rooms have private baths and heating system or fireplace. No air conditioning is necessary since the hotel is located in a mountainous region (approximately 7,220 ft above sea level), known for its clean and crisp air.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, gardens, nature reserve, and laundry service.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Ten: Monday, February 25 - San Gerado de Dota - Savegre Cloud Forest....
Breakfast: Early morning birding on lodge grounds.
Breakfast at the lodge.

Morning: Transfer to San Gerardo de Dota with birdwatching en route.

Journey from the rainforest up into the Talamanca Mountain range. Watch foothill and montane rainforests give way to oak-dominated cloud forest, and then to Andean-type sub-alpine vegetation on Cerro de la Muerte (the highest point in Costa Rica). With five distinct “life zones” from 4,000 to 11,500 feet, this is a rich area for endemic birds and boasting a large population of quetzals.



Lunch: Lunch en route.

Afternoon: Arrive to San Gerardo de Dota and check-in at hotel.

This small village is situated in the Talamanca Mountain range, which provides habitat for a number of species including the resplendent quetzal. This high elevation cloud forest property is situated on a working apple orchard and is home to a diverse ecosystem

Enjoy the rest of the afternoon birdwatching during a short hike on the property's trails.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa (formerly Savegre Mountain Hotel)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: The Savegre Mountain Hotel is located in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica. The hotel is at an elevation of approximately 7,220 ft and is situated in a private cloud forest reserve that borders the Los Quetzales National Park. Its private reserve has earned a reputation for being one of the best places to spot the elusive Resplendent Quetzal--one of the country's most colorful birds.

Contact info:
San Gerardo de Dota.
San Gerardo de Dota, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-27401028
web: www.savegre.com

Room amenities: Rooms have private baths and heating system or fireplace. No air conditioning is necessary since the hotel is located in a mountainous region (approximately 7,220 ft above sea level), known for its clean and crisp air.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, gardens, nature reserve, and laundry service.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Eleven: Tuesday, February 26 - San Gerardo de Dota – Search for the Resple...
Breakfast: Early morning birding.
Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Birding along forest trails in search of the elusive Resplendent Quetzal.

The Resplendent Quetzal is less elusive and present in greater numbers in this region than in the cloud forests of Monteverde and Santa Elena to the north. This tropical icon is considered to be the most beautiful bird in the Western Hemisphere and was sacred to ancient Mayas and Aztecs. Streams trickle through the region on their way to the Rio Savegre and colorful hummingbirds dart to and fro in search of food.

Birding en route back to the hotel.

Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.

Afternoon: Time at leisure.
Birding around the hotel grounds.

The few families that inhabit the valley are mostly dedicated to the production of trout, apples and peaches, which grow well in the cool, moist elevations of the Talamanca Range. Pioneers in many aspects, the Chacon family was the first to settle in this area. They built the first hotel (Cabinas Chacon, now named Savegre Mountain Hotel) and the first to set out to conserve the magnificent high elevation and oak forests that covered the entire valley. The patriarch of the family, don Efrain Chacon, has transmitted his love for this land to his children and grandchildren. They now share his passion and devotion for the preservation of the pristine forests.

Lecture: The Chacon Family and the Resplendent Quetzal.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa (formerly Savegre Mountain Hotel)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Resort

Description: The Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel and Convention Center has 229 spacious rooms with modern conveniences and a long list of amenities that are meant to accommodate business travelers as well as vacationing families. It is conveniently located a short distance from San José's Juan Santamaria International Airport. The hotel has earned a Level 3 Certification for Sustainable Tourism by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute.

Contact info:
General Cañas Highway
5 km. south from International Airport
San José, Costa Rica
phone: +506-22099800
web: http://www.wyndham.com/hotels/costa-rica/san-jose/wyndham-san-jose-herradura-hotel-convention-center/hotel-overview

Room amenities: The spacious, air conditioned rooms have private baths, hair dryers, satellite TVs, direct-dial phones, mini refrigerators, coffee makers, safety deposit boxes, and internet access.

Facility amenities: Complimentary Wi-Fi, three restaurants, three swimming pools, a wet bar, Jacuzzis, casino, fitness center, spa services, laundry service, souvenir shop, beauty salon, business center, conference center, money exchange, Internet access, travel agency, and a souvenir shop. Wheelchair acessible elevators and public areas. Free airport shuttle service from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Free hotel shuttle service to San José attractions.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights after: Prices subject to availability
Rates and room types are subject to availability. Please contact your program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com if you need assistance with booking additional hotel nights.

Check out time: 11:00 AM

Day Twelve: Wednesday, February 27 - Return to San José - Farewell to Costa Rica...
Breakfast: Early morning birding.
Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Depart for San José. Enjoy en route birding with stops along the way, including in the Cerro de la Muerte region.

Cerro de la Muerte is the highest point in the Costa Rican section of the Inter-American Highway. Its name means "Mountain of Death", since in the path crossing the mountains from the Valle Central meant a three or four day journey, on foot or on horseback, and many ill-prepared travelers succumbed to the cold and rain. However, the peak is now easily accessible since the highway runs close by.

Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant en route.

Afternoon: Arrive in San José and check-in at hotel.

Time at leisure.

Final bird count with group leader.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day Thirteen: Thursday, February 28 - Depart from San Jose/Arrive to the U.S.
Depart From: Transfer to the Juan Santamaria International Airport for flight to U.S.

Note: Participants with independent travel arrangements and/or scheduled on later flights can keep their hotel rooms until check-out time on this day. Except for breakfast, all other meals are on your own on this day.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel (depending on flight departure time).

Meals Included: Breakfast

Important information about your itinerary:
Please know that while we do everything we can to finalize all aspects of our programs well in advance, there are logistics that occasionally must be altered. Our website will reflect the most recent information, and we are committed to providing you with final program details no later than eight weeks prior to the start of programs outside the U.S. and three weeks prior to the start of programs within the U.S. If you ever have questions about your program, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
12 nights of accommodations
34 meals: 12 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 11 dinners
5 Expert-led lectures
21 Field trips

Ratings

4.9
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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