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COSTA RICA

Costa Rica Birding: Off-the-Beaten Path — Trogons to Quetzals

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Road Scholar
Program #20616RJ
11 Days | 10 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderately Challenging
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
San Gerardo Valley 8,000 ft

Equipment Requirements
Participants should bring a good pair of binoculars. If you purchase new binoculars, please read the manual and familiarize yourself with its features prior to travel.

Itinerary for Jan 17 — Jan 27, 2013

Expand all
Type: Hotel

Description: The Hotel Buena Vista is situated in Alajuela, just 15-20 minutes (6 miles) from San José's international airport and 35 minutes from downtown San José. Because of its mountain setting (4,200 ft), the hotel enjoys wonderful spring-like weather year around with lows generally in the 60°s and highs in the 80°s. At every turn, guests are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Central Valley, local coffee plantations, and surrounding volcanoes.

Contact info:
Apdo. 760-4050
Alajuela, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-24428595
web: www.hotelbuenavistacr.com

Room amenities: Private bathroom with hair dryer and complimentary toiletries, flat screen TV, desk, and large windows with views of the pool or gardens.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, pool, nature trail, gift shop, tour desk, baggage storage, airport shuttle, Wi-Fi, and laundry service.

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

Additional nights before: Subject to availability.
Room types and rates are subject to hotel availability. Please contact Holbrook at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com for questions about prices and availability.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day One: Thursday, January 17 - Departures from the U.S./Arrivals in San José, Co...
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 3 p.m.

Lodging: Hotel Buena Vista

Type: Lodge

Description: Rainforest lodge located near La Gamba Village and Piedras Blancas National Park and only 30 minutes by car from the Golfito airport. Its important contributions to the local community and good environmental practices have earned it a "three-leaf" Certificate for Sustainable Tourism from the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ITC). Accommodations are provided in attractive tiled roofed bungalows, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and accessed by well-maintained gravel paths. The Esquinas Rainforest Lodge's efforts to minimize its environmental impact include: composting organic waste and using it as fertilizer for their organic vegetable and fruit garden, using energy saving light bulbs, collecting and filtering rain water, using a waste water treatment plant for kitchen waste, using a pressure pump rather than harsh chemicals to treat their pool, using biodegradable detergents, and participating in a carbon offsetting program.

Contact info:
Piedras Blancas National Park
La Gamba, Costa Rica
phone: +506-27418001
web: www.esquinaslodge.com

Room amenities: Private bathroom with hot water, ceiling fan, tiled floors, covered porch, and screened windows.

Facility amenities: A stream fed pool, 2-acre tropical garden with trails, library, gift shop, restaurant, and bar.

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


Day Two: Friday, January 18 - Flight to Golfito/Bird Watching at Esquinas Rainf...
Breakfast: At the hotel.

Participants need to bring all their luggage to the lobby area before meeting the group for breakfast. While participants enjoy their morning meal, program staff will load the group's luggage in the bus in preparation for the transfer to the airport.

Morning: Transfer to the airport to catch a flight to Golfito.

Arrive in Golfito and transfer to the hotel.

Check-in at the hotel and settle into your accommodations.



Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: Program orientation meeting and presentation.

Join your leader for an afternoon bird watching walk on local trails.

Lecture: History of the Esquinas Rainforest Reserve.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Lodging: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: Rainforest lodge located near La Gamba Village and Piedras Blancas National Park and only 30 minutes by car from the Golfito airport. Its important contributions to the local community and good environmental practices have earned it a "three-leaf" Certificate for Sustainable Tourism from the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ITC). Accommodations are provided in attractive tiled roofed bungalows, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and accessed by well-maintained gravel paths. The Esquinas Rainforest Lodge's efforts to minimize its environmental impact include: composting organic waste and using it as fertilizer for their organic vegetable and fruit garden, using energy saving light bulbs, collecting and filtering rain water, using a waste water treatment plant for kitchen waste, using a pressure pump rather than harsh chemicals to treat their pool, using biodegradable detergents, and participating in a carbon offsetting program.

Contact info:
Piedras Blancas National Park
La Gamba, Costa Rica
phone: +506-27418001
web: www.esquinaslodge.com

Room amenities: Private bathroom with hot water, ceiling fan, tiled floors, covered porch, and screened windows.

Facility amenities: A stream fed pool, 2-acre tropical garden with trails, library, gift shop, restaurant, and bar.

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


Day Three: Saturday, January 19 - Birding in Esquinas Rainforest Reserve.
Breakfast: Early morning birding.

Breakfast at the lodge.

Morning: Enjoy a guided walk on lodge trails.

The local bird checklist includes 362 species, many of them considered as specialties that are either endemics or easily found here, for example the Great Curasaw, Spectacled Owl, Rofous-winged Wodpecker, Olivaceous Piculet, Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager and Rudy-breasted Seedeater, amongst others. The grass fields and marshes around the lodge are the habitat for many species of water birds and shorebirds like herons, egrets, wood storks, ducks and spoonbills.

Return to the lodge.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: After lunch, search for birds during a walking exploration of open pastures and rice fields located in the vicinity of the lodge.

Return to the lodge.

Time at leisure to rest and freshen-up before dinner.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Lodging: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: Organization for Tropical Studies' research station located in the Pacific highlands of southern Costa Rica, near the Panamanian border.

Contact info:
San Vito
San Vito, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-25240628
web: www.esintro.co.cr

Room amenities: Balconies with garden views.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, gardens, research facilities, and laundry service.

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


Day Four: Sunday, January 20 - Birding at Las Cruces Biological Station.
Breakfast: Early morning birding.

Breakfast at the lodge.

Morning: Transfer to San Vito area with birding en route.

Arrive at Las Cruces Biological Station and check-in.

Las Cruces Biological Station is an important tropical research facility and a center for teaching and environmental education run by the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS). Station facilities include classrooms, a laboratory, an auditorium, and a library with an herbarium. This mid-elevation site is responsible for protecting more than 300 hectares of premontane wet forest habitat and was declared part of the La Amistad Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1983. Variations in elevation, ranging from 3,280 ft - 4,592 ft, contribute to the station's rich diversity of flora and fauna, including more than 400 birds, 113 mammals, and 2,000 plant species.

Lunch: At the biological station.

Afternoon: Guided birding in the gardens and feeder stations at Las Cruces.

Lecture: The Wilson Botanical Gardens and Las Cruces Tropical Field Station.

Las Cruces Biological Station is also home to the world-famous Wilson Botanical Gardens. In addition to educating the public about tropical ecology and conservation, the garden is used as a training ground for scientists in the fields of tropical botany, horticulture, and sustainable development. The botanical garden displays a mix of tropical and subtropical ornamentals including a number of rare and endangered plants from Costa Rica and other parts of the world. Paths are clearly marked and color-coded, leading guests around plantings of bromeliads, ferns, heliconias, orchids, palms and others.

Dinner: At the station.

Lodging: Las Cruces Biological Station

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: Organization for Tropical Studies' research station located in the Pacific highlands of southern Costa Rica, near the Panamanian border.

Contact info:
San Vito
San Vito, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-25240628
web: www.esintro.co.cr

Room amenities: Balconies with garden views.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, gardens, research facilities, and laundry service.

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


Day Five: Monday, January 21 - Birding Activitie at Las Cruces.
Breakfast: Early morning birding.

Breakfast at the station.

Morning: Birding along the Java River Trail.

While birding at Las Cruces, we hope to spot some of the mid elevation birds of the Pacific side of the Talamanca Mountains such as Speckled Tanagers, Scarlet-Thiged Dacnis, Blue-Crowned Motmots, Violaceous Trogons, and Turquoise Cotingas. Stay vigilant for Coto Brus Valley species such as the Streaked Saltator and Charming Hummingbird.

Return to the lodge and freshen up before lunch.

Lunch: At the station.

Afternoon: Afternoon guided bird walk along the botanical garden's trails.

With the Panamanian border located just a stone throw away, it is not surprising that a few species have begun to make an appearance into the area including the Pearl Kite, Crested Oropendola, and Veraguan Mango.

Dinner: At the station.

Lodging: Las Cruces Biological Station

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 Six: Tuesday, January 22 - Birding Introduction to Cerro de la Muerte Area a...
Birding Introduction to Cerro de la Muerte Area and San Gerardo de Dota.

Breakfast: Early morning birding.

Breakfast at the station.

Morning: Depart for Cerro de la Muerte area with birding en route.

Stop at the highland oak forest habitat near La Georgina and the Cerro de la Muerte areas in search of the endemic Fiery-throated Hummingbird and other interesting species such as Black and Yellow Silky Flycatcher, Volcano Junco, Timberline Wren, and the Zeledonia.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Arrive at the lodge and check-in.

Short guided walk along local trails.

Lecture: History of the San Gerardo Valley and the Resplendent Quetzal.

Dinner: At the lodge.

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 Seven: Wednesday, January 23 - Birding on Forest Trails.
Breakfast: Early morning birding.

Breakfast at the lodge.

Morning: Bird along the upper trails of a local oak forest.

The San Gerardo Valley (8,000 ft) combines highland oak and cloud forests with open grasslands and forest edges, attracting a variety of birds including large numbers of Resplendent Quetzals. In addition to quetzals, the region is also home to a number of birds only found at this elevation range like Collared Trogons, Emerald Toucanets, Fiery-colored Tanagers, Marbled Wood Quails, Long-tailed Silky Flycatchers, Buffy-Tuftedcheeks, Golden-browed Clorophonias, Elegant Euphonias and Tufted Flycatchers. Return to the lodge.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: After lunch, enjoy birding along the lodge's scenic waterfall trail. Look for Talamanca region endemics like the White-throated Mountain Gem, Collared Redstart, Volcano Humingbird, and Black-checked Warbler.

Dinner: At the lodge.

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

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: The Rancho Naturalista is located within a private 125-acre reserve a short distance from Tuis de Turrialba in the Talamanca Mountains. The reserve's pre-montane Caribbean slope rainforest, streams, and semi-wooded pastures attract numerous specialty bird species, making this a prime birding site. A network of well-maintained forest trails gives visitors access to the property's different natural habitats. The stunning Snowcap hummingbird is the lodge's signature bird and is a common visitor at the hummingbird feeders and pools. Although the main building's long veranda was primarily designed for bird watching, its comfortable seating areas and scenic views have wide appeal among all guests. Target bird species for this property include: Bicolored Hawk, Sunbittern, Purplish-backed Quail-Dove, Mottled Owl, White-necked Jacobin, Green–breasted Mango, Black-crested Coquette, Green Throntail, Snowcap, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Lanceolated Monklet, Rufous-winged Tanager, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Black-banded woodcreeper, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Tawny-throated Leaftosser, Brown-billed Scythebill, Checker-throated Antwren, Dull-mantled Antbird, Immaculate Antbird, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Tawny-chested Flycatcher, White-ruffed Manakin, White-crowned Manakin, Black-throated Wren,Scaly-breasted Wren,Black-headed Nightingale,Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager, and White-lined Tanager

Contact info:
1 km este de Tuis de Turrialba
Cordillera de Talamanca, Costa Rica
phone: +506-25548100
web: www.ranchonaturalista.net

Room amenities: Spacious rooms with wood floors and private bathrooms with hot water.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, laundry services, covered porches, landscaped gardens, nature trails, birding balcony, internet access, birding litterature available for guests, and resident naturalist guides.

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


Day Eight: Thursday, January 24 - Introduction to Birding in Turrialba.
Breakfast: Early morning birding.

Breakfast at the lodge.

Morning: Depart for Turrialba area with birding en route.

Lunch: At local restaurant.

Afternoon: Arrive the lodge and check-in.

Birding at the lodge feeders and surroundings.

The Rancho Naturalista encompasses 125-acres of protected pre-montane Caribbean slope rainforest in the Talamanca Mountain Range. A network of trails traverse the forest, providing access to the hummingbird feeders and hummingbird pools which attract the rancho's signature bird, the Snowcap.

Lecture: History of Rancho Naturalista: A Family Dream.

Afternoon: At the lodge.

Lodging: Rancho Naturalista

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Type: Lodge

Description: The Rancho Naturalista is located within a private 125-acre reserve a short distance from Tuis de Turrialba in the Talamanca Mountains. The reserve's pre-montane Caribbean slope rainforest, streams, and semi-wooded pastures attract numerous specialty bird species, making this a prime birding site. A network of well-maintained forest trails gives visitors access to the property's different natural habitats. The stunning Snowcap hummingbird is the lodge's signature bird and is a common visitor at the hummingbird feeders and pools. Although the main building's long veranda was primarily designed for bird watching, its comfortable seating areas and scenic views have wide appeal among all guests. Target bird species for this property include: Bicolored Hawk, Sunbittern, Purplish-backed Quail-Dove, Mottled Owl, White-necked Jacobin, Green–breasted Mango, Black-crested Coquette, Green Throntail, Snowcap, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Lanceolated Monklet, Rufous-winged Tanager, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Black-banded woodcreeper, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Tawny-throated Leaftosser, Brown-billed Scythebill, Checker-throated Antwren, Dull-mantled Antbird, Immaculate Antbird, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Tawny-chested Flycatcher, White-ruffed Manakin, White-crowned Manakin, Black-throated Wren,Scaly-breasted Wren,Black-headed Nightingale,Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager, and White-lined Tanager

Contact info:
1 km este de Tuis de Turrialba
Cordillera de Talamanca, Costa Rica
phone: +506-25548100
web: www.ranchonaturalista.net

Room amenities: Spacious rooms with wood floors and private bathrooms with hot water.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, laundry services, covered porches, landscaped gardens, nature trails, birding balcony, internet access, birding litterature available for guests, and resident naturalist guides.

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


Day Nine: Friday, January 25 - Birding on Forest Trails.
Breakfast: Early morning birding.

Breakfast at the lodge.

Morning: Birding on lodge trails.

Look for some of the lodge's listed species such as Montezuma Oropendola, Crimson-collared Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Sunbittern, Gray-headed Chachalaca, White-crowned Parrot and Collared Aracari.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: Birding in the woodland feeders and hummingbird pools.

Some species regularly spotted at the feeders include the Green-breasted Mango, Snowcap, Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Long-billed Hermit, and White-necked Jacobin.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Lodging: Rancho Naturalista

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 Ten: Saturday, January 26 - Morning Birding/Transfer to San José/Checklist Re...
Breakfast: Early morning birding.

Breakfast at the lodge.

Morning: Depart to San José with birding en route.

Lunch: At a local restaurant en route.

Afternoon: Arrive at the hotel and check-in.

Before dinner, take part in a final checklist review and program briefing.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.

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

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day Eleven: Sunday, January 27 - Departures from Costa Rica/Arrivals 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: At hotel restaurant (dependent on flight times).

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 ...
10 nights of accommodations
27 meals: 10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 8 dinners
4 Expert-led lectures
21 Field trips
1 Flights during the program

Ratings

4.8
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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