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Birding the Hot Spots of Costa Rica

Program Number: 12848RJ
Start and End Dates:
1/15/2015 - 1/27/2015; 1/12/2016 - 1/24/2016; 1/20/2016 - 2/1/2016; 1/31/2016 - 2/12/2016; 2/11/2016 - 2/23/2016; 2/20/2016 - 3/3/2016; 3/1/2016 - 3/13/2016; 3/5/2016 - 3/17/2016;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Costa Rica
Price starting at: $2,399.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Birding Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 31; 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Salt; Low Fat; Gluten Free    

Thousands of years ago, rugged volcanic mountain ranges erected barriers between the Caribbean and Pacific lowlands, forming a land bridge that linked North and South America fauna in Costa Rica. Isolation and connection are keys to understanding why this small country is “big” when it comes to biodiversity, and why it has become a Mecca for bird lovers the world over.


• Explore Carara National Park, Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, and La Selva reserve and biological field station.
• Spot owls, nightjars, potoos and thick-knees on a nocturnal birding adventure in a nature reserve.
• Journeys into moist forests maximize chances of spotting regional specialties, including the Resplendent Quetzal.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to three miles daily on uneven terrain in hot and humid weather. Nature trails can sometimes be muddy.

This program has a maximum group size of 12. So you can get the most out of your experience, all of our birding programs have a maximum participant-to-instructor ratio of 14:1.

Date Specific Information


Can be taken in conjunction with #20616-01/04/2015

Itinerary Summary

Arrival San Jose, 1 night; Carara, 2 nights; Tempisque, 2 nights; Caño Negro, 2 nights; Sarapiqui, 2 nights; San Gerardo de Dota, 2 nights; San Jose, 1 night; departure.

Arrival San Jose
1 night
Coach to Carara
2 nights

Though wet forest species dominate Carara National Park, birds adapted to dry forest also reside here. Explore the mangrove-fringed Tarcoles River estuary and nearby beaches, home to the endemic Mangrove Hummingbird and Yellow-billed Cotinga. Lectures detail conservation efforts in Costa Rica and the charismatic Scarlet Macaw.

Coach to Tempisque
2 nights

This area of northwestern Costa Rica is characterized by an endangered life zone known as semi-deciduous or tropical dry forest. By boat, explore mangrove forests and a small island. After perhaps the most spectacular sunset of the program, venture into the reserve at night, using powerful lights to spot eyes of nocturnal species.

Coach to Cano Negro
2 nights

Boasting the largest colony of neotropic cormorants in Costa Rica and a colony of Nicaraguan grackle, birdlife dominates Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge. Traverse lagoons and canals by boat, looking for some of the 350 species of birds found in the refuge.

Coach to Sarapiqui
2 nights

Experts detail the avifauna of lowland rainforest, Costa Rica’s biodiversity, and provide an overview of ecological zones and the relationship of bird species to these zones. In this area where the endangered great green macaw has been sighted, look for specialties such as Sunbittern and Fasciated Tiger-Heron along the Sarapiqui River.

Coach to San Gerardo de Dota
2 nights
Coach to San Jose
1 night

With five distinct “life zones,” this is a rich area for endemic birds, boasting a large population of quetzals. Descend into the narrow valley to your lodge near the Savegre River and the charming little hamlet of San Gerardo de Dota. Examine the ecology and conservation of the quetzal and venture into the forests to spot regional specialties, including the Resplendent Quetzal.

Costa Rica

Hugged by two bodies of water and sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica’s topography, climate and geographical position are more than mere facts: they define this tiny country. Cloud rainforests, valleys of coffee and volcanic mountain peaks fill the land between Caribbean and Pacific beaches. This ecological Eden protects its natural treasures in acres of preserved land, and is the only country in the world without a standing army.

San Jose: Boutique hotel with gardens and pool (first night) and resort near airport (final night). Carara: Eco-lodge near national park. Tempisque: Lodge facing the Gulf of Nicoya. Cano Negro: Small eco-lodge. Sarapiqui: Nature lodge on the Sarapiqui River. San Gerardo de Dota: Hotel in a private nature reserve.
Meals and Lodgings
   Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica
  San José, Costa Rica 1 night
   Villa Lapas Hotel
  Carara, Costa Rica 2 nights
   La Ensenada Lodge
  Tempisque, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Cano Negro Natural Lodge
  Caño Negro, Costa Rica 1 night
   Selva Verde Lodge
  Sarapiqui, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa (formerly Savegre Mountain Hotel)
  San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center
  San José, Costa Rica 1 night
 Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The Radisson Hotel San José is conveniently situated in the commercial district near San José's historic center.
  Contact info: Calle Central y Tercera Av. 15, P.O. Box 538-2120, Calle Blancos
San José,   Costa Rica
phone: +506-20106000
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, alarm lock radio, Sleep Number® beds, hair dryer, Wi-Fi, in-room safe, iPod dock, mini bar/refrigerator, flat screen TV and cable channels, and two telephone lines.
  Facility amenities: Business center, Wi-Fi, fitness center, whirlpool and pool, executive lounge, on-site casino, spacious meeting rooms and two on-site restaurants. The hotel is able to offer airport shuttle services for an additional charge. This service must be booked in advance directly through the hotel.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Subject to availability. Please contact your program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or for questions about room availability and prices. Room types and rates are subject to availability.

 Villa Lapas Hotel
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: +506-26370232
  Room amenities: Air conditioning and telephone.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, pool, chapel, shops, and zip lines.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 La Ensenada Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: The Ensenada Lodge is part of a national wildlife refuge on the Gulf of Nicoya, just 2.5 hours from San José and 1.25 hours from Liberia. The lodge has an ongoing reforestation project and a working farm that takes great pride in its sustainable practices. Accommodations are provided in comfortable bungalows facing the Gulf of Nicoya.
  Contact info: Abangaritos
Puntarenas,  00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-22896655
  Room amenities: Balcony, closets, reading light, and fan.
  Facility amenities: Pool, gardens, restaurant, horse back riding, and birding opportunities,
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Cano Negro Natural Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Attractive lodge located within walking distance of the Cano Negro National Wildlife Reguge. Comfortable bungalows are surrounded by well-tended gardens and walkways.
  Contact info: Cano Negro
Cano Negro,  00000 Costa Rica
phone: +5062-471-1426
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, fan, and safety box.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, pool, jacuzzi, mini golf, meeting room, and laundry service.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Selva Verde Lodge
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: +506-2-27611800
  Room amenities: Safety boxes, ceiling fans, phones, screened windows, and hair dryers.
  Facility amenities: Meeting rooms, restaurant, bar, and private rainforest reserve with trails.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa (formerly Savegre Mountain Hotel)
Type: Lodge
  Description: The Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve and Spa 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. To reach this attractive highland property it is necessary to travel on switchbacks and narrow mountain roads reaching elevations of up to 11,000 ft at Cerro de la Muerte.
  Contact info: San Gerardo de Dota.
San Gerardo de Dota,  00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-27401028
  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, spa services, gardens, nature reserve, trails, and laundry service.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center
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
  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 allowed: No
  Elevators available: 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 if you need assistance with booking additional hotel nights.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
All-day arrivals at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, Costa Rica. Hotel check-in begins at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica that night.
  End of Program:
Departures from the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, Costa Rica. Hotel check-out by 11 a.m. You will be staying at Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Proof of vaccination is required from travelers arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic. It is always best to renew your passport before it reaches the six month validity date—especially if you plan on doing future travel. For more information about entry requirements please contact the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington, DC at tel: (202) 234-2945/46 or visit
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  San José
  Nearest city or town:  San José
  Nearest airport:  Juan Santa Maria International Airport
  Transportation to site: There are two types of taxi services available at the Juan Santamaria International Airport. The most reliable one is the Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto--the official airport taxi service. A Taxis Unidos kiosk is located at the airport exit. The drivers wear company uniforms and the orange taxis have the Taxis Unidos logo emblazoned on the driver's door and passenger's door. The taxis are metered and fares can be paid in dollars or colones. There are also regular metered taxis available outside the airport exit. These are typically red with medallions (yellow triangles containing numbers) painted on the side. Although these are usually a cheaper option, we suggest using the official taxis for the sake of safety and reliable fares.
  From End of Program
  Location: San José
  Transportation from site: Taxi services are available at the hotel. If you wish to hire a taxi, please ask for assistance at the hotel's front desk.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
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.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Depart U.S./Arrive to San José.
(Thursday, January 15)
 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.
Accommodations: Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica

Day 2: Carara –
Birding the Tárcoles River.

(Friday, January 16)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Program orientation.

Get to know your group leader and fellow Road Scholar participants during a welcome and introduction session at the hotel. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Lecture: Introduction to Birding in the Tropics.

Transfer to the Carara area.

Arrive at the hotel and check-in.
 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. The transfer from Alajuela to Carara is at an elevation of approximately 3,000 ft going down to sea level.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: Time at leisure. Get a good night's rest in preparation for early morning activities the following day.
Accommodations: Villa Lapas Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Carara –
Carara National Park.

(Saturday, January 17)
 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 rain forest crossing through 5 hanging bridges 200 ft high. The elevation for Villa Lapas is at sea level.

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: 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: At the hotel.
 Evening: Enjoy some time at leisure to rest, update your check list or enjoy hotel amenities.
Accommodations: Villa Lapas Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Tempisque –
Birding the Gulf of Nicoya.

(Sunday, January 18)
 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. The elevation for the transfer from Carara to Ensenada is at sea level.
 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: 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.
Accommodations: La Ensenada Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Tempisque –
Gulf of Nicoya by Boat.

(Monday, January 19)
 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: At the lodge.
 Afternoon: Afternoon cart ride (pulled by a tractor) and birding around the lodge grounds. Elevation in this area is from sea level to 155 ft.
 Dinner: At the lodge.
 Evening: Time at leisure. Get a good night's rest in preparation for early morning activities the following day.
Accommodations: La Ensenada Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Caño Negro –
Introduction to the Caño Negro Wetlands.

(Tuesday, January 20)
 Breakfast: Early morning birding.
Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Depart for Caño Negro.
 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. Transfer from Ensenada Lodge to Caño Negro is from sea level to approximately 3,000 ft over the pass, ending at 65 ft at the lodge.

Lecture: Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge and Wetlands.
 Dinner: At the lodge.
 Evening: Free time at the lodge.
Accommodations: Cano Negro Natural Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Sarapiqui -
Introduction to the Rainforest.

(Wednesday, January 21)
 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. The elevation will vary from between 300 ft to 180 ft.

Arrive at the lodge and check-in.
 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: At the lodge.
 Evening: Lecture: The Birds of the Sarapiqui Region.
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Sarapiqui -
Organization for Tropical Studies.

(Thursday, January 22)
 Breakfast: Early morning birding and a site lecture on rainforest species at the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) La Selva Biological Field Station. Elevation is approximately 180 ft.

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: At the lodge.
 Evening: Time at leisure at the lodge.

After sunset, the rainforest comes alive with the calls of its nocturnal inhabitants. Listen to the sounds--try to distinguish one from another as you relax in your hammock. Frogs, owls, bats, tepezquintles (pacas), moths, and various other creatures come out at night as most of us get ready for bed.
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: San Gerado de Dota -
Savegre Cloud Forest.

(Friday, January 23)
 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-stype 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. The elevation range for this day is from 180 ft. at Sarapiqui, up to 10,000 ft. in the Talamanca Range, down to 7,000 ft. in the San Gerardo Valley.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant 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: At the hotel.
 Evening: Time at leisure.
Accommodations: Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa (formerly Savegre Mountain Hotel)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: San Gerardo de Dota –
Search for the Resplendent Quetzal.

(Saturday, January 24)
 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. Elevations at approximately 7,000 ft.

Birding en route back to the hotel.
 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: At the hotel.
 Evening: Free time at the hotel.
Accommodations: Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa (formerly Savegre Mountain Hotel)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Return to San José -
Farewell to Costa Rica.

(Sunday, January 25)
 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 where we may spot the fiery throated hummingbird, timberline wren and the volcano junco.

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. Elevations for this day range from 11,000 ft. to approximately 3,000 ft.
 Lunch: At a 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.
 Evening: Time at leisure to enjoy your last night among your new Road Scholar friends or get a good night’s rest in preparation for your international travel next day.
Accommodations: Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Depart from San Jose/Arrive to the U.S.
(Monday, January 26)
 Depart From: Transfer to the Juan Santamaria International Airport for flight to U.S.

This concludes the program. We hope you enjoyed your Road Scholar adventure! When you get home, remember to stay in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network; share memories, pictures, and comments about your recent travels.

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 the hotel (depending on flight departure time).
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide

Author: Richard Garrigues, Robert Dean (Illustrator)

Description: A compact guide that is easy to use and light enough to carry out into the field during birding expeditions. The book lists behavioral information and unique physical features in conjunction with colorful plates to aid in species identification. Range maps, explanation about habitats, bird habits and anatomy provide useful background information. "The appearance of this new, compact guide to the birds of Costa Rica should spur even more international birders to come to this avian paradise. I congratulate author and artist on a job well done."--Robert S. Ridgely, World Land Trust, author of Birds of Ecuador, Birds of Panama, and Birds of South America.

A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica

Author: Gary Stiles and Alexander Skutch

Description: Illustrated descriptions of the major habitats, color plates and maps, help to identify more than 850 species of birds in Costa Rica.

A Neotropical Companion

Author: J.C. Kricher, Mark Plotkin

Description: From plants and animals to birds and bugs, it's all here in this wonderfully written overview of the ecology, habitats, plants and animals of Central and South America.

Costa Rica Adventure Map

Author: National Geographic

Description: A double-sided map at a scale of 1:500,000.

Costa Rica Birds

Author: James Kavanagh

Description: A handy, laminated fold-up card with full-color illustrations of birds commonly found in Costa Rica. Great for kids, too.

Costa Rica, A Traveler's Literary Companion

Author: Barbara Ras

Description: A wonderful introduction to the character of the people, culture and land, this anthology brings together 26 stories by Costa Rican writers.

Costa Rican Wildlife

Author: Pocket Naturalist

Description: Put it in your pocket! This handy, fold-up card includes color illustrations of dozens of typical birds, mammals and reptiles.

Culture Smart! Costa Rica

Author: Jane Koutnik

Description: A guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.

Lonely Planet Costa Rican Spanish

Author: Lonely Planet

Description: A pocket guide to understanding idioms, slang and Spanish as it is spoken by the Ticos.

National Geographic Costa Rica

Author: Christopher P. Baker

Description: This stylish, informative and up-to-date travel resource features 200 photographs, many maps and good information on the country's history, nature and culture.

Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide

Author: Louise H. Emmons & François Feer

Description: This beautifully illustrated field guide contains all you need to know about rainforest mammals in Central and South America. It has color plates, range maps and detailed descriptions of each animal, including information about their biology, behavior and natural habitats.

The Monkey's Bridge, Mysteries of Evolution in Central America

Author: David Rains Wallace

Description: Opening this absorbing account of the history and biogeography of the Central American isthmus with the tale of Columbus, Wallace weaves his own travels in the region with a crisp overview of exploration, nature and evolution. Natural history buffs and ecologically minded travelers will appreciate this valuable resource.

The Ticos

Author: Richard Biesanz

Description: This insightful, fact-filled portrait of the Costa Rican people accessibly explores their culture, history and society.

The Wildlife of Costa Rica, A Field Guide

Author: Fiona Reid, Twan Leenders, Jim Zook, Robert Dean

Description: Designed to take along on a walk in the forest, this latest compact Zona Tropical guide includes 450 of the most common, interesting and charismatic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods that you are likely to encounter in the field. Each gets an exquisite full color illustration.

Tropical Nature

Author: Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata

Description: A lively, lucid portrait of the tropics as seen by two uncommonly observant and thoughtful field biologists. Its 17 marvelous essays introduce the habitats, ecology, plants and animals of the Central and South American rainforest

Tropical Plants of Costa Rica

Author: Willow Zuchowski

Description: Organized by habitat, this photo guide to 400 species has chapters on popular destinations, including Monteverde and Tortuguero.

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