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20616
Costa Rica

Birding in Southern Costa Rica: Motmots to Quetzals

Go where the birds are, not where the birders are, as you spot Scarlet Macaws at Carara, the Resplendent Quetzal in San Gerardo de Dota, Motmots in San Vito and much more.
Rating (5)
Program No. 20616RJ
Length
11 days
Starts at
2,549
Flights start at
475
Costa Rica

Birding in Southern Costa Rica: Motmots to Quetzals

Go where the birds are, not where the birders are, as you spot Scarlet Macaws at Carara, the Resplendent Quetzal in San Gerardo de Dota, Motmots in San Vito and much more.
Length
11 days
Starts at
2,549
Flights start at
475
Program No. 20616 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.

DATES & PRICES

Hotel
Details
Accommodation Details
Comfortable accommodations that meet our high standards.
Nov 4 - Nov 14, 2021
Hotel 2,549
Itinerary Note

This departure can be combined with Oct. 25 date of Program #22443- Birding in Northern Costa Rica: Tanagers to Toucans.

DATES & PRICES

Hotel
Details
Accommodation Details
Comfortable accommodations that meet our high standards.
Nov 4 - Nov 14, 2021
SOLD OUT
Hotel 2,949
Itinerary Note

This departure can be combined with Oct. 25 date of Program #22443- Birding in Northern Costa Rica: Tanagers to Toucans.

At a Glance

In this small-group adventure, go off-the-beaten path to explore some of the less-visited birding hot spots in Costa Rica. In a range of habitats — Pacific lowland rainforest, dry deciduous forest, primary premontane forest, oak woodlands, cloud forests and more — spot myriad rare and vibrant species. Each unique and beautiful location offers the chance to identify numerous intriguing endemic and migratory birds in one of the world’s great birding destinations.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Daily early morning birding activities. Walking up to three miles daily over varied terrain in tropical conditions and long periods standing. Elevations up to 11,000 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Observe brilliantly colored Resplendent Quetzals while they feed on the fruit of the aguacatillo tree.
  • Spot nocturnal birds and mammals, including owls, on nighttime hikes.
  • Look for water birds and shore birds during a boat ride along the mangrove-lined banks of the Tarcoles River.

General Notes

Maximum group size for this program is 12. All Road Scholar birding programs have a maximum participant-to-instructor ratio of 14:1 in the field. We adhere to the American Birding Association’s Code of Ethics. Learn more at www.aba.org/ethics.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Neotropical Rainforest Mammals, A Field Guide
by L.H. Emmons
Compact enough to slip into your daypack, this field guide to the mammals of Central and South American features 29 color plates of more than 200 species.
Wild Costa Rica
by Adrian Hepworth
This beautiful, informative survey of the habitats, wildlife and protected areas of Costa Rica features 200 color photographs and chapters on natural history and conservation.
Costa Rica Adventure Map
by National Geographic
A double-sided map at a scale of 1:500,000.
The Monkey's Bridge, Mysteries of Evolution in Central America
by David Rains Wallace
Opening this absorbing account of the history and biogeography of the Central American isthmus with the tale of Columbus, Wallace often 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.
Costa Rica Reader: History, Culture, Politics
by Steven Palmer (Editor), Ivan Molina (Editor)
A lively, literate sourcebook on the politics, economy and society of Costa Rica
The Wildlife of Costa Rica, A Field Guide
by Twan Leenders, Robert Dean, Jim Zook, Fiona Reid
This guide includes 450 of the most common, interesting and charismatic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods that you are likely to encounter. Each has exquisite full-color illustrations.
Culture Smart! Costa Rica
by Jane Koutnik
History, religion, daily life, food, health and safety are all covered in this accessible pocket guide to Costa Rican customs, etiquette and culture.
Green Phoenix, Restoring Tropical Forests of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
by William Allen
The vivid tale of the creation of the Guanacaste Conservation Area in Northwest Costa Rica
A Bird-Finding Guide to Costa Rica
by Barrett Lawson
With bird lists, directions, descriptions and lodges for 53 sites in Costa Rica.
Tropical Nature
by Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata
Two uncommonly observant and thoughtful field biologists offer a lucid portrait of the tropics through 17 marvelous essays that introduce the habitats, ecology, plants and animals of the Central and South American rainforests.
National Geographic Costa Rica
by Christopher P. Baker
This stylish and informative travel resource features 200 photographs, many maps and good information on the country's history, nature and culture.
Costa Rican Wildlife
by Pocket Naturalist
Put it in your pocket! This handy, fold-up card includes color illustrations of dozens of typical birds, mammals and reptiles. We also carry plastic cards for Costa Rica Birds (Item CRC56) and Costa Rica Butterflies & Moths (Item CRC57), $5.95 each.
Costa Rica, A Journey Through Nature
by Adrian Hepworth
Dividing the book by ecosystem and geographic area, BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Hepworth's color photographs showcase the diversity of Costa Rica's wildlife and habitats.
Costa Rica, A Traveler's Literary Companion
by Barbara Ras
These 26 well-chosen stories by Costa Rican writers introduce the people, culture and land.
Costa Rican Spanish
by Lonely Planet
A pocket guide to understanding idioms, slang and Spanish as it is spoken by the Ticos.
Nature of the Rainforest, Costa Rica and Beyond
by Adrian Forsyth, E.O. Wilson (Introduction), Michael Fogden (Photographer)
Our favorite biologist-writer returns to the Neotropics in this beautifully illustrated, oversized overview of the rainforest. With chapters on Monteverde and Guanacaste, plants, frogs and snakes, birds, monkeys and jaguars, the sloth, peculiar insects and biodioversity; A marvelous, anecdotal introduction to ecology, evolution and conservation.
A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica
by F. Gary Stiles, Alexander Skutch, Dana Gardner (Illustrator)
A masterfully researched and comprehensive field guide to the birds of Costa Rica, including an overview of geography, habitats and avifauna. Covers 800 species and features 52 color plates.
Costa Rica Butterflies & Moths
by James Kavanagh
A handy, laminated fold-up card with color illustrations of Costa Rica’s more visible species of butterflies and moths. Includes the distinguishing markings or behaviors of each species.
Costa Rica Birds
by James Kavanagh
A handy, laminated fold-up card with full-color illustrations of birds commonly found in Costa Rica. Great for kids, too.
The Birds of Costa Rica
by Richard Garrigues, Robert Dean (Illustrator)
This new edition covers 903 species of birds with hundreds of new, supplemental or revised color illustrations by Robert Dean and revised color-coded range maps.
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11 days
10 nights
29 meals
10 B 9 L 10 D
DAY
1
Arrive in San José, Check-in, Orientation
San Jose
D
Villa San Ignacio

Activity note: Participants must book flights that arrive into San José, Costa Rica no later than 4:30 p.m. on this day if they plan on attending the program orientation.

Afternoon: Orientation: 6 p.m. at the hotel. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Our Group Leader is a trained birding expert who will lead field trips and give educational presentations. Meals included in our program feature local cuisine. In some cases, they will be plated and served with a set menu; in others, we will have buffets with multiple options. Included beverages are typically coffee, tea, water; other beverages usually available for purchase. Unless otherwise specified, transportation during your program will be provided by air conditioned bus. We have set aside free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Welcome Dinner at the hotel with beer or wine, coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
2
Transfer to Central Pacific Coast, Tárcoles River Birding
Carara
B,L,D
Villa Lapas Hotel

Activity note: Morning check out. From San José to the Central Pacific coast is about 45 miles; approximately 2 hours. We will go from an elevation of approximately 3,000 ft and descend to a few hundred feet above sea level.

Breakfast: At the hotel with coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We'll by joined by a local expert for an introduction to birding in Costa Rica. Then we'll check out, board the bus, and begin our transfer to the Central Pacific coast. We expect to arrive at the hotel in time for lunch.

Lunch: At the hotel with coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After settling in at the hotel, we'll join the Group Leader for a bit of birding on the hotel grounds. This activity will be followed by a mid-afternoon boat ride on the Tárcoles River estuary for a chance to view shore birds and water birds along the mangroves and sandy riverbanks. This area is commonly frequented by herons, egrets, cormorants and spoonbills. It is also one of the best places in the country to view large American crocodiles—some measuring up to 16 ft in length!

Dinner: At the hotel with coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Weather permitting, we'll join our Group Leader in a night walk in search of nocturnal species.

DAY
3
Birding in Carara National Park
Carara
B,L,D
Villa Lapas Hotel

Activity note: Before breakfast, early morning birding around hotel grounds. Please wear shoes with a closed heel and toe area that are suitable for hiking. Walking on paved paths and unpaved/irregular forest trails.

Breakfast: Early breakfast at the hotel with coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We'll enjoy some early morning birding on hotel environs before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Then we'll take a short bus drive to Carara National Park. Once there, our Group Leader will accompany us on a walk along park paths in search of new bird species. Carara lies at the northern limit of the Pacific lowland rainforest and the southern limit of the dry, deciduous forest. Its unique location within a transition zone means that plant and animal species from both habitats coexist in the reserve. In addition to conserving primary and secondary growth forests, Carara National Park also protects the Rio Grande de Tárcoles river basin and its rich wildlife. The park is a favored birding destination, with more than 350 recorded bird species including a sizable population of endangered Scarlet Macaws. Return to the hotel.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: Our next birding field trip will include the hotel grounds as well as areas along the boundaries of Carara National Park. Returning to the hotel, we'll have a presentation by a local expert on the ecology of the Scarlet Macaw.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: We’ll review our birding checklist and have a briefing on tomorrow’s schedule. Prepare for check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
4
Barú Wildlife Refuge, Esquinas Reserve Birding
Golfito
B,L,D
Esquinas Rainforest Lodge

Activity note: Check out. From Carara to Golfito is about 150 miles; approximately 4 hours by bus. The journey will be broken up with an en route activity and lunch. Elevation in the Golfito area is approximately 200 ft. Birding from forest trails and walking on irregular terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel with coffee, tea, water.

Morning: After check-out and loading the bus, we'll begin our transfer to the Golfito area. En route, we will pay a visit to the Hacienda Barú Wildlife Refuge. A brief walk in the property, followed by a presentation by a local expert, will reveal the Refuge’s successful reforestation efforts and its place in the biological corridor known as “the Path of the Tapir.” Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge is situated on Costa Rica’s Southern Pacific Coast. This is a region of distinct natural beauty, where forest covered mountains rise up from the dramatic Pacific coastline. Hacienda Barú’s 815 acres have a fantastic variety of habitats, from wetland and secondary forest in the lowlands to primary forest on the highland coastal ridge. The Refuge is home to an impressive array of plants and wildlife including 158 species of trees, 69 mammals, 351 birds, 94 reptiles and amphibians, and 87 butterflies.

Lunch: At the wildlife refuge.

Afternoon: Continuing our transfer to Golfito, we expect to arrive for check in at the lodge late afternoon. We’ll settle into our rooms, then join our Group Leader in birding activities along the property’s garden and trails.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: Weather permitting, we’ll join our Group Leader on a night birding walk around the lodge. We’ll also review our birding checklist and have a briefing on tomorrow’s schedule.

DAY
5
Birding at Esquinas Rainforest Reserve
Golfito
B,L,D
Esquinas Rainforest Lodge

Activity note: Before breakfast, early morning birding around the hotel grounds. Birding from forest trails and walking on irregular terrain. Elevations for this day range from 100 to 300 ft.

Breakfast: At the lodge with coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We'll start the day with some early morning birding in lodge environs before returning for breakfast. Then we’ll set out for a full day of birding activities at the Esquinas Rainforest Reserve. We will bird in the forest, along reserve trails, as well as in open areas around the lodge. 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, Rufous-winged Woodpecker, 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.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: We'll return to the Esquinas Rainforest Reserve for more birding. We want to maximize our opportunities of seeing target species for this area such as Shrike Tanagers and Great Curasaw. Return to the lodge. Before dinner, we'll enjoy an expert-led presentation on the history of La Gamba Field Station and the Esquinas Rainforest Reserve.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: We'll review our birding checklist and have a briefing on tomorrow’s schedule. Prepare for check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Transfer to San Vito, Las Cruces Biological Station
San Vito
B,L,D
Las Cruces Biological Station

Activity note: Before breakfast, head out for early morning birding around the hotel grounds. From Golfito to San Vito is about 48 miles; approximately 3 hours by bus. Elevation at San Vito is approximately 2,500 ft.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: After enjoying some early morning birding around the lodge, followed by breakfast, we'll check out and begin the transfer to the San Vito area in the Coto Brus Valley. We will arrive at Las Cruces Biological Station in time for lunch. 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 station with coffee and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll go on a birding walk in the gardens and secondary forest around the botanical gardens. This is an excellent location for us to spot local birds, especially tanagers, dacnis and saltadors. 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. Return to the station. Before dinner, we'll meet with a resident naturalist who will give us an overview of the Station’s mission and some of its important research projects.

Dinner: At the station with coffee and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll review our birding checklist and have a briefing on tomorrow’s schedule.

DAY
7
Birding at Las Cruces Field Station, Night Walk
San Vito
B,L,D
Las Cruces Biological Station

Activity note: Before breakfast, set out for early morning birding around the Station's grounds. Average elevation for this day is approximately 2,500 ft.

Breakfast: At the station with coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We'll join our Group Leader for early morning birding in the Station's environs before breakfast. Then we'll go birding along the Java River Trail 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.

Lunch: At the station.

Afternoon: We'll accompany our Group Leader on a walk through the station's gardens for an afternoon birding session. Weather permitting, we will attempt to visit Sabalito and the lagoon area in San Vito. 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.

Evening: During a night birding walk around the botanical gardens, we’ll be on the lookout for nocturnal species. We’ll also review our birding checklist and have a briefing on tomorrow’s schedule. Prepare for check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
8
Transfer to San Gerardo de Dota, The Resplendent Quetzal
San Gerardo de Dota
B,L,D
Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa

Activity note: Early morning pre-breakfast birding around the station's grounds. From San Vito to San Gerardo de Dota is about 123 miles; approximately 4 hours by bus. Our transfer today will take us from elevations of 2,500 ft up to 11,000 ft, through the highest portions of the Cerro de la Muerte, before descending into the San Gerardo Valley to 7,000 ft.

Breakfast: At the station.

Morning: We'll do some early morning birding on the lodge grounds before coming back for breakfast. After check out, we’ll begin our transfer to the San Gerardo de Dota area.

Lunch: At a local restaurant en route.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our journey to San Gerardo de Dota, located in Costa Rica’s Talamanca Mountains. We expect to arrive at our lodge for check in by mid-afternoon, then make use of the remaining daylight hours to do a bit of birding as we explore the lodge’s grounds. Before dinner, we’ll attend a presentation on the Resplendent Quetzal by a local expert.

Dinner: At the lodge with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll review our birding checklist and have a briefing on tomorrow’s schedule.

DAY
9
Birding on Forest Trails, Cerro de la Muerte
San Gerardo de Dota
B,L,D
Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa

Activity note: Early morning birding before breakfast around hotel grounds. Walking on irregular terrain and unpaved trails.

Breakfast: At the lodge with coffee, tea, water.

Morning: After some early morning birding in lodge environs and breakfast, we'll spend the morning birding in the lodge’s reserve.The Resplendent Quetzal is our main target in this area, but we also hope to spot some other interesting species like the Emerald Toucanet, Collared Trogon and Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher. The San Gerardo Valley (approximately 7,000 ft elevation) 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.

Lunch: At the lodge with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After a short drive, we'll go birding at the Cerro de la Muerte and La Georgina area to observe timberline species that maybe present such as Volcano Junco, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Black and Yellow Silky Flycatcher, Timberline Wren and Sooty Thrush. Then, we'll return to the lodge.

Dinner: At the lodge with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll review our birding checklist and have a briefing on tomorrow’s schedule.

DAY
10
Birding En Route, Transfer to San José
San Jose
B,L,D
Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center

Activity note: From San Gerardo de Dota to our hotel is about 73 miles; approximately 3 hours by bus.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: Check out. We'll begin our leisurely transfer back to San José with en-route birding.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Upon arrival and hotel check in we’ll take some time to freshen up and relax, then join our Group Leader for a final checklist review before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have our farewell dinner and share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. It’s our last evening together in Costa Rica. Say farewells, finish packing, and get a good night's sleep in preparation for check out and departure in the morning.

DAY
11
Program Concludes, In Transit from Program
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers at the conclusion of the program.

Breakfast: At the hotel (dependent on flight times). This concludes our program. Safe travels! If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for the next program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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