Itinerary Highlights

  • Observe specials such as the endangered Great green macaw, the spectacular Resplendant quetzal and rare Volcano hummingbird
  • Explore San Gerardo de Dota mountains for montane rainforest-dwelling species
  • Visit tropical lowlands on the Nicaragua border
  • Explore Maquenque Nature Reserve

What's Included

  • Flights
  • Accommodation Throughout
  • Car Hire
13 nights from £4,795 per person

Jack Brooker

Travel Specialist

I'm here to tailor-make your perfect holiday. Give me a call and I'll use my expertise to create your personalised experience.

Costa Rica in Central America is home to one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world.

This small country delivers unparalleled opportunities for birding, with more than 900 species spread over 27% of protected land. 

This 12- night tour takes in a diverse range of environments; experience the pristine nature of Costa Rica from the crisp mountain air of San Gerardo de Dota to the lush tropical forest in the northern lowlands near the Nicaragua border. The cloud forest of San Gerardo de Dota is a popular area to spot the national bird of Costa Rica, the Resplendent Quetzal, with its characteristically long, iridescent-green tail.

Spot a host of endemics such as the White-throated Mountain Gem hummingbird, the localised Volcano Hummingbird, Collared redstart and the Black-cheeked Warbler. In complete contrast, Sarapiqui is hot and humid with dense trails, a protected area of great importance. Some of the stunning tropical species can be sighted include bright and charismatic Keel-billed Toucans, Great Green Macaws, Wood Thrushes, Grey-necked Woodrails, amazing Sun Bitterns and hummingbirds such as Violet-crowned Woodnymphs.

This bird-watching holiday finishes in the remote area of Boca Tapada, where you'll search for the endangered Great green macaw in the Maquenque eco preserve.

With such a diversity of species and their natural habitats within a small area, Costa Rica is truly a birdwatchers paradise.


Take a daytime flight to San Jose and enjoy a private transfer to your hotel on arrival (approximately 30 minute transfer). Stay for a night in the area of Santo Domingo de Heredia, bursting with rural charm, colonial adobe houses and beautiful churches. The Bougainvillea Hotel is set within 10 acres of lush tropical gardens teeming with trees, plants, colourful flowers and bushes where many birds like to congregate. You may see hummingbirds, Blue-crowned Motmots, Palm Tanagers, Tropical Kingbirds and Boat-billed Flycatchers. Opt to spend an extra night here to include visits to places such as Poas Volcano, Barva Volcano and the mountains of La Carpintera.
Explore the country by car; hiring a compact 4x4 vehicle allows you complete freedom. Located just 85km southwest of San Jose and approximately a 3 hour drive is San Gerardo de Dota on the western slopes of the Cerro de La Muerte. Just a short drive from the Inter-American Highway, it is a stunning habitat for a diverse range of bird and flora species and the primary habitat for the stunning resplendent Quetzal. San Gerardo de Dota is located at an altitude of 2200 metres an area of crisp mountain air, lush cloud forest and excellent birding opportunities.
Wake up to morning birdsong; the dawn chorus announces the start of an unforgettable day in the cloud forest. With your local guide from Savegre Lodge, spend half a day exploring the reserve. The bird list at Hotel Savegre includes more than 170 species, some of which are endemic to the region. Mornings, just after dawn, the best time for spotting birdlife here. Possible sightings include the Resplendent Quetzal and endemics such as the White-throated Mountain Gem (pictured), the tricky Volcano Hummingbird and the Black-cheeked Warbler among many others.
The Turrialba Valley, within the Cordillera Talamanca is approximately a 3 hour drive from San Gerardo de Dota. Rains throughout the year create a lush, green landscape of primary forest, biological corridors, reforested areas and plantations of coffee, macadamia and sugar cane. This rich agricultural area demonstrates the balance between modern development and nature conservation. The regions around Rancho Naturalista - which itself has an awesome bird list - are a magnet to many resident and migratory birds and within this diverse habitats over 430 species have been recorded . Around Rancho Naturalista, you'll be able to look for sought-after specials such as the Black-crested coquette (pictured)
Morning birding tour with the hotels local guide exploring the private reserve. Many species are high on the ‘wanted’ list of birders and also falls into Endemic Bird Area of ‘Central American Caribbean Foothills and Lowlands’. Some common residents in the region are the Grey-headed Chachalaca, the White-crowned Parrot, the White-necked Jacobin, the Blue-crowned Motmot, the Collared Aracari (pictured), the Keel-billed Toucan, the White-collared Manakin, the Passerini’s Tanager and the Golden-hooded Tanager.
After a 3.5 hour drive, the last few kilometres towards Sela Bananito are impassable by car and the transfer is provided by the lodge. This private reserve is an important buffer zone and transition zone and has achieved worldwide recognition for its efforts in nature conservation. A very peaceful environment, in tune with the surroundings, Selva Bananito Ecolodge is a very comfortable family-run establishment. With no electricity the lodge employs solar energy and biodegradeable products.
Embark on a morning bird watching tour at the lodge along with short natural history hike. Led by knowledgeable ornithologists scour the primary forest for toucans, orioles, trogons, kingfishers, and many more of the 300 species which have been identified in the area. You can also choose from one of the following tours – rainforest tour, introductory tree-climbing or horse ride through the farm. Guide your horse to La Cristalina and into the primary forest, gallop across open fields and through challenging hills and descents to a specialised riding trail.
Drive for approximately 4 hours to Sarapiqui, a hot humid area featuring a dense networks of trails in a biologically rich territory. This protected area is of great importance for the conservation of birds, butterflies, insects and plants. Selva Verde Lodge is the perfect spot for immersing in nature combined with adventure. The private reserve protects more than 500 acres of primary and secondary rainforest and the lodge founded the Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Centre that promotes interaction between the locals, volunteers and guests. Among the many wonderful birds recorded here is the Squirrel cuckoo (pictured).
Morning is the most active time for birds so grab your binoculars and venture out for a walk in the lodge grounds. Some of the stunning tropical species that have been sighted include Keel-billed Toucan, Grey-necked Wood Rail, the fabulous Sun-bittern and Violet Crowned Woodnymph. Guides have a keen eye for local wildlife and often spot birds you might notice. Another recommended spot is the Nature Pavillion, an open air covered area offering outstanding observation and photography opportunities in all weathers.
Drive for approximately an hour and a half towards the Northern Lowlands, near the mouth of the San Carlos river which forms a natural border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Boca Tapada is a remote, off the beaten track area and home to a rich biodiversity of plants and animals. It is most famous as one of the few remaining nesting sites of the endangered Great Green Macaw, and the Maquenque Lodge is located within a 60 hectare Reserve of tropical forest with bungalows overlooking the river.
Boca Tapada has over 410 bird species recorded for its checklist. As well as the endangered Great Green Macaw look out for the Scarlet Macaw, toucans, oropendolas, honeycreepers, tanagers, euphonias and jacamars. You may also see sought-after species such as Agami heron (pictured). The morning excursion starts at 05h30am, as dawn breaks, and the birds are most active. Start in the gardens and lagoons until there is enough day light to walk into the rainforest. Other activities available include horse riding, kayaking on the San Carlos River and planting trees.
Take another opportunity to explore the area in the morning as dawn breaks and the wildlife awakens. This allows for a chance to seek species previously missed. Depart this remote lodge for the return drive to San Jose which takes approximately 3.5 hours. Break up the return drive with a stop at Poas Volcano to admire the sapphire-blue lake ringed by high-altitude forest. Wander the well marked trails and look out for - among others - the magnificent fiery-throated hummingbird (pictured), a high altitude speciality of Costa Rica. Close to the volcano is La Paz Waterfall Gardens, with its scenic trails, butterfly conservatory, aviary and hummingbird garden. Return to Hotel Bougainvillea for your final evening.
Staying at   Bougainvillea Hotel
Private transfer (approximately 30 minutes) to the airport for your return flight. There are a host of other wildlife and birding experiences possibilities in Costa Rica, such as the wonderfully remote Osa Peninula in the south of the country. Please ask us for details.

Jack Brooker

Travel Specialist

I'm here to tailor-make your perfect holiday. Give me a call and I'll use my expertise to create your personalised experience.

Pricing Information & Dates

13 nights from £4,795 per person

Jack Brooker

Travel Specialist

I'm here to tailor-make your perfect holiday. Give me a call and I'll use my expertise to create your personalised experience.

Price Includes

  • Return International Flights as per the itinerary
  • All airport taxes and security charges
  • Accommodation and meals as specified
  • Transfers as specified
  • Activities and excursions as specified
  • All entrace fees on sightseeing tours as specified

Price Excludes

  • Travel Insurance
  • Any meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Optional excursions

Why Choose Us?

Passionate travel experts

  • We've been leading wildlife travel since our first South Africa tours over 25 years ago
  • Our Travel Specialists have lived in their specialist area for years
  • We work with local guides to immerse you deeper in our diverse range of experiences

Personal & tailor-made

  • You'll speak to your own expert who'll share their first-hand knowledge
  • We'll make your itinerary seamless with 24/7 emergency contact available
  • Your Travel Specialist will listen to ensure you have the best chance of seeing the wildlife you love

Responsible by nature

  • We take care to actively contribute to the conservation of environments we visit
  • For select countries, we make a charitable donation on your behalf when you make your booking
  • We've partnered with conservation experts and NGOs to curate responsible tours
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