birding tours costa rica

Cotinga Tours is celebrating 25 years!

Testimonial:   "Heather, we want to thank you so much for everything you did to help us have an amazing vacation.  We had an absolutely wonderful trip to Costa Rica thanks to you and Cotinga Tours.  In addition to booking us in some amazing, unforgettable hotels and awesome activities, your personal relationships with the operators were invaluable when we needed to make last minute changes.  Your attention to detail and knowledge of every aspect of the country made it a unique, tailor-made trip to remember.  We are elated with how things turned out!  All of your advice and recommendations were spot-on.  We would highly recommend Cotinga to anyone who would consider going to Costa Rica.  We really appreciate all that you did to make it a meaningful experience that included something for everyone in our family and showed so many facets of such a beautiful country."  ~Steve and Jennifer Patterson, Washington, DC 

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Special Raptor Migration Tour

Come join paco on an amazing birding adventure, sept 21 - oct 3, 2024.

Observing the raptor migration in Costa Rica is a truly enchanting experience, where nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers are treated to a unique blend of tropical beauty and avian prowess. Costa Rica, situated at the crossroads of North and South America, serves as a vital corridor for the southern raptor migration, attracting a diverse array of species. As the birds soar above lush rainforests, expansive coastlines, and mist-covered mountains, observers witness a breathtaking dance in the sky. The iconic sight of hawks, eagles, and vultures riding thermals against a backdrop of vibrant foliage creates a vivid spectacle. The country's strategic location also provides an opportunity to witness not only the majestic residents but also transient raptors en route to their final destinations. The rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes of Costa Rica enhance the overall experience, making it a birdwatcher's paradise during the southern raptor migration.

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Cotinga Tours specializes in Costa Rica Birding Tours , Nature Tours & Explore Costa Rica Tours with a nature focus.  We are an owner-operated company that provides personalized service and the knowledge of Costa Rica’s natural ecology that only a local company can offer. We are passionate about birdwatching, conservation and sharing Costa Rica’s rich wild life and habitats with others. We design our birding tours with your comfort and enjoyment as our highest priority. We find restful and relaxing travel allows you to fully enjoy your outdoor experience. Your accommodations, meals, and transportation have been carefully selected to maximize your comfort and peace of mind, while enabling you to bask in Costa Rica’s rich natural beauty.

Are you a single birder, a couple that loves to bird together or just a couple of birding friends?  You can join one of our scheduled Costa Rica birding tours . 

If you have a small group of birdwatching friends we can help to customize the perfect tour for your group or you can choose one of our tried and true Costa Rica bird watching tour itineraries and just pick the dates,

If you prefer a more general nature tours we have some itineraries that you can choose from or with our guidance we can customize the perfect nature tour experience,

Explore Costa Rica Tours are usually a blend of nature, beach and you can splash in some adventure to your liking, We create a completely custom itinerary to your liking.  Fill out our Customize Your Tour Questionnaire .


Prothonotary Warbler taken on one of our Costa Rica Bird Watching tour

Custom Birding

We help you design the perfect tour for your small group.

Either choose one of our tried and true itineraries and your prefered dates and we will handle everything else or we can help design the perfect birding tour just for your small group.

Click here to customize

Sloth taken on one of our Costa Rica nature tour.

Custom Nature

Either choose one of our tried and true itineraries and your prefered dates and we will handle everything else or we can help design the perfect Nature tour just for your small group.

Hammock on the beach in Costa Rica

 We help you design the perfect mix of nature, beach and adventure.

Fill out our customize your tour questionnaire and let us know what you want and we will help you organize the best vacation.

birding tours costa rica

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Costa Rica Birding Tour

  • Lots of high quality, exciting birding in relatively easy conditions
  • Amazingly high diversity in such a small area, in comfortable surroundings and protected areas
  • Expect 400+ bird species

Tour Overview

Costa Rica – the Rich Coast! Over 870 species of birds have been recorded from this small country, renowned for relatively easy birding, comfortable accommodation, good infrastructure, and peaceful policies. Costa Rica with western Panama is a major centre of avian endemism, with nearly 70 species found nowhere else! Our Costa Rica birding tour visits all major habitats, sampling an astonishing variety of birds. We bird amazing Carara and Rio Tarcoles, which offer some of the best birding in the whole country. We visit cloud forests at Tapanti Reserve and high elevation forests and paramo of Cerro de la Muerte in search of Resplendent Quetzal, Silver-throated Jay and many others.

From the high mountains we descend to the incredibly bird-rich foothills of Braulio Carillo and La Selva which has some of the best Caribbean lowland forest remaining in Costa Rica with many unique birds for a whole new suite of birds. We finish on the slopes of the iconic Arenal volcano with antbird flocks, toucans, cotingas, owls and so much more. As many participants comment, each day is better than the last!

Dates & Prices

Dates & prices, what's included, tour price includes.

  • All accommodation (basic to very good accommodation)
  • Ground transportation (Air-conditioned bus with driver)
  • 1 guide with 4 - 8 participants, 2 guides with 9 - 12
  • All park, conservation and entrance fees

Tour Price Does Not Include

  • Flights to and from San Jose
  • Travel Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature


Day 1: Arrival in San José

Our Costa Rica birding tour begins with dinner and an orientation at our hotel. Participants arriving early can enjoy the beautiful hotel grounds, possibly finding Blue-crowned Motmot and several other species on the hotel grounds. Night in San José.

Day 2: Transfer to Carara

After an early walk around the hotel gardens, we head west to the Pacific coast and Carara National Park. This is the boundary between the tropical dry forest to the north and the tropical wet forest to the south. Consequently, it is incredibly diverse. We arrive in time for an afternoon outing to get familiar with some of the dry forest species, including Rufous-naped Wren, Yellow-naped Parrot, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Scrub Euphonia, and the incredible Scarlet Macaw. Night near Carara National Park.

Days 3 & 4: Carara National Park

Carara National Park preserves a large tract of beautiful and bird-rich tropical semi- evergreen forest. It is an amazing place and birding can be marvelous. The site offers a wonderful array of woodcreepers, trogons, and manakins including the stunning Orange-collared, likely displaying when we are there. We could see several species of woodpeckers, flycatchers, antbirds, antwrens and antpittas— the possibilities seem endless! We may find American Pygmy Kingfisher by a woodland pool, or a Boat-billed Heron perched in a tree along the lagoon, or a Long-billed Gnatwren busily hunting insects—or a troop of coatimundis seemingly oblivious to our presence. We look for Baird’s Trogon, Black-hooded, Giant and Barred Antshrikes, Yellow-billed Cotinga, Golden-crowned Spadebill, and many more. We enjoy a boat trip in the mangroves along the Rio Tárcoles to look for the endemic Mangrove Hummingbird, Panama and Northern Scrub Flycatchers, Mangrove Black Hawk, and shorebirds and waders such as Roseate Spoonbill. We stay at a hotel only a few minutes from the preserve. We will also stop at a spot to watch American Crocodiles loaf along the river bank. Night near Carara National Park.

Day 5: Carara to San Isidro El General

We leave Carara early and drive south along the Pacific Coast. We make several stops on our way, keeping an eye out for specialties such as Snowy-bellied Hummingbird and Fiery-billed Aracari, we could encounter species such as Red-crowned Woodpecker, Pearl Kite and American Swallow-tailed Kite, whilst offshore Brown Boobies should be fishing. Leaving the coast we drive inland to San Isidro del General and onto our hotel. Here we encounter yet another suite of birds, such as Smooth-billed Ani, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Lesser Elaenia, Cherrie’s Tanager and Streaked Saltator, and a major attraction of this area, Turquoise Cotinga. Night in San Isidro El General.

Day 6: South Pacific

We start the day by visiting Los Cusingos, the name of Alexander Skutch’s farm, where we walk trails in the still relatively pristine lowland forest. There are many exciting possibilities here – Great Tinamou, Charming Hummingbird, White-crested Coquette, Bright-rumped Attila, Plain and Riverside Wrens, Golden-crowned Spadebill, Orange-collared, Blue-crowned and Red-capped Manakins, Baird’s and Black-headed Trogons, Dot-winged Antwren and Long-billed Gnatwren. Black-striped Sparrows sing their bouncing ball song, Orange-billed Sparrows forage in brush piles, Gray-necked Wood-Rails call from wet pastures, and Long-billed Starthroats visit tubular flowers. We look for ant swarms, which usually have several species in attendance – Gray-headed Tanager, woodcreepers including Cocoa, Tawny-winged and Ruddy, antbirds including Chestnut-backed and Bicoloured, even Roadside Hawk.

We spend the rest of the day searching for specialties here in the South Pacific lowlands. Flocks of swifts including White-collared, Chestnut-collared and Spot-fronted wheel across the sky, as does the solitary Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift. Olivaceous Piculets forage on thin branches, Garden Emeralds visit flowering trees, and we look for Yellow-green Vireo, Yellow-crowned and Spot-crowned Euphonias, Gray-headed Chachalaca, White-crowned Parrot, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Greenish and Yellow-bellied Elaenias, the superb Speckled Tanager and Blue Dacnis. Night in San Isidro El General.

Day 7: Transfer to the Talamanca Highlands

This morning we head off to the cloud forest and páramo of the Cordillera de Talamanca. Along the way we stop at locations for White-tailed Emerald, Fiery-throated Hummingbird and Red-headed Barbet, and visit the high paramo of Cerro de la Muerte for Volcano Junco and Timberline Wren. Then it is off our hotel in the highlands. Night in the San Gerardo de Dota area.

Day 8: Cordillera de Talamanca

Here, along dirt roads and forest trails passing among trees draped in epiphytes, we find a new suite of birds such as Ruddy Treerunner, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Black-capped Flycatcher, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, Collared Redstart, Large-footed Finch, with luck Silvery-throated Jay. Our primary target is the magnificent Resplendent Quetzal, certainly one of the most beautiful birds in the world. Night Night in the San Gerardo de Dota area.

Day 9: Highlands to Orosi

We leave the highlands in the morning, stopping at La Providencia for possible Black-and-yellow Silky-Flycatcher and Wrenthrush, and head down to the town of Paraiso to tour an organic coffee farm for a quick tour of the premises, a cup of coffee, and some species we may have missed up to now – perhaps Crimson-collared Tanager, Buff-throated, Black-headed and Greyish Saltators, White-naped Brush-Finch, White-eared Ground-Sparrow, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush and Garden Emerald. We then head to the nearby town of Orosi. Night near Orosi.

Day 10: Tapantí National Park and on to the Caribbean lowlands

We depart early for the Tapantí Reserve. The Reserve is a great example of middle to high elevation Caribbean forest, and we look for Black Guan, Brown-billed Scythebill, Streak-breasted Treehunter, Black-bellied Hummingbird, Green-fronted Lancebill and Chestnut-headed Oropendola along with Golden-bellied Flycatcher, Common Bush-Tanager, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Slate-throated Redstart and Prong-billed Barbet. After a productive morning, we head further downslope, but travel via magnificent Braulio Carrillo National Park. At a vervain hedge, we look for Violet-headed Hummingbird, and with great luck Snowcap. In the park, we walk trails looking for specialties such as Lattice-tailed Trogon, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Black-and-yellow Tanager, and several antbirds and antwrens. Night at La Quinta Sarapiquí Lodge.

Day 11: Caribbean Lowlands

We make the lodge our central point for birding several diverse locations in some of the richest areas in Costa Rica. During our stay, we visit La Selva, a wonderful tract of wet lowland rainforest where some 400 species of birds have been reported. We’ll see a fine array of neotropical fauna—tinamous, motmots, puffbirds, cotingas, trogons, toucans, chachalacas, maybe ant-followers at an ant swarm or a Great Curassow walking stealthily on the forest floor, lots of tanagers, as well as monkeys and who knows what else! We will also keep and eye and ear out for the endangered Great Green Macaw. Both its size and brilliant plumage make it a very impressive bird. Night at La Quinta Sarapiquí Lodge.

Day 12: Transfer to Caño Negro

After a final morning of birding, we head north toward the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge near Costa Rica’s northern border. We will make a few opportunistic stops along the way before arriving at our hotel. The wetlands of this area provide refuge for large numbers of a multitude of species during the dry season and the wetlands have been recognized for their international importance. Night in Caño Negro.

Day 13: Caño Negro and transfer to Arenal

Our highlight today will be a morning boat tour on the river and wetlands of this area. We can expect to see an abundance of waterbirds, including Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, several herons and egrets, up to five species of Kingfishers, and the massive Jabiru stork. We will also search for several other specialties of this area, including Black-collared Hawk, Nicaraguan Grackle, and Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture. After this delightful experience, we make our way to our home for the next three days on the slopes of the Arenal Volcano. Night at Arenal Observatory Lodge.

Day 14 & 15: Arenal area

The rainforest at the base of the volcano supports a rich assortment of birds typical of the Caribbean foothills and we should find colourful motmots, noisy raucous parrots in the upper canopy, trogons perched quietly at mid-canopy, Rufous-tailed Jacamars sallying out to catch butterflies, and spectacular Collared Aracaris and Keel-billed Toucans. Odd grunting noises come from Masked Tityras. Mammals include Three-toed Sloth and Spider Monkey. If it is clear, the view of the volcano is breathtaking!

We spend our days exploring the trails and along roads through forest and second-growth woodlands of this area, looking for Caribbean-slope specialties. If we are fortunate, we will encounter a swarm of army ants marching across the forest floor with their attendant army ant followers – antbirds, antshrikes, antwrens, woodcreepers, even hawks. White-necked Puffbirds and Long-tailed Tyrants may be perched conspicuously on exposed dead snags, manakins may be displaying at their leks on the forest floor, and mixed-species flocks could pass by with a dozen or more species in each flock - foliage-gleaners, flycatchers, dacnis, tanagers, warblers, woodpeckers and more. Nights at Arenal Observatory Lodge.

Day 16: Transfer from Arenal to San José

We spend a final morning enjoying the feeders and grounds of the lodge, we travel from Arenal down the Caribbean slope, across the lowlands and over the mountains to the Central Valley. There will be several key stops along the way depending on what we have seen so far. We may stop in at more hummingbird feeders for scarcer hummingbirds such as Coppery-headed Emerald, a Costa Rican endemic, and Purple-throated and White-bellied Mountain-Gems. We arrive at our charming hotel for a final dinner to celebrate a rewarding an productive journey through this beautiful country. Night near the San José airport.

Day 17: Departure

Our tour concludes today and you can transfer to the airport anytime today for flights home.

What to Expect

The daily travel schedule on our Costa Rica birding tour will vary to account for weather, bird species and habitat. Expect optional early morning, before-breakfast walks on most days, as well as late evening viewing. Almost without exception it is best to begin birding at daybreak in the tropics, when bird activity and song are at their peak. In forest regions, we concentrate on “edge” birding until the light is sufficient to enter forest trails. Often bird activity slackens off by noon, when we may return to our hotel for lunch and a short siesta. On occasion, picnic lunches will be prepared for us, maximizing our time in the field and allowing us a more flexible schedule.

We bird again in the coolness of the late afternoon, occasionally staying out after dusk to search for nightbirds. Weather conditions on the trip will range from hot to cool; mostly, it will be warm to hot with a mixture of sun and cloud. Our time at Carara National Park will be hot and dry. Cerro de la Muerte and our accommodation in the highlands at Paraiso Quetzal will be cool, and could be windy and wet. The Caribbean lowlands at La Selva are likely to be hot and humid. Walking conditions range from easy to moderate; if there has been rain, then trails could be muddy. Our maximum elevation on this tour is Cerro de la Muerte, where we drive up to 3,451 m (11,322 ft).

Strong, waterproof footwear is advised and a light rain-jacket and waterproof hat are often essential. There will be opportunities for photography, as many birds and other wildlife allow close approach and we visit several excellent feeder stations. Bring mosquito repellant – mosquitoes are not usually a problem but can be active after rain. In the evening we eat at the hotel or lodge where we are staying. At this time we discuss the day’s activities, review the list of birds and other wildlife that we have seen and heard, and prepare for the next day.

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Featured Wildlife

While we cannot guarantee sightings of the birds or mammals listed below, we believe that encountering these species is quite likely during this tour.

  • Resplendent Quetzal
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Coppery-headed Emerald
  • Spectacled Owl
  • Snowy-bellied Hummingbird
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Volcano Junco
  • Black-crested Coquette
  • Turquoise-browed Motmot
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Black-and-yellow Tanager

Past Tour Checklists

View the list of birds and other wildlife we encountered on our past tours.

  • Costa Rica 2023 species list (ebird)
  • Costa Rica 2020 species list
  • Costa Rica 2019 species list
  • Costa Rica 2016 species list
  • Costa Rica 2015 species list
  • See More...
  • Costa Rica 2014 species list
  • Costa Rica 2012 species list
  • Costa Rica 2011 species list
  • Costa Rica 2009 species list
  • Costa Rica 2008 species list
  • Costa Rica 2007 species list
  • Costa Rica 2006 species list
  • Costa Rica 2004 species list
  • Costa Rica 2002 species list

Trip Reports & Inspiration

Tour reviews, you might also like.

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Birding Tours

Bird Watching Tours in Costa Rica

Explore the Rich Avian Diversity of Costa Rica with Expert Guides

Dive into the wonderful world of birdwatching in Costa Rica with our passionate expert guides. Explore remote corners of lush tropical jungle, where every branch hides a new bird species waiting to be discovered. From majestic quetzals to colorful tanagers, each moment offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature and create unforgettable memories. With years of experience and a deep love for birds and their habitat, our guides will take you on a journey filled with discovery and wonder. Join us and uncover why Costa Rica is a paradise for bird lovers. 


  • Champ de Mars, 5 Av. Anatole


NTT - Indonesia

  • Flores, Nusa Tenggara Timur


Bali - Indonesia

  • Jl. Raya Singaraja-Denpasar, Pancasari

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birding tours costa rica

Birdwatching in Costa Rica: A Unique Experience

Costa Rica is renowned for its stunning biodiversity and natural wealth, and birdwatching is one of the most...

About Ave Nativa Tours Costa Rica

Discover the wonderful diversity of Costa Rica’s birds with our specialized birdwatching tours. From the majestic quetzals in the mountains to the colorful tropical birds in the jungle, we’ll take you to Costa Rica’s top birdwatching spots.

Puerto Viejo, Sarapiqui, Heredia, Costa Rica.

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birding tours costa rica

Costa Rica Birding Tours

Costa Rica Birding Tours

Costa Rica’s Rare Birds & Wildlife Special

This exclusive Costa Rica birding tour offers the opportunity to observe some of Costa Rica's rarest and most captivating bird species, along with rare mammals. Perhaps the two highlights of this tour, is seeing the …

Costa Rica Birding Tours

Costa Rica Bird Photography Tour

This captivating 12-day bird photography tour was crafted to provide you with the quintessential birding and photography experience in Costa Rica. With our expert in-country lead guide at your side, you'll photograph over 300 species …

Costa Rica Birding Tours

Best of Southern Costa Rica Birding Tour

This captivating birding and photography tour was crafted to explore the Southern Zone of Costa Rica. You’ll travel through 6 distinct life zones and diverse habitats, starting from the Central Valley and progressing to the …

Costa Rica Birding Tours

Low Season Special – Caribbean Elusive Birds

This birding tour of Costa Rica is strategically crafted to capitalise on the best birding spots in the Caribbean region. In October, while the Pacific side experiences heavy rains, the Caribbean side enjoys some of …

Costa Rica, despite its modest size, boasts one of the planet’s most remarkable levels of biodiversity

Situated in Central America, Costa Rica shares its borders with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Positioned between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east, this beautiful and tropical country spans from 8 to 11 degrees north of the equator. This strategic location fosters a diverse and richly biodiverse environment, making Costa Rica a captivating birding destination.

Costa Rica, despite its modest size, boasts one of the planet’s most remarkable levels of biodiversity. Spanning six distinct birding ecozones and a myriad of microclimates and with 9 endemics and 843 bird species in total, all thriving in environments ranging from cloud forests and humid lowlands to mountain peaks, dry forests, mangroves, and coastal areas, visitors have unparalleled access to a diverse birding experience. Notably, 27% of Costa Rica is officially designated as protected land, underscoring the nation’s commitment to preserving its rich natural heritage.

  • Tailor-made Tours
  • Scheduled Group Tours
  • Endemic species
  • When to visit
  • What to Bring

Tailor-made info Costa Rica

At Sustainable Birding, we don’t offer ready-made, off-the-shelf birding tours. Our approach is deeply personalised—we meticulously craft each of our tours in Costa Rica from scratch, ensuring every detail aligns with your unique preferences. From the lush rainforests to the beautiful coastal shores, our team of seasoned birding experts use our comprehensive knowledge to tailor your birding holiday, guaranteeing an experience perfectly attuned to your specific requirements.

All our birding tours in Costa Rica are expertly guided by our passionate, knowledgeable and experienced Costa Rican tour leaders. They are some of the best guides on the planet! So, give us a call or drop us an email and let’s talk Costa Rica!

Reasons to go on a Tailor-made Birding Tour

• Select the exact dates that suit your schedule. • Choose the ideal time of year for your birding adventure. • Travel alongside your preferred companions—be it family, friends, or fellow birders. • Set your pace—whether fast or brisk. • Customise within your personal budget, from luxurious to budget accommodations or a mix. • Craft a tour that matches your specific interests—whether intense birding, leisurely exploration, photography, culture, music, wine, botany, butterflies, herpetology, geology, diving, hiking, and beyond. • Our team is here to cater to your interests and ensure a fulfilling birding holiday.

Scheduled Group Costa Rica Birding Tours

Explore our selection of Scheduled Group Birding Tours in Costa Rica. These groups tours have been designed to fit different birding preference and time restraints. Typically, our group tours are more affordable, and allow people to meet up and make lifelong memories with fellow birders. All our group tours are small and come with an expert Tour Leader, having groups no bigger than 6 individuals, so you still get that intimate feeling and the full attention of the Tour Leader.

Please refer to our Birding Calendar for tour schedules, dates, and fixed prices.

Endemic species: 9

• Grey-tailed Mountain-gem • Coppery-headed Emerald • Guanacaste Hummingbird • Mangrove Hummingbird • Cocos Cuckoo • Cocos Flycatcher • Costa Rican Ground-sparrow • Black-cheeked Ant-tanager • Cocos Finch

Best time of year to visit:

Although fantastic all year round, the optimal time for bird watching in Costa Rica is typically during the dry season, spanning from December to April. This period offers warm and sunny weather with minimal rainfall, allowing more frequent sightings.

Weather & climate

Costa Rica experiences a tropical climate with distinct dry and rainy seasons. The dry season, spanning from December to April, is characterised by warm and sunny weather. During this period, the country receives minimal rainfall, creating optimal conditions for outdoor activities such as bird watching. Temperatures typically range from around 21°C to 32°C (70°F to 90°F), varying across different regions.

In contrast, the rainy season in Costa Rica occurs from May to November. This period sees an increase in rainfall, particularly in the afternoons. While mornings remain generally clear, afternoons may bring heavy showers. Despite the rain, the lush green landscapes come to life during this season, providing a different yet equally vibrant experience.

It’s worth noting that Costa Rica’s diverse topography contributes to microclimates across the country. Weather conditions can vary based on the region and altitude, influencing the overall climate experience for visitors.

What to bring

Considering the tropical climate, choosing comfortable clothing is vital. Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics suitable for the warm weather. Long sleeves and trousers can offer protection against insects, especially in areas with dense vegetation. Equally important is selecting comfortable and sturdy footwear, ideal for walking along varied terrains. During the rainy season, waterproof or water-resistant shoes are recommended.

As weather conditions can be unpredictable, packing rain gear is essential. A compact, packable rain jacket or poncho ensures you stay dry during sudden downpours. Additionally, having a waterproof cover for your backpack safeguards your belongings. Essential accessories like a wide-brimmed hat, and sunscreen protect against the sun’s rays, ensuring a more enjoyable birding experience.

Equipment such as high-quality binoculars tailored for birdwatching is essential and if you have a good working camera and lens, then please bring it with you! A comprehensive field guide specific to the country’s birds, such as Birds of Costa Rica (Helm Field Guides) is recommended.

*Remember that when you book a Costa Rica birding tour with us for 14 days, we will send you a new complementary field guide!

The Sustainable Birding Company is a subsidiary of Far and Wild Travel, a tailor-made tour company based in Cumbria, UK. Far and Wild Travel offer sustainable, luxury, tailor-made tour itineraries throughout Africa and around the world.

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birding tours costa rica

birding tours costa rica

Our comprehensive tour to the most astounding birdwatching destination in all of Central America, which is expected to record almost every endemic and near-endemic, including Resplendent Quetzal, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Wrenthrush, Snowy Cotinga, and many more.

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

Group Size Limit:

Price: $

Deposit: $

Costa Rica is rapidly becoming one of the most expensive birding destinations in Latin America. We believe our pricing is fair given our small group size and included tips for contracted local guides/drivers, which are regularly forgone by some international operators in order to reduce costs.


All comfortable hotels.

Walking difficulty:

Mostly easy, with the occasional uphill trail.

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

birding tours costa rica

Day 1: The tour starts this afternoon in San José (SJO), the capital of Costa Rica. We will drive to our hotel on the slopes of Volcán Irazu for an overnight stay.

Day 2: Early morning, we’ll make our first attempt at finding the near-mythical Unspotted Saw-whet Owl. Irazu Volcano is indeed one of the better sites to find this scarce species. Bare-shanked Screech Owl, Costa Rica Pygmy Owl, and Dusky Nightjar are three near-endemics we also have good chances of finding. We’ll then spend the morning on the spectacular slopes of the volcano, where we will be looking mostly for the uncommon Buffy-crowned Wood Partridge, the somewhat erratic Peg-billed Finch, near-endemic Volcano Hummingbird, Volcano Junco, and Timberline Wren. We will get used to the range of regional mountain endemics like Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Yellow-winged Vireo, Flame-throated Warbler, Yellow-thighed and Large-footed Finches, and dedicate effort toward locating the nomadic Maroon-chested Ground Dove, here present year-round. Resplendent Quetzal will provide a common background noise and we’ll maybe see a few males displaying over the course of the morning! Migrant warblers should be all around, including Black-throated, Green, Blackburnian, Wilson’s, and Townsend’s Warblers. We will then start our descent and drive towards Rancho Naturalista, located in the Caribbean foothills, not without making a stop in the central valley coffee plantations for the endemic Cabanis’s Ground Sparrow. We will also stop at a wetland and near some rivers, where we stand a good chance of finding Fasciated Tiger Heron, Sunbittern, White-tailed Kite, Purple Gallinule, Blue-winged Teal, and other waterbirds. We’ll then reach the legendary Rancho Naturalista for a two-night stay.

Day 3:  This morning, we will be visiting El Copal reserve, where we have good chances of finding the rare Blue-and-gold Tanager and Yellow-eared Toucanet along the trails. The avifauna in the Caribbean foothills is extremely diverse, and we’ll also go after some other regional specialties like Short-tailed Pigeon, Green-fronted Lancebill, Green Hermit, Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner, Middle American Leaftosser, Brown-billed Scythebill, Russet Antshrike, Slaty Antwren, Dull-mantled Antbird, the Central American version of Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Rufous-browed Tyrannulet, White-throated Spadebill, Rufous Mourner, Song Wren, and White-ruffed Manakin, among many other great birds. The flowering bushes will certainly provide us with our first sightings of Snowcap and Magenta-throated Woodstar. In the afternoon, we will explore the lodge grounds and trails for Snowcap, Black-crested Coquette, the near-endemic Tawny-chested Flycatcher, White-ruffed and White-crowned Manakins, and the scarce Ashy-throated Bush Tanager. Many other more widespread birds occur here, such as Grey-headed Chachalaca, Grey-chested Dove, Keel-billed Toucan, demonstrative Montezuma Oropendolas, Cocoa and Streak-headed Woodcreepers, Mistletoe Tyrannulet, Speckled and Golden-hooded Tanagers, and many more. In recent years, male Lovely Cotingas have been visiting the garden, so we’ll cross our fingers for one to be around! We will also visit a nearby grassland patch for White-throated Flycatcher and look for Sunbittern along the nearby rivers. Migrant warblers should be plentiful at that time of the year, and maybe we’ll find a stunning Golden-winged Warbler. Night at Rancho Naturalista.

Day 4: After some final birding at Rancho Naturalista, we will transfer to Cachi for an overnight stay. Near Cachi, we will be looking for several scarce birds like Black-breasted Wood Quail, Costa Rican Pygmy Owl, White-bellied Mountaingem, the endemic Coppery-headed Emerald, Scintillant and Black-bellied Hummingbirds, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, and Sharpbill, and there is now even a habituated Scaled Antpitta at a feeder! Many other great birds occur at this foothill site, and we’ll make sure not to miss any regional endemics. Night in Cachi.

Day 5: After a few hours birding near Cachi, we’ll make our way to the Cerro de la Muerte and have lunch at a birder-friendly guesthouse with feeders attracting Buffy-crowned Wood Partridge, the rare and near-endemic Buff-fronted Quail Dove, and Prong-billed Barbet, among others. The gardens usually hold near-endemics like Black Guan, Purple-throated Mountaingem, Spangle-cheeked Tanagers, and Silvery-fronted Tapaculo. After lunch, we’ll continue higher in the Cerro de la Muerte and start our explorations. We might well already find a few regional specialties like the monotypic Wrenthrush (or Zeledonia), Ochraceous Pewee, Resplendent Quetzal, Large-footed Finch, Sooty-capped Chlorospingus, or even our first Spotted Wood Quails. Night at Cerro de la Muerte.

Day 6: We will have a full day of birding the cloud-forest of this region in search of key species like Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, the endemic Grey-tailed Mountaingem, Ruddy Treerunner, Lineated Foliage-gleaner, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, the rare Silvery-throated Jay, Black-capped and Golden-bellied Flycatchers, Long-tailed and Black-and-Yellow Silky Flycatchers, Dark Pewee, Torrent Tyrannulet, Mountain Elaenia, Wrenthrush, Sooty-faced Finch, and Golden-browed Chlorophonia, among many other great birds. At night, we will have another chance to find Bare-shanked Screech-Owl, Unspotted Saw-Whet Owl, and Dusky Nightjar. Night at Cerro de la Muerte.

Day 7: Should we have missed regional targets, we’ll spend another morning birding the Cerro de la Muerte, and then start driving to San Isidro. Late afternoon, we’ll begin our explorations of the San Isidro area, where we could well already find the main target of the area: Turquoise Cotinga! Night in San Isidro.

Day 8: We’ll spend some time around San Isidro in the morning and then move to Alexander Skutch’s reserve, where a nice variety of birds can be seen in the gardens. Highlights include the near-endemic Garden Emerald, White-crested Coquette, Charming Hummingbird, Olivaceous Piculet, Golden-naped Woodpecker, Slaty-tailed, Baird’s, and Gartered Trogons, Fiery-billed Araçari, Black-hooded Antshrike, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Red-legged and Shining Honeycreepers, Rufous-breasted Wren, Rufous Piha, Northern Bentbill, Orange-collared and Red-capped Manakins, and many more. We will then make our way to the Wilson Botanical Garden in Las Cruces for a two-night stay. We will visit a nearby reed patch in search of Chiriqui Olive-crowned Yellowthroat and, road conditions permitting, pay a visit to an Ocellated Crake site. The gardens usually hold several night birds like Mottled Owl and Tropical Screech Owl, so we’ll spend some time out at night! Night in Las Cruces.

Day 9: We will have a full day in the Las Cruces area, mostly birding the Botanical Gardens in search of White-tailed Emerald, White-crested Coquette (if we’re lucky!), Marbled Wood Quail, Ruddy Foliage-gleaner, Isthmian Wren, Elegant Euphonia, and Costa Rican Brushfinch, among many others. Night in Las Cruces.

Day 10:  After some final birding in Las Cruces, we will make our way towards the Pacific lowlands for two nights. We will first stop at Agua Buena for the most-wanted Rosy Thrush-Tanager and then visit some open habitat and rice fields near Ciudad Neily, where Veraguan Mango, Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, Red-rumped Woodpecker, and Paint-billed and Grey-breasted Crakes are regularly recorded. We will arrive in the Golfo Duce region in time for some initial explorations. Night at a lodge near the town of Golfito.

Day 11: One of the highlights of the Golfo Duce region is the endemic Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, our major target of the morning. Black-hooded Antshrike and Spot-crowned Euphonia are also high on the list. Around the lodge, we can find Bronzy Hermit and Uniform Crake, and other cool targets include Tawny-winged Woodcreeper, King Vulture, Costa Rican Swift, Blue-black Grosbeak, Velvety Manakin, and Chiriqui Foliage-gleaner. At night, we will go out and look for Striped and Spectacled Owls and Tropical Screech Owl. A local subspecies of Choco Screech Owl also occurs here, and it might well be proven to be a distinct species so we’ll put in some effort! Night near Golfito.

Day 12: This morning, we will visit sites for two rare birds: the ethereal Yellow-billed Cotinga and the endemic Mangrove Hummingbird. We will then proceed towards Carara National Park, arriving in time for some initial exploring. Night near Carara National Park.

Day 13: During the early morning, we will walk the trails of the National Park in search of the special targets of the northern lowlands like Great Tinamou, Marbled Wood Quail, Scarlet Macaw, Critically Endangered Yellow-naped Parrot, Slaty-tailed and Black-headed Trogons, Black-faced Antthrush, Streak-chested Antpitta, Stub-tailed Spadebill, Bicoloured, Spotted, and Chestnut-backed Antbirds, Pacific Royal Flycatcher, Rufous-and-white and Rufous-breasted Wrens, and lots of others. Along the forest edge and more open habitat that we will be exploring, we can find Stripe-headed Sparrow, Scrub Euphonia, White-throated Magpie-Jay, White-necked Puffbird, Barred Antshrike, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Crested Caracara, Blue-black and Yellow-faced Grassquits, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Banded Wren, and more. In the late afternoon, we’ll take a boat ride on the Tarcoles River, giving us opportunities to observe more of the riverside specialties of the region. We will be cruising through mangroves and along river banks, where Roseate Spoonbill, Boat-billed Heron, the stunning Turquoise-browed Motmot, Panama Flycatcher, Northern Scrub Flycatcher, Mangrove Vireo, Mangrove Warbler, and many more feature. Mangrove Hummingbird and Yellow-billed Cotinga are also sometimes seen here. Night near Carara National Park.

Day 14: After another morning birding the Carara area in search for missing targets, we will drive to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, where we will spend the next two nights.

Day 15: The wonderful cloud forest of Monteverde hosts a vast array of interesting species, and for the first morning, we will be looking for the unique Three-wattled Bellbirds, showing their long wattles while emitting their tremendously loud vocalisation! Other great birds that we will look for are Black Guan, Black-breasted Wood Quail, Chiriqui Quail Dove, Resplendent Quetzal, Lineated Foliage-gleaner, Ruddy Woodcreeper, the uncommon Grey-throated Leaftosser, Streak-breasted Treehunter, Azure-hooded Jay, Slaty-backed Nightingale-thrush, Long-tailed Manakin, and White-eared Ground Sparrow. Lots of hummingbirds can usually be found at feeders, including Violet Sabrewing, the endemic Coppery-headed Emerald, Stripe-tailed and Blue-vented Hummingbirds, Purple-throated Mountaingem, Magenta-throated Woodstar, and others. Night at Monteverde.

Day 16: We will be looking for any remaining target this morning, and start driving back to the dry Pacific lowlands to La Ensenada Sanctuary. A few stops could well hold species like Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, Mangrove Rail, and other waterbirds. We will arrive at La Ensenada in time for some birding, including Pacific Screech Owl after dusk. Night at La Ensenada Lodge.

Day 17: We will spend this morning looking for the numerous Pacific coast specialties on offer at La Ensenada, including Thicket Tinamou, Spot-bellied Bobwhite, Lesser Ground Cuckoo, Mangrove Cuckoo, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Plain-capped Starthroat, Panama and Nutting’s Flycatchers, Banded Wren, White-throated Magpie-Jay, Stripe-headed Sparrow, Streak-backed and Spot-breasted Orioles, and others. Mudflats near the property usually hold hundreds of waders, including Marbled Godwits. This afternoon, we will drive to the nearby Cordillera de Guanacaste to Celeste Mountain Lodge. We will arrive in time for some initial birding. Night at Celeste Mountain Lodge.

Day 18: The foothill forest of the dormant Volcán Tenorio is home to many exciting species that we will be looking for this morning, including the rare Black-eared Wood Quail, Tody Motmot, Purplish-backed Quail Dove, Checker-throated Stipplethroat, Tawny-faced Gnatwren, White-throated Shrike-tanager, and many more widespread species. If we find an army-ant swarm, we might well be lucky enough to observe feeding Ocellated, Bicoloured, or Spotted Antbirds, or maybe even the legendary Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo, sometimes seen in this area! Another rare bird we’ll be on the lookout for is Slaty-backed Forest Falcon. Lovely Cotinga used to be recorded in the region, but the nearby road is now a highway so chances for it are here very slim. In the late afternoon, we will take a boat ride to the Medio Queso marsh, where Yellow-breasted Crake, Sora, Pinnated Bittern, Nicaraguan Grackle, and Nicaraguan Seedfinch all feature, among large numbers of other waterbirds and passerines. We will then proceed to our lodge in the Caño Negro area, where we will go out after dark looking for Great and Common Potoos and Striped Owl. Night in Caño Negro.

Day 19: This morning, we will embark on a boat and explore the Rio Frio and Lago Caño Negro, where we will aim to find the superb Agami Heron and weird Boat-billed Heron, the strange Sungrebe, five kingfisher species including Green-and-rufous, plus many other more common waterbirds. Some birding near the lodge will likely produce Grey-headed Dove, Spot-breasted and Canebrake Wrens, or Nicaraguan Seedfinch, among others. After lunch, we will drive to Volcán Arenal, and on our way stop at a little reserve where Uniform and White-throated Crakes visit some feeders. We’ll then get to our lodge for an overnight stay and start our visit to this fabulous destination. Night at Volcán Arenal.

Day 20: We will spend most of the day birding the trails around our lodge, and if the sky is clear, enjoy great views of the majestic Volcán Arenal. The foothill forest has a lot on offer, and among many specialties, we’ll be on the lookout for Great Curassow (here at one of the easiest places on the planet!), White and Semiplumbeous Hawks, Black-crested Coquette, Green Thorntail, Keel-billed Motmot, Thicket Antpitta, Streak-crowned Antvireo, Ocellated and Bare-crowned Antbirds, Nightingale and Bay Wrens, Black-headed Saltator, Crimson-collared Tanager, and the near-endemic Black-and-yellow Tanager. In the afternoon, we’ll drive to La Selva Biological Research Station, where we will spend the next two nights. We will arrive in time for some late birding and spotlighting for Crested, Mottled, and Black-and-white Owls, Middle American Screech Owl, and mammals like Kinkajou and Sloth. Night at La Selva.

Day 21: One of the most popular reserves in Central America, La Selva really has it all! We’ll have a full day to explore the fantastic diversity hosted by its vast expanses of lowland primary rainforest. Among many fabulous species, we’ll be focused on finding Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Agami Heron, Olive-backed Quail Dove, the now Critically Endangered Great Green Macaw, Pied Puffbird, Chestnut-coloured and Cinnamon Woodpeckers, Tiny and Semiplumbeous Hawks, Black-crowned Antshrike, Black-capped Pygmy Tyrant, White-collared Manakin, and Snowy Cotinga. Night at La Selva.

Day 22: We will have a final morning of birding at La Selva before transferring to Braulio Carrillo National Park for the next two nights. On the way, we will visit a nearby site where Spectacled and Crested Owls and Great Potoo are known to roost, and we’ll probably be lucky enough to observe a small colony of Honduran White Bats roosting under palm leaves. We will arrive at Braulio Carrillo in time for some initial exploration.

Day 23:  Our primary target for the next day and a half is the incredible Bare-necked Umbrellabird, which has become much more difficult after disappearing a few years back from its most accessible and traditional lek. Braulio Carrillo is now a site that offers good chances of connecting with the species, as it occurs in the Caribbean foothills outside of the breeding season. Many other specialties lurk in these forests, like Barred Hawk, Ruddy and Olive-backed Quail Doves, the rare Lattice-tailed Trogon, Ocellated Antbird, Thicket Antpitta, Sharpbill, Nightingale Wren, and Blue-and-gold Tanager. Rarer birds like Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo and Black-crowned Antpitta (or Pittasoma) are sometimes seen here, but we will consider ourselves very lucky if we happen to find one of these two rarities! Night at Braulio Carrillo.

Day 24: We will have a final morning of birding at Braulio Carrillo for any remaining targets before driving back to San José, where the tour ends in the afternoon at the airport.

Birding Tour  Packages  and  Options

Here you will find our Costa Rica birding tour package offerings. We can build a custom tour for you based on any of these packages and your requirements. We can mix and match to your heart’s content. Or as you wish, we can design a unique package from the ground up.

The Costa Rican Classic

Costa Rica’s Tropical Feathers

5 Destinations 5 Hotspots

Green Season Birding

Offered from Aug - Oct

3 Destinations 3 Hotspots

Target Species Tour

Costa Rican Regional

Endemic Tour

Photography Tour

Tropical Feathers Office

+506-2771-9686, bird regions, trip reports, guest comments, what to pack, bird book s, tour options :, target species tour s, regional endemic tour, costa rica’s tropical feathers tour, 3 destinations, 3 hotspots tour, 5 destinations. 5 hotspots tour, photograph y tours,  tropical feathers,, pérez zeledón, costa rica, © tropical feathers 2023.

Bird Watching Costa Rica

Birdwatching Costa Rica

FROM: $ 1180

FROM: $ 1454

FROM: $ 1588

San gerardo de dota

1 Day Birding Tour Quetzal’s Paradise and San Gerardo de Dota

Highlands, Tropical Cloud forest, San Gerardo de Dota

birding tours costa rica

Birding Escape IX – 13 Days 12 Nights

Central Valley - Northwest Pacific - Central Pacific

birding tours costa rica

1 Day Tour Sarapiquí

Northern Lowlands

Piratic Flycatcher

1 Day Tour Santa Rosa National Park

Northwestern Pacific, Tropical Dry Forest, Guanacaste

birding tours costa rica

1 Day Tour Braulio Carrillo & Irazú

Green-Violet Ear

Birding Escape I – 5 Days 4 Nights

Caribbean Foothills and Cloudforest Highlands of Talamanca

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl

Birding Escape II – 5 Days 4 Nights

Monteverde Area and Central Pacific Lowlands Carara.

Rufous-capped Warbler

Birding Escape III – 5 Days 4 Nights

Central Valley Highlands and Caribbean Lowlands


The Best Personalized Tours in Costa Rica

Birding in Costa Rica is an extraordinary experience, with 812 species recorded with voucher to date (Official List of the Birds of Costa Rica 2006 by the Scientific Cometee of the Ornitological Association of Costa Rica - published in April 2007) Costa Rica offers to birders great birdwatching opportunities within relatively short distances, involving very diverse habitats in the six ornitologic regions of the country, from sea level to high mountains above 11.000 f.a.s.l. Exciting guided tours and itineraries take you to wonderful locations where you are able to enjoy the best of birding and nature. Our staff will be happy to assit you with your technical questions about birds, locations, and other details, to make of your trip the best birdwatching experience you could possibly have in this neotropical country.

Why Choose Us?

We are a tour operator which has been arranging programs for birdwatchers from around the world since 1991. We help you to set the ideal itinerary considering your main requirements as well as the birds you want to watch during your journey. We provide packages including all services from your arrival until your departure from Costa Rica, as well as one day birding tours . Our services are ranged from medium to high category in lodging and meals depending on your needs; we also provide transportation and a knowledgeable birding guide who will take you to the specific spots for you to watch or take a picture of the target birds. Let us know the interests of your journey, and we will be glad to advise and assist you planning the itinerary that fits better to fulfill your expectations.

“There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.”

Visit our Websites

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Scarlet Macaw

Bird Watching Tours on the Tarcoles River, Costa Rica

Tarcoles river birds.

Observe over 50 different species of birds in one tour! Scarlet Macaws, Roseate Spoonbills, Caracaras, Kingfishers, Herons, Egrets, and many more!

Photograph & Identify!

Whether you are an amateur or professional birder or bird photographer, our birding tours have something for you! A must-experience tour for all bird lovers!

Come Birding With Us!

With over 10 years operating birding tours on the Tarcoles River, we have the experience to ensure you get the most out of your tour!

Tarcoles River - A top birding destination in Costa Rica

The unique location of the Tarcoles River and its easy and productive birding makes it one of the best birdwatching sites in all of Central America.

Forming the Northern border of Carara National Park and situated in the transition zone between the Tropical Dry Forest to the North and the Pacific Rainforest to the South, the Tarcoles River is the meeting place for an incredible abundance of bird life. Over 300 species of birds have been observed on the river, including native, migratory and coastal birds. Some of the favorite birds to spot are the American Pygmy-Kingfisher, Double-striped Thick-knee, Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Common Black Hawk, and endemic Mangrove Hummingbird. The intricate Guacalillo mangrove estuary system positioned where the river empties into the Pacific Ocean also contributes to exclusive mangrove species of birds spotted, such as the Panama Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cotinga, Mangrove Vireo and Yellow Warbler among others. This mangrove is also the nesting site of the brilliant Scarlet Macaw which can often be seen (and heard) flying overhead. In addition to birds, the Tarcoles River is an important habitat to one of the world’s largest populations of American Crocodiles, as well as habitat to Basilisk lizards, iguanas, monkeys, anteaters, and much more.

Experience the magnificent birds of the Tarcoles River by river boat with us, Tarcoles Birding Tours!

Tarcoles River

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Costa Rica Birding Tour

Spectacular Fauna & Flora

La Selva Biological Station

Arenal & Monteverde

Discover Costa Rica's Natural Wonders on this 9-Day Breathtaking Birding & Culture Tour

Join us on this exciting multi-day adventure through the luscious rainforests and lively ecosystems of Costa Rica! This all-inclusive tour offered in conjunction with Holbrook Travel is a perfect blend of birdwatching, nature walks, cultural experiences, and relaxation. You’ll start your journey in San Jose at the charming Hotel Bougainvillea before heading to Sarapiquí’s Selva Verde Lodge, where you’ll explore the rainforest and meet some of the fascinating wildlife of this beautiful country. We’ll also give you the opportunity to learn about cocoa processing while supporting local sustainable tourism.

From venturing to the famous La Selva Biological Station to exploring the grounds of the Arenal Observatory Lodge, you’ll be amazed by over 400 bird species and other mesmerizing wildlife here in this amazing country. You will also visit Hanging Bridges and unwind in soothing local hot springs before continuing your exciting adventure to Monteverde, where you’ll explore the diverse Santa Elena and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserves. The tour also includes an intriguing experience at the Bat Jungle , where you will learn about their importance in nature. Your journey will wrap up with a delightful coffee plantation tour at Café Monteverde and a heartwarming farewell dinner in San Jose. So, get ready to embrace the magic of Costa Rica’s natural wonders – book your unforgettable adventure with us today!

Tour Highlights

Begin your birding Costa Rica adventure by exploring botanical gardens and enjoy a welcome dinner in San Jose

Experience the rich biodiversity of Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve in Sarapiquí

See the world-renowned La Selva Biological Station and observe hundreds of bird species

Discover Arenal Observatory Lodge, the only eco-lodge within Arenal National Park

Marvel at the hanging bridges of Arenal and relax in local hot springs

Cruise across Lake Arenal and ascend to the highlands of Monteverde

Visit a bat jungle and observe them feeding, flying, and socializing through glass windows and listen to their vocalizations via special microphones

Learn about coffee farming at Café Monteverde and enjoy a farewell dinner in San Jose

Click the tabs below to find out more...

Trip details.

$2795/person (double occupancy); $500 single supplement

Meeting point

Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), Costa Rica

Usually offered during winter or early spring


April 20-28, 2024

One spot left

9 days, 8 nights

  • Transportation

Not included

Flights to and from Costa Rica, alcoholic beverages and extra drinks, laundry service, souvenirs and trip insurance.

What to bring

A packing list will be provided after registration.

About your guide

Expert Costa Rican birding guide and driver that will both travel with the group from beginning to end. David travels along as tour coordinator and assistant guide.

What You'll See & Do

Day 1. Welcome to Costa Rica – Airport to Hotel Bougainvillea

We’ll meet you at the airport in San José, before proceeding to Hotel Bougainvillea, a charming hotel situated on a sprawling 10-acre property adorned with botanical gardens that offer stunning city views. These gardens host more than 600 plant species, such as 22 varieties of bromeliads, and serve as an excellent spot for observing hummingbirds, motmots, tanagers, and other fascinating creatures. Later, we’ll come together with the group for an enjoyable welcome dinner.

Day 2. Sarapiqui & Selva Verde Lodge

After meeting for breakfast in the hotel restaurant, we’ll check out and head to Sarapiquí and Selva Verde Lodge. En route, we’ll stop at a café in Cinchona known for its many hummingbird feeders. Upon arrival at Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve you will check in and then enjoy lunch. After lunch, we’ll take a guided hike in Selva Verde’s reserve which offers many covered walks, birding trails, and lookout points, with opportunities to see species such as the Keel-billed Toucan, Great Green Macaw, White-winged Becard, Sunbittern, Acadian Flycatcher, and Wood Thrush. After dinner you can join an optional walk to discover nocturnal frogs and insects.

Day 3. Sarapiqui & Selva Verde Lodge

We’ll begin our day with early morning birdwatching. After enjoying breakfast, we’ll set out to explore the reserve once more, this time on a different trail. The Selva Verde Reserve is home to one of the largest almond trees in all of Central America, providing a habitat for the endangered Great Green Macaw. In the afternoon, we’ll visit Best Chocolate to learn about the history of cocoa and its journey from fruit to the final product. This authentic experience also helps support a family-owned sustainable tourism initiative within the community. We’ll relax with a meal in the evening ahead of a busy day 4!

Day 4.Arenal & Arenal Observatory

After breakfast, we’ll head to La Selva Biological Station, a leading research center for rainforest ecosystems since 1968. Once there, we’ll watch for various bird species such as Snowy Cotinga and Spectacled Owl. After lunch, we’ll proceed to Arenal Observatory Lodge, the only eco-lodge inside Arenal National Park, located between Lake Arenal and Arenal volcano. The lodge offers seven miles of trails across 800 acres, with elevations between 1,650 and 2,950 feet. Home to over 400 bird species, including Three Wattled Bellbird and Keel billed Toucan, it’s a Costa Rica birdwatching paradise. We may also spot monkeys and other wildlife. We’ll enjoy birding at feeders and trails upon arrival. In the evening we’ll chat about our amazing day together over a nice meal.

Day 5. Arenal & Arenal Observatory

In the morning, we’ll spot birds on the lodge trails before breakfast and then head to La Fortuna to explore Bogarin Trails, where we will have the chance to see various bird species. After lunch in town, we will visit the Arenal Hanging Bridges, offering unique views of the forest canopy from 15 bridges of varying lengths, and marvel at the biodiversity found in this transitional vegetation strip. This evening, we will unwind at a local hot spring, enjoying thermal waters sourced from the Arenal Volcano before heading back to camp to refuel.

Day 6. Monteverde & Montana Monteverde

After one last bird walk around Arenal Observatory, we depart for Monteverde. We’ll start with a boat ride across Lake Arenal to Tilaran and then we will continue the last two hours up the mountain by bus. Upon arrival, we’ll check in at Montana Monteverde Hotel and settle down for lunch and a quick rest. The hotel is located adjacent to a 37 acre private forest. On a clear day there are views of the Nicoya Peninsula. After checking in and enjoying lunch, we’ll visit Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve for a guided hike. The reserve is managed by the local public high school’s Board of Directors. The 765-acre reserve, founded in 1992, is located along the Caribbean slope, which offers a large variety of flora and fauna. We’ll spend the evening talking about our action-packed day and enjoying a bite to eat.

Day 7. Monteverde & Montana Monteverde

After breakfast, we’ll visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Established in 1972, this 10,193-acre reserve is home to around 50% of Costa Rica’s biodiversity and features eight life zones. The cool and wet environment receives over three meters of rain each year and boasts a diverse array of flora and fauna, including 2,500 plant species, 300 orchids, and 200 ferns. We’ll also visit the Bat Jungle, which houses over 90 bats from eight species in a recreated cloud forest. We’ll be lucky enough to observe them feeding, flying, and socializing through glass windows and listen to their vocalizations via special microphones. Informative exhibits emphasize the importance of bat conservation.

Day 8. Wyndham Herradura

Enjoy an early-morning bird walk around the hotel. After breakfast, depart for San Jose with a stop en route at Cafe Monteverde for a coffee plantation tour. The tour covers every state of coffee farming and processing, from seed to cup. There is also a coffee shop for those that want to take delicious Costa Rican coffee home. Upon arrival into San Jose later in the afternoon, check in to the Wyndham Herradura before enjoying a farewell dinner.

Day 9. Farewell to Costa Rica

It is time to say goodbye! After one last breakfast together, we’ll head to the airport for our trip home.

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  • Birding Day Tours

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Eurypyga helias

birding tours costa rica

Resplendent Quetzal

Pharomachrus mocinno

birding tours costa rica

Agami Heron

Agamia agami

Birding Costa Rica

Red-headed Barbet

Eubucco bourcierii

birding tours costa rica

Collared Redstart

Myioborus torquatus

birding tours costa rica

Microchera albocoronata

birding tours costa rica

Keel-billed Motmot

Electron carinatum

birding tours costa rica

Volcano Hummingbird

Selasphorus flammula

birding tours costa rica

Coppery-headed Emerald

Elvira cupreiceps

birding tours costa rica

Broad-billed Motmot

Electron platyrhynchum

birding tours costa rica

A Costa Rica birding tour with Naturalist Journeys is bird watcher’s dream! Few places boast so many different birds in such a small area — 820 species (more than all of the United States and Canada combined) have been reported in Costa Rica, including 75 different families, like 51 species of hummingbirds, 48 warblers, and 45 tanagers. Protected by a world-renowned national park system, and well-studied by scientists from around the world, the land bridge of Costa Rica is where the fauna of two continents meet and mingle, making its wildlife exceptional and exciting. We just love Costa Rica and are pleased to offer Costa Rica birding tours and Costa Rica nature tours throughout much of the year. Contact us today for more information on our Costa Rica tours and other Central American birding tours .

Guided Group Tours

Group travel is rewarding and fun! With more eyes you see more species. Travel Planners of Naturalist Journeys and Caligo Ventures have been creating memorable journeys for 40+ years. We offer you small-group birding and nature tours, limited to just 8-10 persons led by expert guides. Learn and explore with like-minded people, enjoy local food and culture, and immerse yourself in birding and nature.

Red-eyed Tree Frog, Costa Rica, Costa Rica Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys

Conservation Corner

We value conservation – it is at the heart of our work. All Naturalist Journeys’ tours support local conservation projects. Browse the links below to learn more about positive local work to save and conserve the wildlife and landscapes we visit.

Land Conservation Over a quarter of the land mass in Costa Rica is protected as national parks, refuges, sanctuaries, and reserves. Five percent of the world’s biodiversity can be found in this small country! Few countries have put so many resources into environmental protection. The Costa Rican Embassy's website provides a summary. However, forest protection remains a critically important conservation goal. One of many non-profit organizations that operate in Costa Rica, the local group Apreflofas offers a short video about a woodcutter who learns the value of forests. Renewable Energy In 2015, Costa Rica produced 99% of its electricity from renewable resources. Wow! La Selva Biological Station La Selva Biological Station is run by the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) , a consortium of nearly sixty universities, colleges, and research institutions from around the world. Long-term research projects on site range widely — a sampling examines the effects of climate on tropical rain forest productivity and dynamics, roosting ecology of neotropical bats, and cooperation in Ocellated Antbirds. Guayabo National Monument Guayabo National Monument is home to the largest archeological site in Costa Rica. Pre-Columbian in age, ancient trails, bridges, watertanks, home sites, and petroglyphs are found throughout the site. In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers declared the Guayabo Ceremonial Center an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center The Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center works to educate future environmental leaders, support local communities’ organizational capacity and sustainable land use, and to connect tourists to the indigenous community. The Organization for Tropical Studies The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) operates both Las Cruces Biological Station and the Wilson Botanical Garden , the most famous botanical garden in Central America and with the second-largest collection of palms in the world. Osa Conservation The biologically rich Osa Peninsula and Golfo Dulce are under increasing pressure for development. Osa Conservation , a nonprofit organization, works to balance appropriate small scale development with sound environmental practices in the areas around the protected national parks of Corcovado and Piedras Blancas. The Ara Project Wild bird trade, hunting, and habitat loss have reduced the populations of Costa Rica’s two native macaws: the Scarlet Macaw and the Great Green Macaw. The Ara Project works to restore both species to their former ranges throughout Costa Rica.

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Costa Rica - Central Highlands (Relaxed) 2024 - ()

Costa rica - central highlands (relaxed).

  • Dates, Leaders and Pricing
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Our new Relaxed tour of Costa Rica takes in several of the key birding sites of this incredibly diverse country but allowing us time to enjoy each location in an unrushed fashion. The backbone of the country is formed by a scenic mountain range, splitting the lowland forests of the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Several roads allow unparalleled access to the lowlands, foothills, and higher altitude oak forests. Our tour takes in many attractive and exotic species including the unbelievable Snowcap, Long-tailed and Orange-collared Manakins, Scarlet Macaw, Fiery-billed Aracari, Talamanca Hummingbird, Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher and Black-and-yellow Phainoptila.

Costa Rica has strongly positioned itself towards avitourism, developing a superb infrastructure to service the numerous visiting birders, and with over 850 species it is easy to understand why! Thrilling birding, quality lodges and a relaxed pace make this destination perfect for anyone!

Scarlet Macaw; Snowcap; Violet Sabrewing; Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer; Black-crested & White-crested Coquettes; Violet-headed, Snowy-bellied, Charming, Scintillant, Volcano, Cinnamon & Talamanca Hummingbirds; Grey-tailed Mountaingem; White-crowned, White-ruffed, Red-capped, Blue-crowned & Orange-collared Manakins; Bicolored Hawk; Turquoise Cotinga; White-throated Magpie-Jay; Scarlet-rumped, Black-and-yellow, Carmiol’s, Flame-colored, Speckled & Crimson-collared Tanagers; Finsch’s Parakeet; Timberline Wren; Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush; Sooty Thrush; Volcano Junco; Costa Rican Pygmy Owl; Large-footed & Yellow-thighed Finches; Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher; Black-and-yellow Phainoptila; Flame-throated & Black-cheeked Warblers; Silvery-throated Jay; American Dipper; Torrent Tyrannulet; Golden-browed Chlorophonia; Baird’s Trogon; Shining Honeycreeper, Red-legged & Green Honeycreepers; Blue Dacnis; Tody Motmot; Jabiru; Black-faced Antthrush; Boat-billed & Bare-throated Tiger Herons.

Top Mammals

Mantled Howler Monkey; Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth

Habitats Covered

rainforest, cloud forest, highland oak forest, dry forest, rivers

Expected Climate

mostly tropical conditions; warm to humid with cooler conditions in mountainous areas

Max Group Size

10 with 1 Rockjumper leader & local birding leader

Tour Pace & Walking

Our Relaxed series of tours are designed to focus on having an enjoyable holiday with a bird and wildlife focus. Where possible; we have reduced or removed long drives, single night stays and poor/rustic accommodation. We have also sought to reduce or remove difficult hikes, narrow/muddy trails and otherwise oppressive environmental conditions. Early starts and night birding are mostly optional, and we will not spend much time searching for difficult and/or skulking species. These tours are not suitable for hardcore birders and listers, or dedicated photographers.



Ease of Birding

Mostly easy. Garden & lodge birding typically provides good visuals of most species. Some optional forest interior birding.

Photographic Opportunities

Good. Lots of fruit & hummingbird feeders. Photography more difficult within closed forest canopy.

What our clients say about us

Robert Wilcox

JK, Costa Rica

Bobby Wilcox was a good guide. Calm and knowledgeable. The food and accommodation were both very good, Better than I expect.

Adam Walleyn

MP, Costa Rica 2022

Adam and the local guide, were exceptionally good, both at making sure the logistics were taken care of and locating, identifying and making sure all of us on the tour saw the bird. Both were the finest I've ever experienced at identifying birds by their calls. All in all, a really terrific trip with over 300 species of birds sighted! A special shout-out for Hotel Robledal. While the hotel is older, the family that owns and runs it are wonderful hosts with an exceptional appreciation for the environment. Returning to Hotel Robledal at the end of the trip felt like coming home. Thanks Rockjumper, for a terrific trip! "

Adam Riley

Adam is an extremely hard working, energetic and enthusiastic person who is able to remain calm and collected under extreme pressure and is always willing to help and assist anyone in need. His ability to find elusive birds for clients is legendary and almost miraculous. He is not feint-hearted and never daunted by challenging circumstances.

Forrest Rowland

SP, Cost Rica 2015

I can say it was a great tour. Forrest and Richard were fantastic leaders. I would bird with them anywhere.

Costa Rica - Central Highlands (Relaxed) 2024

01 Sep 2024 - 13 Sep 2024 (13 days)

USD6,195 - No Spaces Available


Tour Leader: Alexander Alvarado

Tour price (Per person): USD6,195 * GBP4,962 * EUR5,765 * AUD9,438

Single Supplement: USD490 * GBP392 * EUR456 * AUD746

Costa Rica - Central Highlands (Relaxed) 2025

14 Sep 2025 - 26 Sep 2025 (13 days)

USD6,295 - Spaces Available


Tour Leader: Amanda Guercio


Tour Leader: Jehudy Carballo

Tour price (Per person): USD6,295 * GBP5,042 * EUR5,858 * AUD9,590

Single Supplement: USD730 * GBP585 * EUR679 * AUD1,112

Costa Rica - Cloud Forest & Quetzals 2023 - October 2023

Costa Rica - Cloud Forest: Caribbean Slope Extension 2023 - October 2023

Costa Rica - Central Highlands (Relaxed) 2023 - February 2023

Costa Rica - Cloud Forest & Quetzals 2022 - October 2022

Costa Rica - Cloud Forest & Quetzals II 2020 - December 2020

Costa Rica - Cloud Forest & Quetzals 2018 - May 2018

Costa Rica - Cloud Forest & Quetzals 2017 - May 2017

Costa Rica - Cloud Forest & Quetzals 2016 - October 2016

Costa Rica - Cloud Forest & Quetzals 2015 - October 2015

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birding tours costa rica

Birding Tour Costa Rica Escape

Go to: Costa Rica Birding Tours | Birding Tours in the Neotropics | All our birding tours

Dates and Costs

11 – 19 January 2025

Spaces Available: 5

Price: US$5,224 / £4,393 / €5,107 per person sharing

Single Supplement: US$948 / £797 / €927

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.

Recommended Field Guide

(Please also read our blogs about recommended field   guides for the seven continents here )

Tour Details

Duration : 9 days Group Size : 4 – 8 Tour Start : San José Tour End : San José

Price includes:

All accommodation All meals Entrance fees Private transportation Private tour leader Transfers from/to the airport

Price excludes:

Flights Personal expenses such as laundry, drinks and alcoholic drinks, personal items, phone calls, internet access, etc. Gratuities ( please see our tipping guidelines blog ) Medical and trip cancellation insurance Any activity not described in the itinerary

Featured Guide:

birding tours costa rica

Costa Rica Escape Tour January 2025

We believe this expertly tailored Costa Rica birding tour is the perfect excuse to leave behind the daily stress of modern-day living to do some great birding in one of the most fantastic birdwatching destinations in all of the neotropics.

Costa Rica Escape birding tour

Costa Rica offers perhaps the best birding in Central America, not only in terms of birds (the country holds 933 species) but also in terms of accommodation and tourist infrastructure. During this short tour we are staying at some of the most comfortable hotels available, perfect for birders and nature-lovers alike. If you do not have time to join our more comprehensive Complete Costa Rica Tour but still want to see beautiful and charismatic neotropical bird species, then this Costa Rica Escape Tour could be perfect for you. The tour is suited for both first-time birders to the neotropics and those more experienced birders trying to get a high number of species in the shortest amount of time. Not only does this tour offer an impressive species list but it also offers you the opportunity to see a number of neotropical dream birds such as Keel-billed Toucan , Resplendent Quetzal and a plethora of gorgeous hummingbird species.

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Itinerary (9 days/8 nights)  

Day 1. Arrival at San Jos é and transfer to Hotel Bougainvillea

You will arrive at the San José Airport to be met by your tour leader, and be transferred to the hotel. If time permits, we may do some birding around the beautiful grounds of the hotel, looking for Rufous-backed Wren , Hoffmann’s Woodpecker , Finsch’s Parakeet , Squirrel Cuckoo , Baltimore Oriole , Cinnamon-bellied Saltator , American Yellow Warbler , Lesson’s Motmot , White-winged Dove , Rufous-tailed Hummingbird , Clay-colored Thrush , Yellow-bellied Sapsucker , Melodious Blackbird , Great-tailed Grackle , and with some luck, White-eared Ground Sparrow .

Overnight: Hotel Bougainvillea , San José

Day 2. La Paz Waterfalls, Cinchona Feeders, and transfer to La Quinta

We will spend some time birding the hotel grounds before breakfast to add any additional species to yesterday afternoon’s birding. After breakfast, we will leave the hotel and head to La Paz Waterfalls. Here we should get species such as Mountain Wren , Slaty Antwren , Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush , Large-footed Finch , and a number of hummingbirds such as Violet Sabrewing , Green Hermit , Green-crowned Brilliant , the endemic Coppery-headed Emerald and with some luck Purple-crowned Fairy . We will of course spend some time admiring the impressive waterfalls of the area too!

Costa Rica Birding Escape

After lunch, we will visit the Cinchona feeders, where we can spend time watching and photographing birds such as Red-headed Barbet , Prong-billed Barbet , Blue-throated Toucanet , Silver-throated , Scarlet-rumped , Crimson-collared , Blue-grey , and Palm Tanagers , and with luck Black Guan and Buff-fronted Quail-Dove . After some great time at the feeders, we will transfer to Sarapiquí where we will look for iconic Caribbean foothills species such as Yellow-throated Toucan , Montezuma Oropendola , White-crowned Parrot , and Grey-headed Chachalaca .

Overnight: La Quinta Sarapiquí Country Inn , Sarapiquí

Coast Rica birding escape

Day 3. La Selva Biological Station

We will have an early start to explore the famous La Selva Biological Station, where we have the chance to find Short-billed and Scaled Pigeons , Brown-hooded Parrot , Great Green Macaw , Snowy Cotinga , White-ringed Flycatcher , Fasciated Antshrike , White-collared Manakin , Crested Guan , Great Antshrike , Red-lored Amazon , and Chestnut-headed and Montezuma Oropendola . In addition, we’ll look for Semiplumbeous Hawk , Chestnut-sided and Buff-rumped Warblers , Great Tinamou , Vermiculated Screech Owl , Great Curassow , Northern Barred Woodcreeper , Rufous-winged , Pale-billed , Chestnut-colored , and Black-cheeked Woodpeckers , Keel-billed Toucan , and perhaps even the secretive Slaty-breasted Tinamou .

Day 4. Cope Wildlife Reserve and Puerto Viejo

We will have a full morning visiting the famous Cope Wildlife Reserve where we will have excellent opportunities to photograph birds visiting its amazing feeders. Some of the species regularly visiting the feeders might include Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer , Crowned Woodnymph , White-necked Jacobin , Stripe-throated Hermit, White-tipped Sicklebill , Green Hermit , Montezuma and Chestnut-headed Oropendolas , Orange-chinned Parakeet , Black-cheeked Woodpecker , Red-legged , Shining and Green Honeycreepers , and Crimson-collared Tanager. We will also explore some nocturnal bird territories near the reserve to look for potential roosting trees for Crested Owl , Spectacled Owl , and Black-and-white Owl , as well as Great Potoo . The open fields are good for Tropical Mockingbird and Yellow Tyrannulet . We will also have good chances to enjoy some other iconic Costa Rican wildlife including frogs, lizards, and mammals.

Late in the afternoon, we will explore some areas around Puerto Viejo where Great Green Macaw is reliable and other birds such as Slaty Spinetail , Long-tailed Tyrant , Yellow Tyrannulet , Olive-throated Parakeet , Morelet’s and Variable Seedeaters , and Thick-billed Seed Finch may be seen.

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Day 5. Puerto Viejo and transfer to San Gerardo de Dota

Today we will leave Sarapiquí and make our way to San Gerardo de Dota and will break the long drive with a pleasant birding stop along the Sarapiquí River where, with luck, we might find Scarlet Macaw and King Vulture . We also have chances for Mangrove and Southern Rough-winged Swallows , Grey-breasted Martin , Prothonotary Warbler , Wedge-billed Woodcreeper , and Bare-throated Tiger Heron . We will then continue our drive to San Gerardo de Dota and, if time permits, enjoy some birding around Cerro de la Muerte, before reaching the lovely Savegre Lodge.

Overnight: San Gerardo de Dota valley

Day 6 . Los Quetzales National Park and Paraiso Los Quetzales Lodge

Today we will drive to the high elevations of Los Quetzales National Park. Once on the high grounds of the park we will focus on the range-restricted Volcano Junco and Timberline Wren . Other species are likely to include Large-footed Finch , Volcano Hummingbird , Black-capped Flycatcher and Red-tailed Hawk. We will then explore the lower areas in search of Black-eared Warbler , the shy Peg-billed Finch , and with luck, Barred Parakeet .

After birding the national park we will visit Paraiso Los Quetzales Lodge where we will enjoy the hummingbird feeders, likely getting views of Fiery-throated , Talamanca , and Volcano Hummingbirds , Grey-tailed Mountaingem and Lesser Violetear . The lodge is also a good place to look for the Mountain Thrush , Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush , Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush , Black-and-yellow Phainoptila , and with luck, Golden-browed Chlorophonia .

Costa Rica birding escape

After lunch, we will explore the surroundings of the Cerro de La Muerte and spend the afternoon enjoying some coffee and hummingbirds at Miriam’s Restaurant where we should find Acorn and Hairy Woodpeckers , Sooty-capped Bush Tanager , Golden-browed Chlorophonia , Flame-colored Tanager , Large-footed Finch , Sooty Thrush and perhaps Blue-throated Toucanet . We will leave for our lodge before dusk and try for Dusky Nightjar en route.

Day 7. Savegre Lodge birding

Today we will have an early start to look for Resplendent Quetzal , perhaps the most-wanted bird in Central America. We will visit the most reliable spot in the valley to secure this special sighting. After breakfast, we will spend the morning exploring the lush mountain forest above the lodge, looking for Spotted Wood Quail , Ruddy Treerunner , Spangle-cheeked Tanager , Collared Whitestart , Black-capped Flycatcher , Buffy Tuftedcheek , Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush , Silvery-fronted Tapaculo , and Flame-throated Warbler . Mixed flocks might hold North American migratory warblers such as Chestnut-sided , Black-throated Green , Black-and-white , and Wilson’s Warblers . In addition, we could find Sooty-capped Bush Tanager , Yellowish Flycatcher , Yellow-winged Vireo , Rufous-browed Peppershrike , and Black-faced Solitaire . We will spend the afternoon enjoying some easy birding around the lodge where we will keep an eye out for Finsch’s Parakeet , Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher , Slaty Flowerpiercer , Flame-colored Tanager , Acorn Woodpecker , Red-tailed Hawk , and Stripe-tailed and Scintillant Hummingbirds .

Costa Rica birding escape

Day 8. Birding Savegre and transfer back to San Jose

We will spend an extra morning around Savegre in case we need another chance to look for the Resplendent Quetzal , if we missed it on the previous day. We can explore the waterfalls road to look for Yellowish Flycatcher , Dark and Ochraceous Pewees , Black-faced Solitaire , and with some luck, American Dipper . After lunch we will be transferred to San Jose’s Hotel Robledal where it is possible to find Ferruginous Pygmy Owl and Jamaican Fruit-eating Bats in the hotel grounds.

Overnight Hotel Robledal, San Jose

Day 9. Transfer to the airport and departure

You will be transferred to San Jose Airport at a convenient time to connect with your international flight

Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Keel-billed Toucan

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Scarlet Macaw

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Spectacled Owl

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Violet Sabrewing

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Black-throated Trogon

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Yellow-throated Toucan

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Laughing Falcon

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Crested Owl

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Coppery-headed Emerald

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Blue-grey Tanager

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Montezuma Oropendola

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Spot-breasted Oriole

Costa Rica Birding Escape

Bare-throated Tiger Heron

Costa Rica Escape birding tour

Resplendent Quetzal

Costa Rica Escape

Squirrel Cuckoo

Map of birding tour in Costa Rica Escape January 2025

Costa Rica Escape Trip Report, January 2023

11- 19 january 2023, by  sarah preston.


birding tours costa rica

A rapt bunch of birders watched this male  Resplendent Quetzal  eat its avocado breakfast.

This Costa Rica Escape 2023 trip was an incredible trip, which allowed us to see the best of the country in just a week. Costa Rica is perhaps the easiest country to bird in the tropical Americas, and most of the Neotropical families are well represented. With great roads, comfortable tourist and service facilities, and modern infrastructure, the country, and this trip in particular, is the best choice for those who come to the tropics for the first time.

Our adventure started in San José, the capital of Costa Rica, and we managed to explore different habitats and ecosystems, ranging from the cloudforest mountains of Savegre in central Costa Rica to the Caribbean foothills.  Of the 931 species of birds that occur in Costa Rica we managed to record more than a quarter in a week only! We saw 270 species as well as an additional 18 species that were heard only.

Our trip list included sightings of  amazing species such as  Resplendent Quetzal ,  Violet Sabrewing ,  Black  and  Crested Guans ,  Yellow-throated  and  Keel-billed Toucans ,  Spectacled  and  Crested Owls ,  Flame-throated and Black-cheeked Warblers ,  Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher ,  Prong-billed  and  Red-headed Barbets ,  American Dipper ,  Black-breasted Wood Quail , and  Golden-Browed Chlorophonia . In addition, we managed to see one of two country endemics that occur on the mainland,  Coppery-headed Emerald , and we saw 28 birds that are shared only by Costa Rica and Panama. A nice selection of North American migratory warblers was also found, such as  Chestnut-sided ,  Tennessee, Black-and-white ,  Golden-winged ,  Black-throated Green ,  Townsend’s ,and  Wilson’s Warblers , 7 species of owls, and 26 species of hummingbirds.

It was a memorable trip, with most participants visiting the tropics for the first time. This fun group of clients was able to experience the excellent food, amazing wildlife, and friendly people that make Costa Rica a popular vacation destination. We hope that you can join us on our Costa Rica Escape 2024 tour!

Detailed Report

Day 1, 11 th  january 2023. hotel bougainvillea.

Half the group had arrived at Hotel Bougainvillea by the afternoon, so after lunch we birded the lush gardens behind the hotel. A resident  Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl  was perched in out in the open and one  Mottled Owl  was seen roosting in a large stand of bamboo. Several  Lesson’s Motmots  were seen, and a pair of  Red-billed Pigeons  were observed in courtship and copulation. Two  White-fronted Amazons  and a flock of  Finsch’s Parakeets  flew overhead. That evening a  Common Pauraque  called loudly in the parking lot and could be heard from inside our rooms.

birding tours costa rica

Lesson’s Motmots  were actively hunting in the Hotel Bougainvillea garden.

Day 2, 12 th  January 2023. Irazu Volcano National Park to Savegre Lodge

The group spent the first hour of our first full day birding the gardens behind Hotel Bougainvillea before breakfast. The  Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl  was again perched in full view and two  Mottled Owls  were roosting in the bamboo. We tried for  White-eared Ground-Sparrow  and  Chestnut-capped Warbler , which were heard calling and the warbler gave brief views, but neither species cooperated well. Several species perched in the large, leafless tree in the center of the garden: a  Masked Tityra , six  Brown Jays , and a  Tennessee Warbler . A couple  Rufous-naped Wrens , a  Cabanis’s Wren , and a  Rufous-collared Sparrow  were observed singing. Just before breakfast a male  Montezuma Oropendola  flew in and displayed. The female flew in, and they copulated.

After breakfast we drove up into the highlands to Irazu Volcano National Park. At the crater, there were  Volcano Juncos  in the parking lot. The entire group watched a male  Volcano Hummingbird  display several times – singing and flying high into the air and coming back to perch. We had our first looks at  Slaty Flowerpiercer ,  Sooty Thrush ,  Fiery-throated Hummingbird , and  Sooty-capped Bush Tanager . When stopped for lunch on the way down the mountain, a  Short-tailed Hawk  was observed soaring over the valley below.

On the way to Savegre Lodge, we stopped at Miriam’s Quetzals Restaurant where there are feeders in the back and a view of the Savegre Valley. Several species of hummingbirds were coming to the feeder and flowers:  Talamanca ,  Fiery-throated , and  Volcano Hummingbirds ,  Lesser Violetear , and  Grey-tailed Mountaingem . The fruit feeder hosted  Yellow-thighed Brush-finch ,  Mountain Thrush ,  Large-footed Finch ,  Flame-colored Tanagers , and  Acorn Woodpeckers . One of the restaurant staff alerted us to the presence of a male  Golden-browed Chlorophonia  feeding on crabapples in the side garden and we watched it at length. First looks were had of  Ruddy Treerunner  and  Yellow-winged Vireo , both seen briefly. A male and female pair of  Yellow-bellied Siskins  were seen perching high behind the feeders.

birding tours costa rica

The  Volcano Junco’s  piercing yellow eyes made it look angry.

We arrived at Savegre Lodge just before dusk and noticed a woman photographing something in a tree at the entrance. When we found out it was an immature male  Resplendent Quetzal , we pulled over and everyone eagerly bailed out of the vehicle to see it. Number one species acquired!

Day 3, 13 th  January 2023. Savegre Lodge to Los Quetzales National Park

We left before dawn to go a few miles down the road to join the vigil for the male  Resplendent Quetzal  that had been frequenting an avocado tree at dawn. The spectacular bird arrived as if on cue, fed from the avocado tree, and sat still for a long time for excellent scope views. After digesting for at least an hour, it went briefly to the tree again then flew down into the valley and disappeared. Everyone enjoyed seeing its tail stream behind it while it flew. After our breakfast, we took a two-mile walk up the hillside behind the hotel. The variety of species there was impressive! We had close looks at  Collared Whitestart  and  Grey-breasted Wood-Wrens  singing, several cooperative  Flame-throated Warblers , great looks at two  Black-faced Solitaire  and  Yellowish Flycatcher  and encountered a mixed migrant warbler flock that included  Wilson’s ,  Black-throated Green , and  Townsend’s Warblers . At least ten  White-collared Swifts  soared overhead. We enjoyed scope views of  Sulphur-winged Parakeets  and  Barred Becard . We had brief views of an  Olive-streaked Flycatcher  feeding on berries with a  Mountain Elainea  and a  Philadelphia Vireo  until a  Spot-crowned Woodcreeper  stole our attention. Once back down near the rooms we observed a  Scintillant Hummingbird ,  Long-tailed Silky-Flycatchers , and  Slaty Flowerpiercer  feeding.

birding tours costa rica

Resplendent Quetzal , the first of two of this most-wanted species seen on the trip.

After lunch we drove to Villa Mills, which is above 9,000 feet elevation. At the beginning of the trail, a keen tour participant found an endemic  Black-cheeked Warbler  and there turned out to be three of them. A  Timberline Wren  was singing but didn’t come out. We did get views of several  Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush , which were also singing. We saw the hilarious looking  Buffy Tuftedcheek  and got better views of  Ruddy Treerunner .

We moved on from there a short distance down the mountain to a gravel road within Los Quetzales National Park. We found a perched  Talamanca Hummingbird  and a  Grey-tailed Mountaingem  preparing to roost for the night, offering fantastic looks. Just at dusk, the  Dusky Nightjar  began calling. It flew up to a branch right above the road and perched for several minutes, offering phenomenal  views, until a car flushed it. As it flew, the buffy corners of the tail could be seen. After this, we tried for the endemic  Bare-shanked Screech-Owl , which was quite cooperative, and everyone got amazing looks of the owl perched in the open.

Day 4, 14 th  January 2023. Parque Nacional Los Quetzals and San Gerardo de Dota Sendero Catarata

We took our customary morning walk, this time along Río Savegre, and saw several  Torrent Tyrranulets , including a pair possibly setting up nesting territory. The small black, gray, and white flycatchers were fun to watch moving around the rocks on the river, occasionally flying up for an insect. A  Stripe-tailed Hummingbird  was feeding on flowers alongside the road allowing for good looks at its namesake and a silent  Belted Kingfisher  rocketed down the river. We got our first looks at  Common Bush Tanager  and compared them to nearby  Sooty-capped Bush Tanager . On the way back, we admired a flock of  Long-tailed Silky-Flycatchers .

After breakfast, we visited Parque Nacional Los Quetzals and encountered a mixed flock of species previously seen that included  Barred Becard .  Timberline Wren  was seen at last, three individuals together. We watched a pair of  Black-capped Flycatchers  actively foraging and had scope views of  Mistletoe Tyrannulet  and of a pair of  Black-and-yellow Phainoptila . A  Wrenthrush  was calling and did get very near the group, but didn’t come out, only its movement was seen. We had a fantastically close look at a male  Volcano Hummingbird  (heliotrope-throated subspecies). A  Ruddy Pigeon  called “mashed potatoes” in the distance, but never came close.

We stopped for lunch and hummingbird photos at Paraíso Quetzal Lodge. There we had ridiculously close encounters with  Volcano ,  Fiery-throated ,  Talamanca Hummingbirds ,  Lesser Violetear , and  Grey-tailed Mountaingem . A male  Volcano Hummingbird  was displaying nearby. We had a second look at  Golden-browed Chlorophonia  when a pair perched in a treetop eye-level to the platform.

In the late afternoon, we hiked the San Gerardo de Dota Sendero Catarata (Waterfall Trail). It was exciting to see two pairs of  American Dippers  foraging underwater for insects in the river as well as  Dark Pewee , endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama, and two  Tufted Flycatchers  hawking insects. We had brief encounters with  Ochraceous Wren ,  Red-faced Spinetail ,  Black-thighed Grosbeak , and  Spotted Barbtail  and a long look at a singing  Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush  at dusk and spotted another one as we exited the trail.

birding tours costa rica

Collared Aracari  were common, but attractive, guests at several fruit feeders we visited.

Day 5, 15 th  January 2023.Rio San José and Comandancia de Sarapiquí Road

We took one last pre-breakfast walk around Savegre before heading to La Quinta Sarapiquí Lodge where we would stay the next three nights. We got our first view of  Slate-throated Whitestart , albeit brief. The highlight of the walk was the discovery of a  Lesser Violetear  nest with two young, especially when a parent came and fed them.

Since the weather wasn’t favorable the day before, we returned to Parque Nacional Los Quetzals. A  White-fronted Tyrannulet  was seen several times moving about. The main target, missed yesterday, was the  Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl , endemic to the Costa Rican and western Panamanian highlands, which we ended up seeing in full view for several minutes to our amazement.

birding tours costa rica

Viewing this endemic  Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl  was a truly unforgettable experience.

We made a stop after lunch to bird Calle Israel along Rio San José. We eventually got fantastic views of the main target,  Fasciated Tiger-Heron , which flushed at first, but then two were viewed well from the vehicle. A  Spotted Sandpiper , a juvenile  Little Blue Heron , a  Northern Waterthrush  and  Buff-rumped Warblers  were also feeding along the river. We had first looks at  Collared Aracari  feeding in a fruiting tree. An  Amazon Kingfisher  that flew down the river was viewed by some as it perched briefly. Scope views of  White-crowned Parrots  were also had.

A few new species were added on the drive. A small pond along the road yielded some waders on the way to Sarapiquí:  Great-Blue Heron ,  Northern Jacana , and  Great Egret .  Cattle Egrets  and  Groove-billed Ani  were seen as we drove by fields and scrub habitat.

Our last stop of the day was Comandancia de Sarapiquí Road, an open area with a few very large trees. The big draw here was the  Great Green  and  Scarlet Macaws  and both species were seen in flight. One  Scarlet Macaw  perched high, but in the open. A pair of  Bat Falcons  were also perched high, at the top of a tree. A soaring  Short-tailed Hawk  gave distant views. A pair of  Slaty Spinetails  were observed nest building.  Common Tody-Flycatcher  came in close for a great photographic opportunity. Two  Black-striped Sparrows  were calling and occasionally came into view. Several other flycatcher species were observed:  Grey-capped Flycatcher ,  Tropical Kingbird ,  Great Kiskadee ,  Northern Tropical Pewee , and  Mistletoe Tyrannulet . Many  Montezuma  and three  Chestnut-headed Oropendolas  flew overhead.  Variable Seedeaters  were mimicking a variety of other birds’ songs and flocking with a  Morelet’s Seedeater .

birding tours costa rica

It was awe-inspiring to see wild  Scarlet Macaws .

Day 6, 16 th  January 2023. La Quinta Sarapiquí Lodge, Cope’s Place and La Quinta

Excited to bird a new location, we took our usual walk before breakfast around La Quinta Sarapiquí Lodge and immediately encountered a new species, a cooperative  Stripe-breasted Wren . Near the Caiman lake, we found a couple  Orange-billed Sparrows , a  Northern Waterthrush , a  Buff-rumped Warbler , and a  Green Kingfisher . In the woods, a  Slate-colored Grosbeak  called from high in the trees. We had brief looks at a female  Blue-black Grosbeak  and would later also get glimpses of the male. The two feeders on the property hosted a variety of species including  Clay-colored Thrush ,  Green  and  Red-legged Honeycreeper ,  Black-cheeked Woodpecker ,  Rufous-tailed Hummingbird ,  Grey-headed Chachalaca ,  Red-throated Ant Tanager ,and  Palm,  Scarlet-rumped, and Golden-Hooded Tanagers .

After breakfast, we headed to Cope’s Place. On the way we paused for great looks at a  Grey Hawk  on a pole. As soon as we arrived, we were treated to a perched  Band-tailed Barbthroat . We spent an hour at Cope’s feeders watching and photographing  Long-billed  and  Striped-throated Hermits ,  Shining ,  Green , and  Red-legged Honeycreepers , a  Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer , a  Green-breasted Mango , many  White-necked Jacobins , and  Chestnut-headed  and  Montezuma Oropendolas . We got our first close looks at  Pale-vented Pigeons  and  Orange-chinned Parakeets , previously fly overs, and saw our first  Keel-billed Toucan , which came to the bananas. A  Russet-naped Wood-Rail  came out and ate the rice. We also enjoyed talking with Cope and looking at his amazing photographs and artwork.

We took a walk in Cope’s farm with one of the guides who showed us a colony of  Honduran White Bats  roosting under a huge leaf. Early in the walk we had brief looks at a pair of  Cinnamon Woodpecker  and good looks at two  Scarlet-rumpled Caciques . We were amazingly fortunate to see and photograph two  Crested Owls  perched together and an immature  Spectacled Owl . We also viewed two  Green Ibis . On the way out, we marveled over a huge  Bullet Ant  on a log.

birding tours costa rica

We counted ourselves lucky to see this pair of  Crested Owls  right out in the open.

After lunch and a break, we had planned to drive to an open area close to La Quinta. We stopped for five  Southern Lapwings  in a field and also saw a pair of  Lineated Woodpeckers  there. We never got to the intended location because next we stopped for a probable Motmot and ended up finding 46 species at the “Crazy Corner” and never did get a motmot. Highlights included three species of Antshrike, all seen very well:  Great  (singing male),  Fasciated  (male and female), and  Barred   Antshrike  (male and female). We had spectacular views of  Squirrel Cuckoo ,  Black-crowned Tityra ,a singing  Rufous-tailed Jacamar , and  Canebrake Wren . We watched a  Long-tailed Tyrant  sally for insects. Three  Giant Cowbirds  flew over and one perched briefly.

In the evening we went searching for nocturnal creatures and found a  Common Rain Frog , a  Slender Anole , a  Cane Toad , a  Long-nosed Proboscis Bat , and several  Spectacled Caiman .

Day 7, 17 th  January 2023. La Selva Biological Station

A big day with 92 species recorded!

We birded around La Quinta before breakfast and picked up  Purple-crowned Fairy  and  Black-cowled Orioles , new for the trip.

We spent the rest of the morning at La Selva Biological Station. The variety of birds just at the headquarters was amazing and included several  Short-billed Pigeons , nesting  Olive-backed Euphonia  and  Crested Guans , a soaring  Double-toothed Kite , a female  White-ruffed Manakin , and a male  White-collared Manakin . Once in the jungle, woodpeckers were a highlight with a nest-building  Chestnut-colored   Woodpecker  and  Pale-billed Woodpeckers  feeding young. Some in the group enjoyed their lifer look at a  Kentucky Warbler  while others worked to identify a  Streak-headed Woodcreeper . The morning included notable mammal sightings: a troop of  Golden-mantled Howler Monkeys  and two  Brown-throated Three-toed Sloths . Just before a pre-lunch snack of fresh watermelon and pineapple, we added  Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher  and  Cinnamon Becard  to our list of birds seen well.

birding tours costa rica

Watching woodpecker nesting activities, including  Chestnut-colored Woodpeckers , was a treat.

After lunch and a break, we returned to La Selva Biological Station until dusk. Upon arrival, we had brief views of a  Bay-headed Tanager  and a male  Snowy Cotinga  and a  Scarlet-thighed Dacnis  were perched in the open for excellent scope views. Then several  Yellow-throated  and  Keel-billed Toucans  and a group of  Red-lored Amazons  flew in. From the bridge, we viewed our first  White-ringed Flycatcher ,a  Rufous Mourner ,and a  Slaty-tailed Trogon  giving fantastic views perched in the open, eye-level to the bridge. Just after crossing the bridge, the only  Blue-chested Hummingbird  of the trip was seen foraging in a large flowering tree. The same area also hosted  Social ,  Grey-capped ,and  Boat-billed Flycatchers .While walking the trail, a male  Great Tinamou  and three chicks walked across the trail in front of us. At dusk, a pair of  Middle American Screech-Owls  were calling, and one was cooperative, allowing for excellent views.

Day 8, 18 th  January 2023. La Selva to San Jose

We had a goal to break 100 species for our last birding day and we did it!

We started early to begin birding the road near the main entrance to La Selva before dawn. While it was still dark, we saw several  Common Pauraque  foraging for insects in the streetlight and heard a  Little Tinamou  calling. At dawn, we observed a  Short-tailed Nighthawk  flying around.

After dawn, we observed many birds from a spot just outside the main entrance including a close, perched  Semiplumbeous Hawk , an  Ochre-bellied Flycatcher , a  Southern Rough-winged Swallow , many  Collared Aracaris  and  Yellow-throated Toucans , a  Keel-billed Toucan , a  Brown-hooded  and several  Red-lored Amazons , and a flock of  Orange-chinned Parakeets.   At one point, we heard a  Slaty-breasted Tinamou  that sounded like a mini train and very close by, so we investigated, but it was like a ghost. Our foray into the forest wasn’t for naught, though, because we saw several  Wedge-billed Woodcreepers  and a  Cocoa Woodcreeper  at that time. The trail led us to an open area where we added two new species: a  Bronzy Hermit  and a pair of  Olive-crowned Yellowthroats .  

It was time to return to the lodge for breakfast, but two spontaneous birding stops were a necessity. First, we stopped for seven  Scarlet Macaws  in a single tree by the road. Then just before the lodge, we saw a  Broad-billed Motmot  on a wire and got two noisy  Bright-rumped Attilas  as a bonus.

After breakfast we bid goodbye to La Quinta and headed to San Jose, but not before watching a  Strawberry Poison-dart Frog  sing right outside our rooms.

birding tours costa rica

Nightingale Wren , a shy, plain bird that put on a show.

We made several birding stops at different elevations, the most productive of those was Virgin del Socorro and we hated to leave. On the drive down into the valley we spotted a  Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush  and a  Lesser Greenlet  was the first bird we spied at the bottom. We saw many flycatcher species and added these new ones to our list:  Slaty-capped Flycatcher ,  Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant , and  Eye-ringed Flatbill . Warblers were actively feeding, and we added  Tropical Parula, Blackburnian  and  Golden-crowned Warblers  to our list and got a second look at  Golden-winged Warbler  and  Slated-throated Whitestart  here. A large flock of vultures soaring over the valley included all three species:  King ,  Black , and  Turkey Vulture.  One keen-eyed participant got a long look at a  Chestnut-backed Antbird , which played hide and seek with the rest of the group. More cooperative birds included an  Olivaceous Woodcreeper , three  Black-thighed Grosbeaks , a  Collared Trogon  perched in the open, and a  Nightingale Wren  that showed itself and put on quite the concert within a few feet of the entire group.

On the way up to the Cinchona Feeders we stopped for a much better view of a pair of  Bat Falcons  than before and a brief look at a large group of  White-nosed Coati  being fed by gullible tourists.

The Cinchona Feeders were an obligatory stop for both the waterfall overlook view and the amazing birds. We picked up our three main targets for this location almost immediately:  Red-headed  and  Prong-billed Barbets , and two  Blue-throated Toucanets.  We also got first looks at  Green Hermit  and  Green-Crowned Brilliant,  a second sighting of  Crimson-collared Tanager , our sole sighting of  Black-headed Saltator , and our only rare bird of the trip,  Yellow-winged Tanager , which has somewhat recently expanded its range southward into Costa Rica.

birding tours costa rica

A beautiful pair of  Blue-throated Toucanets  were the stars of the Cinchona Feeders.

We stopped at La Paz Waterfall Gardens for both birds and lunch. One of two major targets was obtained while eating, the  Sooty-faced Finch , an individual known to beg rice from diners and a species otherwise very difficult to see. The group was practically bum rushed by a flock of eight of the other target,  Black-breasted Wood-Quail , when they noisily crossed the set of stairs where we were standing. Several new-for-the-trip hummingbirds were viewed at the many feeders:  Green Thorntail ,  White-bellied  and  Purple-throated Mountaingems ,  Black-bellied Hummingbird ,and  Coppery-headed Emerald . On the way out, a participant that was lagging behind the group snagged the only  Tawny-capped Euphonia  and last new species of the trip.

Day 9, 19 th  January 2023. Departure

Our international flights left from Juan Santamaría International Airport.

birding tours costa rica

This  Semiplumbeous Hawk  perched nearby, undetected until the birds gave it away.

Bird List – Following IOC (12.2)

Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.

The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following BirdLife International: CE = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, NT = Near Threatened.

Insect List

Mammal list, reptiles and amphibians list.

Please see the downloadable PDF above with the full species lists included. This is a sample trip report. Please email us ( [email protected] ) for more trip reports from this destination.



Our Costa Rica Escape tour is a great, nine-day trip across one of the most exciting destinations in the neotropics. Our tour will start in San José and will take you to explore the Caribbean foothills in the north where we will have the chance to explore La Selva Biological Station and other famous birding sites. Here we hope to see iconic species such as Snowy Cotinga , Montezuma Oropendola , Keel-billed Toucan , Collared Aracari and Great Green Macaw . There are excellent chances for other wildlife sightings too, with Brown-throated Sloth , Honduran White Bat and Strawberry Poison-dart Frog , all possible. The birding is generally easy-going with ample opportunities to relax and enjoy bird feeding stations. We will spend quality time walking along exciting forest trails. Another part of our tour will take us to the San Gerardo de Dota to explore the cloudforest mountains looking for the incredible Resplendent Quetzal and other specials such as Wrenthrush , Dark Pewee , Spotted Wood Quail , Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher , and Blue-throated Toucanet , while staying at the comfortable Savegre Lodge as our base for three nights.


Please e-mail us ( [email protected] , or  contact us  in a different way, if preferred) before you book any flights, as the information shown here is just an initial guide.   Our tour will start in the city of San José, at San José’s de Costa Rica Juan Santa María International Airport (SJO) which can be reached by flights from most major airports from the US, Europe and Panama City (Panama). You may wish to consult your travel agent to book your most convenient flight, although please  contact us  if you need any guidance. Your tour leader will be waiting for you at San José Airport with the Birding Ecotours logo displayed and will then transfer you to your nearby hotel. Please be aware that most international flights arrive in San José around midday. We don’t have any birding activities planned for the first afternoon but we can enjoy birding around the hotel grounds where we can get a nice set of birds. In case you arrive on an early flight, you will be transferred to the hotel but may have to wait until check-in is available (normally in the early afternoon, although you can easily pass the time wandering around the hotel grounds). For an early check-in, you might be charged extra directly by the hotel; this cost is not included in the Birding Ecotours tour price.

Please remember to keep your luggage tags, as they are required to exit the terminal at the San José Airport.

When filling out the customs declaration form, please use the hotel address below:

Hotel Bounganvillea Santo Tomás, Heredia, Santo Domingo, 40302, Costa Rica


Our tour will end in the city of San José after a wonderful nine days in Costa Rica. On the final morning you will be transferred to the San José Airport (SJO) from where you can catch your connecting flight.


There are not domestic flights needed on this birding tour.


We grade this trip as easy, with most of the birding consisting of walking along roads, although some of them lead up and down hills. We will explore some forest trails in the cloudforest and Caribbean slope which have gentle undulations, and there may be muddy sections after rain. Nevertheless, Costa Rica does not require long, hard mountain walks as do some other Birding Ecotours destinations like Peru, Guatemala, or Ecuador. We will spend quality time sitting and enjoying hummingbird feeders and birding the lodge grounds at a number of destinations on this tour.

Keep in mind that (as is usual on most birding trips) we need to be awake very early in the mornings, and pre-dawn starts are required each day. We normally spend the whole morning birding in the field, before returning to the lodge for lunch, after which we often enjoy some downtime and then continue our birding in the late afternoon. Your guide will sometimes invite you to look for owls at night, however this is an optional activity that you can skip if you feel tired. Some people prefer to rest, skipping birding in the afternoon; this can be done at those lodges where we are staying more than one night. When we make birding stops while traveling from location to location, those who feel tired do not have to follow the group and can remain and rest in the vehicle.

We think this trip may be difficult for people with back, walking, and balance problems or for those who are not used to a birding trip with early morning starts.


ATM machines are only available at San José Airport and we suggest drawing US dollars here (for personal expenses such as bar bills, laundry, phone calls, etc). We recommend drawing all the cash (US dollars) you expect to need on the tour at the airport, as ATM machines are not easily accessible elsewhere on the tour itinerary. Please note that although most destinations will accept credit cards, some of the more remote locations may not offer these facilities.

We will reach the highest elevation of the tour at Los Quetzales National Park at 10,170 feet (3,190 meters) above sea level. Please ask your doctor if you have any medical conditions that might be aggravated by high elevations. However, we will likely only spend 1-2 hours at this elevation, as we are only looking for two special targets here; Volcano Junco and Timberline Wren . Normally we find these birds fairly quickly and we have not had any problems with altitude sickness in the past.

We ask you to be ready for all kinds of weather during this trip. Areas such as Sarapiqui, El Tapir, Cope Wildlife Reserve and La Selva Biological Station in the Caribbean foothills are hot and humid with temperatures reaching 30°C (86°F). We suggest packing clothes in which you feel most comfortable for this kind of weather. We highly recommend using sunscreen and a light-colored hat or cap. We might also get some rain during our visit in the Caribbean tropical forest!

The weather in the cloudforest of San Gerardo de Dora, Savegre Lodge, Irazú Volcano and the Quetzales National Park can be sunny and humid around midday but cold in the early morning and night, with temperatures dropping to 8°C (46°F).

Please check  here  for a list of what we recommend bringing.

Laundry services are available at Hotel Boungavillea, Savegre Lodge and La Quinta Sarapiquí Country Inn. Laundry fees are not included in the tour price.


Accommodation is of a very good standard during the tour with rooms including en suite bathrooms, hot showers and air conditioning (in warmer areas only).

We will have a private van for the whole tour with plenty of room for everybody. We will require 4×4 vehicle transfers to reach a couple of birding spots above Savegre Lodge. The drive should only take a few minutes but participants should be fit enough to climb in and out of the 4×4 vehicles.

Birding Ecotours

Costa Rica General Information

Download Costa Rica Escape Tour Information

‘The Costa Rica Escape tour was my second trip with Birding Ecotours, after Brazil. It was a great winter break and also a teaser trip to the country, leaving us wanting to see more. Any trip with a Resplendent Quetzal has to be a good one, but the variety of birds we saw at the various stops was amazing. One of the highlight memories for me was when Eduardo and the local guide were off the trail, listening for an owl, and a Great Tinamou walked right up to their feet without them realizing it. As a guide, Eduardo is professional, knowledgeable and personable. I’m already planning my third trip with the company!’

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Costa Rica Focus

Birding Guanacaste Costa Rica – A Complete Guide

by Joan Borreli | Oct 2, 2020 | Costa Rica Birding Blog

Birding Guanacaste Costa Rica

In this blog we’ll be discussing the top bird watching locations in Guanacaste, the best hotels and lodges and what you need to know to plan your Costa Rica birding tour.

How do passengers get to Guanacaste?

Passengers can fly directly into the Liberia International Airport, in northwest Costa Rica. Here, transportation can be found to take passengers to the hotels, golden beaches, or mountain lodges. Liberia Airport is close to most of the top birding spots (25 minutes to the Papagayo Peninsula, 90 minutes to Rincon de la Vieja, and 90 minutes to the famous Palo Verde Biological reserve).

Birding Guanacaste Costa Rica

What is birding like in Guanacaste?

Guanacaste is a unique area, and one of the most delicate life zones in the tropics. The zone is known as Tropical Dry Forest and it is characterized by its months long period of no rainfall each year. Costa Rica has conserved the largest area of Tropical Dry Forest in Central America. The province is the southernmost location for MesoAmerican bird species; that is species whose habitat extends from Mexico to Costa Rica. Guanacaste is also an excellent place to stay if birding interests include shore birds and pelagic species. With a long Pacific coastline, birders are sure to enjoy coastal birding too.

Birdwatching Guanacaste, Costa Rica

In what part of Costa Rica is Guanacaste located?

The province of Guanacaste is located in the northwestern part of Costa Rica and spans from the Pacific Ocean to the northern volcanoes and south to the Nicoya Peninsula. Guanacaste is well known for being the sunniest and driest part of Costa Rica. The most popular months to visit are January, February, July and August, but birding tours are great year round.

Is Papagayo the best location for a bird watching adventure?

The Papagayo region of Costa Rica is a great location for passengers arriving into Liberia. With resort hotels available and adventure activities offered, Papagayo can be a good choice. Transportation is readily available from Papagayo to the area’s national parks. For a one day birding trip, from the hotel, we would recommend a private, guided, early morning tour. For more intense, multiple day birding tours we recommend tours with one of our private guides to some of the other areas of the region too. Our guides are experts at finding the top birds of the region.

Bird Watching Guanacaste, Costa Rica

When should I plan to travel to Costa Rica and what type of tour should I book?

While many visitors enjoy traveling to Costa Rica in January, February, July and August, we can tailor a trip for any month of the year. Our tours always include transportation, accommodations, and birding. Guests can fly into and out of Liberia or San Jose. We offer private tours (with a private guide), small group tours (with a private guide) and independent tours (with local guides). We can send you a trip plan and quote with a price per passenger.

What are your recommended Lodges for Costa Rica Birding in Guanacaste?

Borinquen mountain resort.

This beautiful, secluded lodge is perfect for bird watchers and nature lovers. The lodge sits on a hilltop, surrounded by forest providing tranquil surroundings to visitors. Birding on site is very good with excellent chances to see the top species of Guanacaste. Top birds on site: Thicket Tinamou, Turquoise Browed Motmot, Red-Crowned Ant Tanager, Stub Tailed Spadebill, and the Ruddy Woodcreeper.

Birding Borinquen Resort in Guanacaste Costa Rica

La Ensenada Lodge

La Ensenada is a rustic lodge located on the Nicoya Peninsula near the Pacific coast. This former hacienda has been turned into a birding lodge by the original family. It is certainly one of the top birding locations in all of Guanacaste. Top birds on site: Lesser Ground Cuckoo, Rufous-necked Wood Rail, Mangrove Hummingbird, Crested Bobwhite, and the Pacific Screech Owl.

Birding La Ensenada Lodge in Guanacaste Costa Rica

Palo Verde Biological Station

The Palo Verde BioStation is an amazing location for bird watching in the area. The accommodations are rustic but the bird watching is out of this world. Palo Verde provides forest and wetlands and the opportunity to see birds that are difficult to see anywhere else in Costa Rica. Top birds include: Jabiru Stork, Limpkin, Bay-Winged Hawk, Spot Breasted Oriole, Elegant Trogon.

Rancho Humo

Rancho Humo is located near Palo Verde Biostation. If you desire a stay in the area but want to have a more luxurious hotel, Rancho Humo delivers. Beautiful, well-appointed rooms, a refreshing swimming pool and excellent proximity to Palo Verde make it a great spot for birders.Top birds on site: Black Crowned Night Herons, Jabiru Storks, and Streak Backed Orioles.

Birding Rancho Humo in Guanacaste Costa Rica

Rio Celeste Hideaway

Rio Celeste Hideaway is a lovely boutique hotel nestled in the forest near the Tenorio National Park. Stunning bungalows are set within the serene forest. The lodge boasts a superb swimming pool, and excellent on site trails. Top birds on site: Keel Billed Motmot, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Lattice-Tailed Trogon.

What are the top locations for birding?

Rincon de la vieja.

This massive National Park is well known for the huge volcanic crater in the center of the national park. The caldron rumbles, mud pits bubble and fumaroles steam. The park has a new welcome center offering snacks and facilities. The trails offer various terrains and levels of difficulty.

Birding is spectacular, bird watchers will have the chance to add many top species to their life lists. Be sure to be on the lookout for: Lesson’s Motmot, White fronted Parrot, Spectacled Owl, Pacific Screech Owl, Lesser Ground Cuckoo, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Black Faced Solitaire, Banded Wren, Royal Fly catcher, Emerald Toucanet, Thicket Tinamou, Red-Crowned Ant Tanager, Stub Tailed Spadebill, Ruddy Woodcreeper and the Montezuma Oropendola.

Birding Rincon de la Vieja in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Santa Rosa National Park

Santa Rosa is another huge National Park. It covers over 38,000 square hectares of land. This park has historical significance to Costa Rica adding a bonus to a visit ahere. The park is a combination of grasslands and forest so it attracts a wide array of bird species.

Some of the top birds to look for are: Olive Sparrow, Stripe-Headed Sparrow, Scrub Euphonia, Thicket Tinamou, Harris Hawk, Orange Fronted Parakeet, Northern Potoo, Cinnamon Hummingbird,, Elegant Trogon, Ivory billed Woodcreeper, White-lored GnatCatcher, Banded Wren, and the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

Palo Verde Biological Reserve

Palo Verde is a remote national park covering 16,000 hectares of the Pacific Slope of Costa Rica. The park is a combination of dry tropical forest, marshlands, mangroves, and secondary forest.

The park is a very important breeding ground for resident birds and the wintering home of migratory species. Palo Verde is also the top spot for seeing the Jabiru Stork.

Top species to watch for: Jabiru Stork, Orange-fronted Parakeet, Yellow-naped Parrot, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Brown-crested Flycatcher, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Banded Wren, Olive Sparrow, Rufous-capped Warbler, Plain-capped Starthroat, Canivet’s Emerald, Snail Kite, Mangrove Black Hawk.

Yellow-Naped Parrot in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

La Ensenada

Located on the Pacific Slope, La Ensenada offers amazing bird watching. You can stay at the lodge or plan for a day visit. Here you get a mix of Tropical dry forest species and wetland species.

Top species to put on your list are: Turquoise-browed Motmot, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Canivet’s Emerald, Green-breasted Mango, Yellow-headed Caracara, Crested Caracara,Common Pauraque, Lesser Nighthawks, Pacific Screech-owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, and Short-billed Dowitchers.

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Seen While Birding in Guanacaste

Tenorio National Park

A visit to Tenorio National Park not only gives visitors a chance to walk through one of the most gorgeous parks in Costa Rica but also offers time to enjoy amazing bird watching.

The park’s trails meander along a beautiful river and take guests to one of the most incredible natural wonders in the country; the Rio Celeste.

Be on the watch for these top birds: Dull-mantled Antbird, Black-breasted Wood-Quail, Lattice-tailed Trogon,, Tody Motmot, Slaty-throated Foliage-gleaner, Dull-mantled Antbird, Black-headed Antthrush,Rufous-browed Tyrannulet, Sepia-capped Flycatcher, White-ruffed Manakin, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Black-and-yellow Tanager, Black-faced Grosbeak,and the Yellow-eared toucanet.

Black-and-yellow Tanager Seen While Birdwatching in Guanacaste

How soon should I book my Costa Rica birding adventure?

We always recommend that our guests contact us early to start planning their tours. Our tours are all custom made. Once we talk to you about what you are looking for in your visit, we’ll put together a trip plan and price and send it out to you right away.

Ready to start planning your tour of Costa Rica? Inquire below to reach us at Costa Rica Focus. Let’s talk about your next (or first) Costa Rica bird watching tour.

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Costa Rica Travel Information

What is Costa Rica Like in March?

April 29, 2024 By Sammi Leave a Comment

March is the peak of high tourism season in Costa Rica, as it is the time of many US and Canadian spring break vacations. It is also sometimes Holy Week depending on the year. Additionally, March sometimes has some of the hottest days of the year for many places in Costa Rica. Put all that together and March means higher prices, bigger crowds, longer lines, more traffic, clear, sunny skies and high temperatures in Costa Rica.

In this post, you’ll learn more about March in Costa Rica.

If you’re looking to save some $$ on your trip, check out our Mytanfeet deals page! We partnered with a rental car company, hotels and tour operators to give discounts exclusively for our readers. Click here to enter our deals page.

Costa Rica Quick Facts

  • Sunrise and sunset is roughly the same all year round, with a difference of around 15 minutes. Sunrise is generally 6 AM with first light around 530 AM and sunset is 530 PM, dark by 6 PM.
  • Costa Rica uses 110 V and drives on the right hand side of the road.
  • Local currency is called the colón. Exchange rate ~500 CRC to 1 USD.
  • Spanish is the main language.
  • Costa Rica is 8-12 degrees from the equator.

March in Costa Rica Weather

Costa Rica experiences the typical tropical seasons: dry and rainy. Dry season is generally December through April, rainy is generally May through November. Although average year round temperatures do not vary much, March is hot hot hot in Costa Rica.

While February in the driest, March may have some of the hottest days. Even though January and February temperatures are already high, March temperatures still creep up a bit during the last week or so of the month. When it’s normally 95°F (35° C) on the Guanacaste coast in February, it goes up slightly to around 104° F (40° C) in March. Air is dry, rivers have shrunk, dust is blowing.

Rainfall is at its lowest in March, even in the rainiest places in Costa Rica.

The exception is the Caribbean coast, which does not strictly follow the tropical seasons and has their own climate. More information below.

Below are short descriptions of the weather in March for popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica.

Guanacaste and Nicoya Peninsula

Dry, dusty, hot and arid. March is peak dry season time and throughout the tropical dry forests of the Guanacaste coast and Nicoya Peninsula , mountains are bare, waterfalls and rivers have dried up to their maximum and the sand is burning hot midday. If you go inland in the Guanacate province like to Tilaran or Miravalles, mountains are also yellow but temperatures are not as high.

march in costa rica playa hermosa gte

Temperatures are generally at their highest around the end of March when there can be heat waves. Expect temperatures to go up to 100-107° F (40-42°C) for days in a row so be very careful if going out during the peak hours, 10 AM to 2 PM. Stay hydrated, wear lots of sunscreen, put on a floppy hat, protect your eyes with sunglasses and get a portable fan if you need to.

Night time temperatures go down to around 80° F (27° C). It can get very windy in March as well.

Central Valley

The Central Valley has great weather in March, however if there is a heat wave, it may crawl up to high 80s° F (32° C) when it’s generally mid 70s° F. But it will cool down at night to a comfortable mid 60s° F (18° C). It can get windy but the breeze is always welcome. There may be a random downpour in the GAM ( San Jose , Heredia , Alajuela, Cartago ) but it’s usually a one or two time thing in the evening if it does rain.

Whenever we have visited La Fortuna in March, we get the best weather there. It’s hot, humid, dry but in the evenings, it cools down quite a bit. Being in the Northern lowlands tropical rainforest, it may sprinkle lightly at night in March still. Average day time temperatures are low 80s° F (27 C) and night time temperatures are low 70s° F (21° C).

costa rica in march la fortuna

We also see Arenal Volcano clear almost all day long in March. The clouds roll in and out very quickly so if the top is covered, just wait a bit and the clouds may roll out, even for a few minutes for a clear volcano.

Jaco and Manuel Antonio

Jaco and Manuel Antonio in March has great weather. Hot, sunny, humid and dry. Average day time temperatures are upper 80s to low 90s° F (31 – 33° C) and average night time temperatures are around mid 70s° F (25° C). If there’s a heat wave, temperatures may increase a couple degrees. Humidity is fairly high around 60-70% in these areas.

Costa Ballena and Osa Peninsula

Even in the driest month of March, the South Pacific like Dominical , Uvita , Ojochal and the Osa Peninsula stays lush and dry. This is the driest month for this area but even still, it can still have a random rain here or there in the late evenings and nights. Average temperatures similar to Jaco and Manuel Antonio, upper 80s to low 90s° F (31 – 33° C) and average night time temperatures are around mid 70s° F (25° C). Always high humid here.

Caribbean Coast (Tortuguero, Limon and Puerto Viejo)

The Caribbean coast ( Puerto Viejo de Talamanca , Limon and Tortuguero ) tends to follow its own weather pattern and doesn’t strictly follow the rest of Costa Rica’s climate. So although it can rain in March, it tends to still have good weather with high temperatures and cloudy but dry conditions for the better part of the day. If it rains, it may be a short shower in the late afternoon and evenings, or overnight and early mornings.

Average day time temperatures are mid to high 80s°F (30-31° C) and average night time temperatures are low 70s° (22° C).

March weather in Monteverde is fantastic for anyone who can’t stand the coastal heat and humidity. This mountain town sitting at around 1200 meters in elevation (~4000 feet) always has fresh weather. It may still sprinkle here and there and will still be cloudy from time to time, but that is the true tropical cloud forest experience.

We have visited Monteverde in March a couple times and it was wonderful. Though still cloudy, it would clear up for longer periods of time so we could see both the Pacific and Caribbean slopes from the viewpoints in the cloud reserves .

Even though it does get a bit hotter in March, it is still extremely comfortable. Average temperatures are high 70s° F (25° C) in the day time and low 60s° F (15° C) in the night time. Can go up to low 80s° F (26° C) during a heat wave.

Prices in March in Costa Rica

March is an expensive month to travel to Costa Rica being peak of the high tourism season, mostly part to it being the month of spring break and because of Semana Santa (Holy Week). If Holy Week is in March that year (it changes every year), then hotel prices increase nearly double and some resorts can have a 2 or more minimum night stay. If Holy Week does not fall in March at all, then prices are normal high season rates, similar to January and February.

This is also applicable for car rental prices, which fluctuate throughout the year depending on the season. But again, as March is the peak of the high tourism season, prices are quite high. An automatic subcompact crossover 4wd SUV can be around $90-100 USD a day for just the car rental rate, excluding insurances and extras.

Tour prices do not change in March, they’re the same as January and February. Make sure to ask for cancellation policies as some places may have a stricter cancellation policy due to Holy Week.

Airfare is expensive in March, it’s not a cheap time to travel abroad. I have only ever found flights from Seattle to Guanacaste Airport around $800-900 USD and much more expensive if I want main cabin or economy plus. Sign up for cheap flight subscriptions or put an alert on the flight you want. Start looking at least 6 months before for flights. Get a travel credit card like the Chase Sapphire and start collecting travel points to use if you can only travel in March.

Trip Planning for March in Costa Rica

If you plan to visit Costa Rica in March, we highly recommend you to book your services at least 3 months before due to very limited availability, especially if you have any “must sees” or “must dos.” For example, Tabacon Hot Springs Resort and Manuel Antonio National Park are two extremely popular places that require reservations and they sell out weeks in advance. Tabacon also has incredibly strict cancellation policies around Holy Week.

For Manuel Antonio National Park, people missed out on visiting the park because they were sold out around two weeks in advance for the last two weeks of March. They only sell a certain number of tickets per day so snag yours as soon as you can. Even tour operators do not have a special reserve of tickets and national park tours will sell out.

Corcovado National Park is also very popular in March as they only sell a limited amount of park tickets All visitors must go with a guide to Corcovado so it is not possible to simply buy your park tickets and be ready to go – you must have prebooked a tour.

Then popular activities such as canyoning in La Fortuna , ziplining at Sky Adventures Arenal, Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve night walk, Damas Island Mangrove kayaking and private snorkeling tours sell out very quickly in advance as well. Any private guides, private chefs or private tours also tend to sell out very fast.

If you wait last minute to book your hotels, cars and tours, you will probably not get what you want and you will have to book whatever is left and it may be expensive or not the best quality. So book early for March.

Best Things to Do in March in Costa Rica

March is a great month for all activities in Costa Rica, particularly birdwatching, wellness and outdoor adventure. However, white water tubing in the Guanacaste province is not great as the water level is too low. This will be at places like Hacienda Guachipelin and Rio Perdido (both parks have white water tubing).

Also, the waterfalls in Rincon de la Vieja National Park Las Pailas sector and Barra Honda National Park shrink to a trickle so it’s not very impressive to see. Other waterfalls in Guanacaste like Llanos de Cortes are dry but still have a bit of water. Thankfully, the Caribbean coast, La Fortuna, Monteverde, Central Pacific and South Pacific have waterfalls with flowing waterfall all year long.

Here are some of the best things to do in March in Costa Rica.

Beach Hopping

No vacation to Costa Rica is complete without a visit to some beaches! March is a great time to beach hop and see as many beaches as you can. Even the more “off the beaten path” beaches are easier to get to due to drier roads so a high clearance car may be required instead of an actual 4wd.

costa rica in march beach hopping

You can take a boating tour to see different beaches or hop in your car to explore.

March is a fantastic time to see Resplendant Quetzals in Costa Rica. You can find them in Monteverde, San Gerardo de Dota , the cloud forests in San Ramon and in San Vito. The most popular places are Monteverde and San Gerardo de Dota where you can see many Quetzals with the help of an excellent birding guide.

costa rica in march resplendant quetzal

We’ve seen Resplendant Quetzals in both places with a guide. In Monteverde, we have seen the Quetzal in Curi Cancha Reserve and Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. In San Gerardo de Dota, we went to a private reserve near Providencia.

Other great places for birding in Costa Rica in March are Palo Verde National Park and Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge since the migratory birds are there. Furthermore, the river levels are lower and the lagoons have dried up, so the birds will congregate in specific spots, making them easier to see. You can see a variety of birds like Roseate Spoonbill, Jabiru, Little blue heron, Great Potoo, Tiger Herons and more.

Wildlife watching goes a bit low in March. The humpback whale season ends around mid March and by end of March, the season is essentially over. It won’t start picking up again until July. In March, you may see some turtles and dolphins out in the ocean.

There aren’t really any major turtle nestings in March – no mass nestings of turtles.

Bio Luminescence

Due to the dry skies and clear waters, it is a great time to see bio luminescence in Costa Rica. The best place is Punta Cuchillos on the Nicoya Peninsula . It is also possible in Drake Bay .

Sky Blue Rivers and Waterfalls

Sky blue rivers and sky blue waterfalls will be at their brightest and bluest and prettiest in March. La Leona Waterfall up in Curubande near Rincon de la Vieja National Park is sparkly blue, Rio Celeste in Tenorio Volcano National Park has great chances of daily near perfect conditions, Blue Falls of Costa Rica in Bajos del Toro will be so blue, and the Oropendola Waterfall will be an emerald pool. March is a great time to do a waterfall hike and visit the sky blue rivers and waterfalls.

Get a Massage

You can get a massage any time of the year in Costa Rica but we highly recommend finding an indoor local spa if you don’t feel like being out in the intense heat and humidity that day. Get a massage, facial, body wrap and just relax the day away. You’ll feel so refreshed afterwards.

There are lots of indoor massage parlors and spas with air conditioning. If your hotel/resort doesn’t have their own spa, find a local place in town. Local massage parlors are very common in La Fortuna and often have promos.

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

March is a wonderful time for scuba diving and snorkeling in Costa Rica. You can see manta rays in March, so if you’re a scuba diver, definitely schedule a dive or two during your trip. The water temperature may be a bit cold compared to the air temperature.

If you go snorkeling, wear a rash guard or use reef safe sunscreen. We recommend to go in the morning for the best snorkeling conditions. Afternoon can get very windy and it starts getting dark at 5 PM (sunset by 6 PM).

Clear skies means awesome stargazing in Costa Rica. Find a remote place with no light pollution and you can get some amazing star and astro photography. If you go out late at night, go in groups. Do not go alone, especially if you’re bringing expensive camera equipment.

Dry conditions make for good hiking times. Don’t miss going for a hike or two to enjoy some nice views and get some exercise. Go to a national park, private reserve or just walk on the beach at sunrise and sunset to get in your steps.

Notable Festivals in March

There are some fun cultural festivals to check out if you’re around.

Día Del Boyero

The second Sunday in March is officially the day of the oxcarts. This one day parade celebrates the importance of oxen and oxcarts in Costa Rica. This takes place in San Antonio de Escazu in San Jose and you can see hundreds of beautifully painted oxcarts, local farmers and artists showing off their unique designs and handiwork.

Semana Santa (Holy Week and Easter)

As Catholicism is the main religion in Costa Rica, Easter is a big deal – just as much or even more than Christmas.

If Holy Week and Easter fall in March, as it did in 2024 (March 24-30), then expect tons of crowds, lots of traffic, long lines and lots of local partying at the beach. The country officially has Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday off so nearly all of the GAM cities (San Jose, Heredia, Alajuela and Cartago) empty out.

There will be tons of parties on the beach, live music and dancing on Friday and Saturday. To celebrate Easter, there are also religious celebrations and festivities.

It’s important to note that in most cities, they are not permitted to sell alcohol on Thursday and Friday. But if you’re visiting touristic places like Jaco , Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo , you don’t really need to worry about staying dry that weekend. Although, you may need to wait in long lines at the supermarket.

Likewise, government institutions are closed all those days and many businesses close early or close completely. If you are landing on that Friday or Saturday, some supermarkets close early. Many restaurants in the GAM close that weekend.

Other Things to Know About March in Costa Rica

  • You will see lots of road side stands selling cantaloupe and watermelon which is in season. Don’t miss out on some of the freshest watermelon. Sugarcane is also in season so you may see huge trucks with sugarcane falling off the back, especially in Guanacaste.
  • If you plan to do any ATV or buggy tours, bring head wear and googles or sunglasses to protect your face from the extremely intense dust in Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula.
  • You may see or hear of bad fires in Costa Rica in March. This is true, some of it is “controlled” burning, others are forest fires that sadly got out of hand.
  • Lots of trees bloom in March so look out for beautiful yellow, pink and white trees.
  • Don’t like the heat? Consider going to the mountains instead. Check out San Gerardo de Dota , San Isido de Perez Zeledon, Tilaran, Vara Blanca, the Central Valley, Poasito, Monteverde for cooler weather (70s-80s° F or 21-27°C).
  • You can also do a coffee tour in March, even though it is at the end of the harvest.

What to Pack for Your March Vacation in Costa Rica

Essentials: Valid original passport, valid original drivers license if you plan to rent a car, credit card with no foreign transaction fee, travel insurance , medicine.

MUST BRING: Sunscreen (SPF 30 and higher), after sun gel, mosquito repellent, insulated water bottle, microfiber towel, reusable shopping bags, swimsuits, sandals, sunglasses, hat, small first aid kit, dry fast and sweat wicking clothes and closed toed shoes for activities. Please please please make sure to reapply your sunscreen and drink lots of water. It is easy to get heat exhaustion or dehydrated without even knowing it and with temperatures 100°F and above in some places in Costa Rica in March, it can be dangerous.


Check out our itineraries below that we recommend for March.

One week Central and South Pacific: Jaco, Manuel Antonio and Uvita

Two Weeks : Tamarindo, Monteverde, Bijagua and Rincon de la Vieja

13 days : Puerto Viejo, La Frtuna and Monteverde

11 Days : La Fortuna, Monteverde and Manuel Antonio

10 Days Waterfalls: Bijagua, Bajos del Toro and Manuel Antonio

7/8 Days for Families : La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio + Samara and Bijagua

8 Days : La Fortuna and Playas del Coco

Costa Rica By Months

Read what Costa Rica is like in other months.

January February

Costa Rica Vacation Checklist

  • First time to Costa Rica? Read our First Time in Costa Rica guide.
  • Not sure how to move around Costa Rica? Read our How to Get Around Costa Rica guide to find the best transportation method for you.
  • Click the link to get our detailed Costa Rica Packing List so you know what essential items to bring.
  • Do not forget to purchase Travel Insurance for your trip to Costa Rica.
  • Stay connected by purchasing a prepaid SIM Card in Costa Rica. Get 10% off your Airalo eSIM package with our promo code “mytanfeet”
  • Save money with Mytanfeet Deals for tours and hotels. Save more money with our Costa Rica Car Rental Discount.

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Hotels Above Par - Boutique Hotels & Travel

Where to Visit + Stay in Costa Rica

birding tours costa rica

With rainforest ziplining, surf breaks, and coffee farms galore, a trip to Costa Rica is a choose-your-own-adventure. Of course, you’ll find plenty of ways to unwind as well — whether that’s lazing on the sandy beaches, soaking in hot springs, or indulging in a local clay treatment at a spa. The accommodations very much reflect that thrill-meets-chill vibe. 

Scroll on for the best places to visit and stay in the Central American nation that invented pura vida .

Santa Teresa

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Santa Teresa sits south of Nosara on the Nicoya Peninsula, one of only five Blue Zones in the world. Surfers have long made the journey to this off-the-beaten-path beach town. In recent years, its tourism stock has risen as more vacationers catch wind of its long, sandy shoreline that’s lapped by warm water, artisan shops, and cool restaurant scene. 

Where to Stay: Hotel Nantipa 

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An eco-friendly dream on Santa Teresa’s breathtaking beach, Hotel Nantipa flaunts eco-minimalist bungalows with indoor/outdoor showers and plunge pools. There’s also a foliage-framed resort pool and an alfresco restaurant steps from the waves.

La Fortuna 

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The gateway to Arenal Volcano National Park, the town of La Fortuna is a playground for eco-adventures — perhaps most notably hikes to one of the most famous waterfalls in Costa Rica. Add to that volcano walks, rainforest canopy hanging bridge tours, and bird watching. Natural hot springs bolster its wellness cred. 

Where to Stay: Nayara Tented Camp

birding tours costa rica

A splurge-worthy favorite, Nayara Tented Camp boasts safari-style accommodations with private thermal plunge pools and jaw-dropping volcano vistas. Guests can unwind in the natural hot springs, see sloths, and sample gourmet fusion fare. 

Central Highlands 

birding tours costa rica

Not far from Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose, the Central Highlands is an under-the-radar pocket of the country with a wealth of eco-tourism opportunities. It’s home to many coffee farms, so tours and bean-to-brew tastings are up for grabs. Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the cloud forests and active volcanos at national parks. 

Where to Stay: Finca Rosa Blanca 

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Finca Rosa Blanca is an agritourism-oriented getaway with incredible local cuisine, colorfully decorated suites, and world-class java. Don’t leave without doing the signature shade-grown organic coffee tour complete with a cupping experience.

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Part of the Marino Ballena National Park, the tiny village of Uvita supplies two miles of white sand, turquoise waters, and the chance to spot humpback whales. It’s currency a favorite among in-the-know travelers, but a place this special won’t stay a secret for too long. 

Where to Stay: Kura

birding tours costa rica

Intimate and oh-so-romantic, Kura attracts couples with a stunning infinity pool, upscale dining, and 8 luxury suites featuring sweeping views. The adults-only policy means kid-free quietude.

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Tamarindo has long garnered tourism attention with its beaches and waves. More than just a surfers’ paradise, this buzzy resort town is a nightlife hub. (Chiliguaro shots, anyone?) Wildlife lovers should consider timing a trip to Playa Grande during turtle nesting season

Where to Stay: Cala Luna 

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Cala Luna feels like a tranquil oasis. Guests share the lush grounds with monkeys, iguanas, and songbirds. Reiki, oceanic massages, and facial tapping are on the menu at the on-site wellness center. The hotel also hosts complimentary yoga and sound baths.

Tenorio Volcano National Park

birding tours costa rica

Located in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province, Tenorio Volcano National Park covers nearly 50 square miles of protected wilderness. Its namesake volcano, the famous Celeste Waterfall, cloud forests, Lago Danta, hot springs, and hanging bridges through the rainforest canopy top the list of scenic drawcards. 

Where to Stay: Rio Celeste Hideaway 

birding tours costa rica

True to its name, Rio Celeste Hideaway is a hidden gem tucked into the foothills of Tenorio Volcano National Park. Highlights include exploring the rainforest hiking trails, tubing along the Rio Celeste, and kicking back in nature-steeped casitas.

Other Articles You May Like :

  • The Best Affordable Boutique Hotels in Costa Rica
  •  The Coolest Boutique Hotels in Costa Rica
  • Costa Rica’s Hotel Nantipa Is an Eco-Friendly Dream

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The andaz at peninsula papagayo offers ‘pura vida’ and so much more.

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My family typically travels in two ways. We’re either actively touring a city or we’re splayed out on a beach, frothy drink in hand. I didn't realize it at the time, but in planning a trip to Costa Rica, we opted to do something entirely different, and I’m so glad we did.

Traveling to Costa Rica is a considered choice. I don’t believe you head there to lie around all day. Of course, you could plant yourself at any of its stunning beaches and be perfectly happy, thrilled even. But Costa Rica beckons you to do more, to embark on an adventure, to embrace a thrill, and you’d be remiss not to drink up everything it has to offer - namely a deep appreciation of life, nature and beauty. Such is the foundation of “Pura Vida” or pure life - a mantra whose spirit of gratitude echoes across the country. Plus, there’s nothing more fun than watching your seven-year-old careen down a zip line - until you do it yourself.

Planning a trip to Costa Rica can feel overwhelming because there’s so much to do and so many places to go. However, we spent four days at the Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo on the Northwestern Guanacaste Peninsula, and it was an ideal destination from which to experience this area of the country. (Had we more time, an overnight stay in the rainforest would’ve been a nice addition to the trip.) The journey felt seamless, beginning with our direct flight into Liberia Guanacaste Airport, at which point the hotel is just a 30 minute drive away.

A view of the family pool at the Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo

Upon first glance, the Andaz is physically unique. It’s quietly built into the side of a mountain overlooking Culebra Bay. So from any vantage point among the 177 room property, you’re at tree level with sparkling views of the sea. With its teak and bamboo exteriors, the hotel doesn’t chew the scenery, rather it immerses itself in three discreet rows snaking along the cliff, with staircases weaving through the jungly brush to connect them.

A new three-bedroom penthouse

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Along the top of the property sits 25 new residences designed by Costa Rican architect, Ronald Zürcher that feature one, two and three-bedroom penthouses with rooftop terraces, open-air living rooms, plunge pools and a treetop view of the bay. The middle row houses the spa, an open-air gym and traditional rooms, and the bottom row offers additional rooms, plus four pools, three restaurants and a pathway down to a black sand beach, where kids can channel their inner Robinson Crusoe.

A poolside view of the Casa de Playa Beach Club

From the beach, guests can hop a small boat to nearby Casa de Playa, the property’s new beach club on Nacascolo Beach. We’d typically head there for lunch and a well-deserved swim following our morning activities. The club features all the amenities of a luxury resort beach, complete with snorkel equipment, various water sports, a pool, private cabanas and a stylish new Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, Meso, which churns out gazpacho, skewers and salads in a groovy, open-air setting.

Speaking of food, I don’t expect beach vacations to blow my mind, but we were floored by the culinary program at the Andaz. The hotel recently welcomed a new executive sous chef, Bruno Alves, who oversees Ostra, the resort’s marquee restaurant where we dined on mahi mahi and tuna. He’s introducing a new vision of traditional Costa Rican food that’s infused with a global spirit, though most of the menus are hyper-local with produce and dairy sourced from nearby farms on the peninsula. There’s also a Latin-inspired tapas restaurant, Chao Pescao, where we snacked on a flavor-fueled assortment of Jamaican jerk chicken, Venezuelan arepas and skirt steak from Chile.

The bar at Ostra

The Andaz is not the type of hotel that lures you to stick around all day, and for good reason. There’s entirely too much to enjoy outside the hotel gates. Rather, it’s the perfect destination to return to after a morning or full day of activities, many of which are just a short drive outside the hotel. The Peninsula Papagayo functions as a full resort community, so you can go surfing, birding or monkey spotting all directly through the peninsula, which is also home to the Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo, as well as private homes.

We took our first family surf lesson with SurfX, Peninsula Papagayo's expert team of surfers and translators available exclusively to guests staying on Peninsula Papagayo. SurfX provides Peninsula Papagayo visitors with quality surf coaching by curating individualized lessons for all ages and stages. It also offers private, one-on-one instruction for families and small groups. We took a shuttle to the marina and hopped a short board ride to a beginner beach. Led by SurfX manager Hanna Storreøsten, the lesson was a relaxed and non-threatening introduction to the sport.

A Canopy Tour with Explorers

The remainder of our activities at the Andaz was coordinated with The Explorers, Peninsula Papagayo’s official outfitter of outdoor pursuits that offers guides and translators for a range of epic eco-adventures among its 11 miles of coastline, eight miles of bluff edges, seven beaches, and 250 acres of protected preserve (SurfX is a partner). Outdoor enthusiasts can mountain bike, canoe through mangroves, go coral gardening underwater and so much more. One morning we did an adrenaline-charged canopy tour that featured seven zip-lines and a hair-raising ropes course. We also took an ATV tour that led us through the northern part of the peninsula to a deserted cove.

At the Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, you can curate your ideal Costa Rican adventure that will give you and your family the Pura Vida experience of a lifetime, because Pura Vida is so much more than a standard beach vacation. Pura Vida is surfing an epic party wave with your daughter, or stepping off a treetop platform as your harness guides you to the ground. It’s barreling into the water with your family as the sun peaks overhead and savoring every last minute of what will soon be just a memory. It’s living the pure life, and we can’t wait to do it again.

Caroline Tell

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