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Central and South America

Speckled Tanager

Without question Costa Rica is one of the world's greatest biological paradises with some of the most stunningly-plumaged birds.

Central & South America

Be prepared to be stunned by the extraordinary array of birds and other wildlife which awaits you in Costa Rica. This tiny country, strategically positioned on the migration route for the Americas boasts over 800 species of bird including some of the most eye-catching in the world. The forests drip with tanagers and warblers and echo to the exotic utterances of Montezuma Oropendolas while whole new families of birds can be discovered such as foliage-gleaners, antbirds and woodcreepers. Perhaps the most memorable are the iridescent hummingbirds which whiz around like large insects, pausing only to feed from nectar-producing flowers. High in the trees, fabulously coloured trogons might be spotted along with the aptly named Resplendent Quetzel. This tour has been designed to explore a number of the key habitats from cloud forests to coastal plains, taking time to enjoy and savour the riches on offer. Our accommodation has been chosen for comfort, quality and location and we will also be assisted by top Costa Rican guide Paco Madrigal whose level of expertise on all aspects of natural history is quite outstanding.

Contact The Ultimate Travel Company 0207 386 4682 to make a reservation.
2 - 16 February
15 days
Waiting list

Economy class flights, accommodation with private facilities, full board (breakfast, lunch, dinner), transport by private bus, local guide, tips and services of Wild Insights leaders.

Travel insurance and items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry and phone calls.

The tour starts and finishes in San Jose, taking a figure-of-8 route to incorporate the highlands of the Cordillera Talamanca, Pacific Coast, Caribbean slope and mid elevation habitats around Arenal.

Day 1: Depart Heathrow Saturday a.m for flight via Houston to Costa Rica. Arrive San Jose late evening. Overnight San Jose.

Day 2: After a relaxed start, we travel to Cerro de la Muerte, arriving at our accommodation for lunch. The rest of the afternoon is spent around the gardens and grounds where Resplendent Quetzals have been seen as well as Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher, Large-footed Finch, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Sooty Robin and Sooty-capped Bush-Tanager to name a few. We will have lunch and overnight at the Savegre Mountain Lodge, nestled in a quaint highland valley nearby.

Day 3, 4: Spend the next two days exploring the gardens, riparian highland habitats, and old growth tropical oak cloud forests surrounding the Savegre Mountain Lodge. Walking through the gardens and along the Savegre river, we can hope to see Flame-colored Tanager, Collared Trogon, Torrent Tyrannulet, Volcano Hummingbird, and White-throated Mountain Gem, among many others.  Some of the other species we will be looking for include Black-faced Solitaire, Spotted Wood-Quail, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Ochraceous Wren, Ornate Hawk-eagle, and of course the aptly named Resplendent Quetzal.

Day 5: We now travel to Hotel Villa Lapas, situated at the edge of the Carara Biological Reserve. Our route will deliberately take us initially south where we will be looking for Turquoise Cotinga, Pearl Kite and Fork-tailed Flycatcher which are on the northern edge of their range. We will take lunch en route. At Villa Lapas we will explore the bird-rich grounds, and hope to see Scarlet Macaws and Tiger Herons, Long-tailed Manakin, and Baird’s Trongon. We will also visit the nearby Playa Azul where some of the species we will look for are Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Melodious Blackbird, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Pacific Screech-Owl, Spectacled Owl, Crane Hawk, and many species of shorebirds.

Day 6 and 7: We spend the next two days in and around the Carara Biological Reserve, a unique climatological zone where the ecosystem of the humid southern coastal region joins the dry climate of the northern Pacific area, becoming a rich meeting ground for species from both regions. This is truly one of the highlights of the tour, where we hope to find the Orange Collared Manakin dancing in their lek. This is a great location to spot antbirds, up to five different species of Trogons, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, and even Royal Flycatchers. During our time here we will be taking a boat trip on the river Tarcoles which gives us close encounters with birds of the mangroves such as Mangrove and Prothonotary Warblers, Panama Flycatcher, potentially five species of kingfishers, Zone-tailed and Mangrove Black Hawks plus an array of waders including Collared Plover.

Day 8: Today we travel to Selva Verde Lodge in the tropical lowlands of Sarapiqui, birdwatching along the way. The lodge is located at the edge of the wildlife-rich riparian zone along the banks of the Sarapiqui river. This lowland rain forest region at the base of the Caribbean slope is well-known for hosting the greatest diversity of tropical flora and fauna in the country. Here the Sunbittern, Black-faced Grosbeak, and Grey-necked Wood-Rail are a few of the inhabitants of the area. This is the most likely spot on the trip to see the Great Green Macaw, an endangered species. Also lurking in the forest are two- and three-toed sloths, 3 different species of monkeys, and peccaries.

Day 09 and 10: We spend the next two days near La Selva Biological Station run by the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), clearly a highlight of the tour. The station is among the four most famous tropical research facilities in the world and home to more than 420 bird species, 500 species of butterflies, 55 species of snakes, and 120 species of mammals. A vast variety of different species of trees can be seen in the arboretum. There are also three species of Tinamou that inhabit La Selva. We will be looking for Rufous Motmot, Trogons, Caciques, Purple-throated Fruit Crow, and Snowy Cotinga, among many others. Animals here are not camera shy, so there will be ample photo opportunities. Peccaries (wild pigs), agoutis, coatis, sloths, and monkeys frequent the area. We will also be taking a boat ride on the river Sarapiqui with chances of Bat Falcon, Green Ibis, and Rufous-tailed Jacamar.

Day 11, 12, 13: We then travel to Arenal Observatory which overlooks the active Arenal Volcano. On a clear day spectacular views can be enjoyed of this geological monument. This mid-elevation area also is an excellent spot for birds such as Crimson-collared, Bay-headed, Silver-throated and Hepatic Tanagers, Red-legged and Green Honeycreepers, Tropical Pewee, Band-backed Wren, Black-thighed Grosbeak, Buff-rumped Warbler and a range of raptors including Ornate Hawk-eagle and White Hawk. The feeding station at the Observatory where we are staying is a magnet for a range of birds and the gardens and trails surrounding our accommodation are also excellent .  

Day 14: Return to San Jose for a farewell dinner and overnight stay.

Day 15: Departure after breakfast for the airport to return home. Flight arrives back in UK next day (Sunday)

Wild Insights Overseas Tours are part of a wider programme of WildWings birdwatching and wildlife holidays worldwide and their terms and conditions will apply. These can be found in the 2005 WildWings brochure, including booking procedures. WildWings is fully licenced and bonded with ABTA and IATA and all our Overseas Tours are fully protected by their Civil Aviation Authority ATOL license, number 5429.

Louisa Thompson 0207 3864682