Overview

Day 1: Arrival to Costa Rica - Juan Santamaria's International Airport

Day 2, 3: Central Pacific

Day 4, 5: Monteverde

Day 6, 7: Volcan Tenorio

Day 8: Caño Negro

Day 9, 10: Arenal

Day 11, 12 Sarapiquí

Day 13, 14 Braulio Carrillo

 

Daily Itinerary by destination:

Day 1. Arrival in Costa Rica. Pick up by CRBJ staff, transfer to San Jose’s overnight hotel. Briefing about the tour. Dinner not included.

Day 2. Pacifico Lodge. Drive after breakfast to the down valley into the heart of the Central Pacific of Costa Rica. Exploring gardens, forests, and river edges. Wild bird photography. There are so many different locations to explore during this destination. Agricultural fields, forest patches, river edges, primary, secondary & mangrove forests.

·       Lunch (between 11:30 – 13:00)
·       Mangrove Boat tour 
·       Dinner at 18:30
·       Photography workshop Subject: Macaws in flight

Day 3. Pacifico Lodge. Full day at Carara National Park. Two different trail systems with endless possibilities to capture manakins, trogons, antbirds, motmots, raptors, woodcreepers, toucans and so much more.

·       Carara National Park 7:00 am
·       Lunch (between 11:30 – 13:00)
·       Dinner at 18:30

Day 4. Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Upon arrival and since the forest is right there at the lodge, we will explore many different trail systems or focus on the road edges searching for Guans, Bellbirds, Barbets, Flycatchers etc. During the late afternoon where most people have left the trails we will go birding at El Camino Trail and others searching for cloud forest mixed flocks or a rare glimpse of woodquails, antpittas, leaftosser and tinamous.

·       Breakfast 5:30 am
·    Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve
·       Lunch at 13:00
·       Afternoon at Hummingbird Garden
·       Dinner at 18:30
·       Photography workshop Subject: Lowlight & movement (19:00 – 20:30)video beam presentation

Day 5. Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Begin birding at sunrise near the lodge where a large number of bird life is concentrated before sun shines on the forest floors. A good opportunity to capture good views of Quetzals coming to feed on fruits at the road edges. Deeply cover canopies can be a beat challenging while birdwatching but many rare birds occur in the shady sides.

·       Early birding hike in quest for Resplendent Quetzal
·       Breakfast 9 am
·       All day long exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve
·       Lunch at 13:00
·       Dinner at 18:30
·       Photography workshop Subject: Hummingbirds, glares & colors 19:00 – 20:30) video beam

Day 6. Heliconias Lodge. A long journey awaits us, breakfast at the lodge and departure to the northern Guanacaste rainforest, the only places in which the canopy is just a step away. A must place to visit if you are into bird or/and photography. Truly amazing destination for those with desire to capture Rufous vented Ground Cuckoo, Tody Motmot, Yellow eared Toucanet and Ornated Hawk Eagle.

·       Several suspended bridges, easy trails and tons of rainforest to explore for Nunbirds, Tinamous, Motmots, owls, woodpeckers.
·       All day birding at the lodge grounds.

Day 7. Heliconias Lodge. Another day at the rainforest canopy and much more. Today we will also explore adjacent ecosystems.

·       Early birding at Heliconias Lodge private preserve. Our targets today are going to be army ant swarms, and some open forest birds as woodpeckers, tanagers, flycatchers and more.
·       A full day for exploring the lodge grounds, its private reserve and adjacent cattle farms. The lodge offers a good diversity of
tanagers, euphonias, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and many others.

Day 8. Hotel del Campo. Has a large number of areas to birdwatch with a great success level on common birds like euphonias, blackbirds, wrens, tanagers. Upon arrival to the hotel we will explore its forested gardens and other nearby properties. After 14:00 our journey will continue by boat along one of the most extraordinary river tours in Central America.

Caño Negro wildlife refuge that can give us amazing species such as Scaled Pigeon, Nicaraguan Grackle, Spot breasted Wren,
Jabiru, 5 species of Kingfishers, etc. Today we will focus on getting the easy ones of the list.

Day 9. Arenal Observatory Lodge. Boat tour to Caño Negro before sunlight, we will start at 5:00 am heading to the dock for an early birding, as we all know is our most successful time (3 + hour boat tour, breakfast to go). After the boat tour we will concentrate on getting some species more related to pasture fields such as raptors, seedaters, finches, etc by the end of the day our journey will not end will begin with owl searching and other night birds such as Potoos, Poorwills at Arenal Observatory Lodge.

·       Caño Negro Boat Tour 5:00 am
·       Road edges exploration
·       Drive to Arenal 10:30 am
·       Lunch along the road
·       Arenal Observatory Lodge exploration

 Day 10. Arenal Observatory Lodge. Exploring gardens until lunch. Possible scenarios: plenty of birdlife to capture, the use of tripods or monopods is a must. Carry your super telephoto lens.

·       Lunch (between 11:30 – 13:00)
·       Meeting back at 14:30 to continue exploring trails, gardens and river edges
·       Dinner at 7:00 pm (a la carte, options for vegetarians available)
·       Photography workshop Subject: Birds on flight, deep forest and backlight (19:00 – 20:30)video beam presentation

Day 11. La Selva Biological Station. Drive after breakfast into the heart of the most well studied rainforest on earth.

·       Drive to explore more possibilities out the of the lodge on nearby back roads and forest edges
·       Lunch (between 11:30 – 13:00) out of the lodge, continue seeking for larger birds such as Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, etc.
·       Return time at 17:30
·       Dinner at 18:00 
·       Photography workshop Subject: White spots, odd angles, lowlight and black backgrounds

 

Day 12. La Selva Biological Station. Early breakfast and trail exploration until lunch. Visit to Dave & Dave’s Photography Garden.

·       Morning at La Selva
·       Dave & Dave’s Photography Garden 15:00
·       Dinner 6:30 pm

 

 Day 13. Tapirus Lodge. Upon arrival hotel ground explorations and main road for Sunbittern, Bare necked Umbrellabird, and hundreds more.

·       Afternoon Aerial Tram & trail exploration

Day 14. Tapirus Lodge. Activities based on international flight schedule. Breakfast included.

Notes

A journey in search of some of the most gorgeous families of birds of Costa Rica

14 nights 15 days exploring 8 amazing destinations from the Central Pacific to the Caribbean lowlands of Braulio Carrillo National Park.

All daily activities would be based on seeking for the right habitats to photograph all species from those families.

 

Early rising: In some locations we will be leaving before sunrise. In order to capture certain moments, situations or specific targets.

Photographing habitats: Many bird photography expeditions have always focused on just the birds therefore a good part of the experience is reduced and the story telling would not be as rich as I could be.

Carara National Park is by far one the best birding places all year long in Costa Rica and perhaps in all of Central America. Within the national park protects the second largest population of Scarlet Macaws, easy access to all trails, mangrove swamps, pasture fields and forest edges. There are very few places in the country where more than hundred species can be found in one trail. Meandrica’s trail it has become an icon for quality birding, tinamous, trogons, wrens, antpittas, manakins, cotingas, bellbirds, antshrikes are among the most common birds in the forest. The nearby forested edges give as a good number of open field birds, jays, blackbirds, greenlets, rails, ground doves, motmots, hawks, parakeets, owls are among many of the avifauna found in these habitats. The mangroves at Rio Grande de Tarcoles are very rewarding on a good day along the river edges 5 species of kingfishers can be spotted, more than a couple dozens of shorebirds, herons, egrets are also easy to find but the most remarkable species are the ones with a restricted range or to the mangroves such as vireos, warblers, cuckoos, flycatchers, the elusive Rufous necked woodrail and the only true Costa Rican endemic Mangrove Hummingbird.

Sea level 50 meters
Temperature 29-36
Humidity 80% +

Monteverde Cloud Forest. Nestled in the Tilaran volcanic range and facing the dry forest of the Nicoya’s Peninsula, this world known paradise has been an icon for conservationists for decades. Blasted by the Caribbean trade winds at the top of its hills the evergreen forest of Monteverde/Santa Elena holds the one of the most astonishing biodiversity anywhere on earth due its geographical position. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded here and its adjacent preserves on the 3 major ecosystems. Home of the all mighty Resplendent Quetzal, and the weird looking Three wattled Bellbird with its unique call. Dozens of kilometres of trails to explore. Dripping wet forest with more than 400 species of orchids and gentile blown clouds enchants everyone’s eyes. There are very few places on earth so breathtaking at first glance 

(1:30 hrs) 45KM
Sea level 1300 meters
Temperature 17-32
Humidity 80%

Tenorio Rainforest among one of the best places to go birding in the country and definitely the best canopy birdwatching, with a net of suspended tree top bridges this rainforest is an impressive destination for birders. Some of the best highlights are Tody Motmot, Bare necked Umbrellabird, Rufous ground Vented Cuckoo, Ornate Hawk Eagle, Yellow eared Toucanet and a few hundred more species. The adjacent forests towards the national park it’s a interesting combination of cattle farms with dense old growth birds fly from one patch of forest to the next giving us opportunities to find them, huge trees border the roads mixed flocks, Lovely Cotingas, Central America Pygmy Owls make home out this habitats. Near the lodge a good number of open spaces birds hang around like ground doves, seedaters, tanagers, flycatchers, hummingbirds etc.

Sea level 850 meters
Temperature 19-32
Humidity 80% +

Caño Negro. One of the most important wetlands in Costa Rica; home to hundreds of birds including favorites such as Jabiru, Black collared Hawk, Agami Heron, Green & Rufous Kingfisher, Sungrebe and others with a limited distribution in the country such as Yellow throated crake, Least bittern, Nicaraguan Seed Finch, Fork tailed Flycatcher, Ruddy breasted Seedater, Lesser Yellow headed Vulture, Ocellated Poorwill, Pinnated Bittern, Spot breasted Wren.

Sea level 50 meters
Temperature 21-36
Humidity 80% +

Arenal Volcano: If there ever was a Jurasic Park Arenal should be the one, tangled vines, large canopy trees, damp forest floor, roaring rivers, dozens of kilometres of forested back roads, lush primary, secondary forests are some of the many habitats yet to explore. At our hotel choice par excellence Arenal Observatory Lodge their manicure gardens, trails are just phenomenal for image capturing. We have never had a dull day at this fantastic piece of paradise. Bellbirds, Umbrellabirds, Antbirds, Cotingas, Eagles, Currasows, Antpittas, Tanagers, Toucans, are some of the plenty families of birds found without ever leaving the lodge premises. A short drive out the 400+ hectares of rainforest own by the Observatory is found the Arenal Lake, a partially human made hydro-electrical dam has an enormous diversity of avifauna in every single patch of vegetation, from semi-cultivated lands to tall natural grasses and pristine wet forest. Species such as Keel billed Motmot, White fronted Nunbird, Black Hawk Eagle, Great Antshrike, are a tiny list of the colours, shapes and sounds.

Sea level 500-660 meters
Temperature 21-34
Humidity 80% +

Sarapiqui is a real rainforest experience with vast areas to cover, primary rainforest, active and no active pasture fields, river edges, canopy bridges, thick understory, etc. Cotingas, macaws, oropendolas, guans, eagles, toucans are some of the many species to find. At La Selva Biological Station daily birds to spot are Green Ibis, Sunbittern, Jacamars, Tanagers, Orioles,Woodpeckers, Tityras, etc. Botanical gardens nearby offer great opportunities to spot a dozen or more species of hummingbirds and its adjacent forest always bring good surprises as Little Tinamou, Lattice tailed Trogon, Cinnamon Woodpecker, and much more. The Braulio Carrillo National Park is a real rainforest experience with the largest mixed flocks ever including favorites such as Sharpbills and Umbrellabirds.

Sea level 50 meters
Temperature 29-34
Humidity 85% +

Braulio Carrillo It’s a destination mostly known for their famous aerial tram through the jungles from Donald Perry an American biologist who in the late 80’s explored Costa Rican rainforest for conservation and scientific research. But little is known other than this. One of the very few places where the rarest birds can be found such as Umbrellabird, Sharpbill, Black crowned Antpitta, Lattice tailed Trogon and literally hundreds more.

Sea level 35 meters
Temperature 24-34
Humidity 85% +

Mastering bird photography: There are many tricks to ensure quality and momentum. We will explore them all as long as nature lets us.

Playing with black and white: Many times we let colours run our bird photography nonetheless experimenting with shades, shadows, contrasts of the enchanting universe of blank & white can give you new ways to see our beloved feathery friends.

Times: Very crucial to make the most out of your holidays; we have selected all lodging, forests, or locations with a maximum distance/hours of driving. Generally speaking traveling time would be during the off hours or between 10 am – 1 pm.

Difficulty Level: If you are able to manage 2-3 Km on a daily basis with intervals you should be fine. Just a friendly reminder we specialize on physically limited tours for those who would share our passion for nature and bird photography.

How much photography skill do I need to have to enter the trip? Intermedia, Advance

IMPORTANT NOTE: FIRST DAY’S HOTEL IT WOULD BE BASED ON INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT SCHEDULES

Number of nights by destination: SJ (1), Cerro de la Muerte (3), Esquinas (2), Carara (3), Ensenada (2), Monteverde (2), SJ (1)

Number of participants: Minimum 2, Maximum 6 (8 upon request)

Dates/Months: Open all year

Additional Information

1. GEAR

• Small hiking backpack for day trips

• Small first aid kit

• Binoculars

• Camera (optional)

• Sunglasses

• Sunblock and Bug Spray

• Several pencils

• Daily journal

• A passport purse (to carry money, credit cards, etc... wear it close to your body)

• Any needed medications, anti-diarrhea, or any prescriptions

• Torch/Flashlight

2. WHAT TO BRING LIST

• Tennis shoes with good traction or hiking shoes with ankle support (waterproof)

• Comfortable sandals or flip flops

• Swimming wear

• Neutral color clothing for camouflage

• Several cool long sleeve shirts and short sleeve shirts

• Hat for sun protection (breathable)

• 2-3 pairs of light weight long pants for rain forest hikes

• Lightweight rain jacket (neutral color only)

• Casual beach clothing (t-shirts, shorts, sun dresses)

• Long pants and a fast drying sweater for the city/mountains (temp. are cooler can reach 3.5 degree celsius)

• Lightweight gloves for cooler areas

• Wellingtons/rubber boots can be bought in Costa Rica for $15 usd

3. MONEY, CREDIT CARDS, IDENTIFICATION

• Travelers checks (American Express or Visa) (can exchange some of them for Colones at the the local banks or hotel front desk)

• About $50-200 in cash (not tears in bills, small bills are better)

• Visa credit card widely accepted in Costa Rica, except rural towns (keep phone number of credit card company separate.)

• Passport

• Photocopies of passports and driver’s license (kept in a separate place)

• Use a credit card to call US from your hotel room or local pone

• You can also purchase a phone card here for international calls ($9 for 12 minutes to US)

4. USING FLASH OR NOT:

We would be teaching the use of natural light rather than multiflash control as those use to capture hummingbirds with fake backgrounds. Nonetheless we will also take some time to explain the uses of flash on bird photography.

5. Mastering bird photography on flight:

We will concentrate it on capturing hummingbirds in the air. Many hotels had for a long time built very attractive gardens fill with hummers fighting for the best perches and nectars.
Apart from hummingbirds at Tarcoles River boat tour the number of birds fishing, catching or simply gliding are fabulous.

6. ALL DAILY ACTIVITIES WOULD BE BASED ON LIGHT OR NATURAL OPPORTUNITIES SUCH AS NESTING SITES, FEEDING FRENZY, FRUITING TREES, ETC.

During the down times or complicated light garden explorations of visits to other parts of the
chosen destinations. Since we will be focus on no control environments or bird feeding stations; exploring the surrounding habitats near our lodges can well be highly rewarding. In many cases sitting still on flowering bushes or tree cavities can give us positive results.

7. ALL AREAS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN BASED ON THE 20 YEARS OF GUIDING SUCCESS, NOTHING HAS BEEN LEFT TO CHANCE EXCEPT FOR NATURE ITSELF. FROM THE DEEP JUNGLES OF BRAULIO CARILLO´S NATIONAL PARK TO THE SMOKY SUMMIT OF ARENAL VOLCANO´S RAINFOREST.

This photography experience has been created to capture colourful, beautiful and most iconic bird life from our rainforests.

General Topics

Mind Map