Short Costa Rica: Toucans to Quetzals: Feb 24—Mar 04, 2018

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Price: $3,895
Departs: San Jose
Tour Limit: 14
Operations Manager: Greg Lopez
Download Itinerary: PDF (111.6 KB)

Route Map


Tour Leaders


David Wolf

David Wolf is a senior member of the VENT staff and one of our most experienced tour leaders...


Mimi Wolf

Mimi Wolf is an accomplished birder, artist, horse breeder, and mother who lives in Nacogdoc...

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Register for this tour by phone (800/328-VENT or 512/328-5221), or by downloading a tour registration form. Signed and completed forms can be faxed, mailed, or scanned and emailed to the VENT office.

Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal— Photo: David Wolf

A weekend through weekend tour that emphasizes two key environments in one of the world’s premier birding destinations, the Caribbean lowlands and the temperate highlands. An excellent introduction to an abundance of colorful tropical birds ranging from toucans to hummingbirds to quetzals, plus many regional specialties, in a friendly country just a short flight away.

Costa Rica is one of the premier birding destinations in the world, and no part of this small and friendly country has more to offer than the Caribbean lowlands and nearby mountains. The sheer abundance of birds in this region is stunning, and they are found amidst a backdrop of spectacular scenery and lush vegetation. This compact tour offers an action-packed introduction to Neotropical birding, yet has enough specialties to attract the well-traveled birder. Facilities for tourism in Costa Rica are good, none of our travel time is lengthy or without birding stops, and there is simply nowhere else in Central America with more to offer in such a compact trip.

In the lowlands such perennial favorites as toucans and trogons are actually common and easy to observe, while top quality birds like Great Tinamou, Great Curassow, Crested Guan, and raptors still survive well and are, in fact, quite findable. The cool, oak-dominated forests of Cerro de la Muerte are a stronghold for the Resplendent Quetzal, considered by many to be the most beautiful bird in the world, and we will make a special effort to find this spectacular bird here. A high percentage of the other birds present in the mountains are endemic to these highlands, and the pleasant climate makes seeking them a pleasure.

The bulk of our time will be spent in the Caribbean lowlands of the Sarapiqui region, the wettest part of the country. Among the areas that we will bird is the spectacular lowland rainforest at the world-famous La Selva Field Station. Here we will thrill to colorful parrots, trogons, jacamars, toucans, and tanagers feeding at the forest edge; prowl the forest interior for tinamous, motmots, antbirds, and manakins; check the open country for raptors, seed-eating birds, and skulkers in the damp grasslands; visit the nearby foothills with their abundance of tanagers; and seek regional specialties like the Great Green Macaw, Lattice-tailed Trogon, Snowy Cotinga, Rufous-winged Woodpecker, and Black-throated and Stripe-breasted wrens. This is the richest region of the country for biodiversity, and over 400 species of birds are known from this area alone. At this time of year, many are in full song as they begin their nesting season. There are almost unlimited birding opportunities, and from our family-owned lodge we will range out to sample the many habitats within easy reach.

We end our week in the cool temperate zone of the mountains at lovely Savegre Lodge, in a beautiful deep valley that plunges off the side of Cerro de la Muerte. With its flower-filled gardens, rushing trout stream, and gorgeous forest, this is surely one of the most peaceful and relaxing places on earth. Here the Resplendent Quetzal is present in good numbers and, with just a little luck, we will see them. All habitats from 6,500 feet up to the subalpine scrub at the top of the mountain can be easily reached, and we should see most of the many birds endemic to these highlands, including such distinctive species as Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, Flame-throated Warbler, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, and Large-footed Finch, to mention but a few. The lodge has feeders and a surprising variety of birds in the surrounding orchards and woodlots, providing a delightful environment for rounding out our week in Costa Rica.

Good accommodations and food; birding on foot on easy to moderate trails; early breakfasts and departures; midday breaks most days; swimming pool at La Quinta; warm and humid to pleasantly cool temperatures.