9-Day Natural History &
Our nine-day trip allows you to experience five distinct biomes as you pass from Costa Rica's central valley through the Talamanca Mountains and down to the Osa Peninsula on the southern Pacific coast.
Our small group sizes allow us to tailor trips according to your needs and preferences to maximize your enjoyment, safety and comfort.
Costa Rica: A Birding Paradise
Bridging North and South America, Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world — a treasure trove of flora and fauna unequaled in so small an area. In no group is this diversity more stunning than in the birds of Costa Rica.
You will see some of the best birding possible: scarlet macaws, resplendent quetzals, trogans, hummingbirds, toucans, mot mots, various raptors, herons and many equally stunning, but less known species, such as the acorn woodpecker and the Yigüirro (clay-colored robin), Costa Rica's national bird, all while exploring the diverse flora and fauna of the mountain valleys and cloud forests of the Talamancas and the old-growth rainforests of the Osa Peninsula.
$2995 USD (based on double occupancy, there will be an additional fee for single accomodation).
Includes daily transportation by taxi van, comfortable accommodation and all meals.
Day 1 - To Drake Bay (Tropical Rain Forest)
Morning charter flight from Pavas Airport (San Jose's domestic airport) over the stunning cloud forests of the Talamanca Mountains to Drake Bay, on the Osa Pensinsula in southwestern Costa Rica. Met by Ben at the airport and arriving at our accommodations—a cozy family-run B&B—for lunch.
Drake Bay is remotely located on the north side of the Osa Peninsula, near Corcovado National Park, which National Geographic has referred to as "the most biologically intense place on earth".
During your 3-day stay in Drake Bay you will be hosted by a local family in their tropical-hardwood home, complete with hot showers, comfortable beds, and a veranda overlooking the bay. Our hostess, Yami, prepares most meals, though some evening meals will be eaten out at restaurants in the village.
After settling in and having lunch, the rest of the day can be spent exploring the village, hiking along the coast, or paddling around the bay and/or up a nearby river for a swim.
Day 2 - Drake Bay
We'll start the day with a bird walk, looking for stunning Scarlet Macaws, Scarlet Tanagers, Chestnut-mandible Toucans, and both Ringed and American Pygmy Kingfishers.
There will be an optional kayak paddle in the afternoon for those who wish to see Tiger Herons, Night Herons, and Speckled Heron in the nearby tidal river.
Other tour participants may prefer to simply enjoy the beach, or explore the many local coastal trails.
Day 3 - Drake Bay
You may choose one of the following, with an additional, optional evening paddle on your return:
Boat trip to Corcovado National Park with a local Costa Rican naturalist for a hike through Corcovado's famous primary and secondary growth rain forest, followed by a picnic lunch at the ranger's station or on the beach. After lunch the hike continues to a nearby waterfall. Spider, Whiteface and Howler monkeys, three-toed sloth's, tapirs and coatimundis are just a few of the park's residents. Although you will be back around 3:30pm, this option makes for a long day due to the early morning departure and hiking.
Boat trip to Caño Island Biological Reserve, located 20km off the coast, for a day of snorkeling. On the ride out, it is possible to see whales, dolphins and turtles. Originally an offshore burial ground for indigenous peoples, Caño claims to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island'. Nearly transparent waters and five seamounts covered with more than 15 species of stony coral make this an excellent diving and snorkeling location. Picnic lunch on the beach, returning to Drake Bay around 3:30pm.
Morning paddle focusing on paddling skills and beach landings, returning to the B&B for lunch to avoid intense mid-day sun. Optional afternoon paddle, or hike down the coast to a swimming beach.
Day 4 - Drake Bay
Following an early breakfast, we will pack a lunch and kayak down the coast to the nearby Marenco biological reserve, 150 acres of protected old growth rain forest, for an hour hike along the coast to Rio Claro, hopefully spotting raptors such as Laughing Falcons and Black Hawks through the old-growth trees.
Up to four species of monkeys (Whiteface, Howler, Squirrel, and Red Spider) can also be seen.
Rio Claro is a pristine tropical river, providing the backdrop for a wonderful day of swimming, beach-combing, and, for the adventurous, a canoe ride up the river and a brief climb to a spectacular waterfall.
Day 5 - To San Isidro del General and Cerro Chirripo (Lower Montane Forest)
Rather than returning to San Jose by charter flight, we will leave Drake Bay in the morning by boat, taking a scenic ride through the biologically rich coastal habitat and the rare Red Mangrove forests of the nearby Rio Sierpe Delta to the small port town of Sierpe.
A variety of bird species, including Ibis and herons inhabit these waters, along with crocodiles!
We will be met by our van and driver in Sierpe, and will take the scenic new coastal highway north along the coast, stopping for lunch and a walk along the beach before turning inland towards San Isidro del General (Perez).
We should arrive at our accommodations, a family-run hotel just outside of the city, by mid-afteroon.
Day 6 - To San Gerardo de Dota (Montane Oak Forest)
After breakfast, we will drive to the base of Cerro Chirripo, Central America's largest mountain, and take a morning stroll along the Rio Chirripo to look for hummingbirds, Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, Scarlet-rumped Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Northern (Baltimore) Oriole, Blue-hooded Euphonia, Blue Dacnis, and Red-legged Honeycreeper.
After lunch, we will ascend into the Talamanca Cloud Forest for the spectacular drive over the Cerro de Muerte (“Ridge of Death”), rising above timberline before descending steeply to San Gerardo de Dota, located along the Rio Savegre.
Amid the stunning vistas, you will likely see soaring vultures, hawks and the spectacular American Swallow-tailed Kite.
The long descent into the Savegre river valley provides dramatic views of the forest canopy and illustrates the dramatic differences in vegetation and wildlife possible over short distances in the mountains.
Our accommodations in San Gerardo de Dota are at a wonderful family-run lodge, with comfortable beds and excellent food.
We can see up to ten species of hummingbirds around the lodge, including the Magnificent, Green Violet-ear, Purple-throated Mountain-gem, Gray-tailed Mountain-gem, Scintillant, and Fiery-throated Hummingbirds, which flock to the many feeders lining the patio.
Following a hike in the valley, exploring the stream-side vegetation for birds, we will enjoy a buffet dinner served at the lodge.
Day 7 - San Gerardo de Dota
Without the need to drive to a new destination, the day will start out more leisurely. Breakfast will be served in the lodge dining hall, where rows of hummingbird feeders provide ample entertainment.
You can see up to ten species of hummingbirds around the lodge, including the Magnificent, Green Violet-ear, Purple-throated Mountain-gem, Gray-tailed Mountain-gem, Scintillant, and Fiery-throated Hummingbirds.
After breakfast, we will enjoy a brisk hike down the river to a spectacular waterfall, looking for Collared Trogan, Quetzals, Acorn Woodpecker, warblers, and hawks along the way.
Lunch will be served at the lodge, and the afternoon can be spent enjoying a good book by the hummingbird feeders, or walking along the riverbank further up the valley. Dinner is served at the lodge.
Day 8 - To The Talamancas (Highland Cloud Forest)
Before breakfast, we will enjoy an early morning hike down the river to a spectacular waterfall, looking for Collared Trogan, Quetzals, Acorn Woodpecker, warblers, and hawks along the way.
After a leisurely breakfast, we will pack up and climb out of the Savegre river valley back into cloud forest.
Our next destination is only 30 minutes away, but is at a much higher altitude. The "Paraiso de Quetzales", is a rustic alpine farm located high in the Cloud Forests of the Talamanca Mountains, at the drier edge of the Tapanti National Park.
The accommodations and meals at this small family farm are fairly basic. The climate is cool and humid.
It's well worth the visit, however, because of the old-growth Mountain Cypress and Oak forests, home to some special birds, especially Resplendent Quetzals, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatchers. Other birds found here include the Sooty and Mountain Robins and Rufous-collared Sparrows.
Day 9 - To San Jose
We'll look for Quetzals and other species before breakfast, and after eating depart mid-morning for the drive down into the central valley.
We will eat lunch along the way, and arrive back in San Jose by mid-afternoon.
Once back in San Jose, we will take you to the Juan Santamaria International Airport for a flight home in the afternoon or evening, or drop you off at your hotel.
If you choose to stay an extra day or two in metropolitan San Jose, we would be happy to recommend places to stay and things to do in and around the city.