Costa Rica: Grand Birding Expedition (2018)

Customized for groups of 2 – 12 persons
Days: 14

Few countries in the world offer the chance to see over 900 different species of birds. With its fantastic climate and diverse ecological systems, Costa Rica is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and especially bird watchers. This wonderful package takes guests from highlands to the lowlands, and tropical jungles to dry forests exploring the awesome variety of flora and fauna and of course checking off all the most wanted bird species in the country.

costa rica grand birding expedition


The Costa Rica Focus Touch: 

  • Private meet and greet at the Juan Santa Maria (San Jose) International Airport.
  • Services of your private naturalist guide, Rudy Zamora (35+ years of birding in Central America)
  • 24/7 in-country assistance.
  • Birding checklist and target list customized to each location.
  • Daily recap every day with your guide to update your birding checklist.
  • 1 group leader travels for free with 12 full fare guests.

Overview: Itinerary at a Glance

  • Day 1: Arrive San Jose Costa Rica, Hotel Bougainvillea
  • Day 2: San Gerardo de Dota | Paramo species
  • Day 3: San Gerardo de Dota | Quetzal Country
  • Day 4: Caribbean Slope | Rancho Naturalista
  • Day 5: Caribbean Slope | Hummingbirds galore
  • Day 6: Caribbean Lowlands | Great Green Macaws
  • Day 7: Caribbean lowlands | La Selva Biological Station
  • Day 8: Central Mountains | Arenal Volcano area
  • Day 9: Central Mountains | Lowland rainforest
  • Day 10: Mountain Cloud Forest | Monteverde
  • Day 11: Mountain Cloud Forest | Bajos del Toro
  • Day 12: Central Pacific | Transitional forest
  • Day 13: Central Pacific | Macaw Country
  • Day 14: San Jose | Depart for home

Day 1: Arrive San Jose, Costa Rica

Arrive in San Jose, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Your tour begins with an afternoon walk through the exquisite gardens of the Hotel Bougainvillea. The gardens stretch over 10-acres with pathways, benches, and viewing areas. There are 50 species of bromeliad, native trees, orchids, herbs, cactus and much more. The gardens are a haven for several hard to see bird species including the white-eared ground sparrow and the Prevost ground sparrow. The hotel is decorated with local pottery and hosts an impressive collection of rocks and minerals found throughout Costa Rica. Dine tonight at the hotel restaurant.

Hotel Bougainvillea / Meals:Dinner

Day 2: San Gerardo de Dota | Savegre Lodge

Depart after breakfast for San Gerardo de Dota. The towering Talamanca Mountains are not only home to the highest peak in Costa Rica (Chirripo) but also unique areas of sub alpine paramo and lush white oak forests. Have your binoculars handy as this area is rich with almost 200 bird species. The resplendent quetzal, flame-throated warbler, long-tailed silky flycatcher, volcano junco and the silvery-throated jays are just a few of the many birds that inhabit the area. Enjoy the cool temperatures, clear mountain streams and the magnificent forests of San Gerardo de Dota.

Savegre Lodge / Meals:breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: San Gerardo de Dota | Savegre Lodge

A full day of birding at the private reserve of Savegre Lodge. You’ll walk the trails and be entranced by the beautiful white oaks, and golden moss of this stunning forest. The array of bird species is astounding. In the afternoon, stroll along the river looking for dippers and phoebes and relax in the gardens surrounded by hummingbirds as the sunsets.

Savegre Lodge / Meals:breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Caribbean Slope / Rancho Naturalista

Today after breakfast you’ll take a lovely scenic route north to the Caribbean slope. You’ll stop above the tree-line, looking for the timberline wren and peg-billed finch (among others) and then through Tapanti National Park. The irregular topography creates fabulous vistas and chances to stop and bird along the way. You’ll stop along the way for a tasty lunch. The drive is only about 2 hours but plan on stopping often to search for the species you need in the area and enjoy the gorgeous views.

Rancho Naturalista / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Caribbean Slope / Rancho Naturalista

Rancho Naturalista is one of Costa Rica’s premier birding lodges. From the warm homey feel, the expansive balcony for bird watching right from the lodge, to the wide expanse of trails every detail at Rancho is designed to give guests an amazing experience. Over 450 species of birds have been recorded in the private forest reserve. Have your binoculars handy at all times, you’re going to need them!

Rancho Naturalista / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Caribbean Lowlands | Selva Verde Lodge

You’ll finish your stay at Rancho with lunch and then make the 2-hour drive to Selva Verde, arriving in time to bird the grounds of the Selva Verde Lodge. Selva Verde is also home to many species of tree frogs, so keep your eyes peeled as you maneuver the trails. Selva Verde is a great location to spy the Great Green Macaw, and the spectacular Sun Bittern. The rustic cabins are set right in the rain forest to give you a true immersion into nature.

Selva Verde Lodge / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Caribbean Lowlands | Selva Verde Lodge

Today it’s an early breakfast and then off to the La Selva Biological Station. La Selva is comprised of 3900 acres of tropical forest nestled between two rivers. (Rio Puerto Viejo and Rio Sarapiqui) La Selva was established in 1954 as a farm dedicated to natural resource management. In 1968, it became a private reserve and research station owned and operated by the O.T.S. More than 250 scientific papers are published yearly with research and study done and completed at La Selva. You’ll enjoy the entire morning and early afternoon at La Selva, then return to Selva Verde for lunch. That afternoon you’ll explore the trails around Selva Verde.

Selva Verde Lodge / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Central Mountains| Arenal Observatory Lodge

Enjoy the morning at Selva Verde, have lunch and then depart for the Arenal Volcano area. The drive is only about 2.5 hours and you’ll bird along the way as you pass through fields, farms, and rolling hills. You’ll arrive at the lovely Arenal Observatory lodge with time for birding the grounds. The Observatory Lodge has a huge observation deck overlooking the Arenal Volcano and an expansive garden. There is a total of 870 acres of forest and an excellent trail system. This is the premier bird watching location in the Arenal area.

Arenal Observatory Lodge / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9: Central Mountains| Arenal Observatory Lodge

Today you’ll spend the full day around the trails at the Observatory Lodge. More than 500 species have been registered on the grounds and forest of the lodge. Keep watch for the black-crested coquette, yellow-eared toucanet, great curassow and many more. The diverse habitat provides a true paradise for bird watchers.

Arenal Observatory Lodge / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 10: Cloud Forest | Hotel de Montana Monteverde

After breakfast at the Observatory Lodge you’ll make a stop at the trails of Sky Trek. This is a great stop for birders as it gives you a chance to see the canopy at eye level. Look for the blue and gold tanager, and large mixed flocks. After the Sky Trek trails, travel around Lake Arenal to the lush cloud forests of Monteverde.

Hotel del Montana Monteverde / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 11: Cloud Forest | Hotel de Montana Monteverde

You’ll spend the day today in the rich, exuberant Cloud Forest at the Monteverde Reserve. Monteverde is home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity. 10% of its flora is endemic. A wonderful network of trails covers more than 13-kilometers. Marvel at the huge tree ferns, bromeliads, and orchids. The reserve is home to the three-wattled bell bird, quetzals, tawny-throated leaf-tosser, lineated foliage-gleaner and many more fantastic species.

Hotel del Montana Monteverde / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 12: Central Pacific | Stay-In Costa Rica

Time to move from the cool mountains of Monteverde to the warmth of the Pacific Coast. Enroute, stop for a float trip on the Tarcoles River. This trip is a great place to see shore birds, marsh species, and of course the gigantic Central American Crocodiles. You’ll arrive at your hotel late afternoon for check in.

Stay In Costa Rica / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 13: Central Pacific | Stay-In Costa Rica

Few places in Costa Rica boast the diversity and grandeur of Carara National Park. It’s key location as a wild life corridor between northern and southern Costa Rica creates a sanctuary for a huge variety of animals and birds. More than 400 species are possible in this region. The fertile Tarcoles river, famous for its massive crocodiles flows through the region brining in shore birds and sea birds as well. Keep watch for tinamous, manakins, and puffbirds (just to name a few).

Stay In Costa Rica / Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 14: San Jose | Time to return home

The birding adventure comes to a close. Return to the San Jose Airport for your flight home.

Meals: breakfast

Our tours are customized to fit your needs. This tour can be booked on all dates, space is simply subject to availability.


Prices depend on the time of year you wish to travel and the amount of people you are traveling with. Please contact us for the pricing of your customized trip.

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Expedition Details:

  • This trip is suitable for guests 12 years +
  • The physical requirements are intermediate. There will be walking and hiking in temperatures between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Guests should be able to maneuver inclines and declines, some up & down, and unpaved trails and pathways.

Terms & Conditions:

Deposit & Balance payments:

For reservations made outside 60 days prior to arrival, a deposit payment of 25% is required to secure your package. Your balance payment is due 60 days prior to your arrival.

For reservations made within 60 days prior to arrival, a 100% payment is due to secure your package.


Changes may be made up to 30 days prior to arrival without fees from Costa Rica Focus; however, any fees or penalties charged by the providers in your package (hotels, transport, activities, tours, meals) will be the responsibility of the travelers. These penalties will be added to your package price.

Changes made within 30 days of your arrival will carry a change fee from Costa Rica Focus of $300 plus any fees or penalties charged by the providers in your package. (hotels, transport, activities, tours, meals).

Changes requested while in the country are at the discretion of the provider’s (hotels, transport, activities, tours, meals) in your package. Any penalties or fees associated with the changes are the responsibility of the traveler.


Cancellations may be made up until 30 days prior to arrival. Cancellation penalty up to 30 days prior to arrival is 50% of your deposit amount.

Cancellations made within 30 days of arrival carry a penalty of 100%.

Important Note:

Costa Rica Focus highly recommends the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance to protect your vacation investment.