On this trip we visit two of the most beautiful zones in Costa Rica, Arenal with its majestic landscapes and volcano, and Monteverde with its lush cloud forest. This trip is a great opportunity to see many species from different habitats, from the Caribbean foothills to the higher lands and the continental divide.
We have the chance to visit rivers, a lake, farm and cattle fields, as well as secondary and primary forest, a great combination of habitats.
On the first day, BirdwatchingCostaRica.org staff picks you up in the airport and takes you to a near-by hotel to get ready for the start of the journey the next day. At the hotel the staff will give a lecture of the trip plan, places to visit, and information about some of the species that will be found in the different areas. If time allows, we will do some birding in the hotel gardens.
On the second day we travel to Arenal, making a stop at a good birding site to take a short hike before continuing to our destination. After arriving at the hotel and settling in we do some birding in the gardens and surrounding area, which are great locations to see birds like Crested Guan, White Hawk, Roadside Hawk, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Green Hermit, Brown Violet-ear, Green Violet-ear, Keel-billed Toucan, Buff-rumped Warbler, Bananaquit, and Red-legged Honeycreeper, just to mention a few.
We get an early start to walk the hanging bridges of Arenal where we have the chance to see birds that are hard to spot from the forest floor, as well as the beautiful canopy vegetation from close. This location has a mix of canopy bridges and forest trail, so there is the chance to see many different bird species. The plan for the afternoon is to go to Arenal Volcano National Park and enjoy very close views of the majestic volcano. The first location of the day offers mainly primary rainforest and the second is mainly covered with secondary forest, regenerated areas from past eruptions of the volcano. On this day we expect to find birds like Great Tinamou, Great Curassow, Squirrel Cuckoo, White-necked Jacobin, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Snowcap, Keel-billed Motmot, Rufous Motmot, White-fronted Nunbird, Dull-mantled Antbird, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Nightingale Wren, and Song Wren, just to mention a few.
We visit El Congal Private Reserve. First we take a short boat ride to the reserve where we start the hike. This place has grass fields as well as secondary and primary forest. This day offers the chance to see birds of open areas, forest, and aquatic birds around the lake. This reserve has a big bird list including Least Grebe, Snowy Egret, Osprey, Laughing Falcon, White-throated Crake, Green-breasted Mango, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Slaty Spinetail, Ocellated Antbird, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, and Orange-billed Sparrow. Rare birds like Bare-necked Umbrellabird and Ornate Hawk-Eagle can be seen on very luck days. In the afternoon we travel to Monteverde.
Already in Monteverde we make the best of our time. On this day we visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the best cloud forest reserves in the world. This is a good area to find Quetzales so in all our visits we will be looking for them. Some of the other birds we may encounter are Highland Tinamou, Black Guan, Ruddy Pigeon, Black-billed Hummingbird, Purple-throated Mountaingem, Magenta-throated Wood-start, Violet Sabrewing, Orange-billed Trogon, Hairy Woodpecker, Spotted Barbtail, Mountain Elaenia, Ochraceous Wren, Mountain Robin, Slaty-throated Redstar, and Three-striped Warbler, to name a few that we want to find in this location. In the afternoon we have an optional activity.
On this day we visit the Monteverde Hanging Bridges in the morning and the Santa Elena Reserve in the afternoon, two great chances to see some Costa Rican avifauna. Some of the birds that can be found in these areas are Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, Slaty Flowerpiecer, Common Bush-Tanager, Rufous-capped Warbler, Gray-breasted Wood-wren, Red-faced Spinetail, Scintillant Hummingbird, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, and we may also encounter another emblematic bird of the area the Three-wattled Bellbird.
This is the last day of this journey. On this day we do some early bird watching at the hotel garden and surroundings before we start our drive back to San Jose, where we spend the last night of the trip.