A Week in Costa Rica

White-tailed Emerald by Simon Thompson

Quetzals, Tanagers, & More
December 5-12, 2020

Black-throated Trogon by Simon Thompson 

A relaxed week-long tour with two great birding lodges, featuring mostly mild temperatures, gorgeous scenery, lush forests, and incredible birding. Also includes a boat trip through the wetlands at Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge.

Cost of ‘Costa Rican Week’ Venture: $3,495 per person, from San Jose, based on double occupancy ($525 single supplement) Price includes: All ground transportation in Costa Rica, all meals (from lunch starting Dec 5), taxes, entrance fees, trip information packet, bird list, and services of 2 guides (one local, one Ventures) Not included:Round trip airfare to San Jose, alcoholic beverages, gratuities, laundry, and items of a personal nature.


Costa Rica has long had a reputation for being a birder’s paradise, a place where beginning and experienced birders alike can enjoy neotropical birding at its very finest. The reputation is certainly well deserved – life abounds here! Over 900 species of birds have been recorded within its borders, boasting one of the highest diversities per square mile of any country in the world. Our exploration of several different areas should yield an excellent variety of birds, mammals, butterflies, frogs and snakes, and provide a nice taste of some colorful Tico culture!

Our week-long trip begins in the highlands near San Gerardo de Dota, where we explore the lush cloud forests, year-round home to the Resplendent Quetzal, and subalpine paramo (montane grassland) for a selection of specialties of the Talamanca mountains. In this region quetzals are not only numerous but are often seen on the grounds of our first lodge, the excellent and comfortable Savegre. A dizzying and colorful variety of hummingbirds and tanagers abound here as well, from Fiery-throated, Volcano, and Scintillant Hummingbirds to Spangle-cheeked and Emerald Tanagers. We’ll look for Long-tailed and Black-and-yellow Silky Flycatchers, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Yellow-winged Vireo, and Flame-throated Warbler in the areas around our lodge while up in the paramo we seek Timberline Wren, Volcano Junco, Peg-billed Finch, Wrenthrush, and many others.

For the other half of our week, we will be based at the excellent Arenal Observatory Lodge. Located to the north of San Jose, over 500 species have been recorded on its trails and grounds, including Great Curassow, Montezuma Oropendola, White-throated Shrike-Tanager, and the beautiful Black-crested Coquette, a regular visitor at the feeders! We’ll walk the hanging bridges at Sky Adventures Park and bird the canopy and other trails through this marvelous mature tropical forest - a fantastic place for ant swarms, which gives us excellent chances of finding Ocellated, Bicolored, Spotted, Dull-mantled and Zeledon’s Antbirds, as well as a variety of woodcreepers. Nearby Arenal National Park hosts Keel-billed and Broad-billed Motmots, White-collared Manakin, White-fronted Nunbird, Thicket Antpitta, Crested Guan and many others. Our itinerary also includes boat trips at the wetlands of Caño Negro, where a host of waterbirds await, including the majestic Jabiru, Pinnated Bittern, Green Ibis, and White-throated and Yellow-breasted Crakes, plus several species of kingfisher, Nicaraguan Seed-Finch and Nicaraguan Grackle, a blackbird that is only found in Nicaragua and northernmost Costa Rica.

We’ll have several night outings for owls and nightjars throughout the week as well – Bare-shanked Screech-Owl, Unspotted Saw-whet, Black-and-white, and Spectacled Owls, and Dusky Nightjar are all possible. In total, we can expect to see close to 300 species in one week here!

Some of the Birds We Hope to See

Great Curassow; Crested & Black Guans; Spotted Wood-Quail; Green Ibis; Jabiru; Sungrebe; Black-and-white and Spectacled Owls; Unspotted Saw-whet Owl; Bare-shanked Screech-Owl; American Pygmy-Kingfisher; Yellow-eared Toucanet; Baird’s and Lattice-tailed Trogons; Resplendent Quetzal; Volcano, Scintillant, and Fiery-throated Hummingbirds; White-throated and Gray-tailed Mountain-gems; Red-headed and Prong-billed Barbets; Orange-collared Manakin; Orange-billed, Black-billed and Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrushes; Yellow-billed and Snowy Cotingas, Spotted, Ocellated, Bare-crowned, & Zeledon’s Antbirds; Song Wren; Slaty Flowerpiercer; Emerald, Spangle-cheeked, Silver-throated, Bay-headed, and Scarlet-rumped Tanagers; Long-tailed and Black-and-Yellow Silky-Flycatchers; Elegant Euphonia; Volcano Junco and much more!