Quetzals & Hummingbirds – Costa Rica

This is a Private Tour

12 days from £3,580 based or two people sharing a room. Please ask for family or group rates.

A 12-day birding extravaganza to five key regions of Costa Rica. From San Jose to the Caribbean side, then San Gerado in the highlands, the NE Pacific dry forest to the swamps of the Central Pacific. You will be taken around in air-conditioned comfort with expert guides and stay at charming hotels.

Tour Includes

Full time bi-lingual birding/ naturalist guide throughout

Extra local birding guides,

All transport in air-conditioned vehicle

Airport transfers,

All accommodation with en-suite (on a twin/double basis)

All meals and water

Costa Rica Deluxe bird checklist

River boat trip, and all excursions.

Tour Excludes

King vulture hide entrance

Tips to local staff

Items of personal nature,

Airport tax (usually included in ticket)


Waterfall gardens a hummingbird heaven

Sarapiqui tropical parrots and parakeets

La Selva Biological Reserve

San Gerardo Valley for many endemics

Quetzal quest in the Central Highlands

To book this tour or start creating your own tailor made itinerary call us on: 0207 407 1478 (UK) or contact us.


12 days from £3,580 based or two people sharing a room. Please ask for family or group rates.

We have fixed date group trips in 2024, please ask for rates:

Group 1           February 6th to 17th               12 days

Group 2           February 27th to March 9th     12 days

Group 3           March 12th to 23rd                 12 days

The Trip

Day 1: San Jose Arrival – / hotel
Day 2: Caribbean foothills
– Waterfall Gardens / Lagarto Lodge
Day 3: Caribbean foothills
– King vulture and toucans / Lagarto Lodge
Day 4: Central Caribbean lowlands – Sarapiqui / Selva Verde Lodge
Day 5: Central Caribbean lowlands
– La Selva  Reserve / Selva Verde Lodge
Day 6: Central Highlands  –
San Gerardo Valley / Savegre Lodge
Day 7: Central Highlands –
Quetzal quest / Savegre Lodge
Day 8: Northern Pacific
– Dry Forest / Ensenada Lodge
Day 9: Northern Pacific
– Orioles & shorebirds / Ensenada Lodge
Day 10: Pacific lowlands
– Mangroves & crocs river Tour / Villa Lapas
Day 11: Carara National Park –
Macaws & trogons / Villa Lapas
Day 12: Tarcoles & departure day
– final trail and depart.



Day 1: Arrival San Jose
On arrival in Juan Santamaria International Airport, you will be met by our guide and escorted to your hotel. You may also be able to do some birding on the hotel grounds if time permits.(D)

Day 2: Caribbean foothills – Waterfall Gardens
Drive north from the central valley past active volcanoes, down into the Caribbean Forest lowlands. Head towards one of the best spots for hummingbirds and other tropical birds. Waterfall Gardens is well known as a hummingbird heaven.  There are some endemic species not seen anywhere else. Such as the Ochraceous Wren, Crimson-collared Tanager, Coppery headed Emerald, American Dippers and Torrent Tyrannulets. It is the best place for Northern Emerald Tucanet.

Stay at Lagarto lodge (B,L,D)

Day 3: Caribbean foothills – King vulture and toucans
First thing in the morning we wait for birds that visit the feeders. After breakfast, there is a chance to use a hide for King Vulture. This is an optional extra activity and is the best hide in the country for this majestic bird. In the afternoon visit a private property for fantastic bird photography and observation. Get close views of red-legged honeycreeper, shiny honeycreeper, blue dacnis, chestnut- headed oropendola, white-necked jacobin, bronze- tailed plumeleteer, crowned woodnymph.

Stay at Lagarto lodge (B,L,D)

Day 4: Central Caribbean lowlands – Sarapiqui
The Sarapiqui region is in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica and is renowned for its high bird diversity, a number of national parks, private protected forests and bird sanctuaries, and the huge raptor and hawk migration that passes through the region each year. Target birds in Sarapiqui include the critically endangered great green macaw and sunbird. Along the Sarapiqui River, birdwatchers will find several species of egrets and tiger herons, green ibis, keel-billed and yellow-throated toucans, motmots, trogons, many different species of hummingbirds, as well as parrots and parakeets.

Stay at Selva Verde lodge (B,L,D)

Day 5: Central Caribbean lowlands – La Selva Reserve and Cope´s garden
Early morning guided walk in the La Selva Biological Reserve. This is the most important research centre in the country and an excellent place for birdwatching. In the afternoon visit the property of a local artist called Cope. He is a well-known environmentalist who has turned his property into an amazing nature reserve and viewing gallery. With fruit and nectar feeders and well-placed natural perches, this is a photographer’s and birder’s dream. We will see a variety of honeycreepers, tanagers, pigeons, and hummingbirds come and go, while the pool attracts wood rail and pygmy kingfisher. Orange-billed sparrow and even white-tipped sicklebill are possible here, all so close and in perfect light. From the house we will take a short trip into the surrounding area in search of species such as bat falcon, spectacled owl, great green macaw, great potoo and possibly a roosting crested owl.

Stay at Selva Verde lodge (B,L,D)

Day 6: Central Highlands – San Gerardo Valley
Travel to a pristine mountain valley high in the Talamanca Mountains at an altitude of 2,200 metres, nestled in a steeply walled river valley where the cloud forest is full of giant oaks and other native highland species. More than 50 endemic birds can be found in the central highlands of Savegre. Before reaching our lodge, you’ll be birding along the road at around 2,750 metres and will have your first chance to see a number of the regional endemics found in these mountains, including fancy species such as volcano hummingbird, long-tailed silky-flycatcher, black-billed nightingale-thrush and both yellow-thighed and large-footed finches.

Stay at Savegre lodge (B,L,D)

Day 7: Central Highlands – Quetzal quest
You will start the day in search of one of the world’s most attractive birds: The resplendent quetzal. While seeing the Quetzal will be our main objective, the valley is also an excellent place to see all the special birds of the region. Some of the regional highland endemics we are likely to see include highland tinamou, red-tailed hawk, black guan, sulphur-winged parakeet, ruddy treerunner, silvery-fronted tapaculo, sooty robin, ruddy pigeon, and many hummingbirds such as white-throated mountain-gem, scintillant hummingbird and purple-throated mountain-gem.

Stay at Savegre lodge (B,L,D)

Day 8: Northern Pacific dry forest
The North West Pacific contains some of the last remnants of the endangered tropical lowland dry forest. Its large salt pans provide birdwatching opportunities for shorebirds, locals and migrants. Best chance for rare endemics and local dry forest specialities, including birds not readily seen further south.

Stay at Ensenada lodge (B,L,D)

Day 9: Ensenada Lodge
Spend the day birdwatching on the property, its trails and seasonal freshwater lake. The large salt pans provide opportunities for shorebirds, local and migratory. The open areas are good for snail kite, yellow crowned night heron, marbled godwit, short billed dowitcher, snail kite, roseate spoonbill, double-striped thick-knee, as well as local endemics like lesser ground cuckoo, spotted breasted oriole, streak-backed oriole, yellow-naped parrot, mangrove hummingbird, banded wren, white-lored gnatcatcher.

Stay at Ensenada lodge (B,L,D)

Day 10: Pacific lowlands – River Tour
The Central Pacific is a unique area of overlap where both northern and southern species can be seen in the same place. In the afternoon the group takes a tour along the Tarcoles River and the Guacalillo mangrove estuary. This is the largest population of American Crocodiles in Central America. You will see many of the largest on the sandbanks. Great opportunity for freshwater birds, waders and shorebirds.

Stay at Villa Lapas lodge (B,L,D)

Day 11: Pacific lowlands – Carara National Park
Carara National Park is considered by many to be one of the best birding areas in Costa Rica. The park is famous for its population of scarlet macaws and we are sure to see many, especially at dusk. The excellent bird life includes up to five different species of trogons, rufous-tailed jacamar, royal flycatcher, king vulture, grey-necked wood-rail, elegant tern, tawny-winged woodcreeper, smooth-billed ani, scaled pigeon.

Stay at Villa Lapas lodge (B,L,D)

Day 12: Tarcoles and departure
First activity of the morning is a birding walk in the lodge trails for the last birds of the trip. After breakfast you will depart for the International Airport, a short 1h30 hour drive. (B)


"We loved it from the moment we flew in, our third truly memorable holiday with SLA"

J & K Cooper

"Tours we're all different and not one disappointed"

A tennant

"Hotel was fantastic the staff were efficient and helpful and the Xandari was quirky, a post modern experience"

J & K Cooper

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