Travel will by on a spacious Air-Conditioned Bus, and we will have our own full-time driver, as well as our own Costa Rican bilingual Naturalist Guide. All meals are included with the only exception being the first dinner after arriving in San Jose, before the tour officially starts.
Day 1: Friday, April 25
After arrival at the International Juan Santamaria Airport in San Jose, you will be met at the airport and brought to the Hotel Bougainvillea for an overnight stay. The Hotel Bougainvillea is a family owned and operated inn with 80 tastefully decorated rooms set in 12 acres of beautiful gardens, home to some 60 species of birds. The restaurant offers continental cuisine in a wonderful dining room. Guests can stroll in the gardens, swim in the heated pool, enjoy a sauna or use the tennis courts.
Day 2: Saturday, April 26
After breakfast, we'll be picked up on our own Private Bus, and our full-time driver, along with our Naturalist Guide, Marco Fallas, will take us to the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, stopping along the way to shoot whatever wildlife we can find. I've found on all of my prior trips, we seem to find as much to shoot while we travel from one location to the next as we do at the destinations themselves! In the afternoon, we'll take a boat ride on the Tarcoles River, and have the opportunity to see Crocodiles, and a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. We'll be checking into El Paso de las Lapas, an exclusive Eco Boutique Hotel, located inside a private forest reserve, where we'll spend the next 3 nights.
Day 3: Sunday, April 27
In the morning, we'll travel to Manuel Antonio Park, which was included in Forbes Magazine's list of the world's 12 most beautiful National Parks! It is well known for its gorgeous beach and warm Pacific waters, lush forest, easy forest trails and scenic ocean views. We're likely to see Sloths, Squirrel and Capuchin Monkeys, Black Iguanas, Agoutis, and a wide variety of birds. Two years ago we saw several Fiery-billed Aracaris feeding chicks at a nest, right at the edge of one of the trails! In the afternoon, we'll take a leisurely ride back to our Hotel, looking for Scarlet Macaws and various Raptors and other wildlife along the way.
Day 4: Monday, April 28
We'll head out early to go to Carara National Park, home to various Parrots and Parakeets, Toucans, Trogons, Boat-billed Herons, Scarlet Macaws and a wide variety of other bird species, along with three species of monkeys, and a number of lizards and amphibians. We'll also take a look at the very large group of American Crocodiles that are typically basking along the Tarcoles River bank. We'll do some shooting around the grounds of our Hotel in the afternoon, and take advantage of other wildlife sightings that Marco will be sure to find!
Day 5: Tuesday, April 29
Leaving the Pacific Coast in the morning, we'll drive to Hacienda Solimar, a unique wetlands wildlife refuge which has been rich in photographic opportunities on prior trips. Bird species we've seen there before includes Roseate Spoonbills, Boat-billed Herons, Wood Storks, Harris, Bay-winged and other Hawks, Double-striped Thick-knee, Pacific Screech and Ferruginous Pygmy Owls, Jabiru Storks, Bare-throated Tiger Herons, Ringed Kingfishers, Lesser Nightjar, Northern Jacanas, and many others. After enjoying lunch there, we'll head north to the Ca�o Negro area. We'll be staying the next 2 nights at the Ca�o Negro Natural Lodge, a beautiful facility with Air-Conditioned Rooms which are clustered in lush tropical gardens, and with a beautiful swimming pool available.
Day 6: Wednesday, April 30
We'll be spending the whole day exploring the Ca�o Negro area. The Wildlife Refuge Ca�o Negro is one of the most significant wetlands in Mesoamerica. It is listed as one of the Wetlands of International Importance by the RAMSAR convention and declared by UNESCO as the heart of the new Biosphere Reserve Water and Peace. Its lowlands seasonally flood areas, ponds and swamps. The lagoon, fed by the Rio Frio, is a sanctuary for endangered species. There are 5 main habitats with over 300 species of plants, including trees and shrubs, and herbaceous vegetation at the edges of the lagoon. The habitat of more than 350 species of migratory birds and waterfowl make it a true sanctuary. We'll be spend time on the Ca�o Negro Lagoon, as well as doing a boat ride on Rio Frio.
Day 7: Thursday, May 01
After breakfast, we'll be driving to Arenal, stopping along the way to shoot whatever wildlife we encounter. We'll stay the next 3 nights at the wonderful Arenal Observatory Lodge, which we have enjoyed on many previous trips. Our rooms will have a direct view of the Arenal Volcano, and if we're fortunate, we'll have some clear skies to photograph this unique sight. The grounds are extensive, and we've shot a wide variety of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and others in past years: Montezuma Oropendola, various Tanagers (Scarlet-rumped, Blue-grey, Golden-hooded, Crimson-collared and others), Honeycreepers (Red-legged and Green), Woodpeckers (Black-cheeked, Acorn), Chachalacas, Black-cowled Orioles, Common Pauraque, Collared Aracari, Rufous-tailed and a variety of other Hummingbirds, and many, many more.
Day 8: Friday, May 02
In addition to shooting the birds visiting the Arenal grounds and feeders, we'll take a day-trip to the Danaus Biological Reserve. Once open farmland, this reserve has been allowed to revert back to forest and now teems with wildlife. Following the trails through the forest, and passing by a small lake, we'll have an opportunity to see Boat-billed Herons, Poison Dart Frogs, various species of Butterflies, and any number of the 154 bird species recorded here.
Day 9: Saturday, May 03
The Arenal Hanging Bridges is on our list of places to visit, as we continue to explore the Arenal area. As on previous trips, we also like to keep the itinerary flexible, as we invariably learn of unique places to shoot, or wildlife that has been spotted, and Marco is always able to find the best things to see and shoot.
Day 10: Sunday, May 04
We'll eat breakfast at Arenal, and then head south to San Jose. En route, depending on the weather conditions, we'll stop at the Poas Volcano National Park, as well as enjoying the scenic journey through coffee plantations, strawberry fields and lush dairy farms. Later in the day we'll arrive back at the Hotel bougainvillea, where we'll stay for our last night in Costa Rica, and enjoy our last 'farewell dinner' as a group.
Day 11: Monday, May 05
Depending on the time of your international flight departure, one of our transport representatives will drive you from the Hotel Bougainvillea to the International Juan Santamaria Airport, where you must check in approximately 3 hours prior to the time of your scheduled flight.