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, May 6
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, May 7
After breakfast, we'll be picked up on our own Private Bus, and our full-time driver, along with our Naturalist Guide, Marco Fallas. We'll then drive to Cano Negro, 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 explore the grounds at the Lodge, which has logged a total of 143 different bird species!
Day 3: Sunday, May 8
We'll explore the Rivers and Wetlands in this area, taking boat rides on both the the Cano Negro Lagoon and the Rio Frio. This ecosystem contains over 350 species of birds, and at least 160 species of mammals such as the howler monkey, white faced monkey and spider monkey.
Day 4: Monday, May 9
We'll next travel to the Arenal Volcano area, making a stop at the Danaus Ecological Center. This is an area of 3 hectares in natural regeneration accessible trails. Walking these trails enables the visitor to appreciate the diversity of wildlife and tropical plants native from the area, including heliconia, orchids and palms. During the tour we'll hopefully see both the two-and three toed sloth, large numbers of birds (more than 150 different species), basilisks, iguanas, insects, poison dart frogs, etc.
Day 5: Tuesday, May 10 through Day 6: Wednesday, May 11
For these 2 days we'll be exploring the lush grounds of the Arenal Observatory Lodge, shoot at the very productive feeders, etc. 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. There are also numerous Trails available for us to explore (Peninsula Walk, National Park Arenal, Lava 68, El Silencio, Geovanni's, etc.).
Day 7, Thursday, May 12
Leaving Arenal, we'll travel 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 to the Cerro Lodge on the Pacific Coast, where we'll stay the next 3 nights.
Day 8: Friday, May 13
In the morning, we'll do a Boat tour on the Tarcoles River. Along the banks of the river we will have the opportunity to see one of the largest colonies of crocodiles in Costa Rica and a chance to see over 250 species of birds such as Scarlet Macaws, Tanagers, Trogons, Orioles, Ospreys, Cormorants, Pelicans and Roseate Spoonbills. In the afternoon, 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. A few years ago we saw several Fiery-billed Aracaris feeding chicks at a nest, right at the edge of one of the trails!
Day 9: Saturday, May 14
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. On the way back to the Cerro Lodge, we'll take a detour to drive to the Tarcoles River mouth, which is a great area for birds. There are many pastures with isolated dry-forest trees, fences (both great locations for a variety of Raptors), with numerous wetlands areas shootable from the road.
Day 10: Sunday, May 15
Drive up into the Highlands, to experience yet another Costa Rican ecosystem. We'll stop at several places along the way (Fredo Fresas Gardens, Hummingbird Cafe), and have the opportunity to see and shoot a wide variety of Hummingbird species (Green Hermit, Green-crowned Brilliant, Striped-tailed Hummingbird, Black-bellied Hummingbird, Coppery-headed Emerald, Brown Violet-ear, Green Violet-ear, White-bellied Mountain-gem, Green Thorntail, Purple-throated Mountain-gem, the Violet Sabrewing and Magnificent Hummingbird Volcano Hummingbird, etc,). In addition other possible bird species includes the Emerald Toucanet, Red-headed Barbet, Tropical Parula, and a variety of Tanagers (Crimson-collared, Silver-throated, Golden-hooded, Bay-headed). Later in the day arrive at the Bougainvillea Hotel for our final night in Costa Rica.
Day 11: Monday, May 16
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.