This birding and nature adventure through Costa Rica covers five biodiverse areas in 10 days. Enjoy some post-travel relaxation in Heredia, and do your first round of birding at Tapantí National Park. Stay in Turrialba for the next two nights, and enjoy the great outdoors of Rancho Naturalista and Braulio Carrillo National Park. From Sarapiquí, visit the famed La Selva Biological Station, and then spend time in stunning La Fortuna, home to Arenal Volcano. In Tárcoles, board a riverboat tour, then enjoy time spotting species at Carara National Park.

Highlights

  • Visit the Mountain of Death and spot 260 bird species at Tapantí National Park
  • Enjoy sightings in Sarapiquí, from Braulio Carillo to La Selva Biological Station
  • Adventure among Arenal’s hanging bridges and birdwatch from the observatory
  • Visit the biodiverse Carara National Park and spot the famous scarlet macaws

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival & Transfer to Heredia Heredia
Day 2 Visit Tapantí National Park & Transfer to Turrialba Turrialba
Day 3 Full Day of Birding in Rancho Naturalista Turrialba
Day 4 Transfer to Sarapiquí & Visit Braulio Carrillo National Park Sarapiquí
Day 5 Birding Tour of La Selva Biological Station Sarapiquí
Day 6 Transfer to La Fortuna & Visit Arenal Hanging Bridges Park Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 7 Free Day of Birding at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 8 Transfer to Tárcoles & Riverboat Tour Tarcoles
Day 9 Birding at Villa Lapas & Visit Carara National Park Tarcoles
Day 10 Depart From Costa Rica  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival and transfer to Heredia

Welcome to Costa Rica!
Welcome to Costa Rica!

Welcome to Costa Rica!

Upon arrival, a representative will meet you at the airport to give you a welcome package including all information regarding your trip. Then, make the 25-minute transfer to Heredia.

After the check-in, enjoy the hotel facilities and relax for the rest of the day. Explore the hotel's Bouganvillea Gardens, and the evening is at your leisure. 

Day 2: Visit Tapantí National Park and transfer to Turrialba

Begin your birding adventure from Cartago
Begin your birding adventure from Cartago

After breakfast, begin your amazing Costa Rican birding experience from the central valley.

Ride 2 hours to the Cartago province and visit Tapantí National Park, one of the richest in the country. This park conserves important ecosystems, contains numerous rivers, and has varied, scenic beauty. Enjoy the sights in the Tapantí sector, which is characterized as one of the rainiest places in Costa Rica. Take in elevated views from the Mountain of Death. From Asunción Hill, you can see the coasts off both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

In the park, there are about 45 species of mammals, as well as 260 species of birds to spot. 

Next, continue to the Turrialba, which is approximately a 1-hour drive. Upon arrival, relax or take a walk inside the property, and enjoy the night on your own.

Day 3: Full day of birding in Rancho Naturalista

Enjoy a full day of birding around Rancho Naturalista
Enjoy a full day of birding around Rancho Naturalista

Today, join a private, full-day tour around Rancho Naturalista. Your experienced guide will point out the native species, and there is plenty of time to spot the birds among the beautiful natural landscapes.

Day 4: Transfer to Sarapiquí and visit Braulio Carrillo National Park

Take a stroll through Braulio Carrillo National Park
Take a stroll through Braulio Carrillo National Park

Today after breakfast, hit the road for 2.5 hours, from Turrialba to Sarapiquí.

Before you arrive Sarapiquí, embark on a 1.5-hour stroll around Braulio Carrillo National Park, which has two sectors of public use: Quebrada González and Volcán Barva. There is also the Ceibo Sector, which is dedicated to wildlife protection and research.

Sarapiquí is known throughout Costa Rica for its amazing and rich biodiversity, as well as for being an adventure seeker’s dream destination. Nestled in the northeast of the country and bordered by Nicaragua in the north, Sarapiquí is a very popular tourist getaway for families and thrill-seekers, alike.

After checking into your hotel, enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening on your own time.

Day 5: Birding tour of La Selva Biological Station

Spot various birds at the prestigious La Selva Biological Station
Spot various birds at the prestigious La Selva Biological Station

Today, visit La Selva Biological Station, one of the world's most important sites for tropical ecosystem research. Each year, more than 250 scientists from 25 countries, and thousands of international students, come to La Selva to study tropical ecology. Major research projects focus on forest dynamics, biodiversity, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestering, and native species reforestation. Research at La Selva has led to the publication of more than 2,655 scientific articles, theses, and books.

It also happens to be one of the finest birdwatching locales in all of Costa Rica. The excellent network of hiking trails here runs through a variety of habitats, from dense primary rain forest to open pastures and valleys. Birdwatching tours of La Selva begin at 5:45 am and last approximately 2 hours. Some species to look out for include various herons, the bare-necked umbrellabird, red-capped manakin, and Rufous-tailed jacamar.

In the afternoon, enjoy the exotic scenery and abundant wildlife in the region on an optional horseback riding tour. Thrill-seekers can experience more adrenaline-fuelled activities, such as whitewater rafting and zipline canopy tours.

Day 6: Transfer to La Fortuna and visit Arenal Hanging Bridges Park

Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano

Today after breakfast, depart and transfer 1.5 hours to La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano National Park region. The charming town of La Fortuna is just 4 miles from Arenal Volcano and 13.7 miles from Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa.

La Fortuna is the main entry point to the Arenal region. On a clear day, the majestic Arenal Volcano dominates the skyline of this peaceful town. In La Fortuna, if needed, you can find services, such as banks and ATMs, clinics, pharmacies, supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, ice cream vendors, and a 24-hour gas station. There are many tourist information centers, and the central park is a nice place to stroll and experience local life.

After check-in at the hotel, you will visit Arenal Hanging Bridges Park to see the part of the biological corridor that enables the flow of species inhabiting the Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Range and the Tilarán Volcanic Mountain Range.

Take a 2-hour walk to spot the resident bird species, such as the Rufous motmot, trogons, and scrub Euphonia, as well as migratory species, like the wood thrush.

Day 7: Free day of birding at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

Enjoy some birding and the view over Lake Arenal at Arenal Observatory Lodge
Enjoy some birding and the view over Lake Arenal at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

Today, enjoy time at your leisure to go birding and exploring around Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa.

An optional guide can join you on a stroll to look for native birds, and show you where to spot them. 

Spend as much time birding as you'd like, and feel free to venture off the property to see more of the La Fortuna area, if you wish. Following the day, dinner and the evening are on your own, as well. 

Day 8: Transfer to Tárcoles and riverboat tour

Spot crocodiles from the bridge along the Tárcoles River
Look for crocodiles from the bridge along the Tárcoles River

After breakfast, take the 3.5-hour transfer to Tárcoles along the Central Pacific Coast. 

Tárcoles is a quiet little town just on the outskirts of Northern Puntarenas, which hosts different weather conditions, and subsequently, different species of birdlife.

Before check-in at the hotel, enjoy an exciting, 2-hour riverboat tour. The Estuary of Guacalillo and the Tárcoles River offer the opportunity to observe one of the largest populations of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in the Americas. You can also discover the mangrove area with a high percentage of biodiversity, where there is a large number of waterfowl and one of the most important conservation areas of scarlet macaw in the country.

Then, make the 20-minute transfer to the Rain Forest Villa Lapas Hotel, which is an eco-resort, located along the coast. The hotel is one of Costa Rica’s top tourist choices for birdwatchers and nature lovers, alike. Once settled, enjoy the evening on your own. 

Day 9: Birding at Villa Lapas and visit Carara National Park

Go scarlet macaw spotting in Carara National Park
Go scarlet macaw spotting in Carara National Park

Accompanied by your guide, embark on a birding tour along the trails around Hotel Villa Lapas today. There are always interesting species here, like the chestnut-mandibled toucan, fiery-billed aracari, pale-billed woodpecker, and various types of trogons (slaty-tailed, gartered, black-headed, etc.). Plus, groups of scarlet macaws often fly overhead, especially in the early morning and late afternoon.

The small forest trail right behind the hotel is also worth a visit, because there's a good chance of spotting the long-tailed manakin, a colorful bird known for performing choreographed dances to attract females. More than the manakin, this trail affords opportunities to spot the black-faced antthrush and other interesting species.

After the tour, enjoy the rest of the day on your own. Consider a visit to Carara National Park. This protected area encompasses 12,900 acres and includes both the tropical dry scrub of the Northern Pacific Coast, as well as the Southern Pacific rainforest, which makes it home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Some 360 bird species call this area home—most famously the scarlet macaw. Travelers come from far and wide to see what constitutes the largest remaining wild population of these birds in the country.

Day 10: Depart from Costa Rica

Adios, Costa Rica!
Adios, Costa Rica!

It's time to say adiós to Costa Rica. After breakfast, transfer to the airport. Take with you all of the beautiful birding memories made over the past 10 days, as you board your international flight home. Safe Travels!

Map

Map of Costa Rica Birding & Nature Adventure - 10 Days
Map of Costa Rica Birding & Nature Adventure - 10 Days