Day Two - Three
Here you will get personal attention and family hospitality from three generations of the Chacon family who have lived in this valley since 1955. The Chacons' interest in conservation and protection will be evident as you walk their extensive trail system through pristine oak forest. They have also set up the Quetzal Education and Research Center with the help of researchers from several countries. While at the lodge, hummingbird feeders will keep you entertained as well as other birds in the garden and along the river. Many consider this area to be the best location anywhere to see a large selection of Chiriqui Highland endemics - species found only in the highlands of Costa Rica and extreme western Panama. Savegre Mountain Lodge is located south of San Jose, 9 kms off the Pan American Highway, less than 2 hours by vehicle. It is nestled beside the Savegre River with montane oak forest as the backdrop.
The nearby Paramo habitat well above the lodge provides excellent birding for the Central American alpine species. Still a working farm, though not expanding, the surroundings of the lodge consist of apple and peach orchards, a small dairy farm, and a trout farm.
Day Four - Six
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Mosquitoes can be a nuisance, especially after heavy rains!
From La Quinta we head south for the famous Arenal Observatory Lodge. Arenal Observatory Lodge is located NW of San Jose at the base of Arenal Volcano. It is approximately 25 minutes west of the town of La Fortuna and a total of 3½ hours by car from the San Jose International Airport. Its location serves as an excellent stopover between the La Selva de Sarapiqui region and the Monteverde area. Set amidst a beautiful protected rainforest in the Caribbean foothills and with an overlooking active volcano, a visit to Arenal Observatory Lodge is recommended for many reasons.
The lodge has lovely gardens complete with bird feeding tables, a very relaxing pool and Jacuzzi, an extensive trail system, a fine restaurant and an atmosphere that few other lodges can claim. We also believe it to be the best possible base for birding the Arenal area. Arenal Volcano is a perfect cinder cone and it is quite active. Eruptions of ash and gasses into the air are not uncommon and on a clear night you may even see lava oozing out of the top. The spectacle of the volcano is worth a visit alone but when combined with the rainforest and the abundance of birds and other wildlife, you can see why this area is so special. Whether you are looking for great birding, a romantic getaway, or just to commune with nature on a higher level, you will find that this area and specifically this lodge can provide all of that and much more.
Cano Negro Wild Life Refuge was declared “Wildlife Area of International Importance” in 1991. This Costa Rica ecological treasure is the natural habitat of more than 350 species of birds, as well as the emerald basilisk, iguanas, river turtles, caimans and jaguars.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was established in 1972 and initially covered some 810 acres (328 ha) of forested land. Nowadays, its protective reach extends over 35,089 acres (14,200 ha) and encompasses eight life zones atop the Continental Divide.
Hotel Fonda Vela is set within Monteverde’s Tilarán Mountain Range. Fonda Vela caters to comfort but retains a pastoral connection, ensuring an experience that is as pleasant as it is unique. The hotel’s 35-acre property is only minutes from the entrance to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Hotel Fonda Vela has 40 rooms in 9 separate buildings. The rooms are comfortably equipped with a range of amenities, including private bathrooms, hot water showers, cable TV, coffee maker, and mini-bar. The rooms are designed to optimize natural lighting, and as such have large windows looking out into the forest.
Climate: Resting roughly at 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) above sea level, Monteverde is misty, humid, and windy, with a mean annual temperature of 18 °C (64 °F. Annual rainfall averages around 3,000 millimetres (118 in). Humidity oscillates between 74% and 97%.
Leaving our accommodation we will drive south to our 3 night stay at Punta Leona Beach Resort. Punta Leona is located right on the Pacific Ocean between Tarcoles and Jaco. The entrance road is well sign posted off the main road approximately 15 minutes south of Carara National Park. Punta Leona Beach Resort is a wonderful combination of white sand beaches, comfortable lodging, and good birding. Your day might start with a guided bird walk watching Scarlet Macaws, Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, Fiery-billed Aracaris, and White-faced Capuchin monkeys amongst other colorful smaller birds and Spiny-tailed Iguanas. After a nice breakfast you may want to take in some sun at one of the 3 private white sand beaches or cool off in one of the 4 swimming pools. You found that watching a group of White-throated Magpie-Jays during lunch very enjoyable as was the siesta in the air-conditioned room afterwards. Mid-afternoon finds you on the trails in Punta Leona's private rainforest reserve trying to track down the incessant gonging of a Three-wattled Bellbird high in the canopy. Slaty-tailed Trogon, Blue-crowned Motmot, Red-capped Manakin, and Bay-headed Tanager added a splash of color to the darkening forest before you headed back to freshen up for a nice dinner.
Climate: It is consistently warm and humid in this area and the weather patterns closely follow the typical rain and dry season periods. It is unlikely that you would encounter rain in this area from Dec to mid April, Feb, March being the driest months. Bird and wildlife activity is highest in the early morning and late afternoon and you should take advantage of these cooler periods. A siesta in the middle of the day is often a good idea. Take drinking water on the trails to avoid dehydration. Mosquitoes are typically not prolific here unless after heavy rains, a few are always present.
Location: Hotel Bougainvillea is located near the town of Tibas to the east of San Jose, 25 minutes ESE from the Int'l airport.
Birding attractions at Hotel Bougainvillea: Despite the neighbourhood surroundings of the Hotel, there are some excellent birds to be found in the back gardens. The most significant of these is the uncommon and local Prevost's Ground-Sparrow. Watch for this skulker in the early morning in thick cover along the stone fences. The attractive White-eared Ground-Sparrow outnumbers its cousin in the garden but is still a good find. White-tailed Kite, White-fronted Parrot, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Tropical Screech-Owl, Squirrel Cuckoo, Blue-crowned Motmot, Plain Wren, the shy Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Yellow-throated (White-naped) Brush-Finch, and Melodious Blackbird are seen fairly regularly along with more common species such as Crimson-fronted Parakeet, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Hoffmann's Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Blue-and-white Swallow, House Wren, Clay-colored Thrush, Brown Jay, Blue-gray Tanager, Grayish Saltator, and Rufous-collared Sparrow. An early morning walk in these beautiful gardens can be very rewarding and is a great way to start and/or end your holiday.
Climate: Cooler with slightly more rainfall compared to the San Jose area but very mild overall.