Costa Rica Birding

Cloud Forests to Rainforests

Merlin Birding Tours is partnering wit Holbrook Travel to offer this trip to Costa Rica. Embark on an excursion through vibrant forests, mountainous terrain and along rivers to spot some of the hundreds of bird species that call Costa Rica home. Accompanied by one of our expert birding guides, you’ll discover a variety of habitats with the aim of seeing as many species as possible. Begin in the Caribbean lowlands of the Sarapiquí Valley,then travel to Turriabla, continuing on to Quetzales National Park and ending up in the highlands of Savegre, a birder’s paradise and one of the best spots in the country for observing the elusive Resplendent Quetzal.

To register, please visit Holbrook Travel

  • Tue 23 AprDay 1

    Arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica

    Individuals arrive in San José. Earliest check-in at the hotel is 3 pm. Overnight at Villas San Ignacio.

  • Sun 24 JunDay 2


    Violet Sabrewing

    This morning meet for breakfast and orientation at 7 am in the hotel restaurant. Check out and transfer to La Paz Waterfalls. Have lunch at La Paz and visit the hummingbird gardens and butterfly farm. After a stop en route at Cinchona, continue to Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve. Check in and receive orientation to the lodge and reserve. After dinner there is an optional night walk to discover nocturnal frogs and insects. Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge (BLD)

  • Thu 25 AprDay 3

    Day 2 in Chilamate

    Early morning birding before breakfast. Have breakfast and then take a hike in the reserve with your guide. Boots are available for use if the trails are muddy. Protecting 500 acres of rainforest, Selva Verde offers many covered walks, birding trails, and lookout points with opportunities to see species such as the Keel-billed Toucan, Great Green Macaw, White-winged Becard, Sunbittern, Acadian Flycatcher, and Wood Thrush. The reserve is home to one of the largest almond trees in all of Central America, which provides habitat for the endangered Great Green Macaw. Return in time for lunch. Later this afternoon visit Tirimbina Biological Reserve for a guided hike. The trails are designed to approach areas of high interest for wildlife watching or viewing highlights of rainforest biodiversity. The greater proportion of the life of a rainforest thrives in the forest canopy. Tirimbina visitors experience a view of the richness of treetop flora and fauna from a 100-meter suspended canopy walkway spanning one of the many stream valleys in the reserve. After dinner at Tirimbina enjoy an informative talk on the lives of bats. Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge (BLD)

  • Fri 26 AprDay 4

    Day 3 in Chilamate

    Golden-hooded Tanager

    This morning depart early for the Organization for Tropical Studies La Selva Biological Station. La Selva is world-renowned for scientific research on rainforest ecosystems and has been studying this forest for more than 50 years. Be on the lookout for the Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Crested Guan, Great Tinamou, Pied Puffbird and Spectacled Owl as possible sightings. Return to the lodge for lunch. Your afternoon is free to participate in optional activities such as the Sarapiquí River boat ride, rafting or horseback riding (arranged at reception after your arrival and paid on-site), spending time by the pool, or looking for avian visitors in Selva Verde’s botanical garden area. Later this afternoon enjoy a guided bird watching hike or take in river views from the patio overlooking the Sarapiquí River. Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge (BLD)

  • Sat 27 AprDay 5


    Great Tinamou

    This morning after breakfast, depart for Turrialba, en route visit El Tapir for birding. At a slightly higher elevation and with heavier rainfall, this area holds many specialty birds not typically found in the Sarapiquí region. Regular sightings include Lattice-tailed Trogon, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Streak-crowned Antvireo, Tawny-faced Gnatwren, White-throated Shrike-Tanager, Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager, and Tawny-crested, Emerald, and Blue-and-gold Tanagers. Rarities seen here on occasion include Rufous-fronted Wood-Quail, Red-fronted Parrotlet, Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo, Black-crowned Antpitta, Gray-headed Piprites, and Sharpbill. Have lunch en route. Late afternoon arrival at the hotel in Turrialba. Check in and visit the nearby hummingbird pools, just a short walk from the hotel, for a chance to hummingbirds arrive to dip in the fresh spring water. In the cool green of the forest understory is an observation deck above a rainforest stream. 

    Targets here include the striking Purple-crowned fairy, the Snowcap with its gleaming white cap, and the vibrant colors of the Violet-crowned Woodnymph and more. Also other species besides hummingbirds visit the area, such as the Tawny-throated Leaftosser, the Dull-mantled Antbird, Great Tinamou and many more. Optional night walk after dinner to see some of the insects, birds, and mammals that are active after dark. Overnight at Rancho Naturalista (BLD)

  • Sun 28 AprDay 6

    Day 2 in Turrialba

    Early this morning around sunrise, the feeders surrounding the lodge are full of life as the birds become active. Meet on the spacious balcony for a cup of coffee or tea at dawn. Then it’s birding on the balcony to see what arrives at the feeders, and the insect light to observe some of the insect feeding species like the Red-throated Ant Tanager. Return to the lodge for breakfast at 7 am. After breakfast head out on the trails in the private forest reserve to look for local specialties which include the tiny Snowcap hummingbird, Tawny-chested Flycatcher, Purplish-backed Quail Dove, White-crowned Manakin, White-throated Flycatcher, Dull-mantled Antbird, Thicket Antpitta, Black-throated Wren, Black-crested Coquette, Tawny-throated Leaftosser, Northern Schiffornis, and Grey-headed Piprites. Return to the lodge for lunch and have time to relax or continue birding along the trails, visit the hummingbird pools or watch the action at the hummingbird feeders. Over 450 species have been recorded in this region. Among those commonly seen are the Gray-headed Chachalaca, Little Tinamou, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Barred Hawk, White-throated Crake, Red-billed and Short-billed Pigeons, Gray-chested Dove, Common Pauraque, Green Hermit, Gartered and Collared Trogons, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Keel-billed Toucan and many more. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight at Rancho Naturalista (BLD)

  • Sun 29 AprDay 7

    San Gerardo de Dota

    Green Violet-ear

    Early this morning check out and depart for San Gerardo de Dota with birding and lunch en route. Check in at Savegre and after settling in, enjoy the hummingbird feeders situated in front of reception and also off the balcony of the lounge. The feeders are always active with resident Magnificent Hummingbird, Green Violetear with flared blue cheek tufts, Gray-tailed Mountaingem, Volcano Hummingbird, and the tiny Scintillant Hummingbird. Fiery-throated Hummingbird and Violet Sabrewing are seasonally present. Even Flame colored Tanager and Slaty Flowerpiercer come in to feed. Natural vegetation near the feeders offers great photographic opportunities. Located in San Gerardo de Dota, a small community in the Talamanca mountains, Savegre is at an elevation of 7,220 feet. The forest around the hotel is one of massive oaks, colorful plants, and an incredible variety of animal life. The forest is rich with insects, mammals, and amphibians, and the pristine valley is a paradise for birdwatchers with more than 170 species of birds. The crown jewel is the magnificent Resplendent Quetzal, which lives in the region year round. Overnight at Savegre Hotel. (BLD)

  • Tue 30 AprDay 8

    Day 2 in San Gerardo de Dota

    Journey to Cerro Buena Vista this morning in Los Quetzales National Park to look for Volcano Junco, among other high (10,400 ft.) elevation species. Spend the rest of the day exploring the upper trails at Savegre in search of Resplendent Quetzal and some of the other 169 species present, including such specialties as Spotted Wood Quail, Costa Rican Pygmy Owl, Resplendent Quetzal, Collared Trogon, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Ruddy Treerunner, Ochraceous Pewee, Barred Becard, Zeledonia, and Golden browed Chlorophonia, just to name a few. Dinner at the lodge this evening. Overnight at Savegre Hotel.(BLD)

  • Wed 1 MayDay 9

    Return to San Jose

    Early morning birding along Providencia Road en route back to San José; a rural road passing through some of the best highland forest habitats in the region. Expected species include Large-footed and Yellow-thighed Finches, Collared Redstart, Red-tailed Hawk (the local, non-band-bellied subspecies), Black-capped Flycatcher, Volcano, Fiery-throated, and Magnificent Hummingbirds, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Yellow-winged Vireo, Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher, Black and Yellow Silky Flycatcher and Spangle-cheeked Tanager. Check in at the hotel, which is conveniently located a short drive from the airport. Enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel  Overnight at Wyndham Herradura. (BLD)

  • Thu 2 MayDay 10

    Return Home

    Transfer to the airport in time to catch your flights home. Latest check-out of the hotel is 12 pm.