Saturday, April 04, 2015

Costa Rica Birding - Information and Logistics

Admittedly, our Costa Rica trip wasn't one of our best planned endeavors. Primarily because of the Turrialba volcano eruption that happened on the week of March 15-20. Secondly, we were short of time. We originally planned a road trip to Arizona and Texas but we scrapped that idea due to the time it will consume. We just went on a week-long birding in Madera Canyon/Patagonia in Arizona instead. When we got news that the Costa Rican volcano eruption had subsided, Cynthia quickly researched for a possible visit to that Central American country. Inasmuch as our main target would be the Resplendent Quetzal, she chose a place where sighting of that exotic bird would be guaranteed. That place is the town of San Gerardo de Dota up in the mountains in southern Costa Rica. Below are the information details of said trip:

We took Aeromexico from Los Angeles to San Jose. Big mistake! The airline itself is within international standards but the airport in Mexico City is the worst! Even if you are a transit passenger (like we were) you had to go through customs and immigration. That means picking up your luggage from your initial flight and going through all that inspection and bureaucracy before you can get to your connecting flight. On our return trip, the customs officials who don't speak even a smidgen of English asked me to take out all of our camera equipment (camera body, lens, chargers, etc) out of our bags. This was the only airport that did so (and we've been to many others internationally). I am normally a very placid traveler but this experience really got into my nerves. So if you plan on going to Costa Rica from the U.S. avoid any airline that has a stopover in Mexico.

We stayed at the Savegre Hotel the whole time we were in Costa Rica. We arranged for airport transfer services (the hotel is about 2-1/2 hours away from the airport) for an additional fee. Included in the daily rate are breakfast, lunch, and dinner - all buffet style. There are no other public restaurants nearby, so you have to avail of this amenity. The rooms are large and comfortable. There is no airconditioning since it gets quite cold in the evening. A small heater is even provided. There is a hot water shower so that is very convenient. 

our cottage
 The food at the restaurant is delicious. If you prefer not to use the buffet, they have a menu for ala carte dishes (but the cost is extra).

Birding is outstanding around the hotel. They offer various tours - the cost varying depending on the length. Ask the desk and they would provide all the information needed for a specific tour. We only opted for one - the Photography Garden tour which costs US$10 per person. It was not really a tour in the strictest sense of the word. Our guide, Marino Chacon, one of the owners of the hotel, took us to the "garden" where we just waited for the birds to come. He picked us up about 2 hours later. Other than that we explored the surrounding areas on our own and encountered lifer after lifer. We got our target bird barely an hour after breakfast on our first full day of birding.

Five days in Costa Rica is definitely not enough to enjoy its birds. There are many more places with different kinds of beautiful birds throughout the country. We wished we could've stayed longer and visited other birding areas.

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