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Affordable or budget lodging options for birding in Costa Rica

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Old Sunday 15th August 2010, 17:05   #1
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Affordable or budget lodging options for birding in Costa Rica

This thread is a result of recent discussions in the Costa Rica sub forum about difficulties associated with birding Costa Rica on a budget.

Pease post any ideas for cheaper priced lodging in Costa Rica that you feel are suitable for birders and birding.

The first place I will mention is Posada Andrea Cristina. Located in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, this small B and B has nice gardens, conservation minded, local owners who have been involved with Great Green Macaw protection, and is priced at around $50 for a double.
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Old Monday 16th August 2010, 14:12   #2
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A place I am starting to see on itineraries more frequently is La Ensanada

http://www.laensenada.net/

This is well situated lodge (ranch is more appropriate) north of Carara in southern Guanacaste that apparently is quite good for Guanacaste specialties and perhaps some marsh birds and rails. I have not been there myself, but I have seen a few Costa Rica tours make that a stop. It's very inexpensive and well located for people that would have to drive from the south into Guanacaste.
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Old Monday 16th August 2010, 17:06   #3
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Originally Posted by JJP View Post
A place I am starting to see on itineraries more frequently is La Ensanada

http://www.laensenada.net/

This is well situated lodge (ranch is more appropriate) north of Carara in southern Guanacaste that apparently is quite good for Guanacaste specialties and perhaps some marsh birds and rails. I have not been there myself, but I have seen a few Costa Rica tours make that a stop. It's very inexpensive and well located for people that would have to drive from the south into Guanacaste.
Yes, this place is a regular stop on many tours and our birding club hs gone there too. Seems to be a good, budget option!
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Old Monday 16th August 2010, 21:54   #4
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Posada Andrea Christina is on our long list of places to stay near Sarapiqui, Patrick. I wondered about its proximity to town and whether it would have much habitat. I checked out the general location on Google Maps and it looks feasible to walk from their place on several secondary roads for exploring.

Thanks, JJP, for the link. Sooner or later, Guanacaste will be our target area. We've spent very little time on either coast. La Ensenada sounds nice.

Liz and I will be making it a point to get plenty of pictures and video of places we stay to enhance our sometimes brief descriptions.

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Old Monday 16th August 2010, 22:20   #5
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This a great thread. I decided to go to a lodge in Panama, 5 days or parts thereof, airport transfer, room, board and guide and airfare for under $1,000 US. Love to do same in CR or elsewhere in Central America. Noticed a 2007 thread and will review.

Love Costa Rica, but the thought of driving there scares me- a lot.

Advantage of Central America is airfare cheap. Daughter lives in Italy and cousins live in Haddington. Visiting them in 2 weeks and airfare is a killer.
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Old Tuesday 17th August 2010, 01:05   #6
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Love Costa Rica, but the thought of driving there scares me- a lot.

Well having driven there a lot, I can't say it's much different than driving in America... except that you need to be driving about 40-45 mph on good road rather than 60-65.
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Old Tuesday 17th August 2010, 01:32   #7
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Hi, Mike - Big city driving in Central America can be intimidating. I think some of that is less familiar surroundings, including people and language. Clear of them, it's not so bad. It seems to me that the horn is used more frequently and with less road rage intent so you have to adjust your American reactions to the honks. Road signs are not as common as foreign visitors might like. Be prepared to be passed in non-passable areas.
My wife and I used a rental car our first time in CR but have chosen to use the bus recently. If budget is a high priority, there is no comparison in cost savings. If you do decide to use public transportation, learn a few choice words of Spanish first.

I have a brother in Lancaster. His name is Mike!

Where did you go in Panama?

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Old Tuesday 17th August 2010, 01:57   #8
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Oops - Getting off topic, I think. I'm looking to include some higher elevation birding with our intended trip to the Sarapiqui area and came across this place on the east side of Juan Castro Blanco NP:
http://www.catarata-del-toro.com
Is there anyone out there familiar with the park, the road to the east park entrance or this lodge?
Thanks -

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Old Tuesday 17th August 2010, 02:09   #9
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I've never heard of Catarata del toro.

It seems to me that the most difficult small lodges to be found are probably Caribbean foothill birding locations at around 500-1000 meters - which would be some of the most productive birding areas.

At least to me, those locations don't come to mind as frequently as lowland, highland, or Pacific locations.

Just thinking out loud.... if that's possible on a message board.
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Old Tuesday 17th August 2010, 11:18   #10
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Three ideas for caribbean slope birding:

Rara Avis is a good choice for Caribbean foothills, not too expensive and excellent forest birding. The place is remote, with no electricity, but worth staying. The weather can be awful though (as in any caribbean foothills area).
http://www.rara-avis.com/

San Gerardo station on the caribbean slope of the Monteverde area offers fabulous birding but is also a bit remote.
http://www.acmcr.org/sangerardo_biological_station.htm

Pocosol station is another remote area offering excellent caribbean slope birding
http://www.1costaricalink.com/eng/we...s/pv-ninos.htm

All these places offer basic lodging, they are for hardy birders wishing to get deep in CRica, really off the beaten track but with great great birding.

Surely Pat can add a few more destinations.
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Old Tuesday 17th August 2010, 12:13   #11
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Three ideas for caribbean slope birding:

San Gerardo station on the caribbean slope of the Monteverde area offers fabulous birding but is also a bit remote.
http://www.acmcr.org/sangerardo_biological_station.htm
Surely Pat can add a few more destinations.
I'll be visiting that location in April. I'm really looking forward to it.
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Old Tuesday 17th August 2010, 12:32   #12
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Is there a registry of lodges or just do google search?
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Old Tuesday 17th August 2010, 13:40   #13
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Is there a registry of lodges or just do google search?

I don't know of one.

ACTUAR (alternative travel in Costa Rica) sponsors some smaller lodges.... (Click on "Lodges by Region")

http://www.actuarcostarica.com/app/cms/www/index.php

...but they are by no means extensive, and are not always near good birding habitat.

The Bird Route of Costa Rica web site also lists some ... http://www.costaricanbirdroute.com/sites.htm

but it is by no means extensive either (although the map is handy).
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Old Tuesday 17th August 2010, 13:45   #14
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By the way, I feel compelled to mention that the OSA Peninsula lodges always appears to be the most over-priced lodges in Costa Rica. I suspect some of the price hike was due to the lack of roads and infrastructure and the cost of it of bringing in food and services. Some of it was perhaps the exotic nature of the area since tourists frequently had to fly there. It was also a place that seemed to have more foreign investment. In essence, there is still a lack of competitive lodging in that area.

However, the road is now paved all the way to Puerto Jimenez as of 2010. There's less excuse for the lack of alternative lodging. Perhaps we'll see prices come down a bit there - or some competitive smaller lodges pop up.
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Old Tuesday 17th August 2010, 16:01   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Motmot View Post
Three ideas for caribbean slope birding:

Rara Avis is a good choice for Caribbean foothills, not too expensive and excellent forest birding. The place is remote, with no electricity, but worth staying. The weather can be awful though (as in any caribbean foothills area).
http://www.rara-avis.com/

San Gerardo station on the caribbean slope of the Monteverde area offers fabulous birding but is also a bit remote.
http://www.acmcr.org/sangerardo_biological_station.htm

Pocosol station is another remote area offering excellent caribbean slope birding
http://www.1costaricalink.com/eng/we...s/pv-ninos.htm

All these places offer basic lodging, they are for hardy birders wishing to get deep in CRica, really off the beaten track but with great great birding.

Surely Pat can add a few more destinations.
Hi Eduardo!

Those are also the first that come to mind for Caribbean foothills.

Las Heliconias is another possibility (weird mix of foothills and Pacific slope).

El Copal also provides good foothill birding. Can only book through ACTUAR.

Or you could just stay in San Jose or Sarapiqui and do day trips to Quebrada Gonzalez.
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Old Tuesday 17th August 2010, 16:01   #16
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I'll be visiting that location in April. I'm really looking forward to it.
Great site, especially in April.
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Old Tuesday 17th August 2010, 16:04   #17
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By the way, I feel compelled to mention that the OSA Peninsula lodges always appears to be the most over-priced lodges in Costa Rica. I suspect some of the price hike was due to the lack of roads and infrastructure and the cost of it of bringing in food and services. Some of it was perhaps the exotic nature of the area since tourists frequently had to fly there. It was also a place that seemed to have more foreign investment. In essence, there is still a lack of competitive lodging in that area.

However, the road is now paved all the way to Puerto Jimenez as of 2010. There's less excuse for the lack of alternative lodging. Perhaps we'll see prices come down a bit there - or some competitive smaller lodges pop up.
So true! I dont know of any budget lodging in good habitat offhand. Hope to investigate budget possiblities in the Osa sometime though.
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Old Wednesday 18th August 2010, 12:52   #18
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I can't support Rara Avis until they do something about the condition of the road they use to get deep into the forest. The mud that washes off the many km of road is inexcusable. They seem to be trashing one area to save another. I uploaded a video to YouTube this morning under "Road to Rara Avis".

Now that they've built the "Party Hut/Dance Hall", sell liquor by the bottle and hold all night parties, I feel they've lost their original direction. It's a nice benefit for us birders to get access to deep forest but at what cost?

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Old Wednesday 18th August 2010, 12:56   #19
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That said, there are some good suggestions in this thread that might be best kept in one place. As Delia Todd suggested, should they go on the Costa Rica page or is there another venue available?

Steve
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Old Wednesday 18th August 2010, 13:44   #20
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I remember that road very well ... it was said that the access was "soon-to-be-improved" - in 1995!

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Now that they've built the "Party Hut/Dance Hall", sell liquor by the bottle and hold all night parties, I feel they've lost their original direction. It's a nice benefit for us birders to get access to deep forest but at what cost?Steve
Good lord, really? This isn't some sort of sick joke? Have the owners completely lost their minds!?!

Where the hell do they think they are, Cancun?

That's another place to cross off ever going again, then.
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Old Wednesday 18th August 2010, 21:33   #21
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It seems to me that the most difficult small lodges to be found are probably Caribbean foothill birding locations at around 500-1000 meters - which would be some of the most productive birding areas.

At least to me, those locations don't come to mind as frequently as lowland, highland, or Pacific locations.
Exactly my point. Around San Jose there's obviously plenty of choice. Like many before I've used the Hotel Bougainvillea before; last time the Rosa de America. And I'm sure there are cheaper places. Similarly Monteverde has a wide range of accommodation--we used the Hotel Belmar--not particularly cheap, but functional. In the northwest we stayed at the Monarch Resort because I had a discount coupon, and it was OK but clearly not well patronized at the moment. In the Arenal area again plenty of choice--we used La Pareda at a good rate.

As mentioned on the other thread, the issue was location in the Caribbean locations, and ended up at El Bambu in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui which was excellent and provided a good vantage point for watching too. But there were problems of access at La Selva, even Selva Verde, and total non-access at Bosque de Paz. Some better ideas for accessing good habitat on the Caribbean side away from the famous places would be great...

Best,

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Old Wednesday 18th August 2010, 21:39   #22
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I can't support Rara Avis until they do something about the condition of the road they use to get deep into the forest. The mud that washes off the many km of road is inexcusable. They seem to be trashing one area to save another. I uploaded a video to YouTube this morning under "Road to Rara Avis".

Now that they've built the "Party Hut/Dance Hall", sell liquor by the bottle and hold all night parties, I feel they've lost their original direction. It's a nice benefit for us birders to get access to deep forest but at what cost?

Steve
Took a look at your video, Steve--horrendous! We did pass by the Rara Avis office in Horquetas and I was thinking about it--glad we didn't...!
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Old Thursday 19th August 2010, 13:50   #23
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Yeah, that road up to Rara Avis is just the worse. If only they could improve it and turn the dance hall into something more educational. BTW, hadn't heard about the dance hall! I suppose it's related to the fact that Rara Avis has been getting much of their business from groups of students and "adventure" travelers.
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Old Thursday 19th August 2010, 15:20   #24
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Patrick and all -
There were two groups of visitors while we were there for four days. Both were from a tour group with a mixture of nationalities. We enjoyed their company for the most part, except for the night they partied until after midnight - the night before we were asked to get up and make our scheduled departure by 7am.

After experiencing the "road" to the lodge, I questioned what was driving their existence. Certainly, it was not to make money. Their rates of $50 per night, which included all meals (good food!) wouldn't seem to be highly profitable. The orchid and butterfly houses were barely functioning. There were no fruit feeders and it was said that the hummingbird feeders may go also. The reference books were kept in an open shelf and were very damp and moldy. The pathways across damp areas were chicken wire stapled to log ends. Of course, the staples rusted through and now the chicken wire sticks up, snagging every pair of pants legs and shoe laces that comes close. Garbage was dumped over the hillside, attracting groups of squabbling coatis in a highly unnatural scene. Trails are poorly marked, if at all. To me, all this paints a picture of a place going downhill and not caring.

The website for Rara Avis, (which means "rare bird" in Latin), has this line, I assmue as a mission statement:
Rara Avis was developed in 1983 to show that we can make rainforest economically productive and so save it from destruction
Nothing about that statement or anything else I found said that it would be saved through people who liked being deep in the forest to study nature. If it takes sales of alcohol and a party atmosphere to pay the bills, I suppose that is preferable to a pineapple plantation.
The erosion along the road corridor is not acceptable however. They'd be better off running a tram line, charging for the experience, saving on road maintenance and vehicle damage (the tractor-drawn trailer broke down twice on our return trip due to broken wheel bearings. The driver and I spent 45 minutes in the muddy road replacing one set.). Not to mention keeping the forest floor intact.

For that mid-elevation experience in the Sarapiqui area, we're looking to stay at Alberque del Socorro and Quebrada Gonzalez until things improve at Rara Avis.

Steve
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Old Tuesday 12th October 2010, 18:01   #25
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Guanacaste

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Posada Andrea Christina is on our long list of places to stay near Sarapiqui, Patrick. I wondered about its proximity to town and whether it would have much habitat. I checked out the general location on Google Maps and it looks feasible to walk from their place on several secondary roads for exploring.

Thanks, JJP, for the link. Sooner or later, Guanacaste will be our target area. We've spent very little time on either coast. La Ensenada sounds nice.

Liz and I will be making it a point to get plenty of pictures and video of places we stay to enhance our sometimes brief descriptions.

Steve
Hi Steve:

If you ever do get down to Guanacaste, and Tamarindo in particular, I can help you with a discount at the Tamarindo Vista Villas.
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