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Costa Rica advice

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Old Wednesday 13th June 2018, 05:04   #1
Bewildered
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Costa Rica advice

Hello all,

I have always wanted to go to Costa Rica but as a student wasn't financially able. Well, I've saved up for a few years now of summer jobs and have a gap year now so I'm going to make my dream a reality. Given the fairly limited funds, I'm going to try to do it mostly on my own but I'll hire local guides at lodges I'm sure.

I've tentatively put together the following itinerary:
1st night: somewhere in San Jose, possibly Hotel Bougainvillea but I'll probably just find somewhere cheap as I wont be here for long
2-3rd nights: La Selva OTS
4-5th nights: Natural Lodge Caño Negro
6-7th nights: Arenal Observatory Lodge
8-10th nights: Cerro Lodge
11-13th nights: Esquinas Rainforest Lodge
14-15th nights: Savagre Mountain Lodge

So I have a few general questions. The broadest is, does this look like a solid general itinerary? I think I've covered all the main areas... will birding Cerro/Carara get me most of the dry forest species or should I consider going somewhere like Palo Verde? Next, is Arenal worth doing or will I get essentially everything I could see there elsewhere? There seems to be a few things that are possible there that I wont see elsewhere so I think I'll keep it unless suggested otherwise. Finally, is there anywhere else I should add? Honestly, I could make this into a 3 week trip but I don't really know where else I should go. Bosque de Paz comes to mind but they seem to be sold out already for the entire general time frame I'm planning on going.

Thanks for any advice.
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Old Wednesday 13th June 2018, 06:39   #2
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Have you considered staying close to La Selva and walking in so you just pay the entry fee? I'm sure you could do the same in the San Gerardo Valley for Savegre?

We stayed at Gavilan Lodge before La Selva and met people who walked to La Selva, only a few KM's and if you set off predawn, it won't be too hot. Gavilan is also a pretty nice place in it's own right and the food was good, whilst at LS it's like a High School or military canteen.

Basically, in CR, you get new stuff at every site but re Arenal in particular, we were very unlucky with weather here so you may want a back up plan in that event.

I assume you're driving or being driven? If you arrive in time, I'd suggest trying to get to the Poas area on arrival where we stayed, some decent birding pre breakky in the garden including Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher and Scintillant Hummingbird.

PM me with an e-mail if you want our report, we did our best to keep costs down as much as we could but CR isn't a cheap place.



A
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Old Wednesday 13th June 2018, 14:56   #3
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For the most part I would recommend against staying in the lodges if you are on a budget. CR is a pretty easy county to bird independently and on a budget.
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Old Wednesday 13th June 2018, 15:38   #4
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Some options

There are a few place in town below Rancho Naturalista which would then make a day visit(s) relatively inexpensive.

We stayed in Arenal Obersvatory Lodge this time very convenient and access before and after day trippers but last time we stayed in hotel in La Fortuna - and got shared ride to Arenal; all the lodges round Arenal were quite pricy.

Agree with Andy Savegre Hotel and Spa is great but somewhere like Miriam's diner with cottages across the road is much cheaper and close to Quetzal roadside viewing areas.


Might be worth day trip over to Nicoya Peninsula if you are going past Puntarenas, on way to Cerro / Carara i.e. get early ferry across, shared taxi / bus to Curu (20 mins) then late ferry back - for some more dry forest species, seabirds and cetaceans.

Our recent report might help with what was about in each area if not with accommodation as we tended to go for best available.
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Old Wednesday 13th June 2018, 16:41   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyadcock View Post
Have you considered staying close to La Selva and walking in so you just pay the entry fee? I'm sure you could do the same in the San Gerardo Valley for Savegre?

We stayed at Gavilan Lodge before La Selva and met people who walked to La Selva, only a few KM's and if you set off predawn, it won't be too hot. Gavilan is also a pretty nice place in it's own right and the food was good, whilst at LS it's like a High School or military canteen.

Basically, in CR, you get new stuff at every site but re Arenal in particular, we were very unlucky with weather here so you may want a back up plan in that event.

I assume you're driving or being driven? If you arrive in time, I'd suggest trying to get to the Poas area on arrival where we stayed, some decent birding pre breakky in the garden including Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher and Scintillant Hummingbird.

PM me with an e-mail if you want our report, we did our best to keep costs down as much as we could but CR isn't a cheap place.


A
I considered not staying at La Selva, but I was under the impression you could only bird the entrance road or go with guides to bird the actual reserve itself... is this not the case? Don't mind if it's staying in a high school, I just finished 4 years of that lol

Yes, have driven for two years and was planning on renting a car. Also, regrading Poas, I think I remember reading somewhere that the national park is closed indefinitely for volcano activity but apparently there's still good birding in the area that can be accessed. I'll look into it.
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Old Wednesday 13th June 2018, 16:42   #6
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For the most part I would recommend against staying in the lodges if you are on a budget. CR is a pretty easy county to bird independently and on a budget.
Thanks. I'll look into it... it's a bit overwhelming trying to find other, cheaper options since I've never done anything else so I was just going with the easier option (and so far that itinerary was well within my budget altho I'd love to make multiple trips out of the money I saved!).
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Old Wednesday 13th June 2018, 16:53   #7
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Originally Posted by dandsblair View Post
There are a few place in town below Rancho Naturalista which would then make a day visit(s) relatively inexpensive.

We stayed in Arenal Obersvatory Lodge this time very convenient and access before and after day trippers but last time we stayed in hotel in La Fortuna - and got shared ride to Arenal; all the lodges round Arenal were quite pricy.

Agree with Andy Savegre Hotel and Spa is great but somewhere like Miriam's diner with cottages across the road is much cheaper and close to Quetzal roadside viewing areas.


Might be worth day trip over to Nicoya Peninsula if you are going past Puntarenas, on way to Cerro / Carara i.e. get early ferry across, shared taxi / bus to Curu (20 mins) then late ferry back - for some more dry forest species, seabirds and cetaceans.

Our recent report might help with what was about in each area if not with accommodation as we tended to go for best available.
Yeah, Rancho Naturalista was high on the list until I looked up the prices... not paying $200 a night for one person!! Do you have any suggestions for the area? I couldn't find any nearby lodges per se but I guess there's probably hotels.

Thanks for the info on Miriam's! I looked it up and it does look quite reasonable. Putting down Savagre was again more for convenience than anything but I've read in that particular area, other than feeders/the trail above the lodge, it's mostly done from the road. I'm sure I can do a day hike for the trail after getting food there or something.

I don't think my route will be taking me more into Nicoya, unless I add a stop. I'm trying to figure out if I would do fine on dry forest species with just Cerro Lodge or if I should go somewhere like Ensanada or Palo Verde area.

Also, thanks for the trip report link -- I actually already read it and just about every CR trip report online!
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Old Wednesday 13th June 2018, 17:26   #8
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Originally Posted by Bewildered View Post
Yeah, Rancho Naturalista was high on the list until I looked up the prices... not paying $200 a night for one person!! Do you have any suggestions for the area? I couldn't find any nearby lodges per se but I guess there's probably hotels.

Thanks for the info on Miriam's! I looked it up and it does look quite reasonable. Putting down Savagre was again more for convenience than anything but I've read in that particular area, other than feeders/the trail above the lodge, it's mostly done from the road. I'm sure I can do a day hike for the trail after getting food there or something.

I don't think my route will be taking me more into Nicoya, unless I add a stop. I'm trying to figure out if I would do fine on dry forest species with just Cerro Lodge or if I should go somewhere like Ensanada or Palo Verde area.

Also, thanks for the trip report link -- I actually already read it and just about every CR trip report online!

You can bird inside Savegre, we did and were not even asked to pay anything, don't underestimate how chilly the nights and early mornings are here, brrrrrr.

At La Selva, if you pay the entrance fee, you get a guided walk included I believe then AFAIK, you are free to roam and if not, no one will challenge you anyway.

Nature Lodge looked ok, we went in there to see the day roosting Screech Owls, ask at reception. I assume you'll do the boat trip? We were lucky enough to see Jabiru, the Costa Rican rarity American White Pelican and the Grackle is relatively nailed on.



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Last edited by andyadcock : Wednesday 13th June 2018 at 17:32.
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Old Wednesday 13th June 2018, 17:27   #9
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I would echo the recommendation for Miriam's cabins in the Savegre valley. Much cheaper than the big lodges and they have their own trails good for quetzals etc.
We were there three years ago. Apart from going to the Savegre lodge to make use of their jeep ride up to the top of the trails and then bird our way back down everything was roadside.

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Old Wednesday 13th June 2018, 17:30   #10
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I would echo the recommendation for Miriam's cabins in the Savegre valley. Much cheaper than the big lodges and they have their own trails good for quetzals etc.
We were there three years ago. Apart from going to the Savegre lodge to make use of their jeep ride up to the top of the trails and then bird our way back down everything was roadside.

Steve
Book early though, it was full for our visit and we couldn't stay there.


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Old Wednesday 13th June 2018, 18:44   #11
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Originally Posted by andyadcock View Post
You can bird inside Savegre, we did and were not even asked to pay anything, don't underestimate how chilly the nights and early mornings are here, brrrrrr.

At La Selva, if you pay the entrance fee, you get a guided walk included I believe then AFAIK, you are free to roam and if not, no one will challenge you anyway.

Nature Lodge looked ok, we went in there to see the day roosting Screech Owls, ask at reception. I assume you'll do the boat trip? We were lucky enough to see Jabiru, the Costa Rican rarity American White Pelican and the Grackle is relatively nailed on.



A
Okay, good to know. I think I'll just play it by ear and see what happens.

And yeah, at Caño Negro the plan is to do a boat trip and possibly a guided bird walk. Main target is the grackle, but there's lots of other good stuff up there.

Emailed Miriam's to check availability. If they don't respond shortly I'll call and see if I can get a hold of them that way.
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Old Thursday 14th June 2018, 02:24   #12
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If you haven't already, check out cloudbirders.com. I haven't birded Costa Rica yet or looked into it much, but I'm sure there's plenty of independent reports out there. As stated above, if you're on a budget, stay outside of the reserves, you'll save a significant amount of money. Eating local will be cheaper too and you can always buy food to eat for breakfast/lunch while out birding.

Download the maps.me app which is often helpful in finding local places to stay/eat along the way. It'll also make it easy to enter gps coordinates that are in other people's reports to help you out at specific locations. Traveling independently can be a bit daunting in the beginning, but once you get used to it, you'll see how easy it is to bird cheap outside the US vs visiting places like South Florida, LRGV, and SEAZ

https://www.cloudbirders.com/tripreport

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Old Thursday 14th June 2018, 11:12   #13
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Near Rancho

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Originally Posted by Bewildered View Post
Yeah, Rancho Naturalista was high on the list until I looked up the prices... not paying $200 a night for one person!! Do you have any suggestions for the area? I couldn't find any nearby lodges per se but I guess there's probably hotels.

I haven't stayed in anywhere nearby but you could have a look at hotels and hostels on 414 near Tuis or La Suiza, (east of Turrialba) road up to Rancho and trails via the farm and pasture mirador looked to be free access, in early morning I'm sure you could get a lift from staff coming up to Rancho.
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Old Thursday 12th July 2018, 23:37   #14
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Hi
Im planning similar trip for December.
I cut out Esquinas Rain forest as it look theres not much for family with small kids (7 & 5).
Additionally i add La Ensenada Lodge in Puntarenas? Is that worth?

Thanks for input
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Old Saturday 14th July 2018, 03:33   #15
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Hi
Im planning similar trip for December.
I cut out Esquinas Rain forest as it look theres not much for family with small kids (7 & 5).
Additionally i add La Ensenada Lodge in Puntarenas? Is that worth?

Thanks for input
I stayed at La Ensenada in March 2017. Good for dry country and water birds.
There is a nice swimming pool and lots of lawn. Easy open country walks, and crocs at the salt pans a short drive away.
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