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Costa Rica in June Advice

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Old Friday 10th February 2012, 15:38   #1
borealowl47
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Costa Rica in June Advice

Thinking of visiting here this year for a month.Would like to stay in four different lodges for about a week each,getting the most variety of birds, butterflies and ecosystems.Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Old Saturday 11th February 2012, 16:50   #2
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Thinking of visiting here this year for a month.Would like to stay in four different lodges for about a week each,getting the most variety of birds, butterflies and ecosystems.Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Will you be driving? Will you be seeking guides? Have you been (and birded) in the tropics before?

It's easy to make recommendations when location is not an issue. For example, any committed bio-bum should put "Bosque de Rio Tigre" at the top of their list. But it's also more out-of-the-way than other places.

Paraisio del Quetzal (high mountains), Rancho Naturalista (Caribbean foothills), and La Ensanada (dry northwest habitat) and then any number of lowland Caribbean lodges would suffice for a month. The recommendations are endless. If you have more specific ideas about what, where, and how, it might be helpful.
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Old Monday 13th February 2012, 13:36   #3
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Thinking of visiting here this year for a month.Would like to stay in four different lodges for about a week each,getting the most variety of birds, butterflies and ecosystems.Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
First of all, let me say ...

Four weeks ?!? You lucky $%$##%!

(Okay, it's out of my system, I'm over it...)

Second, all of JJP's questions are valid - what I would recommend to you depends very much on whether you will be have a car or not, have birded Central America or not, etc.

However, I can say one thing right off the top, which is that you really must visit the Atlantic slope as one of your stops. That was my first destination (well, after San Jose) on my first trip there, and the bird variety was a real shock. Never been introduced to so many new families (toucans, trogons, chachalacas, nunbirds, antbirds...) in one day in my whole life.

The place we stayed was in the Sarapiqui valley, at a hotel called Selva Verde Lodge. As I understand it, SVL has gone rather downhill in the intervening 20 years, but it was great at the time. I'm sure someone else on this forum will pipe up with an alternative.
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Old Monday 13th February 2012, 15:16   #4
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I'll just note that June is the rainy season in most of the country (lasts from May to November). The good side of this timing is lower lodging prices and fewer tourists. I'd recommend the Lawson bird finding guide for more info. (http://www.amazon.com/Bird-Finding-G.../dp/0801475848).

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you really must visit the Atlantic slope
Usually referred to as the Caribbean slope.

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Old Tuesday 14th February 2012, 00:00   #5
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Usually referred to as the Caribbean slope.

Jim
Good point!
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2012, 12:41   #6
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Lots of places to pick from and although it rains more in June than during the dry season, this is a great time of year to visit. Many birds are singing, bird activity is good, and there are fewer tourists. Some of the more remote sites with basic accommodation are also have some of the best birding. For example, I just heard about a remote research station site off the radar in the Tilaran foothills that sounds very good. I hope to talk to the owner soon to learn more about visiting, etc.
What is your budget? Levels of comfort?
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2012, 21:37   #7
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Thanks for the advice everyone.will answer all you questions shortly.Here are my plans so far.First stop,Rincon de la Vieja National Park and stay at Hacienda Guachipelin.Won't be driving,shuttles run from San Jose to Liberia and the hotel will pick you up from there.Might have to stay overnight at the birders hotel near the airport and catch the shuttle the next day!What is it's name?Then to Carara National Park where I most likely will be be staying at Villa Lapas.Is there any options here,is there any accommodations close to the park ,keep in mind I will be walking everywhere.I think there is a shuttle from Liberia to Jaco then hire a cab to get there.
Then Las Cruces Biological Station.Will probably take a bus from Jaco to San Vito,then a cab.Could not understand how the buses run on the website,could somebody clarify that for me?
And my last stop would anywhere between San Vito and San Jose.Is the home of Alexander Skutch on that route,and is there a place to stay close by,and different birds and butterflies to see?
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2012, 01:03   #8
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Then to Carara National Park where I most likely will be be staying at Villa Lapas.Is there any options here,is there any accommodations close to the park
For lodging near Carara a lot of birders are discovering Cerro Lodge (see Patrick O'Donnell's reports from there).

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And my last stop would anywhere between San Vito and San Jose.Is the home of Alexander Skutch on that route,and is there a place to stay close by,and different birds and butterflies to see?
Talari Mountain Lodge is not far from Skutch's Los Cusingos; Bosque del Tolomuco is a bit farther but offer comfortable rooms at reasonable rates.

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Old Wednesday 15th February 2012, 01:46   #9
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At Carara you may need to rely on taxi if not driving yourself -- there certainly is a distance from Cerro Lodge (which has very nice birds on its own).

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Old Wednesday 15th February 2012, 02:41   #10
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I dont know of any birders hotel in San Jose but a lot go to the Bougainvilla. It has earned a reputation as the place for birders to stay in the Central Valley because tour groups use it. Birding is fair on the grounds and it is secure but its also expensive and not that close to the airport. Orquideas Inn is cheaper, closer to the airport, and has good habitat. Zamora Estate is rather expensive but also fairly close to the airport and has the best habitat- ponds, woodlands, and scrubby fields.

Rincon has great birding!

Cerro Lodge and Villa Lapas are a similar distance to Carara and yes you would need a ride. In my experience, taxis charge more from Villa Lapas. Both places are great for birding but more species can be seen at Cerro that probably wont be seen in the park.

If you take a shuttle, ask to be dropped at the crocodile bridge and arrange for the hotel to pick you up there. This is much closer than Jaco.

Here is a link to bus schedules throughout the country. You may have to go to San Isidro to reach San Vito although you can also get there from Ciudad Neily.

You might pick up a few new birds at Los Cusingos but in general the avifauna is pretty similar to that of Wilson Botanical garden.
I noticed that you didnt have any site on your route for high elevation species. A high percentage of those are endemics and include things like Resplendent Quetzal and Black Guan so you might want to consider staying at Bosque Tolomuco (as was mentioned), at Paraiso de Quetzales, or La Georgina (a roadside diner with cheap, basic rooms, a couple of cabins, and excellent, rather cold, high elevation forest. There are also more expensive places to stay in the Savegre valley although its not easy getting down there without your own transportation. El Toucanet is also excellent but ditto on getting there without your own vehicle.
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Old Thursday 16th February 2012, 15:29   #11
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borealowl -

If your comfort level is "adjustable", I was told that one can actually stay at Los Cusingos for a extremely reasonable price. Probably that means a bed and little else.
From Bosque del Tolomuco, we took a pre-arranged taxi to Los Cusingos for $10 and then were told it was $20 to get back! A bus from San Isidro dropped us off at the entrance to Tolomuco on its way up and over Cerro de la Muerte but you would have a hard time getting them to stop to pick you up on their way down the mountain.
The feeders at Los Cusingos were excellent and on the trail system, we found two separate ant swarms along with attendant ant birds.
A kilometer down the highway from the lodge at Tolomuco is another potential place to stay called Valle de General. There is a restaurant on the side of the highway with cabins below on a steep hillside. I remember the rates being very reasonable and the restaurant food was good. They had bird feeders out and during our meal, we saw a Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Red-headed Barbet and a Purple-crowned Fairy as well as some others. The picture I've included looks pretty rough but we inspected the cabins closely and found them nicely finished.

Re Carara NP, if you stay at Cerro Lodge, I think the owner, Federico, will help you arrange transportation, by whatever method it takes. He's just that kind of guy. When we finished our stay there and left by bus, he drove us to the stop, flagged down the bus and got us inside the bus. He either saw us as helpless gringos or was glad to see us go!
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Old Thursday 16th February 2012, 20:49   #12
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borealowl -

...
Re Carara NP, if you stay at Cerro Lodge, I think the owner, Federico, will help you arrange transportation, by whatever method it takes. He's just that kind of guy. When we finished our stay there and left by bus, he drove us to the stop, flagged down the bus and got us inside the bus. He either saw us as helpless gringos or was glad to see us go!
Here's another vote for Cerro Lodge! We only got to stay there one night this January because it was booked solid, but we really would have liked to spend more time there. The young man running it (is that Federico the owner? He was pretty young) was really tremendous. He helped arrange our river tour, and was always around and helpful. I don't know when/if he ever sleeps. We drove by the Villa Lapas - wish we had stopped in to see if we could have walked the grounds. They seem to have a lot of related land along the waterfall road.

I had also read somewhere about the "birder hotel" near the airport and I think Patrick is correct that it refers to the Bougainvilla. I google-mapped it and found it was no where near the airport though. Maybe good if you have a car and are planning on heading north east right away.

A whole month huh? Jeolous.

Robin

PS. I still owe the forum a trip report I know. Heading to Mexico for a bit first - it gonna take awhile.
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Old Sunday 19th February 2012, 14:34   #13
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Here's another vote for Cerro Lodge!


A whole month huh? Jeolous.

Robin

PS. I still owe the forum a trip report I know. Heading to Mexico for a bit first - it gonna take awhile.
Looked into Cerro Lodge,looks like a fantastic place.Read that the lodge will drive you to Carara for a small fee.I'm sold thanks!

As for a month,trip of my lifetime!Never been outside of Canada and only left my province a few times to bird in B.C.

Looking forward to your trip report!See lots of birds in Mexico!
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Old Friday 24th February 2012, 06:23   #14
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Check out Savegre Mountain Lodge, Trogon Lodge for altitude species; former probably best place to see Quetzal, Long tailed Silky etc. SML has good trils, gardens etc
I would stay for months if possible lol
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