First trip CR March 2018 (1 Viewer)

Mr9000

Active member
Hi fellow birders

I'm travelling by my self to CR in March 2018 staying 17 nights. My plan is to get a good wide introduction of birds as well as wildlife in general. I have settled with a few must locations. I have emphasized staying longer in fewer locations as recommended in this forum:

Day 1 Hotel near airport but with garden (common species) Any recommendations?

La Selve 3 nights
Selva Verde 1 night
Rancho Naturalista/cheaper lodge nearby or El Copal Reserve ????? 2 nights
Savegre 3 nights
Cerro Lodge 3 nights
Drake bay, Osa 4 nights

I have skipped Arenal due to my wish to stay longer in Osa due to my wish to encounter more wildlife.

A few questions:

- I decided not to rent a car due to longer stays each site. What could be my transport options between these sites? I don't prefer public buses because I might run into unexpected things. What about private vans, shuttle buses running between the above locations. How much would a taxi of a 2 hours drive cost?

- Rancho Naturalista is too expensive for a single traveller IMO, but what are the alternatives. Any cheap lodges nearby and do day trips to RN from here? Is it possible to get to El Copal Reserve by taxi and would anyone prefer this site over RN?

- Osa Peninsula/Drake Bay : Any recommendations of lodges below 100usd in Drake Bay with birding trails onsite?


Best regards

Jakob, Denmark
 

njlarsen

Well-known member
Opus Editor
Hej Jakob,
I would reconsider the car rental. For example at Cerro Lodge, you need to get down to the river for a morning boat ride as well as to Carara for the wildlife there, and each of those would be a good distance to walk.

Niels
 

Caon

Well-known member
In December I stayed at Rancho for a few nights and we visited El Copal for a day. El Copal had arguably the best birding of any spot we went to in CR. I would highly recommend it over Rancho.
 

Mr9000

Active member
Thanks for your input Niels. I am not to keen on driving alone in CR, so unless I find a partner it is not an option. There must some transportation possibilites going from Cerro Lodge.

Caon: Great, I am for sure gonna skip RN and go for El Copal. Thanks.
 

Mr9000

Active member
Which of these localities is a must using a guide? On first hand I am planning to stay 3 nights at each location using on-site guides the first day and bird solo the last two days. Anybody with experience on this:

La Selva
El Copal
Savegre
Carrera
Drake Bay

Thanks
 

Andy Adcock

Fractious Member of ill repute
England
Which of these localities is a must using a guide? On first hand I am planning to stay 3 nights at each location using on-site guides the first day and bird solo the last two days. Anybody with experience on this:

La Selva
El Copal
Savegre
Carrera
Drake Bay

Thanks

Carara, we used Franklin Sanchez who was excellent and he will get you Streak-chested Antpitta.

We also used David Rodriguez at Curi-Cancha who was fantastic.

Driving is very easy, get a satnav and use gps coordinates which most booking companies i.e booking.com provide as standard with address
details, piece of cake as most sites are well away from Cities.

I'd personally use a guide in reverse to your plan, pick up what you can alone for two days and that allows a more targeted approach when you use a guide.



A
 
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Birdingcraft

Well-known member
Which of these localities is a must using a guide? On first hand I am planning to stay 3 nights at each location using on-site guides the first day and bird solo the last two days. Anybody with experience on this:

La Selva
El Copal
Savegre
Carrera
Drake Bay

Thanks

An experienced guide is of course a big help at any tropical site (including the ones mentioned) but if I could only use a guide for one of these spots, it would be El Copal because this site offers a chance for a number of rare and challenging species unlikely to be seen elsewhere in CR. One of the guides who work out of Rancho Naturalista would be a good choice as it is sort of near there.
 

Birdingcraft

Well-known member
Thanks for your input Niels. I am not to keen on driving alone in CR, so unless I find a partner it is not an option. There must some transportation possibilites going from Cerro Lodge.

Caon: Great, I am for sure gonna skip RN and go for El Copal. Thanks.

Cerro can arrange taxis for you.
 

claretjohn

Well-known member
Hi Jakob,
Having returned from our first visit to CR in February I can also add that driving outside San Jose is really easy but try to plan your trip so that you don't have to drive through San Jose (its a nightmare!!). Cerro Lodge is great and yes they will organise transport to Carara and/or Tarcoles boat trip (well worth doing). We liked Danta Corcovado on the Osa Peninsular and used the car for several trips out on our own. However we would like to explore the Peninsular further and for another trip we would fly from SJ to Puerto Jiminez and pick up a 4 wheel drive vehicle from there. For a relaxing re-charge from birding Saladero Lodge offers a mini-paradise in Primary rainforest which you can get to by boat from Puerto Jiminez.
We did briefly get to see a Quetzal in San Gerado de Dota and many Hummingbirds but didn't particularly like Trogon Lodge ....it was too busy for our liking.
All in all we had a fantastic trip and although I am not an experienced birder I did manage to get many photos which I hope to add to a website sometime.
My advice would be to use guides as much as you can as we would have missed so much without them.
 

Les Shulman

Active member
Hi Jakob,

I recently got back from an extensive stay in Sarapiqui.
Two excellent guides that are quite familiar with La Selva are Geiner Huertas Reyes ([email protected] and Jaime Alvarado ([email protected])

I stayed at Chilamate Rainforest Eco-Retreat for 17 nights and La Selva for three nights.
Why are you planning on staying at Selva Verde (which is about a fifteen minute walk from Chilamate Rainforest) for one night? Depending on your answer I may have some feedback for you about it.

My impression is that a two hour taxi ride in most parts of Costa Rica would cost upwards of $100.

A year or so ago I was told by Cerro Lodge that a round trip to relatively nearby Carara NP is $50 and a round trip to Tarcoles was, I believe, $35. Hence, that was a major factor in my deciding to go to more easily accessible transportation-wise Sarapiqui.
 
Staying at La Selva and then Selva Verde doesnt make much sense. Same part of the country basically.
The best thing to do is hiring a local birding guide and rent a car.
The problem with Cerro Lodge is that there is not forest or birding areas around the lodge at all. Birding along the open fields along the road after 8am gets really hot and not very pleasant (and not very productive for birds). It takes 5 minutes to Carara park. Villa lapas is more touristy but there is a nice forest in the property, and the trail there is pretty much like birding in Carara
 

Stevie babe

Well-known member
Bougainvillea Hotel, should be you start hotel in San Jose and book a room overlooking the garden. Great place to get your list started.

I hope you have good birding and a great introductory visit to CR and that you will want to go back. If so I hope you do include Arenal (I have seen Yellow eared Toucanet and Chestnut Headed Oropendula there), Tortuguera (Turtle Beach Lodge) and Cano Negro (Hotel De Campo)
 

Birdingcraft

Well-known member
If you haven't found a hotel yet for the first day of your trip, the Boug. is nice and has a beautiful garden but it's not that close to the airport. Not so far either but you will probably deal with traffic getting there.
Xandari is closer and has beautiful gardens but is costly. Buena Vista also rather close, fair birding there. Hotel Orquideas (now known as Villa San Ignacio) is another very good option with quite a birdy garden.

My take on Cerro or Villa Lapas- Lapas does have more forest and the birding is great but it also overlaps with Carara National Park and somewhat with Drake Bay. Cerro will give a chance at various dry forest species not encountered there as well as various edge species, raptors, flyby parrots, and so on at the lodge and on the road in. If you haven't birded the neotropics before, the combination of second growth patches of forest, open fields, and a small seasonal marsh can produce good looks at many new birds. That said, with a car, you can also stay at Lapas and easily visit the Cerro road in a morning or afternoon.

A couple of ebird lists that cover an hour of morning birding on the Cerro entrance road:

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36734382


http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S35381566
 

gdhunter

Well-known member
My take on Cerro or Villa Lapas- Lapas does have more forest and the birding is great but it also overlaps with Carara National Park and somewhat with Drake Bay. Cerro will give a chance at various dry forest species not encountered there as well as various edge species, raptors, flyby parrots, and so on at the lodge and on the road in. If you haven't birded the neotropics before, the combination of second growth patches of forest, open fields, and a small seasonal marsh can produce good looks at many new birds. That said, with a car, you can also stay at Lapas and easily visit the Cerro road in a morning or afternoon.

Add to that the unique accommodations and friendly service at Cerro. It's been a few years since my last visit, but I can't imagine a Pacific Slope trip that doesn't include at least a couple of nights there. Probably not convenient for first night in & last night out, unless arrival is early & departure is late. Have birded there with Patrick O'Donnell (quoted here) & Randall Ortega Chaves, and spent quite a bit of time self-guided. Someone at the lodge can arrange a Tarcoles River tour, which for us has proven invariably productive.

Gary H
 
Hi Jakob,
I will also be doing a trip to Costa Rica next year, and as a non driver will be arranging a car between lodges.
It would be great if you find a good company and post the details on this site as I have the same problem as you.
Have a great trip,
Mark
 

cafe birder

Well-known member
Hi Mark,

I have just booked my first costa rica holiday. While I plan to do self drive, the company that we used will also arrange transport between lodges as they did this for a friend last year. www.geoddyssey.co.uk will find them as they are London based. We were recommended them when our local travel agent could not meet our requirements and found have them to be very efficient so far. Will report back next year once I have actually been.
Regards Howard
 

Andy Adcock

Fractious Member of ill repute
England
If you haven't found a hotel yet for the first day of your trip, the Boug. is nice and has a beautiful garden but it's not that close to the airport. Not so far either but you will probably deal with traffic getting there.
Xandari is closer and has beautiful gardens but is costly. Buena Vista also rather close, fair birding there. Hotel Orquideas (now known as Villa San Ignacio) is another very good option with quite a birdy garden.


http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S35381566

Depending on what time you arrive, you could do what we did which was to pick up the car from Poas car rental ([email protected] who are extremely freindly and there were no hidden extras, great service) then drive up to the Poas area where we stayed at Tiquicia Lodge. Birds in the Garden here included Long-tailed Siky Flycatcher, Slaty Fowerpiercer, several common Hummers and it was the only place we saw Scintillant, great views right outside our room. It's very conveniannt for Poas volcano which is why we chose it and I'm sure that the friendly owner could easily arrange transport to and from the volcano for a non driver for a reasonable price and could probably do the same for La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Cinchona cafe for the feeder station.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/cr/tiquicia-lodge.en-gb.html?aid=311076;label=tiquicia-lodge-

Make sure you get a WAYZ, the local satnav system, it will save you a whole lot of hassle though driving outside of Towns and Cities is pretty easy.

Anyone interested can PM me an e-mail and I'll send you our report from the same period this year.


A
 
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claretjohn

Well-known member
We used Geodyssey for our trip in Feb2017 and found them to be excellent. They were using a company named Costa Rica Trails for the local arrangements who were equally helpful. We did however have an issue with car hire company (Sixt) having arranged a manual and were given an automatic which we refused, unfortunately the replacement took from 4pm to 11.30am the next day to sort out meaning that we had to cancel one of our trips. CR Trails helped us sort this out and Geodyssey compensated us on our return.
Driving in CR was relatively easy, apart from central San Jose which was a nightmare. The satnav we were given was useless so I agree with Andy to get WAYZ
John
 

njlarsen

Well-known member
Opus Editor
If I recall correctly, WAYZ demand that you have internet access. Maps.me works also when offline. I have used it in many weird places and found it mostly works well.

Niels
 

JJP

Well-known member
If I recall correctly, WAYZ demand that you have internet access. Maps.me works also when offline. I have used it in many weird places and found it mostly works well.

Niels

WAZE just demands phone access, not Internet access. You just have to keep data roaming turned on when you drive. Typical stuff for cell phones. Might be difficult to use in the Osa Peninsula because of cell phone access, but no one really needs it there.

I use WAZE anytime I'm driving in large cities in CR. The crowd-sourcing helps with traffic jams, police radar, and round-abouts. A lots of the residents in Costa Rica now use it. I have started taking a car-charger with me now every time I go.

Mr9000, The rental car thing always sounds more daunting in a foreign country, but it's no different really in Costa Rica than it is in the US. Most everyone at the car rental places speak English. You hand them your credit cards at gas stations. You drive more consciously and try not to drive at night (no shoulders on most roads). It will make birding a ton easier with a rental car.

There's some good advice in this thread. I have nothing to add except I recommend guides everywhere if you can get them in advance. I have some basic information on my website on guides.

I might just add that the Drake Bay thing is hit or miss regarding wildlife. Although there is more native wildlife on the Osa, I'm not sure I would say it's any easier to see. In general, the deeper the forest, the more important it will be to have a good guide....especially one with good ears.

For example Birdingcraft is right to point out about differences at Cerro and Villa Lapas. Great birding at Villa Lapas, but being able to bird by yourself will be much easier at Cerro. The more open habitat allows one to bird on their own. It's a lot harder to do that at Villa Lapas and Carara.
 
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