Sunrise Birding LLC - Birding & Wildlife Tours
Home | Tours | Trip Reports | News |  Team |  Calendar | Links | Contact | Store | Mailing List
Winter Getaway
Quetzal/Hummingbird Special!

February 10 - 16, 2019

Featuring the wonderful Hotel Bougainvillea, Rancho Naturalista and the Valley of the Quetzal!

Trip Cost & Travel Planning>  |  Registration Form>

Escape the cold weather and bird in sunny, Costa Rica this winter on our easy, affordable getaway in search of Costa Rica's most beautiful birds - the Resplendent Quetzal and the charming hummingbirds of this bird filled country. Our itinerary features stays at three lovely lodges where you'll enjoy warm tropical weather, nice accommodation, great food, lush forests, and an incredible variety of vibrant birds. A stay in the famous Valley of the Quetzals will offer the chance to explore mid-montane habitats where trogons, hummingbirds, tanagers, flycatchers and other vividly colored birds flourish. At the lovely Rancho Naturalista, you'll be the best possible place in Costa Rica to see Snowcap, a stunning hummingbird that visits feeders strategically placed along forest trails.

Book your winter getaway now to bird the winter blues away in the lush habitats of Costa Rica!

Sunrise Birding has organized many successful birding trips to Costa Rica.  Click below for some of the reports from our past Costa Rica Trips: 
2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010(pdf) 

Trip Cost and Travel Planning>> 
Registration Form>>

Resplendent Quetzal. Photo by Steve Bird.Resplendent Quetzal. Photo by Steve Bird.

Snowcap. Photo by Steve Bird.
Snowcap. Photo by Steve Bird.

Blue-crowned Motmot. Photo by Gina Nichol.Day 1 -Arrival San Jose, Costa Rica

Plan to arrive in the evening in tropical San Jose, Costa Rica and transfer the short distance to the lovely Hotel Bougainvillea for the night. If you arrive early enough, enjoy a lovely dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Days 2 & 3 – San Jose to Rancho Naturalista
This morning we will spend some time around the hotel gardens before breakfast for an introduction to Costa Rica’s varied avifauna. Many of the more common bird species can be seen here including Costa Rica's national bird, the Clay-colored Thrush, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Hoffmann’s Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Blue-gray Tanager, Blue-and-White Swallow, Red-billed Pigeon, Summer Tanager, White-winged Dove, Baltimore Oriole, Great-tailed Grackle, and Blue-crowned Motmot. Listen for the call of Ferruginous Pygmy Owl as you make your way toward the restaurant. This feisty little bird has been seen in the trees right above the parking lot! Weather permitting, breakfast will be al fresco on the terrace near the pool.

Emerald Tanager. Photo by Steve Bird.After breakfast, you will head to Rancho Naturalista, a very special lodge set in the pre-montane rain forest of the Caribbean slope at 3,000 feet. With unobstructed views of both Irazu and Turrialba Volcanoes, this "birder's paradise" has one of the richest concentrations of birds, butterflies and plants in Costa Rica, with more than 400 species of birds found on the 125-acre ranch, and more than 200 species seen from the lodge balcony. The lodge is known for very comfortable rooms, excellent meals, family style atmosphere, and knowledgeable resident bird guides.

The next two days will be spent birding the trails and grounds here looking for Great Tinamou, Barred Forest Falcon, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Yellow-eared Toucanet, White-ruffed Manakin, Purple-crowned Fairy, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, and such beauties as Emerald, Golden-headed, Bay-headed and Black-and-Yellow Tanager. Ant swarms are possible in the forest and, if present, are often attended to by Spotted Antbird, Immaculate Antbird, and other ant followers. Specialty birds of Rancho Naturalista include Sunbittern, Green Thorntail, Purplish-backed Quail-Dove, the mythical Lanceolated Monklet, Rufous Motmot, Brown-billed Scythebill, Checker-throated Antwren, and White-crowned Manakin which displays on a lek on Rancho’s upper trail.

One of the many avian prizes here is the lovely Snowcap. Rancho Naturalista is arguably the best place in the world to see this little local jewel. Here it visits the forest feeders and also feeds along the vervain in front of the lodge. Your stay here is sure to be relaxing and exciting at the same time with fantastic birding all around.

Day 4: Rancho Naturalista / Paraiso Quetzales  / Valley of the Quetzal
Fiery-throated Hummingbird. Photo by Gina Nichol.After breakfast, you will depart San Jose for the Valley of the Quetzal. Traveling along the Pan-American highway, you will rise up into the central Talamanca Mountains.  Along the way, you will stop at a small cafe in the mountains where you can enjoy a cup of fresh Costa Rican coffee while watching dozens of Fiery-throated Hummingbirds coming into feeders. This stunning little gem breeds only in the mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama, and seeing the congregation of these birds and their antics around the feeders is an amazing spectacle. Joining these flying sparklers and vying for position at the feeders are the larger Magnificent Hummingbirds and Green Violetears. Occasionally the tiny Volcano Hummingbird (another regional endemic) drifts in with its bee-like flight for a quick nectar drink.

If you can tear yourself away from the feeders, there will be a walk on the trails to look for such delightful birds as Black-and-yellow Silky-Flycatcher, Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher, Ochraceous Pewee, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo and the skulking Zeledonia. Resplendent Quetzals also live here so continue to keep a vigilant watch!

Resplendent Quetzal. Photo by Steve Bird.Later on, you'll head back down the Pan-American Highway to a turn off the main road that descends into San Gerardo de Dota, the Valley of the Quetzal. As you descend slowly, you'll be heading into prime habitat for the stunning Resplendent Quetzal, a vibrant member of the trogon family and arguably the most beautiful bird in the Americas. This important valley is a strong hold of the Resplendent Quetzal. This specialized fruit-eating member of the trogon family that depends on the wild avocado fruits that grow on the forested slopes of the valley. Keep an eye out! From time to time, we have seen these stunning birds from the road. As you continue down the beautiful wooded valley, the winding road follows tumbling river that holds American Dipper, Torrent Tyrannulet and sometimes Louisiana Waterthrush. This is the Savegre River and it flows right past our lodging for the next three nights.

Day 5: The Valley of the Quetzal
A full day in this wonderful valley will hopefully begin with close views of Resplendent Quetzal at a special observation area. This will require an early start and it is well worth it if the birds are feeding in their traditional trees. There will be no shortage of other birds to look for in the valley including Collared Trogon, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Yellow-winged Vireo, Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush, Yellow-thighed Finch, Black-headed and Tufted Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher and White-collared Swift.

The rest of the day will be spent exploring the valley, looking for the stunning Flame-colored Tanager, Brown-capped Vireo, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Yellowish Flycatcher, Collared Redstart, Acorn and Hairy Woodpecker, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Green Violet-ear, White-throated Mountain-Gem, Scintillant Hummingbird, Ruddy Treerunner, Black-faced Solitaire, Emerald Toucanet, Flame-throated Warbler, Stripe-tailed Emerald and more. Throughout the day, there will be more chances to see amazing Resplendent Quetzal - a highlight of any tour to Costa Rica.

Day 6: Cerro de la Muerte
Volcano Junco. Photo by Steve Bird.Today you will visit another unique habitat in the highlands of the Talamanca Mountains - the famed Cerra de la Muerte.   At the highest point, often shrouded in cloud is sprawling paramo habitat, an area of short stunted bushes and trees on the upper mountain slopes which hold some very special species. Volcano Junco can be found here and other high altitude species such as Mountain Thrush, Sooty Robin, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Volcano and Magnificent Hummingbirds, Black-cheeked Warbler, and Timberline Wren are also possible.

Later on, you will head back to the Valley of the Quetzals and make a stop at a Mirian’s restaurant. Mirian is a long time friend and her small cafe is a favorite spot to enjoy a cup of coffee and check the birds in the back garden. If the fuchsia shrubs are blooming, it is likely that Volcano Hummingbirds will be taking advantage of it allowing great views. Also here, keep watch for Sooty-capped Bush Tanager, Flame-colored Tanager, Sooty Robin, and Large-footed and Yellow-thighed Finches foraging on the ground.

Day 7: Return to San Jose for departures
Today, early birders may enjoy a last look around the lodge before we make our way back to San Jose for departures.

Scintillant Hummingbird. Photo by Steve Bird.COSTA RICA
Quetzal & Hummingbird Special!
February 10 - 16, 2019 
Registration Form>>

TOUR PRICE:  $2150.00 per person based on double occupancy from San Jose, Costa Rica (Airport code: SJO). Note: Tour deposits can be paid by credit card via PayPal.  Use this link to make your credit card payment.  Please advise when you have made payment.

Deposit:  $500.00 per person  

Single Supplement: 
$395.00 per person
(subject to availability)

Included in cost: Cost is based on double occupancy and a minimum of 8 passengers and includes, group airport transfers, private transportation during the tour, all accommodations, meals from dinner on Day 1 (for those arriving in time) until the morning of Day 7 during the tour, professional guide services, local guides, local park and reserve entrance fees.

Not included:  International flight, airport departure tax (currently $29 per person, subject to change), insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature such as: laundry, telephone, beverages, gratuities for porterage, guides, or personal services. 

RESERVATIONS: To reserve your place on this tour, complete the Registration & Release Form and mail it with your deposit of $500.00 per person to Sunrise Birding, LLC.  Instructions are on the form. Reservations are held with a deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.   >Download & print the Registration Form. 

Contact to reserve your space!  Then follow up with your completed registration form and deposit within two weeks to secure your place.  Final payment is due October 10, 2018.  Check or bank transfer are preferred but credit card payments are possible (surcharges of up to 5% are added depending on amount to cover credit card company fees).  Please inquire.

Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from ground operators, estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to financial markets makes it difficult to predict changes in costs over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, and fuel costs can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount. Note, we have rarely had to do this but we need to be clear what could happen due to changing costs.

Cancellations and Refunds: All cancellations must be made in writing.  In the event that you must cancel your booking at any stage, all payments you have made to Sunrise Birding, LLC will be retained by us, except at our discretion. Please ensure that you take out adequate insurance to cover this and any other eventuality as early as possible. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur.

There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. 

Insurance:  The purchase of trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended.  Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour. 

Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at 
Phone: 203.453.6724

All photos © Gina Nichol and Steve Bird.  Top to Bottom: Resplendent Quetzal (Steve Bird), Snowcap (Steve Bird),
Blue-crowned Motmot (Gina Nichol), Resplendent Quetzal (Steve Bird), Emerald Tanager (Steve Bird),
Fiery-throated Hummingbird (Gina Nichol), Resplendent Quetzal (Steve Bird), Volcano Junco (Steve Bird),
Scintillant Hummingbird (Steve Bird).