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Costa Rica Nature

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Birds & Wildlife of Cloudforest & Rainforest

Jan. 9 - 16, 2018

Golfo Dulce ♦ Copay de Dota  ♦ Turrialba

Pristine lowland tropical forests, orchid-laden mountain cloud forests, and scenic jungle waterways with: 850 species of birds, 380 reptiles and amphibians as well as 208 species of mammals.



Jan. 9: San José, Costa Rica – Golfito - Golfo Dulce                                                                 

Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport.

Meet our full-time birding-naturalist guide, Charlie Gomez (see bio below).  Transfer to the remote terminal for your 45-minute Costa Rica Expeditions light aircraft charter flight from San José to Golfito.    Upon arrival, boat transfer to Nicuesa.

“Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located in Golfo Dulce, about 8 miles from Golfito by boat.    Golfo Dulce is the southernmost gulf of Costa Rica, and it is bordered by several national parks and protected areas.  One of the newest parks, Piedras Blancas National Park, outlines the gulf together with Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park.  Piedras Blancas is home for the Scarlet Macaw, which has increased in number during the last years in response to these protected areas.

Nicuesa Lodge’s backyard is the Golfito National Wildlife Refuge.  The waters of Golfo Dulce thrive with marine species such as Spotted Dolphins, Bottle-nosed Dolphins, Pilot Whales, seasonal Humped-backed Whales and the very rare Whale Shark.  Golfo Dulce has been called a “tropical fjord”, due to the immense depth (700 feet) you reach only hundreds of yards from the beach.  Species like Jaguars, Ocelots, Tapirs, Anteaters, Peccaries, and Tayras are still found in this region.  However, about 90% of the mammals are nocturnal, therefore the possibilities to spot a wild cat are pretty narrow.  On the contrary, the monkey population is quite significant, as well as other diurnal creatures like the coatis and the agoutis, and the reptiles and amphibious populations are very diverse.” 

Overnight at: Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, 3 nights.   


Jan. 10-11: Piedras Blancas National Park – Golfito National Wildlife Refuge

Two full days at the Nicuesa Rain Forest Lodge with our Guide. 

“On the 165-acre preserve there are numerous trails that wind through the rainforest canopy, fruit trees, and coastal lagoon areas. These trails are perfect for all levels of guided and self-guided hikes. The trails offer a casual walk/hike as well as challenging climbs. They offer view terraces to observe wildlife or just relax and enjoy the solitude of nature.
National Park Trails. Nicuesa property borders the Piedras Blancas National Park. Several private trails on the preserve connect with trails in the national park.  Access to the park is through private properties accessible by boat only (little to no encounters with other visitors).

All overnight stays include unlimited use of kayaks, snorkeling and fishing equipment at no additional charge.”
Nicuesa Lodge Optional Activities:  Night Hike, Botanical Gardens, Edible Landscape Tour, Organic Chocolate Farm Tour, Medicinal Plants Tour, Massage, Yoga

Jan. 12: Golfo Dulce – La Cusinga - Copey de Dota

After breakfast, boat transfer to the Golfito dock for the 4-hour land transfer to Copey de Dota.  “We travel from sea level to mountains, a marked change in scenery and climate.

Elevations at the Cerro de la Muerte are close to 12,000 feet. Both the paramo, which refers to the vegetation that grows above the timber line, and the oak forest are considered rare in Central America. During the construction of the Pan-American Highway during the 50s, many workers ventured into this land and some small villages were born in the midst of this remote area.

Today, the region has a special importance for conservation, eco-tourism, and for the development of crops like apricots, apples and black berries.  The different varieties of oak, as well as the wild avocado are particularly important for the area.  Cerro de la Muerte is considered a birdwatcher's paradise with the iconic Resplendent Quetzal, Emerald Toucanettes, and hummingbirds being fairly common sightings. Temperatures may drop to 40 F (5 C) during the night, from December through February”

Overnight at: Mirador de Quetzales – 2 nights

Jan 13: Copey de Dota Valley

“Today visit the trails at Paraiso de Quetzal Lodge, encompassing 200 acres and more than 140 species - some of them endemic to the area- making this place a birdwatcher's dream.  A gentle 1.5 km walk through the cloud forest will lead you to the Quetzals habitat.  Paraíso Quetzal is located in one of the most prolific zones for this bird species.
The hike takes approximately 2 hours.  Abundant epiphytes, such as orchids and bromeliads, make this tour a gratifying experience en route to your possible encounter with the quetzals.

Note: you’ll hike at about 9500 f (2900 m) above sea level, so plan for cool, windy, and misty weather.”

Jan 14: Cerro de la Muerte – Lankester Gardens – Turrialba Valley

After breakfast, depart for the 1-1.5 hour land transfer to the Cartago Province and Lankester Gardens.  “The Lankester Botanical Garden has become one of the most active and important botanical institutions of the Neo-tropics.  The Garden cultivates more than 15,000 scientific documented specimens from close to 1,000 species, most of which are native to Mesoamerica. With the variety of plants, there are good opportunities to observe species of birds like Tanagers, Oropendulas, Vireos, Warblers, Woodpeckers, and Wrens.

Following lunch we continue on for about 1.5 hrs. to Turrialba. 

With tourism on the rise in the 1990s, this modest mountain town soon became known as the gateway to some of the best adventure activities in addition to outstanding bird and wildlife watching; many different species of local birds join the migrants on their annual pass for the Central American Isthmus.

After dinner meet your guide in the lobby and take a stroll in the Rancho Naturalista trails in search of night critters! Your guide will lead the walk that includes some up and down terrain and lots of opportunities to discover much about bats (40 species found in this area!), insects, spiders, frogs, and snakes.  The rain forest is always full of life, if you know where to look. Your guide is trained to find forms of life in the most hidden crevices, tree branches and foliage. Sleeping birds, tarantulas and egg-eating snakes close to the frogs’ ponds could be spotted.”

Overnight: Rancho Naturalista – 2 nights

Jan 15: Turrialba Valley

Today, spend the full day birding with your guide at Rancho Naturalista.  Rancho is known all over the world for the many beautiful species of birds that live in their forest reserve, and for the ease of which you can observe so many species in just one area.

On the balcony at Rancho Naturalista the hummingbird feeders are renowned for attracting many species of hummingbirds. Some of the species possible are; Violet-crowned Woodnymph, White-necked Jacobin, Green Hermit, Green Thorntail, Violet Sabrewing, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer and Green-crowned Brilliant. On the verbena hedges at Rancho Naturalista the Snowcap is a frequent visitor along with the Black-crested Coquette, the Violet-headed hummingbird and possibly the Garden Emerald.

Mid-day, for those interested, a visit to Turrialba to explore local markets.

Jan 16: Turrialba  - City of San José - Departure

Breakfast and a last morning on the birding balcony.  Depending on our international flight departure time, today depart by minivan for a land transfer back to the International Airport in San Jose (3 – 3.5 hour drive).

Carlos Gomez
Master Naturalist Guide & Director of Guiding Department


Carlos, or as he is better known, Charlie, started his birding career working with Gary Stiles, the author of Birds of Costa Rica. He has guided birding and other natural history groups for Costa Rica Expeditions for two decades. Before that, he was Station Manager at the Organization for Tropical Studies' La Selva Biological Station. Called "legendary" in the Washington Post, groups he has led include Henderson Birding, Audubon Naturalist Society and Noble Proctor.

"Birding is my number one love – after my family of course. Guiding lets me share my ideas about conservation with other people. Sometimes I think I am a frustrated professor, but my job as a guide is much better than sitting behind a desk, and it’s a great way to meet people and share my knowledge with them."

An excellent naturalist and avid birder with a B.S. in biology from the University of Costa Rica, Charlie's tireless enthusiasm on the job has made him our most requested naturalist guide. He is often asked by our clients to guide their trips in other countries. Charlie was born on Dec. 29, 1955. When he's not guiding, Charlie works in his garden, making it a haven for birds, and relaxes with his family. He and his wife, Vicky, have three adult children: Laura, Sergio, and Silvia.

Package Cost

Per person sharing $3,460


Scheduled transportation in Costa Rica: air, ground, and water

Accompanied by CNT staff   

Full-time Master Guide Charlie Gomez                                                                                            

All lodging with private baths                                                                                                                           

Comfortable individual cottages or rooms

All meals, dinner day 1 - breakfast  day 8                                                                   

All tipping to drivers and guides                                             

Pre-departure information packet   

Not Included

International air from US departure city to Costa Rica.

All items of a personal nature, such as hotel extras, phone calls, laundry and meals not mentioned in the itinerary.

Cancellation and interruption insurance.

Important Notes:

All Costs Based on 6 Passengers.

If number of passengers changes, itinerary will be re-priced accordingly.

DEPOSIT REQUIREMENTS 20% non-refundable deposit, $692, required to confirm the above mentioned arrangements.

FINAL PAYMENT due 60 days prior to departure


Time of deposit through 60 days prior to departure                       Forfeit deposit
59 days to 31 days prior to departure                                  50% of total package
30 days prior to departure                                        100% of total package
Any cancellations within the 30 day period are submitted to the ground operators and hotels.  Refunds will be made at their discretion.


At time of deposit you will be offered a quote for Travel Insurance through our partner Travel Guard.
Website:    http://www.travelguard.com/TGContent/PAA/67242/certificate.pdf
Medical, evacuation, repatriation coverage is required; trip expenses insurance is optional.


Please be aware that, although the vast majority of visitors complete their travels in Africa without incident, criminal activity does take place.  As CNT and Karell Travel cannot guarantee your safety and security, we ask that you consult the latest state department advisories for further information.
Please review travel advisories for countries you are visiting.


Please ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents (passports, visas etc) for travel to Costa Rica.  At least two consecutive blank pages are required in all passports per country you will be visiting not including amendment and endorsement pages.  Passports must be valid for at least 6 months from date of arrival.


For safety and due to space restrictions, strict weight limitations exist for all light aircraft transfers. Baggage is limited to a maximum of 20kg (44 lbs) per person in a soft bag, camera gear and carry-on baggage included. 


PRECAUTIONS AGAINST MALARIA ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Please consult with your personal physician or pharmacist regarding Malaria prophylaxis as well as advice regarding other immunizations.  For further information contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 1-800-311-3435 or visit their website at www.cdc.gov   


Please note that safaris in the African wilderness necessarily involve risk, including the risk of accident, property damage, personal injury and even death from, among other things, civil unrest and wild animals.  You agree to assume all of the risks and to waive any and all such claims against CNT and Karell.


The travel services in connection with the above itinerary will be provided by third party suppliers who are independent of CNT.  Such third party suppliers are exclusively responsible for providing services including transportation, lodging, meals, recreational activities, etc.  CNT maintain no control over the operation, equipment or personnel of such suppliers and therefore assumes no liability or responsibility for personal injury, property damage or other loss, accident, delay or inconvenience, which may be occasioned by any wrongful or negligent acts or omissions on the part of any company or person engaged in carrying out the arrangements of the tour.  You agree to look solely to the actual suppliers of the services for any remedy in the event of any loss, damage, injury or claim. 

This itinerary is personally planned by Ceiba Nature Tours.




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