COSTA RICA, February 2008
See Tony's gallery of images taken during these two back-to-back tours: Costa Rica 2008
COSTA RICA, February 2008, TRIP SUMMARY
1) Costa Rica Birding Blitz - Feb 4 to Feb 19
2) Costa Rica - Nature's Tropical Treasure House (Quest) - Feb 20 to Feb 29
When considering natural diversity, Costa Rica ranks as one of the world's best eco-tour destinations.
In February 2008, I was fortunate to lead two completely different types of nature tours to the country - the first a highly focused birding adventure, and secondly a relaxed general natural history experience.
When measuring a tour's success, I use three criteria: photo opportunities, wildlife sightings and most important, happy customers. Amazingly, both tours surpassed all my expectations.
We had great weather throughout, the local leadership was thorough and professional, and the wildlife was abundant and cooperative.
During our first tour, the birding blitz, Jason Horn, our guide from Costa Rica Gateway, was nothing short of brilliant.
He rarely missed a feather, and helped us locate a group total of an unimaginable 512 bird species.
He has great birding awareness coupled with determination and a desire for everyone to share his experience.
Some of the highlights included Jabiru, Crested Bobwhite, Spotted Wood-Quail, Buff-fronted Quail-Dove, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, a rufous morph Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl, Lanceolated Monklet, Streak-chested Antpitta, Yellow-billed Cotinga, Gray-headed Piprites, Silvery-throated Jay, and 38 species of hummingbird including White-crested Coquette.
Our brisk-paced itinerary started in San Jose. From here we went into the Talamanca Mountains, the Paramo of Cerro de la Muerte, San Isidro, down to the Pacific side, Carara, Orotina, Palo Verde, Arenal, Cano Negro, La Selva, Braulio Carrillo, and back to San Jose.
The luck and momentum continued during my second tour, "Nature's Tropical Treasure House" with Quest Nature Tours.
Alex Arias, our local guide, is an adventurer and naturalist with a keen awareness.
Thorough, experienced and well-informed, he spotted much wildlife for us.
Besides lots of exciting wildlife and countless photo opportunities, we tallied a group total of 288 species of birds in 9 days.
Many situations encountered during this trip were never experienced before on any of my previous adventures to the neo-tropics.
Some of the highlights included clear views of Arenal Volcano's lava flow at night, female Bare-necked Umbrella Bird, a pair of Resplendent Quetzals at exceptionally close range, Olive-backed Quail-Dove, Buff-fronted Quail-Dove, Keel-billed Motmot, White-fronted Nunbird, 2 males and 1 female Yellow-billed Cotingas, a small flock of Yellow-eared Toucanets, Sharpbill in a mixed feeding flock, and a Mexican Hairy Porcupine.
From San Jose, our relaxed adventure took us to Braulio Carrillo, La Selva, Arenal, Bosque de Paz, Punte Leona ending back in San Jose.
The combined experiences of both trips were truly impressive and memorable.