They're Not Gonna Watch Themselves!

Costa Rica: Northern Region Tour

Costa Rica has long been regarded as one of the top tropical birding destinations in the world and with good reason! This small Central American country is home to some 900+ species of birds with 47 regional endemics!

BIRDS by BIJS Northern Costa Rica Tour is a compact and excellent introduction to the avifauna of this species-packed country! With top-birds and incredible views we’ll bird the world-famous Arenal/La Fortuna area. From there we head to Caño Negro Region for wetland excursions by foot and boat, the latter providing us intimate opportunities to see and photograph birds up close. We’ll then spend time in the unbelievable Caribbean lowlands birding around the Sarapiqui area. 

Above are just the main locales, we’ve got ample stops and side missions throughout the tour to see and photograph tons of tropical birds!

Scroll down to learn more about this epic itinerary and some of the birds we hope to see!

All images © BIRDS BY BIJS


Dates: Jan 3-11, 2025 (9 days / 8 nights)

Price: ~USD $3,450 per person/double occupancy

Single supplement: $350.00


Type: Bird watching and Wildlife Viewing
Length: 9 days / 8 nights
Starting city: San Jose, Costa Rica
Ending city: San Jose, Costa Rica
Pace: easy to moderate
Physical difficulty: easy to moderate
Focus: Bird Watching and Wildlife viewing
Max group size: 8 + 1 leader + local guide(s)

A 9-day 8-night exploration of some of the best birding and wildlife viewing locales in Northern Costa Rica. Opening the tour in the world-famous Arenal/La Fortuna region we’ve got great birding lined up. Next, we’ll bird by boat and foot within the massive Caño Negro wetlands. Afterward, we’ll get to know the La Selva/Sarapiqui region and many of the exceptional avifauna that calls the Caribbean lowlands home.

Tour opens and closes at birdy hotels in the San Jose area, and incorporates plenty of unique stops allowing us to maximize time birding!


DAY 1 San Jose city / Robledal Hotel

The official start of our amazing trip begins today at Hotel Robledal, a great hotel with lots of awesome birds!

Today we have all day for arrivals at Juan Santa Maria Intl Airport (SJO). You will be welcomed at the airport by a team representative with a sign with your name, and we’ll transport you to our first hotel in the city. Although a short drive from the airport, our lodging is a nice, quiet facility with the first tropical birds in the gardens. Dinner is included in the hotel but lunch is not included (please consider this in case of flights arrive early).

DAYS 2-3 Arenal/La Fortuna (night at Arenal Observatory Lodge or similar)

Day 2:  Early morning birding around our hotel and breakfast at 7 AM, followed by our drive to the Sarapiqui area and highlands. On the way, we’ll lunch at an epic hotspot where we can see and photograph birds like Green Hermit, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Violet Sabrewing, Crowned Woodnymph, and Green-crowned Brilliant. Also commonly observed here are Emerald, Speckled, Scarlet-rumped, Golden-hooded, and Crimson-collared Tanagers.

After we’ve had our fill of birds and food we’ll continue our drive north to La Fortuna.  We’ll check-in, and set our stuff down, and time depending bird a bit more. Dinner at 7 PM and our first evening bird checklist review.

Day 3: Our third day starts with a full-day excursion to visit the feeders of the Bogarin Trails in La Fortuna, here we’ll see Keel-billed and Yellow-throated Toucans, White-throated Crake, Gray-headed Chachalaca, Crested Guan, Green and Red-legged Honeycreepers, Boat-billed Heron, American Pygmy Kingfisher, and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

We’ll enjoy dinner at around 6:30 PM, and go over our species list for the day!

DAYS 4-5 Northern Wetlands (night at Hotel de Campo Cano Negro or similar)

Day 4:

After the early birding morning at the hotel’s trails, we will start our drive to the spectacular wetlands of Caño Negro. A unique system of wetlands in the north zone of Costa Rica is maybe the best place in Central America to get all species of Kingfishers and tons of waterbirds.

We will have lunch on the road and get to this stunning place stopping a few miles before our destination to birdwatch an open road that normally provides good chances for American Kestrel, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Nicaraguan Seed Finch, and Red-breasted Meadowlark.

Day 5:

Early morning departure for an AM boat ride to look for aquatic birds like Sungrebe, Black-collared Hawk, Snail Kite, Boat-billed Heron, Green Ibis, and the elusive Agami Heron. In the afternoon we’ll visit another wetland called Medio Queso to bird from the road looking for Pinnated Bittern and Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture among others.

Dinner and checklist around 6:30 PM.

DAYS 6-7 Caribbean Rainforest (night at LA Selva OTS or similar)

Day 6: We will arrive at lunchtime and spend the rest of the afternoon in the gardens of the station, Collared Aracari, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Brown-hooded and White-crowned Parrot are quite common. We’ll also look for Lesser-swallow-tailed Swift, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Slaty-tailed, Gartered, and Black-throated Trogon. After sunset, we’ll have dinner here at La Selva.

Day 7: Early rise-and-shine to explore La Selva’s trails looking for Black-capped Pygmy Tyrant, Great Curassow, Ornate Hawk Eagle, Pied Puffbird, White-fronted Nunbird, Ocellated Antbird, Collared and Barred Forest-Falcons, Cinnamon and Chestnut-colored woodpeckers and Central American Pygmy Owl. Great Green Macaw is likely to be a common sighting in this location. Lunch at 12:00pm and a 1-hour siesta during the hottest part of the day. 

For our afternoon session, we will enjoy some fantastic birding at Cope Arte. Here we’ll look for Long-billed Hermit, Russet-naped Woodrail, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, and Scarlet-rumped tanager to name a few. 

We’ll head back to La Selva around 5:30 PM and at night we will try for Black-and-white, Crested, and Spectacled Owls.

Dinner and checklist after owling around 7:30 PM.

DAY 8 La Selva -> El Robledal Hotel (Night at Robledal or similar)

Early morning birding around the hotel’s gardens to get our last chances for the missing birds. After breakfast, we’ll load and go and drive back to our final hotel.

On the road, we will visit Cinchona Restaurant and Hummingbird Gallery for lunch and some fantastic birds. Some possibilities include Coppery-headed Emerald, Green Thorntail, White-bellied Mountain Gem, Black-bellied Hummingbird, Brown Violetear, Emerald Toucanet, Chestnut-capped Brushfinch, Black-headed Saltator, Yellow-winged Tanager, Slate-throated Redstart, Red-headed, and Prong-billed Barbet among others.

We’ll arrive for dinner and the checklist around 6:30 PM.

DAY 9 Tour End / Departures

Today our incredible tour will come to a close, but not before a yummy breakfast and happy goodbyes! With our bags packed and our checklists complete, we’ll take a short drive to the airport to catch return flights home.

Tour Includes:

  • 9 days in Costa Rica – 8 nights lodging
  • Private transportation on a spacious bus
  • World-class birding guide with Spotting Scope, portable speaker to play-back bird calls if necessary, and a laser pointer to help locate birds in the field
  • 3 delicious meals a day (except for Breakfast and Lunch on Day 1) and safe drinking water/juice at meals and safe drinking water throughout the tour
  • A printed and bound checklist to keep track of your sightings (given to you at the start of the tour)
  • All park entrance fees or special tours like the boat tour on the Tarcoles River & Quetzal Tour

Tour Does Not Include:

  • Optional tips for the tour leader or guide(s)
  • Tips for luggage porters if you require their services
  • Flights, airport departure tax
  • Snacks or additional drinks apart from those included
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel Insurance 
  • Excursions not included in the tour itinerary
  • Extras in hotels such as laundry service, minibar, room service, telephone calls, and personal items
  • Medical fees or other items or services not specifically mentioned as being included


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Northern Tour Map

1. Arenal Volcano Area  2. Northern Wetlands 
3. Caribbean Rainforest 4. San Jose City