The Wonders of the Eastern Slope

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The Eastern region of Costa Rica is under good weather conditions except for occasional showers in the afternoons during the wet season, May to October. Many birds are active, and many have come out of their hides and is when you can find rare species. Because there are almost unlimited birding opportunities here, our schedule is designed to maximize our birding time and get the best out of this part of Costa Rica.

Tour Type

Birding & Nature

Group Size

Max.6 participants


February 27th -March 09th 2025

Activity Level - Easy to Moderate


Because there are almost unlimited birding opportunities here, our schedule is designed to maximize our birding time. We will repeat overnights at several lodges for additional chances to spot birds we may have missed the day before. While in the Sarapiqui River lowlands of the Eastern Slope, our field trips will include parts of three days at the world-famous La Selva Field Station of the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS). This arrangement will give us ample time to enter the primary tropical rainforest on excellent trails, as well as the chance to take advantage of the more open habitats near the visitor’s lodge. Two mornings will be spent in the subtropical and upper tropical zones of the foothills – home to numerous little-known birds not found at elevations just above or below. Two days further up in the montane forests of the Savegre-Cerro de la Muerte region will offer yet another set of bird species typical of the higher temperate zone of the mountains. These cool, oak-dominated forests are a stronghold for the magnificent Resplendent Quetzal, considered by many to be the most beautiful bird in the world. Birds are generally not as abundant or diverse in the mountains, but a high percentage of those present are unique or endemic within a limited range at these elevations in Costa Rica and western Panama – and the pleasantly cool climate makes seeking them a pleasure.


Note: *To organize a private tour for your convenience any time of the year, please get in touch with us!

We will be more than happy to help you!

San José Province

Days 1 & 11.

San Ramón, Alajuela Province

Days 2 & 3.

La Fortuna, Alajuela Province

Day 4 & 5.

Sarapiquí, Heredia Province

Day 6, 7 & 8.

San Gerardo de Dota, San José Province

Day 9 & 10.

Arrive at the San José airport where members of Geo Natura Tours will be waiting for you!

Transfer to your hotel: Since most flights arrive in the late afternoon or evening, we don´t have much planned for this day. We’ll have a brief orientation for your tour, be happy to answer any of your questions, and you’ll settle in.

Lodging: Bougainvillea Hotel
Type of room: Standard
Meals: welcome dinner

Morning departure to Bosque de Paz, small family-owned hotel on the eastern foothills of the Central Mountain Range. Gorgeous cloud forest where we can find many species of hummingbirds and astonishing plant and animal diversity, we will have the opportunity to see hummingbirds like: Little Hermit, Violet Sabrewing, Green Violet-ear, Green-crowned Brilliant, Fiery-Throated Hummingbird, Coppery-headed Emerald, Scintillant Hummingbird, Snowcap etc.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner

Type of room: Standard

Lodging: Bosque de Paz

Overview: This morning exploring the differents trails of the hotel.

What to look for: Golden-olive Woodpecker, Buff throated Saltator, Blue- crowned Motmot, Orange-bellied Trogon, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Great- tailed Grackle, Scaly-throated Foliage gleaner, Ruddy Ground dove, White Hawk, Bat Falcon, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Common Tody-Flycatcher etc.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Lodging: Bosque de Paz

Type of room: Standard

After breakfast we will travel slightly northwest to arrive at our next accommodation, the Arenal Observatory Lodge. The iconic Arenal Volcano is reputed to be one of the most classic perfectly cone-shaped volcanos in the world, and the lodge gives us extraordinary views of the volcano as well as Arenal Lake (Costa Rica’s largest lake). The name, “Arenal,” means “sandy” - the volcano and lake were named this because of the large sand deposits between them. With such great views, a well-designed trail system and beautiful gardens, the Arenal Observatory Lodge will be home for the next two nights.

Overnight: Arenal Observatory Lodge

Meals: breakfast

Encircled by lush forest, this cloud forest eco-system will give us an excellent opportunity to find a wide variety of spectacular birds. We’ll spend a full day exploring the gardens and grounds of the lodge as well as delving into the forest surrounding the lodge. The Arenal Observatory Lodge is one of the hottest e-bird hotspots in Costa Rica – in the Springtime, approximately 380 different species can be observed in this one hotspot!


What to look for: Montezuma Oropendola, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Shinning Honeycreeper, Speckled Tanager, Emerald Tanager, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Rufous-winged Tanager, Blue Dacnis, Masked Tityra, Rufous Mourner, Northern Schiffornis , Coppery-headed Emerald (endemic to Costa Rica), Green Hermit, Blue-throated Goldentail, Lesser Violetear, Long-billed Starthroat, and the Violet-headed Hummingbird.

Overnight: Arenal Observatory Lodge

Meals: breakfast

Overview: Now we leave the cloud forest and head east towards the lowlands of the Sarapiqui River Eastern Slope area and our next accommodation. The grounds alone support a wide variety of birds, with a number of paved walking paths. After check-in, we can take advantage of these paths as well as the lodge’s fruit feeders to enjoy birding at our leisure.
After dinner we can take our flashlights out to look for Spectacled Owls and Three-toed Sloths in the trees.

What to look for: Red-legged Honeycreepers, Green Honeycreepers, Buff- throated Saltator, Mistletoe Tyrannulet*, Olive-throated Parakeet, Red throated Ant Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Red-billed Pigeon, Southern Rough-winged Swallow and, hopefully, the Crimson collared Tanager,Violet Sabrewing, Bronzy Hermit and the Scaly breasted Hummingbird.

Lodging: La Selva Field Station

Meals provided: Breakfast and dinner

The Sarapiqui River lowland region, although now largely cleared and settled, harbors the richest avifauna in the country, and birds are generally conspicuous. We will explore the humid tropical lowlands and the contiguous farmlands.

We begin exploring the world-famous" La Selva Field Station" one of the private preserves of the Organization for Tropical Studies (near Puerto Viejo). The great diversity of habitats here includes tall lowland rainforest, second growth trees of varying ages, overgrown plantations, successional thickets, riverine forest, and swampy pastures. Within these habitats are numerous specialized niches. All are home to a wonderful variety of tropical birds. E-bird lists show that 395 bird species can be at this hotspot in the Spring!

Initially we will linger along the La Selva Field Station entry road, getting acquainted with the common birds of the open country and second growth. Flycatchers, tanagers, and seedeaters are abundant and conspicuous in the early morning hours.

Later in the morning we will explore the reserve trail in search of manakins, antbirds - and probably a poison dart frog! La Selva is also a great place to find Howler and Capuchin Monkeys moving through the forest canopy.

What to look for: Just a few of the special birds possible are the Great and Little Tinamous; Green Ibis, Semiplumbeous Hawk, Russet-naped Wood-Rail*, Mealy, White-crowned and Brown-hooded Parrots, Slaty-tailed and Gartered Trogons, Amazon Kingfisher, Broad-billed and Rufous Motmots, White-whiskered Puffbird, Keel-billed Toucan and Yellow-throated (formerly known as Chestnut-mandibled) Toucan, Chestnut-colored Woodpecker, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Great Antshrike, White-collared Manakin, Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant, Long-tailed Tyrant, Stripe-breasted and Black-throated Wrens, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Dusky-faced Tanager, and the Orange-billed Sparrow. The more open country harbors such non-forest species as Striped Cuckoo, Olive-crowned Yellowthroat, Black-headed Saltator, and the Black-cowled Oriole, Long-billed Hermit, Green-breasted Mango, and the Brown Violetear.

Overnight: La Selva Field Station 

Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Costa Rica has four principal mountain ranges known as “Cordilleras.” Our tour began in the cloud forests of the Tilarán Cordillera, then we skirted to the east side of the Central Cordillera and today we head towards the Savegre-Cerro de la Muerte highland forest in the mountains of the Talamanca Cordillera. The highlands of Costa Rica and far western Panama are the only significant mountains between Guatemala and the Colombian Andes.

Because of this isolation, a surprising number of endemic birds are found here, many of them quite distinctive. As one goes up-slope, the percentage of species unique to this region increases, and such birds are found in the scrub and grassy openings at the highest elevations. Our first stop will be to visit the Paraiso Quetzal cabin complex owned and operated by the Serrano family. This beautiful property, surrounded by majestic Costa Rican Oak Trees (Quercus copeyensis), has walking paths and hummingbird feeders and supports a diverse population of high-altitude bird species.

What to look for: Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, Acorn Woodpecker, Rufus-collared Sparrow, Mountain Thrush, Large-footed Finch, Flame-colored Tanager, Slaty Flowerpiercer and the Sooty-capped Chlorospingus. Volcano, Fiery-throated and Talamanca Hummingbirds. Blue vented hummingbird, hard to see because is an altitudinal migrant.

Overview: Leaving the Paraiso Quetzal, we will continue in the Savegre highlands to arrive at our destination, the Sueños del Bosque Lodge, with grounds surrounded by oak forest, affording us another chance to increase our list of highland species that afternoon. Scintillant Hummingbird.

What to look for: Resplendent Quetzal, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Yellow-winged Vireo, Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher, Spot-crowned Woodcreeper, Spotted Wood-Quail. Hummer Patrol, Scintillant Hummingbird, Gray-tailed Mountain-gem (endemic to Costa Rica) and Lesser violet ear.

Overnight: Sueños del Bosque (Sueños del Bosque = “Woodland Dreams” - the name says it all)

Meals: breakfast and dinner

Today we continue exploring the Savegre-Cerro de la Muerte highlands oak forest and other high-altitude habitats within this remarkable region. In the tall oak forests of the main slopes, the birds typically roam in mixed flocks, providing an excellent opportunity to view a number of different species simultaneously. The dense forests and bamboo thickets just below the tops of the ridges are optimal habitat for several unique or endemic birds of this high-elevation eco-system.

What to look for: Black-capped Flycatcher, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Black-cheeked Warbler, Sooty Thrush, Volcano Junco, Ruddy Treerunner, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Ochraceous Wren, Flame-throated Warbler, Collared Redstart, and Sooty-capped Bush-Tanager. Most of the preceding are endemic to these highlands but we should also find some familiar birds at the southern end of their range, including the Red-tailed Hawk (Costa Rican subspecies), Band-tailed Pigeon, Hairy Woodpecker (Costa Rican subspecies), and wintering wood warblers. Several much scarcer mountain birds also occur here, and with luck we may find the Timberline Wren, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl, Ochraceous Pewee, Streaked Saltator or the Wrenthrush. Striped tailed hummingbird.

Overnight: Sueños del Bosque

Meals: brekfast  and dinner

Today we head back to the capital city, San José, but we will make a couple of stops along the way in order to look one last time for some of the special birds of this highland environment that we may have missed. We plan to arrive at our hotel mid-afternoon. This evening we will have a farewell dinner together by the pool to celebrate our wonderful birding expedition to Costa Rica.

Overnight: Country Inn or similar 

Meals: brekfast and dinner

Departure for home: The tour ends this morning with a transfer to the San José airport for flights departing to the USA or other countries. When booking your return flight please keep in mind that transfers will depart from the hotel three hours before the scheduled departing flight time. In other words, if you have scheduled an early morning flight, your departure from the hotel will be very early.

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