Quetzals to Corcovado

Feb/March 2022

Due to COVID, we have rescheduled the 2021 tour to 2022. Below you will find a sample itinerary. 2022 tour dates have not been finalized!

Join professional photographer Max Waugh on an exciting Costa Rica wildlife adventure! This popular tour takes us to some of the best places for wildlife photography in the entire country. We'll seek out the resplendent quetzal in the central highlands, colorful frogs and birds on the central Caribbean slope and aquatic birds and large crocodiles on the Pacific coast. For the truly adventurous, the optional extension may take us to Corcovado National Park, putting us in the heart of Costa Rica's biodiversity: cats, tapirs and loads of other animals await! If you are interested in joining this tour, please contact us.

If you'd like to learn more about the general structure of the tour, photography instruction and our thinking behind it all, click here. To get an idea of some of the wildlife we might see during the trip, check out the photo gallery. If you would like to inquire about a customized tour or extension, read more here.

Reserve Your Spot!

Main Tour Dates and Activities

Tuesday, March 23: Arrival in Costa Rica
Today you'll fly into Costa Rica, arriving in the capital of San José. After passing through immigration you will be met by a Costa Rica Expeditions representative who will take you to your hotel.

Hotel Bougainvillea, 1 Night

resplendent quetzal
The resplendent quetzal at Savegre.
Wednesday, March 24: San José to Los Angeles Cloud Forest
This morning you'll be picked up by Max, our naturalist guide and our driver. We'll depart for the two-and-a-half hour drive from San José to the Los Angeles Cloud Forest. This is located on the Central Volcanic Mountain Range, on the old road to La Fortuna. The average elevation in the area is about 4000 f (1100 m) and offers different landscapes such as cattle fields, crops and significant patches of cloud forest. The cloud forest is a particular type of rainforest, with interesting weather patterns and misty conditions almost all year round. The damp winds from the Caribbean part of the country hit the high mountains, accelerate the speed and drop large amounts of rain. This ongoing condition will also attract many species of birds like hummingbirds, warblers, vireos, raptors and trogons.

In this area, there's a valley where hundreds of avocado trees have been planted. This type of miniature avocado is the main diet for one of the fascinating birds of the neotropics, the Resplendent Quetzal. There are hundreds of species of insects, reptiles, amphibious and mammals that can be observed in this region.

Thursday, March 25: Los Angeles Cloud Forest
We'll spend a full day seeking quetzals and other wildlife in this region.

Hotel Villa Blanca, 2 Nights, Meals Included

Friday, March 26: Los Angeles Cloud Forest to La Quinta Lodge
Today we'll drive to the central Caribbean slope, staying at La Quinta Lodge. This region is a great area for a variety of wildlife, including several mammals, herps (including red-eyed tree frogs and two different poison dart frog species), and birds. The bird species we may encounter include trogons, manakins, jacamars, tangers, woodpeckers and more.

Saturday, March 27: La Selva Biological Station
A full day of exploration at La Selva Biological Station, including an opportunity to take night walks and look for frogs, snakes and other nocturnal critters.

La Quinta Sarapiqui, 2 Nights, Meals Included

Green and Black Poison Dart Frog
Poison dart frog at La Selva.
Sunday, March 28: Sarapiqui to Pacific Coast
Today, our driver will take us to the Pacific lowlands. During afternoon and evening walks, we'll look for owls and other birds. We will stay at the Cerro Lodge, which also hosts good birds on its feeders and occasionally gets owls on the grounds.

Monday, March 29: Carara National Park, Rio Tarcoles
We will visit Carara National Park and the Rio Tarcoles. Carara provides good opportunities to see sloths, monkeys and a variety of birds, including the possibility of seeing orange-collared manakins performing their dynamic courtship rituals. We'll also participate in a photo cruise on the Rio Tarcoles, famous for its large crocodiles and exceptional birdlife.

Cerro Lodge, 2 Nights, Meals Included

Tuesday, March 30: Pacific Coast to San José
Those guests not continuing with the Corcovado extension will return to San José with our naturalist guide and driver.

Hotel Bougainvillea, 1 Night, Breakfast & Lunch Included

Wednesday, March 31: Depart Costa Rica
This morning you'll be transferred to the airport three hours prior to your flight home.

Optional Tour Extension Dates and Activities

Tuesday - Friday, March 30 - April 2: Corcovado National Park & Sirena Station Extension
Due to new rules established by the national park service, we cannot secure reservations in Corcovado prior to 90 days before our arrival. This means we cannot guarantee a stay there, though chances of securing reservations are quite good. For this reason, we will advise extension participants to not book their airfare until three months prior to the trip. In order to increase our chances of securing reservations in Corcovado, we are limiting the extension to 4 guests.

Sirena is my favorite place in Costa Rica for wildlife photography. The possibilities to photograph numerous species, including larger mammals and predators, are plentiful.

squirrel monkey
Corcovado is home to four monkey species.
We'll spend our time in the heart of Corcovado under the guidance of Felipe Arias, one of Costa Rica's top wildlife trackers. There will be plenty of photo opportunities, divided into morning and afternoon sessions with a break for lunch and rest back at the station. The area around Sirena contains several trails and houses a vast quantity of wildlife. We'll be visiting during the dry season at a time that coincides with some of the peak fruit production in the trees near the station. Fruit is a major food source for the park's animals, so this should make for increased wildlife activity.

This area is a bastion for the Baird's tapir, which can often be seen grazing along the beach, swimming across rivers or napping in the dense brush not far from the station. We've photographed tapirs at close range the last two years here. We'll also keep an eye out for signs of pumas or other cats (puma and ocelot photographed during our 2013 tours, puma seen and photographed during 2016 tours), which are frequently seen in the area. With Felipe's expert tracking ability and instincts, we'll have a better chance than most folks would seeing a wild cat in the jungle!

Other natural attractions include the Sirena River, notable as a crossroads for crocodiles that swim out into the ocean and bull sharks that swim into the river when the tide is right. Plenty of other intriguing animals frequent the area, including the rare tayra and the endangered neotropical river otter. There will be a good opportunity to spot all four of Costa Rica's monkey species, the tamandua anteater, sloths and peccaries. Birds are abundant here. Corcovado is one of the last strongholds of the scarlet macaw. Other colorful birds to watch for include the black-mandibled toucan, pale-billed and pileated woodpeckers, several species of trogon, and the tiny blue-crowned manakin. If you're into herps, keep your eyes peeled for tree frogs, glass frogs, boa constrictors and the venomous fer-de-lance. To see more of the wildlife we may encounter at Sirena, view the photo gallery.

Please Note: The conditions in Corcovado are usually hot and humid. Daily excursions involve walks up to a few kilometers in these conditions. Most trails are flat, but there are occasional hills and we often face other obstacles such as exposed roots, low-hanging branches and vines, mud and the occasional river that requires fording. Corcovado is not for everyone (which is why it's offered as an extension). Participants must be in reasonable shape and be prepared to carry their gear during these extended walks. Despite all this, it is the best place for wildlife, particularly mammals, in the entire country, so the reward is usually worth the effort. Read more about staying at Sirena Station.

Sirena Station, 3 Nights, Meals Included. Extension participants will stay at Hotel Bougainvillea on April 2 and fly home from San Jose on April 3.

Activities may change depending on time, transfer schedules and weather.

Tour Prices

Main Tour (Los Angeles Cloud Forest, Sarapiqui, Carara/Tarcoles): 2022 Prices TBD

Optional Extension (Corcovado):

  • 2022 Prices TBD

This tour is limited to six guests.

Payment and Cancellation Terms:
A 50% deposit is due at the time of booking, with the remaining 50% due sixty days prior to the start of the trip. Regarding cancellations, if a cancellation is made 60 days or more prior to the scheduled trip, a full refund (less deposit guarantees at hotels, guide deposit, and a U.S. $300.00 handling fee) is made. The entire 50% deposit is forfeited if cancellation is received in our offices 59-30 days prior to the trip. If cancellation is received 29 days or less prior to the trip, the full value is forfeited. We strongly recommend cancellation insurance.

Tour Prices Include:

  • Lodging
  • Domestic Transportation within Costa Rica
  • Meals, as specified in the itinerary
  • Guides and Drivers, as specified in the itinerary
  • Park Entrance Fees
  • Taxes on all services
  • Airport Departure Tax

Tour Prices DO NOT Include:

  • Airfare to/from Costa Rica
  • Gratuity for Guides and Staff
  • Single supplement fee listed above
  • Alcohol, soft drinks and other beverages not provided at meals
  • Snacks and other food not provided at meals

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