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Costa Rica Birding Tour

- Sea to Sky in the Tropics

Trip Details

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Price includes all ground, air and water transportation within Costa Rica, including to and from the airport to our hotel; all accommodations; all meals starting with breakfast on Day 2 and ending with breakfast on Day 12; all entry fees; bilingual guides; all gratuities for local lodge and travel services as well as for our local guides.

Not Included

International flights to and from San Jose 

Tourist taxes on entry/exit to Costa Rica. At present there is a US$26 Departure Tax from Costa Rica which can be bought at the time of departure at the airport.

Items of a personal nature, alcoholic beverages, laundry charges, and anything not itemized above.

Fitness Level

The tour will involve a moderate level of fitness to fully participate in the activities offered. Days will start with an early breakfast before dawn and a morning birding excursion for 2-4 hours, or an early birding departure and a return to base for breakfast, or breakfast en route. Lunch will be provided either in the lodges, or in the field. Further scheduled activities will be offered after breakfast and lunch. Some of the walks will be on trails with steep hills and steps, others on dirt/gravel roads. All outings are “optional” in the sense that if you feel that the level of activity is too high for you personally, you can always remain in the lodge or hotel and join the group on the next activity. If the Tour Leader feels that an activity is beyond the safety limit for any individual, he will discuss the situation with the guest and advise him/her of the concerns. The final decision on participation in any activity resides with the Tour Leader.

Medical travel insurance is strongly recommended to protect you from the consequences of injury or illness before or during the tour. Trip cancellation insurance is also strongly recommended.

Tipping Policy

Whiskeyjack Nature Tours covers gratuities to guides, house staff and transportation providers. If, however, you feel that the hotel staff have provided you with exceptional service, or you wish to reward one of the local guides for finding your milestone 4000th  (or 400th) life bird, please feel free to do so as it will be greatly appreciated. 

Infectious Diseases

Tetanus and polio vaccinations should be up to date.

Hepatitis A & B – food and water borne, best prevented by having a current Hepatitis A & B vaccination available in a combined vaccine and requiring an extended dosing schedule to obtain full protection. Anyone intending to travel to Central or South American destinations is strongly advised to be vaccinated for Hepatitis A & B. 

Malaria – See following website for CDC advisory; CDC/Malaria.

Chloroquine is the recommended prophylaxis. Discuss with your own physician or Travel Clinic.

For general advice about avoidance of mosquito bites, see CDC Site

Dengue Fever – a viral illness with the principal mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti,

The following is an excerpt from the CDC website:

“frequently found in or near human habitations and prefers to feed on humans during the daytime. It has two peak periods of biting activity: in the morning for several hours after daybreak and in the late afternoon for several hours before dark. Nevertheless, the mosquito may feed at any time during the day, especially indoors, in shady areas, or when it is overcast. Mosquito breeding sites include artificial water containers such as discarded tires, uncovered water storage barrels, buckets, flower vases or pots, cans, and cisterns.

No vaccine is available. Travelers should be advised that they can reduce their risk of acquiring dengue by remaining in well-screened or air-conditioned areas when possible, wearing clothing that adequately covers the arms and legs, and applying insect repellent to both skin and clothing. The most effective repellents are those containing DEET” 

Yellow Fever – no known risk

For full detailed information on tropical travel issues, explore the CDC Website and visit your family doctor or local travel clinic for more information. 

Bottled water is provided during all outings. 


Hot and humid will be the expected conditions for the low elevation sites with temperatures ranging up to 30C. Afternoon thundershowers are a possibility, even in the dry season. Mid elevation highs are moderated considerably, ranging from 15-24C. At higher elevations temperatures may be distinctly chilly. A layered approach is best to allow flexibility in coping with temperature variation from dawn to dusk & the various elevations.  

Sunrise in Central America is always near 6 am, and sunset near 6 pm. Early mornings are the best times for nature observation, so expect to be up and at it early most days – unless you choose to have a “rest” day.

Sun Exposure

Sun block SPF (30 or higher) should be worn at all times and in particular at elevation, as the thinner air can lead to sunburn easier than you might expect.

Poisonous Species

In the neotropics there is always the chance of an encounter with poisonous snakes or spiders. Pit vipers on land and coral snakes in the water can inflict serious injury and occasionally are fatal. However, encounters are rare, and awareness of one’s surroundings and basic avoidance measures will reduce the risk of bites to a minimum. Tarantulas and other spiders may be present in many of the habitats, and common sense and basic avoidance measures are in order. Most encounters will occur as a result of the local guide locating the animal and pointing it out to the group. And finally, don’t try to pick up the highly coloured poison dart frogs! Photos are fine - up close and personal is ill advised.


The most annoying insect in the tropics and sub-tropics is the famed “chigger”, a member of the order Acarina, and renowned for its intensely itchy bite which can endure for many days. More common during the dry season, chiggers are a potential risk in the Osa Peninsula area as well as bot-flies & sandflies.

Deep-Woods Off” or other insect repellants with 20-40% DEET are recommended wherever flies and chiggers are a possibility. An excellent product to apply to ankles and shoe-top areas is “Cutter’s Lotion” or equivalent, available at Mountain Equipment Co-op and others. Keeping the pantlegs tucked into your socks and applying DEET-containing spray to the area seems to do the job, or use a sulphur powder dusted on the socks & pantlegs.

Some tropical enthusiasts prefer to apply permethrin spray to all shoes, socks, lower pant legs and belt lines prior to departure to the tropics. Permethrin is retained for a number of washes, but must not be applied directly to the skin. All treated clothing must be totally dried after initial application before being worn.

There are now a number of new adventure clothing product lines that incorporate insect repellants into the weave of the clothing, and are stable for up to 70 washings. One such site is Orvis.

Another useful item is a pair of “gaters”. These can be sprayed with DEET to increase protection from ground insects, as well as keeping the lower pant-legs clean & dry. Although snakes and scorpions are rarely encountered, gaiters provide some protection if you are walking off the beaten path, which is rarely advised or necessary. 

ABA Sales has a wide selection of products for outdoor activities. Also see Mountain Equipment Co-op

A good addition to the travel kit is a tube of over-the-counter cortisone cream, which acts quite effectively as an anti-itch cream if one of the biting insects should break through your lines of defence. 


Good waterproof binoculars are recommended.

Photographic equipment may need to be protected from rain & zip-lock containers may be handy for protecting items from humidity and rain. 

A small daypack &/or a waist pack is useful for carrying notebooks, field guides, water, etc.

Rite-in-the-Rain notebooks, available at Mountain Equipment Co-op, and others, are very handy for documenting your trip, regardless of type of weather. See Rite in the Rain for details. 

Spotting Scopes

The local guide and/or the tour leader will carry spotting scopes during birding outings.  Feel free to bring your own should you wish, but be aware of luggage weight restrictions. (See comments in “Luggage Suggestions”).


Standard 120-volt North American flat 2-pin fixtures are available in all rooms.


The various lodges will provide laundry services for a charge. It is best to provide any items to laundry early in your stay at a lodge to afford adequate time for return, usually the following day. 


The local currency is the Colon & most places also accept US$. Major credit cards are accepted in most establishments.

Field Guides & Suggested Reading

Garrigues, Richard & Robert Dean. The Birds of Costa Rica. Comstock Publishing Associates, 2007

Ridgely, Robert and J. Gwynne. A Guide to the Birds of Panama (2nd edition), Princeton University Press, 1992.

Styles, F. Gary and Alexander F. Skutch. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica (2nd edition), Cornell University Press, 1989. 

Your tour leader will always carry a copy of the appropriate guide in the field. As well, most lodges will have reference copies on hand.

Emmons, L.H., Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide. The University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Kricher, John C., A Neotropical Companion (2nd Edition), Princeton University Press, 1999. This is an excellent overview of the dynamics at work in neotropical rainforest ecosystems. 

Clothing Suggestions

The coastal tropics are warm and humid, so rapid drying, lightweight cotton pants and long-sleeved shirts are suggested.  Avoid brightly colored items, as they will often scare off wary forest birds.

The higher elevations can be windy and cool, so layers are appropriate, including a lightweight windbreaker or raincoat.

A hat and SPF 30+ sunscreen are recommended for sun protection. Some bring a compact umbrella for rain showers or extended direct sun.

Footwear should be comfortable walking wear as many hours will be spent on foot. Bring a second pair of shoes or sandals for time spent around the lodges and for “drying time” for your walking shoes. 

Luggage Suggestions

International travel occasionally results in delayed arrival of luggage. We suggest that your carry-on luggage should contain all travel documents, binoculars, medications, personal toiletries and one change of clothes. Be aware of the stringent conditions applied to the amounts of liquids allowed in your carry-on, and the container size that is acceptable. Most airlines have a website link outlining these conditions.

In particular, if you are considering bringing a spotting scope, it may be a good idea to carry the tripod on as cabin baggage. If it is in a carrying sleeve they seem to allow it through security screening with no questions asked. If it is not in a carrying case, all bets are off. It can always be checked if they will not allow it into the cabin. This may be preferable to storing it in the bottom of your suitcase where it might attract the attention of Homeland Security who then may pull the luggage off for inspection, thus delaying its departure.

NB. On day 11 of the tour we have a domestic Costa Rican flight from Golfito to San Jose & there is a 30 lbs per person luggage limit. Natureair makes no guarantee that overweight items will accompany the passenger. There are no overhead storage compartments in these aircraft. Please pack with this in mind.

Travel Options

Tony has researched the travel options to San Jose & will communicate these to you in person.

Please note that because participants may be arriving at different times this precludes providing a standard meal option for the day of arrival, so you will be on your own to enjoy one of the restaurants near or within the hotel. 

Travel Documents

A valid passport is required, and must be valid for at least six months beyond the stated departure date on your airline tickets. No visas are needed for Canadian or U.S. citizens.  

Time Zone

Eastern Standard Time Zone 


Spanish is the principal language of Central America, although English is often spoken. Our guide will be bilingual. 

Tour Reservation Policy

Your space will be confirmed upon receipt of a deposit of $600 CAD/USD per person (cheque or credit card). The balance of the tour price is due 120 days prior to departure date or the space will be released and the deposit forfeited. Tour balances paid by credit card are subject to a surcharge.  Whiskeyjack Nature Tours will make every effort to provide single rooms to those who request them. If they are not available you will have the option of sharing a room at the double occupancy rate, or if no double is available, a single supplement will be charged.

Please forward the Whiskeyjack Nature Tours Registration and Liability Waiver Form with your deposit.

Trip Cancellation Policy

If written or e-mail cancellation notice is given 120 or more days prior to trip departure your deposit will be refunded, less $100 CAD handling fee. No refund will be given if cancellation notice is received less than 120 days prior to departure.  


Whiskeyjack Nature Tours function solely as agents for tour participants with regards to transport by air, car, bus, boat or rail, and therefore can assume no liability for damage, delay, accident, injury or loss as a result of vehicular defect or any other cause, or failure to perform by any individual or company involved in travel or other tour activities. Tour arrangements are for specified times only, therefore any losses or delays resulting from weather, illness, war, quarantine, strike, or terrorism will be at the expense of the participant. Luggage loss remains the responsibility of the passenger. Should it become necessary, Whiskeyjack Nature Tours may substitute leaders, may alter day of arrival and departure, hotel accommodation, or may cancel outright any tour prior to scheduled departure date. Full notification will be provided, and in case of cancellation, a full refund of Whiskeyjack Nature Tours fees will be provided, and will represent final settlement with the tour participant. Whiskeyjack Nature Tours does not accept responsibility for airfare replacement in the case of trip cancellation. Please ensure that you carry trip cancellation insurance.

Whiskeyjack Nature Tours reserves the right to accept or retain any tour participant. 

Tour Leader

Tony Greenfield





For more information or to reserve your space:

click here to email

phone: 604 885-5539

Box 319,  Sechelt, British Columbia, V0N 3A0, Canada


   Click on photo for information about the tour.


Updated November 17, 2010

Send mail to tony@whiskeyjacknaturetours.com with questions or comments about this web site.
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