The Costa Rica Experience is still under development. We are currently working with our partners to plan a wonderful and inspirational trip. We hope that the descriptions below capture our mission and give you a sense of what is most likely to be included. But remember, nothing is set-in-stone yet.
Cost: about $1,700 USD
Dates: first week of April 2022
Length: 8 days
Group size: 6
Why you’ll love The Costa Rica Experience
Our Costa Rica Experience centers around the mid-elevation rainforest of the Tilarán mountain range near the famous Arenal volcano. We will spend 4 days exploring the magical rainforest around a rustic off-grid farmhouse well off the beaten path; birding through the massive primary rainforest, learning about the complex ecosystems of the tropics, and helping local eco-tourism efforts.
After a truly unique experience in the mountains, we move to the Pacific Coast where we will get a taste of the rich diversity Costa Rica has to offer. The tropical dry forest means the humid Pacific rainforest at Carara National Park, making this area a great place to see species of both forest types.
Beaches, birds, and sunsets; what more could you want?!
What makes this Experience unique
Deep in the heart of the Tilarán Cordillera, miles from any road, is a hidden gem of mind-blowing biodiversity: Rancho Maximo. This rustic farmstead is surrounded by untouched forest, and recently began accommodating eco-tourists. We will hike downhill from the Monteverde area, and the 6-mile trail offers some of the most spectacular birding in the country. Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Azure-hooded Jay, and a wide variety of desirable raptors are all possible along the descent. Upon arrival at the house, we will enjoy home-cooked local cuisine, in the shadow of two huge oropendola colonies. Great Curassows wander the yard, and tanager flocks sweep through the garden. We will spend two leisurely days at the site, exploring the river and forest surroundings, then staying in sheltered tents in the open-air loft.
Rancho Maximo is rustic, the hike is strenuous, the shower is cold, and there are few man-made luxuries, but the natural richness is world-class!
READ MORE details below under “Accommodations”.
After three nights at Maximo’s, we will hike back out, and travel down to the Pacific lowlands around Carara National Park. After the cool rainy climate of the mountains, we will bask in a few days of sunshine and relative luxury at the Carara Hotel. This hotel is just steps away from the ocean, for those who want to get away for a little beach time. The birding is rich and relaxed, with plentiful Scarlet Macaws and Turquoise-browed Motmots. We should run into plenty of fun species like Great Tinamou, Fiery-billed Araçari, White-throated Magpie-Jay and Cinnamon Hummingbird while we explore this diverse region of Costa Rica.
And yes, there will be birds!
The hike down to Rancho Maximos starts in the upper elevation forests with Collared Redstarts, Prong-billed Barbets, and Black-faced Solitaires.
As we hike down through the forest, it turns into mid-elevation rainforest with Tufted Flycatchers, Collared Trogons, Black-headed Antthrushes, Blue-and-Gold and Crimson-collared Tanagers, Azure-hooded Jays, and Ornate Hawk-Eagles all possible.
Some of the more sought-after birds around Rancho Maximos are Sharpbill, Bare-necked Umbrellabird, Lovely Cotinga, Three-wattled Bellbird, Lanceolated Monklet, and Ochre-bellied Antpitta. These specialties can be quite difficult, but the magic of this place means that you never know what you can find!
We will likely see more than 120 species just at Maximos and on the hike to/from the farmhouse.
Along the Pacific Coast in the dry forest, we will see Rose-throated Becards, Stripe-headed Sparrows, White-throated Magpie-Jays, Scarlet Macaws, and a usual star of the show – Turquoise-browed Motmots.
Birding around Carara National Park allows us a window into the humid Pacific rainforest, with Dot-winged Antwrens, Orange-collared and Red-capped Manakins, Great Tinamous, Bright-rumped Attilas, Gray-headed Tanagers, and Streak-chested Antpittas.
We are still working with our partners to iron out the specifics of this Experience, but here is what we know so far:
Day 1: Arrival to Costa Rica, lodging in Alajuela.
Day 2: Depart to Monteverde, birding along the way
Day 3: Early morning, we start the hike down to Rancho Maximos. Birding along the way, we arrive early afternoon.
Day 4: Bird around Rancho Maximos.
Day 5: Bird around Rancho Maximos.
Day 6: Hike out of Maximos and drive to the Tarcoles area, lodging at hotel.
Day 7: Bird Carara National Park and boat tour of the Río Tarcoles, night at hotel.
Day 8: Morning transfer to Alajuela for flights home.
With our target of approximately $1,700, we hope to make this a more affordable trip han what most tour operators charge, and to a unique corner of Costa Rica very few people will ever see!
This fee will cover:
-All transportation from pick up day 1 to drop off on day 8.
-All Meals at Rancho Maximos.
-Breakfast at lodging in Tarcoles and Alajuela.
-Guide fees for our organization, Birding Experiences.
In order to meet our goal of $1,700, these things will not be included:
-Airfare to and from Costa Rica
-Lunch and dinner on day 1, 2, 6, and 7.
-Personal beverages and snacks
-Any additional days or nights you plan on staying, either by choice or due to flight schedules.
-Tips for our guide.
-Any personal purchases, like souvenirs.
In order to save costs and make this as affordable as possible, hotels in Alajuela, Monteverde, and Carara will be shared rooms. We will do our best to make sure everyone is comfortable and roommate pairings are appropriate.
Rancho Maximo is quite rustic. It’s not for everyone.
Sleeping accommodations are unique. The upstairs level is a large open loft with 2-person camping tents placed fairly close together. Inside the tents are basic mattresses.
If you are comfortable camping back home, you will be comfortable here. Electricity and running water, with a roof over the tent space elevates this to a big step above just camping. Not to mention the hot home-cooked meals 3 times a day!
It’s not for everyone, but this kind of rugged mountain rainforest experience is definitely unique and once-in-a-lifetime!
The hike to/from Maximo’s is strenuous.
It’s a 6 mile hike; downhill to Maximos then uphill back out. It follows the ATV trail to the ranch, and can be steep in some spots, but going slow and birding our way along really helps! It is absolutely worth the experience, and even though it can be strenuous at times, it will be the last thing you think of when looking back at the amazing time had spent in the farthest reaches of Costa Rica!
Want to join us?
Registration will open in late 2021. Sign up to receive updates on this Experience.