Costa Rica 2016


FEBRUARY 20 to MARCH 2, 2016  

Note: A passport valid for at least six months beyond
tour dates, is required for this tour.  

Click here for tour report.

General Information

 Costa Rica is a small Central American country whose natural areas support a dazzling variety of tropical wildlife.  Land area is about the same as West Virginia (which is about the same as Vermont & New Hampshire combined), yet the country’s bird list is nearly 900 species.  Habitats in Costa Rica include mountain forests (the highest peaks are above 12,000 feet), rain forests, dry forests, mangrove swamps, tropical marshes, and coasts on both the Pacific and the Caribbean.  The country’s great species diversity is one benefit of this great habitat diversity.

 Costa Rica is also a peaceful country with a social democratic system that provides quality public education, maintains high standards of public health, and offers reliable public utilities to all of its citizens.  The country’s tourism infrastructure is excellent.  For this trip, our group will stay in comfortable lodges surrounded by excellent natural habitat.  All rooms have private hot water bathrooms.  Food and water are reliably safe in all tourist areas, and meals are provided throughout the trip.  Our group will travel together in a private mini-bus driven by a professional driver (who happens to be an excellent birder and naturalist).
 Our goals will be to visit many different habitats and to search for birds and other wildlife while we learn about tropical ecology and conservation. Our schedule is full – days will be filled with birding and other nature explorations – but there will be opportunities to skip some activities to relax around the lodges and/or explore on your own.  We have not built time into the schedule for visits to the shops and museums around San José, Costa Rica’s capital, or any other city.  Let us know if you’d like to see the city and we can help arrange for an extension of your stay. 

:  This trip is limited to 12 participants.

:  Moderate

The pace of our tour will be generally moderate, with most field time spent on slow-paced nature walks of two miles or less.  We do plan to start very early in the morning many days, as tropical wildlife is most active at dawn and shortly thereafter.  Some early morning walks will be optional.  We are also likely to offer one or more nocturnal excursions, after dinner, but these too will be optional.  Sunrise will be about 5:30 am, sunset about 5:45 pm.  Terrain is varied, with steep hills in places and with unpaved trails that can be uneven, rough, muddy, and/or slippery.  Participants should be prepared for some time at higher altitudes, with three overnights at about 6500 feet and at least one day trip visiting areas above 10,000 feet.

 Weather in Costa Rica varies dramatically with elevation.  Lower elevations (Cerro Lodge, Caño Negro) can be hot, with highs in the 80s or 90s, lows around 70.  Our bedrooms at these locations are air conditioned.  High elevations (Toucanet Lodge) can be chilly at night, the 40s or 50s being average, with highs typically in the 60s or 70s.  Middle elevations (San José, Arenal Observatory) are very pleasant, with highs in the 70s or 80s, lows in the upper 50s or 60s.  Rain is possible any day in Costa Rica, but when rains come it’s usually as showers that come and go.

San José is perched roughly 3,000 to 4,000 feet above sea level in a mountain-rimmed area called the central plateau.  Three other cities are nearby, making this easily the country’s most densely populated area.  The elevation results in a very comfortable climate – not too hot, not too cold.  Rain showers are frequent, but they usually pass quickly.  Scenery throughout the central plateau is impressive, as the forested high peaks of the central volcanic mountain range fill the northern and eastern horizons.  There are nice museums and other attractions in San José, but it is a busy, noisy, and crowded city.  Our trip does not include visits to any urban attractions.  If you would like to visit the city, we recommend extending your stay by a day or two. 

: $3,400.00 per person, double occupancy; single supplement (payable if you request single occupancy or if we cannot find you a suitable roommate) is $560.00.  A deposit of $500.00 will hold your place until October 20, 2015, when full payment becomes due. 
Deadline for registration is November 20, 2015, but please note that our Costa Rica tours regularly fill months before the registration deadline.  Please note that registrations received after October 20, 2015 must include full payment.  

Lodging for 11 nights, meals from dinner on arrival day (February 20) through breakfast on departure day (March 2), transportation around Costa Rica in a private small bus with professional driver, group activities and admissions, expert leadership, and resource materials.  

: round-trip transportation from your home to meeting point at the international airport in San José, Costa Rica, bar beverages, telephone calls, laundry service, gratuities for guide, driver, & lodge staffs, or other items of a personal nature.  Tips for the guide and driver are customary in Costa Rica; most travelers choose to offer generous tips.    

NJ Audubon Eco-Travel
c/o Center for Research and Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
Phone: (609) 861-1608 x13
Please make checks payable to New Jersey Audubon

by email to travel@njaudubon.org.

Click here for interactive Registration Form

Red-legged Honeycreeper photo courtesy Mark Garland
Mark Garland lives in Cape May and is an Associate Naturalist for New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, where he previously served on staff as Senior Naturalist, a position he also held for the Audubon Naturalist Society.  He has led more than thirty-five trips to Costa Rica since 1988, teaming with Charlie Gómez on most.  He has led eleven previous Costa Rica trips for the New Jersey Audubon between 2003 and 2013.  He has also led Costa Rica trips for the Audubon Naturalist Society, Smithsonian Journeys, and the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

Carlos “Charlie” Gómez is one of Costa Rica’s most highly regarded naturalist guides.  He has been leading tours for birding groups for over
 30 years, mostly in his home country of Costa Rica, but also in Panama, Nicaragua, Belize, and South America.  Before guiding he worked as the Station Manager of the La Selva Field Station, the cornerstone facility of the Organization for Tropical Studies, a consortium of 64 Universities in the U.S., Latin America, and Australia.  He also worked as field assistant to ornithologist Gary Stiles, principal author of A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica.  He is an expert birder and an exceptionally skilled all-around naturalist. 

For tour itineraries, to register, or for more information contact:

NJ Audubon Eco-Travel at: (609)-861-1608 x13
c/o NJ Audubon Center for Research and Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
or email