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Top Trip Memories
  • Watching the magical and extensive bird migration in Cape May
  • Marveling at the brilliantly colored lilac breasted rollers and hundreds of other species in Kruger National Park
  • Listening to the trill and zings of Hummingbirds in Pichincha
  • Visiting Voto Donana National Park and excitedly adding rare species of birds to my life list
  • Staying in an eco-lodge in Costa Rica and waking up to the sound of myriads of tropical birds
  • Patiently searching for -- and at long last, finding! -- the elusive bee hummingbird in Cuba
  • Learning about bird-banding and mist-netting techniques in Point Reyes National Seashore visitor center
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Tour Tips
  • Choose a tour that schedules more than one day at each birding site; this gives more chance to see elusive birds but also allows for second -- or third! -- sightings of particular birds, to cement their identity and behavior in your memory.
  • Learn the basics of birding etiquette; for example, if your tour guides use playback remember to remain absolutely silent throughout; take only a quick look through the communal scope before allowing others a turn.
  • Determine what level of birder you are, and choose a trip that fits your style (i.e. do you want to bird from 5am to 8pm without a break? Or do you prefer sleeping in a little longer, or stopping for local fare at lunchtime?).
  • Choose the size of group you'd like to travel with, as larger groups mean more eyes to help spot birds and more folks with whom to bond, but result in more chaos and less personalized attention from the tour leader.
  • Be aware of local customs. Is it polite to bring a small gift to village elders? Is it important to modestly cover ones arms or legs? Can you say "hello" and "thank you" in the local language?
  • Plan to wear (or carry in a small pack) multiple layers of clothing for varying weather, and learn about the ecosystems you'll be visiting (eg., what kinds of insect repellent may be useful?).
  • Don't wear bright colors or noisy clothing, such as nylon jackets or velcro. Make sure you can quietly access your camera without a lot of rustling.
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Birding Travel Reviews & Ratings
4.8 out of 5

96%

recommend

51 Reviews

Excellent 155 Great 23 Average 4 Disappointing 0 Terrible 1

Rating Details

Value
4.8 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals
4.8
Tour Reviews

A truly fantastic experience in Costa Rica

Discover Costa Rica

5.0 August 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes Discover Costa Rica is a fantastic holiday that is suitable for all ages. The
itinerary is expertly put together, meaning you really get a sense of the
whole country and the various different ecosystems. 6 lots of 2 night stays
with the bookends in San Jose and a comfortable mini-bus for the entire trip
(with wifi) take you from the Caribbean ocean and sea turtles in Tortugero,
to the volcano and hot springs of Arenal, to the cloud forrests of Monteverde
and Savegres, and the nature reserves of Manuel Antonio and Esquinas. Each of
these locations present their own individual highlights and the travel in
between is well planned and not overly long (4 hours on average on a travel
day).
Seeing a three toed sloth on the edge of the road at extremely close quarters
as she tried to cross the road has to be the highlight of the trip. Such
amazing creatures!


Antonio was our group leader and great from the beginning to the end.
Knowledgeable, always willing to go the extra mile, he really made our trip
special.


No real need to bring much cash. Good to change a couple of hundred pounds
into Colons in San Jose to get the best FX but otherwise you can pay with
mastercard throughout the entire trip.
Bring suncream and plenty of insect repellent.
Waterproofs are essential too - good walking shoes and comfy sandals
important too - flip flops for the beach.


Small group of 16 maximum means you meet some fantastic people who become
real friends over the two weeks.


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Tropical Delights

Discover Costa Rica

5.0 August 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes This was a fantastic trip and a great way to discover the delights of Costa
Rica. From the lush tropical rainforests of the Caribbean coast to the misty
cloud forests to the fascinating pacific coast. A truly memorable trip
Probably our zip lining experience in the cloud forest, which was just
fantastic and something I will never forget, but we also loved the volcanic
hot springs, and of course seeing sloths, monkeys, toucans, crocodiles,
scarlet macaws, etc, etc...


Fantastic. Knowledgeable on the flora and fauna and on Costa Rica generally
and managed the tour to perfection.


The optional activities (zip lining and volcanic hot springs) are really
worth doing and I would highly recommend them.

Make sure you buy your souvenirs before you get to the airport, as the prices
at the airport are more than double the price outside.


My only criticism of Costa Rica is that the airport needs serious investment
to cope with the number of passengers. There was only one stand that could
take an aircraft of our size, and we had to circle for ages waiting for the
berth to become free. When we got in the terminal the queues were horrendous
and then the air conditioning failed. We queued for over an hour in stifling
conditions, which wasn't fun.


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Discover Costa Rica

Discover Costa Rica

5.0 August 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes This was our first Exodus trip and it won't be our last! It was a well paced
holiday, moving on after two days in one place, but we managed to see a range
of different environments in this amazing country. There was such a number
and variety of animals and birds wherever we went! It must have one of the
richest natural habitats in the world. The scenery was stunning too - from
beautiful river systems to volcanoes and cloud forests and tropical rain
forests. What an experience!
It's difficult to pinpoint any single moment, but waking up to the sound of
howler monkeys in the trees above our chalet on the first morning was
something that will live with us for a long time!


We chose this trip as the guide was a bird expert. Giullamo did not
disappoint. He was professional throughout, making sure we all got the most
out of the holiday. His knowledge of birds and animals was encyclopedic and
he had an instinct for spotting the wildlife before any of us were aware of
it. He took the trouble to explain about the different environments we
visited and his pride in his country shone through. The research he had done
before the trip paid dividends, down to booking good restaurants; in one case
reserving seats to watch a sunset before we sat down to eat. We all agreed we
could not have had a better guide.


We went to Costa Rica in the "dry" season, but the rain forests lived up to
their name on a couple of occassions. Our waterproof ponchos proved
invaluable to cover ourselves & our backpacks until the rain eased off.
Having a pair of binoculars each was a good thing too.


I could not fault the holiday itself - hence the 5 stars. However, we went
for the flight inclusive option, assuming Exodus had found the best way to
reach Costa Rica. The journey turned out to be a nightmare in both directions
- flying from Heathrow to Toronto, Canada, then connecting to another Air
Canada flight to San Jose - the latter being a 5 hour flight with no
entertainment or food provided. Similarly, the return journey was with Delta
via Houston and again the first leg was without food or entertainment. We
discovered afterwards there was a direct flight from Gatwick with BA. I feel
Exodus should have informed us before we made the final booking/payment.


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Absolutely Brilliant trip

Discover Costa Rica

5.0 August 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes The title of this holiday is Discover Costa Rica, and that is exactly what it
delivers. During the break, you get to experience the beauty and the wide
diversity of the country from Mangroves on the Caribbean coast, to volcanic
regions to rain forests, cloud forests and beach resorts on the Pacific
coast.
For me, the best part of the trip was Tortuguero on the north east, Caribbean
coast. We stayed in La Laguna lodge which, although fairly rustic was
nevertheless very comfortable and crammed with opportunities to see various
forms of the beautiful wildlife to be found in Costa Rica from wading birds
to sloths, to raptors, frogs and howler monkeys and many many more.
Other areas such as Monte Verde cloud forest, and Esquinas Lodge were also
extremely beautiful and interesting places.


Our leader was Guillermo Arrieta who was absolutely outstanding. His
knowledge of and passion for his country, it's wildlife, industry and beauty
was palpable. His attention to detail to ensure that every member of our
group got everything they wanted from this holiday was superb.
I can honestly say that having experienced many other group leaders with
other high quality travel companies, Guillermo is by far the best.


Take plenty of memory cards for your camera (my wife and I took in excess of
10,000 pictures!), good quality waterproofs (it is a rain frost after all and
it certainly doesn't disappoint!), good quality binoculars and stout but
comfortable walking shoes.


This was the first time my wife and I have been with Exodus, but it certainly
will not be the last. The group size was 16 which was about right, enabling
everyone to get to know everyone else so that by the end of the trip, we were
all good friends. Having been with other quality organisations who have much
bigger groups we found we didn't get to know people as well and of course
getting on and off coaches and other transport became frustrating. No such
problems here!
This holiday is described as leisurely. However there was a fair bit of
walking, often uphill, and sometimes quite steep and at higher altitudes than
we're normally used to but we never found it to be unattainable and it was
always done at a sensible, leisurely pace. But be prepared!
The journeys between destinations can be long and sometimes on bumpy roads
but there are plenty of stops for comfort breaks and to stretch legs etc so
they do not become arduous.


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Contrasting regions of Costa Rica

Discover Costa Rica

5.0 August 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes This was a really good and varied introduction to the country, taking in both
the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and a number of types of forest in between.
We saw a wide variety of birdlife, flora and fauna and enjoyed the different
types of accommodation, all of which were very good or excellent in different
ways. The food was generally first class and served with a smile by friendly
and helpful staff. The visits to a village school and a local cheesemaker on
the final day were both interesting and enjoyable, in spite of our misgivings
beforehand about this sort of activity when we saw it in the notes.
Even though we aren't avid bird watchers, the sight of six scarlet macaws
circling, playing and landing in the trees as we watched them from the
roadside (spotted by our driver en route), and the early morning trip from
the excellent hotel at Savegre during which we saw beautiful quetzals were
two of the best moments of the trip. Seeing a crab-eating racoon crunching
its way through a large dead crab outside our cabin at Tortuguero was also a
highlight.


Katia was an enthusiastic, informative and helpful guide. She was happy to
tackle any topic thrown at her. She and the driver, Juan Jose, formed an
excellent team and it was nice that they joined us for meals etc. She also
organised and led, with Juan Jose when the bus was needed, a number of extra
walks and trips over and above the activities contained in the trip notes.
Nothing was too much trouble for her, to the extent that, after the tour was
over and we stayed longer on our own in San Jose, she contacted us to tell us
that our plans for a visit needed amendment because of a change in the timing
of a local festival.


We couldn't understand why dollars are recommended. Everything is priced in
colones, apart from the trips in Exodus' trip notes, and if you use dollars
in shops and restaurants, you not only get your change in colones but you
also tend to get a poor exchange rate. We had no trouble at all in using
colones.
We travelled with BA direct to San Jose, so had an extra day before and a
couple afterwards on our own in the capital to fit in with flight times. It
was good to have time to acclimatise before the trip proper started and to
wind down and do some exploring at both ends of the trip. We felt we saw a
bit more of Costan Rican life as a result than we otherwise would have. Our
criticism of the trip would have been that you see very little of the towns
and villages of the country. The Presidente Hotel in San Jose is excellently
situated, well appointed and with a good breakfast and staff and there is a
great little bar in the street just to the left of the hotel where you can
unwind with a beer among the locals.


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Birding Trips & Tour Advice

Birders are among the most flexible travelers around, always ready to pick up at a moment's notice and fly off somewhere to spot a rare species. They also love to take birding tours to places like Costa Rica, Panama, the Galapagos, Trinidad, Alaska, and Colombia, where they can take it slow and add to their life lists. Whether you're a dedicated birder or more of a devoted backyard birdwatcher who wants to learn more, you can be sure you'll find a birding tour that's just your speed.

To a dedicated birder, nothing is so thrilling as to search for -- and find! -- a new life bird. The search will bear any kind of difficulty, from getting up at 3 am to hiking through remote mountain jungles, just for the excitement and exhilaration … along with the sense of accomplishment. Novice birders can experience this same delight, reveling in the exquisite beauty of birds seen through binoculars and beginning to learn the basics of “field marks” and the overall gestalt of a bird (casually referred to as “jizz”).

A Worldwide Activity

One of the true benefits to birdwatching – and one reason why birding is one of the fastest growing sports today – is that birds can be seen anywhere. Hence, birdwatching can be combined with all other elements of exciting travel. Join a birding tour to Bhutan and celebrate the Black Crane festival with the King! Revel in the sight of magnificent Albatrosses soaring over peaks in Kauai; or wade through African swamps in Uganda to find the prehistoric-looking Shoebill. You can watch birds at the Parthenon, and then travel with your guide to the smaller Greek islands to immerse yourself – literally alone! – in the beauty of ancient ruins, watching whimsical Hoopoes. Birding in India includes a visit to the Taj Mahal, followed by immersion in deeply mystical forests; Svalbard and the great northern forests are fantastic places to spot birds.

Photography

Bird photography can be especially difficult; birding tour guides (and other guests) can provide beneficial assistance and give pointers for managing to photograph birds hiding in elusive dark forests or winging through the skies. In general, having a telephoto lens will be extremely helpful to see farther away finds. If you're lucky enough to get up close, a macro lens will capture beatuiful colors and detail! Because you will be outdoors, using a Neutral Density filter or Polarizing filter can help with glare, and make sure your subject doesn't become washed out. There are techniques for particular local conditions which can be gleaned from guides but may be more difficult to figure out for yourself.

Benefits of Using a Guide

When arriving in a new area, it can be extremely difficult (and disappointing) to try to figure out the likely locale and typical timing of local birds unless you are familiar with the ecosystem. These details can make or break a birding experience, and are very hard to glean from reading travel or birding books. It’s hard to know which birds will respond to a playback; which birds are likely to be low in the understory or perched on tops of trees; even something as particular as which side of the road they like to frequent! A local guide knows where to look, when to look, and how to look for each bird … and if he or she suddenly hears birdsong, will know which bird has vocalized (and can quickly find the proper playback for assistance).

Benefits of a Planned Tour

Although local bird guides for most areas can be found from an internet search, there are significant advantages to signing up for a tour package, both for experienced and novice birders. The tour will provide you with a guide who speaks your language, which is instrumental in finding birds. Imagine trying to understand “it’s hidden behind a small branch on the left side of the ebony tree” in a foreign language. Even “see where my laser is pointing?” is difficult sometimes! This leader will also arrange for additional local guides, to serve as an extra repository of knowledge and the latest details for rare or unusual birds sighted locally – and your leader will be able to communicate with them in their language in case you can’t!

The advantage of having hotels, meals, and travel logistics arranged cannot be over emphasized … leaving you free to enjoy the birds! This is exceptionally important if you want to travel around a destination to different birding ecosystems. It is a joy to have the arrangements made for you!

Another benefit from signing up for a birding tour is the other people on the tour itself. There is great pleasure in sharing the adventure; making new friends who have a common interest and expanding your network of connections. Each night after a day of birdwatching, the group will gather and discuss the day’s sightings, cementing your memory of each bird. Photos will be shared; anecdotes related. Even a novice’s foibles will be fondly reminisced – the camaraderie of a group of like-minded individuals can be extraordinary!

 

Related Guides

Popular Continents:

AfricaAustralia & PacificSouth AmericaCaribbean & Central Amercia & North America

Popular Countries:

PeruEcuadorBrazilCosta RicaTanzaniaKenyaNew ZealandPapua New Guinea & United States

Popular Birdwatching Spots:                                                           

Manu National Park, Peru; Cape May, U.S.; Kruger National Park, South Africa; Borneo, Malaysia; Panama Canal, Panama; Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan; Veracruz & Yucatan Peninsula; Mexico, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia; and Many More

Popular Amongst: 

Nature Lovers50+ 

 

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