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Costa Rica | Birding & Natural History with Julie Zickefoose & Mario Cordoba


February 21, 2016 - March 02, 2016

  • Introduction
  • Highlights
  • Itinerary
  • Pricing
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This program is full to capacity. Please contact Debbie Sturdivant Jordan at to be added to the wait list for the 2017 trip.

Experience the burgeoning life, color and warmth of Costa Rica’s varied habitats with Julie Zickefoose! Julie is one of the most engaging natural history writers/illustrators of today. Author of The Bluebird Effect and Letters from Eden, Julie barely contains searing curiosity, formidable artistic and interpretational skills, and a rollicking sense of fun in one dynamic package.

Join a small group of explorers set loose in this jungle paradise, just when the northern winter is at its dreariest. Look, listen, smell and feel your way through one of the most diverse and thrilling biomes on earth. We’ll keep travel to a minimum with plenty of stops along the way. If you love getting up close and personal with birds, animals, insects and plants; if you love wondering why birds do what they do; if you’re the type who will stop to admire a tree or a cloud, or to truly listen to a robin sing, this is the trip for you.

Julie Zickefoose started off as an illustrator of natural history subjects as a college freshman in 1976. A six-year stint as a field biologist with The Nature Conservancy`s Connecticut Chapter proved a strong motivator both to learn more about ecosystems and to go back to drawing. Along the way, she began to write her own essays, studded with observations of birds and animals, and writing slowly crept into the forefront of her interests. Bird Watcher`s Digest has been the major print venue for her writing since 1986, and she`s painted 26 covers for the magazine. She had a five-year run as a commentator for National Public Radio`s All Things Considered, telling about bird-eating bullfrogs and hummingbirds who came home to their foster mother, among other subjects.

Julie`s first book of illustrated essays, Letters from Eden, was published by Houghton Mifflin in 2006. She contributed natural history commentaries to National Public Radio`s All Things Considered from 2005-2010. Julie Zickefoose on Blogspot entertains around 30,000 visits per month.

Her current book, The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds With Common Birds, was Oprah`s Book of the Week in April 2012. It`s an amalgam of memoir, natural history and beautiful watercolor paintings and life sketches. She is now at work on a heavily illustrated book on songbird development, titled Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest.

Go birding with Julie and expert guide Mario Córdoba, with emphasis on behavioral and natural history interpretation.

Watch birds through new eyes, as we linger to see what they’re doing and how they fit into the complex web of tropical ecology.

Appreciate mammals, insects, and plants in a big-picture sweep through a variety of ecosystems.

Maximize photography and observational opportunities while learning field craft in approaching wildlife.

February 21 - San José

Upon arrival in San José, meet your guide and transfer to the hotel. Located five miles from downtown San José, Hotel Bougainvillea is surrounded by beautiful gardens and panoramic views. Overnight Hotel Bouganvillea

February 22 - Puntarenas

Drive north to La Ensenada Lodge with lunch en route. The lodge is located on the Tempisque River, an area known for its dry forest system, attracting birds such as herons, bellbirds, ibis, pelicans, and others. Enjoy plenty of roadside birding today and arrive at the lodge in the afternoon. Overnight La Ensenada Lodge (BLD)

February 23 - Puntarenas

This morning take an early boat ride on the Tempisque River for birdwatching. The river passes through Palo Verde National Park and encompasses mangroves, swamps, and both freshwater and saltwater lagoons, providing a crucial habitat for various species of crocodiles and monkeys. The area also attracts bird species such as Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, Little Blue Heron, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Boat-billed Heron, and Tropical Kingbird. The remainder of the day will be spent birding the grounds. Overnight La Ensenada Lodge (BLD)

February 24 - Jaco Beach

After some morning birding, depart to Hacienda Solimar for a morning tour and lunch. At Hacienda Solimar, observe a variety of birds among the dry scrub including Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Spot-breasted Bobwhite, and several different species of wildfowl, heron, egret, raptor and kingfisher. The deciduous forest of the area is home to parrots, orioles, woodcreepers, warblers, antbirds, raptors, owls and nightjars. We will arrive in the Jaco area in the afternoon. This is the northernmost region of Pacific rainforest remaining in Costa Rica, and is the beginning of the transition zone into the tropical dry forests of the northwest. Have some time to relax and then look for Scarlet Macaws and other species. Overnight Villa Lapas (BLD)

February 25 - Jaco Beach

Today spend the full day at the Carara National Park, one of the birding hotspots of Costa Rica. The park is located in Costa Rica`s Central Pacific region, which is one the most ecologically diverse areas of the country. The intersection of the northwestern tropical dry forest habitats with the humid rainforests of the South Pacific region in a relatively small area produces a very interesting combination of species from both ecosystems. Featuring transitional forest, the park can be traversed by a union of natural trails and hanging bridges that span throughout a wonderful rainforest of centenary trees. Keep your eyes peeled for Golden-naped Woodpecker, Baird`s Trogon, Orange-collared Manakin, Riverside Wren, Black-hooded Antshrike, Dot-winged Antwren, Long-billed Gnatwren, and Chestnut-backed Antbird. Overnight Villa Lapas (BLD)

February 26 - Golfito

This morning embark on a private boat ride along the Tárcoles River and watch for both water and shore birds like Double-striped Thick-knee, Roseate Spoonbill, jacanas, and ducks. The Tárcoles River basin is one of the most important in the Pacific coastal region, virtually draining the entire western side of the Central Valley. The Tárcoles hosts an amazing diversity of wildlife along its banks and in the extensive mangrove areas near its estuary. The river is a perfect spot to catch a glimpse of mangrove specialties such as the rare Rufous-necked Wood-rail, Mangrove Hummingbird, Pygmy Kingfisher, Panama Flycatcher, Mangrove Vireo, Mangrove (yellow) Warbler and Scrub Greenlet. But, perhaps the most famous of all its inhabitants are the enormous crocodiles that live on its banks. These crocodiles have been studied by numerous local and foreign specialists and even featured in TV specials. During the afternoon, depart to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge with lunch en route. Overnight Esquinas Rainforest Lodge (BLD)

February 27 - Golfito

Full day birding Esquinas trails, grounds and La Gamba Road. The Esquinas forest is categorized as lowland tropical wet forest and has more than 340 recorded bird species, including Black-striped Woodcreeper, Black-cheeked Ant Tanager, Brown-throated Parakeet, Southern Lapwing, Veraguan Mango, Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, Slate-colored Seedeater, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Red-breasted Blackbird and Crested Oropendola. Overnight Esquinas Rainforest Lodge (BLD)

February 28 - San Gerardo de Dota

Early departure for Savegre, with a visit to Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary and the Alexander Skutch house. Los Cusingos Bird Refuge is part of the Don Alexander Biological Corridor which reaches as far as the Chirripo National Park. The 192 acres of protected lands were once part of the farm owned by Dr. Alexander Skutch, a respected naturalist and prolific writer (coauthor of "A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica"). The small and simple house where Dr. Skutch lived and worked for more than 60 years is now the Skutch Lankester House Museum. Nature lovers can observe and admire local flora and fauna through a system of trails that weave through the reserve`s pre-montane wet forest. Tanagers, honeycreepers, parrots, falcons, hummingbirds and woodpeckers are often seen here as well as a number of mammals including agoutis, sloths, tayras and monkeys. Birders should also keep a look out for Turquoise Cotinga, Speckled Tanager, Slaty Spinetail, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Rufous-browed Peppershrike and Fork-tailed Flycatcher. After a full day of birding, arrive in Savegre. Make sure to bring your cameras because the natural vegetation near the feeders offers great photographic opportunities. Overnight Savegre Mountain Hotel, Natural Reserve & Spa (BLD)

February 29 - San Gerardo de Dota

Spend the full day exploring the upper and lower trails at Savegre in search of the famous Resplendent Quetzal and some of the reserve`s other 170 species. This forest is amazing to walk through. The large centennial oaks that cover it are laden with lichens and mosses that contrast with the colorful bromeliads. The forest is rich with insects, mammals, and amphibians, and the pristine valley is a paradise for birdwatchers. Keep a look out for Spotted Wood-Quail, Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl, Collared Trogon, Buffy Tufted-cheek, Ruddy Treerunner, Ochraceous Pewee, Barred Becard, and Golden-browed Chlorophonia just to name a few. After a full day of exploration, settle in and check out the hummingbird feeders situated in front of reception and also off the balcony of the lounge. The feeders are always active with resident Magnificent Hummingbird, Green Violetear with flared blue cheek tufts, White-bellied Mountaingem, Volcano Hummingbird, and the tiny Scintillant Hummingbird. Overnight Savegre Mountain Hotel, Natural Reserve & Spa (BLD)

March 01 - San José

Depart for the Central Valley with stops at the paramo and Los Quetzales National Park. Specialties of the paramo ecosystem include Volcano Junco, Timberline Wren, Zeledonia, Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, and Volcano Hummingbird. Lunch en route or box lunch from Savegre. Arrive at the hotel in the afternoon. Farewell dinner at the hotel. Overnight Hotel Bougainvillea (BLD)

March 02 - Departure

Individual transfers to the airport for flights home. (B)


$2,625 (12 participants)

Includes meals, accommodations, in-country transportation and activities as mentioned.

Cost does not include gratuities, items of a personal nature or international airfare from Columbus estimated at $800. Other departure cities are available. If desired, Holbrook can assist you with your flight arrangements.

Cost is based on double occupancy; for a single room throughout the trip (limited availability) add $400.

A $200 per person deposit and enrollment form is required to hold your space.

Contact Debbie Sturdivant Jordan at 866-748-6146 or