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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Costa Rica in Spring

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING COSTA RICA: U.S. citizens entering by air need a U.S. passport valid for at least six months after your scheduled departure date from Costa Rica and a tourist card (issued by your arriving airline). Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their nearest Costa Rican embassy. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you to use regarding your participation in the tour.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1093.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Costa Rica at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cs.html.

PACE OF THE TOUR: Some days begin with coffee and birding at 5:30 am, followed by breakfast anywhere from 6:00am to 8:30am and then birding through until lunch. On a couple of the longer travel days, during which we’ll be making birding stops from the vehicle most of the day, we may arrive at our hotel around dark, a tiring pace for some. When we are at a hotel for multiple nights, there will be at least a mid-day break and one can elect to relax at the hotel during these afternoons. There will be several night bird forays by foot and/or bus. On most days we have an hour or more off at the rooms before checklist and dinner.

The longest birding walks can be as long as 2 1/2 miles (4 km) round trip, but at a slow pace that will take most of the morning; a day’s total walking could amount to 4 or even 5 miles. At Monteverde, La Selva, and Bosque del Rio Tigre the trails can be muddy, eroded, and steep in short sections, and although we do not walk rapidly they can be difficult for those whose legs and feet are not in good shape and for those with balance problems. Good foot gear is essential, walking sticks (with wrist straps) recommended, and some find portable collapsible stools a relief during periods when we are standing in one spot looking at birds. One of our birding walks at Bosque involves wading across a shallow creek four or five times (quite delightful, actually), for which sturdy sandals such as Chacos or Tevas are ideal (not flip-flops), or one can borrow rubber boots from the lodge. Hiking sticks are available at our lodge.

HEALTH: Medical services are good. Essential medicines are available. Drinking water is purified in San José hotels and restaurants and is potable at our high elevation lodges; Costa Rica is an extremely sanitary country and it is our experience that water can be consumed throughout the country without ill effect although bottled water is always available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends being up-to-date on routine vaccines: these include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. They further recommend that most travelers get vaccines and medications for Hepatitis A and Typhoid.

The more serious health hazards — amebic dysentery, malaria and typhoid — are rare. The CDC mentions a risk for malaria in some provinces of Costa Rica but our ground agent assures us that none of the places we visit during our tours have reported cases of the disease, and the reported cases in the country have not been of tourists.

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the Centers for Disease Control’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list. Specific vaccinations and proof thereof may be required to enter the country. For entry and exit information please visit the U.S. State Department’s website at http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html.

Zika: This virus is expanding northward from tropical South America into the northern Caribbean and southern United States and health authorities are still trying to gage its full impact. Couples who expect/hope to become pregnant should consult their physician. The virus is transmitted by mosquitos of the genus Aedes, a day-flying mosquito typically found near people in crowded urban environments that have only a minimum of public services like sanitation, window screens, and drainage; in other words locations that aren’t on most tour itineraries. WINGS tours spend most of their time in natural areas where the Aedes aegypti mosquito is altogether absent.

Altitude: We will be at an elevation of 11,000 feet (3350 meters) briefly one day; otherwise our birding will be below 8,000 feet (2450 meters).

Insects: Biting insects and arachnids are seldom a major nuisance although in spring chiggers and gnats can be locally numerous. We recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET.

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

CLIMATE: Temperatures will range from the 50s (F) in the mountains to as high as the low 90s at lower elevations. San José, at an altitude of 3,800 feet (1160 m), can be cool. There will probably be some rain and, at higher elevations, temperatures will be cool and mist and/or rain is possible. Some tours experience more rain than others, especially in the eastern lowlands.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Our hotels and lodges are always comfortable and usually the best available. All but one of our lodges have private bathrooms with hot water. Bathrooms have tubs or showers or both. Bosque del Rio Tigre, where we stay three nights, has more the feel of a jungle lodge than a resort (including excellent birding right by the rooms): the private rooms have walls that are solid but open to the ceilings (and mosquito netting over the beds for peace of mind only – they are not really necessary), bathrooms are shared but close to the rooms, and showers (with hot water) are in a separate building right next to the main lodge.

Internet Access: Wifi is available at all of our hotels, though only briefly and upon request with the solar-charged battery power of Bosque de Rio Tigre.

FOOD: Food in Costa Rica is not known for being distinctive but it is consistently very good to excellent and not remotely spicy. Fresh fruit, green vegetables and tasty main dishes are served at our hotel restaurants and are safe to eat. A well-liked staple for breakfast is gallo pinto, a mix of rice and beans, though cereals, eggs and fresh fruit are also available. A popular dish is the casado, with sides of beans, rice, plantain, and salad along with a meat or sometimes even vegetarian option.

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Many restaurants offer set menus and are unable to accommodate all special requests within a group. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be accommodated. Our tours are carefully scheduled to insure the best possible birding experience. Meal times can generally not be adjusted; any participant who needs to eat earlier or later than the times scheduled for the group should bring supplemental food.

TRANSPORTATION: We will be traveling by comfortable, air-conditioned minibuses.

Updated: 27 April 2017