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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Costa Rica in October

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Costa Rica. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING COSTA RICA: U.S. citizens entering by air need a tourist card (issued by your arriving airline) and proof of U.S. citizenship. We suggest bringing a valid U.S. passport. Your passport, as a general rule, should be valid for at least six months after the date the tour ends. 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.

COSTA RICA MAP AND COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can view maps of Costa Rica in the University of Texas series here. To adjust the map size, click on the lower right corner of the map. You can review the U.S. Department of State background notes on Costa Rica here.

HEALTH: Medical services are good. Essential medicines are available. Drinking water is purified in San José hotels and restaurants. Costa Rica is an extremely sanitary country and it is our experience that water can be consumed throughout the country without ill effect. Still, we suggest bringing a bottle (or tablets) of Pepto Bismol or some other mild anti-diarrhea medication.

The more serious health hazards — amebic dysentery, malaria and typhoid — are rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mention 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 ground agent’s position is that there are unpleasant side effects of the anti-malaria drug, while the chances of getting malaria in Costa Rica are slim. It’s better just to bring (and use liberally) a good insect repellent, and when hiking in the forest, wear lightweight long pants and lightweight long-sleeved shirts. Your best prevention is to avoid being bitten. You can review the CDC latest advisories here.

PACE OF THE TOUR: All days will begin with early breakfasts, usually at 5:00 or 5:30 a.m. (at least one day on the March and November tours will begin with a 4:30 a.m. breakfast). Early mornings beg early bedtimes — most participants opt to turn in right after dinner. On one or two travel days, we may arrive at our hotel after dark. There will be several optional forays for owls, nightjars and potoos by foot and/or bus, so a good flashlight or headlamp is important. People in reasonably fit condition will not find the walking especially rigorous. At Monteverde, Cerro de la Muerte and La Virgen del Socorro we’ll walk up and down roads and trails. Because of the altitude and the birding, we’ll walk slowly. At Braulio Carrillo National Park and at Monteverde the trails can be steep with many odd-sized and steep steps, and although we do not walk these trails at a strenuous pace they can be treacherous in spots, particularly for participants with knee problems. Good foot gear is essential and walking sticks useful.

We will be at an elevation of 11,000 feet briefly one day; otherwise our birding will be below 8,000 feet.

CLIMATE: Costa Rica’s climate varies with altitude. Temperatures will range from the 50s in the mountains to as high as the low 90s at lower elevations (rarely above 85 on the November trip). San José, at an altitude of 3,800 feet, can be cool. There will probably be some rain and, at higher elevations, mist and wind. We birdwatch one day at elevations between 9,000-10,900 feet.; temperatures may be cool and mist and/or rain is possible. Some tours experience more rain than others, especially in the eastern lowlands.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Currently all lodges have private baths with (nearly always) hot water. Bathrooms have tubs or showers or both. In all of our hotels, the tap water is safe to drink. Occasionally, small lizards, amphibians or unusual insects may visit a hotel room.

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

SMOKING: We request that you do not smoke 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, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group, if possible.

GENERAL INFORMATION & CONDITIONS OF WINGS TOURS: Please take a moment to read the WINGS General Information & Conditions. This section contains important information about how we conduct tours, e.g., what is included in the tour price, refund and cancellation policies, pace of the tours and other information that will help you prepare for the tour.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: A more complete General Information for Tours to Costa Rica will be sent to each registrant on receipt of their booking. Final information with instructions for meeting the group, hotel addresses, etc., will be mailed about three weeks before trip departure. Other news will be communicated as necessary. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Updated: 20 February 2008