I’m probably going to try to make it down to Costa Rica at the end of February/March primarily for some mammal watching, with a little bit of bird watching. I’m actually wondering if anybody with a similar interest would like to join.. Up to 4 people total.
Here are the target species for me:
Kinkajou, Tayra, Northern Tamandua, Pygmy Anteater, Baird’s Tapir, Olingo, White Lipped Peccary, Mexican Hairy Porcupine, and possibly a margay*(see below, Arenal Observatory Lodge); Also some cetaceans at Drake Bay. In addition, the following species are pretty much guaranteed in CR: White-Faced Capuchin, Mantled Howler, Geoffry’s Spider Monkey, Central American Squirrel Monkey, Central American Agouti, White-Nosed Coati, Brown-throated 3-toed sloth, Hoffman’s 2-toed Sloth. Another possible species that I am SUPER interested in finding is a Puma (small chance in Corcovado), and the small cats.
Long-Tailed Manakin, Blue-Throated Toucanet, Fiery-Billed Aracari, Spectacled Owl, Black&White Owl, Any other manankins and colorful birds that make for good pictures and are lifers… Many many guaranteed species include: Scarlet Macaws and other parrots, Chetnut-Mandibled and Keel-billed toucans, many trogons, tanagers, motmots etc… If someone else decides to join and is interested in seeing/photographing a resplendent Questzal, we can do that in Monteverde – I just happened to have seen it before so if I go alone I won’t spend that time, and concentrate on lifers and hopefully mammals.
The Itinerary will be very similar to Jon Hall’s trip with the exception of Timbirina Lodge since I’m not as interested in bat-watching, but with the addition of Arenal Observatory Lodge for a little bit of birding, but also in hopes of seeing the semi-wild margay that comes up on occasion with her totally wild kitten (does that still happen? Anyone knows?) and exploring the forest in hopes of finding other mammals and especially cats.
I was thinking:
Day 1 – Arrival. Night drive through Braulio Carrillo? (See note below)
Day 2 – Possibly pre-dawn hiking at Braulio Carrillo then continue to Drake Bay (whole day of travel). Possible night excursion with “Bug lady” at Drake Bay
Day 3 – Early morning (?) Whale/dolphin watching with Shawn Larkins then join a guide for 2 nights to Sirena Station in Corcovado. Night hiking around Sirena Station too
Day 4 – All day around Sirena in search of Tapirs, Peccarys, tamanduas, tayras, pumas, and hopefully some other surprises. Night hiking around Sirena
Day 5 – Travel to Manuel Antonio with random stops and hikes on the way if time permits
Day 6 – Early morning Mangrove tour for Silky/pygmy anteaters with a small chance for tamanduas, then hang out on the beach or hike for a few hours and drive to Monteverde for 2 nights. Organized Night Hike in Monteverde for Kinkajou, Olingo, Porcupine etc. Any tips for finding a kinkajou on our own are welcome from other mammal watchers
Day 7 – Most of the day (including some early morning) bird watching for long-tailed and other manakins, Blue-throated toucanets, and of course mammals are welcome too, but not as likely throughout the day (right?). Try for Olingo at the hummingbird feeder in the afternoon then another night hike if we haven’t found most of the species the previous night. Especially Kinkajou – I’d be really disappointed to leave costa rica without having seen one (though it could happen).
Day 8 – Can always do some pre-dawn driving or hiking in well-preserved forested areas, then generally drive towards Arenal with possible stops along the way if there are any interesting places. Hopefully a night walk around Arenal forest and some lava watching. Could go to the Tabacon Hot Springs (on day 8 or 9 or not at all)
Day 9 – Some birding and/or mammal watching around Arenal during the day (Margay comes to visit during/after any of the meals? Specific times she usually arrives?) Perhaps some more night hikes or spot-lighting around the Arenal area if it’s safe. Or if I’m/We’re very satisfied with the progress then Tabacon hot springs if didn’t go on previous day, or lava watching/photography if weather permits and if there is an interest.
Day 10 – Pretty much last day in CR – could do some hiking in primary forest around Arenal in the morning, head back towards San Jose, maybe stop by primary forest in Braulio Carrillo or other highly biodiverse national parks. Night at SJ, and I’ll probably schedule my flight for early the following day and recommend the same to anyone who would want to join.
**About Braulio Carrillo – Since it’s so close to San Jose, does anyone know if it’s worth trying to drive through it at night? Maybe an hour each way, just because it’s a relatively low-traffic road through primary montane/cloud forest.. Do animals cross the road or is it worth spotlighting from the vehicle? The park is not very popular which means the wildlife is probably still abundant(?) Any tip would help. Is it safe to drive around Costa Rica at night?
Last thoughts: I’m planning on renting a car for the duration of the trip, contacting the guides and doing some more research ahead of time, but I’ve already done plenty. I’m also interested in poison-dart frogs, Basilisks, some snakes, hopefully a tiger shark should be easy at Corcovado. If anyone is interested in going please let me know – if our interests differ slightly we can both compromise some, and/or meet for some parts/sections of the trip.
In addition, any and every advice about my target species is welcome, and about the small cats would be awesome. Jaguar is not really on my list because 1. They are so rare in CR it’s almost a waste of time to look for them and 2. I’ve already seen wild jaguars before. Same for giant anteater – I think there hasn’t even been a recorded sighting since the 80s.
Thanks in advance!!!!!!!!!!!!!