Costa Rica: Gems of the Highlands

      Costa Rica

      Hillstar Nature
      • Email address verified
      • Facebook verified
      36 reviews
      Apr 13 - 21, 2023
      Group size: 6 - 10
      Costa Rica: Gems of the Highlands
      Costa Rica

      Hillstar Nature
      • Email address verified
      • Facebook verified
      36 reviews

      Apr 13 - 21, 2023
      Group size: 6 - 10

      About this trip

      This easy-going tour will visit the best birding destinations in central Costa Rica, starting with Rancho Naturalista in the extremely bird-rich Caribbean foothills, and ending in the Talamanca mountains, where dozens of hummingbirds buzz around feeders and misty forests where the awe-inspiring Resplendent Quetzal calls home. We will also make a stop on the Pacific slope to further diversify our birding experience on this highland-focused tour.

      View full itinerary on the Hillstar Nature website.

      Final Payment Due: January 13, 2023, or at registration if after. 

      Maximum group size is 10 registrants, plus guide(s) and driver(s). If there are fewer than 6 registrants, this tour may be canceled or re-negotiated. Note that if you want a roommate we can try to find you one, but we cannot guarantee all guests a roommate. If none is available, you will be charged the single supplement.

      The tour price (fee) includes services from upon arrival on Day 1 into Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José until your transfer to the airport on Day 9.


      All travelers must have a current passport, valid for at least six months beyond the start date of this tour.

      Citizens from the US, Canada, the UK, and most European nations do not need a visa. If you are unsure about the entry requirements for your nationality, we advise checking on the Costa Rican immigration website here:

      Cancellation Policy

      We strongly recommend all guests purchase travel insurance, including coverage for medical evacuation services and trip curtailment, in advance of this tour. It is important to protect against financial losses in the event that a registrant becomes unable to participate in the tour. Note that such coverage is often non-refundable so please check with the Hillstar Nature team before purchasing it, to confirm the tour is to proceed as planned.

      If cancellation is received:

      • 180 days or more prior to the start of the tour, a full refund minus a $250/person processing fee is issued to registrant(s).
      • Between 179 and 90 days prior to the start of the tour, half of the tour fee will be returned to the registrant.
      • 89 days or less prior to departure, no refund of payments or deposits are issued.

      The team at Hillstar Nature reserves the right to refuse service to any registrant/participant who acts disruptive, routinely disrespectful, or in a manner inconsistent with the goals of the company. All guests are expected to comply with the rules and agenda set forth by the guide(s) of the tour, and to behave in a way that is considerate and conducive to a quality group experience.

      Pace, Rigor, Climate & Pests

      • Warm and pleasant climate, with daytime highs between 65 and 80 F degrees.
      • Cooler temps in the Talamanca Mountains where it’s warm and pleasant during the day, with cold and chilly nights down to 45 F degrees.
      • Food is excellent throughout, with all meals having a great Gluten-free and Vegetarian option.
      • Accommodations are 3 to 4 stars.
      • Cabins in the mountains are cozy and well-built, with heaters and extra blankets.
      • No rigorous hiking required, most mornings of walking and birding along dirt roads and easy trails. 
      • Elevation is 2,000ft (600m) up to 9,000ft (2,750m) with a short visit to elevations above 10,000ft (3,100m)
      • Only a couple drives of 3+ hours, otherwise mostly short drive times between sites.
      • Early mornings, up before dawn. Usually back to the hotel by 12pm for lunch.
      • Afternoon birding or relaxing after lunch, with a couple evenings of night birding.

      Elevation is a consideration on this tour. Please consult your physician regarding travel to areas of high elevation. Elevations range from 2,000 feet to about 11, 000 feet (600-3,400m) above sea level during our 9 day tour. Especially when up high, but really throughout the tour, we will take our time, and keep a slow and relaxed pace while we seek and enjoy birds and other wildlife.

      Generally, nature enthusiasts visiting Costa Rica do not encounter diseases like Malaria, but it is possible, however extremely unlikely as we will NOT be visiting the lowlands near sea level.. We urge guests to consult a doctor about vaccinations and medications prior to travel.

      Elevation sickness is possible given some of the areas we visit on this tour, so we urge guests to seek medical advice on spending time at high elevation as well. All participants are required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations.

      The water is safe to drink everywhere in the country, but if you are ever unsure, we will make sure to get bottled/filtered water for you.


      Please limit yourself to one suitcase/duffel and another daypack/backpack for daily outings from the lodge. Group travel dictates we consider our fellow traveler’s comfort, and this includes not over-packing.

      Lightweight and breathable clothing good for warm climates is recommended, as well as neutral colors and earth tones to increase the chances of close bird encounters and reduce startling wildlife.
      Rain jackets/rain shells are recommended as we may encounter light afternoon showers, but they usually don’t last long.
      Warm layers for mornings and evenings in the Talamanca Mountains where it can be 45 F degrees at dawn, but it warms up quickly. A warm hat, gloves, and an inner sweater and outer jacket layer are recommended for those who are chilled easily. 

      Comfortable trail or hiking shoes are recommended, as well as sandals or light shoes for wearing around the lodge and on travel days.

      Power outlets in Costa Rica are Type A (2-prong) and Type B (2-prong with ground), the same plug configuration as the United States and Canada. 

      What’s included

      • All meals
        From dinner on day 1 through breakfast on day 9.
      • All accommodations
      • All transport
        Upon arrival into the SJO on Day 1, and including transport back to SJO when guests depart on their international flight out of Costa Rica.
      • All guiding services
        Access permits and entrance fees to birding areas included.
      • Tips
        Tips for drivers and staff at hotels and restaurants

      What’s not included

      • International flights
        We can advise, but Hillstar does not book international flights
      • Alcoholic beverages
      • Personal expenses
        Laundry services, charges for phone calls, additional expenses associated with travel such as insurance, visa fees, airport taxes, airline baggage fees, COVID tests, vaccinations, etc.

      Available Packages

      Shared room (price per person)
      Deposit: $500
      Single room (price per person)

      Single supplement: $245

      Deposit: $500

      Your Organizer

      Hillstar Nature
      36 reviews
      Hillstar Nature offers authentic wildlife experiences, from half-day trips to week+ tours to Earth’s most spectacular wildlife destinations. Arranging custom/private trips and scheduled departures, Hillstar Nature specializes in delivering trips that celebrate biogeography, especially where it overlaps with community.


      This was definitely a trip of a lifetime and has made me want to return to India with Hillstar Nature tours. It was a chance to see a different diverse culture, enjoy the food, and the beautiful countryside and wildlife. I would recommend this trip to anyone who is curious, flexible, and loves the outdoors.
      By Cecelia D for Tigers & the Jungle on Feb 27, 2024
      Overall a great trip! Hotels were spectacular, especially Termales del Ruiz. Our guides were among the best and the group was awesome. Highly recommended.
      By Anne P for Colombia: High Times in the Cordillera Central on Feb 24, 2024
      Fantastic trip with an uber number of bird species observed every day. Top notch guides, Josh and Christian, were not only knowledgeable but patient and helpful to those of us with less birding experience. Choices of locations and places to stay were excellent. Working with indigenous guides added a great dimension to the trip. I highly recommend this trip to any avid birder!
      By Gael B for Colombia Santa Martas 2024 on Feb 21, 2024
      If you want to learn huge amounts about the birds, mammals, ecology, and culture of India - and have a total blast while doing it, THIS is the trip for you! George Armistead is a gifted teacher. He makes people at all levels of learning feel welcome and excited about what they're seeing. Out in the field, he keeps up a regular commentary, naming birds and mammals as they're seen (are there any he can't identify?) and adding fascinating commentary from the world of ornithology. The trip was organized to a T. It's hard to make a trip like this go smoothly, but ours certainly did. Manisha, our Indian guide, was a wonderful complement - extremely knowledgeable about birds and mammals, full of local information, and a great addition to the fun of it all. Accommodations and food were outstanding. Overall: 10 stars out of 5!
      By Ginny C for Jewels of Gujarat: A Safari in Western India on Feb 19, 2024
      We really enjoyed the trip. The Asiatic Lion encounters were terrific. The birding was great, too. The accommodations were very nice and the staff at the lodges were wonderful. The food was delicious! Thank you, George, for a great trip!
      By Jean P for Jewels of Gujarat: A Safari in Western India on Feb 19, 2024
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