Arenal Observatory Lodge

From $ 225,00 per person
  • Departure: 5:30 am
  • Duration: 10 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
Private guide for a full day tour – Private transportation – Entrance fees

Crested Guans in the garden and mixed flocks of glittering tanagers hurrying through the trees! Violet-headed Hummingbirds and other exquisite hummingbird species buzzing the hedgerows as a White Hawk soars into view! These are just a few typical examples of the exciting birding found at the Arenal Observatory Lodge.

The birding should be good at the Observatory Lodge because after all, this site boasts one of the highest species count for not only all of the Ebird Hotspots in Costa Rica and Central America, but also for the entire ABA area! To put it plainly, birding at the Arenal Observatory Reserve is a must for any birder visiting Fortuna or the Arenal area.

This Caribbean foothill site is one of the major birding hotspots in Central America because it offers up an unparalleled combination of:

  • Easy access on good roads.
  • Nice, maintained trails.
  • A good variety of forest habitats, flowering bushes, and fruiting trees that host an astonishing array of species.
  • A nice restaurant that also features good birding from the viewing deck.

These features add up to a successful birding experience whether you happen to be someone just getting interested in birds or seasoned birders who have taken several trips to the tropics.

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We start our birding day trips to the Arenal Observatory Lodge with an early pick up at your hotel. Although most of our day will be focused on birds at the reserve, along the way we will certainly scan fields and semi-open habitats for common species in the area like White-throated Magpie-Jay, Variable and Morelet’s Seedeaters, Blue-black and Yellow-faced Grassquits, Laughing Falcon, Gray Hawk, Scarlet-rumped and Golden-hooded Tanagers, euphonias, Great Kiskadee and Social Flycatcher. We will also keep an eye on the treetops for Keel-billed and Yellow-throated Toucans, Montezuma Oropendula, White-fronted Parrot and Gray-headed Chachalaca. Many other, less common but regular species are also possible including Bicolored Hawk, Rufous-winged Woodpecker, Band-backed Wren, and White-ringed Flycatcher.

We will also check 

a few streams on the drive to the reserve as this may yield Amazon and Ringed Kingfishers, Fasciated Tiger-Heron and even the elusive Sunbittern.

After entering the grounds of the Observatory Lodge, we will check the gardens and overlook at La Casona for a wide variety of species. As with any birding site in the tropics, we never know what might occur but regular species include a good selection of edge and forest birds such as Gray-capped Flycatcher, Fasciated Antshrike, Cinnamon Becard, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Rufous-tailed, Violet-headed and Scaly-breasted Hummingbirds, Black-cowled Oriole, Crimson-collared and Golden-hooded Tanagers, and views of Brown-hooded, White-crowned and Red-lored Parrots in flight.

The overlook 

at the Casona can also be good for raptors and other uncommon species and if the right trees are fruiting, we may even get lucky with less common species like Yellow-eared Toucanet, White-throated Thrush, and with a lot of luck, maybe even Lovely Cotinga.

After enjoying the birds around the Casona, we will move to the viewing deck where fruit feeders attract everything from Montezuma Oropendula to Yellow-throated Euphonia, Red-legged and Green Honeycreepers, Emerald and Hepatic Tanagers, Bananaquits, and even Great Curassows!

We will also spend some time checking the hummingbird magnet known as flowering Porterweed for Crowned Woodnymph, White-necked Jacobin, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Brown Violetear, and Violet-headed Hummingbirds. Green Thorntail and Black-crested Coquette are also possible, we will keep a close eye out for these exquisite beauties!

The fruiting trees in the gardens can also attract Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Bay-headed Tanager, Collared Aracari, and Yellow-crowned and Yellow-throated Euphonias to mention a few.

Although a birder could be happy spending most of the day in the gardens, there are yet more species to see on the trails and we will walk them to look for forest species like Broad-billed Motmot, Collared and Black-throated Trogons, Dull-mantled Antbird, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Buff-rumped Warbler, Nightingale and Song Wrens, White-collared and White-ruffed Manakins, and a number of range-restricted and uncommon species including Rufous-winged Woodpecker, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Streak-crowned Antvireo, Thicket Antpitta, Stripe-breasted Wren, Carmiol’s Tanager, White-throated Shrike-Tanager and Tawny-crowned Euphonia. If we get lucky with an antswarm, we have a good chance at Bicolored, Spotted, and Ocellated Antbirds, and there’s also always a chance at connecting with one of the most wanted, rare species in Costa Rica, the Bare-necked Umbrellabird.

To wrap up a great day of birding, on the way back to the hotel we will make one more stop along the Peninsula Road for Killed-billed Motmot and Rufous Motmot, Bare-crowned Antbird, White-fronted Nunbird, Yellow-billed Cacique, Great Antshrike and additional species.

Looking forward to sharing a day of birding in Costa Rica with you at this and other fantastic sites!

Price from:

$ 225,00 p.p.

Price based on

2 participants


  • Birding guide.
  • Private transportation.
  • Entrance fee.

We can make arrangements for lodging, transportation, activities, car rental and all the fun you want to have while in Costa Rica.

Our specialty is Custom Made Birding Tours to the best birding destinations in Costa Rica.