What You Need for a Fantastic Bird Watching Trip in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is famous for its bird watching opportunities. There are hundreds of species unique to Central America and Costa Rica has taken great steps to protect them through establishing a number of national parks. For tourists like you, this provides unrivalled views of some of the most colourful creatures in the world. Spot jabiru storks, scarlet macaws, and the blue-crowned motmot.

Before embarking on your trip, you need to make sure you’re properly prepared. The birds in Costa Rica might be wonders to behold, but the hot and humid climate isn’t.

Where are You Going?

There’s no designated bird watching location in Costa Rica. They’re everywhere because the San Jose government has taken many steps to preserve their habitats in the best way it can. Determine where you’re going.

The environment of this country varies wildly. It is all well and good sneaking through the jungles, but your attire here won’t suit a trip into the mountains. Carefully plan your route and any safe places should you need to shelter from high winds or sudden heavy rainfall.

Consider a local guide if you’ve never been to Costa Rica before. There are plenty of experienced and knowledgable guides around. Many of them work with conservation societies. The fee you pay them actively funds the preservation of these rare birds. Look online for reviews on specific guides and see which one suits you.

We all have our preferences. Some prefer to stick to well-travelled dirt tracks, whereas others will have you crawling through the undergrowth seeking out some of the more ‘hard to spot’ creatures.

Birds in Costa Rica come in all shapes and sizes. Often, it’s a matter of spotting a different coloured wingtip or a slightly different belly which segregates one species from another. Unless you’re a walking encyclopaedia, grab a field guide from Amazon before you go or from a book store in Costa Rica.

If you’re only visiting a certain area, you can normally find small guide books for specific national parks. These are less bulky to carry around and are easy to replace. Some travellers are wary about carrying around a ‘trophy’ bird book.


Birds in Costa Rica find it easy to stay cool because there’s so much humidity. You will have to confront this on most trips. Wear a poncho or light waterproof jacket to keep your clothing as dry as possible. In the forests, keep as little skin exposed as possible to avoid getting bitten by insects.

Mosquitoes do live in these forests, so do everything you can to avoid attracting them. Wear repellent on your skin and don’t use deodorants or perfumes. The strong scents attract them from far away.


Make sure you leave enough time for you to get back to base before night falls. You don’t want to be lumbering around in a forest at dusk. If you’re trapped outside at night, it’s a lot more difficult to find your way back. People who get stranded often have no choice but to stay outside.

A professional guide will always ensure you leave your bird watching position with enough time to spare.