TAMBOR BAY BIRDING TOURS
Birds of Tambor Bay and the Cloud Forest – January/February 2018
Arrival to Costa Rica at the Juan Santamaria International Airport. Domestic flight to Tambor Bay Airport (domestic air fare is included in tour price) where you will meet our representative for a short transfer to the Tambor Tropical Hotel. Evening meet and greet and welcome cocktail with your guide, Nick Hawkins.
Coffee and sunrise breakfast on the terrace. Breakfast is self-serve consisting of sliced fresh tropical fruit and a choice of cereal, granolas, yogurt and milk. Cooked breakfast can be ordered from the restaurant.
After breakfast, we depart by foot to explore the extensive trail system along the Panica River that empties into the Pacific ocean Ocean adjacent to the hotel. Beginning at the beach we will explore a stunning estuary, rich mangroves and tropical forest, where over 100 bird species can we seen in a single morning, making this one of the most productive birding trails in Costa Rica. At the trails head we will enjoy a “birders brunch” at a local restaurant.
Afternoon leisure – spend your time in the heat of the day as you wish! This can be on the veranda of your room, in your air-conditioned room or poolside. Our friendly staff at our poolside bar are happy to meet your thirst or food requirements. Hotel gardens and bench areas with a feeding station invite birding or one can always walk the short trails on the property or explore the beach and river mouth.
After breakfast we depart for the Curu Wildlife Refuge, a short drive from the hotel. The park protects a stunning mature red mangrove forest and primary tropical forest where many unique bird species can be found. It is also an excellent place to see rainforest mammals like agoutis, coatimundis and white-faced capuchin monkeys. We will return for lunch at Tambor Tropical around noon. Afternoon leisure or join Nick for a primer on digital nature photography. Whether you use a point and shoot camera or a high-end camera and prime lenses, Nick will share his techniques and insights that have garnered him international awards.
After breakfast we depart for Los Delfines, a local golf course where the open environment, planted gardens and lagoons attract a large variety of birds. The course is closed on Mondays to golfers and we will explore this rich area by luxury of golf cart! Afterwards we will visit ASOPROLAPA – an innovative project to reestablish the Scarlet Macaw back to Tambor Bay. The program has been successful in returning this incredible bird back to it’s previous abundance in the area and the local biologist will show you the inner workings of it all. Of course, you will also get up close and personnel with the Scarlet Macaw and many other species of colourful parrots! Afterwards, we return to the Tambor Tropical Hotel for an afternoon of leisure or a continuation of Nick’s nature photography discussion..
After breakfast we depart for the Rio Lajas/Cabuya area. We will visit a rookery of Boat-billed herons and watch them build their nests at the mouth of the Lajas river. We will bird around the area before departing to search for the three-wattled bellbird, a fascinating and endangered species that is a local migrant to the area for a short time each year. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant.
After an early breakfast we depart for Raptor Ridge, a spectacular birding retreat perched at 1400 feet, with a panoramic view of Tambor Bay. Our hosts, Larry and Ruth of Rainforest Publications, have created a truly special place for birds and birders. Their pond attracts many species that are viewed from the comfort of a blind, allowing intimate views of beautiful species as they come to drink and bath. The planted gardens surrounding the property offer many discoveries, while eyes trained towards the skies can spot over a dozen species of raptors, including the rare white hawk. We also try for a close encounter with the elusive King Vvulture – but you’ll have to visit to find out more! A barbecue lunch is prepared by our hosts and served on the patio overlooking the Pacific ocean. The afternoon is spent enjoying the property, birding from the pool and enjoying the good company before leaving for the hotel.
After breakfast we depart for the cloud forests of Monteverde, approximately a three hour drive from the hotel, with a beautiful ferry crossing over the Gold Gulf of Nicoya where one has the chance to spot seabirds. After checking into our hotel we visit the Monteverde Hummingbird gardens.
After breakfast we depart for the Monteverde Cloud forest reserve to spend the morning searching for the famous Resplendent Quetzal and other cloud forests specialities. The unique character and lush growth of this forest is sure to impress. Lunch is served at the entrance to the reserve. The afternoon is spent birding around the hotel grounds.
After breakfast we depart for the Cruz Family farm and Grettel’s orchid garden. This local families property offers excellent birding – afterwards we will take a tour through Grettel’s orchid garden. Grettel is a self-taught orchid expert that is currently in the process of describing new species. Her knowledge is un-parralled and her garden is home home to over 400 species of orchids, most all are endemic to the Monteverde area and her collection contains some of the smallest orchids in the world.
After breakfast and a bit of birding around the hotel grounds we depart to San Jose for drop-offs and international departures from the Juan Santamaria International Airport.
NOTE: Any time one can decide not to go birding and enjoy the hotel amenities or instead explore other local activities. These other activities can be arranged easily through Tambor Tropical. The activities are not included in the price of the tour. Sometimes non-birding partners in particular find alternate activities attractive. See our website for possibilities or just ask us to arrange this for you.
“I want to return!”
My husband and I enjoyed 8 days at Tambor Tropical, two days on our own and six with a Birding Tour led by the outstanding birder, Nick Hawkins. Some of my amazing experiences include floating in the warm ocean as frigate birds and pelicans flew overhead, being fed delicious healthy meals on the outside patio without being bothered by bugs, being shown where to hike right from the resort with the emphasis on bird-watching, and finally watching recently released scarlet macaws make their new home in the ‘wild’, with the help of a few nesting boxes around the resort.
The work of the hotel manager, Juan Carlos, a birder in his own right along with other like minded people made for an unique, rich experience in a spot which has highlighted nature. It is ecotourism at its best in a place not overrun with tourists.
As a special mention to Juan Carlos, I will never forget the two large juicy mangoes that were placed in my hands the day after I mentioned that I was looking for mangoes!
My wife and I stayed at the Tambor Tropical for 6 days and it was amazing! We were on a birding trip run by Nick Hawkins, our young guide who was so knowledgeable about the birds and the local ecosystem. The birding trip is highly recommended and includes some wonderful half-day trips or day trips to Raptor Ridge at Larry and Ruth’s place ( the highlight of our trip), the river trail and local nature preserves. The biodiversity of Costa Rica is truly amazing!
We loved the view from the hotel which is right on the beach, the rooms are beautiful and all buildings are constructed of local wood. Other highlights were the great food at the outdoor restaurant, the pool…and the friendly staff. Juan Carlos, the hotel manager was always making sure we were well taken care of…and he is also an avid bird-watcher and came out with us on some days.
Tambor is a quiet place, off the beaten track, so not many tourists and the beach is not busy.
We would definitely go back!
My wife and I love this little boutique hotel in Tambor. We stayed here for eight nights, having come here to participate in a 6 day birding tour organized by the hotel. The tour consisted of day trips to various locations on the southern Nicoya Peninsula, including to two nature reserves, the Curu Wildlife Refuge and Cabo Blanco. Two mornings were spent birding on the Panica River Trails which are accessed directly from the hotel property. Nick Hawkins who conducts the hotel’s birding tours is an excellent guide and naturalist. With the rich bird life in the area, our group identified about 160 species of birds. It was a great tour.
The hotel is expertly managed by Juan Carlos Cruz. The staff are capable and friendly. The food is great. And the spacious rooms are really nice.
When we booked the tour and our stay at the hotel we asked Juan Carlos whether he could organize an extension of the tour to enable us to bird in some of the other eco-zones of Costa Rica. He agreed and organized six additional nights to include the cloud forests of Monteverde and tropical rainforests of Sarapiqui. The extension included all transportation, hotel rooms, all meals, and guiding. The itinerary was perfectly planned and we had a wonderful experience. We identified many additional birds, including the resplendent quetzal.