Four years ago, Carolyn and I were invited to join in the efforts of a young Canadian naturalist, Nick Hawkins, and the director general of the Tambor Tropical Beach Hotel, Juan Carlos Cruz, as they worked to boost sustainable tourism opportunities in the peaceful, less-traveled southern Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica.   As we are always keen to visit new birding areas around the world, we couldn’t resist.

The area hosts an incredible diversity of wildlife including over 200 species of birds.   Trails have been developed to uncover habitats as diverse as mangrove swamps, cobble and sand beaches, river valleys and the dominant dry lowland and higher elevation forests of the region.  Beginning at the hotel, the Panica River Trail can yield more than 100 species of birds.  During a recent Valentine’s Day Bird Count, we logged 22 species of raptors on Raptor Ridge including three owls and King Vultures!  Along the trails, we have encountered cayman, collared anteaters, grey fox, coatamundi, howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys and a host of other mammal, amphibians, butterflies and insects.  We have experienced the wonder of army ant swarms and the diverse group of birds that follow them.

Juan Carlos and Nick have developed first-rate all-inclusive birding and nature tours that allow visitors to experience the best of this spectacular natural bounty. One tour includes an extension to the Monteverde rain forest where we encountered a very different, hummingbird-rich avifauna.  These tours are perfect for couples where one partner is not so keen on the birding as the hotel is lovely, the 5 km beach is almost deserted, paddle boards are available, there is a golf course nearby as are snorkeling trips and high wires, horseback riding, four-wheeling and more.

Tambor Tropical’s naturalist and birding guide Nick Hawkins, is an internationally awarded nature photographer and THE expert on birds of the Nicoya Peninsula.  He has a relaxed manner and loves to share his knowledge and skills.  Juan Carlos Cruz, leads conservation initiatives around the peninsula in addition to managing the hotel and its plantations and a local school.  He is your warm and generous host at the Tambor Tropical Beach Hotel and he is always looking for ways to make your stay a truly positive experience.

The Tambor Tropical Hotel is truly a gem.   The 12 air conditioned suites situated around the beautiful gardens and pool are large and generously outfitted.  Everyone makes you feel instantly at home.  You can meet interesting guests and local residents or, alternatively, enjoy the peaceful serenity of the gardens.

What we couldn’t foresee four years ago was how great an impact the area would have on us.  We have been amazed by the nature, fallen in love with the resort and the local people and have been inspired by the conservation and community initiatives led by Juan Carlos, Nick and others they have drawn into their good works.   Of all of our birding travels, none have been as rewarding as our time in Tambor.  In early 2017, we will be heading back to Tambor for our fourth visit!


Hank and Carolyn Scarth, Rothesay, NB, CANADA