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Birding Costa Rica San Gerardo and Manuel Antonio

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Level Contributor
4 posts
5 reviews
Birding Costa Rica San Gerardo and Manuel Antonio

My sister and I are scheduled Thor trip to Costa Rica dec. 1. We plan to hire driver to take. Us to san Gerardo de Dota and spend 2 nights. Then drive ourselves to Manuel Antonio for 3 nights.

I am worried about the driving. Is it safe for2 women. Are drivers too aggressive or crazy to risk the trip without hiring a driver.

2). Any thoughts about birding along the way or in Manuel Antonio? We would like to hire GOOD local guide in MP area

Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
10,553 posts
59 reviews
1. Re: Birding Costa Rica San Gerardo and Manuel Antonio

Driving in Cota Rica is as safe for 2 women as it is for 2 men; saying this it might be a challenge to hire a car in San Gerardo de Dota. Driving from San Gerardo till San Isidro on PanAm 2 may be a bit of a challenge, so just drive slowly and start before noon. Driving from San Isidro to Dominical is easier and the road from Dominical to Manuel Antonio is almost straight.

There is an excellent birding at Hacienda Baru which is cca. 45 min before MA.

Barrie, Canada
Level Contributor
2,890 posts
58 reviews
2. Re: Birding Costa Rica San Gerardo and Manuel Antonio

Your biggest challenge will be the drive from the airport, through San Jose to highway 2. Yes there are crazy aggressive drivers and a labyrinth of unmarked roads; but with a good GPS and a map for backup you will be fine. Once you get through that… the rest will be a breeze. Just don’t try driving over the mountain in the dark. The roads are in good shape and the scenery is amazing, but they are narrow and windy, and if the fog rolls in (as it often does) forget it. This usually occurs after dark, so in daylight you should be fine. Oh, and bring some colones in coins as there is 1 toll booth between San Jose and Cartago.

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
4,924 posts
104 reviews
3. Re: Birding Costa Rica San Gerardo and Manuel Antonio

There is good birding in the Tarcoles/Carara area as well Hacienda Baru. Manuel Antonio has very poor birding.

Montrose, Colorado
Level Contributor
136 posts
13 reviews
4. Re: Birding Costa Rica San Gerardo and Manuel Antonio

we stayed in MA for a couple of days this summer, and birding in the park is mediocre at best. Xelas is right about Hacienda Baru however. It is worth the drive down if you have the time. They have a website, and I'd recommend the highland tour, although it does entail some pretty good climbing. I can probably pull together my bird list from the day if you want it. Good luck!

Level Contributor
691 posts
58 reviews
5. Re: Birding Costa Rica San Gerardo and Manuel Antonio

I agree tha MA isn't the best for birding but we did see a Potoo there and have never seen one anywhere else.

Manuel Antonio
Destination Expert
for Manuel Antonio National Park
Level Contributor
2,171 posts
6. Re: Birding Costa Rica San Gerardo and Manuel Antonio

Two woman traveling alone are very safe, safer than most countries. The birding is excellent in Carara Park if you come via the Caldera Hwy. If you come thru Cerro de la Muerte, stay up in that area to see the Quetzals, quite an experience. For incredible birding, consider the Tortuguero area on the Caribbean side. I have done the canal tours several times and it is a birders delight. The Corcovado area in Osa also has some incredible opportunities. If you do a search, there are tour companies that specialize in this. Enjoy!

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
44,965 posts
28 reviews
7. Re: Birding Costa Rica San Gerardo and Manuel Antonio

Just common sense ...while you guys are in the road...many women drive around our country...observe speed limits and driving distances...

I like Xelas advice...and one of the best person here at the forum for birds...RACANDEE he knows a lot about our birds...

Just in case..takew a look...

Nine new birds spices are added to our offical list...

1- El Porron picudo...( Aythya Valisinera ) duck found mostly around lakes ...rivers ...esturaies... was first spoted around Cachi lake in Cartago 2012

2- Pato cabeza roja o Porron Americano...(Aythya Americana) well know in North America...a couple was spoted at Finca Langostinos in Guanacaste..

3- Pato de Cresta.. ( Lophodytes cucullatus) coming form North America USA and Canada...spoted at Bosque Eterno de los Niños in La Tigra de San Carlos.

4- Pardela mayor a seabird... ( Puffinus gravis) the tota world l population of this bird is very little just about 15 millions...spoted around Tortuguero Limon.

5- Another sea bird---Pardela Manx...( Puffins puffins) this bird with black chest and white and fly at very low altitude...around sea crests ...

6- Paredela de los Galapagos...Puffins subalaris...tiny bird about 63 cm...and overall wegth of 175 grams..

7- Rabinjunco cola blanca...( Phaethon lepturus) and Rabinjunco cola roja ( Phaethon rubricauda) the can fly incredible long sea journeys...they were spoted at Juan Bautista Montagne and Piedra Sucia at the North side of the small island of Manuelita at Cocos Island National Park...about 36 hours by boat from Costa Rica mainland..

8- Gavilan Pollero...( Buteo plagiatus) very common bird in South America.

Nice to check...http://listaoficialavesdecostarica.wordpress.com


Edited: 3:39 pm, December 02, 2012
New York City, New...
Level Contributor
53 posts
8. Re: Birding Costa Rica San Gerardo and Manuel Antonio

We are planning to stay in Manuel Antonia area, and I'm disappointed to hear that the area isn't the best for birding. I'd love to see Macaws and Toucans. Is it almost impossible to see them in MA area?

Where is the best place to see them near MA (within about one hour drive)? Carara Park? We are not planning to rent a car. Can we hire a private driver to bring us there? Or are there any tours available that we can take?

Westerncolorado, I am interested in seeing your bird list from Hacienda Baru. You recommend the Highland Tour. Do you mean the "Rainforest Birdwatching Hike"?


Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
10,553 posts
59 reviews
9. Re: Birding Costa Rica San Gerardo and Manuel Antonio

For macaws you need to head towards Carara NP. Toucans are everywhere, depends on your luck. Hacienda Baru has great birdwatching tours and guides.

Level Contributor
204 posts
10 reviews
10. Re: Birding Costa Rica San Gerardo and Manuel Antonio

I have stayed in Manuel Anronio 4 times. People who say the birding is not the best there are generalizing. If you are not from Costa Rica the birding is fantastic. I myself am an avid birder of North America and CR when I visit. In my first trip to CR ever my wife and I stayed at Costa Verde II. From the balcony and pool I had 47 lifers in 2 days....hawks, tanagers, toucan, fly over parrots and parakeets, humming birds, honey creepers, and Ant Wrens!! Fantastic scenery and wonderful birding especially when you can look down on the trees. Oh and the MONKEYS!! LOL

The park.is great...get a guide your first time...Potoo, white lored parrot, wood rail, lineated woodpecker, ani, and Aracari!! Two years ago there was even a Ornate Hawk Eagle! There are birds everywhere.

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