Sorry I do not have any body there to recommend..about $ 15.00 from Santa Elena to Monteverde Reserve...
You can get a guide in the montevere Reserve for $17.00 per person plus the reserve entrance fee. That is semi private and can be with others up to 10 but if you get the guide through your hotel and not from the reserve itself will probably be a small group. Tours starts at 7:30AM so you leave Santa Elena at 7:00Am.
Local guy Oscar provides a shuttle service for $3.00 each his phone is 2645-5460. Have your hotel call him and set it up.
If you want a taxi its around $10.00 depending on your hotel location.
if you want private guide service it is more. Remember the guides have no salary. Many days do not even work and have no income. Tip the guide if you have a good experience.
Have fun and hope you see a quetzal.
If you are going at 7:00 or 7:30 on a birdwatching tour, you are too late. Real birdwatching tours will leave at 5 am, just as it is starting to get light. This is the optimal time for real birdwatchers, when birds are just starting to move around and feed. I am sure the tours are scheduled at 7 or 7:30 since most people don't want to get up at 4 am on their vacation. But real birders are kind of crazy like this.
Monteverde can be a kind of exception since it is often foggy or misty but as soon as it is light, the birds will be moving around, fog or no fog.
An early morning birding tour should last about two hours - this is the optimal time to see birds and anything after that is less so. What you pay the guide depends on whether he provides transportation, his skills, how long he is with you, how big your group is. For $70, you should get a REAL birding expert guide with transportation to the reserve and back.
So it really depends on what kind of birding tour you want.
Thanks for the helpful info. I will make sure to call Oscar if we end up not renting a car.
The tour I was looking at starts in Santa Elena at 6am and walks you along a road the secondary rainforest then you catch the bus to the reserve. Transport to the reserve itself is extra. Is it better to spot the birds along the road like that, or should I try to find something right from the reserve? Here's the link of the tour:
And I don't mind getting up super early. I am not a crazy bird person, but how many chances will I have to go bird watching in Costa Rica :)
funvacation, when are you going? Maybe we can meet you up there if you find a good tour.
I took a look at this tour and I think it is way too long - 4-5 hours. They don't say if they provide the entrance fee to the Reserve or you pay that. Also they don't say if they provide any food or drink.
Walking along the road is great since you see a lot of birds flying into the open. Also - there is a thing called the "edge effect" where you will see a lot of activity where the habitat changes. From forest to field, for instance. Plus it is easier to see the birds where the road provides an opening in the forest canopy. However, there may be other tour groups there also since this is a popular place.
I still think that going at 6 am is too late. If you are serious about birds, you should go at 5 am and just concentrate on one area and not waste time taking a bus and going to another location.
If you are not a "crazy bird person", I would just go on your own. The tour describes the location. Get a taxi to take you there and come back and get you and take you to the reserve. Or just spend an hour or two walking the road and forget that taxi and the reserve. You can go with a guide or not.
What I would do is just wait until you get to Monteverde and ask at your hotel if they will recommend a guide. Then you and your guide and your taxi can do the same trip - probably for less. Don't go for 4-5 hours - just plan on two hours. If the guide costs $30 and the taxi rides $15, you still save and have your own personal guide.
Do you think it is wise to get up so early and go alone? I heard that it takes a trained eye and someone who knows the area to spot the birds roosting. Hattie, I like your suggestion about waiting until we get there, it makes a lot of sense. I think $30 for a 2 hour tour is fair too. Buffalo, we will be in CR in Feb, not sure the exact dates yet!
We had our hotel recommend a guide for us, and then we met him at the reserve between 7:00 and 7:30. We ended up seeing a lot of wildlife with him, including howlers, coatis, a sloth, and quetzals. He spotted a quetzal before we even left the parking lot. A guide will spot things you won't see on your own.
Once it starts to get light, you will hear the birds start singing and moving around. They have been asleep all night and will be busy looking for food so this is a good time. Serious birders always go out just at daylight but if you are not that serious about birding, it's not a big deal.
You can go by yourself or go with a guide. If you go slowly and look carefully, you can see a lot. However, going with a guide will definitely be more helpful.
We used a fantastic guide for Monteverde and have recommended him to many people: Raphael Elizondo 506-2645-6624 (home) 506-8838-8145 (cell), his English is great and he's been doing this for 11 years-he was fantastic! If he suggests you go to a trail just outside the park, we highly recommend it! We saw a Resplendent Quetzel just outside the park, didn't see anybody on the trails and when we talked to other people who went inside the park-we actually saw more! :-)
Wendy at The Villa Hermosa, La Fortuna, Costa Rica