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“An Unforgettable Piece of Paradise”

Dave & Dave's Costa Rica Nature Park
Ranked #1 of 7 things to do in La Virgen
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: This BBC Wildlife Magazine and National Geographic published destination offers a 2 hour guided tour by the owners. Visit our website for tour start times. Adults $40 per person. Children rates available. Free Wi-Fi.
Reviewed August 30, 2012

While passing through Sarapiqui, my friend and I noticed the sign advertising the Eco-Observatory. At first I was a little hesitant to stop, since I'm not a bird enthusiast; however, I knew I had made the right decision as soon as we pulled into the property. The landscape is covered with lush, vibrantly colored tropical gardens that lead up to the "Rancho", which is where the majority of the bird watching takes place. The Rancho is a large wooden, covered patio, featuring a large wrap around bar with stools, allowing guests to comfortably sit while observing the nature around them (it's especially great when enjoying a delicious cup of coffee). The Rancho has multiple humming bird feeders on the outer edge of the roof and overlooks a few trees, which attract the birds. I've never been extremely fond of anything that flies, but viewing the birds in their natural habitat and getting to learn about the different species from David, the owner, was truly a wonderful experience. In less than two hours I saw a crimson collared tanager, toucans, and multiple hummingbirds.

After relaxing in the Rancho, I went with David on a guided tour through the rain forest. There are cleared, easily accessible paths, which lead directly to the river. Having never been through a rain forest, this was definitely a new experience.

My time spend at the Eco-Observatory in Sarapiqui was definitely a highlight of my trip through Costa Rica. I felt extremely welcome while spending time at David's Eco-Observatory, and was able to see nature in a way I thought was only possible through National Geographic. This is definitely a place where I plan to return, and I highly recommend people of age ages stopping to witness this tucked away paradise first hand.

1  Thank SDillon08
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (314)
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Reviewed August 27, 2012

The modest website cannot possibly convey the tranqulity or beauty of this place. You will see so much, you MUST go there! This reserve is suitable if you just like pretty birds or if you´re more serious about clocking up species observations. It´s not just for the hardcore birders, but if you are in this category then you´ll really be in your element! Also, for anyone with even the remotest interest in wildlife photography, you cannot miss this place. I have a point-and-shoot digital camera and I swear some of my photos taken here are near, if not, professional quality.

I was immediately made to feel very welcome and saw more birds in 10 minutes than I had seen in over 8 hours of Tirimbina trails next door. I had signed up for a birding tour, but it´s not like other tours I´ve done in Costa Rica where you go trekking for 3 hours trying to possibly locate the seemingly invisible bird calling from somewhere in the densely wooded areas. We walked round the gardens looking at plants grown to attract or feed birds, sat watching hummingbirds feeding from feeders and flowers, went to an observation deck to see birds coming down for fresh fruit and I learnt about how they grow pineapples and bananas (you don't have to do a tour at a pineapple farm if you come here!). One deck overlooks the canopy level of woodland too. We didn´t really walk very far at all- you don´t need to because the birds come to you! The owners are absolutely adorable; very eager to show you everything and really informative and attentive. Their english is pretty good too, for American ticos! ;-) xx They have tea and coffee and lovely areas to sit back and relax, there are also field guides and books to flick through.

After dark, we walked down to the creek and through wooded trails looking for invertebrates and mammals. We saw a lot of unusual insects and spiders and also quite a few types of frogs. Was captivated and sooooo happy, trails are superb and tours not rushed at all. Afterwards, David chatted for ages and it was lovely to spend a few hours there. Also went back the next day to see even more birds and other wildlife- far too many birds to list individually (tanagers, parrots, toucan/ aracari, kiskadees, kingbirds, oropendula, robin, wrens, vultures, parrots, hummingbirds, grackles, trogon, euphonia)- I lost count. The hummingbirds were flying around my head and I could feel the beating of their wings on my skin- you have to experience this! Also saw iguana, at least 4 species of coloured frogs, squirrel, opossum, etc.

I´ve been fortunate to visit many different places in Costa Rica now, a lot specifically for the amazing biodiversity of the country and this small reserve ranks up there with Cano Negro and Tortuguero for the sheer variety of bird species I was able to identify and get close to. This place had me the moment I arrived, but by the end of my second day there I had completely fallen for everything about it. Gorgeous!

Muchas gracias David y Dave xx

3  Thank Catfee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 2, 2012

If you are in the Sarapiqui region, this is a must-see location, especially if you are a birder or if you just love wildlife.

We stayed in the Tirimbina Lodge (almost next door) and saw a few great birds and other wildlife in their area, but it required substantial hiking. Because I have a disability that makes walking on uneven ground very challenging, this makes seeing many bird species quite difficult, and in some locations impossible.

This facility consists of a former palm plantation with many, if not most, of these trees removed to create appropriate environment for birds that like that type of environment. Along the edges, the owners (Dave and Dave, Jr.) have focused on planting trees that are native locally, especially those that provide fruits and other food for birds. This creates an excellent forest edge for birds that prefer this type of environment.

A covered platform overlooks this area, with bird feeder located a short distance away. Sitting in the location we saw many beautiful and somewhat difficult to see birds. In about 1 hour, we saw over 20 species of birds, many both male and female, and about 75% of these were first time sightings for me. A real treasure for someone who loves birds, but cannot easily hike on trails.

At the far end of this open area, but an easy level walk, is a hummingbird feeder where there were MANY White-Necked Jacobins - beautiful hummers. Also many birds in the forest edge that this trail follows.

And behind the building near the covered platform is a covered porch that overlooks the canopy of the rainforest. We say several different species of birds here, and with a spotting scope would have seen many more.

And there is a fairly short trail that drops through the forest to the river's edge. We did not take this hike, however, because of my disability.

This family make you feel very welcome, and are very committed to making this location one where you can see many birds in a comfortable natural setting. David, Jr. is the guide, and he is very knowledgeable about the birds in this region. He helped us locate and identify some of the birds that stayed hidden as well as those that were coming to the feeders.

My wife, who loves nature and photography, got many magnificent pictures of the colorful birds, including Golden Hooded, Blue Gray, Cherries, and Crimson Collared Tanagers, Green (both m & f) and Red-Legged Honeycreepers, and many others.

We planned only part of one day in this area, but it deserves much more. Any return visit we make to Costa Rica will include another stop at this location.

1  Thank David S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
David L, Owner at Dave & Dave's Costa Rica Nature Park, responded to this reviewResponded August 3, 2012

It was a real pleasure meeting the both of you and sharing the beauty of the Eco-Observatory with you. I am so happy to hear you thoroughly enjoyed the easy access trails and that the majority of the birds you saw were first time sightings. It is such a joy and a privilege for us at the Eco-Observatory to meet guests from around the world who share our same appreciation and passion for the Costa Rican wildlife. Thank you for the excellent review and I hope to one day see you again. Pura Vida!

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Reviewed July 9, 2012

Three of us visited the Eco-Observatory one afternoon while spending a week in the Sarapiqui region. It is a gem of a place for bird-watchers! The owner and his adult son greeted us and son David showed us around. First we sat & were mesmerized with the gorgeous birds coming to a feeding "tree" that afforded a lovely natural setting to photograph the birds. At the foot of the garden was a hummingbird garden that attracted a variety of gorgeous hummers. Heliconias provided such beautiful & natural photographic opportunities here as well. There are a variety of plants, trees & flowers around the grounds. We saw many birds including a pair of amorous Collared Aracari. There is a steep wooden path with many wooden steps, down to the river, a very pretty area that had a resident Sunbittern at the time...although he was away when we went looking...we'll wait for next time! They have sturdy wooden walking sticks to use to descend to the river. The main grounds are easy to walk about & the bird-viewing pavilion is easy to reach & has seating. The Eco-Lodge is on a paved highway and the grounds are easily accessed. It is a very interesting place for kids & folks. It is especially great for those of us who enjoy birds & enjoy photographing birds in natural settings. Dave was most gracious & very helpful in identifying the birds and plants about the grounds. This is a very interesting, beautiful & peaceful place to visit.

Thank Chanterelley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 18, 2012

Amazing how many species you can see with little effort.
Great place.
Looking forward to go back

Thank Tizoc S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
David L, Owner at Dave & Dave's Costa Rica Nature Park, responded to this reviewResponded June 17, 2012

Thank you for your review. It was a pleasure meeting you and having you as our guest at the Eco-Observatory. I also wanted to thank you for your suggestion to contact BioCursos of the Organization for Tropical Studies. We are now currently working with the director of BioCursos and have our first group coming out this Friday to plant trees and enjoy a nature walk. Hope to see you back here soon.

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