Costa Rica is a fantastic destination for birding. More than 900 species and counting. Easy access to a wealth of tropical birds like trogons, tanagers, and toucans. More than 50 species of hummingbirds (What?!? Yes!). Based on the impressive variety of birds that can be seen in Costa Rica, it’s easy to see why this beautiful nation is a top destination for birders.
However, although it might seem counterintuitive, the birds aren’t the only reason to go birding in Costa Rica. This country also excels for birding trips in a number of other ways, not the least of which is accommodation. After a few decades of being a major international tourism destination, the service industry in Costa Rica has evolved to meet the needs of guests across the spectrum. The best hotels, though, also know how to please guests that visit Costa Rica for reasons that range from medical tourism to experiencing culture and the nation’s stunning natural offerings. Birders fall into this latter category although most also appreciate culture, great food, and comfort (and how not?).
There’s nothing like finding a place that combines quaint elegance, beauty, excellent service, and wonderful birding because not only is such a blend ideal, it’s also a rare find. It’s easy to stay somewhere that offers the same type of rooms, décor, service, and surroundings as hotels in Milwaukee, New Jersey, and so many other places in the world but if the experience is like never leaving home, why even travel?
One the main draws for visiting Costa Rica is the nation’s natural beauty and when you can stay at accommodation that offers access to gardens shaded by and decorated with centuries old figs and tall palms, you are accessing a rare piece of classic Costa Rica. Although much of the Central Valley used to look like the gardens of Villa San Ignacio, unfortunately, urbanization has taken its toll on both historic beauty and the birds that need such places.
Fortunately, some years ago, the grounds of Villa San Ignacio were owned by a botanist who planted a variety of trees and allowed some areas to grow back. Because of that appreciation for nature and caretaking of the land, guests are treated to a rare glimpse into the natural past of the Central Valley, a past become present where they are accompanied by elegant tropical butterflies while strolling to rooms carefully designed to likewise put them in a more natural, welcoming, and authentic atmosphere.
Butterflies aren’t the only aspect of Costa Rica’s natural heritage that have been drawn to the grounds of Villa San Ignacio, birds have also paid attention and this is why guests can enjoy breakfast accompanied by Technicolor Lesson’s Motmots, the calls of colorful Hoffmann’s Woodpeckers, chattering Rufous-naped Wrens, and see Blue-vented Hummingbirds in the bushes. Its why, even being a short drive from the airport, they can walk on trails through a reforested area that has hosted everything from Fiery-billed Aracaris to Keel-billed Toucans, and Long-tailed Manakins.
What can we say? Classic, beautiful birds of Costa Rica are attracted to classic, beautiful surroundings.
Blog by Patrick O’Donnell.
Patrick started birding at the age of 7 in Niagara Falls, NY. A biologist by trade, he has worked on bird-related projects in a number of places and has guided birders in Ecuador, Peru, and Costa Rica. Patrick has lived in Costa Rica since 2007 and when not birding, writes about birds, travel and tourism, and other topics.