Villa San Ignacio | Hotel near San Jose and Alajuela | Costa Rica
See the Great Green Macaw in Costa RIca

Ready to Plan Your Birding Trip to Costa Rica?

See the Great Green Macaw in Costa RIca
Plan your trip to see the Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) in Costa Rica


Sunlight spokes, a forest canopy.  A guide, weighted down with two sets of binoculars, zoom lens, and camera, leads a small group of birdwatchers.  Above the dawn chorus, a piercing bird’s screech signals the guide.


Listen, here they come.

Sonorous screeches now louder. The guide seems apprehensive, looking this way and that, trying to figure out just where they will appear.


Watch that almond tree!


The tree with the orange fruit?

The guide, finger pointed westward, smiling.



All birdwatchers now focused on the almendro, the trio of screeching Great Green Macaws fly directly overhead, as if to salute the birders watching from below, they sound off once again exiting view.

Why hire a Birdwatching Guide

Costa Rica is an excellent place to see Great Green Macaws. Easy access to suitable habitat for this endangered species makes this small country one of the most reliable sites to experience this spectacular bird. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to see. Macaws move around. A birder still needs to know when and where they might occur. As with any birding trip, success in seeing macaws and other species comes from careful planning, and Costa Rica is no exception.

Birding group at Villa San Ignacio
Birding group at Villa San Ignacio’s gardens

In general, the best birding trips to foreign countries are preplanned routes. Even if the trip is to a country as easy to visit as Costa Rica, it pays off to plan months before your trip. Although a birder could arrange an itinerary to Costa Rica one week and then step off the plane in Juan Santamaría Airport seven days later, that’s probably not the best of ideas. Even if that birder spoke Spanish and had been to Costa Rica before, they would still be better off with a plan.

Why Costa Rica is the perfect place to go birding

Costa Rica hosts recovering populations of the Great Green Macaw.  The official bird list for Costa Rica is well over 900 species. Covering 900 birds is a lot to learn in a week even, a lifetime.  Giving yourself more time to study and learn about them makes for a much more satisfying trip.

Birds are everywhere.  However, some places have more species than others. Some sites also have certain endemic species not seen elsewhere. It’s good to give yourself enough time to pick the best sites for your birding needs.

Planning your birding trip

On a birding trip, time is precious, and the more time for birding, the better! The best places to begin and end a birding trip to Costa Rica (and elsewhere) are places that combine thriving bird habitat, comfort, excellent cuisine, and proximity to the airport.

Birding couple at hotel Villa San Ignacio
Birding couple at hotel Villa San Ignacio walking the trails

Although a year is more than enough time to plan an exciting birding trip, a few months will also work to plan your trip when communicating throughout the process with a guide who knows Costa Rica. To find the best flights, figure out how much time you need, and the best places to go, you might want to start planning now.

>Book your first and last night at the best birding hotel near San José’s Airport