Tour Archives

Birding and Ecotour to Costa Rica Jan. 5-15, 2015

A wonderful trip and a great group of travelers!

ChurchWe started out leaving San Jose making a stop at a lovely chapel and then traveling to Cartago and the Sanchiri Lodge. Headed out early the next morning to bird Tapini Cloud Forest. Rainy and cool in the morning with clearing and sunshine in the afternoon.

Resident expert birder, Max Vindas joined us for the day to hike the Talamanaca Mountain Range, Sanvengre Trail. We had many species including the Resplendent Quetzal and came back to Sanchiri for lunch. After lunch our group split into three. One group went birding on a jeep and trail, one group relaxed at the lodge and one group went on a strenous hike over suspension bridges, up steep trails, over missing stairs and climbing up with a rope to see two beautiful waterfalls at Sanvengre.



The third day we birded more at Savengre Lodge and Cerro Lodge and traveled to Aquintas Beach. We saw many new species of birds and a beautiful beach where we birded, hiked and swam!

On our fourth day we stayed at Cerro Lodge and hiked and birded the Carara National Park and Tarcoles River. Fabulous views and birding. Tired  but happy group. Getting into the rain forest and warm weather now.

The fifth day we birded Cerro Lodge and traveled to Ensenda. We saw many new species of birds, Howler Monkies, Slothes and more. We had lunch at a local road side restaurant with good authentic Costa Rican food and continued our hiking until dinner time.

The sixth day took us to the Avangares River and to Solimar to see the famous Resplendent Quetzal and other new species. We had a boat ride on the river to see crocodiles and herons and many iguanas beside the river.

Our seventh day took us to Los Heloconias Lodge. This is an example how the government of Costa Rica helped eight families establish this lodge with a restaurant and hiking trails to promote the environment and eco-tours. This lodge not only supports the eight families, but the entire community that now has a school, a grocery and is thriving. It is exciting to see the Costa Rican community participating in saving the rain forest in such a heathly way.

The eight day took us to the LaSelva Biological Station, Sarapiqui and La Quinta Eco Lodge. Good to see not only Costa Rica college students studying the environment, but many American students visiting and conducting research also. We stopped on our way back to San Jose to again have a wonderful lunch at a local place that had bee destroyed by an earthquake several years ago. We also stopped at the Fanfrando Waterfall and got our group picture.

Trip a success with 295 species of birds including Scarlet McCaws nesting, Toucans, Trogons, Quetzals, Toddy Motmots and so much more. Also seeing Howler Monkies, Slothes, Coatamundi, giant milapeids, leaf-cutter ants, army ants, iguanas, crocodiles and so much more!

To watch our video:

Birding Tour to Ecuador-November 10-19, 2011

Awesome trip-Awesome group!!! This was our second Ecotour to Ecuador.

Our group had such a great time on this trip. We had 165 species of birds and 27 of them were hummingbirds!!!

Just 2 hours from Quito, Las Gralarias Guest House is a small lodge situated on the equator at an elevation of 6000 feet/2000 meters elevation. The lodge, located within the famous birding site Reserva Las Gralarias, provides first-class comfort and service while serving as a model for conservation and restoration of the Andean cloud forest habitat and its avifauna. Conveniently situated just 2 miles/3.5 kilometers from the main highway, the lodge is easily accessible. The lodge was designed for the comfort of our clients – in fact, you can drive right up to the front door!

We started our trip to Yanacocha ghrough the Nono Mindo Road at 10,500 ft. birding along the road. We then arrived at Las Gralarias at 6,000 ft. where we had excellent lodging and wonderful Ecuadorian food prepared by their Ecuadorian chef. Five course meals for every meal!!!

We also had hummingbird feeders with many species at every balcony and feeding station. We also had many birds on the fruit feeders to include Tanagers, Toucans, Flowerpiercers and much more!

Day two had us birding and looking for nature finds at Reserva Las Gralarias. We hiked the lower cloud forest and then walked up the road in the afternoon,. We visited feeders for new species of hummingbirds. Such a stunning place and so much to see. We did see giant Milipedes and a Tarantilla at the Reserve.

Day three was to the Milpe Reserve and Mindo Descanso at 3,300 ft. for more hummingbirds and more birding and also to Mariposas Butterfly House.

Day four brought us to Senior Angel Paz’s Antpitta Refuge where we saw the Cock of The Rock displaying and he called out the Giant, the Tawny and the Ochre Breasted Antpitta. What a sight!

We then ventured again to Hugo’s Farm to climb down into the caverns and see the Oilbirds! What an adventurous group!

Day five took us birding to the Silanche Bird Sanctuary and then to Los Blancos looking over the Mirador LeBlanco (White River) for lunch and to watch the feeder stations.

Day six took us to Calacalapi to the equator for our pictures and then to 150 year old Hacienda for a terrific lunch at Los Palmar. We then went on to Oltaveilo to the market and bartered for many hand made goods.

Our last day was to the extinct volcano of Antisana. We went up to about 12,000 ft. where the air was thin and saw the volcanic rock formations from the last erruption hundreds of years ago. We saw many new birds and a beautiful lake at the base of the volcano. It was cold and windy, but  again we missed the Andean Condor. We must return!

This was a fabulous group that traveled together and the birding was fantastic with so many different species!

If you are interested in more information on this Birding Tour, please call Vicki Shoenfelt at 877-359-5235 or email her at

SE Arizona Birding Tour, May 2011 A Great Trip!

East of Tucson a hidden side of Arizona stretches across a vast area containing

some of the most interesting landscapes of the American Southwest.  Here the Chiricahua, Huachuca, Peloncillo mountains rise from colorful deserts and grasslands.  Dramatically, they portray a classic Southwestern landscape full of rock spires, distant views and rugged canyons.  Each mountain range has its own geologic story, and hosts a rich variety of plants and animals.

    Southeast Arizona presents an amazing biological mixing ground, where the plants and animals from Mexico meet species of Rocky Mountain origin, and species of the western deserts mingle with those that inhabit the Great Plains.  Over three hundred species of birds have been recorded in the region including Harris’ Hawks, Elegant Trogons, Red-faced Warblers, Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers and more.  The emphasis of our trip will be on finding the bird and mammal specialties of the region with a compliment of natural history, geology, and hiking in this beautiful country.

   This was a wonderful trip with GREAT Birding. We had 171 species of birds, 7 species of mammals and a few lizards!

   We visited the Sonora Arizona Desert Museum, Madera Canyon / Arivaca Cienaga of the Buenos Aires NWR, Fort Huachuca’s Garden Canyon, home to Elegant Trogons, Black-throated Gray Warblers, Hepatic Tanagers, Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers, and Dusky-capped Flycatchers. Then on to Garden & Sawmill Canyons / Bisbee, Carr, Ash, & Ramsey Canyons, Whitewater Draw / Chiricahua National Monument / Portal / Night Birding and Portal / Cave Creek Canyon / Barfoot & Rustler’s Parks. We also had a mandatory fire evacuation our last night and went on less than 1 1/2 hours sleep to make it to Tucson for our flights.

   Too many species to name, but just a few highlights are Eared Grebe, Mexican Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, White-tailed Kite, Gray Hawk, Swainsons Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, Prairie Falcon, American Avocet, Greater Roadrunner, Elf Owl, Mexican Spotted Owl, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Calliope Hummingbird, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Acorn Woodpecker, Gila Woodpecker, Arizona Woodpecker, Gilded Flicker, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Say’s Phoebe, Black Phoebe, Vermillion Flycatcher, Cassin’s Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Bell’s Vireo, Plumbeous Vireo, Hutton’s Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Mexican Jay, Chihuahuan Raven, Mexican Chickadee, Bridled Titmouse, Verdin, Bushtit, Pygmy Nuthatch, Mexican Brown Creeper, Canyon Wren, Bewick’s Wren, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Hermit Warbler, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Painted Redstart, Hepatic Tanager, Western Tanger, Green-tailed Towhee, Canyon Towhee, Abert’s Towhee, Rufous-winged Towhee, Lark Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, Lark Bunting, Pyrrholoxia, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Varied Bunting, Hooded Oriole, Bullock’s Oriole, Scott’s Oriole, Swainson’s Thrush, Curved-billed Thrasher, Phaniopap and Lesser Goldfinch.

 Our mammals were the Rock Squirrel, Brown Squirrel, Coyote, two kinds of Deer, Spotted Ground Squirrel, Jack Rabbit, Little Brown Bat and the Javelina.

   Thank you to all of our travelers that braved long birding days and a middle of the night fire evacuation. Thanks especially to Dale Nussbaum and Cynthia Norris for being part of the fire evacuation and luggage recovery team. Also for getting us to Tuscon for our flights!


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