Rancho Naturalista Lodge (948 m / 3,110 ft)
Located just above Turrialba, on the Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica, sits Rancho Naturalista. A premier birding lodge that specializes in catering to birders, photographers and naturalists. The unique service, lush rainforest habitat and the bird specialties found here, make this location a must for any nature lover.
Rancho Naturalista is famous for its warm and friendly atmosphere, brilliant birding, and delicious gourmet food prepared with the best fresh local ingredients. Meals are served family style where guests share stories of their sightings of the day.
Over 450 species of birds have been recorded within Rancho Naturalista’s private forest reserve and the adjacent areas. An extensive system of trails provides access to different points of this 125 acres reserve. Numerous species of hummingbirds, as well as many other birds, can be seen right from the balcony in the main building where you also have a great view of the distant smoking Turrialba Volcano.
The small hummingbird known as Snowcap, is with no doubt one of the main targets for most birders and photographers. It inhabits mostly the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica and Rancho Naturalista is one of the best places in the world to see this species as it regularly attends the hummingbird feeders by the balcony, the porterweeds in the garden and the hummingbird pools in a nearby forested ravine.
Bird specialties in Rancho Naturalista include: Snowcap, Tawny-chested Flycatcher, Purplish-backed Quail-Dove, White-crowned Manakin, White-throated Flycatcher, Black-crested Coquette, Tawny-throated Leaftosser, Northern Schiffornis and Gray-headed Piprites.
Additionally, there are chances for exploring nearby sites which can be quite productive: Cerro el Silencio, Tuis River Valley, and La Mina.
Cerro El Silencio
About 30 minutes away from Rancho Naturalista. The hike all the way up takes the whole day, but birding just the base is extremely productive offering great tanager flocks, possible Red-fronted Parrotlets, raptors such as Black Hawk-Eagle and Ornate Hawk-Eagle, and a host of other birds seen easier here than at Rancho due to higher elevation.
The main targets here are Lovely Cotinga, Red-fronted Parrotlet, Rufous-browed Tyrannulet, Rufous-rumped Antwren, Green-fronted Lancebill, Sulpfur-winged Parakeets, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Black-banded Woodcreeper, Rufous-breasted Antthrush and Sharpbill.
Tuis River Valley
Less than 20 minutes away from Rancho Naturalista, you can visit the Tuis River Valley. A small trail leads into it allowing access to forest and semi-open areas. The bird targets here include Ashy-throated Chlorospingus, Emerald Tanager, Speckled Tanager, Black-and-yellow Tanager, Torrent Tyrannulet, Buff-rumped Warbler, Sunbittern, chances for Lanceolated Monklet. And higher up, you can find Azure-hooded Jay and Spangle-cheeked Tanager.
About 20 minutes from Rancho Naturalista you arrive to La Mina, a forested area next to a river. It is accessed on a dirt road and provides chances for beautiful Sunbittern, Buff-rumped Warbler, American Dipper, Torrent Tyrannulet, Green Kingfisher and Amazon Kingfisher. Some good tanager flocks can be seen here as well.