If birds are what you want to see travel to Palo Verde National Park in Costa Rica’s northern province of Guanacaste, because the biggest attraction in the park is the BIRDS. The months of mid December through mid March over one half million birds migrate south to Palo Verde, escaping the extreme cold weather in North America, and feed here in these shallow marshlands rich in small fish and plant life. You see for many different species of birds! Egrets, storks, spoonbills, herons, ibis, ducks and many many other species.
There is an island in the middle of the Tempisque River (within the park) called bird island or Isla de Pajaros. I had never seen so many birds in one place, so be sure you bring your binoculars.
We departed from San Jose early on a January morning for our “Unique Costa Rica Journey.” Destination Palo Verde National Park. We headed north on the interamerican highway (highway 1). We were a group of 10 very enthusiastic tourist hoping to see lots of birds. Four hours later we arrived to a very small settlement named Bagaces, then we turned west on a dirt gravel road (across from the gas station) The road forked and we thought we were lost but kept following signs to Refugio de Fauna Silvestre and Palo Verde National Park. I think we drove around 17 miles or 28 km. It seemed a really long way on this beat up road, luckily we were in a jeep-not a small car.
We were to spend the night at the Organization of Tropical Studies Biological Station inside the park. We had called ahead to make reservations 2 524 0607. The station is rustic, like camping when we were girl scouts but had really good typico Costa Rica food.
There are three main walking trails within the park. We started out early in the morning, and our guide explained that Palo Verde National Park was established to protect not only the birds but also the tropical dry forest of this area, (meaning there is less annual rainfall in this area of Costa Rica) Also for the protection of the brackish and freshwater marshlands, and mangrove swamps, and also the wildlife within the park. These trails wind in and out of the wetlands. We were lucky to see a group of howler monkeys on their morning outing.
There were birds and more birds, big ones, little ones…I spotted a Jabiru Stork. Our guide said that he resides permanently in the park. The Jabiru Stork is an endangered and rare bird. It is the tallest flying bird in South and Central America, weighing around 8K or 17.6 lb, and is one of the largest birds in the world. The male stands 5 feet tall with a wing span of eight feet, and is powerful and graceful in flight.
As we continued our walk along the trails we saw a few white egrets wading in the marshes eating small fish. Further along we spotted a small group of blue herons.
The next morning we hired a small boat to take us to bird island, and I have never seen so many birds! Most of them were white, making the island look like snow had fallen.
I highly recommend this tour for bird lovers. I would say it is the best place in Costa Rica for birding, with the added plus of seeing other wildlife such as the howler monkeys, whitetail deer, and the capuchin monkey.
Best time of year to visit: Costa Rica’s dry season of mid December through mid March ( to see the migratory birds)
Bring mosquito spray because I encountered quite a few mosquitoes. Binoculars, camera (great photo opportunities)
Weather here is very warm so dress in cottons and wear good walking shoes such as your most comfortable tennis. (don’t need hiking boots)
If you don’t stay overnight at the Organization of Tropical Studies Biological Station in the park, then bring along a sack lunch and bottled water. There is no public restaurant. Although there are restrooms at the ranger station.
I highly recommend Palo Verde National Park!
If you have visited Palo Verde or have questions I would like to hear from you and share your thoughts with my readers. Please post a comment. Just click on no comment at bottom of this post. Ann Thanks for choosing costaricalearn.com