Sarapiqui - San Gerardo de Dota help needed

Old Jul 24th, 2009, 05:53 AM
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Sarapiqui - San Gerardo de Dota help needed

My wife, daughter and I are planning a April 2010 return trip to Costa Rica. They have decided to play along with my new found interest in birding and have agreed to stay in the Sarapique and San Gerardo de Dota areas. We will have a SUV and are planning on staying at the La Quinta Country Inn in Sarpiqui and the Savegre Mountain Hotel in SGDD. Other than birding, I am having a hard time finding much info. on other activities,restaurants, or markets in either of these areas. Can anyone give me some first hand info. on these areas? Many Thanks!
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Old Jul 24th, 2009, 12:10 PM
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I srongly agree with your choice of Savegre Mountain Lodge. It is a terrific hotel. You can enjoy horseback and hiking there as well. Do arrange ahead of time to go birding with Marino Chacon. He is absolutely so passionate and will make sure you list lots of highland birds. Not much else to do there--just enjoy all the quetzals, hummingbirds, etc.

La Quinta has lovely grounds. We enjoyed it here a few years ago. Arrange a tour of La Selve Biological Station. We toured one afternoon, and then I went back the next morning early for just birding. You might also enjoy the safari float on the Sarapiqui, hour and a half or so.
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Old Jul 24th, 2009, 12:11 PM
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By the way, the little town where you do the Safari Float- Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. Not to be confused with Puerto Viejo de Talamance, on the southern Caribbean.
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Old Jul 24th, 2009, 12:12 PM
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Uh, I meant Talamanca...sorry for the misspelling.. .
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Old Jul 24th, 2009, 12:43 PM
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There is sooo much to do in the Sarapiqui area--La Selva and La Tirimbina both run a ton of ecotourism activities such as birding, day and night wildlife hikes, chocolate tours (highly recommended!), bat tours, photography workshops, etc.
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Old Jul 24th, 2009, 01:33 PM
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Thanks for the input-any ideas about places to eat other than the hotels? I'm sure their food is good,but I generally prefer local sodas and restaurants-some of my most memorable meals have come from the smallest places. Thanks again!
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Old Jul 24th, 2009, 03:20 PM
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The Ara Ambigua's restaurant La Casona is pretty good.
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Old Jul 24th, 2009, 04:00 PM
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Bookmarking!
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 10:11 AM
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Shillmac has offered some good observations on the San Gerardo de Dota area. Another option there is trout fishing in the Savegre River.

I don't know how long you will be at Savegre Lodge, but if you have time an interesting possibility is to take a guided trip back up out of the Savegre Valley to the high-altitude Paramo habitat at about 10,500 feet above sea level. This is a chilly, somewhat desolate looking, landscape of small shrubs and dwarf bamboo - very unlike anything else you will see in Costa Rica. You also have the chance here of seeing several bird species that are not possible at lower elevations....
Here you could also travel a bit further along the interamerican highway and visit the La Georgina restaurant which has hummingbird feeders that often attract Fiery-throated Hummingbirds. These beautiful birds quite often are not seen around Savegre Lodge.

cheers

Jerry
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 10:52 AM
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Thanks Jerry! We are planning on 3 nights at Savegre Lodge -Is there much of a "town" there or is it just an area with lodges and farms? My DW is well,lets just say a discrminating eater who cringes at the thought of buffet food, so I hope there are other local choices for eating!
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 11:50 AM
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There is really no town at all. Just the lodges and a few farms, You might be able to eat at Trogon Lodge, I'm not sure.
Your DW might be so delighted with the Quetzals hummingbirds etc that her concerns over buffet food go away..... .

Definitely spend some of your birding time up above the lodge in the oak bamboo cloud forest. Absolutely beautiful. Actually the whole Savegre area is just delightful and the Chacons are wonderful hosts.

If you need any birding hints for either of the areas you will be visiting please let me know.


Jerry
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 12:12 PM
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Bring on the birding tips!! It's funny,at home I really don't do much birding,but when I get to Costa Rica I seem to go el loco. I call it the Costa Rican bird flu!(Would love to see a Red-headed Barbet,Trogons,or any hummers) Thanks.
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 04:36 PM
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There is great birding not only at La Selva but also at Selva Verde (they have two daily free birding tours for guests). Even at La Casona during lunch, we saw Montezuma's Oropendolas, Red Legged and Green Honeycreepers, and Golden Hooded Tanagers.
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 05:28 PM
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La Casona for lunch then it is! Honeycreepers and tanagers are high on my list- this will be my fifth trip and I still have not seen a honeycreeper. Thanks!
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 11:49 AM
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Regarding Savegre birding. Defintely follow Shillmac's advice to arrange in advance for a birding guide there. Marino Chacon is incredible but the other guides there are also very good. Almost everyone who visits Savegre wants to go birding to some degree or another so the guides are heavily booked. A guide is especially helpful when you go up slope into that beautiful cloud forest, and for trips up to the paramo. Make sure your guide knows you are a birder, and interested in more than just seeing the quetzal.

There are also lots of birds you can see without a guide. Go out early in the (chilly!) morning and check out the trees and gardens around the lodge. Collared Trogon is fairly common as is Mountain Elania. Along the Savegre you might find the cute little Torrent Tyrannulet hoping around on the rocks. Collared Redstart is another cute little bird which is often seen in the roadside gardens. Check out the gardens near the hummingbird feeders for in interesting little Slatey Flowerpiercer.

The hummingbird feeders have Scintillant, Volcano, and Magnificent Hummingbirds, Gray -tailed Mountain Gem [aka a race of the white-throated monutain gem]and Green Violet -Ear. Other species are sometimes seen as well.

A stroll down the road will shortly lead you to a log "bridge" the crosses the Savegre and a trail that parallels the river downstream. Just SOME of the birds we've seen along here include Spangle-cheeked and Silver -throated Tanagers, Golden-Browed Chlorophnia, Long Tailed Silky Flycatcher, Blue-throated Toucanet,Black -striped Warbler, and Resplendent Quetzal ! There are plenty more as well.

After dark you can walk the 4WD road above the lodge in search of Dusky Nightjar, a high altitude relative of the Whip-poor-will.

This is only a taste of the birding. Add the friendly people, clear cool mountain air and the beautiful scenery and Savegre is hard to beat.

cheers

Jerry
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 12:21 PM
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Is it April 2010 yet? Dang, this wait is killing me! Oh well I guess it gives me time to upgrade my camera equipment. Thanks to everyone for all the fantastic information,this site really is the best.
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 02:36 PM
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artie, we're the same way - we don't give birds a second thought in the states, but we tote around our bird book in CR! This sounds like a wonderful area.
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 05:32 PM
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I know, its crazy. My first 2 trips I never hardly batted an eye at the birds.I can remember snickering at a group of those crazy "birders" with their tripods and bird books.Well, well, well, look at me now, clutching my copy of Stiles and Skutch and eyeing a slick new Manfrotto tripod.I'm telling you it's the bird flu!
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Old Jul 27th, 2009, 11:19 AM
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I'm staying at Savegre in November so appeciate all these great tips! If you are driving to Savegre, stop off at the 70km marker, turn right and visit Paraiso del Quetzal run by the Serrano family. It's a small restaurant with a deck over looking the cloud forest valley and 8 cabins. We saw swarms of fiery-throated hummingbirds in Feb., filling up every feeder, on branches, just incredible. There were also magnificents.

We are stopping by La Georgina before we check-in at Savegre and have read that it's a great hummingbird spot, too.

At Selva Verde, the bridge is now repaired going over the river to their private reserve, so you can book a private birding tour there, in addition to the free ones offered on the grounds. SV also has night hikes offered, but doesn't list them on their website.

We love the Sarapiqui area - green macaws at La Selva greeted us as we drove in, so a great way to start a tour there.

I'm like you - I'm not much of a birder at home (other than hummingbirds - 5 species in my garden), but get me in CR and I love it!
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Old Jul 27th, 2009, 03:38 PM
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Colibri- Wow! November is a lot closer than April-Lucky! Looking forward to hearing about your trip - take good notes.Five types of hummers--you must be West of me-here in Florida we only have one, the Ruby Throated.
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