Soon we will be taking a family/birding vacation to Costa Rica.
I have been reading for the last year about birding the tropics. Most of the information state that birding tropics is a completely different experience than birding the mid-latitude temperate climates. So it might be a good idea to either go with a tour or hire a daily guide.
But it’s not that easy.
Which has led to a back and forth discussion with myself.
First of all, let me say that money doesn’t really come into play. If I am going to pay the money to go to the tropics, another $50-100 for a daily guide is kind of a moot point. So that rules out money.
I’ve decided that the real issue is what type of birder you are and what you expect from the adventure.
Probably a Guide
If having as many birds on your list is your thing, then definitely hire a guide or go with a tour.
If you are the type that figures you will only go to the tropics a time or two in your life, and want to see as many birds as possible, than hiring a guide is probably the right thing.
But, and here is where I have my internal argument, if you really like to “see” the birds of an area, especially the common birds, do you need a guide?
When I go to a different area of the U.S. I don’t hire a guide. I contact a local birder, ask for a good spot to see the local, common birds, and go bird. As I have stated many times I like to take my time and try to see, maybe even sketch, the common birds of an area. But with a tour or even a local guide, I feel you have to move at their pace. Which is usually faster than I like and usually leads to not seeing the local birds in-depth.
I have my Answer, Or Not
So I think I have my answer.
Or maybe not.
Back to the point about how birding the tropics is different. I really don’t want to waste my limited birding time in the tropics by missing birds because I don’t understand the situation. So probably the best compromise is to hire a local guide for the first morning. Get a feel for birding the tropics from someone who knows and on subsequent days journey out on my own like I do in the U.S.
Now I hope I have my answer.
And I would appreciate any advice from anyone who has birded the tropics.