Friday, January 05, 2007

Has Rancho Naturalista Gone Downhill?

We would be willing to wager that a large percentage of U.S. birders have made Costa Rica their first neotropical birding destination, and for many years, birders flocked to Rancho Naturalista for their introduction to Central American birding. We've been there, and virtually every birder we know who has done foreign birding trips has stopped there at least once. Who can forget the talks over dinner with John Erb about hyperbaric oxygen chambers, and John's feats of physical strength?

However, we were recently sent a Surfbirds article that claims that Rancho is not the prime destination it once was:

http://www.surfbirds.com/trip_report.php?id=1054

As usual, we are not taking sides on this, we're just soliciting opinions, and you can make up your own mind. An informed birder is a happy birder, so if you've been to Rancho lately, please let us know what you think.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, but they keep the feral cats under control there, so if the birds do come back at least they won't be eaten.

Anonymous said...

I have spent months birding in Costa Rica. I never went to Rancho Naturalista. I always thought of it as overpriced and over controlled.

And there are better, more pristine forests to get the same birds.

In fact, I never recall anyone of my friends ever going there.

Laura Erickson said...

Kevin Easley, who bought Costa Rica Gateway but has no financial ties to Rancho, wrote a pretty complete refutation regarding this assessment of Rancho here:

http://www.surfbirds.com/trip_report.php?id=1070

I went to Rancho Naturalista twice, in 2001 and 2002. I'm headed to Costa Rica next week, but Rancho isn't on our itinerary this time, so I won't get to see it firsthand. (I also don't expect to find a Kirtland's Warbler--if I do, I'll be sure to let you know immediately.)

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