Montezuma School Goes Bird Watching

When a group of 15 seven and eight-year-olds become first-time birders for a day, there’s no stopping their curiosity, excitement and all around fun. That’s exactly what happened last week when JC led a group of students from the Montezuma Elementary School on a bird watching outing and nature lesson in the outskirts of the nearby town Cabuya.

Montezuma School Goes Birding - JC's JourneysBirding and Learning

The goal of the day was for the group of first and second grade kids to get an in-depth lesson about four birds they would be sure to see in the area:  Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, and Brown Pelican.

Learning the names of these birds in both Spanish and English, as well as details of the species’ appearance and behavior, the group then got a chance to view the birds through a scope and binoculars. Getting an up-close vMontezuma School Goes Birding - JC's Journeysiew of the birds using these tools piqued interest even more and got the kids excited about the bright colors they could see and compelled them to seek out more and different birds on their own. The kids learned that there were officially 903 species of birds in Costa Rica and spotted a hummingbird which offered a prime opportunity to explain how hummingbirds are great pollinators, and thus the importance of protecting them and all wildlife.

In addition to the many birds kids learned about that day, howler monkeys made a grand appearance, and while these kids are no strangers to the sight of a howler monkey, JC pointed out some interesting facts about them and made his famous howler imitation much to their amusement.

Lessons in Recycling

LMontezuma School Goes Birding - JC's Journeysastly, as part of their final lesson, the kids each received a birding journal crafted from recycled cereal boxes, milk cartons and cardboard to integrate the concepts of recycling and environmental protection for the sake of wildlife conservation. Filled with new knowledge, the group will later jot down details and draw pictures in their journals recalling information from the outing such as the bird’s name, location, diet and migration patterns to reinforce their lesson. But before returning to school, Kevin, a local shuttle operator and driver for the day, encouraged each student to collect a few pieces of rubbish strewn around the beach to deposit it in it’s proper recycling bin back in town. These kids are awesome! We can see that they are truly inspired and already have great respect for the environment and wildlife around them.

Montezuma School Goes Birding - JC's JourneysIn timing with World Responsible Tourism Day, this small outing is just the type of thing we hope to continue doing with Montezuma School and other schools in the area. We love doing tours and sharing this love of nature and environment with visitors from around the world, but it’s just as important for us to share it with those around us every day as well.

Happy World Responsible Tourism Day! And thanks Montezuma School! It was fun spending time with you and we’re sure you will have some things you can teach us next time too. 🙂

See more info about our birding tours here.


Costa Rica for 2 Weeks: 1 Bag and under $1000

Summer vacation may be coming to an end for many North Americans but if you’ve got a little time left, we have a few ideas for how you can still visit Costa Rica for two weeks, carrying just one bag and spending less than $1000. Here’s our plan and loose itinerary:

Airfare: $400

Depending on where you’re flying from, airfare could be even cheaper than this. Based on a round trip flight from Los Angeles to San Jose on Spirit Airlines, carrying only their allowed one free “personal item”, which is actually a good sized backpack, this time of year you’ll pay about $400 total. Take a few snacks, your own water bottle and pillow and you won’t have to shell out more for those little amenities on-board. See this blog for how to pack light but cut out as much as you can to make sure your items fit in a bag you don’t have to pay for!

Hostels/Accommodations: $200

Hostels will be your cheapest option for accommodations and will average about $15 per night for mixed gender dorms. Many also offer free breakfast so take full advantage of this to help save on your food costs, then maybe you can splurge on a nice room at the end of your trip. Costa Rica Hostel Network is a good source for information on nice hostels throughout the country.


Casado - Food Costa RicaFood: $150

This is assuming you eat like a local and budget roughly $10 per day on food. An easy way to keep costs down is to again, take  advantage of free breakfasts at hostels/hotels, or buy fruit, bread and snacks from small shops or grocery stores for breakfasts. Larger lunches or dinners of casados (rice and beans with a meat like chicken, fish or beef) around Costa Rica will run about 3000 colones or $6 at the smaller sodas (small restaurants). It will give you plenty of food to fill up then you can just eat snacks or another small meal later on.


Bus/Transportation: $100

Bus Costa Rica - JC's JourneysOur two week budget itinerary would be something like this: Alajuela (SJO airport) to Poas, to Arenal, to Monteverde, to Nicoya Peninsula (Montezuma/Santa Teresa), to Manuel Antonio and then back to the airport in Alajuela. It is very possible to take buses to all of these areas and carrying only one bag will make your travel a lot easier. It would take a whole other blog to explain how to take the bus to and from each of these places (stay posted and I’ll try to get one up soon), but they’re the cheapest way to go averaging around $5 for each leg of your trip. Splurge on a shuttle to save time from Arenal to Nicoya Peninsula and keep JC’s key phrase in mind when taking buses; “preguntando se llega a Roma” or “asking will get you to Rome”. In other words people are willing to offer information on bus routes so just ask and ask many people and you’ll get to where you need to go.

*Send us comments for questions on specific bus routes or options and we’ll do our best to answer.


Tours/Activities: $150

Be selective in what tours you do. Tours can get very pricey very fast but budgeting $150 here for a nature tour, zip line or something adventurous plus a couple cultural activities or hikes in National Parks should be enough to keep you entertained. Of course we’re biased, but we also think a bird watching tour like our Bird Lovers’ Morning is great this time of year. Finding free things to do might be challenging but being in another country is entertainment in itself so take it all in and enjoy every step of your journey!

Additional tips: Budget for the exit tax at the airport approximately $30, bring your own reusable water bottle and drink tap (yes, it’s potable), and if you must buy souvenirs make it something you don’t have to check an extra bag for on your flight.