Hotel Quelitales, near Cachi in the Orosi Valley, is an idyllic retreat nestled in the mountains at the foot of Tapanti National Park, not much more than an hour from San José. Comfortable accommodations and outstanding dining (the owner, José, is a well-known Costa Rican chef) make this an excellent base for visiting birdwatchers.
The gardens are a genuine hummingbird heaven, with at least 31 different species recorded on the property to date. During my visit I saw Green Hermit, Purple-crowned Fairy, Green-fronted Lancebill, Green-crowned Brilliant, White-bellied Mountain-Gem, Purple-throated Mountain-Gem, Violet Sabrewing, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Black-bellied Hummingbird, Coppery-headed Emerald, and Rufous-tailed Hummingbird.
Birding highlights on the hotel grounds included Black-breasted Wood-Quail, Barred Parakeet, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Sooty-faced Finch, and Black-thighed Grosbeak. Additional highland species observed included Black Guan, Collared Trogon, Plain Antvireo, Zeledon’s Antbird, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Spotted Barbtail, Tufted Flycatcher, Ochraceous Wren, Black-faced Solitaire, Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush, Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Slate-throated Redstart, and Spangle-cheeked Tanager.
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush and White-eared Ground-Sparrow, both new species for the year, were also found just down the road a short distance near some coffee fields.
Endemic to central Costa Rica, Cabanis’s Ground-Sparrow can be easily located within the nearby coffee plantations of the Orosi Valley. A short stop in Ujarras produced no fewer than five individuals.