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The Carolina Bird Club, Inc., is a non-profit educational and scientific association open to anyone interested in the study and conservation of wildlife, particularly birds.

The Club meets each winter, spring, and fall at different locations in the Carolinas. Meeting sites are selected to give participants an opportunity to see many different kinds of birds. Guided field trips and informative programs are combined for an exciting weekend of meeting with people who share an enthusiasm and concern for birds.

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Carolina Bird Club Bonus Trip to Costa Rica

December 4-15, 2019  $2,449/Per Person

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12 Days, 4 Regions of Birding from the Southern Caribbean to the Cloud Forest

Including: Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, Guayabo Monument, Irazu Volcano National Park, Cahuita National Park, Los Quetzales National Park, & Cerro de la Muerte

Register for this trip at www.EpicNatureTours.com

For additional information: The contact is Paul & Amanda Laurent at info@EpicNatureTours.com or (931)452-9254

Join CBC Members, Paul and Amanda Laurent, for an Epic 12 Days of amazing birding in Costa Rica through their company, Epic Nature Tours. The tour starts and ends in San Jose, CR with private transport throughout the trip. We begin by traveling to the Southern Caribbean coast to visit the small town of Manzanillo, which is surrounded by the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. We will also visit Cahuita National Park and stop by the ARA Project, which is working to reintroduce Great Green Macaws to Costa Rica. Next, we travel by motorized dugout canoe up the river that is the natural border between Costa Rica and Panama to spend one night in an indigenous BriBri community who operate an organic cacao farm. We then visit the Turrialba area, to explore ancient ruins and the Irazu Volcano, which are both fantastic birding sites. We end our trip in the Cloud Forest in the Savegre Valley, one of the purest rivers on earth. The valley is home to a resident population of Resplendent Quetzals, hummingbirds, and dozens of endemic birds found nowhere else on earth.

The tour is set up to be flexible, with a daily excursion each morning as well as afternoon and evening activities as you choose. If you wish, afternoons and some early mornings can be free or you can choose to go out and continue birding or take it easy and relax on a Caribbean beach or take a siesta in a hammock. The trip is customized for each participant. If you spend all 12 days birding nonstop, you can expect to see 300 or more species. We have had trips with non-birders who saw over 200 species.

Epic Nature Tours strives to give guests a well-rounded Costa Rica experience by combining birding and nature, with history and culture. We will see many incredible birds (see attached listing of many birds we hope to see), as well as monkeys, sloths, frogs, snakes, and much more. We believe it is important to support local communities through ecotourism. We stay at locally owned and operated ecolodges throughout the trip, hire local guides in each region, and dine in small family owned restaurants. One of the nights we will even stay in an indigenous Bribri community and make chocolate by hand! We also visit ancient ruins that have a deep historical importance to the Costa Rican culture and are also home to a multitude of bird species and rare and elusive wildlife such as the rare and elusive Puma. Come experience the real Costa Rica, away from the big hotels and tourist destinations. We will show you the hidden gems, secret spots, and off the beaten path locations that most people never get to see.

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Itinerary

 

Day 1 (Dec 4): Arrive at SJO and short transfer to Studio Hotel   

Day 2 (Dec 5): Drive to Caribbean to Congo Bongo Ecolodge

Day 3 (Dec 6):

         Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge Jungle Birding Hike (Day)

         Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge Jungle Hike (Night)

Day 4 (Dec 7):

         Early Morning birding in Manzanillo

         Birding by kayak on Punta Uva River (Optional Activity)

         ARA Project Great Green Macaw Tour

Day 5 (Dec 8): Cahuita National Park Birding (Full Day)

Day 6 (Dec 9): Depart Caribbean. Board dugout canoes (motorized) to Bribri Indigenous Village — Overnight

         Sixaola-Yorkin River Tour

         Birding along Yorkin River and village

         Chocolate Tour

Day 7 (Dec 10): Depart Bribri Village. Drive to Guayabo Lodge. Birdwatching at lunch stop and lodge

Day 8 (Dec 11):

         Early morning bird walk on private preserve to Aquiares River

         Guayabo National Monument birdwatching in ancient ruins

Day 9 (Dec 12):

         Irazu Volcano birding for endemic species

         Depart Irazu. Travel to Savegre Hotel

         Afternoon Birding along Savegre River

Day 10 (Dec 13):

         Early morning Quetzal Birding Tour

         Birdwatching and trout at Miriam's Quetzals Restaurant

         Hummingbird watching at Batsu Garden

Day 11 (Dec 14):

         Paramo Birding Tour for more endemic species

         Hummingbird Hot Spot stop along PanAm Highway

         Birdwatching and more trout at Miriam's Quetzals Restaurant

Day 12 (Dec 15): Drive to SJO Airport, Depart Costa Rica

 

Each day includes a morning excursion to look for birds and wildlife. After lunch everyone will be free to either relax or go back out looking for birds in the afternoon. We are always ready to get up really early for a pre-breakfast bird walk or an impromptu night hike if anyone wants to get some extra exploring in. In addition, if anyone wants to go out in the afternoon to look for birds, we will set up awesome additional hikes and excursions.

 

General Trip Information

 

Group Size: 8 Participants

Price per person double occupancy based on 8 participants: $2,449.00

Single Supplement: $667.70

(Single supplement applies to anyone staying by themselves and not sharing a room. Lodges charge more per person for single rooms)

 

Cancellation Policy

Because of the short turn-around timeframe for this trip we are asking for the full fee to confirm your reservation.  If you need to cancel we will work to find a replacement for you in an attempt to refund your fee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What's Included

 

Trip Guides

    Paul and Amanda will be your professional trip guides for entire duration of the trip

Accommodations

   11 Nights at hand selected, locally owned Eco Lodges

   Private bedroom and bathroom throughout trip except for 1 night at the Bri Bri Indigenous community.

Meals

   10 Full Breakfasts
   8 Lunches
   9 Dinners

Transportation- Van and SUV

   On-Trip transportation within Costa Rica
   Airport Pick-Up and Return 

Tours

12 Guided Tours with local professional, multilingual guides

   Ara Project Tour (Green Macaw Sanctuary)
   Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge (Day Hike)
   Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge (Night Hike)
   Cahuita National Park (Full Day)
   Sixaola-Yorkin River Tour
   Chocolate Tour
   Guayabo Lodge Nature Preserve Tour
   Guayabo National Monument Tour
   Irazu Volcano National Park
   Resplendent Quetzal Bird Watching
   Batsu Gardens Photography and Bird Watching
   Paramo Tour

 

***All park entrance fees are included with tours***

What's NOT included

 

Meal Plan

 

Day 1 (Dec 4)

         Dinner at local restaurant (INCL)

Day 2 (Dec 5)

         Breakfast at Studio Hotel (INCL)

         Lunch at Congo Bongo Ecolodge (INCL)

         Dinner at Congo Bongo/Take It Easy Catering (INCL)

Day 3 (Dec 6)

         Breakfast at Congo Bongo Ecolodge (INCL)

         Lunch at Soda Wachu (INCL)

         Dinner at Cocoloba Restaurant (INCL)

Day 4 (Dec 7)

         Breakfast at Congo Bongo Ecolodge (INCL)

         Lunch at Congo Bongo Ecolodge (INCL)

         Dinner at Koki Beach Bar & Grill (NOT INCL)

Day 5 (Dec 8)

         Breakfast at Bread & Chocolate (NOT INCL)

         Lunch in Cahuita (NOT INCL)

         Dinner at Congo Bongo Ecolodge (INCL)

Day 6 (Dec 9)

         Breakfast at Congo Bongo Ecolodge (INCL)

         Lunch in Yorkin (INCL)

         Dinner in Yorkin (INCL)

Day 7 (Dec 10)

         Breakfast in Yorkin (INCL)

         Lunch at Miradores Restaurant (INCL)

         Dinner at Guayabo Lodge (INCL)

Day 8 (Dec 11)

         Breakfast at Guayabo Lodge (INCL)

         Lunch at Guayabo Lodge (INCL)

         Dinner at Guayabo Lodge (INCL)

Day 9 (Dec 12)

         Breakfast at Guayabo Lodge (INCL)

         Lunch at local restaurant (NOT INCL)

         Dinner at Savegre Hotel (INCL)

Day 10 (Dec 13)

         Breakfast at Savegre Hotel (INCL)

         Lunch at Miriam's Quetzals (INCL)

         Dinner at Savegre Hotel (INCL)

Day 11 (Dec 14)

         Breakfast at Savegre Hotel (INCL)

         Lunch at Miriam's Quetzals (INCL)

         Dinner at Savegre Hotel (INCL)

Day 12 (Dec 15)

         Breakfast at Savegre Hotel (INCL)

 

Special Dietary Needs

We will pass any special dietary needs to the restaurants and lodges and will do our very best to accommodate you. Please note that it is not always possible to accommodate these needs due to limitations specific to the area in which we are traveling. Please plan accordingly. If you have any dietary restrictions, please include this information with your application so that we can notify the restaurants in advance.

 

 

 

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What you can expect to see…

Birds

Expect to see well over 200 different species of birds including as many as 30 endemics.

Mammals

We typically see a wide variety of mammals including both two-toed and three-toed sloths, three types of monkeys, kinkajous, coatis, and much more.

Reptiles and Amphibians

In addition to being expert birders, Paul and Amanda are excellent herpetologists. They have seen 36 different species of reptiles and amphibians in these regions of Costa Rica. Expect eyelash vipers, red-eyed leaf frogs, poison frogs, iguanas, and basilisks.

 

Things to know ahead of time…

Photography

There will be plenty of photography opportunities throughout the trip. There are feeders at the ecolodges where we will be staying at, as well as at several of the restaurants where we will dine. The trails are open enough to get good shots of many different types of wildlife.

Drinking Water

It is recommended that you bring your own reusable water bottle, canteen, or hydration pack. Filtered drinking water is available at each ecolodge and restaurants. Bottled water can also be purchased at local convenience and grocery stores.

Walking Terrain and Pace

Hikes throughout the trip will be mostly flat with some moderate inclines. The terrain will vary from sandy beaches to rocky uneven mountain trails. None of the trails are considered strenuous or difficult. The longest hike will be approximately 5 miles on flat terrain. The walking pace throughout the trip will be relaxed as we will be stopping to spot and photograph birds and other wildlife.

Weather and Insects

We will be gradually traveling from the lowlands of the Caribbean to the Cloud Forest over the duration of the trip. For the first half of the trip you can expect temperatures during the day to be in the 80s. As we ascend to the Volcanic and Cloud Forest regions, temperatures will be much cooler in the mid to high 60's and 70's. It is recommended that you pack a few warm layers and outer shell or raincoat (see Packing Guide).

Requirements for Travel to Costa Rica

Valid US Passport that expires more than 6 months away from the date of travel. Your passport must not expire before June 15, 2020. There are currently no required vaccinations to travel to Costa Rica. However, we recommend you visit the Center for Disease Control's website and use your own discretion.

 

 

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Trip Guide Bios

Paul and Amanda Laurent are expert naturalists and birders who have keen eyes for spotting all kinds of wildlife. They have led trips to Costa Rica in 2018 and 2019. Both are certified outings leaders for the South Carolina Sierra Club Chapter and have led many outings in their local area. Their specialties include bird watching and herpetology. In addition to their nature expertise, the husband and wife team have been exploring Costa Rica & Central America for years and have found some of the most spectacular hidden spots far away from big tour buses. When the two are not leading trips to Costa Rica, you will find them leading kayak eco tours for their family's business, Black River Outdoors, based in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.

Paul is a natural born nature tour guide who has an extensive knowledge of wildlife, history, and culture. He has been a professional birding guide for ten years and has a deep knowledge of Costa Rica's birds. Paul has also led several CBC trips at past meetings. Paul has a history degree from Gettysburg College but has always loved being outdoors. He keeps our trips entertaining with his witty (and punny) sense of humor. Paul is not afraid to leap out into the thick of the jungle catch a snake, frog, or spider to show everyone. Sometimes he gets a little carried away but his excitement for nature is contagious and will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the trip.

Amanda has an almost supernatural ability to find birds (and all other kinds of animals). She is an experienced and very skilled birder and has been studying the birds of Costa Rica for four years. She combines her knowledge and love of all animals with a degree in Psychology and an MBA from Coastal Carolina University. Amanda's goal is to provide guests with an adventurous and organized excursion. Not to mention her remarkable ability to keep Paul from getting sidetracked and distracted! Amanda's warm, caring personality, and fine attention to detail, make traveling across Costa Rica feel as easy and natural as if you were back home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 December 2019 Caribbean to Cloud Forest Trip Itinerary

December 4 - 15, 2019 (12 Days)

 

Day 1 (Dec 4)

 

We will meet you at the San Jose International Airport (SJO) with private transportation to take you to a nearby hotel away from the hustle and bustle of downtown to rest up after the flight. Once at the hotel, you will be able to relax, unwind, have a drink, have dinner, and get to know your new friends. It turns out that even the big city of San Jose has some pretty good birdwatching if you keep an eye out!

A few birds to keep an eye out for: white-winged dove, red-billed pigeon, band-tailed pigeon, crimson-fronted parakeet, rufous-collared sparrow 

 

Day 2 (Dec 5)

 

After Breakfast, we will pack our bags and head to the Caribbean! Once we arrive at Congo Bongo we will unpack and enjoy a delicious “tipico” local style lunch. Then we can walk a short trail through the jungle to a beautiful Caribbean beach to enjoy postcard views and the warm tropical waters. The eco lodge is set deep in the jungle and is home to a wide range of birds right around the cabins.

A few birds to keep an eye out for: rufous-tailed hummingbird, bronze-tailed plumeleteer, white-necked jacobin, purple-crowned fairy, long-billed hermit, common black hawk, red-lored parrot, black-mandibled toucan, keel-billed toucan, collared aracari, cinnamon woodpecker, lots of woodcreepers

 

Day 3 (Dec 6)

 

Today we will be joined by a professional local guide from Manzanillo for a fascinating tour of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. We will hike from the beach, deep into the primary rainforest, looking for parrots, toucans, trogons, poison frogs, sloths, monkeys and more! Once we emerge from the jungle, we will enjoy a local Caribbean lunch with fresh caught snapper in town before returning to the eco lodge for an afternoon siesta, or a walk on the beach. After dinner we turn on our flashlights for an incredible night hike back into the same jungle we explored in daylight this morning! Night time in the rainforest is a completely different experience. You will have the opportunity to safely explore a whole new world that wakes up when the sun goes to sleep. On this hike you may be able to see nocturnal creatures including frogs, owls, bats, snakes, kinkajous (imagine an animal that is half monkey, half cat, and half teddy bear), and who knows what else!

 

A few birds to keep an eye out for: squirrel cuckoo, blue-headed parrot, gartered trogon, slaty-tailed trogon, chestnut-backed antbird, tawny-crested tanager, bay wren, red-capped manakin, white-colared manakin, 

 

Day 4 (Dec 7)

 

We get up early for a bird walk along the edge of town. The border between the small town of Manzanillo and the rainforests that surround it are home to a huge number of birds that venture out to look for food in the local gardens. After breakfast we will head up the road for an optional kayak paddle on the Punta Uva River to look for the birds that reside along the banks (if anyone does not want to kayak there is great bird watching along the road to the river as well). Next we enjoy a traditional caribbean lunch, then in the afternoon we will hop back in the vehicles for a short ride over to the ARA Project, which is reintroducing the Great Green Macaw back to the Caribbean lowlands they once inhabited. After an hour of watching Green Macaws flying all around us, we will take a short trip north to Puerto Viejo to experience the Caribbean nightlife, visit local artisans, and have a gourmet dinner at the best restaurant in town!

 

A few birds to keep an eye out for: great green macaw, bat falcon, sunbittern, gray-necked wood-rail, passerini's tanager, golden-hooded tanager, 6 species of flycatchers, green kingfisher

 

Day 5 (Dec 8)

 

Today we head north to Cahuita National Park, where we will follow our knowledgeable local guide through the jungle to the beach to look for falcons, frigatebirds, tiger herons, white-faced monkeys, coatis, sloths and other wildlife. This is our longest hike (5 miles total), and the trail brings us through flooded jungle lowlands and along the Caribbean Sea. At the end of the hike we will find ourselves in the little town of Cahuita, where we will enjoy a delicious lunch and have a chance to peruse the souvenir shops. After a leisurely lunch and walk around town, we return to the eco lodge for a relaxing afternoon (or another jungle walk if you want). Make sure to save time to pack your bags. The next morning, we will be leaving the Caribbean to head up river for our next adventure.

A few birds to keep an eye out for: bare-throated tiger-heron, boat-billed heron, magnificent frigatebird, northern jacana, collared forest-falcon, ringed kingfisher, amazon kingfisher, black-cheeked woodpecker, fasciated antshrike, laughing falcon

 

Day 6 (Dec 9)

 

In the Morning: We will bid a fond farewell to the Caribbean Sea, and venture inland to the indigenous Bribri village of Yorkin. First, we will arrive in the small village of Bambu, where we will meet a local Bribri guide who will take us to the village of Yorkin by way of a 30 ft dugout canoe (with an outboard motor - you don't have to paddle). We will travel up the Sixaola and Yorkin Rivers (the natural border of Costa Rica and Panama), looking for wading birds, toucans, kingfishers, and maybe even a neotropical river otter or two.

 

In the Afternoon: Upon reaching the village, we will make a short hike up from the River to be greeted by the local villagers. At this time, we will have a light snack as lunch is being prepared by the women in the village. After lunch you will have the opportunity take a swim in the pristine Yorkin River and maybe swim into Panama, practice native hunting skills with a bow and arrow, and lounge in a hammock to simply enjoy the peace and tranquility the village has to offer. Before dinner, we will explore a cacao farm, learn how chocolate is made, and even make some for ourselves! The Bribri were among the first humans on the planet to learn how to make chocolate, and they are still the best at it.

 

At Night: Our accommodations for the night will be a large, open air, multi-level round house with private bathrooms. The buildings in the village are built the same way they were built thousands of years ago. While this is the most rustic accommodation of the trip, we will have access to basic necessities including running water, fresh bed linens, and private bathrooms. Yorkin runs on solar power, so electricity is limited and there is no internet. This will allow you to disconnect from the modern world and truly become immersed in the native culture. This is a once in a lifetime kind of experience!

A few birds to keep an eye out for: snowy cotinga, amazon kingfisher, ringed kingfisher, green kingfisher, pearl kite, giant cowbird, variable seedeater

 

Day 7 (Dec 10)

 

Start your day by enjoying a fantastic, farm fresh breakfast before we return to the boats for an exhilarating ride back down the river to our vehicles for the drive to Turrialba. We will stop for lunch at a little restaurant on the side of a mountain with an amazing view and abundant birds at several feeders on the porch. Then we will check into a beautiful eco lodge bordering on a fifteen-acre wildlife reserve and with a magnificent view of the Turrialba Volcano. In the evening, we will enjoy a three-course meal at the lodge restaurant, have a drink, and reminisce about the adventure so far. The higher elevations are home to a whole new range of birds!

A few birds to keep an eye out for: blue-gray tanager, white-collared seedeater, palm tanager, groove-billed ani, long-tailed tyrant, brown jay, black-cheeked woodpecker, collared aracari

 

Day 8 (Dec 11)

 

Today we get up early, and after a gourmet cup of coffee we will enjoy a spectacular one-hour nature walk with a local guide from the lodge, through the reserve to the Aquiares River and a beautiful waterfall. The change in elevation also means a completely new variety of birds and wildlife to experience! Watch for barbets, tanagers, warblers and more. We will return to an amazing breakfast, and then we drive back in time to visit the ancient ruins of Guayabo. These are the oldest known ruins in Costa Rica, and much of it remains buried in the jungle. You will explore these ancient ruins, still shrouded in jungle, experiencing both the remarkable history and the amazing wildlife that now inhabits this ancient city. The excavations of the ruins have created several large clearings in otherwise dense rainforest, and lots of wildlife love the transition zone the archaeologists created. Afterwards, we will head down the mountain and back to the lodge for a much-earned rest and a cold drink; or a walk down to swim at the waterfall before a delicious 3 course meal.

A few birds to keep an eye out for: montezuma oropendola, green hermit, lineated woodpecker, spotted woodcreeper, black-headed tody-flycatcher

 

Day 9 (Dec 12)

 

Today we go to the Volcano!!! After breakfast we drive up the mountain to see the caldera of the Irazu volcano. Aside from the amazing views, the change in elevation gives us the chance to see a different variety of birds and wildlife as we climb the slope (including several endemic species). We will stop for lunch at a great restaurant not far from the volcano. Next we drive along the Pan American Highway up the Talamanca Mountains to the Savegre Valley, home to the little mountain town of San Gerardo de Dota. We will stay in a gorgeous eco lodge, set in a beautiful garden that is home to a remarkable variety of birds found nowhere else on Earth! An incredible number of species found in the valley are endemic to these highlands.

A few birds to keep an eye out for: volcano junco, volcano hummingbird, sooty thrush, common chlorospingus, band-tailed pigeon, scintillant hummingbird

 

Day 10 (Dec 13)

 

We are getting up early this morning, really early (but there will be gourmet coffee, don't worry), to find one of the most beautiful birds in North America - the Resplendent Quetzal. These remarkable birds are generally hard to find but the Savegre Valley is home to a sizable resident population of these rare birds. Our local birding guide knows the secret spots to find the quetzal, as well as many other stunning birds! After an amazing morning of bird watching we will drive up the valley to Miriam's Restaurant, which makes the best Rainbow Trout you'll ever have, and they have a world-famous bird feeder in the back. Next we return to the lodge where you can enjoy the spa, have a drink at the lounge, or go for a walk through the beautiful gardens and along the Savegre River. The Lodge is also home to the Batsu Garden - a photographer's dream - a beautiful garden designed to attract a wide range of birds and with an array of bird feeders so we can see these colorful creatures up close. When you tire of hummingbirds zooming all around you and tropical parakeets and tanagers perching on nearby branches, we will return to the lodge to relax and enjoy drinks and good company around the fire.

 A few birds to keep an eye out for: resplendent quetzal, golden-browed chlorophonia, sulphur-winged parakeet, white-throated mountain-gem, magnificent hummingbird, acorn woodpecker, red-headed barbet, townsend's warbler, collared redstart, silver-throated tanager, sooty-capped chlorospingus

 

Day 11 (Dec 14)

 

We are going to get high this morning… really high. The mountain above the Savegre Valley is called Cerro de la Muerte (Mountain of Death) because of how difficult it was to cross before roads and cars (no one dies here anymore). We will drive up the mountain, above the timberline, and enter the Paramo - where it is so high that not even trees can grow. At the top we will be on the third highest peak in Costa Rica. On a clear day you can enjoy a view that stretches across most of Costa Rica, from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. The Paramo is home to birds found nowhere else on the planet. Next we will drive a little farther down the road to a little roadside service station that has an incredible number of hummingbirds that come to feeders set up right in front of your table. It is a great spot for a hot cup of coffee or hot cocoa to warm up. We will go back to Mirriam's for lunch (because you will really want that trout again), then we head back down the valley to relax or enjoy a walk along the Savegre River to a waterfall before dinner at the lodge.

A few birds to keep an eye out for: fiery-throated hummingbird, volcano junco, peg-billed finch, slaty flowerpiercer, melodious blackbird, yellow-bellied siskin, timberline wren

 

Day 12 (Dec 15)

 

All good things must come to an end. However today we will not say “Goodbye,” we will say, “Until next time and Pura Vida!”

 

Today our journey takes us down the mountain, back to San Jose, where we will catch our flights and depart this beautiful country. With us we will take lifelong memories, friendships, and a much longer life list... made on an adventure like no other.

 

Pura Vida!

 

 

Contact Us:

 

Epic Nature Tours

www.EpicNatureTours.com

info@EpicNatureTours.com

(931) 452-9254

 

Mailing:

 

      Epic Nature Tours

      62 Byers Trail

      Pawleys Island, SC 29585

Even more information!