Archive | April, 2012

Costa Rica: Catarata de Cortés, Tarcoles crocodiles, Manuel Antonio National Park

28 Apr

We left the Arenal area and set to drive for a good while under the sun, for a change.

We stopped by the side of the road as Vlad spotted monkeys in a tree, spider monkeys.

Spider monkey

Spider monkey


Spider monkeys

Spider monkeys

We made quite a detour to see the Catarata de Cortés, the prettiest waterfall I ever saw.

Catarata de Cortés

Catarata de Cortés

In its vicinity there was a little pool of water where no tourist was, that was populated by lizards, one of which was really big, grey, and crested from head to tail, possibly a basilisk.

Basilisk

Basilisk

We didn’t stay long as there was driving to do, but Vlad took a dip. On the road again, we quickly saw the change of vegetation and scenery as we were driving south. Less forest, more plaines.

Sloth sign

Sloth sign


Guanacaste tree and horses

Guanacaste tree and horses

We were in Tarcoles, our next stop, around 4 p.m. This place is famous for its long bridge under which many crocodiles rest.

Crocodiles on the sand

Crocodiles on the sand


Crocodile

Crocodile


Crocodile immersed

Crocodile immersed

We even saw an iguana.

Iguana

Iguana

We had a little more than two hours of daylight and hit the road again to reach a place between Quepos and Manuel Antonio. We arrived a bit after dark which comes a half hour after sunset. And then there was thunder and rain.

Fast forward to next day, a rainy day, but the one day we could visit the Manuel Antonio National Park. In a tree right next to our room there was a howler monkey.

Howler monkey

Howler monkey

We were advised to take a guided tour as only a guide could show us animals on this rainy day, but we didn’t feel like being with a guide and preferred being on our own, taking our time. We didn’t regret that choice. We saw so many animals!

A deer, a toucan, woodpeckers, a bird big as a pigeon with a red chest and a striped tail, butterflies, dragonflies, an urubu (red-headed vulture), hermit crabs, crabs, spider monkeys, a bird of prey which was all black, a female capuchin carrying her baby and which let us follow her for a while in the forest –a most magical experience!– and finally, a female sloth.

A deer

A deer


Toucan

Toucan


Woodpecker silhouette

Woodpecker silhouette


Hermit crab on grey sand

Hermit crab on grey sand


Dragonfly

Dragonfly


Black vulture

Black vulture


Halloween crab

Halloween crab


Capuchin monkeys, mother & young

Capuchin monkeys, mother & young


Capuchin monkeys, mother & young

Capuchin monkeys, mother & young


Pale-billed woodpecker

Pale-billed woodpecker


Three-toed sloth

Three-toed sloth


Three-toed sloth

Three-toed sloth

The Park also had lovely beaches. Vlad went in the water (I forgot my gear). As I was on the sand, I saw two raccoons.

Heart-shaped rock on beach

Heart-shaped rock on beach


Manuel Antonio beach

Manuel Antonio beach


Espadilla beach, Manuel Antonio

Espadilla beach, Manuel Antonio


Espadilla beach, Manuel Antonio

Espadilla beach, Manuel Antonio


Racoons

Racoons

The park closed at 4 p.m. It was still raining. We rewarded ourselves with drinks and a late lunch of snacks. I chose a mango rita, the most delicious cocktail I ever tasted.

Costa Rica: Arenal volcano, Arenal Hanging Bridges

26 Apr

The Arenal volcano is supposed to be active, although not to the point that there is lava flowing or explosions. What we saw is a lot of cloud activity around it! But on two occasions, the summit was clear enough that we saw the shape of it, and we distinguished two sources of fumes, like thin streams of clouds, except they were going in opposite direction from the clouds.

Arenal volcano

Arenal volcano

We’re staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge. From the deck that faces the volcano, we tower above a lovely garden, that many animals inhabit. Mostly birds –including hummingbirds, toucans and oropendolas–, but also a coati or two and a couple of great curassows.

Birds feeding

Birds feeding

Yesterday we walked on a few of the trails around the lodge, reaching a river with old lava, a hanging bridge, a waterfall.

Lava stone pile

Lava stone pile

Today we went to the Arenal Hanging Bridges, a park of 600 acres of rainforest with 6 hanging bridges and numerous regular bridges, a trail of 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) that we “achieved” in slightly over 4 hours (possibly a world record of unspeed).

Vlad on a hanging bridge

Vlad on a hanging bridge

We saw a blue ara in the parking area. It flew noisily above us and landed close to us. Then it posed on top of a fence and even let us stand quite close.

Ara

Ara

Inside the park we saw lizards, ants, a few birds, two black squirrels, insects (not a lot, thankfully, there was one, somewhere between the ant and the wasp, that was as big as a little bird. Eek).

On the way back we stopped next to a field where cows were grazing. Or rather a breed of cows. They looked like zebus with ears like those of donkeys. Their head was very much like that of Jar-Jar Binks, in fact.

Jar jar binks cows

Jar jar binks cows

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