Tag Archives: Costa Rica

Costa Rica: Second day at Lapa Rios, more beach and rainforest

8 May

Wednesday 2 May, 2012. The morning of the second day at Lapa Rios, I got to see the sun rise. It wasn’t yet 5:30 a.m. and surfers were already in the water between the pan dulce playa and the backwash playa. Two of them. I sat on the deck and sipped coffee, took photographs of what was around me. In the tree above the roof, there was a big iguana which had been there already the day before. It had barely moved. It was partially hidden by foliage but in the morning sun its colours were splendid. There were hummingbirds in the little garden trees by the deck. And butterflies. Pelicans which crossed the sky between the forest and the beach. None of the photos are good enough to post, though. So here is our bungalow as seen from the deck:

Our bungalow as seen from the deck

Our bungalow as seen from the deck

It occurred to me that morning, and at other times during the trip, that while one is busy taking a photograph of something, there is often a sound that disrupts the whole process, because one knows this is something else worth photographing. I sipped more coffee with Vlad around 6:30 a.m. when he woke up (the slacker).

We had decided to go down to the beach again before breakfast and left at 7:30. Pan dulce playa and Backwash playa:

Pan dulce playa

Pan dulce playa


Backwash playa

Backwash playa

There were several surfers, by now. Here is one who was smiling (perhaps it isn’t obvious on the small photo):

Surfer smiling

Surfer smiling

From the beach this is the view we had on the bungalows:

Some of the Lapa Rios bungalows as seen from the pan dulce playa

Some of the Lapa Rios bungalows as seen from the pan dulce playa

On our way and at the beach, we saw spider monkeys, crabs, scarlet macaws, a black vulture. We left in time to get breakfast up-hill at the lodge, and came back down. On our way, we finally spotted the sloth in one of the trees. A naturalist had told us the day prior that a sloth had been spotted in that tree and there was a good chance it was there. But the tree was quite tall and not exactly bare of leaves. Anyway, there it was, far up, and we saw its fur. For a good while we could not guess in which position it was. We were pretty sure its back was facing us and this is it. After some time, it moved slowly. One has to see it to reckon how slow the movements are. We distinguished an arm and guessed where his head was. We knew this was a male; we had heard from a guide in Manuel Antonio national park, that male sloth have a black strip along the neck. We were keen to wait to see more of him. I was thinking of my good friend Amy who is endeared by sloth. Eventually, he showed us his face:

A sloth!

A sloth!

We had spent so much time there that returning to the beach wasn’t a plan anymore. We indulged in lazing around for a bit at the bungalow and went for lunch. Food was delicious there. I can’t think of any good reason to miss a meal at Lapa Rios ;) All the more reason that from the deck next to the tables we had seen many birds and animals. And there happened to be spider monkeys, albeit a bit far:

Spider monkey dangling from a branch

Spider monkey dangling from a branch

In the afternoon we went back down-hill along the edge of the rainforest. We meant to walk on the country road a good while and reach a flat area with fields and a river, where we expected to see herons, birds of prey and possibly a caiman. But we didn’t since we spotted so many other animals after travelling only a short distance –a yellow-headed gecko with a blue body, the sloth again (which was apparently sleeping and had shifted position a bit, he was sitting and bundled and his arms were hugging a branch and his head seemed to be rested between his folded arms). We also saw an agouti which we sort of tracked as it progressed in the forest parallel to our trail. A little farther down, Vlad spotted a blue-crowned motmot, a lovely colourful bird with a long tail which tip resembles two rackets.

Yellow-headed gecko

Yellow-headed gecko


Agouti

Agouti


Blue-crowned mot-mot

Blue-crowned mot-mot

We went into the forest, instead of going to the plain. We were looking for a waterfall but had no idea where it was. We crossed a river but couldn’t progress on the side of the river we thought we could find the waterfall. We saw more vegetation than wildlife, to the exception of ants with a big yellow abdomen that looked almost golden. Some of the trees had colours on the bark that made me think of camouflage. Here is Vlad next to one of them, a big one:

Mini Vlad next to big camo tree

Mini Vlad next to big camo tree

We found ourselves on the path we had taken the night before with the guide. We easily found the tarantula nest. Vlad couldn’t resist; he grabbed a thin stick and did as the naturalist had done to coax the spider out. He lightly touched the mesh of thin web outside and around the edges of the nest –hairy brown legs darted out to attack the stick. Guillermo had described this as fishing. So Vlad fished the tarantula out. It took him a couple of minutes. Well done.

Vlad fishing out a tarantula

Vlad fishing out a tarantula

As the guide had said, it was too bad we didn’t have a grasshopper for the spider, as it had really earned it. I wasn’t going to find it myself, scared as I am of insects. Again, I was so eager to be out of the forest. It was going to be sunset soon and this part of the forest was already getting dark.

The sunset colours were pretty. I can’t believe it took us two days to look for them.

After sunset colours in the clouds

After sunset colours in the clouds

The dinner time and evening were rich in emotions. During dinner a huge brown grasshopper decided to land on my back and stay there until Vlad carefully took it away. Already the night prior at dinner, a couple of lizards had landed on my hand from a beam in the ceiling and they scared me, but I didn’t freak out about the lizards as much as I did about the grasshopper. Then we walked to the bungalow, where I went straight in whil
e Vlad stayed outside and walked further down to look for tree frogs or poison dart frogs. As soon as I closed the door I noticed another big brown grasshopper which was on the door, inside the bungalow. I called Vlad and asked him to come save me again, which he did. Whew. But that wasn’t all. A few minutes afterwards I spotted a big black cockroach inside one of the white mosquito nets that surround the beds. That wasn’t all, there was another one, one of the kind that is wide, long, flat and brown. It was at eye level, on the mosquito net that served as separation between inside and outside the bungalow. Both of them were immobile. So I did that too, at a safe distance from each of them, and surveyed them till Vlad returned and was my hero again.

The week prior in the mountains, a huge green grasshopper flew straight to me cheek and landed next to me on the bench. There has to be a law that the insects will go to those who are scared of them. If Vlad had similar experiences during our stay, either I wasn’t around when it happened, or he didn’t make a big deal out of it and didn’t tell me at all ;)

We’re now back where insects are minuscule and I can tell that these don’t scare me as much as they did pre-Costa Rica. Last night even, I ushered a spider outside. Yay, me. End of the insect phobia rant.

Closing statement of the entry at hand. Our next day in the Osa Peninsula was going to be quite an adventure and this is a story for next time.

Costa Rica: First day near Carbonera, day and night wildlife

8 May

Lovely morning. I was up early but not early enough to see the sun rise. Still, as the sun was rising to reach the layer of clouds that hung over us all day, the view at that time was really pretty:

Sunrise, Playa Carbonera

Sunrise, Playa Carbonera

This day was devoted to spotting wildlife, as was the early night since we had signed up for the lodge night walk with young naturalist Guillermo.

During breakfast one of the naturalists came in the main bungalow, holding a small coral snake on the back on his hand:

Young coral snake on the hand of the naturalist who found it

Young coral snake on the hand of the naturalist who found it

We thought this had to be the non-poisonous fake coral snake, which pattern of coloured rings differs from the venomous one. But it was the Costa Rica coral snake. It was just still too little to be able to bite. The naturalist let it go on the ground next to us, where it tried to hide under Vlad’s flip flop, and then under a rock. A bit later, it was about to slither away:

Young coral snake coiled on the ground

Young coral snake coiled on the ground

We decided to walk down to the beach. On our way we saw a young green iguana:

Young green iguana

Young green iguana

And we saw a couple of coati mundi in a mango tree, hunting for fruit. Here is one:

Coati mundi in a mango tree, at snack time

Coati mundi in a mango tree, at snack time

We ventured away from the country road into what we thought was a short cut to the beach but was in fact a private property, and back-tracked. But I stole (snapped) a few photos, including a pineapple, a bungalow, and a beautiful red hibiscus flower that looks like a Christmas tree bauble:

Pineapple growing

Pineapple growing


Bungalow

Bungalow


Red Japanese lantern, a species of hibiscus with chiseled petals.

Red Japanese lantern, a species of hibiscus with chiseled petals.

At the beach our attention was drawn to a tree that was squawking. Several scarlet macaw were perched and as we drew closer we saw them through the foliage. Here is one holding in its beak what it was going to tear to pieces and eat (almond), and the same bird flying away later in a blur of red and blue feathers:

Scarlet macaw

Scarlet macaw


Scarlet macaw flying away

Scarlet macaw flying away

We also saw a mangrove black hawk perched on a palm tree and surveying the beach:

Mangrove black hawk

Mangrove black hawk

Back up the hill to the main bungalow. After lunch we observed a couple of Swainson toucans who were pretty close to where we were on the deck:

Swainson toucan

Swainson toucan


Dandy Swainson toucan

Dandy Swainson toucan

The sun sets around half past five and it gets dark shortly after 6 p.m. We were at the naturalists’ station for a night walk around one of the trails in the reserve. There were two other people with us, and Guillermo, the guide. The walk lasted almost two hours and near the end, I was glad I was doing it, but *so* ready to be out of the woods, away from its insect diversity. Here is is impressive list of what the guide spotted to show us: giant brown grasshopper, gaudy leaf frogs, basilisks, Jesus Christ lizards, a weird-looking angular black insect from the same family of the scorpion, wolf spiders, jumping spiders, asleep blue-throated female trogon, baby scorpion, Fer-de-lance snake, and finally, a tarantula.

Night insect of the family of the scorpion

Night insect of the family of the scorpion


Gaudy leaf frogs at night

Gaudy leaf frogs at night


Tarantula just out of her nest

Tarantula just out of her nest

And since we’re at the chapter of the night residents, here is a large moth (its width was about the length of my hand) that I photographed the day before:

Huge moth, its width was the length of my hand.

Huge moth, its width was the length of my hand.

After the emotion, we were ready for civilization, dinner and we rewarded ourselves with red wine from Chile.

Costa Rica: Going south to Osa Peninsula

7 May

I used all the data of my Kolbi SIM card pretty quickly, hence the interruption in the flow. We’re back home since last night. I’m now catching up.

Monday 30 April 2012, we left Savegre Albergue de Montaña under the fog and drove to the city to return the rental car. The drive took almost three hours. After so many days away from cities, it was a bit of shock –all the animation and traffic. San José itself was crazy. Not only was there a lot of traffic at mid-day, but we drove past three accidents although people don’t speed that much (none of the accidents seemed serious, fortunately). At this intersection, for example, a truck had collided into a car (not visible in the photo), and while policemen were taking measurements, the traffic was taking place around them, both on the road and on the sidewalk visible at the right of the truck:

San José. An accident occured. Policemen are taking measurements. San José. An accident occured. Policemen are taking measurements.

San José. An accident occured. Policemen are taking measurements.

The car rental guy agreed to drive us to Tobias Bolaños international airport, a very small airport. So small that it didn’t have a bar or cafeteria, not even vending machines. We were starving. It occurred to me to try to catch one of the big birds or climb the giant mango tree and pick ripe fruit. But we just sat outside in the shade, enjoying the breeze, killing time. We were going to travel very soon in the blue plane:

Nature Air planes at the small Bolaños airport. We travelled in the blue one, a Twin Otter, to Puerto Jiménez.

Nature Air planes at the small Bolaños airport. We travelled in the blue one, a Twin Otter, to Puerto Jiménez.

The plane in question was a Twin Otter, and it wasn’t the smallest of the airline (since we flew in a smaller plane on the way back). About 15 passengers boarded around 3 p.m. and soon we took off. It was really impressive, more impressive than the usual big airliner. It wasn’t scary or anything (at least, not for me; I don’t want to tell on him, but this isn’t necessarily true for Vlad), the plane lift off quickly but not as high as big airliners do. So we had time to see the immense San José under us getting smaller and smaller, but it is such a large city that the entertainment lasted a while:

San José from a bird's-eye view

San José from a bird’s-eye view

Then the city went away and came the hills and their curvy ochre country roads, and meandering rivers between hills, and then clouds. We flew through clouds and above them. At some point during the 50-minute flight the pilots couldn’t avoid a series of air pockets. It lasted just long enough for my body to prepare to get sick (that is, five long minutes), and then to be glad it was over.

We landed in Puerto Jiménez, right behind the seafront and next to a cemetery very similar to those we saw in Guadeloupe last year, with white and black tiles decorating or protecting graves. We were going to be in the Osa Peninsula for 4 days, staying at the Lapa Rios Lodge, a luxurious ecolodge of 16 bungalows, for which we got a special offer. But first there was a short stay at the local office of the lodge, where we were greeted with a local drink –agua de pipa (coconut milk) and banana cake (very nice):

Agua de pipa & banana cake

Agua de pipa & banana cake

Then we set for a forty-minute ATV drive, as Lapa Rios is 18 km south of Puerto Jiménez. On the road, our driver showed us three big birds –crested caracaras, one young and two adults–, some monkeys in the trees, and a juvenile blue heron. When we reached the lodge there were two members of the lodge staff to greet us with wet hand towels and cocktails of fruit juice. How nice and unexpected.

We were then given a short tour and introduction, and were taken to our bungalow. It was dusk, there was still enough light to discover the view from the deck; long big waves in Cabo Matapalo, behind a thick forest:

Cabo Matapalo waves at dusk, view from Lapa Rios.

Cabo Matapalo waves at dusk, view from Lapa Rios.

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