Tag Archives: Costa Rica

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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