Our trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua was inspired by the trip our daughter Noa did last summer to Central America. Noa did such a splendid job in planning her trip that we could virtually walk in her footsteps.
We landed in San Jose after a miserably delayed American Airlines flight, which culminated in an unplanned sleepover in a forlorn Miami motel. We picked up our rental Daihatsu Terios at the airport and headed south-west.
Our first destination was Hacienda Baru, an erstwhile cattle farm converted into a wonderful nature reserve and ecolodge. One of the many trees in the garden was a Calabash tree, used for carving beautiful flasks.
It was terribly hot so that we were delighted to find a swimming pool at the lodge. Unfortunately the water was even hotter and not a bit refreshing. We went for a first walk in reserve and spotted a Peccary in the dark forest on our way down to the roaring pacific.
Very early next morning we took a guided walk in the reserve with and excellent young guide. White throated Capuchins shot around the tree above us while we got ready for the walk. Shortly we saw our first Chestnut-mandibled Toucans and Trogons and several other birds. Most important we managed to tick off and even photograph both a two and a three-toed Sloth, the two species of Sloths native to Costa Rica. This was however the only time we managed to spot them.
Passing under a big leaf our guide showed us cute Tent-making bats that slept inside the makeshift leaf tent.
On our way back I almost stepped on a huge Iguana that was resting in the shade in front of our cabin.
After our first Costa Rican gallopinto (rice and beans) breakfast we hit the road to Osa peninsula, reputably one of the most bio diverse places on planet earth. We divided our week-long stay on the peninsula into two. Three days in the wonderful primitive walk in Bolita hostel in the middle of a private jungle reserve and four days on the coast in Drakes bay.
This paradise belongs to two Canadians Ron and Val who run a very peaceful place with a great atmosphere. The only rule is that at night you have to walk with a torch so as not to tread on nocturnal creatures.
In Bolita we had a two walled “private” room open to the jungle. On our first day we did the lengthy walk to a couple of waterfalls and along the river. On the way we passed by a huge tree in which a couple of Scarlet Macaws nested as well as a couple of Chestnut-mandibled Toucans. Soaring above we saw the rare King Vulture.
We encountered also several poison dart frogs. The walk was very refreshing as most of it required walking in the river.
Huge Blue Morph butterflies glided gracefully above the river.
As we returned towards dusk to the hostel in time to watch a flock of agitated noisy toucans.
This spectacle takes place every evening and is called “toucan time” by Ron.
As we were enjoying our dinner a huge gecko enjoyed his…
The last morning we summited the “got to go” lookout to watch the sun rise. We walked up the pitch dark paths and arrived in time to see the sun rise above the Golfo Dulce and the volcanoes of Panama.
We were sorry to part from the many friends we made and from this paradise but had to move on to our next destination – Drakes bay on the western coast of Osa peninsula.
Driving to Drakes we were glad we got a high clearance vehicle as we had to cross several rivers. As it was a dry season the rivers were not deep but plunging into them with the car felt always a bit risky.
Drake was very different from serene Bolita as it is a bustling touristy village. Following Noa’s advice booked a cabin with a hammock overlooking the bay in the nice and cheap Cabinas Murillo.
Plenty of (expensive) organised tours can be undertaken from here but we spent most of our time exploring the amazingly beautiful beach, which you walk for many miles.
In the jungle light is the limiting factor and trees try to get as tall as possible. Those that can’t grow tall climb and piggyback on other trees. Here on the beach trees use a somewhat different strategy by reaching as far out above the surf to get as much light as possible.
Some of the trees over did it and didn’t survive like this impressive trunk. We took many pictures of its picturesque bark and only realised at home that it looks like female torso.
This fig tree is grasping a palm to piggyback and reach the light. What will happen next I will show in a future blog on Northern Costa Rica.
Brown Pelicans were hunting close to the rocky beach soaring above the water and plummeting head down into the surf.
The only organised tour we took and which was really nice was a snorkling tour to the Isla del Cano. The coral reef was all bleached apparently because the water was so hot. We saw however dolphins and sea turtles and many colourful tropical fish. Boobies floated around our boat and frigate birds soared above it.
We also met our lovely guide Daniel, originally from Spain who invited us to the lovely café his wife Maritsa, originally from Columbia, runs. The place, which was a bit difficult to find, is appropriately called Café del Rio as it is by yet another river that must be crossed. Maritsa makes wonderful yogurts and ice cream and serves it in their big garden among buzzing humming birds.
A White Nosed Coati on a tree on the beach.
A Basilisk by the Rio Claro.
An Osprey soaring above…
Our last evening on the beach of San Josesito. The tree on the island is the home of the Osprey.
The following day we drove from this almost southern tip of Costa Rica all the way to it northern border with Nicaragua. Our trip in Nicaragua and in the north of Costa Rica will be covered in future blogs.