Friday, 25 April 2014

Adventures in Costa Rica

I am here in Costa Rica and it's hot every day (28C to 34C), often with 100% humidity. This is a transitional period between the wet and the dry, so it can be pretty brutal. I had a travel agent do the bookings for me since I was in a hurry to get away from The Big Smoke and the brutal winter we've had. Upon arrival on Easter Sunday the tropical sun was directly overhead and cast a small shadow beneath my feet. Welcome to Central America.

I spent the night at the Hotel Aranjuez in San Jose, the Capital. Early the next morning I took the shuttle to Sierpe to catch a boat to a tent camp near Corcovado National Park. The tent camp is run by a expatriate American from San Diego named Tom, who is in his sixties. There were fellow travellers from the Netherlands, France and the United States. That afternoon I took a walk through the forest and along the rocky shoreline and beaches I came to a glade where there were huge mango trees and capuchin monkeys getting drunk on the fermenting fruit. On my way back I got soaked in a torrential downpour, as well my camera equipment got wet and there was condensation in some of the lenses. Luckily my camera is still in working order and so are my lenses.

While I stayed at the tent camp we were transferred by boat to Corcovado National Park and greeted by a park naturalist. We saw many species such as the Roadside Hawk, Cherrie Tanager, or Scarlet Rumped Tanager, the Blue Grey Tanager, Scarlet Macaw, Little Blue Heron, Great Blue Heron (seen it), Great Egret (seen it), White Ibis, Great Curassow, Kiskadee Flycatcher, Blue Capped Manakin, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper (seen it), Chachalacas (which he called chickens) and the Black Throated Trogon. Also seen were an American Crocodile, Caiman, Spider Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys and a sleeping Tapir. Most were too high up in the canopy to get decent, good quality photographs, and the light was very poor in the deep, dark forest. 
There are also a few old-growth trees in the park but most are 100 years old or less.

The hotel where I am staying in is called the Hotel Paraiosa and is the nicest place I've stayed in yet. It is owned and operated by Canadians. The food is good and it has beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean with it's crashing waves and rugged coastline. The warm breeze blows through the coconut palms. Iguanas and anoles scamper away up trees and walls. There are black vultures, tyrant flycatchers (Kiskadees and Streaked Flycatchers), hummingbirds and tanagers in abundance here, plus many more I can't identify. 

When I first arrived at the hotel, my room wasn't ready, due to damage to the floor in the bathroom where the shower is, so the manager had to make arrangements with another hotel in Domenical, just down the road until the grouting was dry.

This morning I went horseback riding up the hills to the Nauyaca Waterfalls. I have never ridden a horse before, but I managed OK.The views are stunning, and the trees are festooned with  vines and bromeliads. I opted out of a swim as I had a rather bad sunburn a few days earlier, snorkelling off Canos Island. The weather was cloudy and I was not prepared for the effects  of the tropical sun on my pale white Northern European flesh. 

Tomorrow it's off to Hacienda Baru for some birdwatching.

A young Jesus Lizard, or Basilisk.

Old growth in Corcovado National Park.

Capuchin Monkey.

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