Arenal and Drive Back To San Jose
The rain didn’t stop for countless hours. Our last day in Santa Clara we only had one goal: to hike to the waterfall and back. Hours we sat inside watching it pour. With only an hour of light left, the rain stopped enough that we made the hike. We heard Howler monkeys making their aggressive moans as the sun was going down. We started tracking them away from the waterfall toward the river. Back again to the waterfall, we spotted a family of five in the trees.
The next day we zip-lined in the canopy at Arenal in La Fortuna. A terrifying experience doing a Tarzan swing half-way through a series of 13 zip lines descending the mountain.
Afterward, we soothed our nerves at Hotel El Silencio. Birds abounded and I finally got a look at Montezuma’s Oropendola.
Driving back to the airport through San Ramone, we stopped at a town festival. A rainbow followed us all the way to our last stop, where we had one more surprise, palm trees full of screeching parrots.
at the terminus —
like Howler monkeys
Santa Clara Night Walk
The Tree Houses Hotel grounds were abundant with wildlife. The biodiversity here matched more of the imagined essence of Costa Rica: rain, frogs, sloths, monkeys, toucans, it seemed like it was all here. That night we were guided by Rolando, a mustached grounds-keeper, around the acreage. I was instantly overjoyed to see a Red-eyed Tree Frog, something I had hoped to see, I saw them many times that night. Sloths climbed about the power lines, eating leaves and seemingly clumsily groped for hand holds. Rolando walked us along the narrow paved road while sporty cars driven by locals zoomed precariously close to us around the bends. He came to a side road along a fence. Rolando informed us that we needed to turn off our flashlights. When we were all gathered, he turned on the lights and showed us a swamp filled with thousands of cattle egrets and alligator eyes along the banks.
With six tourists —
A frog he hasn’t seen
in five years
Road to La Fortuna
Our fourth day in Monteverde, we opted to do another night tour with Rafa. He had a genuine excitement about nature that was compelling. This night it was just Jen, Rafa and I. We were able to go slower at each spotting and enjoy the tiniest of insects or plant or whatever caught our eye. The following morning ended our time in Monteverde. We were picked-up for a drive across the Tilaran Corderilla mountains down to Lake Arenal. The drive was pastoral. Rolling mountains in the mist descended into valleys cut with small streams where cattle drank. Birds flew around the skies and small farms dotted the entire circuit. Once at Lake Arenal, we boarded a boat which took us and 30 others to the southeast corner of the lake where we were once more picked up by ground transportation to head into La Fortuna. Our driver dropped everyone else off, including shuttling one other couple into a cab in the middle of the road so he could expedite us to our next stay at Tree Houses Hotel in Santa Clara a little further away from the fairly touristy town of La Fortuna. Along the way we stopped at Neptune’s Hammocks to shop for cat hammocks (they didn’t have any made). Our driver pointed out several toucan and I got some of my best photos with his help. That evening on the hotel grounds, I was directed to a sloth wandering among the upper branches of a tree near our tree house.
smiles in the canopy –
released from time
Second Night In Monteverde
On the second night in Monteverde, we took a night hike in Curi Cancha with Rafa. There were seven of us total. We saw lots of insects, birds and other interesting things in the forest. At one point, Rafa had us line up, put one hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us, turn off the flashlights and hike for several minutes in the complete dark. The following morning, we hiked with a different guide, Koky, through the Skywalk Park, just up the road from the B&B. While much less activity was present there, the series of bridges that connected over the forest canopy made for a very pleasant hike. In the afternoon, we heard toucans calling outside our tree house. I was lucky and one landed on a branch right where I had my camera directed. It flew over the tree house and I tracked it across the road where it met up with a second one. It was engaged in a form of communication that combined calls with gestures with its beak. In one photo the toucan can be seen pointing its beak straight into air as part of this display.
stinger in my foot –
a chance for awe
to come forth
Arriving in Monteverde
We arrived in Monteverde from San Jose on Sunday, February 8th. San Jose was a big, gritty city. The cabbies were con-artists and the people generally unhealthy and simply dressed. No reason to go there except to transit to the interesting places in the country. The trek from San Jose to Monteverde is about 4 hours, half on paved, windy roads and half on narrow, gravel windy roads. Monteverde is a small town of about 5000 people. A cloud-forest, recent years have seen the clouds retreat higher in elevation as the globe warms. The tales of the locals confirm that the climate has altered in Monteverde. Things are not what they once were. The photos from the first album are around Hidden Canopy Tree Houses Hotel, a small B&B in the remote outskirts of Monteverde and Curi Cancha Reserve. We photographed the hummingbirds in the garden, an estimated total of 12 species by the tree houses. The following day, we were taken on a hike in Curi Cancha Reserve with Rafa, a local with 16 years’ experience as a guide. The hike lasted about five hours. We saw toucan, many bird species including the Resplendent Quetzal, a bird people will travel across the world to see. When Rafa was notified that the Quetzal was spotted, we sprinted with full gear across the reserve for about 200-300 yards (I learned quickly I need more cardio) before arriving at a clearing with several avocado trees. It was here that the Quetzal was hiding with a female. Aside from birds, we saw several mammals we’d never seen before, as well as a pit viper, sunning in a tree.
retreating mist –
finding bizarre birds
in a clearing