Category Archives: Costa Rica

Uvita: Costa Rica.

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Uvita: Costa Rica.

Continuing down the pacific coast towards the Panamanian border we are now at a town called Uvita. Well hardly a town just a few restaurants, and places to stay strung out along the road leading to the Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, which is the reason we are here. We are staying at a lovely little apartment we found on Airbnb behind a very nice complex called Plaza Bahia Moana, with a great little cafe restaurant called Le French Cafe who serve lovely food and has really lovely staff.

Marino Ballena Park, (Ballena is Spanish for whale) was created to provide a safe haven for the migrating humpback whales who come to breed in the warmer tropical waters just off the coast. The whales migrate down from the west coast of America and southern British Columbia which is where they feed. Unfortunately for us the best time to see them is between June and November so we were out of luck. In a way though we are quite glad, because as well as the restaurants and accommodation along the road there are quite a few places where you can book a whale spotting tour, with lots of dormant boats by the side waiting for the season to start. I can only presume in the height of the whale spotting season there will be lots of these boats out on the water, full of tourists chasing the whales around just to get a photo. Which is something we both don’t agree with. We declined to do this in Sri Lanka because of the same reason.

I have to mention how friendly and helpful the Costa Rican people are, everyone we have met have been lovely. When we walked down to the park entrance to see where we had to go for our visit, a local man who was selling his driftwood carvings called us over and and took us to the edge of a small stream and pointed out a female Caiman and her babies. He didn’t want any money he was just pleased to show them to us.

Uncannily the park is shaped like a whale tail, which can be seen at low tide (See Photo) which I didn’t take incidentally. This is caused by two converging currents that when meet, push the sand up and create a walkway to another sand bar that runs across like the letter T, hence the name whale tail. The picture will explain a lot better than I can.

Parque Marino Ballena whale tail

The whale tail can only be seen at low tide, so it’s best to check out tide times for the day of you visit. Entrance fee to the park is $6 dollars per person and you can come and go as many times as you like on the same day.

The walk to the viewing point of the whale tale involves crossing a water inlet which when we crossed to get to the viewpoint it was just over ankle deep. Once at the whale tail there is a path which goes off into a mangrove where hopefully you will spot some wildlife (we didn’t incidentally). Also there were a few signs warning you of crocodiles, slightly worrying. All the same it was a nice walk but extremely hot and humid. The path exits where we had previously crossed the inlet, but the river was much wider and the water was much deeper as the tide was coming in. We watched where other people were crossing and followed them. Hanging on to each other we gingerly crossed, the water was much deeper than previously. We had no alternative but to carry on as we had to cross to exit the park, this is when I managed to find a deep hole and went over and nearly under. With my rucksack full of expensive cameras and equipment and my iPhone in my pocket I thought the worse. Thankfully my iPhone being the latest model is advertised as being waterproof up to 6 metres for 30 minutes. Thankfully I did not descend 6 metres and I wasn’t under for 30 minutes, but a quick dunk for about 10 seconds and all was well. Also thanks to my good quality Osprey rucksack my cameras and lenses were fine. Panic over.

The high converging tides causing the whale tail

Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena.

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Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena.

In my opinion Reserva Bosque Nuboso is the jewel in the crown of the Monteverde area. This government run reserve has no zip lines, bungee jumping or anything else to disturb the wildlife. It’s just a pure untouched cloud forest. We decided to take a guided walk, and at $33 pp this turned out to be excellent value. Our guide who’s name I forgot “I have a real mental block when it comes to names” was so informative during our walk. We learned so much, not just about the wildlife but the plant life too, also the cloud forest itself. It was fascinating to learn how the plants and trees grow and work in harmony together. How some trees grow around others and sadly strangling the unfortunate recipient. Also one amazing fact that there is a forest above a forest. When the guide pointed it out you could clearly see a huge dense area above the trees with long strands of thin routes reaching down to the forest below. He also showed us a tree who’s berries when broken open, smelt like citronella or sherbet. Along the way the guide stopped and shone his torch into a whole in a bank and pointed out a large tarantula, which I got a great shot with my iPhone. He also pointed out some fascinating insects along the way. When we arrived back at the entrance, another guide pointed out to him something in a nearby tree. What we saw was incredible which without a guide we would never have spotted, even with the guide it took a while to see what he was pointing to. The most amazing insect I have ever seen it really looked like part of the tree, incredible.

So far on our trip one bird that we were hoping to see is the elusive Resplendent Quetzal. Whilst we were having a coffee in the cafe the guide came running in as he had spotted one. I managed to get a photo but just of his or hers body and tail. Oh well hopefully we will get to see another further along on our trip.

Sky Adventures : Monteverde, Costa Rica

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Sky Adventures : Monteverde, Costa Rica

When we were planning our trip to Costa Rica, and after reading about the Monteverde area, one thing that caught our attention was the cloud bridges through the rainforest. Whilst in Monteverde we looked into it further and it appears that a company has bought a huge area of the rainforest and erected zip lines throughout, a bungee jumping platform a sky tram and a tree climbing experience. Which goes against all that we believe in. How on earth can a huge area of rainforest be allowed to be purchased, by some big conglomerate whose only intention is to make lots of money, allowing thousands of people a year shouting and screaming along zip wires upsetting nature. So our dilemma was do we go or not.

Unfortunately as this was our only option to see the rainforest from above so we booked a ticket which was just walking the bridges. Priced at $41 each. With reluctance I have to say we throughly enjoyed. It was so good to see the forest from above. We were able to see many hummingbird’s collecting the pollen from the flowers. We also saw a group of howler monkeys sitting in the middle of one of the bridges. We stood with a group of people who were all respectful towards them. We all proceeded very slowly as to not disturb them too much, and with some trepidation. They all then climbed into the adjacent trees and gave us a fantastic view. The camera shutters were furiously clicking away.

I have to say the experience was really good and thankfully we did not hear too many screaming people flying along the zip lines. As a bonus and whilst we were waiting for the bus back to town, sitting in the ticket hall when a Coati wandered in, tipped over the bin, prised the lid off and run off with some contents. They are so naughty they are our second favourites of naughtiness next to monkeys.

Monteverde National Park: Costa Rica

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Monteverde National Park: Costa Rica

Today we visited the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve The Cloud Forest Reserve is located on the Tilarán mountain range in northern Costa Rica at an elevation of 1500 meters (5000 feet) above sea level and is situated on the continental divide “Which means that when the rains fall on the mountain, and into the rivers it either flows out into the Atlantic Ocean on one side or the Pacific Ocean on the other. There are various trails to take throughout the park, which are all fairly easy. Just as we had started our walk we came across a friendly Coati foraging about for food, taking no notice of us at all. On the return leg a couple of American guys told us that further along the path was a crab. Now considering we were in a rain forest and miles from the sea, it was the last thing we expected to see. I took some photos and he was getting rather feisty with both claws out wide, and snapping away with his claws. Quite funny really. The entrance cost for the park is $25 pp which is more expensive than some parks but worth it nonetheless

While sitting down to a cold drink waiting for the return bus we were serenaded by the amazing sound of the extremely loud howler monkeys. Another great day in Costa Rica.

Coati
Coati

A walk through the mangrove: Cahuita

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A walk through the mangrove: Cahuita

Today we did the second part of Parque Nacional Cahuita. The entrance to this part of the Park is a short bus ride from town. You need to ask for a ticket to Puerto Vargas. When you get off the bus, immediately opposite is a unmade road, walk about 200m then you will come across the park entrance. Entry to the park will cost just a little over $5 per person, which is extremely good value.

The walk starts just after the car parking area, and behind the toilet block. Don’t worry you will not have to wade through the mangrove as the whole 2 mile walk to the beach at the end , is on a boardwalk. Along the way you will encounter Howler Monkeys, White faced Capuchin Monkeys. We did not encounter many bird’s though, either because it was mid to late afternoon or they had all migrated due to the imminent rainy season. All along the way we were serenaded by the most amazing cacophony of sound coming from what must have been hundreds of frog’s. But although we stopped on numerous occasions to try and spot one of them it was to no avail. But having that soundtrack playing all the way along the journey was just amazing. We eventually got to the beach having walked very slowly to get an elusive view of the wildlife. It was such an amazing experience walking through the jungle mangrove’s. Trying to peer further into the jungle from the boardwalk was fruitless as it was so dense. Just standing there imagining what other creatures lie beyond was mesmerising.

After we return to the entrance we were both quite exhausted. We hoped that we would not have to wait to long for a bus back to Cahuita. Also that it would not be to crowded like on the journey to the park. But a saviour in the form of a very beat up mini bus and it’s very friendly craggy faced local shouting out the window “Cahuita Cahuita“. We asked how much and he said 1000 Crc per person, £1.17 the decision was a no brainier. He managed to fill his mini van up with exhausted people from the park. Good luck to him I say

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