Tag Archives: birds

Monteverde to Jaco : Costa Rica

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Monteverde to Jaco : Costa Rica

Today we moved on from the heights and cool temperatures of Monteverde to the coastal town of Jaco (pronounced Hacko). Situated on the pacific coast of Costa Rica, for some well earned relaxation after visiting Monteverde’s parks. Jaco is labelled as a party town because it’s just around a two hour drive from San Jose the capital.

Once again we opted to take a shared shuttle bus from Monteverde as our journey which was around three and a half hours in a car that is, would have involved two buses with a long wait in between and a much longer journey time. We found a local company in Monteverde who came highly recommended, called Faro travel . Their service was excellent, they kept us updated all the way from booking until pickup. So when Andreas our driver turned up in a 4×4 suv we were pleasantly surprised. I guess that their were not any other customers wanting to do the same journey. Andreas was very informative on the journey with all things Costa Rican. He told us that the Pan American highway we were travelling on is the longest highway in the world, stretching from Alaska to Patagonia, a distance of 48000 km, wow. We stopped at what the locals call Crocodile bridge, which was about two and a half hours into our journey, to take a break and stretch our legs. Now we had seen images of Crocodile bridge during our research back in the Uk. With pictures of the river below the bridge showing vast numbers of Crocodiles lazing around on the river banks below. But alas for us as the river was pretty high and flowing fast we only saw one, but we did see one rather large iguana lazing in the sun on a tree branch, he or she looked like they did not have a care in the world. Except not to get to close to the river as they may become dinner for a Crocodile.

Now we were not sure what to expect of Jaco, as it is billed as a party town. Now we don’t mind a good night out on the town but we like to walk to the nightlife, rather than being situated in the middle of it. So we were rather apprehensive about the location of our choice of hotel, but we were pleasantly surprised. Our accommodation the Hotel Ibiza was down a nice quiet street on the edge of town and just a few minutes from the beach. A really lovely clean nicely decorated place where the staff were all so lovely and friendly. Just perfect.

We booked just four nights at Hotel Ibiza. With hindsight we should have stayed there for the duration of our nine nights in Jaco, but we thought that to save the cost of eating out every night we should maybe book an apartment for the other five nights. So we opted for the La Paloma Blanca apartments the other end of town. Now the complex the apartment was on was beautiful, all low rise, three lovely pools, also we seemed to have the whole place to ourselves. The apartment itself was very spacious but was well used as a rental property so it was a bit jaded around the edges. Our apartment B3 was on the third floor with nice views over the pool and the sea. We had booked through booking.com but it turned out the booking was handled by an agent call Vacasa. The price on booking.com was one thing but the extras that was charged but the letting agent was eye watering. 13% tax 18% service charge 9% location fee and $69 dollars cleaning fee. As the booking was non refundable we were well and truly stuck. Oh well you live and learn. But we did have a lovely stay there, with the added bonus of watching the colourful Scarlet Macaws who must have had a nest in a close by tree.

One other reason was to visit the Parque Nacional Carara (we can’t get enough of them). Situated near to crocodile bridge it’s another park run by Sinac which is government run. Entrance fee $11 dollars. There is no guided tour available, just self guided. The paths are all easy except at one point there is a climb up and down some rather badly maintained steps. Now I don’t know whether it’s just bad luck, or the wrong time of day but there was not much in the way of wildlife, except lots of lizards. Oh I nearly forgot also a couple of strikingly coloured poison dart frogs. We also were able to recognise the forest above a forest which we learned on our guided tour of the Santa Elena park. Besides that just to be walking through the jungle is something that we both would never tire off and never experienced before our trip to Central America.

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.