Tag Archives: jungle

Sierpe Frogs : Sierpe, Costa Rica

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Sierpe Frogs : Sierpe, Costa Rica

As I said in my previous post I felt the only way to describe how amazing our mangrove and night hike tours were was to cover it in a separate post completely .

All through our journey through Costa Rica we had wanted to do a night hike to see the elusive Red eye tree frog, or any frog to be honest. We have heard plenty of them when visiting the National parks, but despite hearing the amazing chorus of all the frogs calling out we never actually got to see any. It seemed every time we did our research on the different companies offering night frog tours or hikes the reviews were never great. A lot of the night walk tours are on private reserves where a man made frog pond is built just to get the tourists in and to make a whole lot of money in the process, something we definitely do not subscribe to. It seemed we were never going to find a good company or tour that would satisfy our ethical way of thinking. It was not until Jackie was browsing the net that she stumbled upon Sierpe Frogs on trip advisor, which is strange it’s a platform we hardly use as we have found that most of the review posts on there are years out of date. But in this case the majority of the reviews were up to date and were excellent, and there were none rated below good. So our decision was made. When we arrive at Sierpe we will contact Raby Nuñez the proprietor and book our tour.

We met Raby at 5:30pm at the dock, as we had to cross the Sierpe river to start our walk. Raby was a really lovely guy and spoke perfect English so we were off to a good start. Raby’s friend, Jeffrey who was training as a guide came along too. We disembarked the small boat and started our walk. We walked for about 25 minutes, up hill for the most part. All along our journey to the start of the trail Raby was explaining about the many types of different plants and trees and how they help and supply food for the wildlife. His knowledge was excellent. We reached a bend in the road when Raby pointed out a huge ants nest. We were astounded when he told us the nest can be up to six metres deep “ wow “. Eventually we got to where the walk started. I could describe it as a path but it was far from that, it was a real trek through the jungle and in places very slippery under foot, which did not impress me as on more than one occasion my worn out knees have given way causing me to fall “I’ve got two grazed knees to prove it”. It was a good job we brought out very good Brasher walking boots with us because in places the track was very muddy and wet. Whilst we were walking along to get to the path Raby asked us if we minded him picking up the frogs to show us or just point them out. We asked him if by picking them up would they get harmed in any way, but he reassured us it wouldn’t . Incidentally he told us he doesn’t even use insect repellent whilst handling the frogs so that no harmful chemicals can be transferred. So we were happy to say we were okay with it. Raby’s knowledge on all types of frog species was excellent. He is really passionate about the little fellows. Raby’s passion for frogs and lizards, started as a small child, so it is great that he can now turn his love of nature and wildlife into his job. We learned so much about the species and every frog he picked up was placed on a leaf for us to admire and look at and for me to photograph them. Raby or Jeffery then placed them meticulously back in the same place he found them. Another highlight was seeing a Wedge billed wood creeper fast asleep in the nook. An absolutely amazing and unforgettable night. Apart from where I was stung by a huge wasp, which somehow managed to get up my shirt sleeve. Boy did it sting. Oh and also being thoroughly exhausted by the experience, but so so worth it. Apart from the bee sting that is.

As we had such an amazing time on the night hike we also booked a mangrove tour with Raby. Once again we were not disappointed. The trip lasted three hours and once again saw plenty of wildlife. Howler Monkeys, white faced capuchin monkeys, and for the first time on our trip the adorable squirrel monkeys. We also saw a Boa snake curled up in a tree. Plenty of iguanas enjoying the sun, a toucan crocodiles,oh and a raccoon perched on a branch high up in a tree. I had no idea that’s where they live and sleep during the day, being nocturnal. We would never have spotted all this amazing wildlife without our guide. Another amazing Costa Rican experience. All made possible by Raby, Jeffrey and Sierpe Frogs. Who I cannot recommend highly enough

Quepos : Costa Rica

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Quepos : Costa Rica

We are now gradually working our way down the pacific coast to eventually cross the border back into Panama. We have moved on from Jaco to the town of Quepos (pronounced Kepos) mainly to visit the Manual Antonio National Park. We booked a small room on the fringes of the town, at a place call Casa Del Arbol. Sounds better than it is. The apartment is much cheaper than Jaco, also a bit of a comedown from our nice apartment there. It’s quite dark inside but at least it has air-con and it’s clean, but as usual the photos look far better than reality, but we are only here for four nights so it will do.

Quepos is a nice little town laid out in grid form and is the place where most people stay when visiting Manual Antonio Park. There is not much to do in town except eat and drink but there are plenty of choices. There is a promenade with lovely views over the ocean, but is not very well kept and has quite a litter problem. Still walking along it we saw lots of our lovely iguanas spread out on the rocks taking in the sunshine, for which they need as they are cold blooded reptiles. At the end of the promenade their is a nice marina with a good choice of upmarket restaurants, which are surprisingly good value considering their location. The marina itself is full of what Americans call sports boats, used mainly for big game fishing, Marlin sharks etc, with posters advertising competitions throughout the year, if that’s your thing.

Our visit to the Manual Antonio park nearly never was. You see we had planned to visit on Tuesday, as the Lonely Planet guide book stated it is closed on Mondays. It was only by chance on checking the parks website on Sunday night, to download a map of the park we discovered it’s actually closed on a Tuesday but open on Monday. Also we found out you can only purchase tickets online on the official website. Click here. entrance fee is $15 dollars pp. At time of writing you could not buy them at the gate only online.

Top Tip beware of other websites advertising online tickets, buy from the official site from the link above. Also beware of anyone trying to sell you tickets at the entrance, they will probably only be buying them online, which you can do yourself and charge you a fee.

Getting to the park is easy from town, there is a dedicated bus to the park from the bus station and runs roughly every 15 minutes or so. The fare is less than a £1 for two people. We opted to take an Uber from our apartment, as it saved walking to the bus station, the cost was roughly £2.50. As it turned out it was a good move as we avoided running the gauntlet of souvenir venders, unofficial tour guides and people trying to sell you tickets. If you are thinking of taking a guided tour only book them on the official site, as although the ones plying there trade outside, may look official they are not and more than likely you will get a substandard tour.

The morning of our visit to the park we were awoken by the most horrendous sound of rainfall hammering on the tin roof, nearly all the properties out here have them. Believe me when it rains out here boy does it rain. As this was the only day for us to visit the park and the fact we had booked our tickets we had no choice but to brave it. Luckily we had brought good walking clothes and boots with us also a packable rain coat. Although wearing the raincoat you get equally as wet inside as you do out because of the heat and humidity. For about the first hour of our walk the rain did not let up. Oh well what do you expect when you visit a country renowned for its rain forests.

The first part of the walk was easy, just a small incline up a gravel track. We had not long entered the park when out of the jungle on our left a couple of raccoons wandered across our path just a few feet in front of us. Brilliant . Unfortunately my cameras were packed away in my rucksack, for obvious reasons, and I could not operate my phone because of my wet hands, still it was exciting anyway as it was our first time in seeing raccoons in the wild. We continued up the path to be greeted by a cafe come souvenir shop. This made us quite angry as at the entrance you’re bags are searched for plastic, “which is good to avoid littering the park” and for food as it’s not allowed in the park. Only to discover that you could buy plastic bottles of water, fizzy drinks and food at the cafe.

From this point we took the trail to the viewpoint, this is where it started getting tough. Wooden flights of stairs after stairs we reached the first one and because of the weather you can imagine the view wasn’t great. There was a guide taking someone at this point and we asked him how much further is the next point. When he said about another half an hour we threw in the towel. So it was back down to the shop where the climb started to start the next trail, called Punta Catedral (Cathedral point). The walk started alongside the beautiful white sand beach, it was not long before we started to climb up some very dilapidated not very well kept steps. Up and up we climbed with it getting harder and harder. We did not know whether to turn back or carry on. We were exhausted. We trudged on when finally we started to descend. It was equally as tough going down as up because the steps were in such a bad state of repair. At one point there what was once a bridge totally broken down and rusted away which crossed a small stream, so we had to walk through the stream to get across it was a good job we had our walking boots on. We finally reached the bottom and was back on the beach where we started, absolutely worn out. I’m not going to lie it was very difficult for me. also we did not see any wildlife along the way probably because we were to busy tying to stay upright. I have to say it was not a pleasurable experience but I did it. We walked a total of 4.26 miles. Climbed 1640 feet which took us just under 4 hours. I’m sure I will suffer tomorrow.

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.

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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