S: Costa Rica July 2011
FC: COSTA RICA | July 2011
2: Our first day in Costa Rica! We were picked up by our hotel transport, which also stopped to give a few friends a ride, and taken up the mountain to Bueno Vista Hotel, overlooking the central valley. After a walk through the forest, seeing banana trees, coffee and fruit trees and interesting plants, Ann, our personal tour guide, took us for typical Costa Rican food - heart of palm salad and baked plantain - yum! | The next morning, after a typical and delicious fresh fruit breakfast, we left for Arenal Observatory. En route, we saw typical steep mountain agriculture, towns and very, very winding roads.
3: The church and the square, a common town centre in Costa Rica although this one is unusual. All the trees are done by one local artist and resembled bikes, faces and dinosaurs
4: Our first destination was Arenal Volcano. We got lucky and saw the top of the volcano during a brief clear spell. Arenal was still smoking but the lava stopped flowing just a few weeks before we arrived!
6: We spotted mimosa ferns that collapse when touched, beautiful flowers and watched lots of monkeys around the Arenal Observatory, even while enjoying breakfast. On our second morning, we took a guided morning walk and watched a large troupe of spider monkeys leaping between the trees! "Hoopa"
9: The gardens were filled with beautiful flowers, | fruit to attact monkeys and birds | and shy lizards!
10: On the zip line tour! We took a sky tram up with beautiful views of the rainforest. Then it was time to take two short 'practice zips' before taking the first of 6 zip lines that were far above the canopy.
11: We had beautiful views of the Arenal Lake, as the forest dropped far below us, and spotted interesting wildlife at the different platforms along the way.
12: Thankfully, the first zip line faded into the fog so we couldn't see how long the cable was or how far below the ground would be until we were on it!! | The fog cleared after the first line after which our guides assured us the next one was longer..then faster... then longer AND faster. The final one passed through trees to feel the 55mph!!
13: Volcano off the back porch | Swan towels and fireflies | Our room at the Arenal Observatory came with a few perks | Colourful birds and incredible night forest sounds | Purple hummingbirds and butterflies
15: A walk to the waterfalls, and a swim below the falls. | Multi-trunked trees, lizards and butterflies | Eucalyptus bark
16: A tour of a butterfly conservatory with glass winged butterflies
17: And other cool critters
18: Rainforest areas that were cut down for ranching. | Large leaves and a small school.
19: Relaxing after a busy day, we sat on our porch and listened to an incredible rainforest storm. It let up just in time to go for dinner at the Tabacon Hot Springs. A romantic evening exploring the various natural pools, sitting behind and in warm water falls, all with soft forest sounds all around. We often had an entire pool to ourselves!
21: Our personal cabin at Rio Celeste Hideaway with its outdoor shower, private front porch and pool with three hot tubs... worth the torturous 4 hr drive over rubble and sketchy bridges!! | We were greeted with cool towels at the main building that had a beautiful open air restaurant, cute local servers working on their English, an excellent chef... and interesting washroom signs!
22: Well, a cave tour sounded fun... of course they forgot to warn us we would be crawling through streams, sliding down holes, walking though underground waterfalls all while trying to avoid the scorpion spiders!! But it was well worth it to see the incredible Venado caves.
23: On the way, our guide pointed out the promised sloth. We were shocked when it let its baby fall!! | Going into the caves and on the way home we spotted our first howler monkeys.
26: The Rio Celeste, or Blue River, was incredible, as was the hike through Tenorio National Park...that is until we had a two hour hike back in a torrential downpour and the path became a river!!
28: I waited out the rain with a hummingbird, and even saw one thumb-sized one | Beautiful Gardens!
29: flowers | The frog pool; our first night at Rio Celeste, we almost stepped on the hundreds of frogs crossing the path to get into the pool.
30: Son of our caves tour driver on the bridge down from Rio Celeste | The front lodge of the Rio Celeste.
31: On our drive back to San Jose, we stopped to check out the biggest tree in Costa Rica. Amazing!
33: We drove through the mountains with beautiful views to reach the Tortuguero Canals for a three day tour. On the boat ride to our island we enjoyed the Canal views, saw a crocodile hanging out and met Ed and Kelly from Holland.
34: A walk along the beach by the ocean. We saw tons of funny crabs that liked playing in the waves
35: An afternoon forest walk past a baby iguana 'tree', fuzzy flowers and spiders... for Emmet.
36: Wildlife along the canal; Our guides had an uncanny knack of spotting hidden birds and basilisk lizards. We saw tons of spider monkeys, swinging around and shaking trees, howler monkeys and even a troop of white-faced monkeys at the end of our last tour. Many of the monkeys had babies with them.
37: The canals were incredible, towering above us and teeming with an amazing variety of plants and animals.
38: Iguanas in the trees and Jesus Christ lizards running on water
40: Amazing creatures and butterflies in their conservatories. | Our guide showed us the world's largest grasshopper!
42: Many beautiful flowers around our cabins. | This tree was covered in beautiful fluffy pink flowers... on the inside.
43: A wander down the one road in Tortuguero village, but it still has internet. At night we spotted bunny-sized toads!
44: We took a night walk with lots of frogs 'chirping' to see the green turtles nesting. | Our first turtle was just finishing burying its eggs with its flippers, before heading back to sea. Our second turtle was laying its eggs in its nest.
46: After saying goodbye to the spiders and leopard crane, we returned to San Jose for a visit to Poas Volcano and the umbrella plants. There was too much fog for the main crater though.
48: Bamboo! | Turtles at the zoo.
49: Monkeys and toucans at the zoo. | Although we saw toucans in the wild a few times, they were too far for pictures.
50: We finished off our amazing adventure with a coffee plantation tour and a look at the famous oxcart's with our awesome guide Ann! An amazing 2 weeks!!