Costa Rica: The rich coast! A country full of birds, animals, and adventure! Our summer travels took us to Costa Rica twice, 15 years apart, where we found a country still full of new experiences. It is indeed a country of diversity from mountains to volcanoes, to rain forests and beaches.
The countryside was full of cool trees and landscapes that looked like something out of Lord of the Rings or a place where the seven dwarfs would live. You could actually go inside the trees and probably camp out or live in if you were like the kid in My Side of the Mountain. There was one tree where a den of Pumas had been found back in the 1940s.
Our Trip Recommendations for Costa Rica 1. On our visit, we went to Tortuguero with a great tour company. If you decide to go, I would highly recommend Francesca Tours (http://tortuguerocanals.com/) We saw more birds and wildlife than anyone else we met, got lots of insight, saw turtles nesting, mating, and in the ocean, had good food and accommodations, and got a good value for our money. 2. San Jose is a good place to get tours out of but not much more in my opinion. The local color is too much like the US. I recommend taking a day tour to see Volcan Irazu, a coffee plantation (if you've never visited one), and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. The gardens were a wonderful place to see waterfalls and hummingbirds. I used the link below and though it seems expensive -- everything in Costa Rica was expensive -- they did pickup/dropoff at the hotel, provided great food, and really good service. http://www.costaricaguides.com/costa_rica_tours/tour.php?tourID=7&from=sanjose
Costa Rica is home to many birds and we were blessed to see quite a few of them. Our guide was great to get close to the wildlife so we could really see them, and took the time to tell us about the birds and their habitats. At the Mirador del Quetzales, we finally saw both the male and female Quetzal up in the trees. The Quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala, and, is on their money, but we had to go to Costa Rica to see one! The variety of hummingbirds in Costa Rica is amazing. To truly see all the colors one small colibri possesses, you have to get them in just the right mood and light! I tried to identify as many of them as possible, but sometimes you just have to go with pretty bird!aThe Fiery Throated Hummingbirds look different depending on the light angle you get.
3. We visited the Mirador del Quetzales in our quest to see the Quetzales and really enjoyed the place we stayed; it was pricy but the small staff tried hard. It was a refreshing change from the rainforest as it was cool and fresh; we even needed a heater at night! There were several places to hike in the woods. At the national park nearby, we even saw evidence of a Danta, a giant Taper. Come the night before and you can go out on the morning hike and hike the trails before heading on to your next destination.
The elusive male Resplendent Quetzal was difficult to see but we hung in there until we encountered one.This is a baby male Quetzal that was rescued from a local dog. The baby Quetzal was very sweet and when you fed it, you could hear his tiny bird voice. Hopefully he will be able to be returned to the wild once he gets bigger and his chest heals.
What is the most interesting aspect about the animals that we saw is that we saw them all within a 24 hour period! We didn't spend weeks looking and searching, but just floated by in our boat and nature unfolded around us on our trip to Tortuguera with Francesa Tours.
The Two-Toed Sloth with its baby wrapped around it. I was told that if a mother drops her baby accidentally, she usually won't go down after it so it either has to save itself or dies. The Long-Nosed Bats lined up on a tree were not something we expected to see in the daylight ride down the river.a
All the animals and birds we saw were along the river and we took about four hours to travel the distance from San Jose to Tortuguera where we would see the mating tortoises. I felt bad for the people on the other boats who were in it for just "getting there" and didn't get to enjoy the ride.
You can't have too many fotos of the Gaudy Leaf Frog andThe White-Throated Capuchin Monkey! The Tiger Heron is drying out his wings. Many of the birds do not have the natural oil glands to repel water so they would stand around to dry themselves out.
We actually saw turtles laying eggs, mating, and swimming back to the ocean. The male turtles actually wait in the surf for the females to return and the females can lay eggs about every 15 days. The guide said that a female will usually lay 3-4 times a season, about 100 eggs each time. The mating process itself takes about 24 hours and the female can store the sperm in her body to use at will.
4. For lodging in San Jose, a good choice is The Hemingway Inn. It was reasonably priced, conveniently located, and a friendly and helpful staff. They can help arrange tours and even flyfishing trips.
http://www.hemingwayinn.com/ 5. A good place to visit to see local color and the famous Costa Rican oxcarts is in Sarchi. Try and combine it with another tour in that area for another good day trip.
If you want to see Kingfishers in action, just hang out by inlets or river ways off the main lakes and you will see them zoom up and down looking for lunch. They often traverse the same route, so if you miss them the first round, they will probably be back.
The view from our cabins at the Mirador de Quetzales was the perfect place to just relax and enjoy the wonder of nature around us.
I'll share my favorite memory of the trip - we were at a volcanic lake in Costa Rica and the clouds were covering everything so that we couldn't see anything. We were waiting and looking, hoping it would clear up so we could see the volcano, lake, and landscape below - including the Caribbean Sea - and I was in the middle of this group of older ladies that started singing praise songs, in Spanish, to God, and the more they sang, the clearer it got, until all the clouds just blew away. It was amazing. They called on God and praised Him and He showed up. It just reminded me how often we forget to do that and don't call on the power and grace of God to be there in whatever circumstances in our lives; and, you have to do it unabashed love and no worry of what those around you might think. I felt truly blessed to have been there.