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A Week in Costa Rica (Arenal and Tirimbina)


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Atdahl

Since I know there are a lot of Costa Rica fans on this forum. I thought I would share information about our recent trip. It was a 9 day day trip that went like this:

 

1 Night Hotel Aeropuerto

4 Nights Arenal Observatory Lodge

4 Nights Tirimbina Rain Forest Lodge

 

We also did quite a few organized activities this trip which is different than our usual Costa Rica M.O.

 

Here is a link to the day 1 report: http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2016/03/costa-rica-day-1-march-16-2016.html

 

And here's my favorite photo from day 1 as a teaser...

 

DSC_3760_edited-2-L.jpg

 

Feel free to ask any questions if you have them.

 

Alan

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Nice start, nice teaser, looking for more :)

AOL is definitely our Arenal place next time when in CR. First time was Lost Iguana, and we loved it, but we would like to try something else next time.

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Treepol

@@Atdahl is that sloth grinning?

 

Lovely first post and I'm looking forward to hearing more when you have time.

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xelas

Looking forward to enjoy some spectacular photos, @@Atdahl ! And yes, you can count me among Costa Rica aficionados!

Drat, I am already ending my 3rd year AWOL from Costa Rica :( .

Edited by xelas
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michael-ibk

And what a teaser it is, love that Sloth! :)

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Atdahl

@@xyz99 - I have heard good things about Lost Iguana. For us, our go to lodge has been Bosque Del Cabo. But, like you, we wanted to see Arenal. AOL is a good base but not without it's shortcomings...more on that coming.

 

@@Treepol - The Three-toed Sloth (Brown-throated Sloth officially) has a naturally grin. So, while I would like to think it was smiling for the camera, that's not the case. But, it sure does make them photogenic when you can get close enough

 

@@xelas - Ah...the 3 year itch. You must scratch it soon.

 

@@michael-ibk - Thanks. Day 2 is forthcoming.

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Atdahl

Our first full day at AOL was a pretty good one. They do have a lot of bird species that can be seen regularly there which was great. Plus, we had some good mammal encounters as well.

 

The report can be viewed here: http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2016/03/costa-rica-day-2-march-17-2016.html

 

Here is a teaser from day 2:

 

DSC_4625_edited-1-L.jpg

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Tamandua!!!!

 

I've never seen one before, not even from a distance!

BdC is our favorite too...we tried to recreate the atmosphere/feel earlier this year at Lodge at Pico Bonito in Honduras, it didn't happen :(

True, it rained all the time we were there...so BdC is still #1.

 

This looks like the beginning of a great trip, can't wait to see more! Other than the bumpy road to get to it, what did you think about AOL? Did you stay there all 4 days, or did you braved the road back for some trip somewhere?

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Patty

Great start! The baby two toed sloths are adorable and 3 tamanduas!

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Atdahl

Hi @@Patty, hope all is well with you. Yes, that was a great start.

 

@@xyz99, we have tried to find other lodges like BdC. Chan Chich in Belize comes pretty darn close but other than that BdC stands alone in our minds. Regarding AOL, it was great and it was lousy.

 

Great:

- Wildlife, trails (they let you self walk even at night), views, staff

 

Lousy:

- Bed, average food with repeat menus

 

The road actually wasn't that bad but we live on a dirt road so we are probably used to it. For instance, it was pretty "washboardy" but it's worst parts were no worse than the worst parts on the road between Puerto Jiminez and BdC. I think they do over feed the birds and mammals with all the fruit they put out daily. It seems like the Oropendola's were dependent on that food since we never saw them eating elsewhere. But, we did see the Coati and other birds feeding in trees.

 

I would recommend the lodge but keep your expectations low on room comfort and food. If Arenal was covered by clouds our whole trip (which it easily can be) I bet we would be a lot more disappointed.

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Atdahl

Day 3 at AOL was really good. We saw our first snakes, a lot more birds, and one of the trip highlights the Red-eyed Tree Frog:

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2016/03/costa-rica-day-3-march-18-2016.html

 

We also found the Howler Monkey troop. We only saw monkeys 3 times I think, which is a far cry from what we have seen at BdC on the Osa Peninsula before.

 

DSC_4981_edited-1-L.jpg

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michael-ibk

Just wow about that Red-Eyed Tree Frog, what a splendiferous animal! Also love the second picture of the tree (great angle) and the Motmots.

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Great pictures!!!

We did not get to see any Eyelash Viper (at Hanging Bridges or anywhere else) but we got to witness a group of noisy tourists being "attacked" by a group of howler monkeys. I'll give you one choice to guess what projectiles they were using :)

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Atdahl

@@michael-ibk, thanks. We love those frogs so you will see a few more pictures of them...

 

@@xyz99, great story! You have to love Karma.

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Atdahl

Day 4 was our last full day at Arenal so we made the most of it by hiking the trails for most of the day.

 

Here's the report: http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2016/03/costa-rica-day-4-march-19-2016.html

 

And here's today's teaser pic:

DSC_5660_edited-1-L.jpg

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Atravelynn

As if your photos don't answer the question:

 

Why those 2 spots? There are no dumb questions, right?

 

I am asking, as opposed to Costa Rica's many other options? But it appears you've done many of those other options.

 

Excellent start! Looking forward to some more.

 

Did the time of year you were there give you better odds of AOL not being covered by clouds throughout your stay?

Edited by Atravelynn
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xelas

@@Atravelynn

 

Choosing Arenal Observatory Lodge and Tirimbina Rain forest Lodge are quite logical options, knowing that Amdahl has come to make photos of wildlife.

 

AOL trails are known as the best spot for wildlife in and around Arenal area; the fact that they do attract many animals by feeding them might be a deterrent factor to some, but if good photo opportunities is what you are looking for, it is a no-brainer.

Sarapiqui area is very oversight area as tourism goes. IMO it is second only to Osa in terms of wildlife, much easier to get to, and with limited lodges it also attracts much more specialised visitors. There is La Selva OST and Tirimbina and nature Pavillion, all excellent spots to get a nice photo.

 

@@Atdahl

 

Of course, I am not answering in your name. Just giving my thoughts. So please do post your thoughts about those two locations.

On several bird photos I have noticed you have used flash. Was the light so bad? What were your usual settings, how high have you pushed the ISO?

The red eye tree frogs ... one only photo of one brought me to Costa Rica for my first visit. What a lovely creature, and so photogenic!

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Atdahl

@@xyz99, ask an ye shall receive. Just wait... :) .

 

@@Atravelynn. Hi Lynn. No, there are no dumb questions. @@xelas actually summed my thoughts up nicely. We picked AOL based on reviews, wildlife, and the large trail system they have plus they let you hike alone even at night. Sarapiqui was also chosen based on wildlife sightings. We chose Tirimbina over a La Selva lodge due to community feedback from www.mammalwatching.com. Tirimbina has had some great mammal sightings in the past. But, a lot of those are bats and the bat researchers weren't there during our stay which limited the bat species seen. Plus, again they have an extensive trail system which matched our needs well.

 

We have only gone to the Osa before to Bosque del Cabo and have never done some of the "must do" Costa Rica activities like zip lines, hot springs, surfing, or rafting. Our goal on trips is to maximize wildlife watching and photo opportunities. We chose March because Dec to April is the "dry" season in Costa Rica. So, there is less rain on average during that time. We have also gone in May before and definitely saw more rain. As it turned out, March was not the best choice due to Spring Break. I didn't know that Costa Rica was a spring break destination for high school groups. The only remaining "new" areas on my list for a future Costa Rica trip are the San Gerardo de Dota region to see the Resplendent Quetzal and possibly an overnight stay in Corcovado to see Tapir (if our Pantanal trip in September doesn't yield any). Of course, we can see ourselves back at Bosque del Cabo too.

 

@@xelas, thanks for you input on Lynn's questions, you were right on target. This was our 8th trip to the rain forest and I learned early on that photography is tough with all the low light, back light, and sometimes bright light within feet of each other in the rain forest. So, even though I carry a tripod most the time, the light varies so quickly I end up trying flash once in a while to get higher shutter speeds. I don't fiddle with the ISO as much as I should. I just don't feel I have time to check my LCD/histogram, reset things manually and take another photo. By then, the critter is gone. I know I should stretch my skills and try to improve at that. But, in the moment it is hard to do :).

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Atravelynn

Thanks @@xelas and @@Atdahl. Helpful info on Spring Break, weather, and Osa.

 

We have only gone to the Osa before to Bosque del Cabo and have never done some of the "must do" Costa Rica activities like zip lines, hot springs, surfing, or rafting. We differ on "must do." <_<

 

Looking forward to some more when you have time.

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bushbaby

Even since I heard and saw the name resplendent quetzal 4 years back I have wanted to go to Costa Rica. Thanks for sharing your trip report and nice photographs. Hooked me again and now need to do more research on logistics and budget !!

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Atdahl

@@Atravelynn, those aren't our "must do" items either. But they seem to be for a lot of visitors to Costa Rica. They will likely be "never do" items for us.

@@bushbaby, I am right there with you with that bird and I am not a birder. Savegre Lodge used to be the go to place for Queztals and they still might be but they are pricey and book up way in advance (1 year last time I checked). But, there are other lodges that area to look at. I have also been looking at Western Panama. http://www.losquetzales.com/ lodge there seems interesting because of some good mammal watching too. I may look seriously at a Quetzal trip next year to one of these locations.
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Atravelynn

 

@@Atravelynn, those aren't our "must do" items either. But they seem to be for a lot of visitors to Costa Rica. They will likely be "never do" items for us. I'm too scared to zip.

@@bushbaby, I am right there with you with that bird and I am not a birder. Savegre Lodge used to be the go to place for Queztals and they still might be but they are pricey and book up way in advance (1 year last time I checked). But, there are other lodges that area to look at. I have also been looking at Western Panama. http://www.losquetzales.com/ lodge there seems interesting because of some good mammal watching too. I may look seriously at a Quetzal trip next year to one of these locations.

 

Feel free to keep us all informed of your research and findings!

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+1 when it comes to the search for Queztals.

 

On the next CR trip, this will be objective #1. This, and turtles in Tortuguero :)

Edited by xyz99
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Atdahl

@@Atravelynn, will do. Planning is half the fun sometimes.

 

@@xyz99, Let us know your plans as well. Turtles would be great but I think their nesting season is different than the Quetzals, but I am not sure.

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