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A Week in Costa Rica (Arenal and Tirimbina)


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Atdahl

Despite being a "Transfer Day", Day 5 was pretty darn nice. I put a link to my Tripadvisor Review of AOL in the report if anyone wants more details.

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2016/03/costa-rica-day-5-march-20-2016.html

 

How about a snake teaser today:

DSC_6053_edited-1-L.jpg

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Atravelynn

@xyz99 May I ask about what your Tortuguero turtle plans are? Are you trying to see the egg laying part or the hatchlings running into the water? The Leatherbacks lay into April I believe, from about Feb, because I once caught the end of that season. I'd be very interested in trying to see the hatchlings go into the water, somewhere in the world. I think Rocktail Bay in South Africa is also a place to try to see hatchlings.

 

Pardon the hatchling intrusion. Back to the report.

 

Nice snake!

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SafariChick

@@Atdahl Enjoying this report very much! I've been to CR twice, the first time to Arenal area (stayed at Leaves and Lizards, which we really enjoyed, for a few days and then at Los Lagos which had its merits but was quite large, and then stayed in a rental home at Manuel Antonio which had spectacular views and we enjoyed the monkeys around there. The second time it was all Osa Peninsula - BdC and that overnight stay in Corcovado, which I HIGHLY recommend! I would love to see Tortuguero at some point.

 

@@Atravelynn there's a place in Mexico that I keep thinking of going to at some point to see turtle hatchlings. You can actually help release them into the water as they have a hatchery there and it seems like a lovely relaxing place to stay. I just don't know if there is enough to do, wildlife wise, to keep wildlife nuts like us happy for a whole vacation? This is the place: http://www.playaviva.com/

 

And now, back to your regularly scheduled trip report :D

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@@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.

 

Really? Ohh, bummer....I haven't really looked into it, just made a list of things to keep my eyes on...

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@xyz99 May I ask about what your Tortuguero turtle plans are? Are you trying to see the egg laying part or the hatchlings running into the water? The Leatherbacks lay into April I believe, from about Feb, because I once caught the end of that season. I'd be very interested in trying to see the hatchlings go into the water, somewhere in the world. I think Rocktail Bay in South Africa is also a place to try to see hatchlings.

 

Pardon the hatchling intrusion. Back to the report.

 

Nice snake!

 

Atravelynn,

I would love to see the hatchlings...but in the end, any phase/aspect of their lives would be an amazing experience. No concrete plans yet, just a lot of thoughts. It's always a matter of time and limited vacation time. Not to mention budget :(

On a separate note, loved your Peru TR a few years back, that's another place we are considering in the near future.

 

Atdahl, back to your report now, you seem to have great spotting skills. Never seen a snake in the wild...

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Atdahl

Day 6 was our first full day at Tirimbina. Lots of cool critters today including seeing one of our Tirimbina target species, the Strawberry Dart Frog:

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2016/03/costa-rica-day-6-march-21-2016.html

 

But, the teaser is a mammal:

DSC_6585_edited-1-L.jpg

 

 

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Tirimbina is now on my list, wow! And an armadillo...cool :)

But I think my favorite would be the blue jeans frog.

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Atdahl

@@xyz99, that's my favorite too.

 

Day 7 was filled with frogs and birds. It was a good picture taking day for a variety of reasons:

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2016/03/costa-rica-day-7-march-22-2016.html

 

 

Here are a couple teaser shots:

 

DSC_6674_edited-1-L.jpg

 

DSC_6875_edited-1-L.jpg

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Atdahl

And to finish things off, here is Day 8 the final day:

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2016/03/costa-rica-day-8-march-23-2016.html

 

 

I started with a Sloth Teaser, so I am going to end with one too:

DSC_7102_edited-1-L.jpg

 

A couple points for anyone going to Costa Rica any time soon:

  • The departure tax is now included in most airlines tickets (it was for us on United). So, check your ticket before you go. That will save you having to wait in another line when you leave (although the line was almost empty when we saw it)
  • Costa Rica still confiscates all food and water when you board your plane. That's right, after going through security, if you buy some food or water at the gate it will be taken away from you when you board the plane. This is only on flights to the US apparently. It has happened on all 5 of our trips so we know the drill but for those that don't, this is a huge shock since the vendors don't tell you when they sell you the stuff.
  • Departing San Jose Airport upon arrival used to be a huge madhouse with all sorts of people trying to give you rides. Now, they only have Orange Taxis and the chaos is greatly reduced. Instead of having 20 taxi drivers hitting you up, you have two people ask if you need a taxi, if so, they walk you to where the drivers are and the driver walks you to the taxi. This may have happened before, but we just noticed this trip since we need to take a cab. There are also signs telling you that only the Orange Taxis are authorized (our hotel told us this too).

Pura Vida!

 

Alan

 

 

 

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Any CR trip is a good trip, but yours was even better than that. Thanks for a great TR and wonderful pics.

When we were there in Feb a few years ago it was a drought time, so no frogs...hope to see some next time. Ok, so I added frogs to turtles and quetzals :)

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Atravelynn

Thanks for the heads up. Sometimes you just don't know what kind of questions to ask that would determine when/where to go.

 

"A word about Tirimbina in March. Don't go. I say that only because both Tirimbina and the Sarapiqui Lodge next door hosted dozens and dozens of high-school students during spring break. So, the main loop trail was way too crowded to see wildlife a lot of the time. We learned that after our first full day." You overcame that deficit very well.

 

I need sunglasses to look at your blog. The colors have their own spectrum and the whole rainbow is there.

 

Another good hint: "Costa Rica still confiscates all food and water when you board your plane. That's right, after going through security, if you buy some food or water at the gate it will be taken away from you when you board the plane. This is only on flights to the US apparently. It has happened on all 5 of our trips so we know the drill but for those that don't, this is a huge shock since the vendors don't tell you when they sell you the stuff."

 

Of course the vendors are hush-hush.

 

I like the white nosed coati, very different from those in the Pantanal.

 

Great sloths! Overall, wouldn't you say you were wildly successful?

Edited by Atravelynn
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michael-ibk

Wonderful photos and storytelling in this report, thank you! The Blue Jeans Frogs really were exceptionally cool. And what a Sloth sighting to end it! But I have to tell you - I really never thought that Sloth poo would be cool looking! ;)

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xelas

@@Atdahl

Another great promotion for Costa Rica's nature and its diversity! It looks like we are following the similar pattern of going there (2008, 2011 and 2013 for us) so it is time to return also for us!

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Atdahl

@@xyz99, Thank you. The frogs are totally worth it. Big or small, we love 'em all!

 

@@Atravelynn, Thanks. Yes, I do feel the trip was very successful (heck every trip beat working!). I think we have just been spoiled in Costa Rica by the lodge where we have gone before. Of course, it's 5 times the price too. So, maybe we needed to manage our expectations better when it came to food and lodging. But, the wildlife we saw and tours we went on were top notch. We came back with lots of great memories and photos (and few bug bites). So, we can't ask for anything more than that.

 

@@michael-ibk, thank you. I am sloth poop indifferent. But, my wife is becoming quite the resident "poopologist".

 

@@xelas, Thank you. While my experience is still limited (no Africa or Asia trips yet), our Costa Rica trips have been some of the best we have taken. It really is a great country for nature and wildlife. If you listen closely, you can hear a little frog calling your name to come back... :) .

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xelas

@@Atdahl

I hear it, the little red eye one, i hear it, loud and clear!!

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Atravelynn

Hope the bites have healed. Seems like your itch to return to Costa Rica will not.

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SafariChick

@@Atdahl Armadillo - so cool!! and great bird and frog shots too!

Edited by SafariChick
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Alexander33

@@Atdahl

 

You put me to shame. We spent a week at Bosque del Cabo the latter part of January -- influenced, in part, by your reviews -- and I have found every excuse to not start my trip report. You went to Costa Rica two months later and have already finished yours.

 

Of course, with so many great reports from all over during the the past four months, I think I have a very good excuse to justify my procrastination. We had such a memorable time in Costa Rica that we are already plotting a return visit. Really enjoyed reading about your experiences in these new areas.

 

I'm jealous of your shots of the red-legged honeycreepers. We just could not nail those hyperactive little things at Bosque. I am not jealous of all your snake sightings, although I know you particularly enjoy those. But a fer-de-lance (my spellcheck appropriately just changed that to "fear"-de-lance) just feet away in leaf litter? Yikes. No thank you -- although one from a nice, clear distance might pass muster. (And, yes, I must confess that I would like a good look at a yellow morph eyelash pit viper. So interesting and photogenic --and I knew they weren't big, but had no idea that they were as diminutive as you describe. I suppose their size makes them not so lethal? Not that I want to put that to the test.)

 

Yes, there are only just a few less middle schoolers in Costa Rica during spring break than there are on those annual 8th grade trips to Washington, D.C. Good counsel there. And I've been taking French lessons for a few years, so if you're still needing some good cuss words for the next time, PM me. Hint: My favorite is 5 letters long, beginning with "M".

 

Thank you for the reference to the ground transportation provider. We want to go further afield in Costa Rica, but I'd prefer to just stare out the window in the back seat rather than try to navigate incomplete maps and sketchy directions. That's a great resource.

Edited by Alexander33
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xelas

@@Atdahl and @@Alexander33

 

IMO, the best place to look for different morphs of eyelash pit vipers is Cahuita National Park, on the Caribbean side. One day only, and hiking by ourselves, we have seen 8 different exemplars, in 4 different base colours!

Here are photos of two (the IQ is not there, it was 2008, D60, first time using a DSLR, ....):

 

Yellow morph

post-47185-0-41712200-1460704144_thumb.jpg

 

Pink morph

post-47185-0-54694600-1460704154_thumb.jpg

 

 

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Atdahl

Thanks everyone!

 

@@xelas, thanks for the tip. In the back of my mind a Caribbean trip in Turtle hatching season is a future possibility. I will add Cahuita National Park to the planning vault. Those are great shots. I hear they come in a blue morph too...fantastic! Now that you have upgraded your photo equipment maybe you need to go back...

 

@@Alexander33, I had to get this TR out because we are off to Yellowstone soon and I didn't want to be two TRs behind :). No pressure, but we are ALL waiting for you TR!

 

SafariTalk certainly is TR heaven. It's like YouTube where you start innocently looking at one thing and that links to another and Oh..that looks cool so you click on that and the next thing you know it's 1AM!

 

I actually got very satisfying Red-legged Honeycreeper shots at Arenal from the balcony of my room believe it or not. But, most of the really close shots are from the Nature Pavilion. Finally, Anywhere Cost Rica gets a 10 out of 10 from us. Their transfers and tours were perfect. Their TripAdvisor reviews show experiences similar to ours so you should be able to book with them with complete confidence.

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  • 3 months later...

Great trip report and wonderful pictures of the animals, birds and frogs! Really enjoyed all the details of your hikes and your impressions of the two lodges. Thank you so much for posting and even including the tip about where you booked your transfers.

 

We have just completed booking a 14 night trip to Costa Rica starting the last week of March in 2017 and the emphasis of our trip will match yours. We start out at Cerro Lodge near Tarcoles, then Arenal Observatory Lodge, Selva Verde, and finish up at Rancho Naturalista.

 

In the beginning we planned to schedule the lodges starting the last week of February, but found a couple of our lodges which are on the circuit of birding tours were already booked up at least one day we wanted. So now with the delay I suspect that at least one lodge, Selva Verde, will be well-populated with students, but we will work it out as you did.

 

You were so lucky with your pictures of sloths, Arenal Volcano in the sunshine, howler monkeys, and even ant-eaters - may we be as well.

 

Terry

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Atdahl

Hi Terry, thanks so much for the kind words. Your itinerary looks great. I am particularly interested in what you think of Rancho Naturalista so I look forward to a nice detailed trip report when you get back :) .

 

Yes, we certainly were lucky with our sightings but we also maximized our chances by getting out early and staying out late which always helps. Of course, that had nothing to do with clear views of Arenal. But, you are going at a good time of year so here's hoping your luck is as good as or better than ours.

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xelas

@@Terry

 

Your itinerary is as if it comes from a birding guide! Excellent choices. BTW will you do it on your own or as a part of a group?

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Thanks @@xelas, We are doing this - our first trip to Costa Rica - on our own. I started gathering information on the country back in 2004, but there were always other places and other things we wanted to do more - like two safaris to South Africa Yes, I studied birding tours and collected a lot notes of ideas and reviews of hotels from Trip Advisor.

 

We have tried to pick places where birding and animal sightings would be possible on the lodge trails or in their gardens. Extra points were awarded to lodges that had a butterfly garden, a frog pond, a bird feeder, or a moth light. Even if we don't want bananas in our pictures, at least the birds should be in the area. We also wanted to do wildlife motorboat tours, which will be possible at both Selva Verde and Cerro Lodge at Tarcoles.

 

I have found your posts here on Safari Talk as well as on the Costa Rica TripAdvisor to be very helpful. Thanks

Edited by Terry
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