Tag Archives: Lizards

Sirena Ranger Station @ Corcovado National Park

This morning we woke up at 4:55 by our bunk beds squeeking and stuff falling down.

At Mirador Lodge in Drake Bay (Peninsula Osa) we are in a dorm with 4 beds and sleepily I asked Magnus: “Do you know if we have any new guests in the room?”. Just as sleepy he answered “No. It must be the wind!” And my first thought was: “Inside at this hour?”. And then we both woke up a bit more realizing that we must have been hit by an earthquake.

Our alarms were set to 5:15 so it’s not like we missed out on a lot of sleep and breakfast was ready for us at 5:30. At 6 the boat came to pick us up to go to Sirena Ranger Station inside Corcovado National Park.

It takes about 1 hour and 15-30 minutes in a boat ride to get to Sirena Ranger Station and we were taken quite a bit out at sea because the waves were less angry there than closer to shore. Still we had waves up to 2-3 meters. However that was a very good deal, because we found a group of birds hunting flying fish and where they were we also got to see Spotted Dolphins. One of the Flying fish almost flew into the side of the boat, but thankfully it managed to slip into water instead and become dolphin food…

Just as we arrived to Sirena I saw 2 huge animals at the beach walking away from all the arriving boats. I told Magnus I told they were Tapirs, but he didn’t see them and neither did the guide – hence we docked and got on shore.

Ready for new adventures. Me and Magnus with Jerker in the background (His name really IS Jerker, thats why he calls himself Jack in English).

As soon as all the groups were ready we split up and some groups went to the left and others to the right. We went to see a gorgeous river and on our way there we saw a Tapir, sleeping in the ground. It was well hidden among the branches but we could still see it. Pictures did not turn out well though. However walking on we heard lots of Macaws (but due to the density in the forest, we were unable to spot them). However we saw lots of lizards, spiders and a few spidermonkeys.

From the river we went back to the starting point and then we moved to Sirena Ranger Station. I was surprised lots of people were setting up tents there and someone told me that with enough time you could request set up tents and stay overnight at the ranger station.

At the ranger station I saw an Agouti. It was walking just behind the toilets and once someone flushed it ran off into the forest. Soo cute.

From the ranger station we walked towards the other river to see if we could spot crocodiles and sharks in the river. Unfortunately we got there low tide and all the sharks were gone, but someone else had seen a huge salt-water crocodile just a tiny while ago.  Everywhere there was huge signs telling us not to go swimming, not to move off the trails etc. due to the sharks, crocs and snakes.

We had lunch by the river and it was nice to have a small break.

We had enourmous luck and got to see an ant-eater walking along out path in search of food

On our way back to the ranger station and the boats, we saw lots of spidermonkey groups and Howler monkeys. As I was looking up – I saw something coming at us and ran to avoid it and thankfully it worked out. However – the others did not have the same luck. The howlers had peed on them… When Howlers want to get rid of humans sometimes they pee on them and sometimes they throw poo on them. :D Nice huh?

Just before we got to the boats we saw another Tapir. This one was also sleeping, but much, much closer to the path and it was easy to see it without disturbing it.

One of the other girls in our group also told me she had spotted the two Tapirs in the morning and now we were 2 confirming and hence our number of spotted Tapirs was in a total of 4 for today.

The mighty (but sleepy) Tapir !
Tapirs can become up to 250 Kgs and when with young they can be highly agressive.

To reed more about Tapirs see these two stories by Jack Ewing:
Threats to the paths of the Tapir Biological Corridors
The Tapirs of Sirena

On our way back we had higher waves still and at one point the boat was driving so close to shore and some really rocky cliffs that it seemed that we were going to hit the cliffs.

When we got back to the hotel we took a shower and went for a walk.

Animals spotted today:
Tapir, Anteater, Coati, Flying Fish, Spotted Dolphins, Spider Monkeys, Mantled Howler Monkeys, Black Iguanas, Spiders, Birds, Insects, Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Agouti, Jesus Christ Lizard

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Tortuguero National Park Day 3

sunny.gifNot one single complaint nor about the temperatures nor about the weather. It is just gorgeous ! Still humid but no problem when travelling here and there in boats on canals !

Natures orchestra
Today I was woken up by the most amazing symphony of the nature. Howler monkeys howling and Capuchins screaming, Crickets doing their thing, Birds with all kinds of strange colours welcoming the morning with their song. It was marvelous. I have never heard such a fantastic orchestra right outside my door before.

Frog hunting
I woke up at 5 and it was still dark.
I was a little disoriented due to the early hour, but as soon as it got a little lighter I went out to go for a frog search just like yesterday morning. Mona (the hotel lady) borrowed me a torch and off I went. I was searching for the famous Strawberry poison-dart frog to see if I could get any good pictures. I saw about 4-5 of them hopping around on the grass until the whiteface monkeys got close.

White face monkeys or Capuchin monkeys, as their scientific name, are actually very agressive. The alpha male showed me clearly that he did not like me taking pictures of the members of his family and went up on 2 feet and showed me his teeth with a threathening grin. I distanced myself from the group at this time but it was a bit hard since they were everywhere; in the trees, on the ceiling and on the roofs of the houses. The hotels cat did not like the fact that the monkeys entered HER area so she started running after them and chasing them away. That was an awesome sight. Haha. You should have seen that !
I did get a lot of great shots of the monkeys and I had a wonderful time out in the early morning hour.

At 7am we (Paula, Jeanne (France) and I) had breakfast at Evergreen Lodge consisting of Pancakes, fruits and egg. Wonderful. I went to pack my luggage since we were checking out at 8am, to travel the canals again and then head back to San Jose, and got ready just in time for the boat to arrive. As we were waiting we called for Tosty – the domesticated Caiman at Monkeys Lodge. As the boat arrived we said our goodbyes to Mona.

tn_tortuguero1.gifOur driver, Justo from Nicaragua, and our guide Gilber, also popularly called Chito, had already picked up Thomas from Germany and we were set to go.

We stuffed our luggage in the back of the boat and set off to the Penetencia river where we watched animal life at its best. We passed Volcan Tortuguero, that is the only volcano in the caribbean side of CR but it has been dead for very many years and after about 30 minutes we drove in to Cano Palma, a smaller river in the canals. There we stopped to fish but we did not have our great luck and we had to return empty handed. Though we had a cool experience with the whiteface monkeys. We met two competing tribes. Each one on their side of the river that were pretty anxious to fight. hehe. Though the monkeys are smart enough to understand that it is not a good idea to jump into the water to swim over to the other side and actually start the fight – since monkey meat is one of the favourite dishes of the Caiman ! So they kept to each their side and screamed and yelled at each other from there.

As the smaller tour finished, we had to return up the creek and start heading down the Reventazon river to get to the meeting point where we were supposed to have lunch. We stopped at Tortuguero town to buy souvenirs and have a bathroom break before we started the more than One hour long trip back to the restuarant where we were gonna meet up with the day trippers and have lunch.

The south end of the park
We said goodbye to our guides at the restaurant and welcomed our new guide. The guides that had followed us these 3 days were going back into the jungle with the new groups that was going to stay over.
We had a wonderful chicken lunch before we set off for the last part of the official program before going back. A visit to the south end of the national park. Our new guide, Ethel, first took us up and down the canals to search for crocodiles. Which we found 5 of, oh no.. that is wrong. We actually found 7 including the 2 5 month old babies. One of the crocs was approximately around 3 meters long. EEEEK.

On the snake hunt
 Then we made a stop to go for a walk in the dryer forest close to the beach side. When Ethel asked if anyone wanted to watch snakes Thomas and I volunteered.

We started walking very slowly watching the tree branches and suddenly we had lost the rest of the group of 9. Not exactly.
We actually had one of them with us, Italian Massimo.
The poor thing had snake phobia and when he heard that we were going on a snake hunt and realized that his girlfriend had left the path ahead of us, and was nowhere to be seen, he found that it would be safer to stay inbetween me and the guide (that were searching the path on each side of the road).

The guide was equally bad as I was and we told him that there are not only snakes on the path or attacking from the branches. They also have one, the parrot snake, that attacks from above. He did not dare to go fwd nor bwd without us and Thomas searched in the front. Me and Ethel on each our side and we were both dissapointed when we did not find any snakes at the end of the path. Ethel told us that she would normally find up to 5-6 snakes in one day on the same path and we decided to go back the same way.

And suddenly Mr. Phobia attacks Ethel embrazing her hard and screaming purple purple and we made no sence and saw nothing so we could but laugh. Finally he told us he did see a snake and it was the wonderful OROPEL or in English: Eyelash pitViper. We took pictures and as we were running late we hurried back to the boat and got ready to go home. The boat drove with full speed to get to Cano Blanco in time.

Animals I have spotted during the day
Howler Monkeys, Caimans, lizards including the Jesus Christ Lizard, iguanas, Herons, turtles, basilisks, toucans, a yellow Eyelash pit viper and lots and lots of fish.

We reached Cano Blanco at 3:15 pm and had a minor bathroom break there before we borded the bus on our way back to San Jose. We also had a minor break in Guapiles to get some snack and toilet and I must admit I was incredibly tired and fell asleep. We reached San Jose as expected around 7pm. I am going to stay at Franciscos place tonight but he was still not home from Quepos so Thomas and I went for dinner. We went to Cafe Mundo and had delicious dinner before splitting up and going to each ours.

As I took the taxi home I called Fran and luckily he had reached the house if not I would have had to stop by his girlfriends house, Hazel, and had her open up for me. Fran and I chatted a little bit before I went to bed. I was dead tired. I just know I was sleeping before 10pm.

Tortuguero National Park – Valentines Day

sunny.gifBeautiful nice weather, +25C and not one single cloud to spot.
About 90% humidity.
No wind

24125_discovery_f.jpgI woke up at 6 am and and immediately went on a frog hunt for the Strawberry poison-dart frog. Incredible creatures of the size of a finger nail painted with a red back and blue legs. Highly venomous of course but it looks GREAT on pictures. They are also called blue-jeans frogs. Inmensly proud of spotting small red things (on the size of a human finger nail) hopping around on the ground between the cut grass I took a couple of pictures before I had to head for breakfast. I showed the other ladies my pictures and after breakfast I took them to where I found the frogs and showed them too. They were also impressed by the size and wondered how I had seen them at all in the grass. Well. One fantastic thing about red things hopping around in the grass… The grass is green. and you do see red things moving in the green grass. They are extremely difficult to spot when sitting still though.

The trip on the Tortuguero River
We were picked up by our team at 8am to enter the Tortuguero National park and our first stop was at the town of Tortuguero to get our tickets. Thomas and I had already bought ours yesterday, valid for 3 days, as we tried hiking to the beach through the national park as we were exploring the town of Tortuguero, so we did not need to buy new ones now. (I also learned something then. It is not legal to enter the trails unless you have high rubber boots (both because of the possibility of meeting poisonous snakes and the wet mud in the trails. Luckily our hotel borrowed me some so I could bring them with me.
Weeee. Let the adventures begin.

It was a fantastic trip. We were taken up the Tortuguero River and entered Caño Jarol. A nice river that was amazing to tour. We got to be the lucky tourists that got in close contact with the trees hanging over the river as our tour guide, Gilber – popularly called Chito, decided to start cutting down the branches with a huge machete. Justo the driver, is nicaraguan and both of them are really nice, good tourguides.

Animals I have spotted during the day
Howler Monkeys, Caimans, Three toed sloths, Norhern racoon, lizards including the Jesus Christ Lizard, iguanas, Herons, turtles, basilisks, toucans and macaws.

250px-TortugueroBeach.jpgWhen the official program was over around 10:30am we could choose to be taken to the hotel of the village.
Thomas and I went to the village and we had our second breakfast at a bakery. Banana bread and Tres Leches. YUMMY.

After the small food stop we went to the end of the village and showed them the boots and the tickets to enter the park. We hiked up and down the paths looking for strange animals but had no greater luck on that today. We saw lots of lizards and spiders and heard a great orchestra of birds, but no really amazing strange animals.
So we decided heading out towards the Tortuguero beach and it was beautiful. We walked up the beach for about 15 minutes before entering the forest again and went back to the ranger station.

After the walk in the forest it was GREAT to take the rubber boots off and sit down and have some lunch. We both had a great heart-of-palm lasagna with fresh vegetables and lemonade. It was great. A wonderful choise. Thomas even mentioned that that particular dish is even mentioned in the Lonley planets guide to what is worth trying to eat when in Tortuguero.
At the same restaurant that we had lunch they had internet and I sat down for an hour trying to
update blog and respond to some e-mails i had recieved. Jungle called and I left internet pretty quick heading down towards the shore to find a taxi home.
Taxis in Tortuguero is a chapter of its own. They are cool !!!. They are not cars but boats !!! hehe. Taxi Jairo took me to Monkeys lodge and by this point of the trip I was pretty tired and I felt dirty being sweat, full of insect repellant and dragging around on those ugly rubber boots.

tortuguero5.jpgI was met by Mona and the 2 remaining french ladies (Paula and Jeanne) – (the other two just came for one sleep over) and they were having lunch late.

It seemed like they had been to the Nicaraguan border on a private tour that the petrol station man had given them being a friend of Mona. They had a wonderful time.

I went in and showered and Mona called Taxi Jairo so he could take me around. He showed up about 15 minutes later and took me for a private tour into one of the canals where we watched the sunset and listened to the orchestra of birds and monkeys going to bed before the nocturnal birds started their orchestra.

We saw heaps of glow-worms in the grass around the canals and although it was no date – Jairo was nice company for Valentines day.

Though, the dude had to continue working and he left me at the hotel at 7pm so I could have dinner with the other ladies. We had a great dinner with chicken. We stopped in the bar for a little while and I must admit I went early to bed tonight as well. Exhausted but content !

Palo Verde National Park

partlycloudy.gifNice weather, sunny (old news), +30C and some wind. Beautiful weather for a boat trip.

Today I have spent the day in Palo Verde National Park.
About Palo Verde
The area is comprised of both deciduous and evergreen tropical dry forest, brackish and fresh water wetlands, mangrove swamps, and the tidal estuarine ecosystem of the lower Tempisque River. This area provides an important wintering ground to migrant North American waterfowl.
The Palo Verde National Park of Costa Rica protects forested areas as well as an extensive marshland between the Tempisque and Bebedero rivers of Guanacaste. Palo Verde National Park is a diverse patchwork of habitats located in the heart of the Tempisque basin near the mouth of the Rio Tempisque River.

It has been a wonderful boat trip on El Bebedero River. We saw american Crocodiles (in CR we have crocodiles in the west and aligators in the east – no caimans), iguanas, bats, lots and lots of different herons and other bird species. We also saw both howler monkeys and cappuchin monkeys (whiteface).

One of the crocodiles even has a name: Tyson – after Mike Tyson. He is a fared croc since he 2 yeas ago had an 11 year old kid for dinner.
After a day in the sun I have really worked on my tan – I think I got a small sun burn on one of my knees. I must have not remembered to put on sun block there.

Read more about Palo Verde in these links:

http://www.ots.ac.cr/en/paloverde/
http://costa-rica-guide.com/parks/pl_vrde.htm
http://www.costaricamap.com/ing/bioppalo.html

Rincon de la vieja – again

partlycloudy.gifAnother beautiful sunny day. There were some clouds over the volcano that comes with the winds from the atlantic. But we had sun, sun and +30C again. The night temperatures are about +25C for those of you who wonder.

Angelica picked me up at 6:45am and we went to pick up baguettes, water and cookies before taking off to her work at Curubande pre-school.
We thought the kids of Europe and made pigs out of bottles, you take a bottle and paint it with glue, cover it with toilet paper for a couple of layers and then you let it dry. Put on ears – egg carton and the snout – the top of the bottle. Then paint and put on eyes and tail.

After school hours Angelicas boss took us hiking in the Rincon de la vieja national park.

But there was one obstacle.
The national park was closed – always closed on mondays.
No problem. hehe.

We hiked off into a different trail on the farmland next to the national park and when no-one (read the guards) could see us, we took the jungle trail (eh… not known to anyone and not visible) into the park and after 15 minutes we got in on the park trail.

With no-one in the park but us we had a fantastic day by ourself and got to see a lot of fantastic nature. I have no idea of how many species of butterflies we saw, but Costa Rica hosts 1/5 of the butterfly population of the world. The beautiful Blue Morpho, a lot of yellow and orange ones. Even green butterflies.

We also saw Agoutis, Iguanas and a lot of smaller lizards.
This one posed willingly, not thinking any one of us would hurt it.

After the photo shoot he ran up into a tree and disappeared.

We also saw a lot of wonderful birds. The sound of rainforest is wonderful. It is amazing. Anyone should be able to experience it.

At Rincon de la vieja national park there is a lot of hot springs; boiling mud and or boiling water.
You can see them throughout the national park with fences around them to protect stupid tourists that wants to take pictures on the close run.

There is always someone that has to go closer and fall into them. All the hot springs holds temperatures of at least +75 to +106C degrees. The boiling water pots smell of sulfur and witness that this is a definately active volcano. It was fun to watch the mud being thrown almost 2 meters up in the air.

The sound and smell of the volcano is amazing, but at least it does not rumble like Volcan Arenal that has lava flowing out almost every day of the year.

During the afternoon I was so tired I slept for hours and with the day almost over I checked e-mails and updated blog before going to bed. Enjoy and take care folks.