Tag Archives: Monkeys

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

Monkey Feeding

Normally one should never feed the wild animals for many reasons, but here in Manuel Antonio some of the local fruit sellers have started feeding some of the wildlife fruit that is not unhealthy for them.

So today Mangus and myself went down to the beach around mid-day and we found the feeding station one of the old gringos (he was retired – Im allowed to call him old :D) from Pension Santa Elena in Monteverde was talking about. However it is not a feeding station by the hotel like the gringo was thinking, but a local fruit seller that has their base there just feeding the monkeys fruit leftovers.

First thing we see is a bunch of white faced Capuchin monkeys and no other tourists. A few locals taking pictures yes, but not tourists. They were soooooo cute and we had left the cameras in the room. There was even 2 moms with babies there! Oh well, we did see lots of white faced capuchin monkeys yesterday during the mangrove tour at least.

Then we went for a walk on the beach, a swim and relaxed a bit before coming back during twilight hours and we were in for a treat.

Costa  Rica has 4 species of monkeys. In Arenal we saw the Spider Monkeys and the Howler Monkeys. During our Mangrove Tour and earlier today we saw the White Faced Capuchin Monkey and now we got to see the Squirrel Monkey.

We waited with the fruit sellers, loaded with bananas and suddenly a whole bunch of Squirrel Monkeys descended from the trees and suddenly there was mayhem. A good one as such.

They were squeeking and climbing down to the nearby trees where they expected to get some nice treats.

We broke off bananas (inside the peel and squeezed the meat out) and held them out. These monkeys are so tame that they would actually hold the banana and eat from your “hand”.

The Squirrel Monkeys are a lot less agressive than the White Faced Capuchin Monkeys that will also come for food here (Good tip: Throw the banana a bit away from yourself and let them have it on a safe distance).

We had an amazing time with the monkeys and the fruitsellers. A few other tourists came when they saw us, but no more than 4 others.

However, it is INCREDIBLY important to remember a few things when feeding wild animals:

  • Only feed them food they would naturally eat (bananas, pineapple, melon, mango and other kind of fruit – NEVER cake, chips or human food they would not find growing in trees or on the ground in the jungle).
  • Never touch what you feed them with with your hands. If you feed them bananas – break off the banana within the peel and squeeze so they can grab the meat themselves and you stay behind with the peel. Humans have bacterias in their hands (and often repellant, sun tan lotion etc. lotions and perfumes that can be dangerous for wild animals).
  • Only feed wild animals that have already learned to recieve food from humans. NEVER start feeding wild animals just because they are cute. It can be dangerous for them to loose their natural fear of humans.
  • Never touch, pet or get too familiar with the wildlife.

More Information about dangers of feeding wild animals:
Are you feeding wild animals?
Feeding Wildlife: Food for thought.
Eight good reasons why you shouldn’t feed wildlife!

Mangrove Boat Tour

After the Manuel Antonio National Park visit we went back to the hostel to relax a bit. We met our flatmates (Jenni and Thomas) and they had also booked themselves for the Mangrove Tour so we hung out with them on the porch until we were picked up for the tour.

The river was half an hour away in car and we were taken to a nice dock where we boarded a riverboat. We had 2 guides. One driving the boat and one of the Vista Serena Hostel employees was our other guide.

During the trip we learned about the 4 different species of Mangrove trees and about animals living in the Mangrove Trees. We also learned that Mangrove Roots is one of the strongest root systems in the world and no matter how much it will bend it will not break if you step on it. If you are stuck in the Mangroves and dont have a boat. Walk on the Mangrove roots. :D

We saw lots of beautiful animals today as well. A few White-faced Capuchin monkeys even boarded our boat.

Jenni with a Capuchin walking all over her.

We also saw Jesus Christ Lizards:

And some really cool and spaced out crabs:

We also saw several Red tailed Squirrel, many different species of Birds (Little green back heron, Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Crested Caracara, Great white Egret, Gray Necked woodrail, Limpkin, Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibris, Ringed Kingfisher), lots of Termite nests (which are not meat, just protein And also gluten free). A grasshopper landed on the boat, but left again quite soon.

After the tour we were taken back to the hostel and there we relaxed a bit before going out for dinner with Magnus’ parents.

About Mangroves in Costa Rica:
There are 4 types of Mangrove Trees in Costa Rica:

Red Mangrove
Red mangroves are easily distinguishable through their unique prop roots system and viviparous seeds. The prop roots of a red mangrove suspend it over the water, thereby giving it extra support and protection. They also help the tree to combat hypoxia by allowing it a direct intake of oxygen through its root structure.

White Mangrove
The bark is gray-brown or reddish, and rough and fissured. Pneumatophores and/or prop roots may be present, depending on environmental conditions. The leaves are opposite, elliptical, 12–18 centimetres and 2.5–5 cm broad, rounded at both ends, entire, smooth, leathery in texture, slightly fleshy, without visible veins, and yellow-green in color. The white, bell-shaped flowers are mostly bisexual and about 5 mm long. The fruit is a reddish-brown drupe, about 12–20 mm long, with longitudinal ridges. The single seed is sometimes viviparous.

Black Mangrove
The black mangrove grows just above the high tide in coastal lagoons and brackish water estuaries. It is less tolerant of highly saline conditions that certain other species that occur in mangrove ecosystems. It can reach 10–15 m in height. The seeds germinate in midsummer, but may be seen all year on the trees. The seeds can remain viable for over a year, once released.

The leafs extract salt and during dry season you can scrape the salt off their leaves.

Pineapple Mangrove
The Pineapple Mangrove mainly looks like the leaves of the pineapple when you squeeze them together.

Manuel Antonio National Park

This morning we slept in. The drive last night was quite exhausting and we were both quite tired, but we were up before 8 and enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the hostel.

We set off for the National Park and we were there before 9:30 and started hiking through the jungle. We met several guided groups looking at animals down the paths and they were kind enough to show us what they were looking at as well.

And at the end of the path, almost coming out of the jungle to the beach – we ran into Magnus’ parents… We knew they were in central america and that they are travelling around, but we had no idea that they were in Costa Rica and less in Manuel Antonio and less even in the same path we were walking on at the same time. Wow! Of course we planned to meet up later tonight before we split up again.

Right nearby to where we met them we found a Howler Monkey sitting in a tree and right next to it a moma Sloth and her baby! They were soooo cute!

Down at the beach we saw a Crab-eating Racoon family trying to steal stuff from peoples bags and running off with the stuff :D

The beach was absolutely beautiful and white beautiful clear ocean. The water temperatures were perfect. Just hot enough to want to stay there forever, but cool enough to cool you off.

The Racoons came and went and there were lots of them. People were yelling at them for trying to break into their bags, but thankfully the famous monkeys were not there because they are known to steal peoples cameras from your hands!
Another perfect reason why you should not give wild animals food.

On our way back from the beach we saw a Fer-de-Lance snake. It was quite well hidden, but a guide with a group had found it and we stopped to watch it with them. Photo is not very clear, but there is a snake there.

Quite exiting. We saw a lot more animals today and among them were the:
Howler Monkey, Green Iguana, Black Iguana, Golden Orb Spider (Nephila clavipes), Tree Frog, Keel Billed Toucans and several Hummingbirds.

It has been an awesome day for watching animals!

Night Hike in the Jungle at Santa Maria Refugio de vida Silvestre

We were pickced up from Pension Santa Elena in Monteverde by Bernald, our guide, for the Night Hike. We were 10 people all together and we were then taken to Santa Maria Refugio de vida Silvestre where we all recieved a flash light and instructions. If we feel anything climbing our legs – warn guide immediately because it could be a scorpion or snake. Yikes. Hehehe.

We set off and the first thing we saw was a giant Tarantula (and yes it was big).

and then we found a Two-Toed Sloth. They are a bit bigger than the Three-Toed Sloth and they move a bit faster. This one wasn’t moving at all though.

The Two-Toed Sloth is a bit brownish in the color compared to the Three-Toed Sloth that is more grayish in color.

We were also lucky enough to see our first snake today. This one lives high up in the branches so that it can keep warm from the sun. This one is a Green Vine Snake.

Thankfully, not all crawling on the ground are scorpions and this a grasshopper.

5 years ago I bought Jack Ewings book Monkeys are made of Chocolate. In that book the story: There is a Fungus Among us was. This is a very informative story about the Leaf-cutter ants (Atta cephalotes is the most common Leaf-Cutter Ant).

Did you know they walk up to 2kms away from their home to collect new leaves and up trees as high as a 10 story building?
Did you know that only the queen is fertile and that the colony dies with her? She lives for about 20 years though.
Did you know that the leaf-cutter ants don’t eat the leafs, but that they grow a fungus on it?

All the members of the colony contribute directly or indirectly to the cultivation of the fungus. The most obvious of the seven distinct castes of Atta cephalotes are the leaf carriers marching through the forest with their green parasol-like cargo. When they arrive at the colony and deposit their leaf crescents, another caste takes over — the cleaners. Each leaf fragment is meticulously scraped and licked until clean. Later it is cut into smaller pieces, chewed, mixed with saliva and formed into a soft wad. The ants then place some fungus starter material, called mycelia on the medium and place it beside other newly planted fungus in a suitable chamber.
From that point another caste, the fungus caretakers, step in and take over the process. These ants are responsible for keeping the fungus clean and free from impurities and infection. They do this partially by physically removing any foreign life form that tries to grow on either the medium or the bread-like fungus.

A bacterium that lives in a patch on the ant’s skin produces an antibiotic that controls the mold. Beyond that, they have learned how to handle technologies more skillfully than the bumbling civilization above their heads. They can grow a monoculture and they have also learned how to deploy an antibiotic without the target pest’s becoming resistant to it.”

Another thing about leaf-cutter ants. Their homes are HUGE:

And this one is just a small part of it !

Read Jack Ewings “There is a Fungus Among us

We saw lots of other animals as well during this hike like the Woolly opossum, the Northern Raccoon, the White-nosed Coati, A few Red Tailed Squirrels, Bats, 2 Frogs (of a species I don’t remember), several species of fireflies and firebeetles.

It was a lovely trip and I had a great time!

After the Hike we went for dinner at Amigos Restaurant. The bar was full with Gringos as the Superbowl was on. However they had good food and once Superbowl was over all the Gringos left. We had an early night.

Arenal Volcano Hike

After having worked out 5 days this week I had decided that the weekend would be for relaxing. However, if I ever thought I was going to get a day off from working out just because it was saturday and not a weekday I had to think again.

I don’t like to watch time go by without filling it with adventure when Im travelling and today was no different so Magnus and I signed up for a guided Hike in the jungle for the morning.

From the Arenal Backpackers Lodge we were picked up at 8 am with a Swiss couple (Kasper and Claudia) and taken to El Silencio Reserve where we were taken through rainforest trails for a nice and gentle hike to spot a variety of flora and fauna.

Due to Will Smith being in town for the filming of After Earth by M. N. Shyamalan, a lot of the trails were closed down and not accessible. Of course it would have been very cool to see Mr. Will, but we were not allowed entrance to the filming location.

However we were lucky enough to see lots of animals today. We saw lots of birds of course; like the Montezuma Oropendola, the Clay-colored Thrush and a Toucan couple among the more interesting ones. We were also lucky enough to see a few Spider Monkeys. These are rarely seen, but one of the 4 monkey species in CR.

One of the other 3 species is the Mantled Howler Monkey which we also were lucky enough to see today!

We also saw lots of insects, flowers and plants that in itself was worthwhile the hike, like this one that is edible (but that I don’t remember the name of).

Our guide took us up to a beautiful viewpoint of the volcano. And there he thought us that the volcano has been dormant for 1,5 years now (which explains why the lava hikes are not available).

On our way back to the start of the hike we  found a nice Liana where Magnus decided to play that he was Tarzan :D

It was a great tour and our guide, Ramon, was really good at spotting wildlife.

However now its time for a relaxing bath at Baldi Hot Springs…

On the Wild side in Helsinki Zoo at Korkeasaari Island

I met Ellie and Martin at Robert’s coffee at the Central Station at 1:30 and from there we went to Korkeasaari Island where the Zoo is located.

Outside the Zoo we met Martins father Kai and we headed straight towards the cat valley (kissalaakso).

However on our way there we made a few detours. First we visited the south american (always my favourite) jungle, the serpentarium and the african animals. We met lots of beautiful animals like these Emperor Tamarins, some

blue poison arrow frogs, some gorgeously green snakes and lots of other animals.

Once we were done in the American and African parts we DID go to the cat valley

There I was completely captivated by this sleeping kitty. Man I want one to cuddle up with.

This one was awake, but in a very relaxed mood

We spent a lot of the day walking around and it was a lovely day despite clouds and mild breeze.

Great day and it was lovely to spend it with Martin and Ellie as well :D