Walking Among Miracles!

“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.” – Mary Davis

Just a few shots of walking around El Silencio Lodge & Reserve, Bajos del Toro Amarillo, Costa Rica.

By discovering nature, you discover yourself. ~Maxime Lagacé

¡Pura Vida!

See my other Costa Rica Vistas and very soon my El Silencio Trip Gallery, now under construction.

One More Bird!

After breakfast this morning walking back to my villa, I got one more species, not new to me, but upping my photo count to 16 here this trip. It is the Common Chlorospingus (link to eBird article) and he used to be called a “Common Bush Tanager.” There was a flock of them along the main road flitting from tree to tree.

I’m now packing and will leave around 10:30, back to Atenas!

¡Pura Vida!

And oh yes, my CR Birds photo gallery link!

Birds of El Silencio

Here’s 12 birds I photographed at El Silencio Lodge and Reserve in addition to the 3 hummingbirds shared yesterday. Of the 15 I photographed, 4 are lifers or first-time I’ve seen that species. Then there were others not photographed like the red-tailed hawk flying overhead and a Black and White Warbler. And my main reason for coming here was the waterfalls! 🙂 So it has been a very good week and I go home tomorrow morning (Saturday) to continue my lesser adventures in Atenas, but will continue sharing photos from this excellent trip.

And the lifers? They are the Chestnut-capped Brushfinch, Blackburnian Warbler, Scintillant Hummingbird, and the Black-bellied Hummingbird. I showed the two hummingbirds in a post yesterday. And the reason the Brushfinch is in a girl’s hand, he had just flown into one of the lodge office’s plate-glass windows and was still in shock. He eventually flew off.

I highly recommend El Silencio Lodge & Reserve and though it is expensive, it is well-worth what they charge! And I am not finished sharing photos from this trip, so expect more for the next few days! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Hummingbird Garden

The El Silencio Hummingbird Garden is like mine, no feeders, just flowers. And also like mine, there is a dominant hummingbird species that chases many of the others away from the garden and they just go to other flowers on the grounds. I only found three species in the official Hummingbird Garden, though I saw, but did not photograph, others around the grounds. Their dominant bird here is the Purple-throated Mountain Gem, but the tiny Scintillant and the Black-bellied Hummingbirds seem to hang in there with the Mountain Gems! And I photographed bees here! 🙂

CLICK an image to see larger:

I still have 10 other bird species I photographed and hope to post soon. See also my CR Birds photo gallery for all I have photographed here in 5.5 years. The Black-bellied Hummingbird and Scintillant are “lifers” for me and I got 2 other lifers in the next batch of 10 birds I will post soon. 4 lifers in one trip is very good now with my CR count up to 349! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Land Crab

On my hike up the mountain to the waterfalls here at El Silencio Lodge I ran into a Land Crab or Gecarcinidae on the trail. A first for me in Costa Rica or maybe anywhere in the mountains! For those interested, see the Wikipedia Article or I found a more specific online book article The Land Crabs of Costa Rica which seems to have more about the ones closer to the ocean. This place is nowhere near an ocean!

Nature is constantly full of surprises!

¡Pura Vida!

El Silencio Lodge Waterfalls

I finally got to seeing the waterfalls here on the hotel property and they fabulous! There is a “Waterfall Trail” which including the walk from my villa is 6 km round trip and thus I kept putting it off until my last full day here. For those considering a stay here, it is an uphill walk on the gravel road to the trail head but they will take you that far in one of the golf carts.

The waterfall trail is fairly easy with some hills except for Catarata La Promesa (The Promise Waterfall) which is an uphill climb from the main trail on its own side trail that includes steps, maybe 30 or 40, I didn’t count. BUT it is worth it! It is maybe the tallest and some would say the most beautiful and it is out in the open more than the other two, meaning easier to see and photograph without climbing over rocks. And there are two picnic tables there to make it your rest stop or picnic lunch before returning back to the hotel. And possibly a swim there!

The main trail goes over a bridge in front of Catarata La Melodía (The Melody Waterfall) which is the first one you come to. You can see and photograph it from the bridge or to get closer you climb over some rocks and get right to the bottom of the falls. Then just a short way past that first falls is a Y in the trail with two dead ends, one to Catarata El Silencio (The Silence Waterfall) straight ahead and up the steps and hill to La Promesa. They are all three beautiful and full of water during the rainy season. Not sure I have a favorite.

I will say that many of the lodges I’ve visited all over Costa Rica have one or more waterfall on their property, but few as beautiful as these. Well . . . the one falls at Arenal Observatory is as big or bigger and as beautiful, but there are 3 such beauties here at El Silencio Lodge! And then Hacienda Guachipelín at Rincón de la Vieja National Park has 3 falls as beautiful on their property, so I’m backing down a little on their brag! 🙂 And another favorite hotel, Xandari Alajuela has 3 waterfalls but they aren’t as big or as beautiful as these.

Actually there are technically 7 falls at El Silencio with 4 “lesser water” waterfalls used only for those who rappel down the falls and that is the only way to see them, but one of the guides said I’m not missing much. 🙂 That is one of the many optional activities here and you rappel down all four of those! But not me! 🙂

For more Costa Rica waterfalls, see my CR Waterfalls Gallery.

¡Pura Vida!

Bee

With the Hummingbird Garden here dominated by two species of hummingbirds (at home, just one now), it was nice to see these bees in that garden. I’ll share hummers later.

¡Pura Vida!

See my Bees Gallery.

Bajos del Toro Waterfall

This was my waterfall for today and the biggest of the week. If you go to their website Catarata del Toro you can tell that it is commercial and on private property with all of their “biggest and best” claims. The same people own the property that yesterday’s Las Gemelas Waterfall is own. So of course you pay admission to each.

Bajos del Toro sits in the shadow of Poas Volcano, next to the Poas Volcano National Park, Juan Castro Blanco National Park, and the Bosque de Paz Rain/Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Outdoor activities abound with rugged trail systems to explore the forest’s flora and fauna.

This is beautiful wilderness area and today’s guide, Daniel, another great new friend and excellent guide has done a cross country hike with friends over this trail-less wilderness using machetes to blaze their way through. There are plans to build trails connecting the two national parks and Bajos del Toro.

There were two of us from El Silencio Lodge to go with Daniel on this waterfall hike. I chose not to walk the 400 steep steps down to the bottom of falls, but the Tica young lady guest did walk down while I walked through the hummingbird garden. I do most of the things younger people do, but not all now! 🙂

For you history enthusiasts, the full name of the town and the waterfall is Bajos del Toro Amarillo, translated literally as “Low place (valley) of the Yellow Bull” and the story is that when the first settlers came it they saw a yellow bull that later historians say was actually a bison that did populate parts of Central America in the early 1800’s. It is always fun to get the history behind some of these place names. 🙂

I did my guided bird hike before breakfast this morning also with Daniel but have barely started sorting bird pictures. But with this morning hike + my solo hike in the Hummingbird Garden here + a noon-time experience I will be recording 3 lifer birds or 3 that are new to me. Not bad! 🙂

Today’s waterfall hike slide show:

And this is one more added to my CR Waterfalls Gallery.

¡Pura Vida!

Las Gemelas Waterfall

Okay, for you Spanish readers, yes, that says “The Twins” Waterfall and thus you may ask, “Where is the second one?” Well . . . sometimes my better judgement overrules my sense of adventure. We had already hiked about 4 km and waded across the ice cold, rock-strewn river with Bryan, my personal guide, helping me wade across the slippery rocks just to get this photo of the biggest of the twins. To see the other one we would have had to wade up a separate stream of slippery rocks to the left of the bottom of this falls maybe 50 meters. Bryan had already said “I can’t believe I’m helping an 80 year old do this hike!” He was doubting the wisdom of going further and after nearly slipping down more than once. I did too! But I was thankful that I could make the hike solo with my excellent young masked guide who was perfect for me in every way! Most of the holiday weekend crowd have gone. We have a max of 9 guests the rest of the week, so very tranquilo! Which I prefer! 🙂 And yes, I love this place! Already another favorite and I have so many favorites in Costa Rica. Here’s just a few shots of the Las Gemelas Falls Hike and notice that weird V-shaped bridge over one of the streams, like none I’ve seen before:

See my Waterfalls Gallery for more Costa Rica Waterfalls.

¡Pura Vida!

On the trail to the waterfall this sign was laying on the ground. My guide said that the biggest danger is sudden flash floods when there is a rainstorm in the mountains above.

El Silencio

Walter drove me over the mountains in the rain and we arrived in the rain. To explain the “over the mountains” bit – Atenas is in a valley with hills and so is the village of Bajos del Toro and El Silencio Lodge. Between us is a row of mountain, the continental divide. Atenas is on the “Pacific Slope” and Bajos del Toro is on the Caribbean (or Atlantic) Slope. You know, all the rivers have to go into one ocean or the other! 🙂

And from one rural area to another means very narrow roads, and very winding over the mountains with lots of what we called “hairpin curves” in Arkansas or switchbacks. I am so glad I use a driver now! I would have been a nervous wreck (or dead) driving over those narrow mountain roads. BUT it is so beautiful in the mountains around here and that’s why some people have called Costa Rica “The Little Switzerland of the Americas.”

I chose Mon-Fri because local working people go to these places on the weekends when they are off from work and thus they are less crowded on weekdays. But I forgot that the government offices and most businesses celebrate nearly all holidays on Monday now. Our Independence Day is 15 September (tomorrow) and they celebrated it this year on Monday (Today!) and with no parades allowed, many people went to the beach or a lodge like this for the long weekend. So a lot of people still here today from San Jose but nearly everyone leaves tomorrow I was told. So it will be the more typical half empty COVID-era resort! 🙂

Though it rained off and on all afternoon and still raining this evening, I hiked around a little and took a lot more photos than these samples of my arrival here. The restaurant is excellent with gourmet food (and prices) that I enjoyed with a grilled rainbow trout tonight that was raised right here in their own trout ponds. I got back to my room with my bed covers turned down and two little chocolates to make me smile. Another great day! 🙂

El Silencio Lodge Website

¡Pura Vida!