My Xandari Villa

My third time to visit one of the most expensive hotels that I like in Costa Rica gives me a third different and bigger room/villa. I rarely show this many photos of a room, but because it is unique, I decided to this time along with the Art in My Villa, yesterday’s post.

This “room”  is called a “King Junior Suite” meaning just one king size bed in multiple rooms or spaces, a large suite or villa. They call all their rooms villas because most are in separate buildings and all are large.

From the lobby and restaurant main building, you walk through the gardens on a beautiful winding, paved path to the entrance of #5 in this case:

Private Entrance Compound

Kitchenette by front Terrace

 

Living Room

 

Valley-View Terrace

 

Bedroom

 

Bathroom

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Shower behind blue wall overlooking private garden. Toilet in separate room behind me.

This exceptional hotel is just 20 minutes from the San Jose Airport, thus a starting and ending location for many international tourists coming here, like the people I visited with this time from England, Germany, France, Canada and the U.S.

Yet they are immersed in a tropical rainforest with hiking trails, 5 waterfalls on the river, wildlife, both wild and cultivated flowers, a small farm for the kitchen, a wonderful Spa and restaurant. Some things are worth paying more for!   🙂   I do this occasionally here while other times I “rough it” in the wilderness to be closer to nature. I like both experiences! And the way Xandari combines both luxury AND nature! Plus now they house the Charlie Doggett Photography Library!   🙂   That alone makes the visit worthwhile!   🙂

Luxury is attention to detail, originality, exclusivity and above all quality.
~Angelo Bonati

¡Pura Vida!

Xandari Costa Rica

Butterflies

January is not considered the best month for butterflies like June and July but I seem to always see a lot at Xandari and this week is no exception! Only 6 species this time, BUT 4 ARE LIFERS! That is 4 new species I have not photographed before, so not bad!   🙂   Maybe it is the different time of year that gives me new species – whatever, I’m glad! I am now up to 95 butterfly species in Costa Rica! See my CR Butterfly Gallery.

I will try to do a birds at Xandari post tomorrow, my leaving day, or the following day. Just not as many as in the past, being very windy in January!

This Week’s Butterflies

See my Costa Rica Butterfly Gallery

 

Butterflies are God’s confetti, thrown upon the Earth in celebration of His love.     – K. D’Angelo

¡Pura Vida!

Xandari Costa Rica

My Photos in an Art Gallery

One reason I was happy that Xandari would house my library of Photo Books is that the entire hotel is an art gallery with art literally everywhere, inside and outside. It was built by an Artist/Architect and his wife an Art Teacher. In another post I will display the art in my villa this time – different every visit!

The above stained glass window is in the reading room of the lobby and my photo books are on a book shelf at the entrance to that reading room. In earlier Tennessee days I tried to sell photos at art fairs calling them “Nature as Art” which fits this arty nature retreat very well. I’m happy to be a part of Xandari!

 

Today was my very full day with an early morning birding hike with excellent guide Jose and a lovely couple from England, followed by breakfast and a tour of the only Starbucks-owned coffee farm in the world which I will tell you more about later, then an afternoon late lunch, relaxation massage, a desert at dinner time and I’m ready for bed! With lots of photos to process tomorrow, my last full day here.

¡Pura Vida!

Xandari 2018-Enchanted by Nature
Just one of 29 books in the library!
Brilliant Book cover
And the other one about Xandari!  Plus all of my other Costa Rica photo books!

To see all of my Costa Rica Photo books, go to My Bookstore at Blurb where you can preview any of the books for free electronically! Best if viewed in full screen mode of course!   🙂

Braulio Carrillo Gallery

I finally got all the photos sorted, filtered and labeled for a gallery called:

2019 December 22-28 — Tapirus Lodge, Braulio Carrillo   Click to see

As usual, this park and lodge are different from all the others I have visited in the past – a very good experience indeed! Difficult to compare with not as many birds as many other places I’ve visited, but I got decent photos of the rare and hard to find White-tipped Sicklebill Hummingbird, a “Lifer” for me. Also first time shots of a wild Tapir! So those two alone were worth the trip!   🙂   The lodging and food was below what I’m becoming used to in the many nicer lodges around Costa Rica, but the real rainforest experience makes that minus worth the trip! I recommend it with the alert that it is not a luxury hotel!   🙂

For more information check out the lodge website: Tapirus Lodge

Or the National Park Website:  Braulio Carrillo National Park

Happy CR Quote

¡Pura Vida!

 

2019 in Photos

Someone may remember that for “2018 in Review” I did a “Photo a Month” and decided then that it was not the best way to choose favorite photos – like it or not, the best or “favorite” photos are not evenly divided among 12 months.   🙂

So . . . this year I decided to try my personal favorite photo in each of several categories for 2019 – but yikes! This was not easy either and I really wanted more from the category of Birds, which is what I photograph the most – but this is what you get this year and since I used a different bird on my electronic “Christmas Card” earlier, you got that bird too!   And now I’ve decided to include two photos from my December trip to the rainforest AND there’s another bird!      🙂

I kept adding categories to include more photo! Cheating?    🙂    Here’s my personal favorites (not necessarily best photographically) – photos that mean something special to me in each of 18 categories listed alphabetically:

Airplane Shot

Flying in a small plane out of SJO to another adventure is joy! I flew on 5 of  my 12 trips in 2019. For longer distances it is usually quicker and cheaper than my hired driver and with fun photo-ops! See gallery of all my airplane shots since 2009! Costa Rica from above!   🙂

Amphibian

Red-webbed Tree Frog, Maquenque Eco Lodge & Reserve, Boca Tapada, January 2019. See my gallery on this frog (including one at another lodge) or my total Amphibians Gallery.

Art & Architecture

A worker arriving in the morning at Zephyr Palace,Villa Calletas Hotel, Jaco, July 2019 or maybe find other architecture in my Places & Things Gallery or more art in my People, Fiestas and Art Gallery

Bird

A Pale-billed Woodpecker building a home at Arenal Volcano National Park, Arenal Observatory Lodge, November 2019. See my Costa Rica Birds Gallery.

Butterfly

A Dina Yellow Butterfly at Villa Calletas, Jaco, July 2019. See my CR Butterflies Gallery.

Flower

Orchid at Maquenque Eco Lodge, Boca Tapada, January 2019. And my Flowers Gallery.

Forest Sunrise

Sunrise at Macaw Lodge near Carara National Park, June 2019. See also my Sunrise/Sunset Galleries.

Insect (not a butterfly)

Dragonfly at Macaw Lodge near Carara National Park, June 2019. And my More Insects Gallery.

Jungle Sunset

Cristal Ballena Hotel, Uvita, September 2019. Or see other Sunset galleries.

Monkey

Mantled Howler Monkey, Maquenque Eco Lodge & Reserve, Boca Tapada, January 2019 and shot from my Tree House Room!   🙂   See my CR Howler Monkey Gallery.

Mountainscape

The tip of Arenal Volcano seen From the Continental Divide, Santa Elena Reserve, Monteverde, April 2019 or check out my Vistas Gallery.

Oceanscape

Pacific Coast Mountains near Uvita & Dominical, September 2019 or check out my Vistas Gallery.

Ocean Sunrise

At Banana Azul Hotel, Puerto Viejo, Caribe Sur, August 2019. Or see other Sunrise/Sunset galleries.

Ocean Sunset

Villa Caletas, Jaco, July 2019. Or see other Sunset galleries.

Rainbow

Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park, November 2019 or check out my Vistas Gallery.

Rainforest Animal

Tapir at Tapirus Lodge Costa Rica. See also my Other Wildlife galleries.

 

 

 

 

Rainforest Bird

Sunbittern at Tapirus Lodge, Braulio Carrillo National Park, Costa Rica.  See my other photos from earlier in my Sunbittern gallery.

Sloth

Sloth Rescue Center, Cahuita, Caribe Sur, August 2019. Or see my Three-toed Sloth Gallery.

 

Waterfall

Nauyaca Waterfall near Dominical, September 2019 with my Portuguese friends in the photo. See all my Costa Rica Waterfalls Gallery.

 

And yes, I realize that I kind of stretched the landscape category with other “scapes” which I won’t do next year but maybe try for my top 12 favorite photos (17 here) which had I done this year would have been mostly birds. But hopefully these “favorites” will give you an idea of what it is like being Retired in Costa Rica!   🙂   And 2020 will have a lot of great new photos!   🙂  I’m sure!

“As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.”

~Criss Jami

 

Happy New Year’s Eve!

¡Pura Vida!

 

 

 

Evaluating Rainforest Adventures Lodge

Yes, it is called “Tapirus Lodge” but is owned & operated by “Rainforest Adventures” and even the lodge employees wear Rainforest Adventures shirts and do other jobs within the bigger operation. It is 10 rooms available inside a huge outdoor, nature-oriented rainforest amusement park on the border of Braulio Carrillo National Park, with a second, smaller facility near Jaco Beach on the Pacific side. Most of their business is day visits from nearby hotels including in San Jose plus from cruise ships in Limon on the Atlantic.

Someone responded to one of my blog posts this week with a comment that she was coming to Tapirus Lodge in the next three months and my posts helped her to choose her “tours” or activities but asked for more info. I am copying what I told her earlier today (Sunday) and will then present several slideshows to illustrate what I am saying:

If you love nature you will probably like it very much! Be aware of a few things that are different from what is implied in their lodge website:

(1) It is a tiny room, very basic with non-reliable hot water in the shower. And I had to ask for fresh towels each day the first 2 days until they learned I wanted them daily. So humid that a used towel never dries! There are 10 rooms in 5 buildings (like duplexes).
(2) It rained constantly for the 6 days I was there, day and night, with maybe 3 hours of sunshine one morning. You can still see and do a lot in the rain, but expect it any time of year there. It’s a rainforest!
(3) The food in the restaurant is basic with limited choices, the “tipico” (Costa Rican) breakfast being my favorite. Lunch is a buffet with lots of day visitors not in the lodge including from cruise ships some days. I avoided that and it did not look that appetizing. For dinner there is a choice of chicken, fish or beef with a couple of preparation options. The staff is wonderful! Super nice young waiter (just the one)! No bar, but beers & wines available.
(4) They have one of the longest zip-lines in the country and the longest canopy tram ride which this old man preferred and rode twice! I don’t zip in the rain! 🙂 All of this gives the place the feel of an amusement park, though deeply immersed in nature! Their “Birding Tour” was super good and worth the cost! The room comes with free morning & night nature walks of about an hour each. Great! Don’t miss those!
(5) Their butterfly garden had only one species my week (blue morpho), but the frog and snake exhibits were extensive and the orchid garden limited but nice. Some hiking trails are open for residents and a few require a guide.
(6) The National Park is just 5 km away if you have a car. I did not and the lodge took me in their shuttle bus. Two very nice trails that are easy to hike, even in the rain! 🙂 But I did not see many birds or other wildlife except for one wet sloth. A lady ranger was very helpful there, but you are own your own hiking.

Later I will have a photo gallery posted of my trip and will announce it on the blog.

¡Buen viaje!

 

In short, I prefer more “creature comforts” and gourmet food than I got here, and less rain, but overall it is a great place to experience nature in a rainforest – including the rain!   🙂

 

10 Rooms in 5 Cabins

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Grounds Around the Rooms

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Tourist Attractions

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Birds I Got

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Other Wildlife

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Tapirus Lodge

¡Pura Vida!

And tomorrow will be my annual Photo Review of the Year – 2019 this time!

Rainforest Adventure

That is also the name of the company that operates this little lodge of only 10 rooms — RAINFOREST ADVENTURE. And that is what I am having! I’m almost at the bottom of the mountains of Braulio Carrillo National Park, though we are on the side of a hill or mountain, on the “Caribbean Slope” just barely across the province line into Limon Province, about a 25 minute drive to Guapiles for those who know the area. And in a real rainforest. It rained part of yesterday afternoon and has rained all day today so far. I skipped the morning nature walk that comes with the room because of rain (my camera doesn’t like) but made the night hike last night for lots of frogs and snakes!  🙂

There is no wifi in the lodge-restaurant area and so I took the shuttle bus up to the front gate on the highway (4 km) which is the only place with wifi. Thus I will not be doing a post every day. Today is my personal explore day, tomorrow an all day birding tour on my 5 year anniversary of living in Costa Rica, and Christmas Day I do the “Canopy Tour” or zip-lining. The birding tour includes a round trip ride on the tram through the tree tops. The 26th I tour the National Park and 27th rest before returning to Atenas the 28th.

That is it and I may or may not have another post from here – a little bit of trouble. The place is geared more to young adult adventures, but is a great rainforest to stay in. The room is small but okay though I must drink only bottled water here. Food is okay, not great. One of the guides here is Moises who was one of my guides at Turtle Beach Lodge in Tortuguero (the younger ones move around some). So, in spite of a lot of rain here I’m having a great time! Here’s the first afternoon/evening photos in three categories:

Frogs

Snakes

Insects

Forest-Lodge Area

One Bird

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Yellow-throated Toucan

 

Tapirus Lodge

¡Pura Vida!

 

 

Arenal Trip Photo Gallery

Wow! Another great trip to one of my top 5 or 6 favorite places in Costa Rica, Arenal Observatory Lodge, with photos of 49 bird species , including the two new lifers for me! Plus 7 other animal species, a new birding trail (Bogarín), the waterfall, wonderful hiking trails and gardens to walk through, and the tallest birding tower in Costa Rica where this year I got lots of Honeycreepers in place of all the monkeys photographed last year, plus a repeat of my favorite room 29 and really good food! I have been so busy after the trip that it has been difficult to process all the photos, but finally done! Check them out at (or click image):

https://charliedoggett.smugmug.com/TRIPS/2019-November-11-17-Arenal-Observatory

 

Arenal-2019-Screenshot-WEB

Leave the road, take the trails.

~Pythagoras

Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

White-banded Satyr

Wow! Two different Satyrs in two days, though this photo was made more than a week ago while at Arenal Volcano and I just discovered it. After my research on yesterday’s butterfly post, I knew what it was quickly!   🙂   It’s a cousin to yesterday’s butterfly in the Satyr family called a White-banded Satyr. This makes my third Satyr, yesterday’s Gold Stained Satyr and an earlier Double-white Satyr which is similar to this White-banded, found in my 2015 Indigenous Village visit. See more of my butterfly photos in the gallery Butterflies & Moths of Costa Rica.  90+ Flying flowers!   🙂

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White-banded Satyr, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

 

¡Pura Vida!

Gold-stained Satyr

Another new butterfly for me – a lifer? 🙂 This one was on my phone camera dated the day after returning from Arenal Observatory and I don’t remember where! It was on a concrete wall which could be a lot of places!   🙂

Though it has been reported in southern Texas, most websites show it in Mexico & Central America with a few in northern South America, particularly Ecuador. An interesting butterfly with a positive identification from websites and my best butterfly book, A Swift Guide to Butterflies of Mexico & Central America, Second Edition.

And  just like with birds it is always fun to add a new species to my collection. My photo gallery of Costa Rica Butterflies & Moths is I think the best one on the web now. Check it out!

 

Butterflies are God’s confetti, thrown upon the Earth in celebration of His love .    

~K. D’Angelo

¡Pura Vida!