And as a nature lover, I do not always embrace “progress” that henders nature, but as always, I learn to live with it! 🙂 This old dirt country road called “Calle Nueva” winds over three or four hills through the woods and farms on the western edge of Pueblo Atenas running from the western side of town to the nearby village of Rio Grande at the entrance to Ruta 27, our controlled access highway between San Jose and Jaco Beach. This narrow country dirt road has been considered an emergency exit road in case of a disaster requiring evacuation. Now it is about to become a major street or road to enter or exit Atenas. They first graded and widened it to 9 meters taking a few trees and lots of wild flower with their backhoes, graders and chainsaws. Now they have started at the Rio Grande end widening it to 14 meters and paving it! Working this way! And more than half finished! Already traffic has increased and when all is paved it will stay busy!
Of course I am disappointed that I am about to lose my little “shady lane” country road for birding and butterflies along with other nature photography, but even with pavement and more cars it will for a while have more birds and other nature than city streets, just gradually the farms along this road will be turned into housing developments as more foreigners move here in both retirement like me AND now so many younger adults who work on the internet and can live anywhere are choosing to live here! 🙂 It’s all part of our big changing world! At least I’m already living in one of those more desirable places in the world to live! 🙂
I will continue to walk this road for its nature until there is no more nature. The additional people, traffic and greater speed of vehicles will discourage the birds and other animals in time, but for now it is still a nature path, even when the pavement goes down. And I will continue to document here the birds and butterflies I find through these woods and farms, but for you who live here, be aware than “progress” is coming! 🙂
More photos of the road below from my March 10 sunrise walk . . .
My favorite hotel in Costa Rica’s Caribbean South is Banana Azul and I just completed a new book which I will take copies of on my next visit there in September for other patrons to enjoy in the lobby along with others of my photo books about the area that are already there.
This new book has photos of 28 species of butterflies photographed on the Banana Azul property or at nearby locations. Enjoy thumbing through it for free electronically at my bookstore by clicking the cover image below or just going to this web address:
I have kind of quit evaluating lodges and hotels on TripAdvisor like I used to do after every trip and in some ways I’m finding it more difficult to “rank” lodges, like I did earlier by just the number of birds I photograph there.
At more than 82 and 1/2 years old, I’m looking for comfort more than in earlier adventures and simply do not go camping anymore, not to mention backpacking. So a comfortable room and good food are more important to me now, even though photographing nature still comes first. 🙂
First, I Changed How I Get There & Back
Most of the lodges provide a free shuttle bus or van from any hotel in San Jose, including at the SJO Airport (where I have them pick me up at the Hampton Inn). Then van drives you to Guápiles for breakfast and then on to the La Pavona Boat Dock near Cariari, 22 kms (13.7 miles) north of Guápiles. Then you boat to your lodge in one of the lodge’s boats, an hour and a half to 2-hour boat trip which is a fun adventure the first time. I did that the first three times going twice to Laguna Lodgeand then once to Turtle Beach Lodge, though my return from Turtle Beach was much easier as I chose to fly back on Sansa from the tiny airport in Tortuguero. This time I chose to fly both ways at around $200 round-trip. Much faster and more relaxing plus I love the views and photo possibilities from the plane window! Plus small planes are their own kind of adventure! And it just happens that the lodge I chose this time is across the river from the “Airport” or little landing strip by the ocean.
I Chose For Better Room & Food This Time
The first two lodges I have visited in Tortuguero were just basic camp cabins (fine for me) and with average or maybe a little above average buffet-style food. But as I get older I want more comfort and better food.
So I chose the most expensive lodge there, Tortuga Lodge and Gardens, a BOENA Property with 4 upscale “wilderness lodges” in Costa Rica including Lapa Rio which used to be run by National Geographic and my favorite lodge in Monteverde (I’ve tried 3), the Monteverde Lodge and Gardens that I stayed in before it became BOENA. At over $400 a night including all 3 meals, this was my most expensive lodge yet, though I’ve been favoring other lodges more like it recently. 🙂
The room was the best yet in Tortuguero! So Tortuga Lodge won me over with the large, spacious room with private terrace overlooking the river and a back window looking into the rainforest. Very comfortable King Bed and large bathroom with huge rain shower. Strong WiFi capable of rapidly uploading my photos to the blog and even a nice desk for my laptop! So Tortuga Lodge & Gardens wins on room and excellent early maid service! In one or both of the other lodges I had to go to the lobby or restaurant for WiFi.
The food was also by far the best yet in Tortuguero! Though I had one complaint about the dry chicken and fish and tough, rubbery large shrimp at some dinners, everything else was absolutely delicious and well-prepared with a lot of choices for all three meals, including a variety of appetizers, salads, soups and desserts! It was generally the kind of fine, gourmet food you expect at their high prices.
Guides and Tours About Equal
Their Guides & Tours were as good as the other two lodges. Every guide I’ve had at all three lodges have been excellent as were their tours! So this reason for going would not make either of the three lodges a big winner exactly, though both Laguna and Turtle Beach are literally on the beach which is a big plus for me and would be more so in turtle season. Plus both are more back in the jungle than Tortuga AND Turtle Beach has its own private canals and a bigger property which is another advantage they have and I saw more wildlife there. In fact one of my tours this time was in Laguna 4 which is next to Turtle Beach Lodge and was this guide’s favorite place to go. Hmmm. If Turtle Beach had the higher quality rooms and food, I would probably prefer them.
I think Tortuga Lodge and Gardens is overpriced, but I enjoyed my 4 nights there and would consider it again for the comfort as I would consider the other two for the wildlife tours and I might even try a different place next time, like Mawamba Lodge which I’ve heard good things about, if I even get to go back to Tortuguero. 🙂
It’s the same photos I’ve reported with on this blog and are in my trip gallery, but it is another creative opportunity for me that I find fun and will enjoy having a copy of the book and sharing a couple of copies with the lodge which they will share with other guests, so a nice creative use of my photography from a trip like this and the first trip book I’ve done in a year or two.
The only place I saw and photographed butterflies this trip was in the lodge gardens, totally on their Porter Weed flowers. I managed to capture 9 different species I think, but have only identified the 6 that are included in this post. See them in their own gallery below this anchor shot . . .
And of course you do know that I mean Peacock BUTTERFLY! 🙂
There are two species that I see here, the more common is the Banded Peacock that I see all over Costa Rica and shared one from last week’s visit to Xandari, but maybe my preferred is the simpler but elegant White Peacock Butterfly, Anartia jatrophae. Click that link for my gallery photos of them. They are also found all over Costa Rica, though not in the abundance of the Banded Peacock. These are the only 2 “Peacock” butterflies in Costa Rica, while Panama and south into South America there is also a Red Peacock Butterfly which is similar to the Banded but with thicker bands of red where the Banded has thinner white bands.
This is a very common butterfly here and one of many in the family Pieridae – WHITES, YELLOWS & SULPHURS, though this was the only one from this visit to Xandari. In that linked gallery there are photos of 23 species and many came from Xandari on earlier visits.
. . . was felt when I went to and from Central Atenas on the first day of school. Everywhere were happy, smiling, chatting school kids of all ages, kindergarten to 12th grade wearing brand new uniforms and marking the real beginning of 2023 for them! School year here is February to December. It made me feel good about living en el pueblo de Atenas!
The largest family of butterflies is Nymphalidae – BRUSHFOOTSand you can click that link for my galleries in that family where I now have photos of 93 species. I did get one more photo from this family that I cannot yet identify, so not included here.
Continuing to blog my butterfly sightings in families, here are the 2 Skippers or Hesperiidae butterflies from this past week’s visit to Xandari. You can see more of this type of butterfly in my Hesperiidae-SKIPPERS Galleries.