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

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!

Seeing Green

A few shots made my first day at Tapirus Lodge, enjoying the many “green things” walking around the lodge. And its a pre-made post for while I am getting settled back in at home in Atenas.

Rainforest Green

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Tapirus Lodge

Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

Rainforest Birds +

My second time to ride the canopy tram here and first time in the sunshine! It was better with a few more birds this morning after breakfast, but still difficult to photograph moving birds from a moving gondola! Sorry for not better photos, especially of the tiny Tawny-capped Euphonia!

I also walked around the campus again and down to the river and got two more Sunbittern – the featured photo –  a rare and elusive bird that all birders desire! It was not from the tram!   🙂

I leave tomorrow morning from my different and good rainforest experience. Though difficult to rate, I will try to do so in another post and on TripAdvisor. And . . . oh yeah, of course it is raining again as I type this!  🙂

Today’s Birds

 

Nature from the Tram

 

Tapirus Lodge

¡Pura Vida!

Christmas Poinsettias

People around the world buy these interesting tropical plants as an indoor natural Christmas decoration. I bought two last year and after Christmas decided to plant them in my garden so I would have my own outdoor Christmas Poinsettia this year since they are native to Central America. And surely you know that they do not have a flower but the top layer of leaves turn red around Christmas. Well, I kept watching mine in the garden as it got closer to December and now Christmas and MINE STILL HAVE NOT TURNED RED!

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So like any good internet user, I Googled it and found . . .

“The Poinsettia is a light sensitive plant. When you deprive the plant in its full leafing stage of light, the only chlorophyll used to turn the leaves green cannot be produced. As a result of this total darkness and lack of light, the only color that will be produced is red. This is called photoperiodism.”

~from the internet

I’ve seen red ones in other gardens here but this quote makes it sounds like I needed to cover them from the sun in my garden to get red. Then by reading further online in this article on How Poinsettias Turn Red, I learned that the two I bought from the supermarket last year are hybridized by nurseries as indoor plants and yes would have turned red if I had given then weeks of darkness. BUT, the ones in other gardens here that bloom are “wild poinsettias” which have somehow developed a way to turn their leaves red to attract pollinators. Wow! Nature is amazing and interesting! So . . . if I want them blooming in my garden, I need to get wild ones!   🙂   Oh well, I tried!   🙂

Now, to get my red, I bought two new ones again this year, one little and one bigger one and I now have Christmas red inside my house, just not in the garden!   🙂   But most importantly I’m trying to “live Christmas every day!”   🙂   And hope you are able to do that too! Be Merry!

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“Peace on earth will come to stay, when we live Christmas every day.”

~Helen Steiner Rice

¡Pura Vida!

Vacant Lot Flowers

“There is poetry among the wildflowers’.”
― Rachel Irene Stevenson

Sure! I look for nature everywhere! And noticed yesterday morning when I left the Coffee Shop that the vacant lot across the street had this mass of yellow swished across it. Wildflowers!

Beauty is where you find it!  And those trees are kind of nice too!   🙂

“Wildflowers are the stuff of my heart!”
― Lady Bird Johnson

¡Pura Vida!

 

Oh, the Places I’ll Go!

Monday I’m off to Arenal Observatory Lodge in Arenal Volcano National Park with my choice room reserved again – #27 – where my deck looks up at the volcano and out past the bird feeders to Lake Arenal over which the suns sets each evening in brilliant colors!

I was there a year and a half ago and you can see why I like it in my trip photo gallery: 2018-May 4-9 – Arenal Observatory Lodge.  It is truly one of my favorite places and I’m beginning to return to such more often now, where there are more birds than I will every photograph! (An “official” birding hot spot.) Plus waterfalls, trails, horses, a farm, beautiful scenery, good food, and a comfortable room with more places nearby to visit. And I will probably relax more this time without the rush of trying to see and do everything the first time!   ¡Tranquilo!

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

¡Pura Vida!