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!
The book is finished with 4 new lifer birds for me and now I’m off to other creative activities. Remember – you can PREVIEW the book electronically (flip through the pages) for free at my bookstore by clicking on this link and then each page to turn a page. Fun! And best seen in full screen mode! 🙂
Yeah, I recently added the white caladium border and another little improvement, but this was a BIG change! With 2 hours of rain delaying some of the work, my gardeners spent most of the day on my flower garden yesterday including buying all the plants, soil & rocks. It was for a requested restructuring and elimination of some invasive plants.
The results will look better in a week or two, but we needed to get it done now because the rainy season will end in mid to late November and new plants need rain. I am so fortunate to have such a good crew to do work that is much more difficult for me now.
I’ll update the blog from time to time on the garden, but tell you now that they added a new “feature plant” at the corner by my door called in English an “Elephant Foot” plant which you can see in one photo with the “Elephant Ears” behind it! 🙂 It will grow and bigger ones are beautiful! Much of the other is for color without competing plants and providing a little more cohesive, flowing look to the garden with mounds of new dirt adding to the flow. In a few weeks it will be great! And the Elephant in a year or two! 🙂
Garden Crew Working
Muddy work after the rain!
Hosing my driveway of mud.
A team gets more done faster!
Starting the cleanup.
Watering after done
The New Garden
Please click an image & do manual slide show.
Looking back to the driveway.
View From My Door.
Walking to my door from driveway.
One Corner with continued Maracas!
The Elephant Foot plant.
Looking from the driveway.
Life begins the day you start a garden. – Chinese proverb
This final post on the Rincón de la Vieja trip shares some scenery and a little more about the hotel and park that I hope provides a “sense of place” concerning this unique national park and adjacent hotel.
Sense of place is the sixth sense, an internal compass and map made by memory and spatial perception together.
In the northwestern corner of Costa Rica there are volcanoes and ranches. Rincón de la Vieja is unique to all the volcano parks in this drier, western part of the country, reminding me of the southwestern U.S. with persons riding horses as common as bikes and wildness depicts the beauty and sense of place. Plus this hotel is a working ranch. Here’s two galleries and brief evaluations of both the hotel and the place.
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín
Hacienda Guachipelín is a large, old, ranch-style hotel on more than 2,000 hectors of land with more waterfalls than the park (8) and it is a working farm & ranch where you can actually be “a cowboy for a day” helping real cowhands or just take one of several horseback riding trips. And seasonally watch a rodeo!
All the typical adventure tours are also available like zip lines, white water rafting, tubing, rappelling, canyoneering, biking, ATV, hot springs & mud baths, a Spa, plus an on-property serpentarium, butterfly garden, Mirador (scenic overlook), and more trails than you will likely use!
My room was basic, comfortable and good for my purposes. It was a longer walk to the restaurant than some and if you need to be close, request that when making your reservation. They offered to move me but I need the walks!
The restaurant food is okay good, just not great, with the wait staff service also mediocre except for the separate bar which had great service! In high season or fuller capacity the restaurant is all buffet style and breakfast is buffet even in low season (now). I am not fond of buffets. 🙂 I ate my usual two meals a day here; a big breakfast from the buffet & omelette bar with an early, good dinner from the menu at outdoor Bar (one of above photos). Restaurant didn’t start dinner until 6:30.
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Sorry I failed to get photos of horseback-riders!
My favorite farm road!
In foothills of mountains.
Working farm – Greenhouse for Tomatoes.
Vista from Hotel Mirador.
Crested Guan in the Park.
All national parks are well maintained here!
Vistas from all over hotel grounds.
One or two trips to the park is enough to see most everything there. Had I gone a second time I would have done the 10-K walk to their largest waterfall, Cangreja Waterfall, but didn’t this time. Much of the rest is like a smaller Yellowstone park with lots of thermal activity from the volcano (hot springs, bubbling mud, steam or smoke, and yellow rocks from the sulfur).
There is actually more to see and do on the hotel property than in the park, especially for the adventurer or the bird-watcher. And though I saw birds in both places, you see more on hotel property because it is more open and walking the farm roads is the best way to see and photograph birds. I saw 25-30 species, photographing most and got four new birds, “Lifers,” here: the Lesser Ground Cuckoo, White-fronted Parrot, Magpie Jay, and Western Wood Pewee. Very good for me! Plus I got two new butterfly species and some new snakes in their serpentarium.
“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”
Here’s some butterflies I photographed on the hotel property during my stay there. The only two that are new species to me (if labeled correctly) are the Felder’s White and the Blue & White Heliconian. Love them all!
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE.
Blue & White Heliconian
Sara Longwing Heliconian
Owl’s Eye Butterfly
The caterpillar among the photos appeared on my leg right at the hem of my shorts. The Hot Springs attendant took a flat rock and scooped him up then on to the flower on which I photographed him. He looked scary at first, thus today’s quote:
“Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
And by the way, I’m home now for at least 3 weeks! I’ll wrap up these reports, a gallery and photo book soon on this interesting “wild west” vacation. Then prepare for a relaxing repeat visit to Arenal Observatory in November.
Just a 4 km walk yesterday morning – to breakfast(0.5 km) and afterwards directly to the Chorreras Waterfall through parts of the Hotel farmland and other scenery (1.5 km), watching employees arrive by bus, bicycle, motorcycle and walking. A pleasant walk down a dirt farm road that became rocky and steep on the hill by the river and waterfall. Then the 2 km return with a friendly dog.
As the first one to the Falls that morning I was greeted by the barking dogs and very helpful security guard, Norman, a friendly young man from Nicaragua. (Costa Rica doesn’t chase its immigrants away or put them in cages.) And as in this case, immigrants help make life better for all of us here! 🙂 I love our immigrants! (And of course I am one myself!) 🙂
Like most Latin Americans, Norman showed a great degree of respect for my age and seemed a little surprised I was hiking in the mountains and climbing down steps to the waterfall, offering to help me of course. Evidently not many 79 year-old people are as adventurous! 🙂
We talked about the difficulties of me learning to speak Spanish and him learning to speak English. Then he shared a quote with me in both English and Spanish to encourage me in my language learning (probably someone used to encourage him), which I include in both languages at the end of this post. Great advice from a young man that I will take to heart! “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Wow! I love living here! All the neat people! And places!
No rain the previous afternoon or night, thus the Falls not as full Norman said. After visiting with Norman awhile I walked back and one of the guard dogs decided to walk back with me, all the way to the Adventure Tours station, nearly 2 km, where they said he does that frequently with guests – every creature is friendly here! 🙂
Birds on the Walk
Hotel Grounds on the Walk
Flowers on the Walk
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
Vive como si murieras mañana. Aprende como si vivieras para siempre.
~Mahatma Gandhi – Given to me by Norman at Chorreras Waterfall to encourage me with my study of Spanish. 🙂
By the time I get to a place and settle in I usually have less than half a day there but seem to get as many or more photos as other days – the excitement of a new place I guess! And so it was yesterday at Hacienda Guachipelín! 🙂
So to spare you, I’m saving today’s birds and butterflies for another day and putting today’s other photos in slide shows so it won’t look like so much. 🙂
Hotel Mirador (Vista Point)
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart”–Confucius
Possibly the most common broad category of butterflies in Costa Rica is the Skippers and there are 3,500+ species of Skippers!
Though I may have seen both of these before, I don’t believe I have previously named them or shared photos of either.
DISCLAIMER: Uniquely colored butterflies are easier to identify than the thousands of brown Skippers which are very difficult to identify, even if in the book or online (and all are not). Thus no guarantee of the accuracy of these identities! 🙂
Skipper – Gold Costa
Skipper – Common Brown
“Just living is not enough, said the butterfly, one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” – Hans Christian Anderson