Today I had a morning hike to the Danta Waterfall and afternoon hike to the Observatory Tower they call “The Nest.” Both were good, see photos below. And though still rainy today (I had to leave tower before most toucans arrived), there was almost a sunset tonight or the nearest we’ve had this rainy week and of course what little I got was mostly behind the clouds. 🙂
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! 🙂
My trip gallery is finished with a lot of interesting photos I think including 24 species of birds four of which are “Lifers” for me! So a good trip for me and some of my most interesting airplane photos en route like the big waterfall from above! And that reminds me that I have also added 9 waterfalls to my collection on this trip. See the trip gallery at this link:
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!
Working farm – Greenhouse for Tomatoes.
Vista from Hotel Mirador.
In foothills of mountains.
My favorite farm road!
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
Owl’s Eye Butterfly
Sara Longwing Heliconian
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.
I took the shuttle bus to Rio Negro yesterday morning for the 4 waterfalls and hot springs which I had alone, all 8 pools! I sat in one for about 25 minutes which is long enough for 40 degrees centigrade (104 F). As I was leaving a van of tourists from Spain came in from another hotel to soak in the hot springs.
The three birds are new ones for this trip. And these 3 were all photographed before breakfast in trees in front of my room! 🙂 The featured photo at top today is one of those, a White-fronted Parrot, a new bird or “lifer” for me!
4 Rio Negro Waterfalls
Rio Negro Hot Springs
3 New Birds
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”
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. 🙂
Johnny took me to the Rincón de la Vieja National Park today and we hiked 5 kilometers. My favorite part was the two waterfalls, one in the park and one outside near the entrance but on hotel property. Currently it is not safe to go look into the active volcano but we did see the smoke, hot water and bubbling mud which reminded me of Yellowstone. It is a tight forest so difficult to see birds but I did get some shots of a Crested Guan and some other wildlife.
Pailas Seasonal Waterfall
2 Hikers & the Park
And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling.
Yesterday was my guided bird watching hike and business is so slow in this low season (few tourists in rainy season) that I was given two guides for my solo birding hike. Great and very productive! We saw more than 25 or 30 species but not that many photos!
Below are the ones I got usable photos of with 2 of these as “lifers” or first time photographed for me: Lesser Ground Cuckoo (also the featured photo) and the Magpie Jay. Plus a third lifer without a very good photo – Western Wood-Pewee. A very good morning! 🙂
Gartered Trogon female
With My 2 Guides
And Javier really likes to get group photos, securing another employee to snap this on both our phones. Johnny on the left was technically the main guide who is more experienced and been around here awhile, but Javier (my guide the day before also) was the “Eagle-eye” – really good at spotting hard-to-see birds.
Johnny will be my guide today into the national park, which won’t be as many birds with the volcano, hot springs, mud pots, etc. like visiting Yellowstone!
“I WOULD RATHER OWN LITTLE AND SEE THE WORLD THAN OWN THE WORLD AND SEE LITTLE OF IT.”