Firsts of 2020

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Tropical Kingbird

This bird (above & at right) is a Tropical Kingbird (click name for more about him).   He is the first one photographed on my terrace this year,  at breakfast, January 1, 2020.

-o-

Just three weeks before I visited Tapirus Lodge in Braulio Carrillo National Park Christmas Week, David Attenborough and a BBC film crew visited the same lodge and park! I have trouble keeping up with all his documentaries, but hope I see whatever he filmed there!   🙂   Maybe it is part of his new “Green Planet” Series which is being filmed all over Costa Rica?

-o-

Zarcero Community Band was the first & biggest band in the Atenas Christmas Parade I featured in a December 21 Post and was one of the featured bands in the Rose Parade January 1, 2020!  In different costumes of course! See also my Christmas Parade gallery.

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Zarcero Costa Rica Community Band & Dancers performing here in Atenas Christmas Parade, also performed in The Rose Parade, Pasadena, California.

 

And a video of the band in Pasadena’s Rose Parade:

 

Costa Rica – The Happiest People on Earth!

¡Pura Vida!

 

 

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!

The Park – Braulio Carrillo

Thursday morning was my time to hike one trail and part of another in the national park IN THE RAIN! Which meant no birds but I did get one very wet Sloth and lots of plants & streams which I like! All of the parks are very well maintained here and have a lot of nature to share!   The park website:  Braulio Carrillo. 

Braulio Carrillo Pix

Visiting Braulio Carrillo from

Tapirus Lodge

¡Pura Vida!

Translation of quotation sign in park:

“This land belongs to all Costa Ricans, some have already died, others of us still live, but most are not yet born.”      ~Anonymous

My First Tram Ride

These shots were Tuesday the 24th as a part of my “Birding Tour” with guide Cristian who is the guy in the gondola with me. I said “first” because I am doing it again tomorrow morning the 26th and hope for more than one bird! Though the Aracari shot Tuesday wasn’t bad!    🙂  And for it to not be raining! It has rained constantly for the last 4 days. And hoping for a shot of an Umbrella Bird before I leave Saturday morning.

The Longest Tram Ride in CR, 2.6 km

Tapirus Lodge Rainforest Adventure

The photos title has their bragging number of 2.6 km, length of your ride round trip! One-way from beginning to the other end up on a mountain top is 1.3 km, but either way it is long!   🙂   If you are the only one riding, it takes an hour and 15 minutes. But every time they board or exit someone more minutes are added. When the cruise ship passengers were here this morning it was taking them about two hours with people in most of the gondolas.

It will be quieter tomorrow morning right after breakfast with few if any other people and hopefully more birds in the tree tops!   🙂   There is the option to get off at the top with a guide and hike a trail up there, but my birding guide said it was not very good for birding, so we didn’t. I think the manager is sending one of his birding guides with me tomorrow to help me find birds in the tree tops. Fun! This is what you do when you are “Retired in Costa Rica.”   🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Birds & a Tapir – Perfect Christmas!

On Christmas Eve, yesterday, my 5 year anniversary of living in Costa Rica I had a birding guide and got one “Lifer” (first time seen) bird, the rare White-tipped Sicklebill, plus a lifer mammal if you please! A Wild Tapir came right up to the restaurant building eating from the flower beds!   🙂   Though not new for me, I also got some more photos of a very rare Sunbittern! And all of the below photos from yesterday were made in the rain. It has not stopped raining for two days and nights now in this RAINforest.   🙂

Birds

 

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Tapir on entrance walkway for Gift Shop & Restaurant

Forest Walk

 

 

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The mother Tapir eating various kinds of leaves. She seldom brings her baby.

I also got some interesting photos on the canopy tram ride which I will share in another post the next two days or whenever I return to the entrance for Wifi.

¡Pura Vida!

 

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A White-nosed Coati – Quite common raccoon-sized animal all over Costa Rica.

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!