Arenal 2024 Photo Gallery

Finally, I have processed all the photos and organized them into another fun gallery representative of Arenal Observatory Lodge & Trails inside the Arenal Volcano National Park of Costa Rica. And the blog will be back to my little creatures and fun nature from my little garden. You can click the first page of the gallery below or if preferred, this address: https://charliedoggett.smugmug.com/TRIPS/2024-May-6-11-Arenal-Observatory-Lodge-Trails

CLICK this image of the first page of gallery to go there.

And to visit there, see the Arenal Observatory Lodge WEBSITE.

¡Pura Vida!

Lake Arenal Day Views

with overcast skies, clouds or rain every day (rainy season now), but it is still a nice “extra” visita in addition to the volcano adjacent the lodge. And as you can tell on the Google Map I’ve included below, the portion you see from the lodge or the Arenal Volcano National Park on the map in lower right-hand corner of the lake is only about 1/20th of the total 20-mile long lake that fills the valleys where the river used to flow. It is the largest lake in Costa Rica and a major source of electricity. Several small towns had to be relocated when the dam was built. Read the lodge’s description linked. It is one of the most popular places for Costa Ricans to go bass fishing and some tourist! 🙂 3 photos & a map . . .

Lake Arenal seen from Arenal Observatory Lodge & Trails, Costa Rica.
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No 2 Sunsets Alike!

One of my main reasons for going to Arenal Observatory Lodge & Trails in May this year is because it is one of the few months you can see the sun setting over Lake Arenal. Well, we had more rain this year than the last time I went in May and thus the last four of the five were in rain or semi-rain, yet only the last two nights were gray, with no color. Here’s my 5 nights of sunsets over Lake Arenal with three colorful and two gray, though each are beautiful in their own ways! 🙂 Here’s the first night’s for the email and the other four follow in the online blog . . .

Monday Sunset, Lake Arenal
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Waterfall Hike Today!

It was just 3 miles, but there were several hills and a lot of steps going down into the canyon to see the waterfall, but worth it to this childlike old man who is still in awe of such things! And I’ve been to this waterfall 4 other times before! But never get tired of it! 🙂

I always hesitate to include a selfie photo, but here I am as a nearly 84 year old survivor of cancer whose left eye can no longer blink and thus waters and fogs of my glasses :-), in a wide-brim hat and SPF-50 sunscreen that my Costa Rican doctors expect of me! 🙂 While I still enjoy all the little awesome things in life like this hike through a rainforest to a tropical waterfall! It’s my pura vida! 🙂 Here’s 5 photos, including one of the two sets of moss-covered steps I climbed down with my trekking pole and camera!

Charlie at Danta Waterfall, Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica!
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My Arenal Room

This is my 5th time to spend five nights at Arenal Observatory Lodge and all 5 times in the same room because I liked it on my first visit! 🙂 It is close to the beginning of all hiking trails and just across a courtyard from the restaurant, and as a corner room, it has two great views! Looking north, I look up at the volcano and looking west I look out over Lake Arenal and this time of year at some magnificent sunsets. Here’s a shot of each of my two views and one of the courtyard between my building and the restaurant. As they say here, “Perfecto!”

One of the 2 views from my room, Arenal Volcano.
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From Mini-Jungle to Rainforest!

This morning my usual transportation of Walter Ramirez Tours and Taxis is taking me away from my home “garden” or “mini-jungle,” featured above, to one of my favorite forest getaways for 5 nights . . .

Arenal Observatory Lodge, the only hotel inside the Arenal Volcano National Park, where I will spend 5 days hiking the trails of a forest with a great variety of plants and animals! Tree Ferns to Toucans and more!

Below are four shots of my little mini-rainforest garden in Atenas that I am proud of and in which I photograph much for this blog! Then following that, another 4-shot gallery from my last trip to the Observatory in 2022. I chose to go in May this year because that is the month I got good sunset photos over Lake Arenal in 2018 and my most monkey shots that year, though anytime is a good time to visit Arenal Observatory Lodge! (lodge website link) 🙂 Looking forward to just being there!

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Wildness Disappearing

Well, at least close to towns like Atenas or anywhere within an hour or two from San Jose. But from my porch, or terrace they call it here, I zoomed in on one of the hills nearby that looked undeveloped. The only sign of humans seems to be one small or moderate-sized house at the end of a dirt road, which could be a cool place to live! 🙂

Zooming in on a Nearby Hill, Atenas, Alajuela, Costa Rica

Of course Costa Rica has more than 25% of all land protected as wilderness national parks, reserves, or wildlife refuges, but in the more populated Central Valley or anywhere near the capital of San Jose, development is growing rapidly. I am very much aware of how many more cars are on the streets and highways now than just 10 years ago! Plus there seems to be construction work somewhere all the time, even in little Atenas! So it was fun to zoom in on one of the Atenas hills and see only one small house! 🙂

See more of my Roca Verde Terrace Views in that gallery.

¡Pura Vida!

Villa Lapas/Carara Park Photo Gallery

Though I have another week+ of blog post photos already scheduled, I have now also got my “Trip Gallery” completed for the two-night visit to Villa Lapas Hotel (hotel link) in Tarcoles and it was a productive trip! 🙂 You can see all the photos from that visit last week by clicking the first page of the gallery below or go to this address: https://charliedoggett.smugmug.com/TRIPS/2024-March-11-13-Villa-Lapas-Tarcoles-Carara-NP

CLICK IMAGE above to go to the gallery.

And the FYI about why I re-visited this older local hotel in Tarcoles now (2015 was my other time) is that next year (2025, Q4) Villa Lapas (hotel link) will become a Marriott “Signature” hotel, whatever that means, and of course the prices will increase significantly as they modernize the very old rooms and restaurant. So it will be interesting to see what happens! 🙂 It is adjacent to Carara National Park and across the highway from Tarcoles Village with the Rio Tarcoles Boat Tours, so a lot to do there for the nature lover like me, including on their own significant chunk of forest on the hotel grounds. I recommend it if you can put up with older facilities, often needing maintenance. Lots of nature there! See the gallery! 🙂

But ALSO NOTE: even though I’m glad I revisited Villa Lapas, my favorite hotel in the area is still Macaw Lodge on top of the mountain above Villa Lapas and Carara Park for much more nature on the lodge grounds! I encourage you to try Macaw Lodge (lodge link) even though the drive up the mountain, partly on a gravel road, is much more difficult. It is worth it!

¡Pura Vida!

Villa Lapas

My second overnight trip after moving to Costa Rica nearly 10 years ago was to this locally-owned & operated lodge/hotel near the village of Tarcoles, less than an hour west of Atenas, Villa Lapas. I did not get many bird or other wildlife photos compared to later trips other places, but you can see what I got in my Trip Gallery: Villa Lapas, July 2015. The appeal then and now is that it is located next to Carara National Park, where, with a good guide (that I did not have then), you can photograph a lot of different bird species as you also can on the right Tarcoles River Boat Safari. Since then I’ve discovered lots of better lodges for birds and other nature photography (even in that area – see bottom of post), so why am I returning now? Because of a recent announcement about this little-known place with some rooms arranged as a “Colonial Spanish Jungle Village” becoming a Marriott Resort . . .

Villa Lapas set up as a “Colonial Jungle Village”
in the Transitional Forests of Carara National Park.
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