Xandari Scenery

Okay – my last post for Xandari! You may get tired of seeing photos from there, but hopefully they reveal why it is one of my favorite hotels in Costa Rica! I never tire of it and hope to keep going back! And like other great places, the friendliness and helpfulness of the people there is one great reason I may not have mentioned much! And that has nothing to do with my photography library being there – they treat everyone like royalty! I highly recommend Xandari Costa Rica anytime you are here and need a hotel near the airport or better yet for a luxurious nature experience over a longer period of time. You need several days to hike, see, photograph, and do all there is to do in this hotel!

And one of my many reasons for liking it is the beautiful scenery I have grouped here in two categories. As always, click a photo to see it larger and then you can return or take the option to see the photos in that gallery as a manual slide show. Enjoy!

Xandari Vistas

 

 

Xandari Trails & Grounds

And in case you wondered why no flowers here, I did a Xandari Flowers post last week or for those from all my trips there, see the photo gallery Xandari Flowers. 

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”     ~Rachel Carson

¡Pura Vida!

Xandari Costa Rica    (hotel website)

For the photo report on my latest and third trip to Xandari see my CR Trips Gallery 2020 Xandari Nature Resort, AlajuelaNOW READY! And includes for the first time my visit to the Starbucks Alsacia Coffee Farm.:

Photo gallery of my latest visit to Xandari Resort

Or if researching Xandari, see photos from my 2 earlier trips in both galleries and in books:

2019 Xandari Birthday Week Celebration:  GALLERY   –or–   BOOK

2018 July Xandari First Visit:   GALLERY   –or–   BOOK

 

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

20200112_144317-WEB
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

My Photos in an Art Gallery

One reason I was happy that Xandari would house my library of Photo Books is that the entire hotel is an art gallery with art literally everywhere, inside and outside. It was built by an Artist/Architect and his wife an Art Teacher. In another post I will display the art in my villa this time – different every visit!

The above stained glass window is in the reading room of the lobby and my photo books are on a book shelf at the entrance to that reading room. In earlier Tennessee days I tried to sell photos at art fairs calling them “Nature as Art” which fits this arty nature retreat very well. I’m happy to be a part of Xandari!

 

Today was my very full day with an early morning birding hike with excellent guide Jose and a lovely couple from England, followed by breakfast and a tour of the only Starbucks-owned coffee farm in the world which I will tell you more about later, then an afternoon late lunch, relaxation massage, a desert at dinner time and I’m ready for bed! With lots of photos to process tomorrow, my last full day here.

¡Pura Vida!

Xandari 2018-Enchanted by Nature
Just one of 29 books in the library!
Brilliant Book cover
And the other one about Xandari!  Plus all of my other Costa Rica photo books!

To see all of my Costa Rica Photo books, go to My Bookstore at Blurb where you can preview any of the books for free electronically! Best if viewed in full screen mode of course!   🙂

2020 – Year of 7 Favorite Hotels!

I am slowing down a little in 2020 – at least slower for me – but will not totally “act my age” in the year I turn 80! I just finished detail travel plans for this year with about half as many week-long trips as in 2019, 7 instead of 13! More time at home writing, but when out I will follow this unidentified quote:

Get lost in nature and you will find yourself.

My 7 trips are each great nature adventures, as I require, even with 6 being repeat locations! Each trek’s hotel heading is linked to that hotel’s website if interested:

Xandari Nature Resort, Alajuela 

Brilliant Book coverThis is in many ways my favorite hotel and nature retreat, though not my best birding place. And is one of the most expensive! But it has as much nature overall as any of my favorite places, plus 5 of their own waterfalls on property, plus excellent service, rooms, and food plus the best of all hot tubs or jacuzzis! (And more birds than at home!)

It is very relaxing in every way and they treated me royally on my birthday last year, plus this year (next week) they will be installing the only complete library of my Costa Rica Photo Books in their lobby as one of their many art exhibits for the enjoyment of other clients. More about the only Charlie Doggett Photography Library next week!   🙂

 

And for photo galleries of my two previous visits to Xandari:

 

Savegre Hotel & Nature Reserve, San Gerardo de Dota

Near Savegre Mountain Lodge, Costa Rica, 1-30-09I’ve wanted to return there since my first short visit on a birding tour in 2009 while still living in downtown Nashville. I’ve returned to San Gerardo de Dota twice since then as the best place in Costa Rica to see and photograph the Resplendent Quetzal! I’ll include links to those two other lodges visited below in case considering the area for a visit.

This little mountain village is adjacent to the grand Quetzal National Park and is a wonderful place for many different kinds of mountain birds or cloud forest birds. And one of the few places in Costa Rica where it gets cold at night! They even have fireplaces in some of the rooms!  We rushed through Sevegre on the birding tour with just two nights, so I expect to get more birds and an overall better and more relaxing experience on this five-night visit. My photos from previous visits to San Gerardo de Dota:

 

Talari Mountain Lodge, Chirripó  NEW for me

001-IMG_7207-WEBThe Chirripó Mountain is the tallest in Costa Rica and for a certain group of Tico young men, climbing to the top (overnight with one night on the mountain) is a sort of “rite of passage” for the real outdoors young man here, some before high school graduation.    🙂

I visited the area in 2015 on my way to the birding club visit to San Gerardo de Dota for just two nights in the Rio Chirripó Lodge, a sort of yoga retreat and B&B which was very nice. I hiked past the entrance trail to Chirripó top but went on into the private adjacent Cloudbridge Reserve for birds and two beautiful waterfalls and no tall mountain climb for me!

In this same area is Los Cusingos Biological Reserve where the first big birder in Costa Rica, Alexander Skutch, lived and wrote the first birding guides for Costa Rica. Thus I have always wanted to visit it and the nearby Los Quebradas Biological Reserve . So my goals are those two reserves and maybe the popular Fincas Suizos Birding Tour along with many birds on the lodge property along a river. This whole area on the Pacific slope is supposed to have a large variety of birds not found in other places. It is near San Isidro del General, the biggest town in southern Costa Rica, but no flights there, meaning I will have another half-day + bus adventure cross country!

Photos from my brief 2 days in the area at:

 

Maquenque Eco-Lodge & Reserve

Maquenque BookMy second visit to this favorite retreat and #1 birding spot that ranked first place on my birding lodges list the other day as having given me the most bird species (53) photographed at any lodge in Costa Rica over the last five years!

Plus I will get to sleep in a tree house room again for my 80th birthday! (Yeah! A lot of steps up to a tree house, but steps keep an old man young!) It is my kind of place in almost every way with excellent service, great room, and very good food, though maybe not the best. Their guides are excellent and I will expect a lot of bird and other wildlife photos again this time! Photos from my last visit:

 

 

Hotel Banana Azul, Puerto Viejo in Caribe Sur

South CaribeAnother favorite hotel that I never tire of even though not the best for birds like Maquenque. It is the location, people, service, attitudes, the great “Howler Suite” room that I must reserve a year in advance and the excellent food.

One of the most relaxing places I go and I’m becoming a regular there! Plus great for photos of many things beyond birds in nature and wonderful sunrises! See my photo galleries of past visits for some of my favorite photos:

 

 

Rancho Humo, Palo Verde NP

Rancho-HumoAnother favorite hotel that has almost everything! Luxury room, gourmet food, and lots of birds and other nature to photograph! It could become another regular that I just discovered last year. It is on the Rio Tempisque river across from the Palo Verde National Park and possibly the only place in Costa Rica you can photograph a Jabiru Stork along with lots of other birds.

It is different from almost any of my other favorites here with more of a ranch or cowboy atmosphere which is part of a real working ranch with around 800 head of cattle along with all the nature. I look forward to returning and here’s my photos from last year’s visit:

 

Arenal Observatory, Arenal Volcano National Park

ArenalObservatoryAnother favorite hotel of mine in almost every category from birds to food and service! And it is very popular for both tourists and Ticos. This will be my third time here and the photos below will show why I like it so much.

It is the only hotel around Arenal that is inside the national park (long story) and in the most natural surroundings of any and the closest to the volcano that you look not out at, but up to! Plus it is on the lake for gorgeous sunset photos, also from my room (I have a favorite room here too! #29).

There’s a birding tower that I love, plus lots of trails, a huge waterfall, a farm, and horseback riding for those that wish – not my interest- and other things off the lodge property like the largest butterfly research place in Costa Rica and more birding trails!

 

And with this many repeats, am I in danger of “getting in a rut?”   Well, right now I already have one or two new places in mind for 2021 but I am appreciating knowing what I am getting into and a few of these place I really like, PLUS there are some others I want to repeat but haven’t, like Esquinas Lodge, Cristal Ballena, Danta Corcovado and Aguila de Osa – Wow! But money and energy are going to keep me down to a trip every other month for now and just deal with the fact that there are too many choices in Costa Rica!   🙂

 

All trails seem to lead to waterfalls, misty crater lakes or jungle-fringed, deserted beaches. Explored by horseback, foot or kayak, Costa Rica is a tropical choose-your-own-adventure land.     ~Lonely Planet

¡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!

 

 

 

Christmas Time

“And we are better throughout the year for having in spirit, become a child again at Christmas time.”     ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

And that is what I am doing again for this Christmas! Tonight (Friday) I watch the Christmas Lights Parade in Atenas which is always beautiful and colorful.  (Feature Photo is 2017 Atenas Parade)   I missed the parade last year while on a trip. That means that tomorrow, Saturday, I hope to report on the parade with photos, though it could be mid-day before I can get that many photos processed!   🙂

#

Then Sunday morning I leave for the mountains where I will be spending the week at Braulio Carrillo, our second largest national park in Costa Rica at the Tapirus Lodge which I’m hoping was a good choice since my first choice (Arenal Observatory) had no vacancies a year ahead of this Christmas Week! (I now have them scheduled for Christmas 2020! Tapirus is operated  by Rainforest Adventures which seems to emphasize the young with zip-lining and white-water rafting much more than bird-watching (but I am becoming a child again!) – so we will see! But at least I will be in the forest – me gusta mucho!    🙂

¡Pura Vida!

 

Arenal Trip Photo Gallery

Wow! Another great trip to one of my top 5 or 6 favorite places in Costa Rica, Arenal Observatory Lodge, with photos of 49 bird species , including the two new lifers for me! Plus 7 other animal species, a new birding trail (Bogarín), the waterfall, wonderful hiking trails and gardens to walk through, and the tallest birding tower in Costa Rica where this year I got lots of Honeycreepers in place of all the monkeys photographed last year, plus a repeat of my favorite room 29 and really good food! I have been so busy after the trip that it has been difficult to process all the photos, but finally done! Check them out at (or click image):

https://charliedoggett.smugmug.com/TRIPS/2019-November-11-17-Arenal-Observatory

 

Arenal-2019-Screenshot-WEB

Leave the road, take the trails.

~Pythagoras

Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

Waterfall & Tower Hikes

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.   🙂

Waterfall Hike

 

Tower Shots

 

An Almost Sunset

 

Arenal Observatory

¡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!