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):
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!
Not only does flying save me time and tiredness but I nearly always get at least one surprise photo on the little 30 to 40 minutes flights over Costa Rica. This latest flight to Liberia and back gave me many photos, but just two special ones today: The above photo of a very tall unknown waterfall with no roads around it! — My main prize! Saw it just south of Liberia and hope to find out its name, though I think it is isolated from tourists!
And again we fly over Atenas and I get a good photo showing much in Central Atenas (Central Park, church, schools) plus the roof of my house in the upper left corner to left of the little roundish cow pasture. The string of houses over the hill is Phase 1 of Roca Verde where I live near the bottom of the hill by cow pasture. 🙂
“There is no sport equal to that which aviators enjoy while being carried through the air on great white wings.”
~Wilbur Wright, 1905
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. 🙂
One of the 5 waterfalls on the hotel property is where the whitewater tubing adventure begins but I did not want to do the tubing, so the adventure tours staff let me ride on the early guide’s bus (5-miles) to the falls and ride back on the return bus.
I just photographed the falls which included a short hike down the mountain to the falls with my guide Javier and his 8-year old son Santiago (asst. guide). Fun guides that also took me to the butterfly garden and snake exhibit after the waterfall + birding along the way. A very good morning before it started raining! Bird, butterfly & snake photos will come later.
Quebrada Victoria (a small stream) forms the waterfall at the point where it flows into Rio Colorado and at that juncture is where the tour staff & participants depart on the whitewater tubing (in big tractor inner tubes) down the rocky Colorado River – see feature photo above. Easy enough for families with children to participate. I did that growing up in Arkansas as a kid and had a day-long tubing trip on a similar river when in college and decided it was not needed again! 🙂
The tours here also include a serious whitewater rafting trip down a bigger, wilder river with class 3 & 4 rapids, but I’ve also done that in TN and once was enough! 🙂
La Victoria Waterfall
It was not the prettiest but one more check off the list!
La Victoria Waterfall
La Victoria Waterfall
La Victoria Waterfall
La Victoria Waterfall
Where tubing begins.
Javier insisted on making a photo of me with his son, who, like all Tico children and youth, was very respectful of age and very helpful, polite & friendly! A joy!
“Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.”
– Lovelle Drachman
This happened yesterday. Today I have another guide (Johnny) + Javier taking me birding here & then on a tour of the national park. Lots more photos! 🙂
What? — Well . . . that’s where I’m going next week. 🙂 One of Costa Rica’s largest and most active volcanoes is named “Rincón de la Vieja” which translated to English is “Corner of the Old Woman.” There is a long and involved forbidden love story among the indigenous people of Northern Guanacaste where the volcano national park is located. Fortunately the website of my hotel there, Hacienda Guachipelín, has a short version of the legend:
The Legend of Rincón de la Vieja Volcano
Rincon de la Vieja means “Corner of the Old Woman.” An indigenous legend tells about Princess Curubandá, daughter of the Curubandé tribe chieftain, who fell in love with Prince Mixcoac, the son of an enemy tribe chief. Curubandá’s father ended her forbidden lover’s life by throwing him into the live volcano crater.
Devastated, Curubandá became a recluse, living the rest of her life high on the volcano’s slope. She learned natural medicines from the volcano and developed healing powers. People seeking medicinal cures were told to go to “the corner of the old woman” by the volcano. And thus, the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano received its name.
The featured photo is of a Maleku Indigenous People Group close to Rincón de la Vieja and copied from the internet to represent the above legend.
The “Yellowstone of Costa Rica”
With hot springs, bubbling mud pots, two large volcano craters, rivers, mountains, and lots of wildlife this national park is like a smaller version of the U.S. Yellowstone National Park. I’m really looking forward to my visit there!
Its Also a Great Birding Place!
The park and my chosen hotel are listed as a “Birding Hot Spot.”Meaning I will be out on the many trails of the hotel’s large property each morning along with one or two trips into the park. And since it is a totally new area of Costa Rica for me I expect maybe some new and different birds along with the migrants now coming down from the north.
And Six Waterfalls!
Which is another fun, colorful and exciting thing to photograph in Costa Rica! I’m told that there is a large and beautiful falls inside the park and five on the hotel property! Wow! After birds and butterflies, it may be waterfalls for me and I already have photos of 27 in Costa Rica in my Waterfalls Gallery!
It is great to live and travel in “The Land of Nature” – Costa Rica!
“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.” ~Standing Bear
Yesterday I hired Walter to drive me to the three hotels within an hour and a half from my house to deliver the photo books I made about the three hotels: Jaco-Carara Birding Hotels. (Click to preview the book.)
I visited these 3 hotels in March, June and July this year and because they are all in the same area of Costa Rica near Jaco Beach and Carara National Park I decided to do one photo book instead of three, thus the title and combination of photos. A nice book if I do say so myself, with a large variety of coastal and forest birds and other wildlife plus the best sunset photos yet and an interesting sunrise photo I used for the front cover. Check out this book about Punta Leona Hotel, Villa Calletas Hotel and Macaw Lodge by clicking the above link. An electronic “Preview” is free!
Walter picked me up at 10 am and I was home by 3:30 pm which included a super lunch at Villa Calletas which the book notes as the best of the three for food (according to me)! 🙂
Why would I spend as much money on delivering 3 copies of the book as I did on printing them? Because I’ve had 2 hotels not receive their book through the mail and most of all I’m passionate about making nature photos and sharing them, especially with the people who helped me make them and love the nature of their surroundings as much as I. One young hotel employee was thrilled to see his work surroundings depicted in a photo book – his smile alone made the trip worthwhile! 🙂
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ― Mother Teresa