December 2020 Arenal Gallery

Just in time! The night before I leave on another trip I finished my photos from the Christmas 2020 trip to Arenal Observatory Lodge with more than 50 species of birds! And 5 are lifers for me! Plus a whole lot of other photos from this favorite lodge. For now the birds are presented alphabetically by their English Common Name. Later I will make time to arrange by species families according to my birding guide book. Overall I’m pleased with this collection of photos and moving on to the next collection! 🙂 To see gallery CLICK above link or the image below:

¡Pura Vida!

La Fortuna Waterfall with Friends

I use Walter’s Transportation for all my surface trips with Walter driving sometimes and other times one of his drivers, Cristian, takes me. Because Walter had shoulder surgery Cristian took me last Monday and brought me back today (Sunday). He asked my permission to bring his wife and daughter with him on the return trip and I was delighted to have them! A child makes going to a waterfall even more fun! 🙂 And I know . . . I’m actually a child too! 🙂

The Feature Photo is my driver Cristian and his family at the middle overlook. The gallery below has different views of the falls and the stream below the plunge pool which is safer for families with children to swim, while teens & young adults go into the plunge pool. Both too cold for me! 🙂 But many of the young seem to enjoy it, including Cristian’s daughter who is wading in last photo below. CLICK image to enlarge or start a manual slideshow:

This makes Waterfall Number 43 that I have photographed so far in Costa Rica and I will be adding it to my “Arenal Volcano Area Waterfalls” sub-gallery of my Waterfalls CR Gallery.

I have serval more “significant” falls I want to add to my collection before I publish a Costa Rica Waterfalls book, but maybe in the next year or two! 🙂

“Playing together in nature is as much about us as it is about the child. Children get to celebrate and be themselves, while we are reminded of our inner child – the essence of who we are.”

~Nicolette Sowder

¡Pura Vida!

Danta Waterfall

After seeing the monkeys but no birds, I hiked on past some beautiful scenery that I’ll share later and on down to the Danta Waterfall. It was a sunny day but evidently the wrong time for the best photographs. For better photos, see my gallery 2018 Danta Waterfall or even the 2019 Shot was better than these. Next time I will come here in April or May which seems to be better for photos. 🙂 CLICK image to enlarge:

¡Pura Vida!

The World needs a “Forest Bath”

The Japanese health system has developed the practice of shin-yoku, literally forest bath –

“spending mindful time in the woods. It is beneficial for soul and body as it boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, aids sleep, improves mood, and increases personal energy. It has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japan.” ~from Chapter 7 of book The Future We Choose

I highly recommend this book to anyone concerned about climate change and the future of our globe. It is full of optimism in the human race, even though if we don’t start doing more to eliminate carbon dioxide, our earth will begin self-destructing by 2050. And the above passage reminded me of an older book I also highly recommend, especially if you are a parent or teacher: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv.

And lastly, encourage world leaders to do more to return earth to nature! Thankfully the U.S. will soon be back in the Paris Agreement with a real president coming into the White House! As the worse offenders, the U.S., China and India must do more to reduce carbon dioxide, but it is still a job for the whole world and the UN tries as seen in this latest summit agreement as another tiny step forward . . .

world leaders’ pledge for nature – enough?

Read about it with BirdLife International’s article: UN summit on biodiversity: world leaders’ pledge for nature. The world is still losing its nature at an increasing rate and we are generally doing too little too late! But if everybody would just plant a tree, it would make a difference! The nature-deficit-disorder in the peoples of the world is great!

For relaxing photos of the forests, see my gallery Flora & Forest. or all my Costa Rica Galleries that include links to my nature photos in Tennessee, Africa, and many other places as well as all over Costa Rica! And the feature photo is of the Lower Falls of Nauyaca Waterfall, Dominical, Costa Rica.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.

—Albert Einstein

¡Pura vida!

Enjoying a “Thank You”

I do a little 7 X7 inch photo book on almost every lodge I visit in Costa Rica and send a copy to the hotel and/or the guides. After my September trip to El Silencio Lodge & Reserve I sent two such books to the hotel along with a copy of my CR Birds Book & one of my CR Butterflies Book for their guests to enjoy.

One of the guides sent me a What’s App message “Thank You” yesterday afternoon with the above photo of my two El Silencio guides, Daniel & Bryan, holding a copy of the El Silencio Book. Nice to be appreciated! 🙂 Thanks guys!

¡Pura Vida!

El Silencio Lodge Waterfalls

I finally got to seeing the waterfalls here on the hotel property and they fabulous! There is a “Waterfall Trail” which including the walk from my villa is 6 km round trip and thus I kept putting it off until my last full day here. For those considering a stay here, it is an uphill walk on the gravel road to the trail head but they will take you that far in one of the golf carts.

The waterfall trail is fairly easy with some hills except for Catarata La Promesa (The Promise Waterfall) which is an uphill climb from the main trail on its own side trail that includes steps, maybe 30 or 40, I didn’t count. BUT it is worth it! It is maybe the tallest and some would say the most beautiful and it is out in the open more than the other two, meaning easier to see and photograph without climbing over rocks. And there are two picnic tables there to make it your rest stop or picnic lunch before returning back to the hotel. And possibly a swim there!

The main trail goes over a bridge in front of Catarata La Melodía (The Melody Waterfall) which is the first one you come to. You can see and photograph it from the bridge or to get closer you climb over some rocks and get right to the bottom of the falls. Then just a short way past that first falls is a Y in the trail with two dead ends, one to Catarata El Silencio (The Silence Waterfall) straight ahead and up the steps and hill to La Promesa. They are all three beautiful and full of water during the rainy season. Not sure I have a favorite.

I will say that many of the lodges I’ve visited all over Costa Rica have one or more waterfall on their property, but few as beautiful as these. Well . . . the one falls at Arenal Observatory is as big or bigger and as beautiful, but there are 3 such beauties here at El Silencio Lodge! And then Hacienda Guachipelín at Rincón de la Vieja National Park has 3 falls as beautiful on their property, so I’m backing down a little on their brag! 🙂 And another favorite hotel, Xandari Alajuela has 3 waterfalls but they aren’t as big or as beautiful as these.

Actually there are technically 7 falls at El Silencio with 4 “lesser water” waterfalls used only for those who rappel down the falls and that is the only way to see them, but one of the guides said I’m not missing much. 🙂 That is one of the many optional activities here and you rappel down all four of those! But not me! 🙂

For more Costa Rica waterfalls, see my CR Waterfalls Gallery.

Or see THIS TRIP GALLERY: 2020 El Silencio Lodge & Reserve.

¡Pura Vida!

Bajos del Toro Waterfall

This was my waterfall for today and the biggest of the week. If you go to their website Catarata del Toro you can tell that it is commercial and on private property with all of their “biggest and best” claims. The same people own the property that yesterday’s Las Gemelas Waterfall is own. So of course you pay admission to each.

Bajos del Toro sits in the shadow of Poas Volcano, next to the Poas Volcano National Park, Juan Castro Blanco National Park, and the Bosque de Paz Rain/Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Outdoor activities abound with rugged trail systems to explore the forest’s flora and fauna.

This is beautiful wilderness area and today’s guide, Daniel, another great new friend and excellent guide has done a cross country hike with friends over this trail-less wilderness using machetes to blaze their way through. There are plans to build trails connecting the two national parks and Bajos del Toro.

There were two of us from El Silencio Lodge to go with Daniel on this waterfall hike. I chose not to walk the 400 steep steps down to the bottom of falls, but the Tica young lady guest did walk down while I walked through the hummingbird garden. I do most of the things younger people do, but not all now! 🙂

For you history enthusiasts, the full name of the town and the waterfall is Bajos del Toro Amarillo, translated literally as “Low place (valley) of the Yellow Bull” and the story is that when the first settlers came it they saw a yellow bull that later historians say was actually a bison that did populate parts of Central America in the early 1800’s. It is always fun to get the history behind some of these place names. 🙂

I did my guided bird hike before breakfast this morning also with Daniel but have barely started sorting bird pictures. But with this morning hike + my solo hike in the Hummingbird Garden here + a noon-time experience I will be recording 3 lifer birds or 3 that are new to me. Not bad! 🙂

Today’s waterfall hike slide show:

And this is one more added to my CR Waterfalls Gallery.

Or see THIS TRIP GALLERY: 2020 El Silencio Lodge & Reserve.

¡Pura Vida!

Las Gemelas Waterfall

Okay, for you Spanish readers, yes, that says “The Twins” Waterfall and thus you may ask, “Where is the second one?” Well . . . sometimes my better judgement overrules my sense of adventure. We had already hiked about 4 km and waded across the ice cold, rock-strewn river with Bryan, my personal guide, helping me wade across the slippery rocks just to get this photo of the biggest of the twins. To see the other one we would have had to wade up a separate stream of slippery rocks to the left of the bottom of this falls maybe 50 meters. Bryan had already said “I can’t believe I’m helping an 80 year old do this hike!” He was doubting the wisdom of going further and after nearly slipping down more than once. I did too! But I was thankful that I could make the hike solo with my excellent young masked guide who was perfect for me in every way! Most of the holiday weekend crowd have gone. We have a max of 9 guests the rest of the week, so very tranquilo! Which I prefer! 🙂 And yes, I love this place! Already another favorite and I have so many favorites in Costa Rica. Here’s just a few shots of the Las Gemelas Falls Hike and notice that weird V-shaped bridge over one of the streams, like none I’ve seen before:

See my Waterfalls Gallery for more Costa Rica Waterfalls.

Or see THIS TRIP GALLERY: 2020 El Silencio Lodge & Reserve.

¡Pura Vida!

On the trail to the waterfall this sign was laying on the ground. My guide said that the biggest danger is sudden flash floods when there is a rainstorm in the mountains above.

More Waterfalls Next Week

After my love of birds & butterflies it just might be waterfalls next for me! I love to see and photograph them and there are oh so many in costa Rica! The above Feature Photo is mine of the San Fernando Waterfall in Cinchona, Alajuela Province which is kind of similar to the Bajos del Toro Waterfall I will see next week along with a bunch more.

And if you like waterfalls too, see my Costa Rica Waterfalls Gallery with 38 waterfalls I’ve already seen and photographed here! And that gallery’s about to grow! 🙂

I’m quite excited about wandering north of here about an hour’s drive for the mountains, the falls, and what has been called a luxury lodge by my fellow-traveler doctor friend – we will see! I’m staying at the El Silencio Lodge that has 7 waterfalls on its own property (4 just for repelling which I will not do! but maybe photograph) plus it’s located near several other big waterfalls that attract tourists (when we have them) 🙂 but I will get to see without too many other people around – just us local Ticos! 🙂 In addition to the biggest, Del Toro, I plan to photograph Blue Hole Waterfall and a smaller one called Las Gemelas Waterfall. Plus I’ve heard there are several smaller ones near these two. We will see. I’m going with a masked hotel guide.

I may have already told you, but this is a “replacement trip” for my originally scheduled week on the Caribbean Beach, our east coast, at Puerto Viejo, Hotel Banana Azul where I usually go every September (their lowest rain month), but Sansa Air cancelled both my flights and it is too far to go in a public bus now with the virus and too expensive to use my driver. So . . . I postponed it until next September (2021) and by paying ahead got a good discount while helping their current low cash flow. Teamwork! 🙂 Pura vida!

And if you wonder about Coronavirus in such places, see the El Silencio Health Protocol. This is similar to the many things all hotels/lodges in Costa Rica are doing for protection from COVID-19. We have a lot of cases in country now, but mainly in the big cities, especially in San Jose where I never go now, and I feel safe traveling solo in outdoor places like this. Plus I wear both a mask and face shield now everywhere I go outside my house or hotel room. Plus I’m helping the local economy. 🙂

3 of the El Silencio Falls on lodge property that I can hike to on my on, solo!

Or see THIS TRIP GALLERY: 2020 El Silencio Lodge & Reserve. (Link added here after the trip.)

¡Pura Vida!

White-banded Satyr + Travel News

This butterfly (above) was on my kitchen window screen yesterday and not new to me but they are all exciting to see for me! In my old age I’m more like a little kid and enjoy that! 🙂

I have better shots in my White-banded Satyr Gallery or the Butterflies & Moths of North America doesn’t have much info, but the map shows they are only in Central America, so somewhat unique, though at bottom of page they have a photo from Honduras that is something else, not this butterfly.

The Satyr Family of Butterflies is very interesting and I have galleries on these six:

Gold-stained Satyr at right

Change of September Travel Plans

I know. We are suppose to stay home during the pandemic and travel only to the supermarket, bank and pharmacy. And that is pretty much what I am doing while here in Atenas other than some neighborhood walks for photos. But the struggling tourism businesses in Costa Rica needs business bad and their COVID19 precautions are at the highest levels and still have only a handful of local Tico business. When I go my solo hiking for photos is safe from the virus. At Xandari I even had to walk my shoes through a sanitizer going in the double-masked restaurant. I feel safe and I am very careful to wear my double-masks now anytime around people except the moments I am eating or of course at home or in a hotel room alone. Plus they have discounts now too attract locals. My fear will be when the Americans start coming back.

OK – the change! Every September now I stay a week in my favorite beach hotel, Banana Azul on the Caribbean side in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. I also fly to avoid a long, tiring drive. Well, unfortunately Sansa Airlines is hurting for customers and canceled both my flights to and from Limon Airport. I’m afraid to ride the public bus that far during the pandemic and my private driver here would cost too much, so I canceled my Caribbean Beach vacation this September, always September because that rainy rainforest beach has the least rain during September. 🙂 So I will wait until next September and I do have a Pacific beach trip to Tambor Bay in March, which is enough beach for me.

Then I remembered I have been wanting my driver Walter to take me about an hour & a half north of here to see several big waterfalls and was going to schedule that when I then remembered that my Dermatologist’s favorite hotel is up there by the waterfalls, El Silencio Lodge. Expensive with gourmet food, and wonderful private villas, but with their pandemic discount and staying fewer nights, I can use my Caribe money to stay there for about the same price AND see several waterfalls! So expect some waterfall photos in September! 🙂

Bajos del Toro Waterfall near El Silencio Lodge. (Photo from the internet.)

And if you like waterfalls, see my CR Waterfalls Gallery of more here.


Beyond September I have nothing planned for October, a return visit to Rancho Humo at Palo Verde National Park in November and Christmas at another favorite, Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park. For next year, only January & March are set: Sevegre Mountain Lodge in San Gerardo de Dota for special birds and then Tambor Tropical Resort, Tambor Bay on the Pacific at the southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula for sea turtles and birds! I like being retired! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!