In the post “On the Road” I mentioned that on our way back from Maquenque we stopped for coffee at Cinchona, and even though in the middle of the day, I photographed 6 species of birds while drinking one cup of coffee (10-15 minutes) AND 2 of them were lifers! That’s new birds for me! The new ones were the Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer and the Prong-billed Barbet. Every time I stop there I hope to get a shot of the Red-headed Barbet and after 3 stops, nada! But this time I got his uglier cousin. 🙂 CLICK to enlarge an image.
One of my nature loves in both Tennessee and Costa Rica is waterfalls (somewhere just after birds and butterflies!) 🙂 And as I have been updating my photo galleries with a new “Pre-Costa Rica TENNESSEE Photos” gallery I have loaded my photos of all 54 Tennessee state parks plus state natural areas and a few separate independent waterfalls with multiple shots of each waterfall. To bring them all together I created a Tennessee WATERFALLS gallery with just one shot of each of 36 waterfalls I photographed in that state with more shots of each falls in the place galleries.
And you may already be aware of my Costa Rica WATERFALLS gallery with shots of 38 waterfalls I’ve photographed here over the first five+ years. In some ways tropical waterfalls are different but in even more ways they are similar, being in the mountains with usually uphill trails to the falls and then downhill trails to the plunge pools. I guess the type of plants and animals around the falls are the biggest differences. I love waterfalls everywhere and when back to traveling again, Walter is going to take me north of Atenas to some places where I can photograph about 5 more waterfalls. So the gallery will continue to grow! Enjoy! ¡Disfruta!
And oh yes, the featured image is Greeter Falls in the South Cumberland State Park, Tennessee.
Those were the last words emailed to the parents of Cody Roman Dial as he entered the famous and notorious Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula of south-western Costa Rica on the Pacific coast near the Panama border, July 10, 2014.
I am currently about 85% through the Kindle version of this memoir of the loss of Roman Dial’s son Cody Roman Dial here in Costa Rica the same year I moved here, 2014. It all happened in one of the wildest jungles in Central America, the kind with dangers that attract young men like Cody! From snakes & jaguars to illegal gold miners.
The book is The Adventurer’s Son by Roman Dial, the young man’s father, and it starts slow as a childhood biography of Cody helping you to love the adventurous boy as if you were his parent too. Then later he adds as many details as he had of Cody’s solo adventure hike from Mexico City to South America through Central America as an invincible-feeling 27 year old with enormous experience in the wild since his young childhood, most with his parents or sometimes with just the father, who is a lifetime adventurer, explorer, scientists, college professor and part-time explorer for National Geographic. The young man sort of had a reason to feel invincible in the wild. On his trek he climbed the highest mountain in Mexico, used his Spanish language to relate to locals, did an impossible off-trail hike through the jungles of El Peten, Guatemala and boated through the dangerous La Mosquitia Swamp in Honduras before coming to Costa Rica. All of the above were already amazing feats!
Because Corcovado National Park is one of my favorite places in Costa Rica that I have visited 3 times now, I was naturally quite interested in the story and the book.
I will not try to summarize the book or write a full review right now (I’m still reading it), here I give links to public information on the book (the above title link is to the Amazon.com source of the book). Below are three reviews. Plus I have added the reports of the father’s search by our local online newspaper Tico Times and some other news media reports below that. Lastly I have added links to the photo galleries of my three visits to this wilderness national park that took Cody’s life.
There are many more stories online about the mysterious disappearance of Cody Roman Dial and and the ultimate conclusion that he was struck by a tree in a storm and killed in the wilderness of Corcovado National Park, hiking off trail which is against the park rules and hiking without an official guide which is also against the park rules. Sometimes rules are for your own good, but a real adventurer doesn’t always think so.
The book and the live news stories are heartbreaking for parents (I empathize because I’ve lost a child), but this story shows the infrequent yet possible dangers in the wilderness that any adventurer knows are possible. I would personally have thought a poisonous snake more likely there, but even the less likely falling tree is possible, especially in the many storms there.
I remember backpacking solo on Fiery Gizzard Trail in TN with fewer dangers but real dangers anyway. Then one day in 2012 on just a day hike there I stumbled and fell on a rocky mountainous trail and was serious hurt requiring stitches in my head. Maybe a life of adventure is always a gamble to some degree, but many real adventurers feel they must continue the gamble! But, like with so many things for me, I tend to be a moderate, wanting adventure but with more caution than many require, especially the young invencibles!
And yes! I will continue to go to Corcovado National Park (see photos of my 3 visits linked below), but always I go with a guide on an official trail, as tame as that may seem to you Cody’s out there! 🙂 I am basically a risk-adverse adventurer! And yes, that is compromising the very meaning of “adventure,” but I’m an old man who is still alive and still having fun! 🙂
My Comparatively Tame Corcovado Adventures
2018-March-13-17–Danta Corcovado — At Los Patos Entrance on above map.
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!
For the photo report on my latest and third trip to Xandari see my CR Trips Gallery 2020 Xandari Nature Resort, Alajuela. NOW READY! And includes for the first time my visit to the Starbucks Alsacia Coffee Farm.:
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
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
A compound wall with lockable gate.
Inside wall is front terrace by front door while bath looks out into private garden.
Kitchenette by front Terrace
Bar for eating looks over living room to big terrace.
Frig, sink, coffee pot with snacks/drinks available.
Looking out to front Terrace
From Kitchen Over to Bedroom
Bar for eating looks over living room to big terrace.
Seen from Bedroom
Private Valley-View Terrace
Private Valley-View Terrace
Private Valley-View Terrace, Looking over to other Villas.
Private Valley-View Terrace
Private Valley-View Terrace
Spacious with computer desk and entrance to big terrace. Seen from bathroom.
From Kitchen Over to Bedroom
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
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.
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! 🙂
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:
This 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:
I’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:
The 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!
My 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:
Another 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:
Another 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:
Another 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
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:
Art & Architecture
Insect (not a butterfly)
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.”
“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 Lodgewhich 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! 🙂
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):