Come join one of the guides at Selva Verde Lodge on a typical night hike in their Sarapiqui Private Reserve. Since people have not been able to visit them live, they put this”virtual night hike” on their YouTube Channel. One of the guides shows you the kinds of things I get to see live when I go on such night hikes at this and other lodges in Costa Rica. It is real and typical except for the short time of only 3 minutes! In real life there is more walking between the animals seen! 🙂
And here’s the same guide on a DAYTIME TOUR of Selva Verde, Just be aware that in an hour or more tour you see a lot more wildlife than in these little 3 minute videos! But both are a taste of what I regularly see and photograph in my retirement in Costa Rica:
Someone recently asked me about getting around the country by bus and I think I referred them to the Bus Schedule website which lists all of the option when you type in the “From” and “To” spaces on that website with all bus companies included.
Well, I forgot about an even better help beyond schedules, the Facebook GroupPageCosta Rica by Bus on which you can post a question (may have to join group first) and some of the many people who travel by bus will share their experiences and advice. And of course they also recommend the bus schedule site above. And by the way, that bus in photo above is the one I took to Turrialba.
I plan to go to a birding lodge near San Isidro del General in May, so anticipate my report on that bus experience then. I use the bus almost weekly to go from Atenas to Alajuela for many different reasons and have gone to San Jose by bus many times. Some of my other bus adventures have been (with links to photo galleries):
And with local retirees on charter buses many time, while the above are public buses of different companies.
All of this was to simply say that you can travel on a “shoestring budget” and see a lot of Costa Rica whether you live here or visiting. Buses are cheap here! That is the way most Ticos travel! And you can do it without the Spanish language, though much easier and a richer experience if you speak at least a little Spanish.
Now, as a retiree who has made seeing all of Costa Rica my main activity, I do not do everything the budget-way and love to go the longer distances on Sansa Airlines or to places less than 3 hours from Atenas by my favorite driver here in Atenas, but I do not have a car and have basically quit renting cars because of the high insurance cost, thus seeing Costa Rica by bus is one option I still use when I consider it the most practical way. The next bus report comes in May! 🙂
“Live with no excuses and travel with no regrets” ~ Oscar Wilde
For you who are not “Birders” or persons who like to go out in the forests and find new birds, “lifer” is a new bird you see for the first time. In an earlier post I think I mentioned I had seen 4 “lifers” while at Hacienda Guachipelín – well . . . I was wrong! It is five.
I had not included the Stripe-headed Sparrow because I was sure I had a photo of one, but when I got home and checked it out, what I had from an earlier trip was a Black-striped Sparrow and not the Stripe-headed and you Costa Rica birders know that there is a difference! Thus meaning I got photos of 5 new birds added to my Costa Rica Birds gallery, bringing my CR collection up to 325 species, which sounds like a lot, but with nearly 1,000 species of birds in Costa Rica – I have a ways to go! 🙂
My 5 New Birds
All but the Western Wood-Pewee have been shared in other posts but in a different context. And the Wood-Pewee is simply not a good photo thus not used before. The linked names below take you to the eBird or Cornell Neotropical page on that bird if you want more information, plus I have added some of my own comments on each bird related to my experiences.
There are so many parrots here and I have a lot in my gallery but still only about half of the ones in Costa Rica. There were few parrots in the two parts of Africa I visited and thus all my parrot photos are mostly in Latin America, including Brazil & Mexico. I may start going to CR places known for the species I do not have. But I now have added a White-fronted Parrot Gallery! And for those who know parrots don’t confuse this one with the White-crowned Parrot which I’ve seen in three places now.
I was in the only area of Costa Rica where this bird appears (Northern Guanacaste). The closest thing I have ever had like this beautiful bird is the Black-billed Magpie in the Yellowstone National Park in the states. Though both are named Magpie, they are quite different! And I now have a White-throated Magpie Jay Gallery added to my collection!
This is the one I confused with Black-striped Sparrow and that link to my photo will show you the difference, mainly the body colors and the stripe through the eye, though similar as they are with the Olive and Green-backed Sparrows. And now I have a Stripe-headed Sparrow Gallery!
Though it is almost identical to the Eastern Wood-Pewee, they are slightly different migrant birds appearing on our east and west coasts according to their name with the eastern being more broadly distributed even into the west as you will see with my photos of the eastern I found at Rancho Humo, both in Guanacaste on our west coast. And now my Western Wood-Pewee Gallery!
It is fun to see my collection grow!
“The sharp thrill of seeing them [killdeer birds] reminded me of childhood happiness, gifts under the Christmas tree, perhaps, a kind of euphoria we adults manage to shut out most of the time. This is why I bird-watch, to recapture what it’s like to live in this moment, right now.”
― Lynn Thomson, Birding with Yeats: A Mother’s Memoir
The book is finished with 4 new lifer birds for me and now I’m off to other creative activities. Remember – you can PREVIEW the book electronically (flip through the pages) for free at my bookstore by clicking on this link and then each page to turn a page. Fun! And best seen in full screen mode! 🙂
My trip gallery is finished with a lot of interesting photos I think including 24 species of birds four of which are “Lifers” for me! So a good trip for me and some of my most interesting airplane photos en route like the big waterfall from above! And that reminds me that I have also added 9 waterfalls to my collection on this trip. See the trip gallery at this link:
Included are shots from their “Rainforest Trail” which is a fairly dense forest with a lot of old growth big trees which is refreshing but difficult to photograph birds in because of all the limbs and leaves! 🙂
I did not show my room this time but the rooms are on the hill just above the restaurant and pool seen at top of feature photo above or in the pool photo below at upper left. Rooms 10-14 look directly over the ocean and sunsets, while other rooms like mine have garden views with partial ocean views. (My room views are seen in gallery Day Vistas.) I got more birds from my garden view but the premium rooms have better sunset views (cost more) and with clouds & rain every afternoon in rainy season there is not much sunset to see. See the hotel website for more information at https://www.cristal-ballena.com/
Cristal Ballena Hotel, Uvita
CLICK Image to Enlarge
Banana Plant Flower
Old Growth Big Trees
Stairs up to Rooms
Hotel Seen from Ocean Boat
Hotel on a Hill
Restaurant by Pool w/ Meeting Room Above
In a Beautiful Forest
Ocean Views from Everywhere!
Birds Slide Show in Bar When No Ball Game
Yoga Chapel? Hmmm!
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more”
― Lord Byron
One of the big attractions at this hotel is almost another hotel: an events facilities for weddings, big parties, family reunions, business meetings, retreats, whatever with its own set of luxury rooms and villas, infinity pool, large meeting spaces, etc. It is called “Zephyr Palace,” named after the Greek God Zephyr . . .
Zephyrwas the Greek god of the west wind, which was considered the gentlest wind, especially if compared to the colder north wind, Boreas. The warm west wind brought the spring season. Even today the name of the god means a warm and light breeze. Zephyr was the father of two immortal horses, Xanthus and Balius.
Costa Rica seems to like Greece and Greek culture. I live in Atenas which is actually the Spanish name for Athens. Up the road north of us is another larger town named Grecia, Spanish for Greece.
My villa here is at the beginning of the road to Zephyr Palace that is lined with greek columns. In fact all of the buildings here have greek columns including my room! Monday morning late, when the maid came in my room, I walked up the road to Zephyr Palace. Here are some photos I made with my cell phone.
Mine was so surrounded by forest on top of a hill that I could not get a distance shot of it, thus the featured photo is of another cabin, #9, not quite as big as mine (#12) since mine had a kitchen which I did not need but used like an office for my computer & camera stuff. I guess the kitchen is good for families.
I sat on the porch every day with my camera but did not photograph many birds there, just a dove, kiskadee, clay-colored thrush and one little lizard with a dewlap. But a nice peaceful place!
The electricity is from solar-powered batteries (a bunch of batteries!). The “hot” water was a separate device with a long pipe running back and forth on a board out in the sun. Since it is rainy season and limited sun I barely had warmish water after letting it run for three minutes. Showering first thing in the morning means a cold shower. Ahhh nature! 🙂
These “eco” lodges all encourage you to reuse your towel, hanging it on the towel rack for multiple uses all for ecology (but even more to save on their laundry costs!). The problem is that in a coastal rainforest like the one I was in, It is very hot 24-7 with humidity in the 90 percentiles, thus hanging towels never get dry (unless in direct sunlight). A wet towel will not dry you! I was not very ecological! 🙂
Macaw Lodge Cabins
Click an image to enlarge it.
My Cabin 12 Entrance & Porch
My Cabin 12 Kitchen – Office for me!
My Cabin 12 Porch that wrapped around all 4 sides!
View from Cabin 12
Cabin 9 from entrance trail
View from Cabin 12
Yes, you have to walk up a trail to your cabin, uphill! But they have strong young men on staff to carry your luggage up! A part of the remoteness!
There are elements of intrinsic beauty in the simplification of a house built on the log cabin idea.
I’m starting a “Trip Gallery” on my visit to Macaw Lodge, but it may be a week before finished. It is titled: 2019-06–18-24–Macaw Lodge
I’m showing birds photographed at the hotel the first day and a half since tomorrow I do Carara National Park Birds and want to separate them. There will be more from hotel, like water birds at beach which I’ve not done yet. But this gives you an idea of some of the birds you can see here. Click image to enlarge or start a manual slideshow: