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! 🙂
Earlier I shared two videos of virtual night & day rainforest hikes with one of the young female guides at Selva Verde Lodge, Melany Ocón. The kind I experience on my trips, though we see more on our live hikes than these short videos . . .
Today is a hike with one of the young male guides whom I have been hiking with before when there (an expert on frogs). We saw a lot more than they see on this video, but it gives you an idea of what it is like to hike at Selva Verde Lodge & Reserve, one of my many favorite places in Costa Rica. You will see a couple of frogs, a helmeted lizard, a pit viper and an anteater, so worth your effort to watch for 20 minutes and see just a little of why I love to explore the forests of Costa Rica with guides like Iván and Melany. June 30 I head north of Sarapiqui (location of these videos) for a week at Maquenque Lodge with other guides but similar experiences. And remember that English is not their first language! They do much better with English than I do with Spanish! 🙂
“If man doesn’t learn to treat the oceans and the rainforest with respect, man will become extinct.”
And for my photos of two visits to Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapiqui:
Whether you are thinking of one of the ocean giants or a common river turtle, today is the day to remember the fragility of our decreasing turtle population and to do your part in the conservation of turtles! Read more about WORLD TURTLE DAY and consider getting involved. Https://www.worldturtleday.org/
The feature photo is a baby Olive Ridley Turtle I released Christmas 2017 in Tambor Bay. Read more about their program at Tambor Turtle Rescue. Costa Rica has the protected birthing beaches of thousands of ocean turtles every year. Did you know that . . .
Five species of sea turtles and eight species of freshwater turtles have been recorded in Costa Rica. All sea turtles are endangered and two of the freshwater species populations have been reduced, mainly due to poaching, being caught as pets, illegal trade, and the destruction and pollution of their habitats. ~Freshwater Turtles of Costa Rica & Sea Turtles of Costa Rica, an NHBS Field Guide available online.
The Health Ministry on Monday presented Costa Rica’s plan for a gradual reopening.
Beginning May 16, Costa Rica will further ease coronavirus restrictions and allow limited visitation at beaches and national parks. If the epidemiological curve permits, more measures will be lifted in June and beyond.
Here is Costa Rica’s timeline for reopening, as presented Monday by the Health Ministry.
May 16 to May 31
The following national parks can open at 50% capacity: Irazú Volcano, Poás Volcano, Guayabo, Braulio Carrillo, Carara, Corcovado, Manuel Antonio, Cahuita, Arenal, Rincón de la Vieja, Los Quetzales and Tapantí. Monteverde, a private reserve, can also open. Tickets must be pre-purchased.
Non-contact and individual recreational sports / athletic training are permitted.
High-level contact sports are permitted, without spectators.
Small hotels (maximum 20 rooms) can reopen at 50% capacity.
During the week, beaches can open from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m.
June 1 to June 20*
Remaining national parks reopen at 50% capacity.
All restaurants at 50% capacity.
Public parks at 50% capacity.
Museums at 50% capacity. (Prior ticket purchase is required.)
Okay, yesterday I compared waterfalls so today as I finished my last gallery in the Pre-Costa Rica TENNESSEE Photos gallery, I must do the same with wildflowers. The last gallery for the state of Tennessee is simply Tennessee WILDFLOWERS and again I tried to pick just one photo from each of about 150 species of wildflowers for this gallery with more variety or multiple images in the location galleries where they first appear. The wildflowers were another of the many elements of nature that I enjoyed during my 37 years in Tennessee with an amazing variety!
And the featured photo at top is on a huge Magnolia tree in the same park near my house. The beauty of nature is everywhere!
Similarly I have enjoyed the beautiful tropical wildflowers (most of my garden is wildflowers). See my Costa Rica through regional flower galleries in my big gallery of flowers I call FLORA & FOREST Costa Rica. Click and enjoy! I’ve only been here 5 and a half years, but spend most of my time with nature now! Just one of the many reasons I love being Retired in Costa Rica!
“Do you know why wildflowers are the most beautiful blossoms of all, my son?”
Dain shook his little head.
Soft waxen curls blew forward in the breeze as she lifted her storm-gray eyes to gaze out over the sea of petals. “Wildflowers are the loveliest of all because they grow in uncultivated soil, in those hard, rugged places where no one expects them to flourish. They are resilient in ways a garden bloom could never be. People are the same, son—the most exquisite souls are those who survive where others cannot. They root themselves, along with their companions, wherever they are, and they thrive.”
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
I was thinking of doing a Costa Rica Map on a cork board with map pins showing where I’ve been – which is a lot more places than most people I know here among both Ticos and Expats. Then suddenly in my electronic mailbox appears an email from Google Maps titled: Google Maps Timeline 2019 Update. Yep, it included the feature photo map above and some other stuff that seems to go back to 2015, my first year here when I began traveling Costa Rica. It seems I approved them tracking me (my cell phone) back then and this is what I get! Should I be afraid of Google or send them a thank you note? 🙂
The big red blob in the middle is the space between Atenas & San Jose that includes Alajuela and all the places I go there including the big SJO Airport. I cannot explain the red dot in the Pacific Ocean, but if you study the map more you will see the large green area in the south-southeast above Panama that has no red spots for my visits. One main reason is that it is the Talamanca Mountains, much of which is indigenous reserves with no public roads going through there plus protected national forests not allowing travel. My May trip will put me on the Western edge of that area at Chirripó and my visit to the Bribri Yorkin Reserve had me on the eastern edge. And that is it! 🙂 So just 17 more parks/reserves to go! 🙂
After 37 national parks & reserves are visited, I will do a photo book like I did with all of Tennessee’s State Parks in my photo book A Walk in the Woods Through All 54 Tennessee State Parks. There are technically only 28 national parks here! But the nine reserves count as equals and for my nature photography purposes especially, so I’m saying 37, with only 17 more to go! I don’t have a car which slows me down a little! But I will get there! 🙂
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! 🙂