My favorite view from the mountain trail in Lost Canyon Nature Reserve. There are volcanoes way over there!
The new reserve’s nice, small sign at the farm house where we ate lunch. Like most private reserves it is operated by a foreigner.
Our van driver finds the hammock at Lost Canyon!
From the reserve and enroute there we saw several volcanoes.
One volcano from the van window. Yep, I had a whole van! Me, a driver and my guide. That is the transportation for all tours with Tours Nicaragua. By the way, I highly recommend them if going to Nicaragua for any reason!
My earlier post did not include names plus I have added one more for 6 out of 9 colonial churches in León. I think the names are important!
Recolección Church León, Nicaragua
Cathedra Basilica of the Assumption of León León, Nicaragua
San Juan Church León, Nicaragua
El Calvario Church León, Nicaragua
San Francisco Church León, Nicaragua
La Merced Church León, Nicaragua
I walked to the ones I could find within walking distance of the town center where I stayed. The other 3 colonial churches might have been within walking distance, but I could not find them. The San Juan Church our van stopped by on the way out is how I got it. León is a much larger city than Granada with many more people and churches. It is a nitty gritty working city much more alive than Granada and much less tourist-looking. Next time I hope for more time to explore it further.
The Island of Venado is a strip of land running close to the mainland near Leon. Much of the island and the channel of water between it and mainland is Mangrove Forests which is good for birds, other nature, crabs, fishing, etc. We got our boat in this little bay.
When you pay for a private float trip you get to sit in the front of the boat! 🙂 Here near end of trip we approach the rookery or nursery in earlier post.
Even when working, young people have fun on the water!
This is one of the government nature reserves. I think there may be more private reserves than public right now.
It is currently legal for locals to collect firewood in the reserve as long as it is already dead wood. In Nicaragua most people still cook on wood fires.
Non-commercial Fishing is allowed in the reserve.
and “Nature Tourism” is growing here!
My guide Freddy had new hiking shoes he did not want to get wet, so boatman carries him across stream. I got my old shoes wet – no big deal anymore! 🙂 And why didn’t he take them off and go barefoot? Good question! The boatman is barefoot!
Where we got our boat was a little “Comedor” which is the same as a “Soda” in Costa Rica, a small Mom & Pop restaurant for cheap local food. We did not eat here but got sandwiches at a little local bakery.
Mexican Porcupine Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Nicaragua
Green Iguana Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Nicaragua
Golden Orb Spider Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Nicaragua
Paper Wasp Nest Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Nicaragua
Monarch Butterfly Lost Canyon Nature Preserve, Nicaragua
Gray Cracker Butterfly Lost Canyon Nature Preserve, Nicaragua
Adelpha Iphiclus Butterfly Lost Canyon Nature Preserve, Nicaragua
Well, I’m not posting as often and haven’t even finished telling about my second trip to Nicaragua! Just been too busy and too tired late at night. I’ve also spent a lot of time trying to all my paperwork correct, in Spanish, for the Caja application interview tomorrow. Actually, I’m on standby for a no-show or vacant time slot tomorrow with my firm appointment the following Friday, the 15th. Be glad to get that behind me. And to be insured again!
Red-winged Blackbird Enroute to Lost Canyon Nature Reserve, Nicaragua
Eastern Meadowlark Enroute to Lost Canyon Nature Reserve, Nicaragua
White-lored Gnatcatcher Lost Canyon Nature Reserve, Nicaragua
Long-billed Starthroat Lost Canyon Nature Reserve, Nicaragua
Altimira Oriole (male & female) Lost Canyon Nature Reserve, Nicaragua
Dusky-capped Flycatcher Lost Canyon Nature Reserve, Nicaragua
Lost Canyon is just getting started with the owner’s house built and trails created. Cabins will come eventually. We didn’t see as many birds here, but it was middle of day and we hiked to top of the little mountain with several vistas enroute which I will show in a later post. I think birding will be better at the bottom of the hill and around the farms or down the dirt road.
The Director of Lost Canyon is Richard Leonardi, email him at email@example.com or check out their website at http://lost-canyon.org/
See more Nicaragua birds I have photographed in my Nicaragua Birds photo gallery. Nearly 100 different species of birds!
And note that both of my wonderful birding trips to Nicaragua were executed by the excellent Tours Nicaragua!Check out their offers!
Now I truly begin my report on the two day visit to Nicaragua in two nature reserves. In Juan Venado Refuge my boat tip included visiting what we called a “Rookery” in South Florida, a collection of tree islands where hundreds if not thousands of birds build nests, lay eggs, and raise their young until they can fly. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh! He looks just like daddy! 🙂
Little Blue Heron chick Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Leon, Nicaragua
Little Blue Heron Momma near the above nest Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Leon, Nicaragua
Great Egret Nests on one of the mangrove islands Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Leon, Nicaragua The majority of the nests were Great Egrets, but other birds mixed with them.
Great Egret Nests are very close together! Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Leon, Nicaragua
Great Egret mother andchicks Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Leon, Nicaragua
Great Egret Chicks (the closeup you wanted to see) Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Leon, Nicaragua
Boat-billed Heron & Chick Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Leon, Nicaragua
Boat-billed Heron Juvenile Learning to Fly Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Leon, Nicaragua
Tiger Heron Chick Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Leon, Nicaragua
Anhinga Chick (we saw Momma nearby, the only Anhingas seen) Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Leon, Nicaragua
Wow! I’m having fun! There are so many neat places like this for short and brief trips and this is just the beginning of bird photos from these two days. There will be many more the next few days and some other animals and interesting sights too! So much to see!
As I stated earlier this trip was primarily to renew my visa in Costa Rica. I get occasional letters from people considering a move to Costa Rica with questions of all kinds. Well, just today, a regular reader of this blog asked the following questions about getting the visa renewed every 90 days. The questions are in blue and my answers in black. Maybe you have had the same questions? These photos are not from this week’s trip, but a group trip I did December 30, 2015. This week’s trip was solo and much more than just getting a visa! This week in two days I birded in two reserves and photographed colonial churches in Leon. A lot more fun than just a border run! But both give you the 90 day visa needed:
Has the 90 day visa situation worked okay for you?
One of several “Visa Run” groups I was a part of – at border.
It has worked fine for me for a year and a half now, but I’m kind of hoping today’s is the last visa I have to get as I am completing residency requirements and will then be able to get a CR Driver License. I do not have a car but rent one occasionally, mainly for birding trips. You have to have residency before you can get a Costa Rica Driver License, so I have to use my Tennessee Driver License which requires a current Visa. Once my residency was in process I could have lived here without renewing the visa, but could not drive (legally). It is interesting to note that there are actually a lot of expats who, for whatever reasons, do not want to fool with residency application red tape and elect to be permanent tourists, living here legally on tourist visas. There have been rumors about the government “putting a stop to that,” but since it brings money into the country I doubt they will. If we could just get a Tico Trump for president of Costa Rica, he would put a stop to these damn yankees! 🙂 Fortunately, Ticos love Americans and Canadians and are all very welcoming of us and all foreigners, all races and all religions.
A reasonable wait in line coming out of Nicaragua.
How many times have you had to leave and return? I think this week was number 6. The first 4 times I used a local tour operator who organizes “Visa Runs” for local expats. We left at 5 AM, stopping for breakfast and then in Liberia for the exit tax certificate. At the Nicaragua border town of Penas Blanca we cross over and then turn around and come back. About $25-$30 of border fees plus tipping a local Nica expediter. We payed the tour guy $150 for the drive, technical assistance and two meals enroute. It was a 12-14 hour day with some good fellowship, but I got tired of that and for two times now I have made it into birding trips. Did you ever have any problems returning (as some online sources say you are at the mercy of the agent and the agent doesn’t have to let you back in for a full 90 days). I’ve heard of that and agents do have that power, but it has never happened to me (or anyone in our groups). Well, one time a lady was given 30 days and our tour leader went back and talked to the agent and he changed it to 90 days. I always get 90 days. Now you do have to show proof that you can leave the Costa Rica within the 90 days and that is easy by purchasing an open-ended bus ticket at the border for just $25. It is good for 12 months. I also read that you cannot depart to the same country two times in a row. Not true.It is funny to hear rumors like that and wonder how they get started. 🙂 I just departed Nicaragua 6 times in a row with 90-day visas every time. I go there because it is closer from Atenas than Panama or other country further away. If I have to do it again, I plan to go to Panama next time, which I will do anyway at some point. Birding is very good in several spots along the canal which I have done, but I haven’t been to northern Panama yet or seen Boco Toro which is mainly snorkeling I think, but sea birds I’m sure.
Many of the “Snowbirds” only stay here 3 months or if longer take one trip out. And there are Americans with a lot of family who go home to the states every 3 months or so, which gives you the visas. So there are many angles, but if you are really going to make it your retirement home, I recommend getting residency. It will make life here easier. And of course I already have a bank account with debit card, have my SS check deposited here, attend a local church, joined clubs and made friends; all of which makes it more like home.
I’m back home from the Nicaragua trip but too busy to process photos, so this little break in my photo blog by answering questions. And remember that the SEARCH box top right will help you find answers like this somewhere in my blog!