It seems to be taking me longer to complete my trip galleries – just a slow old man! 🙂
But one reason was that it is slow identifying 32 species of butterflies (several new to me), 29 species of birds (1 lifer), and 13 species of other wildlife with lots of nice frog shots this time! These trip galleries are my main photo galleries to which I link for photos in the bird, butterfly and other subject galleries. If you are considering different lodges in Costa Rica as a visitor or one who lives here and travels like me, these trip galleries are a good source of real information about what you can see in a particular place. Enjoy!
I just can’t quit talking about all the neat things you can see and photograph at Arenal Observatory Lodge! And another one are trees, all of their trees, but maybe the most unique are their Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees that were a part of their early development reforestation program which you can read about in an article on their website: The Rainbow Trees of Arenal, Costa Rica by Shannon Farley, my friend and fellow Atenas resident! 🙂 You will be amazed as you read the article and probably want to visit this favorite lodge of mine too! Where I could spend months hiking their 7+ miles of well-maintained hiking trails and never be bored! 🙂
Though I always go to the lodge that is closest to the volcano (and surrounded by the most forest!), this trip Christmas week was the first time the volcano was covered in clouds most of the time. The only clear day, all day, was Christmas Day, with clouds and rain all the rest of that week! But with all the photos I’ve been sharing, you can see that the rain or clouds didn’t dampen my spirits too much! 🙂 Here are four different views of the volcano from four different locations including the one sun-shiny day shot! 🙂
There was more than this, but these are the ones I have useable photos of beyond the birds and butterflies already shown. All wildlife is so interesting and varied anywhere you go in Costa Rica. One pix for the email announcement and then a gallery of all 9 photos.
Possibly my favorite bird seen at Arenal Observatory Lodge with the only other place seen so far being at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge at Piedras Blancas National Park near Golfito. The rich colors make this bird very attractive though he/she tends to stay behind the limbs and leaves of trees with berries, thus difficult to photograph! 🙂
Three more shots below including one eating a berry, plus you can see my other shots of this bird in my Bay-headed Tanager GALLERY! I love my growing collection of Costa Rica birds! 🙂
This was my fourth time to visit Arenal Observatory Lodge (link to lodge website) and the second time as my annual “Christmas Getaway!” The first two days we had a lot of rain & wind unlike the other Christmas visit and I thought it was not going to be a good place for Christmas this year, but then Christmas Day was a bright blue-sky, sunshiny day and we had a mixture of weather my remaining 4 nights there, and though I initially thought I didn’t see as much wildlife, I actually did pretty good with 27 species of birds and more butterflies and “other wildlife” than before! So – No big toucans or monkeys! I had a lot of other wildlife and some of my best frog photos plus more butterflies! 🙂
Also, I had less energy than on the previous trips here (cancer recovery is slow) and I scheduled no early-morning guided bird walk like usual, so to have 27 birds on my own is okay! 🙂 And I will be sharing those bird and butterfly photos in future days on this blog when I finally get them organized.
So . . . YES!I continue to rate Arenal Observatory Lodge as one of the best places in Costa Rica for birds and for my nature fix AND also for the lodge services with an excellent room and gourmet food, surrounded by one of the largest rainforests in the country! And yes, it is not cheap, but worth what you pay in my opinion. Superb guides, the best of other services, plus the best maintained wilderness trails that are featured below in this post, a birding tower, a big waterfall, and more birds, butterflies and trails than almost anywhere else! So yes – I will return to Arenal Observatory Lodge! But next time I’m going in May again, for the beautiful sunsets over the lake every night, and maybe monkeys then! 🙂 I think the sun moves further south this time of year, putting the sunset behind the mountains, but in May, it’s right over the lake! 🙂
Below is a Gallery of some rainforest trails at Arenal Observatory, then links to the photo galleries of my other 3 previous visits with a comparison of birds and other wildlife photographed. 🙂
For my final morning post from Arenal Observatory Lodge, three photos which are sort of representative of what I photographed most while here this time with the weather eliminating some of my favorite subjects here, though there are still more things I photographed to be shared in the next few days or weeks including more of these three categories! 🙂
And these are not my favorites in each category, but rather representative ones from my last full day here . . .
Tomorrow I will give an evaluation of this visit and whether I recommend Arenal Observatory for Christmas Week.
As a waterfall lover, I don’t miss any waterfall that a lodge or park has and this “main” falls at Arenal Observatory Lodge is one of the nicer ones, and it’s my third time to visit it! There are other “seasonal” waterfalls here for when the rain is heavy, but the longer trails to them are more dangerous when wet for this old man who falls easily, so I haven’t tried any of them. 🙂
The people who were at the falls the same time as me were all Europeans from England, Holland, Germany and maybe one more country. We also have other countries represented at the lodge this week including Canada, Japan and China and though I haven’t met anyone from the states yet, there are most likely some here. The ones playing in the waterfall plunge pool are Europeans – 4 shots including this first scenic one for the email notice . . .
That’s the species name with there being 5 different species of Leptodactylus genus frogs in Costa Rica, all five appearing on the Pacific Slope and 3 on the Caribbean or Atlantic Slope. World-wide there are 75 species of Leptodactylus! This Leptodactylus savagei appears on both slopes of Costa Rica and was earlier called “Savage’s Thin-toed Frog,” but now goes by two common names: “Central American Bullfrog” and “Smoky Jungle Frog.” This genus Leptodactylus is the largest frog in Costa Rica (and probably all of Central America.) This particular species appears from Honduras to Colombia.
I just got a new Amphibian Field Guide here at this lodge which will help me to better identify and explain the sightings and photos I post on this site. There are 3 other frogs pictured in my Central American Bullfrog GALLERYand I’m reasonably certain that they are all in the genus Leptodactylus, but I need to study them more to specify the exact species. I don’t think they are all “savagei.”
This was just one more of the creatures spotted and photographed on my private Night Walk last night, seen at the lodge’s “Frog Pond” just like the Red-eyed Tree Frogs I posted early this morning. I will be posting other creatures from that night walk here in time. 🙂
As I celebrated living in Costa Rica for 8 years, I had a very special Christmas Eve Dinner and this morning went to the Butterfly Conservancy in El Castillo on the lake, then hiked one of the trails here at Arenal Observatory and after another great dinner of baby back ribs, I’m going on a private Night Hike, just me and the guide! It was their suggestion since with the regular night hike of a group of 10 they knew I would find it difficult to make photos. Most of “my” lodges here really take care of this old man! 🙂 Photos from the night hike will come tomorrow.
And I haven’t had time to process photos of butterflies or anything else today, so here’s photos of the great sunny weather we had today and my first view this week of the volcano! The lake shot was at about sunset time, though the sun is not seen there this time of year, it’s still more pleasant with clear skies! 🙂 Much more to share tomorrow!