Arenal Park is #6 in the World!

You’ve heard me brag about the forests of Arenal Volcano National Park several times and now it is not just me! 🙂 TripAdvisor just released their list of the “Top 10 National Parks in the World” (Tico Times article) with Costa Rica’s Arenal Park #6 on the list, right there with Maisa Mara of Kenya and the Grand Canyon of the United States as most popular by their volunteer reviewers. And I’m glad I’ve been able to see all three of those! 🙂 And especially to explore the forests that surround this beautiful volcano . . .

The best way to see the Arenal Volcano National Park is in the only lodge that’s inside the park, Arenal Observatory Lodge, which you may remember is where I was Christmas Week and it just so happens, because of pandemic airline changes, I’m going again this year in May! Yay! And to see why I like it so much, see my photo galleries from three past trips there:

But Tonight I Return to El Silencio

This short 4-night trip starting today is because the owner of El Silencio Lodge & Reserve liked my photo book about his hotel so much he gave me two nights gratis. And of course for me two nights is not enough anywhere, so I’m adding 2 more! 🙂 Makes it half price! 🙂 And I’m using my gift now! 🙂

There are two more waterfalls outside the lodge property I want to photograph and as always more birds! Hoping for more lifers. I got 4 lifers when there last September! And I get excited with just one! So it is obviously a good place for birding! Meaning that the rest of this week and probably longer will be more photos from El Silencio! 🙂 I’m so fortunate!

¡Pura Vida!

Volcano Views

I thought I had more different views than this but it is no longer new to me, so didn’t take as many photos and the one I took from the butterfly garden didn’t take so here’s 2 from my room, one from a hotel garden and one from the road in front of the Butterfly Conservatory.

¡Pura Vida!

A “Lifer” in first afternoon

I arrived at Arenal Observatory Lodge in time for lunch with my driver and my first afternoon of looking for birds with 11 species photographed including the above Emerald Tanager (link to eBird description) which is a “Lifer” or first-time-seen bird for me! And a colorful one found only in Central America plus Columbia & Ecuador.

I did lots of walking including to the top of the 28 meters or 92 ft. tall observation tower with 146 steps on stairs. I’ve gotten lots of birds and monkeys from this tower in the past, but not today with it being overcast and very windy when I went up today, but I got several landscape shots including this one I call “A Sea of Treetops.”

My “Sea of Treetops” shot today from the top of Arenal Observatory’s observation tower.

“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

¡Pura Vida!

Covid Cancels Another Trip

My November trip was going to be a repeat to another favorite birding location, Rancho Humo on the Tempisque River at Palo Verde National Park with the nearest town 30+ minutes away, Nicoya. It is a quiet, peaceful rural retreat with luxury rooms and meals on a ranch that still had 800 head of cattle the last time I was there. Featured photo is a White-faced Capuchin Monkey is from my one visit there. It’s a great retreat for couples, families, or anyone wanting peace and quiet in nature, plus the real draw is birds for me, with one of the heavier concentration of birds in the country, especially inland water birds and one of only 2 places here where you might see the rare Jabiru Stork. I saw just one my last visit there.

A month ago they told me they planned to reopen November 1 when our borders are open to all countries for the first time since March. The entry requirements no longer include a negative Covid19 test, but still require sufficient medical insurance, masks, social distancing, etc. But tourists aren’t storming our borders and to make it worse, the U.S. Embassy recommends not traveling here because there is a new wave of the virus here like almost everywhere else. Gloomy – especially for the tourism businesses!

Thus Rancho Humo decided to not open and I had to cancel my reservation which fortunately was not pre-paid like some hotels are requiring now. But I’m still disappointed.

I will keep busy locally with walks and photography and continue my website & photo gallery building, so still a happy retiree in Costa Rica! 🙂 And I may even have Walter (my driver) take me on a couple of Water Fall Day Trips. We will see.

I’m still booked for Arenal Observatory for Christmas and they are open now, so I don’t anticipate any problem there. It is listed as one of the “Birding Hot Spots” of Costa Rica and is one of my top 5 favorite lodges, so I know that Christmas will be good and in the wilderness again! 🙂 And by the way, lodges like this take extra precautions because of the pandemic to keep everything sanitized and people masked and socially distanced, plus I spend most of my time solo hiking in the wilderness, so little chance of getting the virus. And just look at what I see from my sanitized room there:

Arenal Volcano View from My Room — same room each time — I love it! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Arenal Trip Photo Gallery

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):

https://charliedoggett.smugmug.com/TRIPS/2019-November-11-17-Arenal-Observatory

 

Arenal-2019-Screenshot-WEB

Leave the road, take the trails.

~Pythagoras

Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

¡Pura Vida!

White-banded Satyr

Wow! Two different Satyrs in two days, though this photo was made more than a week ago while at Arenal Volcano and I just discovered it. After my research on yesterday’s butterfly post, I knew what it was quickly!   🙂   It’s a cousin to yesterday’s butterfly in the Satyr family called a White-banded Satyr. This makes my third Satyr, yesterday’s Gold Stained Satyr and an earlier Double-white Satyr which is similar to this White-banded, found in my 2015 Indigenous Village visit. See more of my butterfly photos in the gallery Butterflies & Moths of Costa Rica.  90+ Flying flowers!   🙂

IMG_5174-A-WEB
White-banded Satyr, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

 

¡Pura Vida!

Smithsonian Research to Hotel

The land this lodge is on has always been a family ranch and part still functions as such. After the big eruption in 1968 the Smithsonian Research teams started coming and camped on this family’s ranch. The family built a small hotel to better house them in 1987, along with a research “Observatory.” When the volcano became a national park this ranch became the only private property within the national park and as research diminished it became a public hotel that continued to expand. The only hotel in the park or within this much wilderness! Read the history of hotel on their website.

The last eruption (a small one) was in 2010, but before that visitors here could sometimes see the red lava flowing down to the rivers during the dark of night. Though still alive and producing nearby hot springs, it is not considered a danger now, though constantly monitored by scientists. And one of the optional hikes in the national park is across the lava fields.  Didn’t appeal to me.

The feature photo today is the research building they then called “the observatory” as the backside is all windows facing the volcano. A part of it is now a museum and there are about 8 guest rooms in that building which would be good for families since they are nearest the swimming pool AND has a big game room with ping pong, pool, table games, etc. And the gardens around it are very good for small birds as are all the gardens here!   🙂

Volcano Art

 

Research Museum

 

My last full day here was mostly rainy, but rain is nice.  🙂

Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.      

~John Updike

Arenal Observatory

¡Pura Vida!

 

Bogarin Trail

It did rain this afternoon, just a light shower, but enough to keep me from climbing the tower in the rain – so I processed the Bogarin Birds! If you are ever in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, I recommend the place as a good for many, many birds! Saw 40 species! 21 here in photos.

It is a protected reserve right in town – a town I don’t care for but love their Bogarin Trail! La Fortuna is too touristy for me like Manual Antonio and Jaco, packed with competing hotels, restaurants and T-shirt shops!   🙂  Check out the trail website at:   Bogarin Trail  (or their Facebook Page).

My “lifer” or first time bird today is in the featured photo above, White-throated Crake. The name link is to the article on Cornell Neotropical Birds.

Bogarin Trail Birds

Click an Image to Enlarge.

 

Arenal Observatory

¡Pura Vida!

Unclouded Volcano

Today was the first time we’ve had enough sunshine for the Arenal Volcano to be totally visible or almost! A beautiful day and my guide Nestor, whom I also had a year and a half ago when here before, took me to Bogarin Trail  (or their Facebook Page)  where we saw about 40 species of birds and I got usable photos of about 21. If it doesn’t rain, I’m going back up on the tower this afternoon, meaning I won’t have time to post my Bogarin Bird Bonanza, including my second lifer this week, a White-throated Crake. Another good day! And the blog posts pile up!   🙂

Arenal Observatory

¡Pura Vida!