The El Silencio Hummingbird Garden is like mine, no feeders, just flowers. And also like mine, there is a dominant hummingbird species that chases many of the others away from the garden and they just go to other flowers on the grounds. I only found three species in the official Hummingbird Garden, though I saw, but did not photograph, others around the grounds. Their dominant bird here is the Purple-throated Mountain Gem, but the tiny Scintillant and the Black-bellied Hummingbirds seem to hang in there with the Mountain Gems! And I photographed bees here! 🙂
CLICK an image to see larger:
I still have 10 other bird species I photographed and hope to post soon. See also my CR Birds photo gallery for all I have photographed here in 5.5 years. The Black-bellied Hummingbird and Scintillant are “lifers” for me and I got 2 other lifers in the next batch of 10 birds I will post soon. 4 lifers in one trip is very good now with my CR count up to 349! 🙂
On my hike up the mountain to the waterfalls here at El Silencio Lodge I ran into a Land Crab or Gecarcinidae on the trail. A first for me in Costa Rica or maybe anywhere in the mountains! For those interested, see the Wikipedia Article or I found a more specific online book article The Land Crabs of Costa Rica which seems to have more about the ones closer to the ocean. This place is nowhere near an ocean!
I finally got to seeing the waterfalls here on the hotel property and they fabulous! There is a “Waterfall Trail” which including the walk from my villa is 6 km round trip and thus I kept putting it off until my last full day here. For those considering a stay here, it is an uphill walk on the gravel road to the trail head but they will take you that far in one of the golf carts.
The waterfall trail is fairly easy with some hills except for Catarata La Promesa (The Promise Waterfall) which is an uphill climb from the main trail on its own side trail that includes steps, maybe 30 or 40, I didn’t count. BUT it is worth it! It is maybe the tallest and some would say the most beautiful and it is out in the open more than the other two, meaning easier to see and photograph without climbing over rocks. And there are two picnic tables there to make it your rest stop or picnic lunch before returning back to the hotel. And possibly a swim there!
The main trail goes over a bridge in front of Catarata La Melodía (The Melody Waterfall) which is the first one you come to. You can see and photograph it from the bridge or to get closer you climb over some rocks and get right to the bottom of the falls. Then just a short way past that first falls is a Y in the trail with two dead ends, one to Catarata El Silencio (The Silence Waterfall) straight ahead and up the steps and hill to La Promesa. They are all three beautiful and full of water during the rainy season. Not sure I have a favorite.
I will say that many of the lodges I’ve visited all over Costa Rica have one or more waterfall on their property, but few as beautiful as these. Well . . . the one falls at Arenal Observatory is as big or bigger and as beautiful, but there are 3 such beauties here at El Silencio Lodge! And then Hacienda Guachipelín at Rincón de la Vieja National Park has 3 falls as beautiful on their property, so I’m backing down a little on their brag! 🙂 And another favorite hotel, Xandari Alajuela has 3 waterfalls but they aren’t as big or as beautiful as these.
Actually there are technically 7 falls at El Silencio with 4 “lesser water” waterfalls used only for those who rappel down the falls and that is the only way to see them, but one of the guides said I’m not missing much. 🙂 That is one of the many optional activities here and you rappel down all four of those! But not me! 🙂
Okay, for you Spanish readers, yes, that says “The Twins” Waterfall and thus you may ask, “Where is the second one?” Well . . . sometimes my better judgement overrules my sense of adventure. We had already hiked about 4 km and waded across the ice cold, rock-strewn river with Bryan, my personal guide, helping me wade across the slippery rocks just to get this photo of the biggest of the twins. To see the other one we would have had to wade up a separate stream of slippery rocks to the left of the bottom of this falls maybe 50 meters. Bryan had already said “I can’t believe I’m helping an 80 year old do this hike!” He was doubting the wisdom of going further and after nearly slipping down more than once. I did too! But I was thankful that I could make the hike solo with my excellent young masked guide who was perfect for me in every way! Most of the holiday weekend crowd have gone. We have a max of 9 guests the rest of the week, so very tranquilo! Which I prefer! 🙂 And yes, I love this place! Already another favorite and I have so many favorites in Costa Rica. Here’s just a few shots of the Las Gemelas Falls Hike and notice that weird V-shaped bridge over one of the streams, like none I’ve seen before:
Walter drove me over the mountains in the rain and we arrived in the rain. To explain the “over the mountains” bit – Atenas is in a valley with hills and so is the village of Bajos del Toro and El Silencio Lodge. Between us is a row of mountain, the continental divide. Atenas is on the “Pacific Slope” and Bajos del Toro is on the Caribbean (or Atlantic) Slope. You know, all the rivers have to go into one ocean or the other! 🙂
And from one rural area to another means very narrow roads, and very winding over the mountains with lots of what we called “hairpin curves” in Arkansas or switchbacks. I am so glad I use a driver now! I would have been a nervous wreck (or dead) driving over those narrow mountain roads. BUT it is so beautiful in the mountains around here and that’s why some people have called Costa Rica “The Little Switzerland of the Americas.”
I chose Mon-Fri because local working people go to these places on the weekends when they are off from work and thus they are less crowded on weekdays. But I forgot that the government offices and most businesses celebrate nearly all holidays on Monday now. Our Independence Day is 15 September (tomorrow) and they celebrated it this year on Monday (Today!) and with no parades allowed, many people went to the beach or a lodge like this for the long weekend. So a lot of people still here today from San Jose but nearly everyone leaves tomorrow I was told. So it will be the more typical half empty COVID-era resort! 🙂
Though it rained off and on all afternoon and still raining this evening, I hiked around a little and took a lot more photos than these samples of my arrival here. The restaurant is excellent with gourmet food (and prices) that I enjoyed with a grilled rainbow trout tonight that was raised right here in their own trout ponds. I got back to my room with my bed covers turned down and two little chocolates to make me smile. Another great day! 🙂
And if you like waterfalls too, see my Costa Rica Waterfalls Gallery with 38 waterfalls I’ve already seen and photographed here! And that gallery’s about to grow! 🙂
I’m quite excited about wandering north of here about an hour’s drive for the mountains, the falls, and what has been called a luxury lodge by my fellow-traveler doctor friend – we will see! I’m staying at the El Silencio Lodge that has 7 waterfalls on its own property (4 just for repelling which I will not do! but maybe photograph) plus it’s located near several other big waterfalls that attract tourists (when we have them) 🙂 but I will get to see without too many other people around – just us local Ticos! 🙂 In addition to the biggest, Del Toro, I plan to photograph Blue Hole Waterfall and a smaller one called Las Gemelas Waterfall. Plus I’ve heard there are several smaller ones near these two. We will see. I’m going with a masked hotel guide.
I may have already told you, but this is a “replacement trip” for my originally scheduled week on the Caribbean Beach, our east coast, at Puerto Viejo, Hotel Banana Azul where I usually go every September (their lowest rain month), but Sansa Air cancelled both my flights and it is too far to go in a public bus now with the virus and too expensive to use my driver. So . . . I postponed it until next September (2021) and by paying ahead got a good discount while helping their current low cash flow. Teamwork! 🙂 Pura vida!
And if you wonder about Coronavirus in such places, see the El Silencio Health Protocol. This is similar to the many things all hotels/lodges in Costa Rica are doing for protection from COVID-19. We have a lot of cases in country now, but mainly in the big cities, especially in San Jose where I never go now, and I feel safe traveling solo in outdoor places like this. Plus I wear both a mask and face shield now everywhere I go outside my house or hotel room. Plus I’m helping the local economy. 🙂
3 of the El Silencio Falls on lodge property that I can hike to on my on, solo!
I know. We are suppose to stay home during the pandemic and travel only to the supermarket, bank and pharmacy. And that is pretty much what I am doing while here in Atenas other than some neighborhood walks for photos. But the struggling tourism businesses in Costa Rica needs business bad and their COVID19 precautions are at the highest levels and still have only a handful of local Tico business. When I go my solo hiking for photos is safe from the virus. At Xandari I even had to walk my shoes through a sanitizer going in the double-masked restaurant. I feel safe and I am very careful to wear my double-masks now anytime around people except the moments I am eating or of course at home or in a hotel room alone. Plus they have discounts now too attract locals. My fear will be when the Americans start coming back.
OK – the change! Every September now I stay a week in my favorite beach hotel, Banana Azul on the Caribbean side in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. I also fly to avoid a long, tiring drive. Well, unfortunately Sansa Airlines is hurting for customers and canceled both my flights to and from Limon Airport. I’m afraid to ride the public bus that far during the pandemic and my private driver here would cost too much, so I canceled my Caribbean Beach vacation this September, always September because that rainy rainforest beach has the least rain during September. 🙂 So I will wait until next September and I do have a Pacific beach trip to Tambor Bay in March, which is enough beach for me.
Then I remembered I have been wanting my driver Walter to take me about an hour & a half north of here to see several big waterfalls and was going to schedule that when I then remembered that my Dermatologist’s favorite hotel is up there by the waterfalls, El SilencioLodge. Expensive with gourmet food, and wonderful private villas, but with their pandemic discount and staying fewer nights, I can use my Caribe money to stay there for about the same price AND see several waterfalls! So expect some waterfall photos in September! 🙂
And if you like waterfalls, see my CR Waterfalls Gallery of more here.
Beyond September I have nothing planned for October, a return visit to Rancho Humo at Palo Verde National Park in November and Christmas at another favorite, Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal Volcano National Park. For next year, only January & March are set: Sevegre Mountain Lodge in San Gerardo de Dota for special birds and then Tambor Tropical Resort, Tambor Bay on the Pacific at the southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula for sea turtles and birds! I like being retired! 🙂