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!


Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Johnny took me to the Rincón de la Vieja National Park today and we hiked 5 kilometers. My favorite part was the two waterfalls, one in the park and one outside near the entrance but on hotel property. Currently it is not safe to go look into the active volcano but we did see the smoke, hot water and bubbling mud which reminded me of Yellowstone. It is a tight forest so difficult to see birds but I did get some shots of a Crested Guan and some other wildlife.



2 Hikers & the Park

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Volcanic Activity

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.


And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling.

– Shanti

¡Pura Vida!

Hacienda Guachipelín

Old Woman’s Corner

What? — Well . . . that’s where I’m going next week.  🙂  One of Costa Rica’s largest and most active volcanoes is named “Rincón de la Vieja” which translated to English is “Corner of the Old Woman.” There is a long and involved forbidden love story among the indigenous people of Northern Guanacaste where the volcano national park is located. Fortunately the website of my hotel there, Hacienda Guachipelín, has a short version of the legend:

The Legend of Rincón de la Vieja Volcano

Rincon de la Vieja means “Corner of the Old Woman.” An indigenous legend tells about Princess Curubandá, daughter of the Curubandé tribe chieftain, who fell in love with Prince Mixcoac, the son of an enemy tribe chief. Curubandá’s father ended her forbidden lover’s life by throwing him into the live volcano crater.

Devastated, Curubandá became a recluse, living the rest of her life high on the volcano’s slope. She learned natural medicines from the volcano and developed healing powers. People seeking medicinal cures were told to go to “the corner of the old woman” by the volcano. And thus, the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano received its name.

The featured photo is of a Maleku Indigenous People Group close to Rincón de la Vieja and copied from the internet to represent the above legend.

The “Yellowstone of Costa Rica”

With hot springs, bubbling mud pots, two large volcano craters, rivers, mountains, and lots of wildlife this national park is like a smaller version of the U.S. Yellowstone National Park. I’m really looking forward to my visit there!

Its Also a Great Birding Place!

The park and my chosen hotel are listed as a “Birding Hot Spot.” Meaning I will be out on the many trails of the hotel’s large property each morning along with one or two trips into the park. And since it is a totally new area of Costa Rica for me I expect maybe some new and different birds along with the migrants now coming down from the north.

And Six Waterfalls!

Which is another fun, colorful and exciting thing to photograph in Costa Rica! I’m told that there is a large and beautiful falls inside the park and five on the hotel property! Wow! After birds and butterflies, it may be waterfalls for me and I already have photos of 27 in Costa Rica in my Waterfalls Gallery!

It is great to live and travel in “The Land of Nature” – Costa Rica!

“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.”     ~Standing Bear

¡Pura Vida!

Poas Volcano National Park in Costa Rica Will Open Doors to Visitors Again This Friday, Aug.31

Read all the details at:

This is one of the oldest and most visited national parks in Costa Rica and has been greatly missed for nearly a year now after some serious eruptions. Safety is always the first concern and you can be confident that it is safe to visit again now. Some say that it is the best or one of the best volcano parks in the world to visit. It is the only one here where you can look down inside the cone. Plus it is a beautiful cloud forest and nature reserve! I highly recommend seeing it when in Costa Rica and always best early in the morning since clouds often move in to hide the volcano by or before 10:00 AM!

The photo above is one of many made on a trip to Poas in 2015 with Kevin Hunter. See the TRIP Gallery Poas Volcano 2015.

First Half Day Hallelujah!

Yellow-throated Toucan Eating a Lizard
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

Male & Female Great Curassow 
 Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

Lineated Woodpecker 
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird 
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

Montezuma Oropendola 
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

Red-legged Honeycreeper, female & male 
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

Palm Tanager 
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

Blue-gray Tanager 
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

White-nosed Coati 
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano from my Lodge Room 
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

Sunset from my Room Deck 
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

What can I say? The photos are worth a thousand words and this was just after getting here at noon today and eating lunch first. It is a totally amazing place and instantly one of my favorites! And with another 4 and 1/2 days yet to go!

¡Pura Vida!

And My Photo Gallery for this Trip is being added to daily while on the trip! A longer more leisurely trip makes this possible and my galleries are my main trip reports. Enjoy!

Poas Volcano Erupting

Official photo

For some of my visitors whom I took to see the closest volcano to Atenas, Poas, you might like to know that it is now erupting and no visitors allowed. It is still not giving us the dust that Turrialba still gives occasionally, but it is an hour+ drive away and is closed as a park and for 5 km around it.

Read more in this Tico Times Article  and see rocks, etc. thrown around the area. We have had no visible effects in Atenas but best to keep our distance for now. A few people living on the northern slopes claim they could see the eruption from their houses.

Video of Eruption 5 days ago on YouTube  (close up view)

Facts About Costa Rica Volcanoes, with some 200 vestiges of volcanoes, only 100 have any kind of activity and today only 2 or 3, Poas, Turrialba, and Arenal significantly, but others could.


this crater at Poas on a safe, clear morning that tourist often see when no clouds cover it:

My photo made in 2015

         . . . and the other Poas crater that is inactive as a Crater Lake:

My photo made in 2015 of the non-active cone or “Crater Lake”
Me in front of Arenal Volcano in 2010 on the Tour


Summer Flowers

My Breakfast View this Morning
It is summer here, school is out for summer break & more flowers are blooming.
Jan-Feb are also the windy months, but at least the volcano has slowed issuing ash.


What Our Costa Rica President Says about Immigration, an article in Tico Times today.

You guys in the U.S. feel free to share this article with your new president-elect. The quick summary is “If you want to get through a border, you’ll be able to sooner or later.”    🙂    And read about how CR deals with the flow of Cubans en-route to the U.S. through Costa Rica and the Nicaraguans and Colombians who come here to stay. Personal Disclosure: My maid is a Nica and my haircuts are at a Colombino peluquería and nobody seems to have a problem with that here. Everyone is welcome in Costa Rica, even arrogant Americans. Though there’s already enough in Atenas, so I’m not issuing an invitation!  🙂

Scenery Shots from Lost Canyon Nature Reserve

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!

And don’t miss my Nicaragua Birds photo gallery for 98 different species!
And remember that both my trips to Nicaragua were provided by Tours Nicaragua!  Check out what they offer! I’m happy with them!

Pura Vida!

Volcanoes and Waterfalls!

Templo Falls one of five falls at La Paz
Jaguar at La Paz, my favorite photo after the waterfall above.
Though my arm was scratched by an Ocelot when I tried to photograph
through bars of his cage. (That’s another story for later maybe!)

Blue Morpho Butterfly at La Paz
Poas Lake Caldron

Active Portion of Poas Volcano that smelled like sulphur
Tree Fern in tropical cloud forest of Poas Volcano

Merton’s Prayer of Abandonment

Arenal Volcano


I made this photo from the “Hanging Bridges” in the area in 2010. It is the most popular volcano because of its nearly perfect conical shape. It also reminds me of the strength and steadfastness of God in my life.

I just shared this on my spiritual blog called HIS SPIRIT which has been neglected lately with my focus on Costa Rica (and no longer using), but because it is as much about my move to Costa Rica and the risk so many here in Nashville think I am taking, I decided to share it on this blog too: 

As I am two days away from the move to Costa Rica, I am trusting God more and expecting Him to give me more purpose in life than I have felt in my simple volunteering in church and other places here in Nashville. And the fact that I don’t know everything that will happen is part of the adventure and excitement of the move. I am abandoning a lot of supposed security here in the states, though financially I know it will just get more difficult for me in the states. (And friends will still be friends from afar!) In the process of this thinking I was reminded of the poem/prayer by Thomas Merton which I may have shared somewhere earlier. I discovered it in 2012:

Prayer of Abandonment
Thomas Merton
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain
where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and that I think I am following your will
does not mean I am actually doing so.
But I believe
the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire
in all I am doing.
I hope
I will never do anything
apart from that desire.
And I know if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.