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Welcome to Riverswind notes

I hope you will join in my adventures here in Humboldt County and elsewhere as I explore nature & people.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Costa Rica Osa Pennisula

Hummingbird feeding on nectar (CLICK on photos to ealarge)
This year my wife surprised me with a Christmas gift of a trip to Costa Rica. We had talked about going to CR for many years and she decided that now was the time to go because in her words "while I was still physically capable".

I was initially excited about this dream adventure until two weeks prior to
departure when I stubbed my toe and fractured it.

The thought of hiking in the jungles or along the sandy beaches was no longer appealing but as my grandfather (Newton Lark) used to say “It’s a long way from the heart”.

I packed my bags a week in advance and repacked twice knowing that I usually take more than I really need.

We left the Arcata airport at 6:00 AM and had to change planes in San Francisco, California and in Huston,Texas where we had a 3 hour layover. The flight from Huston to San Jose, Costa Rica was about 3 hrs. arriving at 9:40 PM.

The process of going through customs went smoothly and our bags arrived safely. There was a mass of people jamming the exit on our way out to the street where we finally saw our driver holding up a sign with our names printed on it. We were told to wait while he looked for another person that he was scheduled to meet.
We finally got packed like sardines into a small Van and off we went on a drive that had us clutching each other and the handrail holding on as if we were on a roller coaster.

Our driver seemed in a hurry and made rolling slowdowns and rabbit starts at every intersection which had stop signs but used only in Costa Rica as suggestions apparently.
He turned into one narrow road that was jammed a half mile back so he pulled out of the line into opposing traffic and turned around deciding to take an alternative route. He then drove very fast through the back roads of the city and finally arrived at the small lobby of the “Adventures Inn” that was already jammed with other people checking in. Our room was adjacent to the lobby of the restaurant and we were kept awake for a while by American kids with loud voices.

Kimberley ready to board Nature Air
                                    Flying over San Jose, Costa Rica
After an early wake up and breakfast we were driven to a small airport where we boarded “Nature Air” on a small 20 + passenger plane for our trip to Puerto Jimenez. The flight took 45 minutes and had amazing views of the land below.
                                    The Osa Pennisula bottom left (looks like
                                      the head of an upside down seahorse)
We were met by our driver named Olman in Puerto Jimenez who picked up another man from Chile. As they say the journey is part of the adventure and the road was very bumpy with several river crossings in a 4 wheel drive vehicle that obviously needed new shock absorbers.

Along the way we stopped to observe and photograph White-faced Capuchin Monkeys and Spider Monkeys.
                                         White-faced Capuchin Monkey
We passed a couple of other lodges located near the beach and then ascended a steep bumpy road passing plastic tents lived in by local Gold panners.
Gold Miner's lodge

After over 2 hours we arrived at Luna Lodge near Carate on the Osa Penninsula and were greeted by Javier with a cold glass of water.

The Luna Lodge located in approximately 60 acres in the Gulfo Dulce Reserve was even more beautiful than we expected and we felt the tropical rainforests energy and spiritual ambiance immediately upon arrival.

The natural landscaping and aromas of frangipani and Jasmine and other fragrant flowering plants titillated our olfactory senses while the sounds of Cicadas, exotic birds and the occasional howling calls of Howler Monkeys serenaded us.

 We were led to our private bungalow with palm roof, open air showers with lush private gardens and a nice private deck made of tropical hardwood with natural polished tree trunk pillars where we would sit and enjoy the spectacular views.
We spent the first hours after arrival walking up a steep rock pathway to the Yoga platform where the veiw was spectacular as we birded along the way.

Cooling ocean breeze blowing curtains on Yoga platform
The spectacular veiw from the Yoga platform
 The owners mother “Willy” is an attractive charming woman from Colorado who seems to be always present to greet you or tell a wonderful story about one of the guests or about her daughter (but “only if asked”) or about the history of how the lodge came to be. It was her daughter Lana Wedmore who as a sophomore in college 30 years earlier worked at another lodge nearby and was hiking one day on a steep slope deep into the rainforest when she came upon the site and decided that this is where she was meant to be. She was able to get a loan from the government to help build her dream which is now Luna Lodge.

Today Lana Wedmore is a leader in the conservation and protection of the surrounding Rainforest hoping to preserve as much of it possible from development and desecration.

                             Lana Wedmore and her mother Willy
The Gold rush of the 70’s threatened the fragile ecosystem of the Corcovado Park but has now recovered since the mining was banned in 1986. Today the Corcovado is home to many endangered species including the Harpy Eagle and the Jaguar.

It was warm and humid but the Ocean breeze had a pleasant cooling effect and kept the biting insects at bay. We slathered our skin with sunscreen and insect repellent and headed off to a daylong adventure in the Corcovado National Park.

On our first long trek (9 miles) we were led by our guide Oscar Corderom along the beautiful Coconut Palm lined beach to the park’s entrance.

 I  made the decision not to carry my 400 mm lens and instead brought the Nikon Coolpix camera. My toe was burning with pain after about a mile on the beach but I soon forgot about it because I was focused on the intense diversity of birds and plants along the trail.
I tripped on a rock and rolled with the fall and jumped to my feet quickly hoping that no one noticed but they did anyway and I was more embarrassed than physically injured.

In retrospect I thought had I been carrying my Telephoto lens it could have been damaged from that fall. I hoped to get photos with our small camera but was really bummed when the battery went dead. I forgot to recharge it the night before. A tough lesson learned the hard way.
                                   The entrance to Corcovado National Park
As a result I didn’t get some photos that I could have of arboreal anteaters, Coatimundi's, and Sloths. Our new friends Greg and Rene from Colorado hopefully got some good photos that they promised to share with us.

I was hot and very tired at the end of the hike and when offered a cold "Imperial" cerveza by our driver that picked us up at the beach it was extremly welcomed and turned out to be the best beer I ever tasted.
The little falls below Luna Lodge was a beautiful hike.
After a refreshing shower we had a great evening and excellent food in the dining area.
                                   The veiw of the blue Pacific from the dining area
                                  Kimberley writing notes in dining area

Hooded Mantis (Choeradodis rhombifolia)
The dining platform had wildlife right in our laps and example is this well disguised  Hooded Mantid on a leaf.

Hummingbirds everywhere sipping nectar from flowers

                                             Black-hooded Antshrike

                                        White-nosed Coati

We didn't have to go far to enjoy wildlife but did go kayaking and on walk along a shady lane were we saw a family of Howler Monkeys, Coati mundi, Sloth and Scarlet Macaws and many other birds. Our guide Oscar Corderom was excellent and greatly aided us in finding wildlife.
Postman Butterfly

Oscar Coderom Field Guide

                                            Magnificent Frigatebird
The Frigatebird silohuette was the best I could get on this occassion

Brown Pelicans flying over

While walking on the beach near the lagoon I was impressed with the large numbers of Brown Pelicans soaring over and gliding low over the surf.

Bare-throated Tiger- Heron

I stalked this magnificent Heron to get close enough for a decent photo without my telephoto lens,

Bare-Throated Tiger Heron

Ringed Kingfisher
While crossing the river I saw this beautiful Kingfisher and got out of the landrover and took the photo.

Heliconia sp.
The tropical plants on the Oso pennisula are many and varied with brilliant flowers.
Neotropical Fruit (Tent-making) Bats (Euroderma sp.)
While sitting out on the dining room platform we observed several bats flying around and the next day found one area that they used for daytime roosting under the cupped leaves of a palm.  These tiny bats belong to the subfamily Stenodermatinae and make a tent -like structure by biting and chewing the  veins and midribs of leaves so that it droops around them for protection.  Touching the leaves causes them to fly out.

Osa taking a nap after a long day at work
One of the staff members at Luna Lodge is a dog named Osa who greets everyone that arrives and on each day we return from a hike.  She seems to enjoy her job and often goes on hikes with some of the clients staying at the Lodge.
A special table was set up for us to celebrate our 20th anniversary year
This was one of our most memorable adventures and we soon realized that there wasn't enough time to do it justice and see all that we wanted to see in just 4 days.
If possible we would like to return to Luna Lodge and spend at least a week,
We saw and identified over 80 species of birds and 10 species of Mammals in 3 days but only got decent photos of a few.
Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus)
On my next blog I will write about our adventure in the Cloud Forest of Costa Rica on the Rio Savegre.
Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)
We saw this Iguana on our return trip to Puerto Jimenez.
On our way to San Jose we had one last look at the rain forest below and thought of the thousands of organisms that live there and realized that we had barely scratched the surface and knew that one day we would return to this incredible paradise.


Camera Trap Codger said...

Wonderful trip report, Terry, and great photos of the wildlife. Sounds like Kimberley knows to pick em.

owlman said...

Thanks Codger I agree Kimberley did her homework and researched thoroughly the options and obviously made the right choices.
You would have a blast camera trapping here.

Anonymous said...

A favorite bird at Luna Lodge? Awesome trip indeed!

Owlman said...

To anonymous: I had no favorites because they were all beautiful and new to us with a few exceptions like the Brown Pelican.
In my next blog I do have a favorite.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I'll stay tuned . . . .

Ter'e said...

A bit off topic now.......but I recently left you a comment on your 12/26/07 blogpost. I have no idea if it got back to you or not.

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