Trip Report #1 - Osa Peninsula - Bosque del Cabo
In an effort to combat the shock of returning from our trip 9 days before Christmas, with not a present bought as shoppers we are not, as well as combating a good dose of the after-trip blues, I’ve decided to lose myself in memories by composing the first installment of a trip report.
My husband and I spent 16 days in CR, beginning and ending one night each in San Jose at Hotel Grano de Oro, which we absolutely loved. The food, accommodations and staff were excellent and we were able to change US $ to colones at the front desk, so we never had occasion to leave the place. We were too busy working our way through the menu in the short time we had there! Did I mention we like to eat? Our trip consisted of 4 nights at Bosque del Cabo on the Osa Peninsula, a couple of nights at Arenal Observatory Lodge, followed by 4 nights at Almonds & Corals on the Caribbean side near Manzanillo, and ending with 3 nights at Selva Bananito in the foothills of the Talamanca Mts., also on the Caribbean side.
I thoroughly researched CR before deciding where to focus on for our first trip there. Once I pinned down the areas and places I was interested in staying, I solicited the help of Solimar Travel who further assisted in narrowing my choices down to a sensible schedule and who booked all of our accommodations and transportation, including transfers to each subsequent place by private transfer, Interbus and Nature Air. (My husband is a reluctant traveler and basically just shows up at the airport the day we depart, although being a computer weenie he was in charge of the digital camera dept. and purchasing a new pair of binoculars for bird watching.) Everything pretty much went like clockwork. Thank you Solimar.
Our trip was perfect in every way, including the weather. The only rain we saw was in late afternoon or overnight and once during a hike up a river with a waterfall rappel, so since we were already wet we didn’t mind the rain. We left home Nov. 29 and returned Dec. 16.
After about 17 hours of travel, we were met at the airport by Eduardo who whisked us to Hotel Grano de Oro. The following morning Eduardo again whisked us to the airport at Pavas for our flight to Puerto Jiminez. The flight was delayed an hour, for no obvious reason, but other than that we were very satisfied with the professionalism of Nature Air. The 45-min. flight was uneventful, although it was a bit disconcerting when the cemetery first comes into view as the plane is touching down on the short runway in Puerto Jiminez.
Kevin, the driver from Bosque del Cabo, and Philip, Bosque’s wildlife biologist who was tagging along with Kevin so he could take care of some business in town, kindly waited the extra hour it took for our flight to arrive. It would have been one long walk otherwise. The hour ride to Bosque is an adventure, but actually reminds us of the logging roads we drive on at home when we go on hikes and climbs. Kevin won the prize for pointing out my first sighting of squirrel monkeys cavorting in the trees near the road.
Seeing the look on my husband’s face on arriving at Bosque was worth all his grumbles about being made to travel. He had told most of our friends that we were “roughing it” at eco lodges in CR. Bosque is a very special place and I definitely wouldn’t consider it anywhere near roughing it. On arrival we were immediately served lunch, all the while being entertained by a capuchin monkey that was running along the railing and hoping for a handout. We thought it was cute until the staff explained that the monkeys were starving and normally don’t come so close to humans or that close to the restaurant. We were very happy one morning when we were told there were no bananas for breakfast as the monkeys had broken into the storage area and eaten them. I would gladly have shared all my meals, but of course that’s forbidden for obvious reasons. It was quite distressing to watch the monkeys right outside our cabin picking green bananas, trying to eat them and then throwing them down because they were not yet ripe. It was about this time that I understand they closed Corcovado National Park to tourists. It did not affect our plans, however, since we never left Bosque’s 600 acres.
Aside from the monkey situation, Bosque was everything and more than I had hoped. I was a bit worried that, after reading the many accolades on this site, it would be like a movie you hear too many good things about and are disappointed when you finally see it. Not so with Bosque. We made fast friends with many of the staff and I almost cried after the 4 short days when I had to leave my newfound friends and our cabin. We stayed in the Gecko cabin and loved it.
The remainder of our first day we familiarized ourselves with the grounds and hiked down to the Pacific Ocean. The tide was in, so we had to stay up on the rocks to avoid being pulled out to sea. A couple of days later we hiked back down when the tide was out and were able to take a jaunt along the beach to explore.
Our first morning I couldn’t wait to awake to the howler monkeys that I had read so much about. Sure enough, at around 4:30 a.m. they started their racket. I poked my husband and said “howler monkeys.” He mumbled, “Sounds like a pack of dogs,” rolled over and fell back asleep. Some nature lover he is!
The second day at Bosque we went on a 4-hr. guided trip with Philip and learned about the jungle, leaf cutter ants, lizards, snakes, birds and the relationships between the various plants and animals. We were graced with the presence of many butterflies, the most awesome being the blue morpho. I thought I had seen the most beautiful butterfly in Australia, the blue Ulysses, but the morpho is by far the best I’ve ever encountered. We would see it often during our time in CR.
After that outing, Philip suggested after lunch that we hike down the creek to the waterfall, so we took him up on the offer. It was a great outing and we saw and heard some more monkeys as well as various poison arrow frogs.
That evening we joined Philip for the 6 PM night walk. I was thrilled and excited when Philip had us shine our headlamps on the bushes and we could see what now in my mind were hundreds of diamond-looking eyes peering at us. My hair stood on end when we got closer and I realized they were huge spiders lurking in the large bushes we walk past day and night. I gave them a wide berth after that. In addition to the spiders, of which I am terrified, we saw snakes, frogs, bats and toads, none of which frighten me. The first evening in our beautiful cabin as I was getting ready for bed, I heard my husband scurrying around near the bed. As I was getting ready to crawl under the covers, he kindly informed me that he had removed what he termed a “tarantula-sized spider” from the wall at the head of the bed. Needless to say, I did not sleep that night. Probably why I was awake to hear the howler monkeys at 4:30 AM. That was the only incident where a spider was where it was not supposed to be. I don’t mind them in the bushes as long as they stay there. Under no circumstances do I want a spider on me.
The next couple of days we hiked almost every trail at Bosque, went on guided bird watching trips with Eduardo two mornings in a row, where I jumped up and down with glee when we spotted almost any bird that was different than home. I kept a list and in the 2 1/2 weeks in CR I wrote down about 100 species. Eduardo jumped up and down with excitement when he spotted for us a rare turquoise cotinga. He was an excellent guide. I was amazed at how he could spot the birds. I pride myself in being very observant when I am walking in the woods, but sometimes even when Eduardo would point them out, I still could not see them. The second morning we bird watched, it was quite humorous when Kim the owner and her cat Tiger accompanied us on part of the venture. How many people can say they’ve been bird watching with a cat? What more could a cat ask for in life than to have an expert point out the location of birds? Tiger was on his best behavior, though, and seemed to only be along for the company.
Each evening we would hit the bar for the nightly drink special before dinner, chatting with the few guests that were there. I felt redeemed in my choice of the Osa when a National Geographic photographer who has been to Bosque each year for 15 yrs. or so and who is doing a coffee table book on the Osa, gave us kudos for coming to the Osa on our first trip. He said it takes most people 3 or 4 visits before they figure out the Osa is the best. He enthralled us with a slide show one evening. We decided it was pointless to drive ourselves crazy trying to get pictures of the birds and wildlife we saw when we can just buy Roy’s book when it comes out, hopefully by the end of 2006.
At the most there might have been 15 guests staying during our visit so we were a tight bunch. We made friends and very much enjoyed the family style dining in the evening.
Our third day we ordered a box lunch and hiked to the Golfo Dulce side where we sighted scarlet macaws and had howler monkeys screaming above our heads right next to the trail. Since we carry a small tape recorder to record thoughts, birds and jungle sounds, we have an excellent recording of the monkeys that my husband has loaded onto the computer to go along with our picture show. It was most kind of them to cooperate.
Our final evening there were only about 8 guests and an American couple who had joined us for dinner who have a vacation home in the area. It was a bittersweet evening knowing it was our last. My husband and I, along with another guest from Florida, closed the bar down and reminisced about the great times we’d had in our short visit to Bosque. It definitely gave us enough of a taste to know we want to return some day. We were quite right with Marvin the bartender by that time. My husband had enough Spanish that we were able to communicate back and forth, allowing him to practice his Spanish and vice versa.
The morning we were leaving I awoke to an upset tummy. I believe in Mexico it is known as Montezuma’s Revenge. I was not very happy at the prospect of having this malady knowing that I had a rough car ride to Puerto Jiminez, followed by 2 Nature Air flights to get to Arenal. My sympathetic husband helpfully suggested I wear two pairs of underwear in case I had an “accident.” Thankfully the Pepto and Immodium I ingested did the trick. That was the beginning of tummy problems for the next 3 days, but nothing that my wonder tablets didn’t take care of. I wrote in my journal at one point, “Pepto Bismal and Immodium are my friends.”
After our final breakfast we snapped pictures with our Bosque buddies, Gerly, Eileen, Jenny and Dennis and exchanged a couple of email addresses and Kevin collected us for the trip back down. Philip was again joining us to try the bank one more time in PJ. After dropping Philip off at the bank Kevin took us through some side streets of PJ to get to the airstrip. Along the way we encountered many dogs of dubious descent. Not once in our entire time in CR did we see a dog on a leash. It was sort of refreshing, if you like dogs, that is, which we do, having left a dog and cat with a pet sitter at home.
So, this is my first installment. Wordy, I know, but I could go on forever and never say enough about the sights and sounds we encountered. We are both outdoorsy nature lovers and have a total fascination for anything new in the wilderness. We could not have chosen a better destination to feed our curiosities.
The next installment, to come at a later date, is our short, but action packed stay at Arenal.
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Trip Report #1 - Osa Peninsula - Bosque del Cabo