Costa Rica Trip Report (Pt. 1)

Jul 19th, 2006, 05:59 PM
  #1  
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Costa Rica Trip Report (Pt. 1)

When we returned from a 2 week trip to Costa Rica last July, my wife sadly said, "We'll probably never see Costa Rica again." Well, after finding $320 tickets from Sacramento to San Jose on the internet, we are just back from a 30 day excursion with around 2500 digital shots and tons of wonderful memories. To get as much into the report, I'll share it a little at a time.
The main focus of our trip was bird and nature watching and photography, but we were also there to renew friendships with some of the wonderful Tico friends we had made on our 1st trip and to learn more about the culture of this fantastic country. (my wife and I are elementary school teachers)
We arrived in San Jose around 8:30 p.m., Friday, June 9, cleared customs with little ado and caught a taxi to Adventure Inn which is a clean, fairly modern hotel close to the airport (10 min. drive). Spent a fairly restful night and awoke early to get our car from Tricolor. (Adventure Inn had arranged it for us. A Dihatsu Terios with full coverage for 30 days for $1168) Picked up the car with no problems (took video of all of the dents/scratches/etc.) and departed for Los Horquetas where we were to catch the tractor and wagon for the trip to Rara Avis ecolodge. On our 1st trip we had avoided driving through San Jose because of the nightmares others had shared from their trip reports. (All of it is true!!!) We followed the markings on the map that the Tricolor agent had mapped out for us and were doing pretty good until we had to do a little jog around a market area and somehow we got lost. After @15 minutes of wandering and guessing we finally stopped at a station to get directions. The ladies at the counter looked at my map, shrugged their shoulders and then called a young man to the counter. He looked at the map and then said, "just follow me". He jumped on his motorbike and led us out of town to the highway we needed to get on. When he pulled off to the side of the road, I stopped and then realized that he was a policeman. I graciously thanked him and we were both our our merry ways.
Arrived at Los Horquetas on time, loaded our extra gear into their storage area and then bagged the gear we would need for the next 3 days and put it into the wagon that the tractor would pull 11 km into the forest. From the ads on the Rara Avis website the wagon trip seemed like a great adventure where we would be able to enjoy the great views and nature along the way. Well, the view was great, but!!! We had no idea what a ride it was going to be. They had recommended that the ladies wear jogging bras (essential) but forgot to warn the men that even they might need one too. What an experience! We bounced and swayed for 2 long hrs. until we took a short break with 3 km to go. We were given the option of walking the last leg of the trip and we along with another couple took that option. Saw poison dart frogs and toucans along the way.
Rara Avis was a great experience. The lodging is very rustic (gaps in the wall and floor boards, cold water showers (all you really wanted anyway)but was teeming with wonderful birds and nature. Meals were served buffet style and food was delicious and plentiful. The regular birding guide was on a 3 day break (the 3 days we were there) but Fernando, the nature guide, did a wonderful joy of catering to our needs. On our trip out (we chose to walk the 1st 3 km again and were glad we did as the wagon either tipped or rolled over on the way out before it got to where we met it) was just as bumpy maybe even worse as the wagon had 1 wheel broken off in the accident. We still treasure our visit to Rara Avis and would endure "THE RIDE" again to enjoy it's beauties.
I have posted the first few of the pictures we took on the Kodak site. Here is a link for it: http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slidesho...1&conn_speed=1
adamfam is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 10:12 AM
  #2  
Jed
 
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2 friendly comments:

If you intend to post more parts, posting them as replies here will keep your report easy to read in toto.

Also, posting long URLs distorts the right screen. It helps to use tinyurl.com, which would give your site a URL of http://tinyurl.com/kqv8g
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Jul 20th, 2006, 10:52 AM
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Thanks Jed for mentioning the reply. Was going to myself.

Adamfam
I was very interested in your review of Rara Avis. We ended up walking most of the way up and all of the way down when we did that trip. We stayed in the River View cabin that had no river view. There was a Nicaraguan cook there when we were there who was just fantastic. Some of the best food I have had down there. Is he still there? Glad you had a good trip. I think the owner was just a little out of touch when we were there because none of the help really seemed to know what to do and just winged it. They seemed to be on their own with very little in the way of resources. Our timing must have been bad because we saw very few birds and no wildlife. There did not appear to be a bird guide there when we were there either. We were there in the month of Feb.

Looking forward to your pictures and the rest of your trip report.
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Jul 20th, 2006, 07:35 PM
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Good thing you and Judi were hiking when the wagon rolled Bill.

I haven't beeen able to access your photo gallery yet with the link you gave us. Kodak page comes up but says the page is unavailable.
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Jul 21st, 2006, 05:47 AM
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Jed. Thank you for the tiny URL idea and information. I will use it in the future. New to me!
Suzi2,you really hit it right on with Rara Avis. We thought the same thing. No visable leadership from the owner, but the employees busted their buns to make it a good experience for us. Maybe someone needs to contact the owners and let them know the consumer's perceptions. I didn't get to talk much to the cook as I know very little Spanish and he very little English, but he was excellent. Must be the same guy. As for the birds, we saw at least 15 species of tanagers including the emerald and the tawny-crested. Did the picture link work for you? If not I may switch to Photosite which worked for me last year.
Earthtraveler, please try the Kodak link again for me and if it doesn't work I will switch to Photosite.
Yes, we were blessed to not have been on that wagon. We feel it was just one of many little miracles we experienced on our trip.
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Jul 21st, 2006, 06:27 AM
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When I click on your picture info it goes to the kodak site but says "the page you are looking for is not available".
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Jul 21st, 2006, 07:15 AM
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Same response as before "page not available".
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Jul 21st, 2006, 07:23 AM
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Sorry for the problems. Kodak seems to be having problems so I put a few pictures on PhotoSite to start with. Hope this link works:http://badams575.photosite.com/Album8/ If 2 links show try the one on the right. It worked for me.
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Jul 21st, 2006, 07:38 AM
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Not so much a problem as it is the requirement of the Kodak sight for account holders to list the email addresses of guests they would like to have access to their galleries.
That info is listed in the helps section I was able to read.
Does make more work for you and us on a sight like this for easy access to your gallery.
Thanks for posting on photosite. I'll take a look.
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Jul 21st, 2006, 07:49 AM
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After having said that I see Seawitch 1 was able to give access to her kodak gallery somehow.
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Jul 21st, 2006, 08:10 AM
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Very nice Bill. Your Hummer shots always blow me away with the fine feather detail. Is that a Crowned Woodnymph? My ID book pic shows the body color more purple while calling it violet.
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Jul 21st, 2006, 08:15 AM
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Adamfam - If you want to try Kodak again, go into the Kodakgallery site and send an invition to yourself to view your pictures. Then go into your email and click on the gallery, then copy and paste the link into Fodors. That's how I got it to work correctly.

Hope this makes sense.
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Jul 21st, 2006, 10:04 AM
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Adamfam, Earthtraveler, or anyone who knows birds,

What is that black-masked bird in Adamfam's first photo on the new site? I lived in Costa Rica for 4 years in the 70's and this looks like a bird I saw one day while out walking. At the time I tried to find it in a birding book but didn't have a very good book and there were just so many birds. I never could identify the bird I saw, but I never forgot it.

I've been enjoying the photos and trip reports. I'm making my first trip back to CR next May. I'm sure a lot has changed in 27 years but it sounds like the Ticos are as warm and friendly as ever.

Thanks,
Fran
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Jul 21st, 2006, 11:14 AM
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Fran,
That's the Green Honeycreeper.
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Jul 24th, 2006, 07:40 PM
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Thank you Seawitch and Earthtravler for the Kodak suggestions. I am going to try them. Hope they work! I was out of town so haven't had the opportunity to add any more to my report or pictures. Will try to on Tuesday. Yes, Richard, that was the Woodnymph. Try this link for the Kodak site:http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slidesho...y=-rrddtt&Ux=0
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Jul 24th, 2006, 08:24 PM
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Very nice Bill and Judee. The Black Guan had me ooin. Beautiful. Thanks for the link and the detailed report.

I've considered Rara Avis myself but I don't think my wife would appreciate the adventure as much as me.
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Jul 25th, 2006, 07:34 AM
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adamfam, your photos are spectacular. I am anxiously awaiting more....
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Jul 25th, 2006, 08:26 AM
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After our primitive but enjoyable experience at Rara Avis, we headed off for Selva Verde. Our room there was fantastic. It overlooked the river and we fell asleep to the relaxing sounds of rippling water and awoke to the sounds of howler monkeys at 5:00 a.m. each morning. We saw a number of wonderful birds including parrots, motmots, and tanagers. The 2 highlights though were seeing a Sunbittern and then with the help of Alexander (our morning guide) we got great looks at the Great Green Macaw. He took us scrambling up the hill behind the bungalows to the almond tree where they were feasting and we stood right under them for awhile before they flew away.
Another treat was seeing 30 - 40 green and black poison dart frog bouncing across the paths each morning as we walked the paths there.
We then headed for La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano. We had visited Arenal last year and saw a few lava rocks tumble down the mountain and had following the lava flows on fodors during the months before our trip. We had noticed that the lava flows had changed just before our trip, but had already booked at the Observatory Lodge because that was the best viewing before the flow change. We decided to make a change even though we might lose our deposit at the Observatory Lodge and booked a room at TacoTal where we had spent a night last June. What a great decision. The clouds lifted over the volcano around 8:00 p.m. and we sat on our porch and watched a spectacular volcanic display until 11:30 when a group of highschool students arrived and ruined our peaceful evening. We were able to get some great shots with our digital and video cameras. There was rarely a minute or 2 without some lava activity. I highly recommend a visit to Arenal for anyone going to Costa Rica. We also did some birding along the roadway to the waterfall and got great looks and pictures of both toucans.
I have added a few more pictures to the Kodak site:http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slidesho...Uy=-2cg2a&Ux=0
Next: On to Monteverde.
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Jul 25th, 2006, 09:22 AM
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The frog shot is great!

I'm curious, do you remember the length of exposre for your volcano pics?

Thanks Bill.
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Jul 25th, 2006, 09:38 AM
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I would also like to know how close you were for the birds. I cannot believe how sharp the images are.
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