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volcanogirl Jul 7th, 2007 06:18 AM

Just back from Peace Lodge, Bosque del Cabo, and Vista del Valle - Great trip!

Hola, everyone! - My husband and I are just back from our trip to CR. Since everyone has been so helpful in planning, I wanted to do a trip report to hopefully help others. We had a wonderful time! This was our second trip to CR, and we loved it just as much as our first.

We went to the Osa Peninsula and decided to break up our trip with stays at the Peace Lodge and Vista del Valle. This worked out really well for us - nice to break up the flights a bit and see other parts of the country.

Well, we landed in SJO and had a really looong airport experience. Last year we breezed through immigration and customs. This year, the line was 10 people wide and for as far as we could see, and it took over 2 hours for us to get our luggage. The line was just snaking through the airport, past all the shops and food stands. I would have been pretty nervous if we were trying to catch a connecting Sansa flight. I asked someone what was going on, and they said, "It's a very big holiday in America, and five planes just landed." I definitely think the congestion is a rarity; several people commented that they had never seen it that bad. The airport is a little amusing - it's very Americanized; we saw Papa John's and Burger King, etc. and one of the shops had a huge photo of Paris Hilton hanging out front.

We made our way through the mess and found our Peace Lodge driver standing outside carrying a sign with our name on it. We hopped in the van and off we went. Nice driver who spoke English, and he pointed out sights along the way. At one point, he pointed out a bird swooping by and said it was a resplendant quetzal - I didn't see it since hubby and I were busy talking. After that I tried to pay closer attention. It was a beautiful drive, and the roads were good.

The Peace Lodge was amazing. I sort of felt like I shouldn't like it because it is way over the top for CR and a bit hedonistic, but secretly I loved it. We got the basic room, so I can't even imagine what the deluxe would have been like. It had a really cozy bed, t.v. (which we never watched), CDs and a CD player, a fireplace that turns on with the push of the button, a dehumidifier, swanky bathroom with deep tub and a waterfall shower (!), and a nice balcony with rockers, a hammock, and a hot tub. They also have DVDs available for viewing. My favorite thing was that each room has a hummingbird feeder and the hummingbirds were constantly there, so we got some amazing pictures. The view from the balcony was quite nice - very lush and green with misty fog swirling about. Never could see Poas volcano due to all the misty fog.

Well, since our flight was so late - we were quite late getting there and had to rush, rush, rush through all the property. They have an aviary, butterfly house, ranarium (frogs), serpentarium, and 5 waterfalls on the property.

We signed up to do a late night frog tour, so we skipped the ranarium. The aviary had toucans and parrots - it's quite large, but it made me a little sad to see them enclosed. The butterfly exhibit was really interesting. You can view all the stages of development and see them emerging from the chrysalis. Lots of blue morphos here, and one even landed on me. Everything shut down at 5:00, so we decided to get up early the next day to do the falls, and we headed off to the Trout Bar to eat dinner. They have a swankier restaurant on property, but we wanted something casual, and this was a great solution. It's an outdoor bar/restaurant area by a small pond and waterfall. If you're interested, you can fish there and catch your own dinner. We ordered some homemade guacamole and chips and Imperials to start. All very good, and even the chips were homemade. You have to get here fairly early because we were there at a little past six, and they said we had to get our order in ASAP because the cook was leaving. We just got casados, and they very good. It's a relaxing spot, and fireflies were flying all around us. The service was very warm and friendly, and we were glad we ate there. The prices were really affordable too. The Trout Bar shuts down at 7:00, but the bartender/server told us to take our time and relax - very nice.

We headed over to the meeting spot for the nocturnal frog tour. A golf cart met us and drove us to the ranarium. Since it's a nocturnal tour, you do the entire thing in the dark! They give you a flashlight, and you walk through and see all these amazing colorful frogs and even get to hold them. It was a little freaky at first. One hurled itself off someone else's hand and landed in my hair and was just swinging about! Kind of funny! The tour guide also showed us a glass frog that you could see through - even see the heart beating. Pretty cool! The tour guide was very friendly; there were only 4 of us on the tour. Cost was $10 each, and they offer it at different time intervals. I'd really recommend doing it. Tully, are you the one who recommended it to us? I was so glad we got the chance to do it.

After that, we went back to the room, and I relaxed in the tub. They even had a little aromatherapy machine where you could pick your favorite scent to waft through the room. Was I really in Costa Rica?! Someone else had mentioned how loud that machine was - Virgo, was that you? - and it did sound a little like a cross between a lawnmower and a small jackhammer; I ended up unplugging it. It was quite cool at night - in the 60s, so we hit the fireplace button. My husband was joking that this was like some swinging bachelor pad - he put on some romantic tunes, and The Pina Colada song came on. "If you like pina coladas..." Of course, we dissolved into giggles. We heard some crazy music all over CR. The trout bar was playing "Gloria" from the 80s. We got a kick out of it.

Next morning (after showering in our waterfall!) we stopped at the Hummingbird Garden - really neat spot. They have several hummingbird feeders there, and dozens of colorful birds were hanging in the air feeding - gorgeous colors, and they sound like little racecars as they buzz by your head.

Off to see the falls, we had an 8:30 driver coming to take us to Sansa, so we started hiking at 7:00 to be finished in time for the 8:00 shuttle to pick us up and drive us back to the lodge. The sun was fully up by 5:30, so getting up early was no problem. We hiked through the waterfall garden. There are 5 gorgeous falls in total. I would really recommend doing this - it was so pretty, and the hike wasn't too bad - just a little steep and slippery in spots. We saw the first 4 falls and took some beautiful pictures, and then somehow we missed the last one, which is the biggest! We followed the signs that said "to the shuttle" and never saw it. Not sure what we did wrong, so I guess we'll have to go back someday! A benefit of staying at the Lodge is that you can tour the falls before they open to the public at 8:00. We were the only people there.

We got to the shuttle spot just before 8:00, and sat, and sat, and sat. The shuttle did not arrive until 8:40. It came with all the gift shop and other employees on board. I guess they were just running late because the gift shop is supposed to be open at 8:00, so I would check with the front desk to make sure someone will really pick you up if you need to leave early. We had thought about hiking back on our own, but the front desk had said we really need to take the shuttle since it's such a long walk, and we kept thinking they would arrive any second.

When we got back to the Lodge, our driver was waiting patiently, and Peace Lodge was kind enough to pack us a breakfast for the road - really good grilled ham/cheese sandwich and the biggest grapes I've ever seen, along with an apple and yogurt. Never did see the serpentarium...

Overall, we loved the Peace Lodge. I probably would have stayed 2 days if I would have known we were going to arrive so late in the afternoon. Originally we were supposed to arrive at 1:00, but with the delay, it was after 4:00 when we got to the property. It's about an hour's drive from SJO. I will definitely stay here again, and next time I'll try to allow time to get over to Poas volcano - it's only about 20 minutes from the Lodge.

Since this is getting so long, I'll break it up a bit - sorry I am so wordy. Next up Bosque del Cabo.... And thank you again to everyone who helped us with all our planning; these boards are wonderful.

Dyer Jul 7th, 2007 08:10 AM

Thank you - keep up the good work! Now, after reading your post, I shall consider going to Peace Lodge - before it was not a top destination for me. It is so great hearing peoples perceptions and opinions. Can't wait to hear more.

cmerrell Jul 7th, 2007 08:27 AM

Welcome home, volcanogirl!

Your trip report is off to a terrific start. I'm so glad you enjoyed the Peace Lodge. It was the first place we stayed in CR and got us off to such a wonderful start for our vacation last year.

I can't wait to hear about your adventures at BdC! :-)

volcanogirl Jul 7th, 2007 09:31 AM


Thanks, dyer and cmerrell - cmerrell, I think you and I have the same taste in places to stay! Dyer, I think Peace Lodge is a great stop for a one or two night stay - especially for anyone headed to Arenal. It is a bit Disneyesque but loads of fun and the waterfalls are gorgeous.

Well, now we are off on our ride back to SJO and the Sansa terminal. The entire ride is quite pretty and winding - up and down through the green hills. The Sansa terminal is right next to SJO, and we get there in plenty of time. The entire drive is a little under one hour. The Sansa terminal is busy, but we just wait in line and check in. They weigh our luggage - hurrah, I come in at only 21 pounds! This is a big accomplishment for me because I'm known as a terrible overpacker. Last trip I brought 50 pounds, including my favorite big cushy robe, etc. This time I used the weekender convertible bag from - someone else had recommended it, and it really was perfect.

They asked us our weight, but did not weigh us - yea! I was honest - didn't want our plane to crash. Then we just sat down to wait. The waiting area is very small; there are bathrooms and a small cooler where you can buy bottled drinks.

They call our flight, and the couple in front of us in line is pitching a fit. Sansa tells them that the plane is too crowded and that their luggage "is the heaviest" so it won't be making it on the plane! The girl keeps telling them they better put her stuff on the plane or promise to deliver it to her, but they won't. They just keep saying "yours is the heaviest!" My husband says this girl is either going to cry or kill somebody. Her luggage only weighed 19 pounds, so they really are fibbing to her. Another family on the plane has huuuuge luggage, and she has seen this. She protests enough that they actually do put her luggage on the plane! Wow! I can't really blame her - would be a major pain if your luggage didn't make it on.

So now we are off! The plane is really tiny - seats 12, not including the 2 pilots. It's a nice flight over pretty terrain; we sat in the front row, so we have amazing views and can see the water as we go over it. Coming in for a landing is a trip; you land on a little gravel strip right next to a big cemetary! I have seen everyone's pics, but it still seems unbelievable.

We get off the plane, and a man from BdC is there to pick us up. It's about a 45-minute drive to BdC along a gravel/dirt road. The road is being repaired, so there are large trucks/construction equipment, and we drive over several small creeks that run across the road. At last, we pull up into BdC. Just in time for lunch. I want the "famous tuna melt" but they are out of it. I remember hipvirgochick's description of the curry chicken sandwich with papaya and get that. It is so good! Comes with cabbage slaw and little round tortilla chips - hard to imagine you can get food this good while "roughing it" in the jungle. We have to linger about a bit while they straighten our cabin. Eduardo gives us a quick tour and takes us to our cabina. It's called Tucan, which is a good sign. My husband has been DYING to see a toucan since we never saw one in Arenal or Manuel Antonio on our last trip.

Tucan is one of the newer cabins and is very nice (they all are) - it has a bed and small couch downstairs and then a loft with two other beds (doubles I think) upstairs. The porch has two rocking chairs, and then out front are a couple of lounge chairs with cushy cushions. I like this roughing it!

As we are unpacking, 2 scarlet macaws fly right overhead. Wow! They are absolutely beautiful. We soon learn their schedule - they fly in front of all the cabins along the coast each afternoon. Next we hear snapping twigs and rustling leaves and right next to our cabina, a troop of white face capuchins is moving through. We have a coconut tree with green coconuts growing on it, and they bite the ends off and tip the coconuts back to drink the milk inside and then hurl the coconuts to the ground. Amazing! More macaws fly over - a set of two and then a set of three. Just another day at BdC! We find out they mate for life, so are always seen in sets of twos, or as a threesome if they have a baby with them.

We head off to the bar for a couple of Imperials - the bar is very crowded, and we can't even get a seat. The bartender tells us they are expanding the bar area and also building another pool. A big horn sounds promptly at 7:00, and we head off to the open air dining room for dinner. It's communal seating and very pretty - a buffet set with candlelight. Dinner is grilled mahi-mahi and balsamic chicken with loads of fresh veggies and salad. Very good! We find a spot and start introducing ourselves. Lots of nice honeymoon couples around and then my husband meets his soulmate - a man who asks hubby how he is surviving a week in the jungle without ESPN. They're a very nice couple, and we end up chatting with them for a long time. The communal dinners get to be so much fun. Each night everyone gathers to talk about what they did or which trail they hiked and what they saw. They also have a board when you can write any good "sightings" that you have had. Capuchins and macaws are so common that they don't even make the list. We see peccaries and anteater listed and hope we can be so lucky.

The party breaks up, and we head back to our cabin - definitely need a flashlight or headlamps. My husband wears his headlamp, and I think he looks like a spelunking cave explorer! We climb into bed and pull the mosquito netting around it. I feel like I'm sleeping under a big wedding dress. It's warm but we get a breeze from the ocean and the screened, louvered windows. No locks on the door, but it doesn't bother us a bit. There's also a small (loud!) fan by the bed that we use each night. Off to sleep listening to the sound of the ocean....

More later - yucky mud-encrusted laundry is calling. And I think our yard has grown a foot while we were gone. :)

We love BdC!

hipvirgochick Jul 7th, 2007 10:36 AM

Welcome back volcanogirl! Love reading your trip report (although, you need to slow down, you are making me look bad getting it done so fast)! So glad you had such a great time, brings back wonderful memories (from not so long ago, LOL) of our stay there :) I chuckled about the loud aromatherapy machine. Wasn't the food and wildlife just fab at BDC? I saw they were enlarging the bar area, but I didn't realize they were putting in a larger pool. Yay! Did they mention when any of it would be done?

volcanogirl Jul 7th, 2007 11:23 AM

Hi, hip - they were making major progress on the bar area. I think they were working on it every day, all day long - I wouldn't think it would be too long before it was finished - hopefully for your next trip! I was surprised when they said they were putting in another pool; I never saw anyone in the pool during our entire stay. Not sure where it will go - construction on that didn't look like it had started. Definitely think a bigger bar will be great though!

Yes, the food and the wildlife were so amazing. I guess I knew it would be from reading all the great trip reports, but it's still hard to imagine until you see it for yourself. I thought of you when I had my curry chicken and papaya sandwich. It's funny how each thing made you think of someone else's trip report!

Kim knows a lot of the people on the board and told me Jill/Shillmac was ready to come in soon. She also mentioned Tully and Suzie2 and said everyone was so great. It's kind of funny to hear her call everyone by their real names! Kim and Phil were in Alaska for most of our stay and just returned at the very end. They do a heck of a job running that place!

volcanogirl Jul 7th, 2007 12:20 PM


We get up early and head to 7:00 breakfast. My contacts have been bugging me with all the dirt and stickiness, so I switch to glasses. Also my hair has become almost unrecongnizable - I usually have good hair, but I'm realizing that if I lived in CR, I would probably never have good hair again - major frizzies without the blow dryer. Also, it's pretty thick, so it seems like it will never dry after I wash it. It's worth it though! On this day, I decide to start going without makeup. It's not really standing up to the humidity anyway. Such a sense of freedom is setting in!

I thought breakfast was going to be a buffet like dinner, but it turns out it's order off the menu. We're doing a Primary Forest Tour with Philip at 8:00, so I just order homemade granola cereal and fresh fruit. The fruit is very good - especially the pineapple and the bananas. Also good fruit juice in the morning - things like mango.

We meet up with Philip and from 8:00-12:00 we hike the Zapatero trail with him. It's really educational and very interesting. He tells you how every tree/plant/animal/insect interacts to survive. He'll cut into a tree and have you sniff it to see if you can tell what it is used for - turpentine! Also shows you huge ant mounds of leaf cutter and army ants. The trails are slick and really muddy with thick, red mud. I was wishing I had brought a walking stick. Phillip has a dry, witty sense of humor and tells us all the stupid questions people have asked over the years. We're hoping we don't make his story list!

We see loads of spider monkeys on this trail. Phillip says they are like a group of teenage boys on an acid trip as they go careening around the jungle. They don't like us invading their space, and they stand overhead and shake the branches at us and even try to pee on us! Phillips reminds us to not stand directly underneath them and to make sure our mouths are closed - ewww!

We also see a lot of howler monkeys here. At one point, Phillip cuts into a termite mound, so we can see inside. He tells us about his past girlfriends, and it sounds like none of them liked nature, which is ironic. He said he knew it was over with one of them when she complained of dusty shoes! He also told us that the night before, he had nearly stepped directly on a huge terciopelo/fer de lance snake that was lying across the path. It made a sound at just the last second, so luckily he avoided it.

Phillip also tell us that BdC is popular with the Hollywood set. He said Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie tried to rent the entire place but were unable to since it books up up to a year in advance. Can't imagine having the whole place to yourself.

This is quite a long hike and very humid. I had washed my hair before 7:00, and by 12:00, it was still wet. All good fun though. As we finish the tour, a pack of mommy and baby coatis marches by. They are really adorable. Phillip tells us that he gives a tour to 2,000 people each year, and that if each of them gave just one dollar, it would be enough to pay a park ranger's salary for one year in Corcovado. Pretty amazing.

So, after the tour, we are off to lunch. I have fish tacos which are delicious, and we find out we can refill our water bottles for free at the bar. We're told not to drink the water in the cabinas - just because it's different than what are systems are used to.

After lunch, we sit on the porch to observe wildlife, and the macaws come around again - a lot of them. First a set of 2, then 2 again, then 3, then 2 more. We try to take pictures as they whiz past. It's easy to hear them coming - they go "RAAAAAACK" long before you ever see them. And each time we'd run to take photos.

In the late afternoon, we head to the bar to get fruit smoothies - all the hiking really drains your enery. Jose is working, and I'm so glad because I have to pass along hipvirgochick's message! He was so glad you said hi, and thanks to you, we knew to try his fruit smoothies which were delicious - mango, pineapple, banana, etc. We told Jose we heard he could sing, but he has been sick and not singing. He says maybe he'll sing and play guitar for us that night.

After that, we head out to hike more trails and see our first poison dart frog in the leaf litter. We do the Manakin trail and it deadends into the Trogon Trail - can't figure out if that's where it's supposed to end? Turns out it is. We wander around a bit more, and it starts getting dark really quickly. Bats start swooping overhead. At first I think it's moths or butterflies, but it's bats! Then the locusts start buzzing like crazy - definitely time to get out before it gets too dark. It's a freaky feeling not knowing how far you are from the end of the trail when you don't have your flashlight or headlamp with you.

Dinner that night is amazing - beef tenderloin and seared tuna with a wide variety of fresh vegetables. Dinner usually starts with a soup (like fish or tortilla) and then a nice salad. Then we all hit the buffet. Major score with dessert - homemade brownies with vanilla ice cream. And as we eat it, Jose pulls out his guitar and begins singing. He's wonderful and everyone applauds. It starts lightning, and I think it will rain, but it never does. Just more and more lightning as we head back to the cabin. We're proud that we stayed up until 9:30! How embarrassing.

As it turns out, we had great weather every single day, so so much for the green season. We felt really lucky.

We still have not seen a toucan - can you believe this? Everyone else is seeing them, and my husband thinks he'll never see one. We see everyone else's pictures, so we know they are out there and decide to do an early morning birding tour with Carlos the next day.

More later..... We are putting our faith in Carlos.

tully Jul 7th, 2007 02:27 PM

Knew you'd have an awesome time! Glad you liked the frog tour at Peace Lodge, I swear they train them to jump into at least 1 persons hair during the tour, yuck! I think I mentioned the aromatherapy thing too as being so loud, trying to relax in one of the tubs with that thing rattling did not mix. I agree though, it's overkill but for a night or two it's a lot of fun.

21 pounds is impressive (but so is 50 lol). I would be upset too if my bag was left behind, sometimes it seems so random the way they do those things. Hope you eventually got one of the tuna melts, they are the best! I'm nodding my head at so many things you wrote - like the macaws being fast...I'd sit there and wait with my finger on the button and still miss them most of the time. It's also kind of funny that after a while, you just get so used to all the wildlife around you...I'd be like "oh, sigh, another macaw". Sometimes for dinner I'd make a mild attempt at some hair/makeup rescue to try and prove I didn't always look this scary ;) Glad Kim & Phil got back in time for you to meet them, such great people and yeah, tully isn't really my name, lol. And glad you got to hear Jose sing, he is such a wonderful person.

Looking forward to the rest of your report and for hvc to finish hers too :)

volcanogirl Jul 7th, 2007 02:49 PM

Yea, hvc - you're not going to let me beat you to the finish, are you? I've loved reading your report. And yes, I did find some very pretty wooden bowls - hurrah!

Tully, the macaw thing got to be so comical. We got so many blurred pictures of them coming by, or they would change their flight pattern on me and veer in a different direction at the last minute. One afternoon, my husband was even directing me as I looked through the lens, "Coming in high" or "Coming in low" and I'd try to snap the pic. It's definitely a two person effort!

I do remember your mentioning the loud aromatherapy machines at Peace Lodge. I think someone had mixed a couple of different scents in ours - could not tell if it was cinnamon, vanilla, or what. It was so funny to hear them just as you guys had described them!

Phil and Kim were very nice. Phil even drove us into town one day, and it took us a while to figure out who he was. Their little dog is so cute. It's funny to see it bounding around the property after seeing a big troop of howlers go by. I've looked forward to BdC for so long that I've got to figure out where to go next. All your input really helped us with our trip. All the advice was spot on.

volcanogirl Jul 7th, 2007 03:24 PM


Wow, this morning we are awakened by howling howlers right outside our cabin. I look out, and they are all in the tree right next to us. Shortly thereafter, they are joined by a red lored parrot - no need for an alarm clock. Actually, I noticed something funny on our trip. No place we stayed had a clock in it - can you imagine such a thing in the states? We had asked at the front desk for an alarm clock, so we could be sure to make our 6:30 Early Morning Birding Tour with Carlos, but turns out we had no need for the alarm.

We head off to meet Carlos, and he is waiting for us and carrying an awesome telescope. He spots things we would never see and knows all the calls before seeing any of the birds. I brought my Garrigues "Birds of Costa Rica" guide that was recommended, and I circled all the birds as we saw them.

Here's a list of birds we saw for the birders out there: great tinamou, brown pelican, magnificent frigatebird, cattle egret, black vulture, turkey vulture, white hawk (really pretty and apparently not that common in the area), roadside hawk, short-billed pigeon, white tipped dove, orange-chinned parakeet, white-crowned parrot, scarlet macaw (tons), red-lored parrot, white-necked puffbird (very cool), great kiskadee, cherrie's tanager, golden-hooded tanager (gorgeous!), and palm tanager. We hiked around for over an hour and still no toucan! Carlos said he was determined to find us one! He found a sloth and squirrel monkeys while we looked. We had now seen all 4 kinds of monkeys, which was pretty cool.

We headed off to the Tropical Garden, and there we heard it - the call of the toucan! It sounded like a kid jumping up and down on a creaky bed. Carlos found it for us, and we got pictures - my husband was really happy. Fruit Loops was his favorite cereal as a kid. Yay, Carlos! After that we went back to some trails - Manikin - and saw 3 more toucans all together. We went to the creek trail and saw a gorgeous view of the water from up there. Not sure if it was the Pacific or Golfo Dulce - I got a little turned around with all the hiking. And we could also see Panama from this spot. It was just the two of us on the tour with Carlos, so we got a really special tour. Highly recommend if you are interested in birding.

After that, we went to breakfast. I had the gringo breakfast, and my husband had the famous banana pancakes, which we very good. Went back to our cabin and witnessed what we call the monkey highway. An entire troop of howlers climbed up a tree in front of us, then white faced monkeys, and then spider monkeys. They all followed the same path, swinging from tree to tree to get to the fruit that was in them - some little orange fruit (maybe kumquats?) that they seemed to love.

Tully, this is the day that I got to try the tuna melt - it was as good as you said it was. We went back to our cabin and were sitting there when a spider monkey literally swung about two feet in front of us. It dropped to the ground and ran right in front of our porch. A nice lady and her family that we had met were standing there, and we all just looked at each other and started laughing. It really was amazing.

After that, we headed to the bar to chat with Jose. He was telling us about all his jobs - he's a wedding coordinator/real estate agent/singer/bartender/ and also owns a gift shop in Puerto Jimenez. Hard worker and very nice.

Next stop was the Tropical Garden to see if we can spot more toucans. As it got darker, we saw one come in for a landing. After that, 5 more joined it, for a total of six in one tree. My husband was stoked! We stayed way too long (getting to be a habit), and it started getting dark pretty quickly. Again, running through the jungle with bats swooping over my head, but it was a good day.

At dinner that night, we met a newlywed couple - she from Italy, and he from Greece, and they told us that they had rescued an injured pelican on one of the trails that day. It had a broken wing, and they wrapped it in a t-shirt and carried it up the trail. I have no idea how they did this! They said the white face monkeys started moving really close to the edge of the trail trying to get to the injured pelican - it all sounded quite surreal. What goodhearted people. They brought it back to their cabina and put it in the bathroom. They said the housekeeping staff was quite surprised by it. I would have loved to have seen that! They called the animal sanctuary people to come pick it up, and they did. The food that night wasn't my favorite - chicken mole - it was really spicy, and I love Mexican good, but this didn't really do it for me. Coconut flan for dessert. The company was very nice - loads of lightning around, but still no rain. Lucky us.

hipvirgochick Jul 7th, 2007 08:49 PM

volcanogirl - I'm having too much fun reading your report...I don't wanna do mine! Seriously though, yes, Tully and I both agreed on the aromatherapy machines. The noise it makes is not relaxing! And wow, thanks for listing all the birds you saw with Carlos. I can't remember them all...except that they were pretty :) I'm so glad you had the best weather, I was going to ask you about that since you hadn't mentioned rain. I was in no make-up and hair in pony for 16 days, so I know how you feel! Sounds like you had perfect monkey and toucan sightings also. Awesome! I actually got an e-mail from Kim today, she said they had a fabulous trip to Alaska. I told her to say hi to Jill for me :) I'm also glad you made friends with Jose. He's such a sweetie :) The pool wasn't used much when we were there either, but maybe the size isn't very inviting...? Not sure. My daughter used it, and I would have more, except it was freaking freezing cold. A baby bat also fell into the water from overhead from the bar structure when she was swimming and it drowned. So that kind of freaked her out :( Wasn't the curry chicken delish? Yum! Chicken Mole is also one of my absolute faves. Too bad it was too spicy for you. I'm a 4* girl, so I probably would have loved it, but I'm surprised they served it so spicy because I know they try to cater to the majority.

So happy you had a fantastic time. It is fun putting all the names to the faces, isn't it? :)

volcanogirl Jul 8th, 2007 01:36 AM

LOL, I meant Mexican food, not Mexican good. Hi, hip! Yes, we were so lucky with the weather. It only rained once during out entire stay - maybe for about 15 minutes one evening. Even that was a pretty light shower. Some of the couples that arrived before us got 2 days of heavy downpours, so we were expecting it. Actually I think it would be kind of relaxing if it poured one night while we were snuggled up in the cabin, but I know it would make the trails that much more muddy. I forgot to mention that I went out without a walking stick one day and slipped on one of the muddy steps on one of the trails. No big deal, but I got a swoosh of red mud down the side of my capris - wondering if it will ever come out.

I agree about the size of the pool - seems like it's just enough for a dip to cool off. The baby bat thing would have freaked me out too! I was telling one of the women we met that I was worried a bat would get in our cabin since we had that loft area. The cabina is completely open at the top, and she said, "Oh, yea we had one in ours!"

When I got up in the night to use the restroom, I grabbed the headlamp to do a quick scan - was always imagining critters had gotten in, but never saw anything thank goodness.

Yes, it's very fun to put names with faces - I almost told Jose "hipvirgochick" says hi!

ShellD Jul 8th, 2007 05:12 AM

Great trip report volcanogirl! We too loved Peace Lodge and I really want to bring my kids back in a year or so. And your trip to BDC sounds a lot like ours! It's so great to read other's experiences especially now that I've been there! Thanks for sharing! I'm really enjoying it!

tully Jul 8th, 2007 05:37 AM

The monkey highway :) Yeah that's what it seems like sometimes. So cool you got a howler waker up call, I love them so much, I would go traipsing all over the property whenever I heard them.

Awesome you got to see not just one toucan but several. I remember Phillip saying the sound they make sounds different to everyone, which is so true. You know, I had a problem with my contacts as well on the trip before last to the Osa. They kept fogging up and I had to put saline solution in them every few minutes just to see, very frustrating as I had no back-up. Maybe the humidity?

Looking forward to the rest!

coolbluewater Jul 8th, 2007 06:22 AM

LOVE this report! Two things:

1) You have to keep going down the stairs to see the biggest waterfall at the Peace Lodge, then you backtrack up to get to the shuttle bus. It's confusing! So next'll get to see the last waterfall!

2) My hair NEVER dried, and I think it got a little...gross. I had to let it out of the ponytail to have it dry completely at BDC!

Looking forward to reading the rest of your report! Looking forward even more to taking my parents to BDC this november (Hoping my dad gets his Canadian passport renewed in time--it's been over 5 months!)

volcanogirl Jul 8th, 2007 09:22 AM

Shell, we think kids would love the Peace Lodge too. We have good friends with two little boys, and she wanted me to scope out a place I thought they would like. I really think they'd love it there. There's so much to do.

Tully, I was so happy my husband got to see the Chestnut-mandibled toucans - do you know how happy he was?! Of course, by the end of BdC he was asking Carlos to find us the Keel-billed ones, and Carlos said we had to go to the Carib. side for that. I was just looking at all our pictures in iPhoto, and we have about 50 pictures of toucans - LOL!

cbw, thanks for the info. about the last waterfall; we couldn't figure out what we did wrong. We will definitely go back someday and see it!

And, I'm glad I'm not the only one with heinous hair issues. One of the women I met had a cute little buzz cut, and hers would dry so quickly and always looked good - I was jealous. Long hair is not practical in the jungle.

wanatrvl Jul 8th, 2007 09:23 AM

Great report Volcanogirl! I can completely relate to your husband's desire to see a toucan. We went to Arenal, Manual Antonio, and Monteverde in 2005 and my biggest wish was to see a toucan also but we never saw one. I guess I'll have to get back there sometime but with 3 kids it's just soooo expensive! All these reports of BDC sound so awesome! Looking forward to the rest. And hipv'chick (I know you'll see this)....would love to see the rest of your trip report.....

volcanogirl Jul 8th, 2007 09:46 AM


We get up early and have breakfast; I have the Tico Breakfast - scrambled eggs with cheese and tortillas, and hubby has the French Toast with Orange Syrup - both very good. The fruit is really good too - great pineapple and bananas. I'm surprised I keep seeing watermelon - didn't know it was so popular in CR!

This is the day we're going to the Animal Sancutary. I am sent with strict instructions to check on our pelican. We get in the truck and start talking to the driver and realize he's Phil, the owner. Very nice man. The road is super bumpy, and we're getting jarred around, and he tells us that he's so glad they have just fixed the road because it's so much better - LOL! He said they had some pretty huge potholes before. They are doing some construction on the road and bulldozing a lot of trees. He says it's so the road can harden in the sun, but he's worried that the monkeys will have a harder time crossing.

At one point, he stops in the road, and a man jumps in the back for a ride to town. He rides standing up in the back the entire time!

We get to the dock and meet Caliman - such a nice guy. He's the boat driver that takes us across the water to the Sanctuary. No dolphins to be seen, so we ride for about 30 minutes and arrive at a really beautiful beach spot. Wow, we are greeted by a baby howler and a baby spider monkey. The baby spider monkey immediately wraps herself around my leg; she is super cute! Earl tells us about all the animals as we walk around. I get to hold a sloth! A lot of the animals here are orphans, and this is one of them - she's quite heavy with bristly fur and big claws, but she basically just snuggles up against me. Pretty amazing. I look over at my husband, and the baby howler is hanging on him with her tail wrapped around his neck. I get some hilarious pictures.

We see some of the other animals - quite sad for some of them because they have been mistreated before coming here, but hopefully they're on their way to a better life. There is a larger spider monkey in a tree nearby, and she swoops in and takes the glasses right off a boy's face! She's quite the klepto. Earl is able to chase her down and get them back.

Then Earl takes us to another area and says, "And we have a pelican that just arrived yesterday..." Yay, it's our communal pelican! He said the wing probably can't be repaired but that she's going to San Jose the next day for medical treatment and is eating a lot of sardines and going for swims. I know our fellow BdCers will be glad to hear that.

We take the boat ride back, and Caliman spots dolphins for us! They swim all around the boat, and we even get to see a baby between its two parents. Caliman seems to enjoy it as much as we do. If you pay for a dolphin tour, they will actually pull you behind the boat on a board and let you swim with them - we're just glad we got to see them.

We get back to Puerto Jimenez and stop by the Jagua gift shop. I buy a nice tray with handpainted tiles, and we're off to BdC again.

I have grilled chicken salad for lunch and a frozen lemonade that another guest turned me onto. Husband has a casado and as usual, both are great.

We hike around some more and see tons of howlers, and from 2:00-4:00, the macaws come by the cabin. We get a good picture at last!

Today is the 4th of July - one of my favorite holidays. We get to dinner and find out we're having a 4th of July celebration - hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, beans, grilled chicken - husband is stoked! It's pretty fun, and we get to celebrate it seated between two Brits, an Italian, and a Greek. They're all curious about how to celebrate and enjoy spending the evening together.

Everyone is in a great mood, and I tell them that we saw the pelican - they're all so happy to know he's in good hands. Brownies and ice cream for dessert - how do they do this in the jungle?!

volcanogirl Jul 8th, 2007 09:59 AM

Hi, wanatrvl - I hope you get to see one one day - they are really amazing! Once we recognized the sound, it was easier to find them - they don't sound like you'd expect them to. Super creaky and squeaky almost.

If anyone takes the daytrip to the Sanctuary, I'd wear Keen's or some other amphibious shoe - the boat actually doesn't come up on the dry land, so you're about ankle deep in the water. We were glad we had the Keen's.

cmerrell Jul 8th, 2007 10:39 AM

This is such a fun trip report, volcanogirl! Another endorsement for the animal sanctuary. I can't wait to see it for myself!

All of the BdC reports are so fascinating to me. It just so sounds like my kind of place; perenially wet hair and no hope of makeup notwithstanding. :-))

The year is passing by quickly and yet my December trip still sounds so far away... I suppose I'll survive somehow!

Definitely looking forward to the remainder of the report. If hipvirgo is lurking out there, I will add my voice to others urging you to finish your report as well. Enquiring minds really want to know! ;-)

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