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May CR trip report - Selva Verde, Peace Lodge, Playa Nicuesa & Bosque del Cabo

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May CR trip report - Selva Verde, Peace Lodge, Playa Nicuesa & Bosque del Cabo

Old May 27th, 2007, 06:18 AM
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May CR trip report - Selva Verde, Peace Lodge, Playa Nicuesa & Bosque del Cabo

Costa Rica trip May 4th - 18th

I get a pretty wordy and a little too matter-of-fact, so apologies in advance

5/4/07 - I always chastise myself in the days leading up to my trip for booking early a.m. flights. A 6:30 am departure means leaving my house at 4 am, but I do later appreciate landing in CR just before 11am. My AA flights, Tampa - Miami and Miami - SJO, were on time and ran smoothly, although my common complaint about Miami airport being ridiculously cold still hold. I know I'm a FL wuss but when I see a large portion of guy & girls walking around shivering I know I'm not imagining it. Luggage pick-up, customs & immigration all went quickly, under 20 minutes and I was out into the chaos of the front. Didn't see my Selva Verde driver nor Alberto who I was bringing down stuff to give to. After about 10 minutes my SV driver, Eliziar, showed up and walked right up to me. Somehow he knew I was meeting Alberto & had already been in touch with him & told me he was running slightly late. Soon we were off, the drive would take about 2 hours, going thru Braulio Carrillo park, with an on & off light rain. The drive is a nice one, albeit on a very busy road full of large trucks, high speeds and many twists and turns. Since I would have a fridge at Selva Verde I asked Eliziar to stop at a small market close by so I could pick up some soda and juice. We arrived at 2:15 and although lunch was over they had saved a lunch for me which was much appreciated. After lunch a driver took me up to my bungalow, where I discovered that the other 4 were empty. I felt a little weird about this but soon didn't mind it at all, it was definitely very quiet. My bungalow was #5, which has #3 and #4 to the left of it, #1 and #2 are just below it. The bungalows are very nice, the AC I must admit is very nice to have, especially mid-afternoon after a lot of walking, though I had to fiddle with the temp at night as I ended up getting so cold I slept in one of the bathrobes. The bathrooms are large and well lit, a large walk-in shower and robes as well. The screened in porch with a ceiling fan is nice as well, though the metal chairs were very uncomfortable. The walk back to the main lodge is about 95% on a walkway & covered, well-lit enough that I barely needed a flashlight except for a few places. It takes roughly 10 minutes, mostly flat except for some long low steps (58 if I counted right) with only 3 areas not covered, all about 15-25 feet, which was nice when it was raining. During the day I would usually walk along the road instead, saw much more this way (several troops of monkeys, toucan etc) and it felt less confined. Went on the free 4pm bird hike with Lenin, heard and briefly saw a jacamar, plus a woodpecker and some other birds. (Please note, I freely admit I'm not much into birds at all, so if my bird names are wrong or incomplete, please feel free to correct me!) The bird walk was ok, it was nice to just walk around the property and chat with a nice couple from UF. Very few people at dinner, I would say only about 10-15. Food was good, nothing spectacular but filling and their desserts are very good. Arriving back to my room I found to my dismay a huge, egg-sized black beetle, heretofore to be known as Albert. There is a high up 2-3 inch ledge that goes around the entire room, I soon found out that Albert was training for a marathon or something as all he would do is continously do laps around the room. He never seemed interested in venturing off the ledge so I made a silent pact with him and as far as I know he kept it. Since I'd been up since 2:45am I turned in early at 8:30pm, which would end up being about normal for the rest of my trip.

5/5/07 - Up early at 5:30 am to some howlers howling, my favourite wake up call! Saw the troop briefly before they moved on. Went and had breakfast then had a guided walk with Alexander. The 2 hour walk was 2 hours and only cost $15, some other guests didn't show so it was just the 2 of us. Alexander was great, very friendly and informative. He has been at SV for 10 years and told me how much he loved his job. He often does the birding hikes as well. The hike takes place across the Sarapiqui river, in an area that is gated access only. A mostly flat walk, it is not strenous at all, but is hot so take the requisite water! We saw a toucan, a mot mot that he took pics of for me thru his scope, numerous frogs, some far away capuchins and a green parrot snake that he missed stepping on by inches and walked right past. I was doing the eek a snake dance, after confirming it was harmless and photographing it we moved on (the snake on the other hand never once moved, I was kidding him it was really plastic). Had lunch then went to the reception to see if it was too late to book a river tour at 2pm. This was easily arranged, the cost is $20 including taxi to the boat. My taxi driver was a character named Alberto C, I would use him again the next day. He spoke as little english as I do spanish but we got along great regardless. As he dropped me off at the boat he kept telling me something I couldn't understand. Finally he went and got the post-it note off his dashboard, it was a phonetic sounding out of "Have a nice trip" which I though was endearingly sweet. The boat tour was ok, I had been on the same a few years before with the ecoscape tour so it was kind of redundant. It was a little strange that I was the only one in the boat but it was enjoyable and got to see a large crocodile (who was on one side of the river where on the other side a dozen or so young boys were swimming). This brought up the news that a young 10 year old boy had just been killed in Tortuguero by a croc, so it was a little eerie seeing them swim so close. Light rain as we arrived back at the boat ramp, Alberto already there waiting and we practice more English/Spanish/charades. By the time we're back at SV it is really pouring with lots of thunder, but I still manage to stay dry on the walk back to the bungalows, along with my laundry which is very cheap to do here. Still pouring at dinner, sit down with the couple from UF. They had done the rafting tour which they said was a lot of fun and not rough at all. Storm continues thru the night and Albert is back and still racing around the ledge. About 3am something large and heavy falls on to my roof and I levitate off the bed, but nothing seems to be damaged and I drift off back to sleep.

5/6/07 - up early again, 5am seems to be about my wake-up time in CR. Alberto C is early for my drive to La Selva for a tour which I had booked on-line. The drive takes about 20 minutes and roundtrip costs $16. Birds seem to be everywhere at La Selva, it is lightly raining so we do not see much wildlife. Our guide is Octavio (sp?) and there are 3 others in our group. He explains some of the different studies taking place at La Selva and of course about the different things we see. We come across a pair of agoutis, a pair of huge birds with a baby with red tails that I've forgotten the name of, a couple tortoises and at one point stops because he smells peccaries. I remain relatively calm with this news but they never show up. As we are winding up the tour near the cabins 4 peccaries casually stroll by and pay us absolutely no attention. I should be panicking at this point but they seem so small and bored by us it's hard to be very concerned. Crossing back over the susupension bridge we come across a large troop of howler monkeys and a huge iguana right next to them. The guide tells us the Sarapaqui has come up to within 1 meter of the bottom of this bridge, though at this point it is far below us. Alberto C is again right on time and we embark on a hilarious run thru Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in search of a hairbrush that I'd discovered I'd forgotten at home. We try Super Sarapaqui and Pali and 1 smaller market with no luck other than a 2-inch hot pink comb. We strike gold at the oddest place, a store selling child toys, where I happily dole out $2 for my (hot pink again) brush. I give Alberto $20 for his troubles, he seemed more intent on finding me a brush than I did. After lunch hang out at the pool which I have all to myself and several frogs. A little blue-jeaned frog seems trapped in the pool so I go to the bar and get a cup to rescue him and send him on his way. Leaving the pool one of those huge iguanas dashes out in front of me across the sidewalk and we nearly collide. Have a drink and another before dinner, they do run a little high here I think, about $6-$7 each. A dozen or so young people have shown up, looking like they had expected SV to be Cancun (no shirts, very loud, lots of drinking) and at this point I am really appeciating the solitude of the bungalows. There are several more people at dinner than the previous 2 nights, I had been told during peak season this place is packed to the limit so I enjoy my rainy season (which is very little anyway) all the more. Check on Albert, who is still racing and still happy to be 'up there' as I am to be 'down here' and in bed by 9pm.

5/7/07 - Up early and enjoy having the coffee maker in the room, listening to the howler monkeys again. I hear talking, which is odd enough to go to check out and run across Alexander and a birding walk. After breakfast and packing I sit on the porch to read a little, am startled when a person walks by but it is just one of the guards, Eduardo and his rotteweiler Camelia, they walk up here every few hours to just check out the grounds which is comforting, especially being up here all alone. A toucan shows up as I'm waiting for the car to get my luggage, amazingly close but with the angle & branches can't get a good shot of it. Leaving for Peace Lodge at 11am, with a driver I had set-up thru Holbrook for $80 for the 1-hour drive.

Overall impressions of Selva Verde - I really liked it and enjoyed my time there. It is a nice, low-key starting point, no heavy duty hiking but enough that you can see much and still have relative comforts. The price is incredible IMO, $80 per night includes your 3 meals a day, regardless of whether you stay in the river rooms or bungalows. I never got to see the inside of the river rooms but the pics I have seen they look nice but I do admit I really enjoyed the quietness & solitude of the bungalows - not to mention the AC and fridge were nice to have. The 10 minute walk back to the lodge was no hardship, I made the trip several times a day. If you do stay in the river rooms, I would certainly take the time to walk up to the bungalows, especially on the road instead of the covered walkway. I know of nothing that says only bungalow guests are allowed on the other side of the road but still only saw 1 couple up there walking around on their own. There is a nice garden area, a small pond with 2 seating areas and a restroom as well. This area seemd to have more wildlife anyway, so definitely take the time to go check it out. The food is not gourmet, but it is plentiful and filling which considering the price is fine with me. The front desk was very courteous and always called me by name, the laundry is very low priced and I found the whole place to be efficiently well-run.

Peace Lodge next.......
.
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Old May 27th, 2007, 06:22 AM
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Sorry, I broke a lot of that up into paragraphs but forgot to save the edit
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Old May 27th, 2007, 08:23 AM
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Really enjoyed your report on SV Tully, since we just missed you by several weeks. We had really wanted to stay in the bungalows, but for some reason they initially told us they were booked - yet when we went over there (which we did frequently - because as you noted - there's lots to see on that side of the road) there was NO ONE in the bungalows that we could see at all. In fact, I thought I mighta been scared over there - so glad you enjoyed it for its peace/quiet/seclusion. If I remember correctly the lodge rooms are slightly less than the bungalows - but without A/C as you noted. They were comfortable enough at night though with ceiling fans.

Isn't it terrifying when things (trees, nuts, monkey?) fall/jump on those roofs in the middle of the night?

We too were surprised how few people were at SV - less than half full I'm betting at the end of April.

Look forward to reading about the rest of your trip!
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Old May 27th, 2007, 02:22 PM
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thanks glover! I too thought I may be scared and might want to switch but I really loved the solitude and found myself pretty calm on the walk back there at night, stuff falling on my rood and all! Back to the report...

5/7/07 - the driver for my transfer, Mauricio, to Peace Lodge was right on time at 11am for the 1-hour drive. He spoke some english and often told me the name of the towns we were passing by. I found just about with everyone that when I brought up my favourite sport football (soccer) it was always good for an interesting convo, since it is very popular in CR as compared to the states. Arriving at PL I realized it was definitely going to be cooler as soon as I got out of the mini-van. Since my standard room was not ready, they said to go have lunch and they would watch my bag. Once down at the Trout Bar a light mist/fog rolled in with light rain and I shivered thru lunch. I walked a little thru the new aviary which was brand new, a staff member there named Jorge took me into the separate caged area with a couple toucans in it. The one kept nipping at his shins, he explained to me since the bird was new and naturally curious they often did this, it was not meant as a bite. He took my pic petting it's head (it made the cutest little noise as I did so) and then I headed back to reception, only to find my room still not ready (it was about 1:30). There is an area behind the reception where you can sit on a small terrace and while waiting I suddenly got the urge to switch to a deluxe room. Fortunately they had one ready and available, but only for 1 night, then I would have to switch to the standard which they said would take care of completely. So, why not?! It was an additional $70 or so, including taxes and I'm very glad I made the change.
The rooms! Plenty has been posted here and I myself have seen many photos but still it was just so much fun to walk in there. The fireplace I loved, if only as I was often cold. The mini bar was well stocked, with sodas running about $2. The view was beautiful, as much as there is to do at La Paz I simply loved just sitting on the balcony watching the fog roll in and out and all the birds flying about. There are hummingbird feeders on every balcony so there is definitely no shortage of good photo ops. I was in room Heliconius Sara, all the deluxes are on the 2nd floor and the standards are on the 1st, a fact I would appreciate after I switched rooms. They had a great classical cd mix available which I had on for most of my stay (and was duly noted by the maids, more on that later), it seemed very fitting to me there. Laundry was very quick but much more than at Selva Verde, $9 when a similiar bag at SV was around $3.
I spent the rest of the day looking into the snake exhibit, the casita, the butterflies and just roaming about before settling back on the balcony. It was very quiet, if there was someone in the room next to mine I never heard them. Had signed up for the 6:30 frog tour for $5 (it for some reason says $10 on the little card they give you but I was only charged $5) with Alex. This is a great tour and a great experience for seeing so many of these hard to find nocturnal frogs. A note that it is very humid inside, dark (you are given flashlights) and very closed in. The frogs often jump when Alex is holding them or from leaves, so be prepared - I ended up with one in my hair. Before the tour I had met briefly a little tiger cat (who I would later learn is named Hunter and lives at PL) which made me homesick for my 4 kitties. So imagine my surprise, after the frog tour walking back to my room, when I see who is sitting at the top of the staircase leading to my room?! I head down the staircase, he follows, then up the other stairs to my room with him still beside me and once I open the door he strolls right in. He is a little grumpy, with particular places he wants to petted/not be petted but becomes a little sweetheart once my food is delivered from room service. The guy greets me and then says 'hello hunter' so I finally learn his name & figure it must be rather common for him to follow guests to their room.
The food was pretty good, not as bad as I was expecting. I had ordered off the main restaurant selection for $30 approx, it came with soup, salad, entree and dessert. It did take 40 minutes which I thought a little extreme but was still hot when it came. I finally got to enjoy the (indoor) tub after dinner, with the waterfall, jets in the tub, classical music and aromatherapy (vanilla scent, again duly noted by the maids) all going at once. After a few minutes in the tub I realized this was way too much going on and cut back to just the classical music. The robes provided are thick & plush, if you use the slippers you will be charged $6. They have a tv which I honestly don't know what channels are on, I turned it on and The Departed was on so I just left it there and read - I stayed up way too late, 11pm!
5/8/07 - Up early again and off to the free breakfast, which is available starting at 7am. Very good, great selection with eggs cooked to order. Along with many of the staff working about the grounds I could already see some guests wandering around. Did the Fern Trail, which is nice walk with a couple very small falls and streams. Mostly flat with concrete pavers, didn't see really any wildlife but I wasn't expecting to either, it is a nice stroll with lots of plants to look at. Finished just in time for the am hummingbird feeding. You hold small little feeders and they come in and feed right in front of you - very cool to see their tiny little tongues! You can hold the feeder at the top with your fingers and get to feel their little feet as they land, so light! The girl next to me wearing a red shirt had so many of them compared to the rest of us, maybe the colour? Went over to the frog house to see the day frogs, wasn't there long as it was mostly green arrow & strawberry dart frogs which I had seen in droves at Selva Verde. Went over to the casita again and saw them getting ready to attach the ox-cart. They apparently don't steer too well as when they left the pen they came right at me forcing me to hop on a little wall. Wouldn't that be embarrassing - to be in CR and run over by an ox-cart?
I went back to my room and threw everything back in my bag then went to reception and told they could move the bags now. The weather is nice enough to just wear capris & a t-shirt. Went off to the Waterfall Trail, beautiful waterfalls that are hard to capture the wonderful views and sounds of in video. I don't recall exactly but I think it took me 1.5 hours total and I stopped often. There are a couple steep declines and some of the stairs are a little slippery, so good gripping shoes are a must. There are several stairs off the main trail which you can decide to take, or not. They offer better, closer views but just keep in mind there are no other routes at the bottom, so all those stairs seem to double on the way back up! The shuttle was there when I arrived so took that quick drive back to 1st reception (there are 2 reception areas). Went into the Cafe Britt store bought a soda and small bag of Terra chips but ended up passing on the chips - they were $7!! They have other offerings, like plantain chips which are not so extreme. Stopped by the Colbries restaurant but it is so busy and nothing appeals to me so I have lunch at the Trout Bar again. Lunches here run about $7-$10 and are very plentiful and good.
After lunch it starts to drizzle and the temp very quickly drops. Go up to reception to go to new room and in the few minutes I'm waiting a fog rolls in so fast the buildings below disappear completely. The new room is Heliconius Doris, a standard. The room itself is exactly the same, the bathroom about half the size of a deluxe, with "only" 1 shower and 2 tubs. The inddor tub is just a regular tub with no jets but is nice enough to stretch out in. As I mentioned from the day before, I really liked the classical cd and as we walk in it is playing, plus it smells like vanilla in the bathroom, which I thought were really nice touches. The thing I miss from the deluxe room is the privacy of the balcony. Maybe it is where my room is siyuated, but I seem to be right over a staff room, so there is constant walking and talking. Mind you, not loud and I could barely see the tops of their heads so I knew they couldn't see me, it just seemed so much busier.
I ran into the couple from the frog tour at the pool, from CO I think. They mentioned about staying somewhere near the airport the next night and I suggested Orquideas Inn. I don't think I gave them my name but somehow Liseth knew it was me that had sent them there as she mentioned it to me when I stayed there later in my trip. Anyway, after checking out the new room I laid down for just a minute (famous last words) and woke up 2 hours later. Head down to the aviary again, seeing the marmosets (mad, angry looking guys who will pee on you given half the chance) and see Jorge again. He offers again to take pics, this time of me feeding a toucan. The staff here at PL really go above and beyond IMO to make the guests happy. Check my email (free but slow) and have the front desk to call Alberto to confirm my pick-up tomorrow. No sign of Hunter Pack up and split up some clothes - I've brought a small extra duffle bag so I can leave some things at Orquideas before leaving for Puerto Jimenez. Order room service again, just a salad and a sandwich, and even this could feed 2 people. I can hear someone above me in high heels who apparently is walking every inch of the room, I can literally follow right underneath her with the wood floors. Luckily she finally goes to sleep, as do I.
5/9/07 - Head to breakfast right at 7am, as my pickup is at 8am. Hunter joins me for breakfast and loves my eggs more than I do. Back to the room and call for luggage pick-up. What is freaky is I take about 3 steps after hanging up the phone and someone is at my door for my bag. Check out is quick and easy. Carlos, who works for Alberto is already there with his minivan. We talk much of the 1 hour drive, he & Alberto do transfers, day tours and several day tours. I'd like to give their contact info in case anyone is in need of a nice reliable company - you can call Alberto Artavia at 011-506-387-6875 or 861-7209 or email him at [email protected] They also do work for Bosque del Cabo if you need a reference. We have plenty of time to stop at Orquideas to drop my stuff off, plus we stop at the Scotia Bank for cash and I run into Mas x Menos for a sugar and nicotine fix. Have an hour to burn at the Sansa terminal, while I'm waiting I spy Luis from Wady Tours (aka Zamar, from Orquideas Inn) and run over to say hello. Apparently everyone on the flight has shown up so we leave 10 minutes early for Puerto Jimenez.
Playa Nicuesa next............
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Old May 27th, 2007, 07:07 PM
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5/9/07 - 50 minute flight to Puerto Jimenez is relatively smooth, even though it rains lightly the whole way. Arrive at PJ airstrip and am met by Karen, who is also the yoga instructor & masseuse (for May only) at Playa Nicuesa. I assume this must be her first time meeting a guest as she is not sure how to tell the taxi driver we want to go to the pier. We finally figure it out and hop in the boat, smooth 20 minute ride across the Golfo Dulce. I keep an eye out for dolphins but no joy.

I am shown around the grounds and taken to Tucan cabina. There are 4 total I believe, plus a few rooms available in the Mango house. My cabina is private but probably the least private of the 4; I have the shortest walk to the lodge and can see people walking along the main path if I'm on the porch. This is fine with me as the other cabinas are set further back and something I would probably not enjoy at night. I am a little startled at how open the cabinas are, the slats in the louvered doors that take up one wall do not close, the bathroom walls stop a few feet below the roof and the bathrooms are wide open. There is a light switch on the porch to turn one of the inside lights on, nice to have coming back after dinner. A mosquito net is of course provided and a very powerful ceiling fan, a safe and a clothes storage area. The lighting is pretty dim, it's best to do any reading at day anyway due to the bugs. Despite being so open I was surprised at how few bugs I came across in the rooms. I had a huge moth my first night there that kept getting in my netting, and there were always tiny bugs zipping around but nothing that had me blowing my little 'help me' whistle. I did get bit several times at night during dinner despite wearing repellant, ended up with big red welts for a few days.

The manager Bebe was helpful in finding me small little battery powered lamps, so I could sit on the porch after dinner for a little while with some light. The guides/employees Freiman, Estaban & Fernando were also very helpful; I found it a little odd that 2 of the 3 (I didn't ask one of them) had only been there for a month. The cook, who I've unfortunately forgotten the name of, was always very concerned with how we liked the food, he would always come out at dinner and announce what we would be having.

Took the Chico trail with Freiman and another couple from VA, Sandy & Steve. Took about 1.5 hours and was very flat, and very hot. We had many trees to climb over and the trails were not entirely what I was expecting. They were sometimes a little hard to follow/find with the heavy leaf cover and were very narrow. We sort of speed walked thru the trail and unfortunately didn't see any wildlife or birds. Back at the lodge we see a coati who we would see often around the grounds, he/she usually hung out right by the fruit pen. The food is excellent, dinner is around 7:20 and everyone gathers in the bar for the hour or so before and after. Drinks run around $5 or $6 and they serve interesting bocas before dinner. After 3 drinks and a long day I sleep like a rock, despite the short fight with the moth. The cabins are set in enough that you can barely hear the surf, but it is nice enough to drift off to.

5/10/07 - Up early at 5am and have a nice filling breakfast as soon as it is available. Afterwards myself and Sandy & Steve get in the boat to go to Casa Orquideas, a 15 minute boat ride away. The owner Ron shows us around, it is fascinating how he ended up here and running the gardens. We see many, many plants, trees and flowers, plus ginger root, pepper, hot peppers etc that he grows in his garden, plus vanilla plants and the beans. He lives on the grounds with his wife, daughter & SIL. The tour takes an hour or so, at the end he brings out some lemonade that tastes wonderful after standing in the hot sun. The boat comes to pick us up for 20 minute ride to the refuge.

Right at arrival the girl there comes out with winky, a baby spider monkey in diapers and we see sweetie, another spider, playing with a rope on a table. We wait for some other guests to arrive then walk up to an area with a table and chairs. This is where lulu, the howler monkey, comes over and I have no doubt that howlers are my favourite (wild) animal. Apparently her leg was injured when she was young, she was taken to a vet in San Jose who unfortunately put the pins in wrong. When she arrived at the refuge they decided she got around well enough without it and decided against putting her thru the trauma of surgery again. She is very sweet and kept walking up to me just like a baby wanting to be held. Winky kept coming over as well but they had asked if any of us had sunscreen or repellant on not to hold her, so just a note not to wear any if you go. We also saw several capuchins in a cage, most of them had problems where they could not be released back into the wild; one of them had had his teeth filed down with 2 fingers missing, he was kept as a pet in a hotel lobby. Some of the spider monkeys are free to come and go as they please. We also saw rhonda, a huge 2-toed sloth and martha a kinkajou, but I must admit that I was most preoccupied with holding lulu, so incredible to feel their hands grip yours! She was also facsinated by her reflection in my camera screen, I would tilt it one way and she would tilt her head to follow. I didn't save my receipt when I checked out but the 2 places and the boat rides came to about $50, maybe a little less. I would definitely recommend both places.

Back for lunch then a storm rolls in from about 2:30 to 5pm, so I just read and relax, reminding myself I don't have to be doing something constantly to have fun. Head down to the lagoon to try to spot the croc or the caiman but see neither, relax some more on the beach deck and watch the waves. Another good dinner and drinks at the bar. The cd that I brought down for Jose at Bosque del Cabo has proven to be a big hit, a wonderful guitar duo by the name of Rodrigo y Gabriela, it finally turns up the night before I leave.

5/11/07 - Up early again at 5am, seems like a long wait til breakfast at 7:30. Go on a hike with Freiman at 8am, everyone else at the lodge had gone river kayaking. We don't see much other than a squirrel and a small troop of howlers far up in a tree. At one point we must've taken a wrong turn as we have to backtrack for 10 minutes or so. Again the trails are somewhat hard to follow, I guess if I was with someone else I wouldn't mind it so but being alone I feel somewhat needing to pay for the guide as I'm a little worried about getting lost.

Another great lunch, followed by a walk on the beach then a massage by Karen in the cabina. I think the price was about $60 and well worth it. Go to wash off some of the oil and hear strange noises outside. Lean out over the porch side to hear alot of squeking and branches crackling. Suddenly this little....thing...runs out of the bushes and right at me before veering off to run under the porch. Still not sure what it was, tan coloured it was either the largest rat that ever lived or the smallest agouti though I think it was neother. Still not sure what it was actually. Also a funny story about one of the guides smoking but I hate to tell it as I don't want to get him in trouble. Last night there and we end up in the bar staying up really late - 10pm!

5/12/07 - "slept in" til 6 today, had early coffee and packed up, then brekkie and relaxed some more on the porch. They give you a card about tips, suggesting $10-$15 per person per day. One more try at the lagoon to spot the croc or caiman but still no luck. Boat leaves at 10:30 for the 20 minute ride to Puerto Jimenez.

Overall impressions....I enjoyed my stay here, the accomodations are very nice and the grounds well kept, the staff is friendly and the food is good. After my stays at Bosque del Cabo, it's hard to find anything to compare and I just have to realize you just can't compare. PN is good for relaxation, the warm, calm water to swm in, the good food etc. The amount of wildlife I saw was very, very little and the trails could definitely use more upkeep and better marking. I think it would offer more to guests being able to walk around more and safely do so.

Next up, Bosque del Cabo.....
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Old May 27th, 2007, 07:25 PM
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tully,

I'm really enjoying this as it's so different from our trip - at least so far. Gives me ideas for next time.

Fran
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Old May 28th, 2007, 06:20 AM
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Fun report!

We met Hunter at the Peace Lodge, too. He joined us for breakfast, too. We took the farthest table for the best view of the birds feeding on the fruit they set out...well, apparently that was Hunter's buffet. As we ate our eggs, he ate a bright yellow warbler. Nothing but the wings were left after. Made for some laughs and a few gruesome photos!
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Old May 28th, 2007, 07:33 AM
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wow about hunter, I have 4 very pampered indoor cats so I can't imagine what they would do with a bird! (They probably wouldn't know what to do with it). Last of my (really long, sorry) report

5/12/07 - arriving on the boat from PN I can see Frank on the pier waiting. Lots of people coming & going on the boats so it's a little chaotic. Get in the BdC truck and am pretty surprised to find Roy Toft in the back seat, this is funny as he was at Bosque last year when I was as well. For those of you who aren't familiar he is an excellent photographer (look up his website), most of the photos on BdC's website are his and he has a book of CR pics coming soon (a year approx). We run by the office so I can drop off some laundry, I have plenty to wear but just can't stand that funky bag of clothes anymore and say hello to Jose & Leo. On the way out of PJ we stop to pick up Heilyn, which is a treat, she is a sweetheart and one of the servers at Bosque (she mentions "shillmac" had just been there and remembered that she had said hello to the girls for me).

We stop down the road as there is a Great Pooto and a baby in a tree and Roy wants shots - not just some clicks but the whole deal: tripod, huge camera, lens et al on top of the truck. Roy spends about 20 minutes shooting it while I take pics of the bird, Roy and talk with Heilyn. I must admit the bird looks like a branch sticking out of the tree, which I guess is the point, it could've been for all I know! We drive for a little longer then Frank spots a 2-toed sloth and we stop for that as well. This type is not often seen as the 3-toed, and especially so low - with Roy on top of the truck he was almost eye to eye with it. She didn't even seem to notice Roy inches from her face for about the first 10 minutes then slowly seemed to see him, amazing how she would let go of a branch and move in slow motion, apparently their vision is not the best.

Onward to Bosque again and on the BdC driveway we come across a huge pack of coati's and tons of babies - never have seen them (babies) before and they are so small and cute. Now I know I can't compare but I can't help it - I've pretty much seen as much wildlife on just the drive to BdC than 3 days at PN!

Check in and say hello's to Gerly, Jenny and Eduardo, as I've mentioned it's so nice to come back every time and see so many of the same staff, it's a nice sense of continuity. Have lunch with Roy, we both opt for the delicious tuna melts, he is off to the new research station (F.O.O. or Friends of the Osa which I'll go into later) for more photos for his book. Gerly takes me to my cabina, which she tells me on the way there is not Lapa but Congo instead. I pout for a second (Lapa is my fave) then after walking thru the cabina and out onto the deck to that view decide....well I can live with this! (It later turns out this was a mix-up, Kim had asked for the lounger to be switched from Lapa to Congo but somehow I too got switched). I ended up loving Congo just as much (maybe even more!) though, as the view is just to die for.

I just end up relaxing on the deck for the rest of the day, it is very windy (mucho biento) and about 6pm a thunderstorm rolls in that continues thru the night. Have drinks from 6-7 then dinner, which is a buffet. Head back to the cabina in the pouring rain to watch the lightening light up the sky and water - what a sight! At one point I see one of the thin lines in the porch wood planks move, it is a tiny little snake and gives me a start. The next morning I hear that the storm got bad about 1:30am (never heard it!) and a couple branches/trees came down on the roof of Casa Blanca. The 2 couples staying there had quite a start!

5/13/07 - Up late (to me) at 6am, I blame no howler wake-up call. After early breakfast walk up the driveway, this is a great walk! There is a 5 minute incline that never seems to end but all the wildlife is worth it. It takes me about 1 hour 20 minutes to the main PJ road but at least 30 minutes of that was watching a coati, then a troop of at least 40 spider monkeys moved in. I wish my photos of them had come out better, there were so many and they were everywhere. Not to mention a pair of agoutis and the evicted coati at the bottom picking up all the fruit they were dropping, and to top it off a small troop of howlers in the trees on the other side of the road. I've said it before but the opportunity to see so much wildlife at BdC just simply cannot be beat.

Back at the lodge and dip (slowly) into the freezing pool and meet Greiven, who bartends when Jose is off. They are expanding the bar and pool area which will be really cool to see when it is done. The new loungers, made from teak from a Bosque property, are beautiful and so comfy. After lunch head to the Tropical Garden, hear a troop of howlers but don't see them, but come across more spider monkeys near the small lagoon there. Loop around and end up walking up the driveway again, it's about 3pm & run into more coatis and spider monkeys in just about the same place as 8am this morning. Do about half the Titi trail and set off the cat trap - this is a motion sensitive camera that takes photos, they have removed the tape around it and can now show by the amount of cat photos they are getting is not affected by the amount of people on the trail (based on the amount of knee photos they get, lol). Head back to the pool to cool off. It's hot but not unbearably so, nights are just fine and a couple nights I end up pulling up the heavier coverlet.

Head up to the bar at 6pm and meet a nice couple from the SFO area, Eva & Mauricio. Have 2 drinks and some bocas, then off to dinner where we start with a thick onion soup. After this we get green beans and a fish cake but I am just too full from the soup and can barely touch it. But they start to bring out even more food and I just have to ask them to not bring me some as I'm beyond eating anymore - though yeah, I make a little room for a small slice of yummy banana cream pie! Early to bed at 8:30.

5/14/07 - Up at 5:30, can barely hear some howlers in the distance. After breakfast head down the Pacific Trail and get about 20 minutes into when I come across the tiniest snake laying across the trail. I tell myself to go around it but I can't. I tell myself it definitely does not look venomous. I decide to wait it out, but after 10 minutes give up and head back up. We later come across the same type of snake when I am on the tour with Philip and it is indeed harmless; but when you're all alone and can't 100% identify snakes it's hard to stroll right across it. It is amazing how much it just looked like a small twig, if I wasn't constantly checking my path I would've probably strolled right past it. Oh well!

Head back up the driveway again and find coatis and spider monkeys in the same place as yesterday. Further up I come across columns of army ants. I don't particularly care for ants but end up watching them for 20 minutes nonetheless - fascinating to see them divide into columns and then regroup. I can't fathom how many there are just right here but it must be in the hundred thousands or even millions. On way back to lodge come across more coatis and babies and a pygmy squirrel who unfortunately takes off so fast I can't get a pic. Also see a troop of squirrel monkeys but they are high and in off the road so I can't get a good shot. Pass Kevin who is down by the Zapatero trail entrance, he hails me to come down and shows me some beautiful blue bird eggs, they are from the Great Tinamou - they look like Easter eggs! Lunch then wander more about the grounds and Tropical Garden, see more army ants. Philip later tells me it takes them about 4 hours to pass thru and that they've come thru cabinas, the bar etc before, and that you just have to wait it out. Also head up to Casa Miramar, which is empty at the moment and take pics - what beautiful views!

Head up to the bar and see Jose who has been off for a few days and give him the cd I brought him. He in turn gives me a cd of him playing guitar, so nice of him, he is such a gracious person and makes great drinks! Dinner is great as usual and I am hungry this time!

5/15/07 - At breakfast ask Eva & Mauricio if I can tag along with them on the Golfo Dulce trail and they are fine with that. We leave at 8:30 with a pick-up at 11:30, this works out perfectly as we get about 20 minutes at the last beach, Pan Dulce, which is all we wanted. Be careful where you enter the water at Pan Dulce, there is an area at one end where we went in with many small rocks. As both Eva and I were going in the waves came in with such force the small little rocks were banging up against our feet and shins, we both ended up with tiny little nicks all over. Kevin told me later it's better to enter near the middle of the beach. We ended up seeing many things on the trail, one of my favourites at BdC - an agouti, coati, a couple troops of howler and spider monkeys, 2 toucans and 2 macaws. I failed in my job out front as 'spider web clearer', walked right into a huge one and as I struggled to disentangle myself just ended up pulling this huge icky spider close to my face. Yes, I yelped like a little kid! I gave up my duties after that We passed many lovely houses and small surfer hotels, it's a nice walk at the bottom as it's flat with a lovely breeze coming in off the ocean. Once Kevin picks us up he shows us a 3-toed sloth he has found.
After lunch I run across Philip who is back. At this point I had rescheduled, then canceled my Primary Forest tour with Carlos, a new guide at Bosque. After talking with Philip though I start to reconsider again.

After lunch, back at Congo, several macaws end up right above me in the tree, then a large troop of capuchins come thru. Be careful standing under them, several coconuts were dislodged by them and came crashing down next to my porch - sure give you a pretty bad headache or worse! After they came thru a troop of spider monkeys came thru as well - macaws, spider & capuchin monkeys, not too bad without ever leaving my deck!

5/16/07 - Wake up at 5am to find 2 of my 4 front porch doors wide open, either the wind or maybe a curious coati. I'm thinking the latter, as after breakfast I am sitting very quietly on the porch and suddenly see a coati jump on my deck. He turns around, sees me, woofs at me and takes off. Hmmmm.

Decide to do the tour with Philip, after all, I had wanted to every time here and never had. The tour is 4 hours and is mostly flat but hot, but I honestly don't even notice the time. It really is fascinating to learn so much in depth stuff, even if my head only retains a small part of it - the relationship between fig trees & wasps, the tree that seeps turpentine, the tree that cicadas gather on that seeps a stuff people repair their boats with, the soldiers of a leaf cutter ant colony, etc. He has many interesting stories and keeps you so engaged you don't even think about the time. We even saw a lone peccary (oh, I'm old hat on them now, lol) and Philip disengaged me of some of bar talk stories about them. Really recommend this tour, very cool to learn so much.

At lunch run into Kim & Phil, who are back from a trip. Have a 2pm massage with Jutta. We have the perfect time to start with, a troop of spider monkeys on one side of us and howlers on the other. Unfortunately after 10 minutes it starts to pour and we have to make a mad dash to the cabina. The massage is very good and she is very nice. It is a little different than what I'm used to, where you are constantly covered with a sheet, all modestly went out the door! I'm a little bummed about my shoes. After being diligent on keeping them dry I had left them on my deck before I went to the massage and now they are soaked. They have been great shoes throughout, they are Columbia brand and have an excellent grip. My cushions on the deck are wet as well, ah well.

Up at the bar, Roy is back and see some of great photos of Botswana, another place on my long list of places I want to go. Around 6:15 everyone heads up to the library area for a slide presentation by Friends of the Osa ( www.osaconservation.org ), really interesting to hear all about their work in the area, especially trying to establish a wildlife corridor from Corcovado Park and the cat trap photo program. Very dedicated people and a great group if you are looking for a organization to support. Have dinner with Kim & Phil, a friend Steve who lives nearby, Roy, a friend of his (Bill?) & Philip. Very good time with excellent and often hilarious conversation.

Forgot to mention....the whole time at Bosque I had a resident gecko, who as I name everything, got the moniker Alvin. As I was leaving for dinner tonight, I heard a weird chirping noise. Finally found Alvin on the bathroom ceiling, it was coming from him. Then he made this freaky little hissing sound, dropped to the ground and hissed again. (Yes, I had a very brief stupid moment where I asked myself if geckos bite, as he looked extremely pissed off). A moment later I came across another gecko, who remained stockstill as Alvin raced around the bathroom chirping & hissing. I later asked Philip and he confirmed they are very territorial and the noises were directed to the other gecko who was in "his" cabina. Not sure what happened but after dinner I found Alvin in the bedroom, so it looks like he won!

5/17/07 - Up early as usual, sun is slowly coming out. Leaving today at 10am for 11:30am Sansa flight. Say all my goodbyes, wish I had longer! Kevin drives me to PJ and we arrive with plenty of time. With bad memories of last time, I set off in search of a restroom and find one nearby at the El Remanso/Nature Air office area. The flight is a little bumpy and windy, we almost land sideways and my stomach is in knots from nerves.

Get outside the terminal and overhear someone saying they are going to Orquideas to a taxi driver. I tell her that I am going there as well and they are just not here yet. It turns out she has nothing planned for the day and decides to come along with Luis and I on a Grecia/Sarchi trip. She has been down near PJ as well, at the Black Turtle Lodge which she says she was very happy with and I don't see mentioned here much. We go to the beautiful metal Grecia church, then onto the Grecia central market which is very cool to see. Luis buys us a fruit (Guavabana?) & shows me a great place to buy coffee, which they bag right in front of you and runs about $2 per bag! We head off to Sarchi and go to this very cool, very old place where they run all their tools by water wheel. They built an ox-cart which is the biggest in the world not too long ago, you could drive a car under it. We have a nice, huge, cheap lunch at a lovely restaurant in Sarchi and do some shopping. On our way back to Orquideas it starts raining hard. We were with Luis for about 5 hours and the total was $72, $10 of which was my airport pick-up, which I think is a great deal. Luckily they finally had an opening and I was able to get a garden side room, #11.

Relax until 7:30, go to the Marilyn Monroe bar and have dinner there instead as I am not very hungry . Order 2 appetizers but feed most of them to the orange tabby who has decided to be my best friend. Finally off to sleep late at 11pm.

5/18/07 - Wake up really sick to my stomach and worry I may not make my flight. Have a very light breakfast and then switch to just water for the rest of the day. My flight leaves at 2:40 so we have to leave at 12:20. Clarissa and I (the girl I'd met the day before) walk around for a while and have a disjointed conversation with one of the staff who takes us into the toucan cage. Pack up and Luis drives me to the airport, still feeling ill. Get thru the lines & security quickly; when I get to the x-ray machine I realize I still have my lighter. I go to hand it to the girl working the machine but she just waves me on and tells me to keep it. Yet last year when I went thru they even took my matches from me, strange how the rules vary. Even though I told myself I wouldn't, I end up spending a lot in the Cafe Britt store, more coffee and souvenirs. Go into duty free and start loading up bottles til I get to the counter and see the sign that all liquids will have to be packed in my check in bag at my connection point (Miami). Since my bag is packed full of coffee and clothes, I have no more room and sadly have to put all the bottles back.
Flight leaves on time and I sleep most of the short flight. Still sick once we land at Miami so I stick with just water. Our flight ends up being delayed almost 2 hours, so we don't get into Tampa to almost 1:15am, but we do and so does my bag.

I ended up having a wonderful time of course, as always, and loved the variety of the places I ended up at.

I posted this in another thread, but if you want an invite to see my pics you can e-mail me at [email protected]

Any questions please feel to ask!

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Old May 28th, 2007, 10:24 AM
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Oh Tully, you have outdone yourself on this report. LOVE IT! AND Roy Toth! Wow

I still have on Tivo the "Fantasy Camp" episode from Bosque with Roy.

What a wonderful time you had. Thanks for such a great report!! I have already emailed you for the pics. Toni
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Old May 28th, 2007, 02:24 PM
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Thanks Toni for slogging thru it, I tried not to write a novella but failed Yes Roy is very cool, it's amazing to see how "into it" he gets when there is a photo to shoot. I e-mailed you an invite.
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Old May 29th, 2007, 10:06 AM
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Super, super trip report!! It is so terrific to read of your travels.

Reading about Bosque makes me miss it so much. Several time last week my husband remarked that he ready for another vacation at BdC.

How amazing to get to see Roy Toth in action.

I am sorry to learn that you got sick at the end of your trip. That certainly makes traveling difficult. I hope that you are feeling better.

Very Best,
Gem
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Old May 29th, 2007, 03:59 PM
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Thanks for the pics, they were great! You took some very good fotos. I really enjoyed them. Thanks again. Toni
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Old May 29th, 2007, 07:57 PM
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Hi Tully,

That was a truly enjoyable report! Thanks for taking the time!! I'm a wordy writer in my own right, and can appreciate it in others; especially with a topic as captivating as CR!

I trust you are fully recovered from whatever made you feel poorly at the tail end of your trip? Thank goodness, it didn't strike until the very end!

I was just over in your neck of the woods yesterday. I live in Melbourne, FL and spent the holiday weekend in Sanibel/Captiva. We stopped in Ybor on our drive home and had lunch at the Columbia. It was a nice final stop before making that last part of the journey home. Today was back at work. Heavy sigh...

Thanks again for your report. I can't wait to see all that amazing wildlife at BdC in December!
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Old May 30th, 2007, 04:25 PM
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Thanks all. cmerrell, we have a Columbia here in St Pete, it's one of my favourite restaurants - their red snapper and rice is to die for! Luckily I wasn't sick that bad, mostly just the day I was leaving CR. I probably ended up making myself sicker by not eating at all for about 3 days after I was back. You're going to have a great time in Dec!
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Old May 30th, 2007, 05:22 PM
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Tully, absolutely enjoyed every word. Cool that you met and hung out with Roy a bit. Loved his photos. He's a master. Yours were as good! Did you take lessons or what?

I enjoyed the full read--don't apologize about being wordy--I've been waiting for your words for awhile now! BdC story my favorite of course. The return to SJO sounds like enough to cause me major trauma!

So now when I am there in a few weeks, I will ask for "Tully stories"! I trust there will be a few! Glad you enjoyed Congo. I thought it very nice, also. Spent a few evenings on that deck with our travel-mates.

Glad you are feeling better--the entire trip sounds wonderful. And you are right--no way to compare any of the parts of Costa Rica. It's like 12 countries all rolled together. And the diversity of properties makes comparison difficult as well.

Thanks for taking the time for such a lovely report! I'm counting now! 15 days. . .and I'm no where near ready!

P.S. Had a blast in NYC!
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Old May 30th, 2007, 06:54 PM
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You have to remember to take pics of that view from the shower, and love to see if much progress made on the extension of the bar. You will have to see if Jose will play that cd I brought him, it just seemed so fitting there, I love that music & he seemed to enjoy it as well. Welcome back, hope you're consolidating all those FF miles!
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Old May 30th, 2007, 06:56 PM
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Por favor! ...lol, didn't mean to sound so demanding!
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Old May 31st, 2007, 06:06 AM
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Hi Tully,

Your trip report brings back so many memories--my husband and I stayed in Congo two years ago and will never forget it!! People are always commenting on the photos we took from the deck of the sea arch and the spider monkeys that trooped through like clockwork every afternoon!!

We are trying to plan a second trip to CR next year and want to see some new places...but are having a hard time planning a return trip and not going back to BDC. I think it might be impossible to not go back!! Thanks for the great report.

Melissa
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Old Jun 1st, 2007, 07:39 AM
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Great trip report Tully! You were just a few days behind us at Peace Lodge and BDC! I'm glad you included so many details, they bring back great memories for the places I was at, and for the places we haven't been to, it makes me want to visit! I just emailed you for the link to your pictures. It sounds like you had a great vacation!
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 03:31 PM
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LOL--por favor indeed! You're beginning to sound like my children!

Just kidding--I'm so bossy, that's the way I talk too (didn't mean to imply you were bossy)! But maybe a little. . . LOL

I will take some photos. I actually have some taken from that great shower at El Sol, but when we visited in March, our son stayed there and when I went over to check out the shower, they had a lot tall cannas growing on the oceanside. I may have to call ahead and ask for the plants to be pruned a bit--for my enjoyment!

Will for sure ask to hear the CD and will check out the progress at the bar. You should have a stool with your name on it by now!

Thanks, and yes, I'm starting to accumulate a few miles with American. Looking forward to using them, but they sure put the press on regarding mileage saver times. I need to be retired, so days won't be an issue!
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