My dad, my cousin, and I spent May 18 to 28 in Costa Rica hiking, birdwatching, and most especially photographing the many interesting and beautiful birds, flowers, and wild creatures found in this lovely Central American country.
A view of the Costa Rican countryside.
Overall, our trip went fairly well, especially since my mother had planned it quite well and my bilingual cousin was able to act as our interpreter. The only problem we had was the weather, which was rainy… Amazingly rainy!
The Costa Rican rainy season starts sometime in May, and it had already started with a vengeance before we had arrived. We had some rain just about every day, and there were periods where it rained heavily nonstop for days on end. Thankfully, we were able to cram a great deal of activity into the non-rainy periods and came home with lots of photos and wonderful memories.
We arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica on May 18 and spent our first night at the Orquideas Inn in Alajuela. There is a trail behind the hotel where you can see birds and squirrels.
Orquideas Inn in Alajuela, Costa Rica.
The next morning, we traveled on the cold, high elevation Cerro de la Muerte stretch of the Pan-American Highway to the Savegre Mountain Hotel in the small community of San Gerardo de Dota in a valley in the Cordillera de Talamanca or Talamanca Mountains. The Savegre River runs though this forested mountain valley.
Savegre River near San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica.
The Savegre Mountain Hotel is just above 7000 feet (2134 m) in elevation, and it is a wonderful place to see cloud forest birds like hummingbirds and Resplendent Quetzals (Pharomachrus mocinno). Savegre Mountain Hotel has hummingbird feeders, hummingbird flowers, and fruit trees that attract a wide variety of birds.
Savegre Mountain Hotel in San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica.
Directly behind our room, there was a fruiting Aguacatillo or Wild Avocado (Persea sp.), and the Quetzals visited this tree every day to eat the avocados (one of their favorite foods). It was amazing to see Quetzals up close and to see them so frequently and easily.
On May 23, we travelled down to Manuel Antonio along the Pacific coast, where we stayed at the Hotel Verde Mar on the beach. The Manuel Antonio area is rather crowded, developed, and touristy, but it is the location of the small, but wildlife-rich Manuel Antonio National Park, a great place to see sloths and monkeys. This park was conveniently only a short walk along the beach from our hotel.
View from the beach looking towards Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
Unfortunately, the weather was mostly rainy while we were at Manuel Antonio, and we had only one day of nice weather to walk in Manuel Antonio National Park and take a nighttime boat ride in the mangroves. When the days of pouring rain finally ended, grateful people (and their dogs) flocked to the formerly deserted beaches.
Costa Rican dogs playing on the beach at Manuel Antonio.
After Manuel Antonio, we traveled to Alajuela on May 26 to stay at the Xandari Resort & Spa.
Villa at Xandari Resort & Spa, Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Xandari is above Alajuela and has the delightful year-round climate of Costa Rica's middle elevations. There are trails there through the nearby tropical forests to waterfalls and paths throughout the extensive and truly heavenly gardens filled with birds and butterflies.
Bromeliad garden at Xandari Resort & Spa, Alajuela, Costa Rica.
We had some intermittent light rain, thunder, and heavy fog while at Xandari, but we still had a lovely time at this resort and were sad to leave it. We headed home on May 28, and despite all of the rain, I still have four, wonderfully full memory cards of Costa Rican photos to sort through.