Our first photo trip of the New Year was an encore excursion to Costa Rica. Like last year, the trip logistics were handled by Costa Rica Focus. Jane and I decided on lodging and potential photo locations. Costa Rica Focus then made all the necessary arrangements for airport transfers, accommodations, meals, transportation, and our personal guide, Carlos Jimenez. The encore was another great adventurous excursion.
There was a déjà vu moment as we prepared for our Costa Rica journey. Last year our flight from Albuquerque to Dallas-Fort Worth had been cancelled due to weather and, as a result, we arrived in Costa Rica a day late. This time, American Airlines sent us an early warning that a storm was expected to move into the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport area on our departure date, so we had time to book a flight a day earlier. We spent the extra day at the Bougainvillea Hotel near San José. The hotel is known for its exceptional garden where we spent time looking for and photographing birds.
Costa Rica has many remote, isolated areas including Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula. Located along the Pacific Ocean in the southwest corner of Costa Rica, the peninsula is mostly undeveloped rainforest with only a few villages and lodges. We stayed at the Casa Corcovado Wilderness Lodge near the San Pedrillo Ranger Station entrance to the National Park.
The Pacific side of the Osa Peninsula has little in the way of transportation infrastructure. We enjoyed a short domestic flight on Sansa Airlines in a 11 passenger Cessna 208-B aircraft from San José to Drake Bay where there is a small landing strip. From there it was a slow, bumpy twenty minutes, or so, ride in an old van on a dirt track to the beach along the Drake Bay. Staff from the Casa Corcovado Wilderness Lodge were waiting on the beach to transport us via a small boat with a large, powerful outboard motor to the Lodge. We changed into water shoes for the wet transfer from the beach to the boat. After half an hour on the choppy waters of the Pacific Ocean, Jane and I awkwardly alighted from the skiff with the much appreciated help of the crew.
We were off the boat and on the rocky beach but not at the Lodge. A short time after our arrival a tractor arrived pulling a small open trailer with snug seating for about eight. We boarded the trailer and our luggage was placed in a rack in front of the tractor. It was a steep haul from the beach to the main lodge facilities. The Casa Corcovado Wilderness Lodge is small, only 14 bungalows on a 170 acre site, intimate resort with good food and very friendly staff. We stayed five nights and participated in a number of activities, including a snorkeling trip to Cano Island, a boat tour into the mangroves of the Terrabe Sierpe National Wetlands, a hike into Corcovado National Park, and various hikes on the rainforest trails of the lodge.
From the Casa Corcovado Wilderness Lodge, we flew back to San José where Carlos rented a car for our journey to Sarapique and the Ara Ambigua Lodge. On the way we stopped at Don Alvara’s farm where it was possible to photograph macaws from a close distance. The large, noisy birds are wild but have become habituated to life on the farm where they are occasionally fed peanuts.
We were three nights at the Ara Ambigua Lodge including my birthday. Carlos surprised us with special dinner arrangements that night including a bottle of fine wine. Turned out that Carlos actually lives near Sarapique and invited his wife, Maribel, to join us for dinner the last night of our stay at Ara Ambigua.
Several sojourns were made around Sarapique. The best birding occurred along some of rural agricultural tracks as well as the surrounding rainforest. With the aid of local guide José (Cope) Perez, we were able to spot, and photograph, crested owls, Honduran white bats, a laughing falcon, and an adolescent sloth. Cope also put some sugar water into a banana flower to attract hummingbirds that I was able to capture without flash.
Our last night in Costa Rica was spent at the Hotel Villa San Ignacio not far from the San José airport. The vast hotel grounds were well secluded from the hustle and bustle of urban noise and activity. We enjoyed some quiet relaxing time there before being transferred to the San José airport and our American Airlines flight home.
Some photos from this trip can be found in the Costa Rica 2023 Gallery on the Home Page.