A great surprise came when Tony asked if I wanted to join as a participant on the TTL tour with Greentours to Costa Rica that he was leading with Chris Gardner.
As we had our own Birding & Photography tour there in March this year, I was very excited with the proposal.
Costa Rica – such a beautiful country with an amazing variety of wildlife, a laid-back attitude and service-minded Costa Rican people; a country with great flavor of spice and color.
After my first trip to the country, when I got over three hundred life birds (birds seen for the first time in life), I simply fell in love with the place. This feeling became stronger after the TTL trip with Greentours. Now I'm sitting here in Ottawa, editing amazing images and writing this article while dreaming of my return.
Upon arriving at the airport in San Jose, the first bird we saw was, of course, the Black Vulture.
We headed straight for our lodge at tranquil Bosque de Paz. What a magnificent place with a wonderful bird feeding station, an orchid garden, a butterfly garden, a waterfall and a stream. I could remain only at this place for weeks, photographing the lovely surroundings and the amazing micro world inside the rain forest.
We stayed for two nights before we took the long drive to Laguna Lagartos' – 1250 acres of virgin rainforest. Having the place to ourselves was a plus and we had a hard time sitting still as the forest and wildlife constantly called our names.
I saw a Puma paw print for the first time. We walked the trail a few hours behind the Puma, and the mud from the light shower held the clear print. The thought excited me.
Strange insects, butterflies, damselflies, mushrooms, monkeys, frogs and plants captivated us and held our attention for hours. Back at the lodge and the fantastic patio, we watched and photographed Montezuma Oropendulas, Scarlet Macaws, Collared Aracari and many other bird species. Spectacled Caiman settled in the pond next to the lodge, Emerald Basilisks ran around the property. While visiting a private home in the nearby area, an earthquake hit an amazing 7.6 on the Richter scale. It's absolutely crazy no one got hurt during this significant tremor. We were about 160 km east of the epicenter, and we felt very well the natural phenomenon unfolding under our feet. After about half a minute I became a bit worried as the movements continued. Fifteen to twenty seconds later, everything went more or less back to normal. The howler monkeys went bananas for about forty-five minutes after the quake ended.
Nevertheless, Laguna Lagartos was fabulous, lively and entertaining and we spent three glorious nights there.
Our next stop was up in the cloud forest surrounding San Gerardo and Savegre Lodge. When I was there in March, I missed good views of the male Resplendent Quetzal. But this time, with help from a local guide, we got him! The Quetzal loves avocado trees, and sure enough, there it was, obscured by branches, lianas and green leaves. What an amazing bird, with the “punkiest” hair-do I've ever seen.
After Sevegre and the nice clean crisp mountain air, we headed for the Osa Peninsula. Getting there was fun and extremely interesting. Transported by Aero Taxi from Golfito to Jiminez in a small air plane, the twenty minutes long ride gave us a fantastic view of the nearby area. Our lodge, Bosque del Cabo, was a private reserve overlooking the Pacific Ocean. During our five-days stay, we observed several humpback whales, a minke whale, all kinds of monkeys swinging from the treetops, Crested Caracaras loafing around on the lawn, nine-banded Armadillos turning the earth for crabs and other food, and many other bird and mammal species. Of course, the loudest of them all were the many Scarlet Macaws ruling the air space.
Again we had the place almost totally to ourselves, and the people at the lodge spoiled us well. It was a serene and wonderful experience.
We spent out last night at the fabulous La Cusinga Lodge in the Dominical area. The place grasped my heart so intensely, I simply must go back! The sooner the better!
Unfortunately, all (good) things must come to an end. This time, I simply wanted to stay. Throughout the trip, I purposely refused to look at my photos, so I could extend the trip much longer after I got home. I'm still editing images and re-living the tour – the places, the food, the people, the animals, the insects, the flowers, everything!
We were eleven happy travelers, including two leaders, who had a lot of fun, learning and teaching each other about nature, wildlife, flora, fauna and most important of all: photography.
Thank you to all you wonderful people: Moira Gardner, Mary Guy, Martin Angel, Heather Angel, Andrew Eadie, Michael Brooking, Ron Humphrey and Hilary Humphrey. You all made this trip so very unforgettable. Also a great thank you to Chris Gardner and Tony Beck for your excellent expertise, patience and knowledge.