Truchas Selva Madre – January 8

We camped for a couple of nights at Truchas Selva Madre, a trout farm and restaurant in the Talamanca mountains SW of San Jose. The first night was cold.  Temperature got down to the 40’s.

We spent a few days camped next to Iglesia Mary Auxilidora, a gem of church in Cartago at the base of Volcan Irazu. (Note the climate data on Cartago’s Wikipedia page.)

While in Cartago we made an aborted attempt to get to the crater at Volcan Irazu.  The fog was just too heavy.  We moved to Lago de Cachi, a man-made reservoir that feeds a hydroelectric plant. When we were leaving we noticed two things: Volcan Turrialba was erupting and the sky was cloud free.  We changed our plans and went to Volcan Irazu.  It’s not every day that you can walk across a volcanic crater and see the ash cloud from another volcano.


Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal – December 8

“Long as I remember the rain been comin’ down
Clouds of mystery pourin’ confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages tryin’ to find the sun.
And I wonder still I wonder who’ll stop the rain.”
—Credence Clearwater Revival

Our 3-day stay in La Fortuna didn’t start well. We pulled into a small parking lot. The front bumper got caught on a low wall. When I backed up it was pulled down and out. Long story short, we had it repaired at a body shop in less than a day for $145. Remember that the next time you take your car to a body shop for a minor repair.

On our list of things to do in La Fortuna was recharge Chris’ cell phone. We found out that recharging a phone that uses the Kolbi carrier (owned by the national electric company) is not so easy.

At one of the places we stopped we encountered Koren, an English-speaking Tico (Costa Rican) who volunteered to drive us to a nearby mercado and translate for us. He turned out to be a tour guide who had spent years in the US, mostly in California. And he spoke Greek! We ended up spending most of the next three days with him.

We left La Fortuna earlier this am for Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal. Unlike national parks in the U.S. that charge admission by the car, the parks in Costa Rica charge by the person. And foreigners pay double what the Ticos do. When we got to the gate and were told admission was $15/person I almost asked if that included lunch.

After parking we walked the dirt road for a couple of kms before turning back. Then the rain started. It rained most of the afternoon. This time of the year is supposed to be the dry season.

Chris asked the gate guard if we could park overnight. After checking with his boss the answer was, “No problema.”

We arranged a tour of Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge.  We stopped at La Casona del Rio Fortuna on the way for breakfast.  La Casona was the home of a former president of Costa Rica.  Now it’s a restaurant and cultural center.  The breakfast was great with an unobstructed view of two volcanos. The staff puts out food for birds.

The Passerini’s and Golden-hooded Tanagers were life birds.

We toured Caño Negro by boat.

We toured a cacao plantation and factory.


Santa Elena, Costa Rica – November 26

Thinking of getting a couple of T-shirts printed that say “WE SURVIVED OTTO!”  The serious effects seem to be limited to the Caribbean  coast near the Nicaraguan border.  We had a lot of wind and rain, but we haven’t seen any damage.

We finally got some good birding in today with Freddy, a taciturn, keen-eyed guide. We got looks at 43 species, and about 20% were lifers.

Bird of the Day: Blue-crowned Motmot (lifer)

This morning’s bird walk

Monteverde Orchid Garden

The vast majority of the collection are cool growing orchids that require a magnifying glass to see the flowers.


A troupe of coatis makes regular visits to the back door of the hotel’s kitchen.  The women who work in the kitchen feed them over-ripe bananas.

Our hotel sits on the rim of the canyon that is pictured at the top of the page.  In addition to coatis, other wildlife swings by to see what’s on offer. Like this White Faced Capuchin.

On the other side of the canyon is the Ecologica Santuario.  Very few people visit it, and it gets no publicity in Santa Elena.  Perhaps if more people knew about the waterfall…

Larger version here.

The day before the hurricane we visited Selvatura Park, basically some developer’s attempt to Disneyfy the rainforest.  We chose the “activity” of 8 hanging bridges that traverse the park through the canopy. We thought we’d see birds that hang out in the canopy, but we had no luck.  Could have been due to the maniacs riding the nearby zip line (“World’s Longest!!!”) while screaming their heads off.


That’s all for today, folks.  Seeya down the road.