I have always wanted to travel the tropics since I was nine-years old. It took almost 40 years for the dream to come to fruition, but it was worth the wait. Thanks Tom and Jeff for getting me on the tropics road!
This all started, when Tom emailed me, asking if I wanted to join him and his brother, Jeff on a birding trip to Costa Rica. I of course accepted. Who wouldn't?
Tom made all arrangements for the lodges we would stay at, purchased our airline tickets, got the rental car and did all the foot work. I just merely had to send him a check for my portion. Doesn't get much easier than that.
Tom is a champion travel agent and a tireless planner! He set up an astounding trip. We stayed at two lodges for the week. He even hired us a guide for our first day at the lodge. The guide was really good, friendly and knew the birds and area extremely well. he fit in well with he three of us and it was as though we all have birded together all our lives.
At our second lodge we hired a local kid to guide us around the lodge's grounds. He was ok. I personally felt we would have done just as well on our own, but it's always nice to help out a local with a little financial support.
The rest of our time in the country, we birded on our own and did very well. Tom and Jeff have been to Costa Rica before and other great places like Ecuador, so tropical birding was nothing new to them.
Besides, Tom and Jeff being great birders, they are also two of the nicest people in the world. Their easy going, laid back demeanor made for fun travel companions and one of the best ever birding experiences in my life.
First Lodge: Heliconias Lodge and Rainforest is located in Northern Costa Rica in the Guanacaste Mountain Range. http://www.heliconiaslodge.com/
The micro-climate and diversity of habitats created between Volcano Tenorio and Volcano Miravalles leads to very distinctive birding, in a private reserve, being home to many species including Motmots, Toucans. Antbirds, Song Wrens, Manankins, Woodpeckers, Hummingbirds, Woodcreepers, Raptors and Owls.
The well maintained soft trails took us deep inside primary rainforest to discover a plethora of elusive bird species. The three hanging bridges and platform located at canopy level enhance enabled use to see more species and get closer looks at the mixed flocks in the canopy.
Overall, it was a great experience. The housing was quiet and simple, but comfortable. The food was good. The staff very friendly. Best of all the birding around the lodge grounds and other environs near by was first rate. I racked up many lifers on this first leg of the trip. Not only bird lifers, but primate lifers like: White-faced Cappucian Monkey, Mantled Howler Monkey and Spider Monkey
Video of Howler Monkeys calling on my first morning. Best alarm clock EVER!
One of the more interesting aspects of our housing, was the fact that the bottom of the door had a large two inch gap. This allowed interesting creatures to enter our room, which really didn't bother me much. Spiders, (BIG ones), insects of all kinds, lizards (mainly Geckos) and other cool critters were daily and nightly visitors. I loved it...not so sure the brother's Pavlik were as enthralled as I.
One of the most interesting was a rather large and scary looking scorpion, that was sitting on our bedroom floor. Tom almost stepped on it barefooted. Thus, is why you need to watch where you step and place your hands in places.
This critter and some nasty spiders and even snakes, is why you must ALWAYS keep your clothes and shoes off the floor. I keep mine off the floor and in large ziplock bags. If you do happen to keep your clothes and shoes on the floor, at least shake them out well before putting them back on. Also, check your bed before crawling it for the night.
More Photos coming soon!