If you are reading this, you must be interested in travel or thinking about Costa Rica.
Just go, really!
We all have highs and lows in our travel experiences and maybe one trip stands out above the rest.
THIS IS ONE OF THOSE TRIPS.
Here is our story and later, our wildlife experience like no other, so far......
Below, is a map of Costa Rica. The arrows shows the lodge area and the capital, San Jose.
Corcovado Jungle lodge is only accessible by boat, BUT that’s not the beginning, and here’s where I choked a bit. We first needed to take a 40 minute flight to Palmar Sur Airport by way of a (*GULP*) 12-seater plane.
I’ve gotten much better about flying, but still Hate it.
To ease my nerves a bit, I decided to sit as close as possible to the pilots. If they're “cool”, I’m “cool”. As long I don’t hear “Oh Shit”! I’ll be fine.
The plane lands in a small landing field ~ aahhhhh, on the ground. The airport consisted of a large open air shelter with benches, small office and souvenir cart. That's it.
The van was waiting. We climbed in with another couple and a few residents of the nearby town of Sierpe.
We were dropped off by a small dock and reception shack, with coolers of soda; water and BEER.
The boat had not arrived, so we relaxed on a shaded picnic table.
It was a lovely spot and the beer was cold - perfect, until the van driver came over and told me MY LUGGAGE DIDN'T MAKE IT!
Yup, never got on the plane in San Jose. Great! Should be an interesting week. I mean, Come On! We're in Costa Rica, heading to the jungle, what are the odds that I will see my luggage again? Was it lost or stolen?
There were 12 people on the plane, how are hard was it to get 12 suitcases on the plane, geez.
"Can I have another beer"?
A small boat arrived, maybe big enough for 6-8 people. We climbed in with the other couple heading to the lodge along with 3 pieces of luggage.
We were greeted with big smiles from the driver and a nature guide from the lodge. The guide pointed out wildlife, and talked about the significance of the Mangroves in this region, very interesting, or at least the parts we could hear.
The ride was about 1.5 hours down the Sierpe River then on to open ocean, so it was bumpy and a loud, but we were FREAKIN LOVIN' IT!!!
With our eardrums and butts somewhat intact, we arrived. Now it was time to get WET!
You’re not allowed to build a dock on the Pacific Ocean, SO…… after the driver maneuvered the boat between the rocks, we found a spot to hop out into the water and walked to shore.
Yeah, you’re probably thinking S-H-O-E-S, yeah water shoes would have been good to have, we didn’t. We packed pretty well, but forgot a few essentials. Link for you later regarding packing for the JUNGLE.
A few guys appeared on shore and grabbed our bags, except for mine of course, and loaded them on a small tractor which took us up the hill to the lodge.
Aerial View Of Corcovado Lodge
Our Casita was near the back of the resort, bordering the Corcovado Park. We walked slowly through the tropical paradise and then were introduced to the JUNGLE LIONS. I am referring to Howler Monkeys.
We have NEVER ever heard such a loud animal noise up close! It sent chills up and over the top of my scalp. Crazy, maybe it was because they were right above us. We were told they are very animated at dusk and dawn taunting and threatening any other Howlers not in their “Tribe”.
Here is a You Tube link, so you can hear them. Credit for this video/sound go to Roger Anderson.
Pretty Incredible Huh?!
Probably a good time to tell you, our video camera stopped working right after we stepped off the boat.
Best guess = humidity + old camera. So between that, and the missing luggage, I knew it was going to be a great trip for the rest of our days there. Anyway, the wonderful staff at Corcovado were kind enough to send me pictures of the lodge for your enjoyment.
One of the Casita's, at the lodge
The inside of the Casita was lovely with colored mosquito netting, soft sheets and fans.
Time for Lunch!
We were served outside on a large deck, accompanied by an array of colorful Costa Rica Birds, singing, prancing and darting for crumbs between tables. I have to say, this was one of my reasons for coming here.
There have been over 900 species of birds documented in this small country and we loved being up close to such a variety - already!
We headed back to the casita and I noticed a hammock out back in the trees. The Howlers moved on, so I decided it was a good time to try out the "swing machine" (Hammock) while Jonathan fiddled with the camera.
Sooo nice, until CRACKLE CRUNCH STOMP, I looked up and there were two horseback riders in uniform, with guns, just on the other side of the wire fence ~ ummm, this is interesting. They glanced over and moved on.
Its not like I freaked out or anything, BUT decided this would be a good time to head to the office to check on the possibilities of ever seeing my luggage again and inquire about the Men With Guns.
I was told the men were rangers, looking for monkey and jaguar poachers. They said "They move slowly and steadily through the forest looking for bad guys". My Heros!
As far as my clothes, I couldn't believe it!! I was told "they are arriving now". I walked out the door and sure enough, I could see the top of the tractor inching up the hill -- Wow, these guys are good! They coordinated this with the airport/van/boat and there they were. I also lucked out because another group of guests were arriving, still very much appreciated!
After unpacking, one of the staff member showed us where the Sunset Bar was located. Everyone is invited to this open area before dinner, enjoying a beverage of choice and, of course, watching the sunset.
The dinners were fabulous with a mixture of American and Costa Rican delights. You can sit alone or with other guests and talk about the experiences of the day.
So Here's Where We Stripped Down.
The evening temperature and fans in the Casita made it perfect for sleeping in the "RAW" and we did every night. There is NO AC.
We pulled the shear mosquito netting around the bed and we were serenaded by the soft humming of the forest. We slept good, really good.
Here is a link to Corcovado Lodge if you want to take a look right away JUNGLE LODGE.
The monkeys are a-howling and its time to get into the jungle! We took two nature hikes in and around the forest. We saw a tapir; Jesus Christ lizards, monkeys, cutter ants, Macaws, Toucans and a poisonous dart frog.
This handsome fella is a Costa Rican Tapir
Below is a lovely Toucan
Have you ever have one those "I could have been killed" moments on a vacation?
Or "What the hell was I thinking?"
Mid-week, we decided to visit the lodge's private beach and have some fun in the water. The beach area is about 150 feet long (half a football field), there are secluded spots surrounding and protected by palms very large boulders.
This day, we had the whole beach to ourselves.
The water seemed oh-so-calm, we had NO IDEA the incoming ocean swells were going to turn into gigantic waves.
The waves just seemed so "chill" coming in, well after I was out about 20 feet, the waves changed- grabbed me, picked me up, turned me upside down and threw me onto the beach. I was weightless, if just few seconds. Okay, I'm thinking, that was unusual, HA!
I'm An Idiot.
I just giggled a bit, brushed myself off and waded out again.
Again, calm at first, and it happened again, UP, OVER, and SPLAT on the beach, Omg! We were both lucky we weren't thrown into the rocks on each side- Wham!.... end of vacation.
The rest of the evening was removing sand out of every crevice of my body. The ear sand stayed with me, a good 3 days.
Here is the calm side of the beach, at the lodge, should have stayed in the Hammock.
Now, I have to tell you about the up close wildlife adventure that was so magical, so emotional.
We had selected a tour from the lodge that took us out in Drake bay to watch and swim with dolphins.
The tour operator picked us up at 9am sharp and we were greeted by two nature guides and 11 other people from other lodges around the Osa Pennisula.
We were all given snorkels, briefed on the rules of the boat and their efforts in protecting and avoiding injury to all ocean life.
Good to hear!
Everyone was pretty mellow as we headed toward open ocean.
We cruised for about 30 minutes at pretty high speed, then slowed.
The Captain announced that there was a small pod of Spinner Dolphins up ahead, all of a sudden the energy in the boat changed and we all moved toward the bow and sides of the boat to get our first glimpses of the dolphins.
They dispersed quickly, however the captain saw another pod up ahead, in a few minutes they also abruptly changed direction and disappeared. The guides kept us entertained talking about dolphins, turtles and other tour experiences, but we were a bit disappointed, of course. Then, one of the guides asked if everyone wanted to snorkel a bit before lunch?
We all jumped in with the exception of a slightly obese gentleman who appeared to a professional photographer. He was not dressed to get wet and seemed content with staying in the boat.
It was really incredible.
Schools of fish, turtles and a huge Swordfish, it had to be over 4 feet long, it was just below us, weaving back and forth.
I went wild, flopping my arms around trying to get Jon's attention, only to scare the fish away. Sorry.
I was excited.
Time to get back in the boat, I'm sure everyone agreed.
After lunch, the search continued and in less than 30 minutes we saw the most spectacular sight up ahead.
It was a Huge Spinner Dolphin Super Pod! From a distance we could only see dolphins spinning everywhere, as we approached we realized that it was hundreds and hundreds of Spinner Dolphins!
Suddenly the boat was filled with 12 year olds! Everyone was pointing, jumping, whistling, hoping back and forth from side to side watching the dolphins jump and spin; the guides were also excited- Woooooooo Hooooooo!!
It was like we were a bouncy toy for the dolphins as they jumped and surfed the boats waves.
You go to see this..........
Please view this video of a Spinner Dolphin Pod. I wish this was our video, but its the closest to what I am about to describe......video by John Downer Productions.
I did ask one of the guides, who seemed to have considerable knowledge of the Spinners, why they spun?
"No one knows for sure, there are only theories".
These dolphins rotated 5-6 times in the air! I like one researcher's explanation on this: "Because they can!"
The boat started to slow way down and it appeared the dolphins did too.
One of the guides came back and said the captain was offering a special treat.
Here's where it got interesting............
While the boat slowed down to a crawl, two people (one on each side of the boat ) would climb down the boat ladder, hold on to a short rope with one hand, and with snorkels on, glide along side the boat with the dolphins.
We were told to stay as still as possible and not to to touch the dolphins, they may come VERY close, still do not touch them. We were allowed to stay under between 8-10 minutes or come up sooner if we felt uncomfortable.
Jon and I hesitated, as we had never heard of such a thing, but one couple jumped at the opportunity and down they went.
Hundreds of dolphins were still swimming and jumping on both sides of the boat, after about 10 minutes the first couple came up.
"Oh my God"! the lady yelled, her husband was coaxing another guest to go for it, "You have to see this"!!
Two more people jumped at the chance, and the excitement grew.
We were next.
Jonathan and I put on snorkels and slowly entered the water.
As soon as my head was under the water, I had joined the pod. Dolphins were flying around me, twirling, playing with each other, not really getting close. The energy and ease of speed was spectacular.
It was magical......I was emotional.
The most amazing part was the DEPTH of this pod.
The video above shows a very large pod of dolphins under water, but our view was different.
It was also HUGE.
The dolphins were in these uniformed layers.
Layer upon Layer upon Layer of dolphins........ as far as I could see.
I didn't want to come up, but it was time.
We all had went in except for the photographer. One of the guys asked him if he was going in and he said "I have to, I have to see this"!
He had no intention of the swimming with dolphins only photographing ocean life and was still in his "Island Clothes".
He went in (without a camera), when he came out it was the first time I saw him smile the whole trip, he was so happy and now we were all connected!
Then, the captain asked if we all wanted to head in one more time, as the pod was still hanging around the boat. "Hell Yeah!"
Everyone went in again.
This time, just as my head went under I saw 3 baby dolphins we swimming with mom - "Oh my God!"
I also got to see one dolphin rev up its tail and head to the surface for a spin!
I have chills just writing this part of the story.
The rest of the evening was spent trying to come down from that remarkable experience.
The end of the trip.
We said our goodbyes with lots of hugs all around!
Guides Cooks Cleaning People General Maintenance Bartenders ~ it was a love fest!
Back on the boat, into the 12-seater plane (*GULP*), headed toward San Jose.
We did spend the next day checking out the city of San Jose. It was a blast, walked and walked, ate and shopped. They have some great artisan markets! We could have easily spent 2-3 days there, exploring.
As usual, I'm listing a few great links that you might find handy for planning a trip to Costa Rica, San Jose, AND getting up close to some birds and animals.
Here is one of my favorite sites:
Wikitravel. All about San Jose.
Here is a site called TravelExcellence, which I am not affiliated with, but the information on the site for all of Costa Rica is outstanding! Here's the link
What To Pack For The Jungle-- Check out my list HERE: PACK
AND FOR THE LOVE OF ANIMALS:
Toucan Rescue Ranch--They have Sloths and other animals too! Just 40-45 minutes from San Jose.
In the News!! After Much Work And Determination, Costa Rica Just Signed A Animal Welfare Act. You can read it HERE.
Volunteer Opportunities!! This is only one place, their are many! Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center:
If You See A Pup That Needs Help, Costa Rica Dog Rescue: HERE
We would also love to hear what your Bone Chillin; Wicked; Badass experience was, or what part of Costa Rica you visited and loved! Please comment below.
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