Posts Categorized: Costa Rica

Costa Rica Tour – Tour Day 8

By Susan Mahr January 12, 2018 We had to be up early this morning to have the luggage set outside the rooms at 6:30 and down to breakfast when the restaurant opened at 7:00. It was cloudy with a heavy mist, enough to have the gutters dripping from the accumulated moisture, so there was no glorious sunrise to…

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Costa Rica Tour – Tour Day 7

By Susan Mahr January 11, 2018 The sound of the surf crashing on the sand just a few hundred feet from our rooms was a constant white noise to lull everyone to sleep. With no activities scheduled for the day, everyone got to do their own thing – sleep in, take an optional excursion, hike…

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Costa Rica Tour – Tour Day 6

By Susan Mahr January 10, 2018 It had rained overnight and skies were partly cloudy this morning when we met on the deck near the restaurant at 6:30 to watch the birds coming in to the feeder in the cool air. The howler monkeys that had been howling in the distance had stopped making noise, but the…

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Costa Rica Tour – Tour Day 5

By Susan Mahr January 9, 2018 Birds started chattering and howler monkeys could be heard in the distance well before dawn (and people in adjacent room jabbering). The volcano stood out against the pale sky, with tendrils of clouds streaming across its slopes when we got up around 6:00, but 15 minutes later it was completely gone from…

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Costa Rica Tour – Tour Day 4

By Susan Mahr January 8, 2018 The rain continued for much of the night, but it was just incredibly damp when we woke in the morning. As the avian dawn chorus diminished a few howler monkeys could be heard in the distance. Margherita was waiting with her spotting scope near the dining area at 7:00, but…

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Costa Rica Tour – Tour Day 3

By Susan Mahr January 7, 2018 It rained on and off all night long, with the soft pitter-patter of raindrops on the foliage outside mixing with the whirring, trilling and buzzing of insects, chattering of geckos, and clicking and plinking of frogs for a lovely background serenade that was only occasionally disrupted by noisy trucks…

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Costa Rica Tour – Tour Day 2

By Susan Mahr January 6, 2018 The skies were brighter this morning, but still plenty of clouds around and a bit breezy when we met for breakfast at 7:15. The blue crowned motmots were not cooperating and didn’t visit the feeders at all while we were there. We were back in the lobby with our luggage…

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By Susan Mahr January 4 & 5, 2018 Thursday January 4 This was the smallest group we’ve ever had, with only four participants. Kathy, from Tucson, came on a redeye, arriving early in the morning, while everyone else got in late afternoon on the same flight. Nancy, from Houston, and Beverly, from Fort Atkinson, WI, were…

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Coffee Time

We were staying in an area of extensive coffee plantations, so this morning we took the Espírito Santo Coffee Tour to learn about this important crop. Our guide Ronnie first told us about the coffee fruits, which normally have two seeds, but the premium peaberry has only one (a genetic mutation that causes one seed to abort, so all resources go into a single seed so it gets bigger).

Two Beautiful Gardens

By Susan Mahr Our first stop of the day was at Jardín Botáníco Lankester. This garden, maintained by the University of Costa Rica, is internationally known for its collections of epiphytes, including many orchids. The orchid collection includes over 15,000 accessions from nearly 1,000 species, most of which are native to Mesoamerica. We looked at a…

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Quetzal Quest

By Susan Mahr This morning we headed further down the valley to Savegre Lodge where we loaded into two small 4WD vehicles for the tour into the forest on a steep, rutted dirt road full of rocks. Each vehicle had two bench seats in back along each edge, facing each other, that could accommodate up…

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Into the Clouds

By Susan Mahr It was warm and steamy for our option morning bird walk, where we saw a lot of different things including a double-toothed hawk that posed nicely in the dim light, a yellow-bellied elaenia perched on some wires, then a bright-rumped attila flitting in the foliage. There was a bit of a lull,…

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Wilson Botanic Garden

By Susan Mahr We got up early to make the two hour drive south to spend the whole day at Wilson Botanical Garden, the most famous botanical garden in Central America. But before we ever arrived we had an excellent ornithological experience. Just as we were getting ready to move on from a quick bathroom…

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Relaxation & Mangroves

By Susan Mahr The birds were singing before dawn, and the sun rose in clear skies, except for big fat clouds out over the water. Having arrived in the dark, the dramatic view over the dry forest filled with yellow-flowering trees stretching to the ocean was a surprise. It was 100 steps (plus some unpaved…

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Chocolate & Crocodiles

By Susan Mahr Most of us managed to escape the chilly weather in the US to arrive in Costa Rica, but one person had to cancel due to injury and two others are still hoping to join the tour in two days after their airport was closed because of ice. A storm moving through the…

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Orchids to Orchids

By Susan Mahr On the last day of the tour, we started the day at Jardín Botáníco Lankester. This garden, maintained by the University of Costa Rica, is internationally known for its collections of epiphytes, especially orchids.  The orchid collection includes over 15,000 accessions from nearly 1,000 species, most of which are native to Mesoamerica. We saw…

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A Motmot Morning

By Susan Mahr Hotel Bougainvillea where we are staying is famous for the blue-crowned motmots that reside here. Normally rather secretive birds of the forest, the motmots here will come in for food. They put out papayas, bananas and other fruit on tray feeders just outside the restaurant windows to lure in these blue jay-sized…

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A Garden of Exotics

By Susan Mahr This morning we returned on the ferry and drove back to the Central Valley. By noon we had arrived at Jardín Botáníco Else Kientzler in the town of Sarchi. After eating a catered lunch out on the verandah of the reception building, our guide Mauricio told us the history of the gardens. It was…

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Dropping Out of the Clouds

By Susan Mahr We had a little taste of what it’s like most of the time in a cloud forest this morning, with heavy mist/light rain drifting over from the cloud-shrouded mountain. Usually the mountain top is enveloped in clouds, so we felt fortunate to have had a clear but windy day to explore the…

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Walking with Willow

By Susan Mahr Sign at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve. This morning we visited Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve with Willow Zuchowski, author of A Guide to Tropical Plants of Costa Rica. It was awesome having a world-renowned expert leading us through the forest, stopping every couple of feet to look at another plant.

Exploring Tortuguero National Park

By Susan Mahr This morning’s activity was an excursion to Tortuguero National Park. Over 77,000 acres was declared a National Park in 1970 after being protected as a turtle nesting sanctuary since 1963. The park has great biological diversity and ecosystems including tidal mangrove swamps, rainforest, beaches, and lagoons, with more than 400 species of…

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Floating to Tortuguero

By Susan Mahr On our first day of the 2016 MG tour of Costa Rica, we left the big city of San Jose up in the mountains of the central valley, drove across the Continental Divide, and down the Atlantic slope to the Caribbean lowlands. We went from the lush rainforest of Braulio Carrillo National…

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SACRO & Our Farewell Dinner

By Susan Mahr  Our final evening in Costa Rica was spent at the beautiful home of Ms. Ileana Terán, coffee plantation owner and founder of the SACRO Foundation, Save Our Costa Rican Orchids. Set on a hillside overlooking the city, the landscaping incorporates tropical flowering and foliage plants from around the world, and historic artifacts…

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A Soggy, Peaceful Day

By Susan Mahr It was sunny when we left the Central Valley this morning, but the clouds on the mountain where we were headed to didn’t give us much optimism for the weather we’d encounter up there. Sure enough, it was foggy and raining lightly when we got to La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This nicely…

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El Jardín Botánico Else Kientzler

By Susan Mahr Else Kientzler Botanical Garden is a private garden in Sarchi with a collection of tropical plants from around the world, with over 2000 species of plants in 11 gardens and some native forest on 17 acres. It includes collections of palms, gingers, aquatic plants, bromeliads, fruit trees, tropical timber trees, ornamental plants,…

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From the Beach to the Clouds

By Susan Mahr Today we spent a fair amount of time traveling, going through a variety of different ecosystems in a short period of time. We stared out in the humid lowlands of the southwest, heading northward. Along the way we stopped at the Tarcoles River, to walk across the bridge to see the American…

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A Spicy Morning

By Susan Mahr This morning we visited Villa Vanilla, a small artisanal producer of vanilla and other spices. We were greeted by Giselle, who invited us over to see vanilla beans and some other spices drying on elevated racks in the hot sun. The mature beans are dried for a specific length of time before…

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Manuel’s Monkeys & More

By Susan Mahr In the afternoon we went on a walking wildlife safari in Manuel Antonio National Park. Just a few dozen feet past the entrance Gustavo stopped and trained his scope on a two-toed sloth high in a tree not far off the trail. The shaggy ball of fur blended in pretty well among…

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Bats after Breakfast

By Susan Mahr The howler monkeys started at 5am, and the scarlet macaws were squawking by 5:30, and various other birds joined in the cacophony until it got light about 6. It was warm and humid (72), while it was near zero back home. This morning we had plenty of time to relax or go…

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In Another World

By Susan Mahr What a difference a few hours of driving makes. We left chilly Trogon Lodge up in the country’s highest mountain range to head south out of the central mountain range to the hot and steamy lowlands of the Osa Peninsula in the southwestern part of the country. As we went over the…

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Rainforest Rendezvous

By Susan Mahr Just about the only downside to being in such a remote location was the lack of TV (and until a few months ago, internet access; we found out Sunday morning that they DO have internet now; their website needs to be updated). Fortunately the fact that it was Super Bowl Sunday didn’t…

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By Susan Mahr Entrance to Lankester Botanical Gardens. We started off the tour this morning with a visit to the University of Costa Rica‘s Lankester Botanical Garden in Cartago, which specializes in orchids and other epiphytic plants. Costa Rica is home to about 1400 orchid species, 20% of which are endemic. The Garden cultivates more…

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Paradise Found

By Susan Mahr Most of the group chose to travel to Costa Rica a day ahead of time (for those whose flights would arrive late in the evening) so we had a day to relax and enjoy the extensive gardens behind the hotel or explore the city. Kari, Dwight, and Mary Kay arrived in midafternoon,…

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