Costa Rica Ramble
It lies between two oceans, is world renown for its biodiversity and its locals have quirky names –like Mountain Spiny Pocket, Blue Jeans and Strawberry Poison Dart, to mention just a few. We’re talking one mouse and two frogs here but vibrant Costa Rica is ‘packed to the rafters’ with extravagant birds and intriguing wildlife, many with unusual monikers.
On the bird front, there are trogons, motmots, manakins and potoos; jacamars, limpkins, gnateaters and thick-knees. Throw in hundreds of species of exquisite hummingbirds and the country was spoilt for choice when it came to choosing a national bird. It settled on the beautifully ornate Resplendent Quetzal with its lime green, spiked hairstyle and very long, shimmery emerald tail, right? No, in fact, Costa Rica opted for the common Clay-coloured thrush! To make up for its lack of star appeal the national one has a more glamorous local name – Yigüirro.
While birds may claim centre stage in the Costa Rica Reality Revue, there are plenty of other unique celebrities in the show: various frogs – who knew they could be so colourful and cute?; reptiles – like the ‘Jesus Christ’ lizard (walks on water!); mammals – wildcats (mostly elusive), sloth, tapir and monkeys. There are cloud-forests rainforests, volcanoes and beaches. In fact, ‘Rich Coast’ has 5% of the world’s biodiversity but takes up just .25% of its landmass. Our Costa Rican ‘recce’ started in the capital, San José, where a brief stay in the busy city gave us a taste of the ‘Pura Vida’ that the sunny-natured Ticos live by. Then it was off to the countryside.
First stop, remote Laguna de Lagato Ecolodge, at the end of a long, bumpy road. Countless colourful birds entertainment and background music by day, at night the profound silence of the rainforest was broken only by an occasional nocturnal hooter or croaker. Next up, Selva Verde Lodge tucked into the rainforest alongside the Sarapiqui River. A network of wooden walkways, hammocks waiting to be occupied, forest trails to be explored – Selva was another oasis of peace just like the many other lodges we put down at. From east to west, up and down, through small villages, big town centres and lush valleys we discovered the heart of Costa Rica. We were thrilled to spot an elusive jaguar deep in the forest; haunted by the howler monkeys; often out-manoeuvred by darting hummingbirds; seldom ready to move on. It was all too appealing so we’ll be heading back for more of nature at its best.