Day 4: Costa Rica

*Bare-throated Tiger Heron1 with Burrowing Python 052919 Hacienda Solimar
Solimar Ranch: Bare-throated Tiger Heron with a struggling Burrowing Python that eventually got away.

While I liked Hacienda Guachipelin, we had issues with some of the air conditioner units leaking causing several of us to wake up to water all over the place. I enjoyed the stay, but I was ready to move on. We pulled out this morning for the next stage of our trip.

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While traveling to Monteverde, we stopped at the Solimar Ranch for lunch and a guided tour of the ranch and wetlands. The ranch is just south of the mouth of the Tempisque River. The owner/guide was impressive – he was great at spotting birds and you wanted to stay near him at all times! I loved watching the basilisks run across the top of the water and searching for the various birds, crocodiles and flowers. Up near the ranch house, there were gardens with tons of butterflies. While we ate, we watched a male and female Rose-throated Becards build their nest. The pair took turns entering the nest and frequently sat near or on the nest the whole time we were at the house.

One member of our group – a University of Arkansas grad student – had a neat find! He caught a boa constrictor that was in the process of catching a green iguana! Below is a video of him telling the story.

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After Solimar Ranch, we made a pit stop in Abangares for gas (apparently, no one can be in the vehicle when you fill up so we all had to get out). We used this time to visit a souvenir store, and get sweets (mango milkshake) at Cafeteria Mi Finca. We also stopped at a roadside place – Cafeteria Horizonte – to take in the views.

We eventually arrived at Senda Monteverde Hotel. I joined a group for dinner at its restaurant, which was so dang good even if the desert was too rich for me to finish. We were greeted by staff with drinks once again and our cabins are pretty amazing. There was a mix-up with our cabins, but it was quickly straightened up.

Day 3: Costa Rica

Today, we toured Rincon de la Vieja National Park and saw “Las Pailas,” the bubbling mud pits created by a nearby volcano. It was naturally still raining but it didn’t deter us.

Once we got back to the hotel, I joined one other adult and three kids from my group for a horseback ride to Las Chorreras and Victoria Waterfalls. We had two other adults back out at the last minute because of nerves. My horse and I had a love/hate relationship and, taking a sliding ride uphill/downhill during the rain was slightly frightening at times. However, it was worth the trip. It was fun. It was also great getting in the last waterfall pictured below.

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Day 2: Costa Rica

Pacific Screech Owl2 052719 Costa Rica (Guanacaste)

Three Pacific Screech Owls greeted us as we left the hotel this morning to start the day. Like yesterday, it was cloudy and rainy so we decided to head over to the Santa Rosa National Park, which became a historical landmark in 1971. It is the site of the Battle of Santa Rosa and where Costa Rican independence was won. We walked through parts of mature dry forest to search for birds. We even found howler monkeys hunkered down to wait out the rain.

We wrapped up the day by visiting the hotel’s Volcanic Mud Hot Springs and dinner at a Curubandé restaurant where we tried various local dishes.

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There are optional morning and night walks each day. I opted to go on tonight’s walk.

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Day 1: Costa Rica

 

Great Kiskadee 052619 Hacienda Guachipelin
Great Kiskadee (Hacienda Guachipelin)

Well, I left today for my 2nd ever international birding trip!

The trip was organized by the Arkansas Audubon Society to raise money for its trust and to provide scholarships for students. I actually had several people with my group on my flights, which was nice. It made navigating the airport in Liberia, Costa Rica, a little easier. Once we met up with our tour guide and group, we stopped by El Jardin Liberia, a restaurant and souvenir store, for lunch before heading on to our first hotel: Hacienda Guachipelin in Rincon de la Vieja. We were greeted with drinks and musicians. We searched for birds as we wandered to our rooms, and later ate at the hotel’s restaurant.

Blue-gray Tanager

Turquoise-browned Motmot

Red-billed Pigeon

Tomorrow’s scheduled events

Here’s my ever-growing “bucket list” of what to do next.

U.S. list:

• ALASKA: Take an Alaskan cruise;
• ALASKA/NORWAY: See the northern lights;
• ARKANSAS: Go diamond digging at Mufreesboro Diamond Mine;
• ARIZONA: Go to the Grand Canyon;
• CALIFORNIA: Visit Glass Beach in Fort Bragg;
• CALIFORNIA: Visit Terminal Island in the Port of Los Angeles;
• CALIFORNIA: Photograph the Ahwahnee Bridge at Yosemite;
• LOUISIANA: Take a haunted swamp tour through the cypress trees of Manchac Swamp near New Orleans, La. (offered by Plantation Adventure and Cajun Pride Tours);
• NEW MEXICO: Take a wild horse and photography workshop in New Mexico. See here;
• OHIO: Visit the Village of Zoar, Ohio (founded in 1817);
• TEXAS: Visit Haunted Galvston Island in Galveston, Texas, which became haunted after the deadliest storm in U.S. history — the Galveston Hurricane of 1900;
• UTAH: See Bryce Canyon in Utah at sunset;
• Go sailing;
• Skydive; and
• Visit all 50 states in the United States — just 22 left.

 

International list:

• AFRICA: View the shipwrecks and discarded, bleached whale and seal bones at Skeleton Coast within Namibia’s. See here;
• AFRICA: Go on a safari;
• AFRICA: Ride an elephant;
• ARGENTINA: See penguins at Tierra del Fuego;
• CHINA: Climb the Great Wall of China;
• ENGLAND: Visit Whitby, which is Bram Stoker’s Dracula setting;
• GEORGIA: Visit Vardzia Cave Monasteries;
• ICELAND: Hike a glacier;
• JAPAN: Take a hike through Aokigahara Suicide Forest near Mount Fuji;
• JORDAN: Tour the 13-story tomb at Petra before taking a camel ride in desert valley at Wadi Rum;
• NORWAY/ALASKA: See the northern lights;
• PERU: Visit Utcubamba Valley to see the rarest hummingbird — the Spatuletail;
• PERU: Visit Machu Picchu;
• PORTUGAL: Visit Chapel of Bones (designed of bones to show “Life is temporary”) inside the Church of Sao Francisco in Evora;
SOUTH AMERICA: Visit the Amazon Rainforest;
• SCOTLAND: Visit Dunvegan Castle in the Isle of Skye;
• SCOTLAND: Paddle part of the 300-mile Scottish Sea Kayak Trail;
• Participate in a International missions trip;
• Ride the Orient-Express; and
• Visit all seven continents — four left.