Day 18: To San Gerardo de Dota

Now, this was an interesting morning! Around 5am, we found out that a bat had inadvertently made its way into our bathroom! When we entered the bathroom, the bat would start flying frantically trying to get out.
It came in through an open window, but could not find its way out again.
This means that we had to open the door from the bathroom to the hotel room and both sliding doors outside to coax it to go away.
It did, three times actually, as the bat went out quickly, and probably didn’t like what it was seeing there as it circled around and went straight back in. It did so three times, and eventually we were too fast for him in closing the doors and away he was!
Quite an adventurous morning if I may say so.

After this, breakfast. Of course! No Gallo Pinto for me again, as they didn’t offer it today, but I was greeted by the smell of pancakes. Not bad!
The journey from Ojochal to San Gerardo de Dota is not very long, but there is a very distinct difference in height: we go from sea level to +2200 metres in about 100km!
This also means that the temperature drops quite significantly. We started out with about 30 degrees at breakfast, and arrived at the Trogon Lodge with only 10 degrees Celsius left.
As we were still wearing our shorts and flip flops, we were not quite dressed for the occasion as you might say.

We were met with a dinner, served as lunch. Two full plates of food! We quickly changed into something more appropriate as it was still only 13 degrees with rain. After this, we decided to walk to a nearby waterfall, which led to Kirsten finding her own male Quetzal! He was sitting just feet from us, and we took some amazing pictures.
The Lodge also has a nice balcony at the restaurant, where we pretty much spent the rest of the afternoon trying to take pictures of the resident Hummingbirds. Quite nice!

The Lodge itself it laid out very much like Hobbiton, only the houses are full sized and not built into the hills.
Tomorrow, we’ll go on a Quetzal spotting tour first, while after breakfast we will go find any other animals residing in these high Tropical Cloud Forests.
After that, we drive to San Jose already…


Day 17: Ojochal

Yet another day here in beach paradise.
The Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is littered with beaches, and with the temperatures reaching well over 30 degrees with high humidity, what better place to be than in the ocean, next to a lovely beach. Not, it unfortunately is not white, but still. 😉

Right after breakfast a pickup shows up to take us to Uvita, the nearby place where the Dolphins & Whales tour will take off. This tour works slightly different than what we are used to, as we have to walk from the office (all geared up wearing our life jackets and flip flops) via the official entrance of the Ballenas National Park to a large beach where the boat still sits on its trailer.
The boat is (not so) gently removed from said trailer by simply backing it up into the surf until it nearly floats, wait for a large wave, and yank the trailer from underneath it by stepping on the throttle of the towing car. When this was done, we were told to take off our shoes and enter the ocean to get in.
Crude. But effective nonetheless.

Fully installed, the only thing to tackle is the surf itself. Starting from the beach, the breakers pose an interesting challenge, but everything was skilfully handled by the captain. We were warned in advance, but nobody got disproportionately wet during this ordeal.

During the tour we found several sets of mother Humpback Whales with their calves, and even a pod of male Humpbacks! The latter even resorted to jumping from the water, something even the crew of the tour has rarely seen. The mothers and their calves generally take it a lot easier and just float on the surface an generally do nothing.
Today was also the very first time we have heard the whales sing without any amplification! The captain turned off the motor, and the singing was very clearly audible. Wow!

After the tour, there was some obligatory swimming in the pool of the hotel, and the necessary treatment of the sunburnt skin. Even when you take the right precautions, being out on water always gets to you. And, as we are both quite tired by now, we’ll tuck in early and prepare for tomorrow.
That is the day, we have to leave Ojochal, and head a little further inland to San Gerardo de Dota, to try and find some more Quetzal, amongst other things.


Day 16: Ojochal

Today, I totally forgot to take pictures! That is a weird thing, as I usually think about that when I’m out and about on holiday.

Today is Sunday, and because of the fact that the nearby village hosts the Festival de Ballena all hotels are packed! A lot of Costa Ricans enjoying their weekend over here. The festival is held as the migration of Whales is peaking right now, so many tours go out to view them.
Neither one if those tours will be containing us today.

We start the day with a nature walk in the garden and on the premise of the hotel. We also saw our very first (clearly visible) sloth! Over here, it is the Three-toed Sloth, and it was really active this morning. So cool!

After this, we decided it was time to visit the beach as temperatures are not that high yet. The tides are working against us, as we had to race to keep our towels dry because of the high tide coming in way faster than expected. This also cut our visit to the beach short, as 2 metres of debris riddled stoney beach is not a nice place to put the towels down. 🙂

The rest of the afternoon was spent poolside. This is quite relaxing!

Tonight, we tag along with the volunteers to go turtle patrolling on the nearby Tortuga Beach. That meant walking the length of the beach until either the time was up or us finding a turtle ready to lay the eggs. Over here, they have the Olive Ridley Turtle in its egg laying season, while we saw Green Sea Turtles before. The Olive Ridley Turtles are much smaller, but equally green.
The volunteers work in three shifts during the night: 7-10pm, 10pm-1am, 1-4 am. We opted for the earliest shift, and were picked up to walk to the beach at half past 6. In the pouring rain. Yay!
This unfortunately meant that we were to patrol during the night in the rain, or if it ever stopped raining, just in the dark.
For about the first hour it rained like crazy, but afterwards everything cleared up and with the full moon and lightning out on the ocean, it turned out to be an amazing night.
But, no nesting turtles.
On this beach, they average about 1 per night, which means that over three shifts chances are small for you to see one. And unfortunately, we didn’t. But we are sure that that beach was the safest beach ever, as we were 5 strong patrolling it against poachers!

Tomorrow, we’ll be on a boat doing a Dolphins & Whales tour! I’m curious and looking forward to it!

Day 15: To Ojochal

This morning was unlike the many ones before it: we slept in! So instead of breakfast at 07:00 we actually only turned up at 08:30, a full hour and a half behind our regular schedule, now that is being on holiday!

The drive from Manuel Antonio to Ojochal is actually very short, and the entire length of road is tarred and has an 80km/h speed limit, so making progress on those roads is easy. We actually arrived at Vollas Gaia in Ojochal way too early, but the staff here was kind enough to let us check in anyway, and even offered some advice on how to spend the rest of the day!

That meant that we were off to a beach right after lunch.
All beaches in Costa Rica are public, which means they are freely accessible and free to use. To get to Ventanas Beach however, you must pass over the grounds of a German guy, and he is asking money for that. This is legal, and I guess it is for him a nice way to make money on the side. So, we coughed up the 3000 colones for parking and for using his back yard to get to the beach and off we were.

And then the thunder and rain started. The weather over here can turn in the blink of an eye from clear and sunny into drizzle with distant thunderstorms. Too bizarre!
That happened to us today, and so our time at the beach was only short lived as being on the beach in an thunderstorm is not the best of thoughts. We did however find some Howler Monkeys in the trees right next to the beach, and generally had a good time over there after all.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the hotel pool (you can’t get any wetter that in a pool, right?) and in the supermarket, as groceries still need to be bought.
We are turning in early today as well, as tomorrow a small guided tour is held in the backyard of the hotel to watch the local wildlife. So, breakfast is at 06:30 again!