Original of the Species
Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
92Trip End Aug 27, 2010
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Luis, our (new) friend and manager of Gran Arenal hotel, drove us to the Tree Houses Hotel, about half an hour south of La Fortuna. We were soon checked in and checking out our new temporary home up in the trees….our tree house had a main bedroom with double bed (and fridge and coffee maker), a loft with another double bed and a small separate mattress, a shower room and a small bathroom with toilet and wash basin – not bad for a treehouse!
We set off to explore the rainforest around the treehouses and walked about 1.5km to a small waterfall which spilled into 3 cascading pools where the kids had great fun splashing around
It was an early start the next morning as we were awoken at 5:45 by a chorus of parrots and howler monkeys! After a breakfast spent watching the colourful array of birds (hummingbirds, motmots, flycatchers, honey creepers, woodpeckers, robins, etc) that visit at breakfast time, we decided to spend the day walking in the rainforest, paying a visit to the local river along the way. There we found some wild cat paw prints and several poison dart frogs, but alas no tree frogs. We also found a recently dropped coconut that (my hero, sigh) Derek hacked into to quench our thirst …very refreshing!
Our second morning was a little quieter on the wildlife front, but we were soon to get our fill … a last minute tip-off sent us to Proyecto Asis, a project for the protection and rehabilitation of native species
The timing for our visit to the project was ideal ….they had recently received a baby anteater (whose mother was killed by a car….the baby was still clinging to the dead mother when it was brought to the projectL). The project vet had determined that the anteater had learnt enough from it’s mother to be able to find it’s own food, and so was being released into the wild and we were able to watch the big event. We also saw kinkajous (small bear like creatures, one of whom was extremely attracted to Derek and had to be peeled off of his shoulder!), a toucan, red-lored parrots, a white-faced monkey (a real show-off who seemed to love making a racket if anybody was watching), spider monkeys (who loved to gently hold hands with any passer-by, but became much more lively when the bananas appeared….), a scarlet macaw, white lipped pacaries (smallish hairy pigs), a turtle and two owls. After touring the animals with Hannah (a long term volunteer with the project) we were free to go and revisit any of the animals. We wondered back to the spider monkeys where one of them was reaching out to hold hands and so Derek obliged and all was good….until Lauren approached when the monkey got all freaky, grabbing her hat and trying to pull it through the net
Back at the TreeHouses we bid farewell to Mark and Lucy and the dogs (which the kids were very sad to leave) when Luis (yes that Luis, the amazing owner of the “Gran Arenal” [shameless plug] ) arrived to pick us up and drive us to San Jose. We stopped en route in “Los Angeles” for coffee and a local speciality called “Queso Palmito” – cheese that comes as a ball and pulls off in strips kind of like string cheese. Getting dropped us off at our accommodation near the airport, we were sad to say “adios” to Luis who was so kind to us during our time in Costa Rica. If you are thinking of visiting Costa Rica, we would definitely recommend staying at Gran ArenalJ. Our time in Costa Rica was wonderful and I believe that we will definitely return sometime in the future. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that you visit this wonderful country.
Next stop: Quito, Ecuador. We spent two nights in Quito at the Travellers Inn Hostel. Quito is a very large city with some very interesting areas
We left Quito to fly to the Galapagos Islands. a long-time dream of Sarah’s. We decided a long time ago that we would forego the “normal” way of seeing the Galapagos Islands via cruise and try doing it land-based. The decision was based on numerous factors, including price and kids on yachts for days at a time….. We are staying on the main island of Santa Cruz in a house belonging to a couple of naturalists. We will be doing a couple of day trips to other islands and spending the rest of the time on Santa Cruz.
So far, so good. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the fee for kids to enter the national park was half-price –I only mention this since despite all of my research before leaving, I had not discovered this and $100 saved is worth mentioning
Today, we went to the “Charles Darwin Research Centre”. Not quite what I had expected, but definitely better. The research centre is where they run breeding programs for giant tortoises, in particular. It is also the home of lonesome George, quite possibly the most famous real animal on the planet. We did see George and sitting in a shelter all by himself he looked quite….lonesome! We also spent time with some other Giant tortoise up close and were all quite impressed with just how large they are. They also have some Land iguanas at the research station much to Lauren’s delight.
Tomorrow we will take one of our day trips…more to follow soon….