Five days in paradise – Osa Peninsula

Trip Start May 01, 2010
Trip End Apr 30, 2011

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Where I stayed
Finca Maresia

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Friday, May 21, 2010

We left San Gerardo De Dota five days ago and travelled by bus south down the Interamericana to Palmar Norte. We descended from the Talamanca Mountains towards the coastal lowlands and at one point we could see the thin plume of smoke from Volcan Turrialba in the distance.  At Palmar Norte we shared a cab with a couple of Spanish guys to the sleepy village of Sierpe from where we boarded the 11.30am boat to Drake Bay. The boat journey took us down the Rio Sierpe and through Costa Rica’s largest mangrove swamp.  We saw three crocodiles, the last of which was particularly large and lay on the bank with its jaws open wide. Then we reached the river mouth and the sea. The captain had to steer the boat between rocks while surfing the waves out to sea. Once clear, we crossed Bahia Drake to the small village of Agujitas. Here the local taxi driver, Franklin, was waiting for us and drove us along a winding dirt road to Finca Maresia, our home for the next six nights.

Finca Maresia is lovely. A handful of hardwood cabins are arranged over a few acres of gently undulating land, surrounded on all sides by rainforest where parrots and toucans squawk from the treetops and howler monkeys wake us every morning. Some small bird has built a nest under the eaves of our cabin and every few minutes the mother walks back and forth along the ceiling beams in our room with an insect in her beak to feed to her noisy chicks. Delicious four course dinners are served in the main house, on a large wooden deck overlooking the grounds. When it gets dark, the forest comes alive with the sound of frogs and other jungle noises and multitudes of tiny winking green lights in the grass reveal the locations of glow worms. The very hospitable owner, Miguel, is from Spain and bought the property about 3 years ago, having spent many years travelling Central America and Brazil looking for the right place. He certainly found it!

We made friends with a cool couple from California, Zach and Lindsey, with whom we shared the experiences and adventures of the following days.

On our first full day here, we hired a boat to take us to a beautiful beach called Playa San Josecito, where we spent a couple of hours swimming and snorkelling. Scarlet macaws flew overhead and sat in the trees eating beach almonds. We also saw a troop of white faced capuchin monkeys, including one with a baby clinging to its back. From here we walked a short distance along the coast to another beach where the Rio Claro washes into the sea. A guy called Ricardo has lived on the beach here for the past 28 years in a makeshift shelter complete with cooker! He was quite a character and spends his time guiding people in kayaks up the Rio Claro and making things out of shells and driftwood.  He also protects the olive ridley and hawksbill turtles that nest here. We hired one of his kayaks and paddled a short distance up the Rio Claro, a small river shaded by large trees. We spotted a bare throated tiger heron and a Jesus Christ lizard, so called because of their ability to run across water. When we reached a small rapid, we secured the boat and went for a swim in the river above the rapid where there are supposedly no crocodiles! Unfortunately, Tom got too close to the rapid and managed to get swept over it, scraping his leg and nearly losing one of his shoes, which was luckily rescued by Zach! Apart from that minor mishap, swimming in the river was wonderful. The water was lovely and cool and we swam for some distance upstream before floating back down, carried along by the current. Then we clambered up some rocks to a series of three waterfalls where we swam and jumped off two of them into the deep plunge pool below.  After a quick lunch stop at Ricardo’s place on the beach, we began the long hike back to Drake Bay. It was a beautiful walk following the trail around the coast, passing many secluded coves, but it was tough going because of the heat and humidity. As we approached Drake Bay about two and a half hours later, we stopped at a posh looking resort for some well needed pineapple juices made with crushed ice.

The following day, the four of us caught an even earlier boat at 6am and travelled along the coast for over an hour to Corcovado National Park. The coastline here is remote and mostly uninhabited, save for a few out of the way lodges.  Corcovado is the last great tract of tropical rainforest in Pacific Central America with an incredible amount of biodiversity. It is home to scarlet macaws, Baird’s tapir, anteaters, sloths, peccarys, pumas, jaguars and harpy eagles. From the beach where we landed we followed our knowledgeable guide Rebecca along a trail to Sirena ranger station, where we stopped for a short break before continuing to the Rio Sirena where we spotted a large croc. We also saw agoutis, which are giant rodents, groups of squirrel monkey and spider monkey and numerous birds but unfortunately no sloths or tapirs. We saw a few other people on the trails who were loaded with heavy backpacks and obviously doing the arduous three day hike through the national park. The heat and near 100% humidity were stifling and we were glad that we were only doing a half day hike!

The next morning, we took yet another boat out to Isla Del Cano for a great day’s snorkelling. The highlights of the day were a large spotted eagle ray which cruised below us for a few minutes and three hawksbill turtles. We also saw a few white tipped reef sharks resting on the seabed below as well as numerous colourful reef fish. We stopped on the island for lunch and walked along the beach where there were hundreds of hermit crabs scuttling about. On the journey back to the mainland, the sea was choppy and we were all completely soaked from the spray. It had been a cloudy and much cooler day and we enjoyed a nice hot shower when we arrived back at Finca Maresia. Relaxing on our veranda before dinner, our cabin started to shake and it took us a few moments to realise that we had just experienced an earthquake, apparently quite a common occurrence around here!

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