Tag Archives: frogs

Days 22 and 23 – El Remanso, the day

Sunday 12 and Monday 13 March 2023 – We had nothing to do until the early evening. So, having had some relaxation time at Villas Alturas and needing to fill the yawning void between breakfast and sunset, what to do? We went for a walk. Obviously.

El Remanso (“The Haven”) Lodge is set in many acres of rainforest, and there are several trails one can choose to walk, only a couple of which are restricted such that you need a guide to walk them. The obvious one leads to the beach. So, off we went, along a well-manicured track

which led to some steps down, at which point we realised that the route back up was going to be a bit of a challenge.

Over the whole two-and-a-quarter hours we really didn’t see much in the way of wildlife. Had we had a guide, I suspect we’d have seen more. A butterfly obligingly posed for me

but otherwise we got to the beach without noticing anything further. They’ve kindly marked the point where the trail hits the beach so you can’t get lost

and we walked along the beach trying to find interesting things to photograph. Frankly, we didn’t have a whole lot of success – its just this beach, you know? There were some hermit crabs

and a coconut shell appeared to be surprised to see us.

The powers that be at El Remanso are keen to point out that at high tide there is no beach, but that as the tide goes down some tidal pools become visible, so we went and fossicked about there for a while

and did the sort of things that one does if there’s not a lot to see.

Having fairly swiftly exhausted the entertainment possibilities, we retraced our footsteps. There was a branch that looked amusingly like something that Long John Silver might have left there

and some Frigate Birds flew over for me to photograph – I think one of them was being chased by the others. Frigate Birds are unpleasant like that.

The climb back up the track to the Lodge was, indeed, challenging – some 420 steps in oppressive heat and humidity. But we made it in the end, which made the lunchtime beer a very welcome thing indeed.

El Remanso also has some hanging bridges

so we spent a little time pottering about on the track that connected them, and then it was time for the scheduled activity of the day; a night walk. This was led by Alejandra,

a guide we’d met and chatted to during the day, who rather charmingly took off with us as soon as we turned up, leaving the other guide to deal with a group of about six people.

As is the way with these guided tours, Alejandra, whose great knowledge and enthusiasm made the tour very interesting, showed us many, many things we wouldn’t have seen had we been by ourselves. To spare you a litany of torchlit photos of insects and amphibians, I have squirreled the photos away on Flickr for you to look through if you’re interested. I will inflict a couple of highlights on you, though.

Alejandra found us a Fer-de-lance, the most poisonous snake in Costa Rica

and a Bicoloured Scorpion

which looks amazing under ultraviolet light.

We watched as an Anole Lizard gradually changed colour under the torchlight

and there were, of course, frogs, both small and large.

That was it for the day. We were due another guided tour the following day, which was a whole morning jobbie, so we took ourselves off to bed and tried for some sleep.

Some chance.

To start with, that bullfrog got together with his mates and they had a singing competition, very starkly (alongside games of Marco fucking Polo) underlining one of the downsides of having no glass in the windows.

I think they knew something that we didn’t at the time, because at around midnight it started raining, with optional lightning and thunder. The noise was terrific; and when it rains in Costa Rica, it can really, really mean business, and do so for many hours, e.g. in this case until 6am, when I captured this video.

We were convinced that this would mean the cancellation of the morning walk, but it didn’t – and apart from the forest trail being a little muddy in places, there was very little evidence that there had been a seven-hour deluge recently.

Our luck held and our guide, this time for a small group of six of us, was, once again, the lovely Alejandra. As before, she was able to spot things that we wouldn’t have known to look for. As before, to spare you having to scroll through endless photos of what we saw, I have put them in another Flickr album for you to look at if you’d like.

Some highlights: an Osa Anole Lizard, showing off, or possibly telling a rival to bugger off;

another Anole Lizard – Costa Rica’s answer to the chameleon – showing the sophistication of the camouflage it can adopt (the one we saw last night was bright green because of the leaf it was on);

a termite tunnel going all the way up a tree;

and a spat between spider monkeys, which we couldn’t see but could certainly hear,

all rather morosely surveyed by a howler monkey.

We even caught a glimpse of an anteater, but it was just a cream-coloured blur as it caught wind of us and shot off into the forest.

When we got back from the tour, we were lucky enough to see a couple of Scarlet Macaws. We heard them first, of course – they’re noisy critters. I managed to get this photo

and Jane rushed out to get a different angle.

This being our last day, we thought it would be a good idea to check up on the arrangements for transfer to our next destination, since we’re in a rather inaccessible spot and we knew that part of it involved catching a boat. So we asked at the font desk and….

Shock! Horror!!

We have to be picked up at 0420 tomorrow!!!

The ongoing story from here is a bit complicated and involves us going Off Grid for a couple of days, hence the rather hasty write-up of the twenty-four hours’ touring within the two days we’ve been here at El Remanso. I hope you feel you’re nicely up-to-date and that you can contain your souls in patience until the next update, when All Will Be Revealed.

Day (and Night) 8 – Still in Bijagua

Sunday 26 February 2023 – The lack of an appallingly early start to the day backfired on us slightly. According to the B&B information in the room, breakfast was served until 0930.  But when we turned up at the lodge at 0915 it became clear that the service had only been until 0900.  Nonetheless, Michele, the assistant manager, sweet talked the cook into rustling up a bit of scrambled egg and toast for us, which was very forbearing of them, and so we had a decent breakfast after all.

After that, we actually had a free morning, so I had plenty of time to sit down and update these pages, which sounds fine, but in fact there was a continual distraction as new birds came to the feeders nearby – the buff-throated saltator, for example


and the yellow-throated euphonia.


and so the morning passed peacefully enough until it was time for our first scheduled activity of the day – a cookery class.  Now, those of you who know me will be well aware that I am to cooking as David Cameron is to Brexit. But I went along and tried to join in as best I could.  Actually, it was an engaging three hours in the company of the Casitas manager, Nana, and her daughter Camilla, spent at the house of Vicki and Marcelino.  Vicki is an expert cook of many years’ experience, a pillar of the local community, who is well established as someone who gives demonstrations of cooking traditional Costa Rican dishes. It being Sunday lunchtime, Marcelino honoured the local tradition by watching the football whilst we congregated in the kitchen and were directed by Vicki in the preparation of various materials.


Left to right above – Vicki, Camilla, Jane (stirring it as usual), Nana.

Vicki and Marcelino’s house is of a very traditional kind and they were happy for me to take photos of their very nicely turned-out dwelling – Lounge, kitchen and garden spaces.


It was interesting to note that the room walls don’t actually rise to meet the ceiling, so the house is more of a partitioned space than a dwelling with separate rooms.  There is a mix of traditional and modern appliances – an old wood-fired stove next to an electric cooker (and a large LED TV so Marcelino could watch the footie).

Anyone who knows me will also understand my attitude to sharing photos of food, so I won’t be doing any of that on these pages, thank you very much.  But it was interesting to see someone with Vicki’s skill at work, and one or two things – such as searing banana leaves in which to wrap tamales – were techniques that I’d never come across before.


The group (yes, including me) prepared tamales, empanadas and tortillas. Yes, we ate some of them as well. Jane practised her Spanish, and Nana translated for Vicki and Camilla and also told us about some of the traditions of life and cooking in that region of Costa Rica – for there are aspects of food preparation that are unique to the area, just as there are aspects that separate those of Costa Rica and Nicaragua and the other central American countries. It was a pleasant, if dietetically challenging, way of passing three hours, and Jane and I left feeling very full indeed.

We just about had time for a cup of tea before another ripple of excitement passed through the B&B, because another sloth had been spotted!  So we hastened down to the lodge to take a look and to try for some more photos.


It was a three-toed sloth. For all the sloth’s reputation for sluggishness, this one moved quite swiftly. Every time we thought we’d got a decent angle of view, all we had to do was look away for a second and all of a sudden it had moved to a different place.  Eventually it moved to where we could no longer see it, but it was nice to have encountered another one.

Then it was time to go out for the other planned activity for the day – a night visit to the Tapir Valley Nature Reserve. So off we went along the now-familiar stretch of road to the reserve, where a small number of people were gathered for their evening and night walk around the trails. Abner, our guide from yesterday, was there, as was another guide, called David, who looked after Jane and me and an American couple called Lisa and Scott. As before, we were equipped with boots, and, this time also, torches to light our way.

It was clear that David was very passionate about the mission of the reserve as he spent quite a lot of time explaining some of the background to what the reserve is trying to achieve.  He also set our expectations by pointing out that it was dry season (i.e. not raining much), and so there would be fewer animals around to see.  We did find a few, though: a coati, snuffling around for bugs;


a nightjar, just sitting on the path and not minding a bunch of people shining torches at it;


a couple of red-eyed tree frogs;


what David called a Sergeant Bird, actually Cherrie’s Tanager, hiding away in the reeds;


and miscellaneous other frogs,


so not really a bonanza of wildlife spotting, not that it was something that was under anyone’s control.  To me it was miraculous what David was able to spot. I was more worried about tripping up and falling face first into a pile of tapir shit, frankly.

On that topic, David was able to demonstrate the seed-spreading effect of the tapir, by showing us a pile of faeces out of which several trees were starting to grow.


as well as samples of the fruit of the tree that they share that special relationship with, the Parmentiera Valerii (commonly name the Jicaro Danto tree). Thanks are due to Jane, who has spent quite a lot of time chasing down the exact name of this tree.


These samples were at the reception area of the reserve to which we’d returned after over three hours’ tramping (and often squelching) around the reserve. We were about to take our leave when David got a call on his radio from Donald, the founder of the reserve, to say that he’d located a couple of tapirs, and they were quite close by. So we rushed out to find them. it was a female (a daughter of Mamita of the previous day) and an as yet un-named male, and they were presumed to be courting. I even managed to get a couple of pictures of one of them (the male I think)



and you can tell that it had just caught wind of us.  But it didn’t seem perturbed by our presence, and after a while we left the two of them to get on with their nocturnal foraging, and headed back to the reception to take our leave from David and the reserve.

So, once again we’d been lucky enough to catch sight of the tapirs, which made the evening’s exercise a very satisfactory activity.

Today was our last day in Bijagua; tomorrow we head a couple of hours south, for two nights at La Fortuna and, doubtless, further adventures, quite probably involving wildlife, so I hope you come back to find out what was in store for us.