Wednesday 15 March 2023 – Against all my expectations, the night in the bunks proved to be a great deal less unpleasant than I had been expecting. OK, the occasional disturbance came as someone used a flashlight to see themselves to the loo, and for about an hour there was a very annoying snorer in, I think, the neighbouring bunk. But, that aside, both Jane and I awoke feeling, if not fully refreshed, then at least not completely enervated by the whole business. Whilst I’d been backing up photos at lunchtime yesterday, Jane had attempted a nap and said that the bunk area was very hot; but by the night, it was a tolerable temperature – although no bedclothes were needed.
So, up at 0430, and ready to leave at 0500 with Angel. We were, unsurprisingly, not the only ones embarking on an outing, and the soundtrack as everyone got ready was supplemented by Howler Monkeys in the nearby trees.
Almost immediately we were on to something; the news spread that there was an actual Tapir to be seen, a juvenile Tapir crossing one of the rivers. Angel got us there in time to see it emerge from the waters.
Then, just as I was preparing to take some video
the Tapir shot off into the forest – spooked, we think, by a crocodile nearby. (The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted the croc beside the log in the first two photos above.)
Remarkably, the general excitement of actually seeing an actual Tapir (not that we were that fussed, as we’d seen loads of them, well, four, anyway, a couple of weeks before) was exceeded shortly after, since there was an adult still feeding nearby. My first view of it wasn’t all that encouraging, photographically speaking
(usual problem – vegetation getting in the way), but there were some people really quite close (you can see them in the background here)
and so I was able to scurry round and join one of those “blimey, here’s something interesting” groups of punters all trying to get their photos. Everyone – even the French guys – kept really quiet, and the animal seemed completely unconcerned.
I even managed some video.
Not that we were desperate to see another Tapir (hah! hark at us!), but it was quite something to have one grazing so close by. Later on, since we’re talking Tapirs here, we saw this:
evidence that Tapirs also strip and eat the bark off some trees.
We headed off to the shore once again, where we saw a Tiger Heron,
which stubbornly refused to turn to face us so we could more clearly see the stripes that give it its name, and also a Tricoloured Heron
which (of course) had buggered off before I got to see it, but Angel captured this shot for us on Jane’s phone.
One of the things we really wanted to get was a properly framed photo of a Scarlet Macaw. Angel obligingly found a tree where a couple were perched. The higher one was hiding behind a twig, and just as I found the lower one, it decided to leave, so all I got was this.
We’ve seen (and heard!) plenty of Scarlet Macaws, but still haven’t nailed the perfect portrait.
The only other thing we saw during the morning was a female Curassow
but generally the early morning start had been rewarding for our time of communion with a Tapir. So – breakfast time, and we had to “check out” of the Rangers’ Station, meaning clear any of our stuff from the sleeping area. We kept the wellies and the lockers until it was time to leave, thank goodness.
The breakfast break gave us a couple of photo opportunities. The first was the array of guides’ spotter scopes, looking highly reminiscent of walking palm trees.
The second was a chance sighting – at distance, as it crossed what used to be the airstrip – of a creature I’d never heard of:
a Tayra. If you see one, you can weaselly see that it’s stoatally different from anything we might see in the UK.
Thank you. Thank you for listening to one of the oldest known jokes in the English Language.
So, everyone set out again on the last of the guided tours associated with an overnight in La Sirena.
We came across a pool with a couple of groups looking at something. This was another “need the guides to spot the creature” scene. Your task, should you accept it, is to spot the wildlife in either of these scenes.
Here they are: two caiman.
How do these guys spot this stuff?
The next major encounter was one of my (many) sources of photographic frustration. We had the perfect vantage point to see a troop of Squirrel Monkeys as they went by. Jane captured this video (which appears to show one of the monkeys plummeting ground-wards at the very end – but apparently they are so light that such falls are unlikely to hurt them)
(the clicking sound you can hear in this video is me trying to get a decent shot) and what I came away with was this shot of mother and baby.
My frustration? I was so excited about actually being able to see them (rather than just seeing the foliage thrashing about) that I forgot to check which end I was at of my zoom lens. Of course, I was at the wrong end. If I’d been paying proper attention to the photography, I’d have got some closer and better images. Ho, hum.
Actually, the rest of the morning was fairly quiet, photographically speaking. It was also hot (I estimate at least 30°C, but then I might be exaggerating, here) and very, very, very, humid. My favoured clothing for this kind of activity comes from Rohan, and the shirts (all right, officer, I’ll come clean, shirt) I’d been wearing for the preceding days had been brilliant at wicking away the perspiration that pores out of me at these temperatures. But this particular morning was too humid and the general sweatiness of the whole thing was getting to me.
Once again, the guide-being-able-to-spot-stuff thing gave us a fascinating several minutes. If you don’t like snakes, look away now.
This was a Tropical Bird-eating Snake, some two-and-a-half metres long (a guess, I didn’t ask it).
and it was doing some very snaky things in its search for, I guess, birds to eat. I’ve cobbled together some video that Jane, Angel and his scope and I took.
Altogether very fascinating, and we spent quite a bit of time watching this creature being both sinister and spellbinding.
As we trudged along in an increasingly sodden state, I did take a couple of shots of further sylvan boskiness.
We were grateful for the Rangers’ work using local materials to create steps to help us poor stumbling, sweaty punters through the muddy bits.
We saw a few more creatures worth noting as we headed back to the Rangers’ Station:
and we did see the busiest Leaf Cutter Ant trail <Clarkson mode ON> in the world <Clarkson mode OFF> (and this is actual speed, not speeded up)
and then we arrived back at the Rangers’ Station, where people were preparing to leave to catch a boat to wherever.
We walked to the reception point where we’d signed in, blimey, was it only yesterday? and there was a lot of milling about as we waited for about an hour for our group to be called.
Eventually it was our turn to walk along the beach
to re-run the Dunkirk thing again.
Our boat journey was not back to our original embarkation point, but on to Drake Bay, where we were assured that lunch was awaiting us. We were given instructions to follow a chap in red shorts who would lead us to the restaurant, which was good in theory, but he was a sprightly young thing who leapt off up the not-inconsiderable slope of the track to this restaurant, not giving a fig for his rôle as interim tour guide, and leaving us weary, sweaty punters well in his wake. Bastard. Anyway, we found the restaurant, and had a hasty lunch and eventually a “taxi” (4×4 pickup truck, thankfully with our suitcases from El Remanso on board) arrived to take us – along roads that reminded us uncomfortably of the Nicoya Peninsula – to our next stop.
Our next stop was a place called Tranquilo Lodge. After a bit of working out where the actual entrance was, we got a very pleasant insight into what awaited us. Bear in mind that we were both tired, hot and (in my case appallingly) sweaty after an intense 36 hours in the Corcovado National Park; bear also in mind that the place styles itself Corcovado’s Best Hotel; so the delightful welcome we got from Christophe and Sebastien, who own and run Tranquilo, really lifted our spirits as well as us and our baggage. The route to our room was up a very steep hill and we got a ride in Tranquilo’s lovely new golf buggy and Sebastien explained how everything worked and suggested that we should come to the bar to watch the sunset over a glass of something. He also provided some exceedingly important resources
so we were able to settle in to our room, with its splendid deck
before heading up for that sundowner.
We have four whole days here, with practically nothing to do except decompress. The last 48 hours have been wonderful (cold shower excepted); the four weeks that preceded it have been excellent; but it’s now time for us to relax and enjoy what looks like splendid accommodation.
I shall rhapsodise about Tranquilo in a future post. But, because there’s not a lot on our agenda for the next four days, I don’t know when I shall pen further deathless prose for your enjoyment. Check back in in a few days and see how things develop, won’t you?