Tag Archives: tapirs

Day 25 – Final flights of Angel’s and more (sodden) wildlife

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:

Female Slaty-tailed Trogon

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?

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.