Thursday, September 30, 2010

Costa Rica trip - Preparing to hike in Corcovado

"Wow, its a small plane. We can chit-chat with the pilots as we are flying. So I am going to find a seat just behind the pilots" gushed Gautam
"Oh! But Gautam, I dont think we should be distracting them. I am not sure if talking to them while flying is allowed. It does seem like a bus journey to you, eh?" was what I said.

Yeah, this was Gautam's and my excitement seeing that tiny plane.

That day, after we got ourselves seated in the ferry that was bound to Puerto Jimenez, we were still worried about what to do and whom to approach on our intention to visit Corcovado National Park. We were overwhelmed with the nature, the surroundings and the people at Golfito. It was drizzling. As the ferry was waiting for few more passengers, entered a guy who seemed in his early 30s while munching a snack; which seemed like fish.

At least that whats Gautam thought. The meat was tender and Gautam thought it looked delicious. "Oh look at that food. Its so tempting. That guy is just enjoying it" was his comments.

The 1 hour journey started and this guy with food in his hand approached us and initiated conversation in his heavily Spanish accented English. "You tourists? Where are you going? Oh you want to see Corcovado? Guide?"

"I am the guide"

This revelation made both of us a bit apprehensive. How do we trust a person just like that? Will he charge nominal price for his services? Should we dismiss him and approach a travel agency? But we started talking. I was so tired that I left Gautam do all the blah-blahs. By the end of the journey, we got convinced that he would be our local guide. We confessed that we trust him completely and he can plan for us.

Our guide Mr.William told us the plan. He helped us rent an accommodation, took us to the government office to get entry tickets to the national park, took us to the bank to make the payment. He took us to the travel agent to book our return flights. He went to the supermarket to get 3 days of food supply for our trekking. He told us he would take care of our trekking equipments like camping, stove and other utilities. We went to a nice restaurant by name "Carolina" where the chef took extra care of me to prepare a nice veg meal of pasta with primvera sauce. It was decided that we get ready and assemble at 5.30 AM for our trekking. After hectic day of flight and travel, we rested to begin early the next day.

Day 2 - Corcovado National Park

We were alive and kicking, excited to visit Parque Nacional Corcovado. Its a national park in Osa Peninsula. Its the crown jewel of Costa Rica. Whats unique to this place is its ecological variety. Its is "the most biologically intense place on Earth" as quoted by the National Geographic. This park has the largest primary forest on the Pacific coastline and is one of the lowland tropical rain forests remaining in the world.  It is richest in biodiversity. One can find wide range of flora and fauna in this small area.

More on Corcovado - Parque Nacional Corcovado

We had a stomach filling heavy breakfast of omelet, arroyo pinto and bread with coffee at 6 AM in a cabinas. William was dressed for hiking with a machete hanging by his waist, gum boots and all. Gautam was dressed in shorts and T shirt. I for one dressed as if I am going to walk the ramp!!; in a jeans capris and a T shirt. I got a disapproving look from my guide. At least I had my walking shoes. While having breakfast, saw a old man; trim and smart with cowboy attire. I could not help but admire him and clicked a photo with him.

The hiking was from Carate which was 2 hour bumpy ride in a red flaming Mitsubishi Prado. I have to tell about my guide William here. He is gregarious, spoke so much better English than others we met. He would not spare himself from stealing looks at women. Costa Rican women are pretty generally and for him, every women seemed pretty. He could easily lose his context when he sees any girl walking by. Seems this taxi driver had a beautiful daughter and he was saying that he wanted this man to be his "father-in-law" sometime in future.

The potential "father-in-law"

Our first awe and disbelief was when we saw a Morphus. The morpho is a jewel in the Costa Rican rain forest canopy. The upper wings of an adult male are of a iridescent blue that appears to flash with every wing beat, reflecting the light and making the butterfly very easy to spot in the rain forest. Its underwings resembles the color of foliage - grays, blacks, browns. This coloring is a built-in mechanism. At night, the butterfly folds its wings up, so only the mottled underside is visible. This helps conceal itself from predators. By day, the bobbing incandescent flashes of blue visible makes it hard for the predators to track.

That was exactly how it was, it was huge for us to keep our eyes follow it; even though it was fluttering right in front of us and around us. They were huge. This amazing optical engineering has fascinated observers for long time. Today, research is done in attempting to reproduce the dazzling blue of its wings to create counterfeit-proof colors for credit cards and money.

Next, we saw Spider Monkeys. They are large, and their arms are significantly larger than its legs.

We stopped at a shop and had cafe kaliente con leche. Thats 'hot coffee with cream/milk". (I am brushing up the Spanish I learnt :-D).

A snap by the shop. William in his proper hiking attire. Check out his machete by his waist.

Even before reaching Carate for our hiking to begin, we saw birds like egrets, ibis, toucan. Nothing excited us as much as two Scarlet Macaws perched on a small tree. We could see it at close range. I have only seen macaws in cages, seeing them flying free in twos made me so happy. They are so gorgeous and beautiful. They feed on the almond fruit tree which is lined throughout the border of the Pacific sea coast. Their constant chatter is a music in its own way. Could not capture them as we were lost seeing them, by the time we got our camera at work, they soon flew away.


Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Scarlet Macaws. They are always in pairs and partner for life.

The actual hike in the next post :-)


  1. oh wow..this sounds like a trip to die for!! I am waiting for the hiking post now..great clicks. and william - yeah we have discussed him in great deal :)

  2. Lovely start. I'm ready for the trek, bring it on! And loved the pictures.

    Me too, I've seen these beautiful birds only in cages, it must have been a great experience to see them in the open, free like they should be.

    And William, he sure sounds like an interesting chap for a guide ;D

  3. Neha,

    Yeah!!! :-D

    Thank you, hiking in next post.

  4. RGB,

    Thank you. It was wonderful to see them out in open.

    William is sure the right person to hang out with :-D

  5. I love trekking,(although I have never done it before ;) )
    the color of that butterfly is lovely.
    your trip is turning out to be a national geographic adventure for me.. :)

  6. Wow!! A wonderful travelogue!! Am adding Costa Rica in "my list of places to travel sometime!" :)

  7. Frankly no words to express.
    Perhaps you should go further south into the southern continent.

  8. Nice pictures. Excellent narration. Feels like I have been experiencing this trip myself. Looks like Mr. Willims falls in love easily and many times. Ha ha ha.

  9. That was one pretty butterfly, WOW!

    er - perhaps I should say,- two? :D

    Looking forward to the next instalment!

  10. Good start. Now we know the tiny plane your guide Mr.William. I assume it was good idea to trust him. So far he is doing the right things by guiding you to accommodation, government office, tickets etc. Seems like he talks a lot but that is what guides do anyway.

    Carolina restaurant - name from the state where I live..not bad.

    I would like to more about creating counterfeit color proof research. Nice picture.

    We are tuned for some good pictures and the description of hiking...

  11. Anurag,

    Hahahaha what do you love about trekking then!
    Yeah the color is extremely appealing. Its intricate in that dense canopy.
    you see it yet dont see it type

    :-) National geographic adventure? Hmm hmm.. :-D

  12. Shilpa,

    :-) You should definitely visit sometime! All the best for that.

  13. anil,

    :-) Oh you know what? I wanted to go to Peru.
    But they need a tourist visa which required return ticket document as proof.

    I didnt know my travel dates to USA. So I could not get the tickets and hence no visa :-(

    I will for sure make the trip to South America within 5 years. Thats my target :-D Should save enough money as well :-D

  14. SG,

    Thanks. Hope the narration was not a drag.
    Mr. William seems to fall for everyone and anyone.

    But a very nice man he is.

  15. Bala sir,

    The butterfly - yes! Two? :-D

    Thank you.

  16. A,

    It was definitely the prudent thing we did by trusting him. He took great care and I at least was very comfortable with him. Also got lot of local information and knowledge; which is the essence of true travel experience.
    He talks a lot, but thats what is wanted. Who wants to trek for 3 days by keeping mum?

    Thats the information I got about creating counterfeit proof credit cards. You should google it. you may find more.

    Yes, on your way.

  17. Nice narration, liked your guide and felt as if I am with you.

  18. Wonderful narration about your trip. The cow boy, radiant blue butterfly and your photo with guide Willam are wonderful. Expecting to see other pictures soon.

  19. chitra,

    :-) Thanks, glad you feel that way

  20. Naidu sir,

    Thank you. Few photos are clicked by Gautam as well :-) More pictures in my next post.

  21. nice pics you seem to have had lots of fun

  22. wonderful trip!! You got a quite helping are so ebautiful.specially red macau.

  23. Samvedna,

    Thanks. The guide was really very helpful.

  24. Beautiful photographs.I haven't seen a butterfly like that before.They have short lives,so they spread their charm.
    Lucky you.Have wonderful times.

  25. Nice travelogue..thanks for posting the nice pictures also.. Waiting for your hiking experience..

  26. Dr. Antony,

    Welcome to B Log :-)
    I had not seen such a butterfly ever before. They were beautiful.

    Thank you :-)

  27. I know, I know! I am wayyyy too late but I had to keep up on your trip..hopping on to the hike post...great pics :)

  28. Destiny's child,

    :-) Never mind. Read it at your spare time. Thank you

  29. Hi insignia,nice post nice narration.And that morphus was amazing.And what are these egrets?seems like "hybrid cows":)and Williams was an interesting charecter!

  30. raji,

    Thanks so much, glad you liked them. Hahaha egrets does seem like hybrid cows isnt it? :-) Williams is an amazing character. Do read my other posts on Costa Rica; you will be surprised by that man!


I'd love to know what you thought :-) Please shoot!