it’s funny the habits and interests you pick up from your parents without even realising it. for example, j has long since learned to live with my incessant need to identify every plant and flower. i spent the better part of the inca trail stopping to examine cactii, bromeliads, succulents and orchids while he humoured me and pretended to care. i got this from my mother, who always took care to point out growing things as we took forest hikes or went camping. but i never realised how much her birding hobby influenced me as well. i remember as a little girl her pointing out wrens and warblers, titmice and chickadees, swallows and swifts. but it’s only here in costa rica i’ve found myself avidly spotting tanagers, falcons, herons and macaws. the tropics are birding paradise, and i like to think my mum would be out there with binoculars enjoying the view.
in fact, my love of nature and wildlife can be attributed to all the time we spent camping in my childhood. i remember the excitement of seeing moose, buffalo, prairie dogs and myriad other animals in our travels across the u.s. but aside from the bigger, more obvious sightings, there is also the reward of finding something unexpected in the stillness. of standing still in a forest and letting the hidden lives reveal themselves to you. it takes patience to see those creatures who spend their entire existence trying not to be seen. so i’ve always felt it was a priviledge to have the opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat. it’s a reward for those who respect nature’s boundaries. which is why our recent excursions on the osa peninsula were such a treat.
we first took a sunset kayak dolphin tour in the golfo dulce off puerto jiménez. it was incredibly peaceful being out on the water, paddling quietly in the warm soft rain as dusk descended into night. while the sun never actually made an appearance (and thus, my camera never made it out of the dry bag), the dolphins actually did. about a dozen bottlenoses gamboling in the calm currents just meters away from our kayaks, as if we weren’t even there. watching the sleek bodies splash and leap, knowing they have an entire ocean for their playground, yet have chosen to be right there in front of you… it’s beautiful to see.
and our good luck continued on the following day as we hiked into corcovado national park. where the park covers such a huge area, it’s often difficult to view any animals at all, but fortunately for us, they all seemed to want to be on display that day. we walked through a family of coati who were eagerly rooting out tasty crabs for a meal.
a troop of spider monkeys went flying about the treetops, reckessly launching themselves in dramatic fashion from branch to branch.
a lone quiet anteater dangles from a tree by his tail, searching for tasty insects.
the magnificent quetzal-cousin trogon was showing off with his mate.
a noisy cloud of capuchins feasted on guavas and bananas, pelting us with their leftovers.
a pony-sized nocturnal tapir decided to make an early afternoon appearance.
and finally as the piece de resistance, we caught the briefest flash of the elusive jaguar, bolting across the road at dusk. really!
the day exceeded all our expectations by leaps and bounds, even if some of the animals were a bit camera-shy (you’ll have to take our word for some of the photos, and the anteater, trogon, and jaguar simply wouldn’t wait to be snapped! i’ve used pics from elsewhere when our photos are less than distinct.)
of course, no trip for j and i to a national park would be complete without a drama of some kind – this one in the form of transportation travails. not only did our ancient jeep collectivo break dow en route *to* the park (necessitating a rescue ride) but was subsequently despatched again for the return ride! unsurprisingly, it failed to make it more than halfway back, leaving us to all pile in the open flatbed of a stranded lorry. when the lorry finally made it out of the muck and up the hill, it then skidded, slid and swayed the rest of the 45 kms back… with the final 20 minutes of the journey taking place in a fit of heavy rain. fun.
nevertheless, we had two incredible and memorable days on the osa peninsula seeing wildlife… in the wild. just as nature intented. more photos here.