Entering Costa Rica from Panamá [1] was by walking across a long rickety railway bridge, completing immigration formalities on either side of the river.


We did not get far along the road, stopping at Cahuita [2], a tiny village with only a few roads and lots of Caribbean character (and characters).  A long black sand beach stretches away to one side with a white sand beach on the other.  It was coconut prawns, black beans and rice for dinner.  Resident howler monkeys wake the town each morning at 5 am.


Following the coast north we travelled 4 hours by boat from Puerto Limón to the remote village of Tortuguero [3] (pop. 550), through a maze of canals.  (There are no roads into or in Tortugero, which means place of turtles.)  Jungle overhanging both banks ensured a lot of bird sightings as well as sloths, monkeys and lizards.  The village lies on a narrow strip of land between the ocean and a long narrow lagoon.  It is the most important nesting ground for the green sea turtle in the Western Hemisphere.  The National Park, established in 1975, works closely with the community to ensure minimum impact by tourism.


We stayed at Casa Marbella in a nice room upstairs with cooling breezes looking out over the river.  A peaceful way to tour the waterways of the National Park is in a canoe paddled by Ernesto.  He was born in the village and has extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna in the area.


The bridge into Costa Rica

Black sand beach at Cahuita

Food cart in Cahuita

One of Cahuita´s resident howler monkeys

River boat to Tortuguero

Sloths high in the trees along the river

Jungle lines both sides of the canal to Tortuguero

Howler monkey

Abandoned railway bridge appears out of the jungle


Jesus Christ lizard (walks on water)

Venomous snake

Bird entering the Oro Pendula nests

Fly catcher

Arriving at Tortuguero village

Main street of the village

Catholic church


White faced monkey



Mangrove tree in flower

Large rainforest flower

Spider monkey

Canoeing the narrow creeks

Ready, set, go

Unusual flower

River otter


North Central Costa Rica

19th April 2011

There was little to keep us in San José [4], the capital of Costa Rica. After a visit to the rim of nearby steaming Volcán Poás surrounded by coffee plantations, we headed to La Fortuna [5], in the central north. The main attraction here is the perfect cone shaped, active Volcán Arenal.


In the lush, tropical garden setting of Arenal Natura Ecological Park we were able to observe rare and endangered frog in large, plant filled terrariums. The enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff took time to point out the well camouflaged frogs and explain the different breeding habits.  There are about 30 different species, some you could never see in the wild.


To reach Monteverde (green mountain) [6], we took a boat across Laguna de Arenal followed by a bus over rolling green hills of pasture land and forest. Together with the little village of Santa Elena, Monteverde offers it all, swinging through the trees, cloud forest trails, frogs, birds, butterflies, orchids, hummingbirds, and lots of tourists. Next stop Nicaragua via Peñas Blancas [7].


Traditional painted coffee wagon

Smoking Volcán Poás

Endemic flower in the acidic atmosphere of the volcano

Huge Ceiba tree, about 100 years old, in the Arenal National Park

Oro Pendula bird

Many of these blue Urraca birds around La Fortuna

Volcán Arenal

Orange orchids on the volcano

Ginger flower

Red eyed tree frog

Hour glass frog

See-through glass frog

Tiny poison frog

The only frog with a spur for fighting

Laguna de Arenal

Monteverde Cloud Forest





Flower of the cloud forest

Another forest flower

Bright coloured parrot