Tomorrow afternoon we fly home from Costa Rica, where we have been checking out the wildlife following our trip to Antarctica. It’s a beautiful country with friendly and welcoming people and a great birding spot. There’s also lots of other stuff to see, typical of an (almost) equatorial environment, mammals, insects, butterflies and reptiles. We stayed at a few different lodges which were situated in different parts of the country and, therefore, gave us chance to see different species common to those areas. Our first stop, Tortuguero, on the Caribbean coast was written up beautifully but not only did it take an age to get there and back but the roads were grim. The Evergreen Lodge had a swimming pool with disco music which didn’t quite fit with our idea of a ‘jungle lodge’. The two short wildlife trips were ok but hardly justified the effort and time to get there.
Sarapiqui, Bosques de Paz and Casa Corcovado lived up to their reputation and we enjoyed the lodges and experiences. Which brings me to our final destination, the Parador hotel, Manuel Antonio, a nice, if rather large, hotel where we were able to relax for a couple of days before our journey home. Nearby is the Manuel Antonio national park and we were booked in there for an escorted half day visit. It was horrendous. Worse than any zoo, we could hardly move for people, hundreds of them packed into the small walking routes and boardwalks, many queuing so their guide could grab a photo on their smartphones through his/her scope. We couldn’t wait to get out and back to the relative calm of the hotel. No wildlife experience should be like that and it’s a shame the animals’ environment is subjected to such human interference on a daily basis. I, for one, will not be going there again.
I’ve said Costa Rica is a great birding spot but it isn’t my favourite place as a photographer. Most of the wildlife is in the forest which, by its nature, is dark and dense. The early morning and late afternoon light is limited. It isn’t long before the sun is up and pretty harsh making the great shot a bit of a challenge. Still, we work with what we’ve got. It was certainly great to see the sloths slowly and deliberately moving through the treetops, the colourful toucans and macaws and the special experience of viewing the nocturnal species hunting the dark forests.
Look out for a selection of images in a couple of weeks.