After yesterday's deluge on our hike in Tenorio Volcano National Park, we were hoping it would be drier today. It didn't look promising after our breakfast and during our two-hour drive north toward the Nicaraguan border. We prepared for a long, wet day.
Canoa Aventura tour company picked us up at 7:15 a.m. and then we got on a larger bus with about a dozen people. We made a stop about a half hour into our ride so folks could use the restroom and take pictures of the numerous iguanas there.
We drove another hour on paved roads. The Costa Rican paved roads are actually much better than we expected. The driving "techniques" are much different than in the U.S., but roads are good. It's after you get off the pavement on the secondary roads that life gets bumpy.
The tour guides call the less than comfortable rides a "Costa Rican Massage". So, we drove another hour on a rough road, but by then the sun had come out and we had blue skies. Also, we stopped to look at various birds along the way, so we didn't care as much about the ride.
Our guide, Jorge, unlike our sweet but inexperienced guide yesterday, was very knowledgeable and enjoyed telling us about all the birds.
We saw the usual egrets and some other birds we had seen before like the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, the Tropical Kingbird, and this Groove-billed Ani.
He also showed us a few birds we hadn't yet seen like Fork-tailed Flycatcher, and the Nicaraguan Seed-finch with its large, pink beak. Unfortunately, I couldn't get photos of either of those, but I got a distant shot of the Northern Jacana.
And I got great shots of this Roadside Hawk.
There were also small Spectacled Caimans, but there was a much larger one once we arrived at our destination.
At the boat launch there was a little restaurant, where they had sweet pancakes with honey and juice and coffee.
And then Jorge showed us this adorable owl up in a palm tree.
The guides couldn't give a positive identification, but we think it's a Pacific Screech Owl.
Then we prepared for our canoe trip. Cano Negro means "Black Canal" and that's the name of the refuge.
but our tour today was on the muddy brown Rio Frio or "Cold River".
All the other folks were going on a motorboat with another guide while Linda & I and Steve & Esther were going with Jorge in canoes.
We would be floating down river and the even better news was that we would ride the boat back up. Very nice.
Right off the bat, Jorge spotted this Black-headed Trogon.
And then we came across a troop of Howler Monkeys.
The unusual thing about this troop is that they have two orange members. The monkey in the lower right of the photo above, is a rare orange mutation.
It took some time, but I was finally able to get this great look.
That was an extra special treat.
A little later, we saw more Long-nose Bats on this tree.
Next, in another "How in the heck did he see that!" moment, Jorge pointed out a Great Potoo. It had its back to us, so you can't see how unusual it is, but that was also a special sighting.
Just do an internet search on "Great Potoo" and you'll see how strange a bird it is.
Jorge then showed us our first Three-toed Sloth of the day. He said the stripe on the back indicates a "male".
Then we came upon this Green Iguana that seemed to have anointed himself king of the forest today.
Next, we got another new bird, the Boat-billed Heron.
Here is another line of Long-nosed Bats on a vine.
Continuing down the river.
It was really hot in the sun, but we kept getting brief, cooling showers that helped.
Jorge then showed us another Three-toed Sloth. This time we got a great look as it was feeding on the leaves.
Here are Steve & Esther paddling under a Rain Tree.
We saw Emerald Basilisks, more caimans, and lots of kingfishers. Steve got this great shot of an Amazon Kingfisher.
And this is my best shot of a Green Kingfisher.
Farther downriver, we saw some Spider Monkeys although we didn't get a clear view.
However, there were some Howler Monkeys feeding closer to the river.
Below is a mother and baby, and I didn't even see the baby until I cropped the photo later.
Sometimes we were in front of the motorboat .....
and sometimes we were behind it, but we then went back a canal where it couldn't go. On the way in, we saw a single Roseate Spoonbill in the trees.
And we saw a Black-collared Hawk, another first for us, although it was too far away to photograph.
Back in the wetlands, we saw a Northern Jacana with two chicks. They were leaving fast, but I got a couple of blurry pictures.
After doing some good birding there, we exited the side canal.
We had been on the river about three hours, so we paddled to the boat where the guides loaded the three canoes on the front, and we boarded for the leisurely ride back to our starting point.
Back at the restaurant we were began, they fixed us a great buffet lunch.
Today's tour was fantastic. The weather was great, our guide was wonderful, we saw lots of wildlife, the food was quite tasty, and we enjoyed the paddling.
One of the great things about this trip is that we didn't bother to get a break down of all the costs. We just told Pacific Trade Winds our overall budget, the average per night lodging cost we were willing to pay, and the types of activities we wanted to do. So, the lodging, the tours, the transportation, and several of the meals are all included in one price. Therefore, as Linda says, we're not nitpicking the "value" of every little thing like we usually do. We're just enjoying everything as it is.
Now with that said, whatever we paid for today's tour was well worth it. :)
On the way back, we went through our pictures and used Jorge's bird book to identify and learn about the species we saw today.
We got back to La Fortuna and were dropped off in front of Arenal Oasis Eco Lodge around 4:30.
The rest of the evening we spent at the restaurant where we uploaded photos, checked emails, and had food and drinks for a few hours. Daniel made us special guacamole and attended to our every need.
Another amazing day in Costa Rica. Tomorrow, we have no excursions scheduled, so we may just hang around the eco lodge. But probably not. :)