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My Paradise, The Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica
A teeny, tiny plane brought us to Drake, a small bay on the north side of the Osa Peninsula in #CostaRica. This #unique and sparsely populated area is ripe for exploring, and that's precisely what I did. The area remains #affordable and #kayaking excursions are one of the best ways to see the surrounding #nature.
I left the Sansa domestic terminal at Juan Santamaría International Airport, bound for Drake. We flew in a twin propeller, 8-passenger plane that made the flight feel up close and personal. As we were flying over the mountains and countryside, I imagined I was in a storybook. Everything was so green and the rolling ranges seem to go on for miles. Finally, we saw this coastline with rock outcroppings and blue surf. Palm trees hugged the water's edge. Now, when we came up to the airstrip, we saw this narrow lane tucked in between a palm oil farm and other farms.
We got off the plane via a set of stairs, and now, here I am on the Osa Peninsula. I look over and see this small building. That small building is the Drake Terminal. I walk my suitcase across a gravel road next to puddles of water. My ride to the resort, an old Toyota Land Cruiser, has arrived to pick me up. We venture off down this rugged gravel and dirt road. The road is not paved at any point in our journey. We are crisscrossing through the countryside, up steep slopes and through small villages. We get to a river and the driver puts us in low gear while he sorts out the best way to cross over 30 yards of flowing river. We ascend up the other side and turn the corner where a very narrow bridge awaits us. This wooden bridge with no rails looks only a tad bit wider than our vehicle. We go about another ten minutes through a couple of small villages and arrive in Aguila de Osa.
The road is not paved at any point in our journey
As we pull up, I notice a motorized canoe just off the beach. The driver gets my suitcase from off the top of the truck. He hands my bag to a Tica. The gentleman asked me to take off my boots, wade through the water and get on the boat. I am thinking, "This is pretty wild so far!!" We take a ten minute ride through this mangrove and arrive at Drake Bay Wilderness Camp.
Damas Mangrove Boat Tour
Blue Water Adventure - Turtle Tour
Tortuga Island - ZumaTour
I am greeted by Marbin. He hands me and my boat helper a cold towel. Marbin welcomes me and gives me a quick run down on the camp. He asks me to go to the dining area and enjoy some fresh fruits and snacks. I meet Gonzalo, a young Tica who is very helpful and gives me information on the area.
I then go back and get all the info I need at the moment from Marbin. He takes me to my room and tells me to come to the office if I need anything at all. I unpack my bags and get into something more comfortable. I had been wearing a long sleeve shirt, pants and hiking boots.
It starts to get amazing from this point forward. I am walking around the grounds and I hear cackling. I look up in a tree and spot four Scarlet Macaws enjoying some of their lovely treats and dropping the remnants on the ground. I pull out my camera and start taking pictures. Now I am just strolling around and notice something big flying over my head. I couldn't get a picture of it or make out what it was. Then, it finally comes to rest on a palm tree. It is a Chestnut Mandible Toucan and was so elegant looking. I was snapping away, getting pictures of this lovely bird. I decided that about 4 feet way was close enough. I respected the lovely creatures privacy, but noticed that me being close didn't seem to bother the Toucan.
It starts to get amazing from this point forward
Afterwards, Alberto picked me up for my first excursion. We were embarking on a mangrove tour via kayaks. I had never kayaked before and was just slightly nervous because there are crocodiles that frequent this river. Alberto is telling me about the different species of Heron, cranes and songbirds as we paddle under this suspension bridge and see rustling in the branches far above. We "park" our kayaks and start seeing Spider monkeys traveling through the trees. We counted 15 that used the branches to jump over the river. Two of them barely made the 5 foot span. They used their tails to save them from a 60 foot drop into the Mangrove River.
We went further upstream where we saw some smaller birds before turning around. About halfway back, we heard barking. I Alberto if there was a dog out here with us. He said, "No, that is a Howler monkey warning others about danger in the area or warding off another monkey."
I was nervous because there are crocodiles that frequent this river
The next morning started early with a delicious, healthy breakfast. I was picked up by boat and we were off to Cano (Canoe) Island. We took this choppy ride out on the ocean and arrived at this beautiful beach where we picked up two more passengers. The driver of the boat had to negotiate the tide for a perfect landing and pick up. We set back out for the island. Upon arrival, I thought I was in the movie Castaway. Before you are these coconut palms and lush green forest. Rock outcroppings dot the shoreline. We once again had to work with the tide to make a perfect landing. We take a little break and grab something to eat before taking a short hike to a lookout point. Unfortunately, another trail leading to the ancient burial ground was closed due to heavy rains.
Cano Island Tour
Damas Mangrove Boat Tour
Blue Water Adventure - Turtle Tour
We then go out for snorkeling just offshore. We didn't get to see much due to poor visibility in our three different spots. We head back to the island for lunch and some self-guided exploration. I make my plate and look for a picnic table to enjoy my lunch. I am about to sit down when I look up and see two White Faced monkeys staring right at me. Nervously I thought, "Oh my, what is going to happen now?!" I start to walk backwards and the monkey jumps down and is leaping towards me. Everyone is laughing with me as I go back to the group. After I finish eating, I grabbed my camera and went back to where the monkeys were. I wanted to see how they live and play. I went back into the forest and saw a troop gathering food, taking care of their young. They were foraging the forest floor and climbing through the trees. They were easily spooked by me walking nearby. They were curious about me, but didn't want to approach me. I then spotted three Scarlet Macaws perched in a tree. I observed them for a while and got to witness their extreme social behavior. One was grooming the other and the other bird was talking to them from another tree. As I walking back to the group, I spotted a monkey trying to break open a nut. He was banging it on the branch and then picking at it. He was doing this for at least ten minutes. Once, the nut dropped on the ground and the monkey looked frustrated. He looked around, went down to get the nut, then jumped back up the tree and scurries to his favorite branch. He starts to smack the nut again and finally gets to the fruit and enjoys his hard work.
After I got back to camp, I decided I wanted to go for a jog on the nearby trail. I had been on this trail the day before and knew it went to Cocalito Beach. I love to jog and love nature so this was a dream come true for me. After Cocalito Beach, the trail gets very rugged as it straddles the coast. There are steep inclines with narrow passages that drop off to the ocean below. There are tree roots over most of the trail. Some of these roots are only two inches wide but stick up about a foot off the ground.
I love to jog and love nature so this was a dream come true for me
The stopwatch was definitely not my friend for this jog. I really enjoyed the scenery and the smell of the air. I am running across a stretch that is flat and no obstructions when I come across a troop of White Faced monkeys and pull out my phone. I start shooting video of them working and playing. I started to make this clicking and screeching sound and they start to scatter and flee. It was so funny watching them. I continue with my jog to Rio Clara. This was the end for me, I was going to touch the water then turn around and go back. I notice a White Faced monkey. He shows me his teeth and moves towards me. I was informed to move towards them when they do this. However, this particular monkey was not backing down. So I reached for sand and it then took off the other way. I start to walk back in that direction and see the same monkey coming around the tree. This time, I grab a stone and throw it in the that direction. The monkey takes off and I have an uneventful run back to camp.
The next day I take off to Corcovado National Park. I am picked up by boat and we head out on the ocean for a 30 minute ride to the Park. We enjoy a light breakfast and start to begin our hike. We hear something rustling around in the trees. We see a troop of Spider monkeys making their way through the forest. We stood and observed these monkeys for about 15 minutes. I got some nice photos of them, it was almost like they were posing. After this encounter, we now set off for our hike. Our guide Stephen points out the flora and fauna in great detail. He knows the smell of the forest and the animal tracks. He points out several different species of butterfly. We were graced several times by the beautiful Morpho butterfly that just fluttered around us. I got to see the charismatic Mannequin through the lens of a telescope. We saw Quaty several times, even though they are easily spooked with loud noises. We saw a relative of the turkey. We came back for lunch after about an hour or so.
In the afternoon, we set out for the La Catarata Falls. Along the way through the forest, I saw the most bizarre trees and vines. I had my picture taken inside the skeleton of what was left of a giant "garlic" tree. We came across colonies of leaf cutter ants. I was amazed at the size of the colony and at the ants working on their structure. They looked so disciplined. We get to La Catarata and I am waiting to see Adam and Eve. This place is so beautiful, so colorful and very refreshing. Standing there admiring the beauty was only interrupted by the spraying of a cool mist from the splashing water. We took some pictures and then continued our hike across some very slippery terrain.
Corcovado Hiking Tour
Bike Tour in Paraty
We get to the "posa" (swimming hole) and take off our socks and boots to make our way across the rocks. I realized it was best walk on all fours because the rocks were killing my feet. I ventured out into the stream to where I finally couldn't touch. I then swam towards the waterfall and sat there for a while. This water felt so cold at first even though the heat index had to be over 100 degrees. It felt exhilarating to say the least. We had pictures taken and then continued our hike through the primary forest and back to camp. We encountered quite a few stretches of slippery trails and fallen trees. It makes you wonder what it would be like to be in the forest when these trees are falling and causing great destruction.
This is my story of a short, but very memorable, trip to paradise. Everyone's paradise is different meaning and for the moment, this was my paradise. I hope you enjoyed my story and could picture yourself there.