Last Friday on my extremely long travel day back to Pittsburgh, I caught something and have been feeling unwell ever since. So this wasn’t the first post I wanted to share of my recent trip to Costa Rica, but who doesn’t like animals?
When I studied abroad in Costa Rica back in 2005, animal/bird sightings were never a huge priority for me. I know that sounds crazy considering scores of travelers visit Costa Rica for the sole purpose of seeing a jaguar, a quetzal, or just the most adorable animal to ever walk the earth, the sloth. Looking back, I remember seeing a few monkeys at Manuel Antonio National Park (way up high, mind you), a baby sloth that had been killed by an automobile, and a toucan, but once again it was so high up it was almost impossible to fully make out (and no, at 19 I wasn’t lugging around binoculars). I did see an unhealthy number of cockroaches on a daily basis…at least at my first host family’s house.
When you’re a young student, with the exception of those wanting to follow in the footsteps of some famous animal conservationist, animal sightings overall aren’t a “big deal.” Going to the beach, imbibing some Cuba Libres, and just relaxing from a rigorous academic course schedule, well, that more or less summed up my down time in Costa Rica, at least during the first month when I still had the other kids in my program to hang out with. Once we scattered, all going our separate ways to complete our internships, well, I then pretty much led the life of a monk.
But now as a 30 something, my travel style and personality have changed from my study abroad days. This time on my trip to Costa Rica, I DID want to see wildlife, in fact, as much as I possibly could. The ultimate dream is to visit the Galapagos Islands one day, or go on a safari in South Africa, so my recent visit was the perfect introduction for me to truly sample the wildlife of this beautiful country. And this was definitely the most wildlife I’ve ever seen before.
I came to the conclusion that at least in Costa Rica, if you want to see wildlife when visiting a rainforest, it definitely helps if you have a guide with you. And that was probably why I saw such a scant amount during my study abroad time there; I never had a guide leading me. Granted, there will always be some animals and birds that will be easy to spot, but many will not be. And that’s where a trained set of eyes and even ears comes in handy.
I booked a day trip through Maleku Tours, specifically its “Finca Verde Sloth Viewing.” Finca Verde is an eco-tourism project located in the Bijagua Rainforest. It is about a two hour drive from the Papagayo Peninsula which is located in the Guanacaste Province. (Bijagua is located in Alejuela.)
The tour included a guided visit through the grounds of Finca Verde, where we saw a sloth, bats, two types of frogs, various birds, and of course beautiful flora. As our tour finished early, our driver and guide then drove us to another nearby site that allowed us to see more of Bijagua. It was at the second site that we saw a large number of sloths.
The tour also included lunch at a soda, which in Costa Rica is a type of diner-simple, reliable fare at inexpensive prices. We were able to pick anything we wanted from the menu.
We were completely satisfied with Maleku Tours -our guide/driver was punctual, pleasant, and utterly professional. I also used Maleku for our airport transfers and another day trip. They are a wonderful company and I can’t recommend them highly enough if you’re traveling to the province of Guanacaste.
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