Sunday, February 13
Today was another day of exploring on our own. We were very happy to have a car because we had three different places to visit. Our first hike was a short one on the resort property before we went for breakfast. We found a trail right across the road from where we parked our car. There were several signs with information about the area as well as some artifacts they had placed beside the trail.
The trail took us to a small river where we found the “turquoise pond ” and the “red pond”.
We had this trail all to ourselves.
After breakfast we got in our car and drove to Rincon de La Vieja Volcano national park for our second visit. (The name translates to “old woman’s corner.”) This time we took the shorter trail which would lead us around the area of an active volcano.
The trail here was well maintained and had a fair amount of climbing but mostly on steps rather than uneven rocks. Some of the steps were awkward as they were very long.The trail was fairly short at 4.5 km. There weren’t many people here which is the way we like it. There was one big tour group but we just sped up a bit when we caught up to them and lost them fairly quickly.
We were very lucky to spot an Agouti early on as well as a Tapir relaxing alone in the forest. Agouti’s are fairly large rodents. They are about 56 cm long and eat seeds and nuts. The rare and endangered Tapir is the largest land mammal found in Costa Rica. They can be 2.1 metres long and they eat leaves from bushes and trees. We also saw monkeys, several Black Headed Trogans and a White-Throated Magpie-Jay.
Signs of the active volcano were all around us but we weren’t able to see the cone or crater. We saw bubbling mud pits and many steam vents.
We enjoyed looking at all the different types of trees that grow in Costa Rica. Ficus trees are very interesting- they start out as an epiphyte on a host tree and then take over by strangling it. They grow roots down to the ground which often twist and grow together. The host tree dies often leaving a hollow in the centre of the tree.
Some trees use different defence mechanisms- the tree on the left has shed it’s bark to deter epiphytes and insects. The tree on the right has many sharp protrusions that might make it uncomfortable to climb.
After our hike we went back to the hotel for lunch. We found this Variegated Squirrel waiting for us in the parking lot.
We ate at the pool restaurant again where we both enjoyed the Ensalada Tropical. It rained a tiny bit off and on so we headed to the gift shop. Mike got some new water shoes at a reasonable price.
After lunch we drove to the Oropendola waterfall. It is part of the Rio Blanco river and stands 25 metres tall. The entrance was right beside the parking lot to the national park we had visited in the morning. After a short hike there was a hanging bridge / ladder leading down to a deck which had a ladder you could use to climb down into the water. There were quite a few people visiting here. I was not a big fan of the rope bridge / ladder.
Our next stop would take us to the Rio Negro hot springs. It was free to visit as guests of Hacienda Guachipelin. It was a short hike down to several walled off pools of hot water which was brought in from the hot springs. We wandered around and sat briefly in one of the pools.The water was very hot.
Sitting isn’t really our thing so after a few minutes we headed across the street to explore the Rio Negro waterfalls. There was a series of four waterfalls. We headed to the one furthest away.
We had to keep our eye on the time because it gets dark shortly after 6 pm. This is true year round since Costa Rica is quite close to the equator.
We went in the water at all four waterfalls. The water was chilly but not super cold. During this hike we only saw one other couple walking on the path. They were either in a hurry or not brave enough for the cold water!
We made it back before dark and enjoyed our dinner at the resort restaurant. Tonight we both had the buffet. The chicken and ribs were very good.
It was incredibly windy overnight and quite noisy. We could hear rain along with the howling wind. In the morning the ground was dry but we found this large tree near our car blown down.