10 -14 January 2019
Cahuita National Park was created in 1978 with the aim of protecting the superb coral reef that surrounds the Punta Cahuita in the South of the Atlantic coast. It is a small park of about 10 km2 with 1,067 hectares of land and 22,400 hectares of sea. It remains one of the most visited in Costa Rica and it has the particularity of being managed by the local community. It is accessible through an entrance located in the village itself where there is no entrance fee, but donations are welcome, or by another entrance located a few kilometers from the village which is chargeable. The two entrances meet via a mainly coastal path of some eight kilometers.
The second entrance outside the village (Puerto Vargas) gives direct access to a beautiful stilted trail through dense flooded forest. Before setting off there it is worth taking a good look at the trees surrounding the parking lot because the yellow shape of the Eyelash Viper is almost guaranteed ! Inside the park, unlike most other parcs in the country, racoons are very easy to see and we were lucky enough to observe two Sloths quite easily. Birds are not to be outdone with, for example, the observation of the mythical Great Potoo in the middle of the day !
On the other hand, there were far too many people for our taste; it is imperative to get there at the first light of day to avoid the masses of people.
We stayed at the ALBY lodge http://www.albylodge.com/, a small structure with four bungalows well separated, simple but with all the necessary comfort and a common kitchen at disposal.The prices are really low, it is the best value for money we have found in Costa Rica. Note that Cahuita, a very mixed city, offers exceptional small restaurants including an Italian one where we ate the best seafood pasta of our lives!
A few kilometers from Cahuita, in the hills overlooking the coast just before the Puerto Vargas gate of the national park, is a site not to be missed. This ist he “Alban forest“. Alban is a former farmer and nature lover who has decided to fully protect his forest. At night, he works as a guard in Cahuita Park. Unfortunately, the local authorities did not allow him to put up a sign for his private reserve ; so you have to inquire a little before you find this hidden pearl…This endearing man will take you on a free guided tour of his forest, which he knows down to the last detail. The forest is big, old and there is no one there! Potentially, you can find the same species as in the Cahuita NP, but it has an incredible density of two species of Dendrobates of the Atlantic coast
Finally, from the top of the hill, the view of the national park is breathtaking but, nevertheless, beware…Alban talks a lot!