15 -19 December 2018
The Rio Tarcoles is one of the largest rivers in Costa Rica. It is formed at the confluence of different sources in the central mountain range and flows into the Pacific Ocean after passing along the Carara National Park. It is best known for its large population of American crocodiles, the largest in the country and possibly the world, estimated at around 200 individuals. Some are very old and imposing... To observe them, the famous crocodile bridge before Carara offers a plunging view on tens of enormous individuals. A boat trip on the river also allows you to observe them up close and the atmosphere is much more bucolic and silent....
In addition to these famous reptiles, the birdlife is truly remarkable in terms of the quality of observations and its diversity. Unfortunately the company we chose, a little by default or by chance, feeds the Crocodiles to attract them.
Carara National Park is a small park in terms of size but huge in terms of biodiversity. Located on the central Pacific coast, it is a transition zone between the dry tropical forests of the North and the humid tropical forests of the South, hence its extreme richness! Unfortunately, it is located on the side of the main road and the noise of the traffic partly drowns out the birdsong. Two paths are interesting for their birds'diversity: a loop from the Quebrada Bonita Ranger Station and, a little further along the road, a path that runs along the Rio Grande de Tarcoles. This second path has the advantage of being far from the road and its noise pollution and of being much less visited!
In this area we stayed at the Hotel Villa Lapas which is often recommended in birding trip reports on Costa Rica. The place is well located and its garden and forest are interesting, but it is important to know that on weekends it is a party place for ticos and the owners are very far from nature tourism. Moreover, the service is very average and if you plan to leave early just forget the breakfast!
The other visited regions
-Arenal Volcano and Heliconias Rainforest Lodge (Red-eyed treefrog and other tropical beauties)
- Palo Verde National Park and Rancho Humo (Pacific coast dry forests and swamp)
- Osa peninsula, Punta Marenco (dream beaches)
- Osa peninsula, La Tarde (our favorite place! Sloth and snakes)
- San Gerardo de Dota (Quetzal and magic mountain forests)
- El Copal biological reserve (Lots of Tangaras and very big Terciopelo)
- Cahuita National Park (tropical beaches, racoons and poison frogs)
- Selva Bananito (snakes portraits and few nice birds)
- Tortuguero National Park (little Amazonia)- La Selva (biological station with an intense natural wealth)