Costa Rica in the Dry Season, February 2010

Friday night sundown, Gulf of Nicoya, from hilltop at La Ensenada. Photo by Richard Brewer.

Katy and I just returned from two weeks in Costa Rica.  As part of an Elderhostel–though the program is now called Exploritas–we visited five sites ranging from mangrove forest along the Pacific Coast to the rather chaparral-like vegetation called paramo around 11,000 feet above sea level on Cerro de la Muerte.  Included were visits to several important conservation areas, including  La Selva (and Selva Verde) and a site in the Savegre River valley.

Spending eight or more hours a day in the field, our group identified, or had identified for it, about 280 species of birds.  On one night excursion we heard and saw the Common Pauraque (but no potoos).  We also saw 2- and 3-toed sloths, howler monkeys, collared peccaries and a few other mammals plus various herp species including crocodiles and caimans, 2 species of iguanas, several other lizards, a few frogs, and the cane toad, native here but with a bad reputation in places where it has been introduced, like St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.

Interest in resource conservation is high in Costa Rica.  For one thing, ecotourism, which is what we were participating in, is a major element in the nation’s economy.  The subjects of ecotourism’s costs and benefits and how sustainable it is are complex, but as an incentive for setting aside natural lands, the impact has been positive and powerful.

At Selva Verde. Photo by Richard Brewer.

I’ll write more about our observations and experiences.  For now, I’ll say just that they involved a lot of interesting and beautiful wildlife and plants, spectacular scenery, lots of good food, and good company.

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