Toucans come and go quite a bit around here. At one point we heard lots of screaming and commotion, which turned out to be caused by a monkey capturing one and ripping it up. The cycle of life here is fascinating but can get pretty ugly.
Catching our first flight from Quepos to San Jose, where we’d then grab another to Puerto Jimenez
After five days in Manuel Antonio, we headed for the Osa Peninsula in the far Southwest of Costa Rica to get a taste of remoteness and wildlife. The peninsula is one of the hardest places in the country to get around, so we opted for the easy route — two surprisingly quick and easy flights. After landing in Puerto Jimenez, it took almost an hour to travel by car the 22 km to our lodge on some pretty rocky roads.
Flying above the lush green landscape of Costa Rica
The Bosque del Cabo lodge sits right on a corner of the peninsula, high on a bluff with two beaches down below. On one side you can hike an hour through the jungle to some calm, lovely beaches of the Golfo Dulce. Heading the other direction, you can hike down a steep set of hundreds of steps to some more dramatic beaches right on the Pacific ocean.
We see lots of cute coatis on the grounds here
But we were really here to see some of the incredible diversity of wildlife that Costa Rica has to offer, and the area did not disappoint. Just sitting around the lodge we’d encounter the continuous drama of traffic coming and going at different parts of the day. Toucans, macaws, hawks, and hummingbirds rustle in the trees and flowers. Spider monkeys prowl the trees, while howler moneys occasionally startle with their deep groans in the distance.
But we really got to appreciate the cycle of life through a couple incredible tours with Philip, an English-born biologist who has lived here at the lodge for 15 years. We were quite captivated by his passion for the primary rain forest, with all its intricate relationships between plants, animals, insects, and reptiles.
A banana tree whose leaves have been stripped naked by the local leaf-cutter ants
Just ants alone are fascinating! I’ve seen leaf-cutter ants carrying their leaves in long processions quite a few times. But here we learned about the unbelievably complex operation they are running. Their home is a massive hill housing five to eight million leaf-cutter ants.
This palm tree has some pretty nasty thorns to protect itself. Life is tough in these parts.
They are all the offspring of a single queen. She lays massive batches of eggs every day to create legions of workers of different castes — those who cut and transport leaves into the nest, soldiers who protect them from enemies, workers who cultivate the leaves, etc. The leaves are composted to create and environment to grow a fungus that is the staple diet of the colony.
We also did a night tour with Philip to get a glimpse of some of the creepier, crawlier residents of the forest. We saved this for the last night so that we didn’t have to think about all these characters quite as much while sleeping among them! We saw bats, a tree snake, a scorpion, a worrisome variety of spiders, and some truly fascinating frogs.
This is an incredible place, and it’s been fascinating to scratch the surface of what goes on in nature. Far too many of these forests are being destroyed in the world, and we feel deep gratitude to those who fight to protect all of this.
This spider had a huge web right next to our breakfast spot. At first I could hardly stand to look at it, but after a few days I was pretty fascinated by all the activity going on in there.
Capturing hummingbirds on camera is a challenge
Our incredible guide Philip
The red-eyed tree frog is synonymous with Costa Rica. Philip found this guy for us in the dead of night.
We also saw this cute little yellow frog on our night tour
The view as we climbed down to the Pacific beaches
Dramatic Pacific beaches
The lodge pool, a relaxing oasis, surrounded by the drama of the forest