Tuesday, 7 January 2014

La Paz Waterfall garden

View over the garden

We arrived in Costa Rica yesterday for a two week holiday and are today en route for our first destination, the Salva Verde Lodge at Puerta Viejo di Sarapiqui. We stopped mid-way at the La Paz (Peace) Waterfall Garden. We didn't really know what to expect, but it functioned as an excellent introduction to Costa Rica and its wildlife.

La Paz is a mixture of garden, river and wildlife sanctuary and we began by descending past lovely tropical plants to see some aviaries and in particular the three main varieties of Toucan which are found in the country. This is the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (the others are the Keel-billed and Green).

Next door was a butterfly house. It was so cloudy that most of the butterflies were clustered near the roof, but I did get a nice shot of this Postman. I was told later that it is so called because it visits the same nectar plants in the same order each morning. I don't know if this in fact true, but it's a great story.


Next we walked down a series of paths to see the first of a series of waterfalls - and of course pose for some souvenir pictures.

A series of walkways followed the path of the river and revealed the next waterfall.


At the end the narrow valley opens out and the river continues at the base of a much wider and very deep-sided valley. We were all set to walk back up, but a shuttle bus was waiting and spared us the trouble.

Back at the main garden, we visited our first hummingbird garden. A series of feeders provide sugared water which the hummingbirds access by inserting their long thin beaks into a matching hole. The birds are wild, but are drawn to the feeders by the easy food source. They are almost constantly on the move, whirring, hovering, stopping and starting in mid-air like characters in a cartoon. However, with a bit of patience it was possible to get some nice pictures of them either on a feeder ...



... or preparing for the next onslaught sitting on a nearby branch.


Costa Rica boasts some 54 species of hummingbird - and in fact has improbable numbers of species of almost every type of creature imaginable. For example, more than a thousand species of butterfly.

The final section of our tour was more uncomfortable. A series of enclosures held some of the big cats that are the top predators: puma, jaguars and ocelots. Although these were said to be animals which had been rescued and would be released into the wild if suitable territories could be found for them, we couldn't escape the feeling that we were in a zoo, with these dramatic animals sitting listlessly in their smallish enclosures.

We headed on our way to Sarapiqui and were delighted when our driver stopped to show us a Coati by the road side.


It turned out that there was a whole group of them (I think band may be the collective noun) lurking by a lay-by waiting for cars to stop and feed them. When a car stopped they would all rush (I could very aptly have said hightail) towards it with an expectant air. If food was on offer they would mob the people, if not they would quickly turn away disdainfully and wait for the next arrival. The Coati is related to the raccoon and the long tail helps balance when climbing trees.


Conditions: damp at first, but brightening up after lunch.

Distance: perhaps two miles, maybe less.

Rating: four stars.

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