Thursday, 9 January 2014

Selva Verde

Part of the garden at Selva Verde Lodge

We are on holiday in Costa Rica and staying for a few days at Selva Verde Lodge in a private reserve near Puerto Viejo di Sarapiqui. It is in the tropical rain forest on the Caribbean slope of the central mountain range. The post describes our exploration of a couple of self-guided trails followed by a guided tour in primary rain forest.

We started the self guided tour in the small botanical garden where there were a number of dramatic tropical plants like this heleconia ...

... and this vibrant passionflower.

The presence of flowers meant some butterfly sightings, including several Banded Peacocks, which looked at first like some sort of White Admiral.

We walked in a loop around this section of the grounds, spotting an Agouti (which I failed to get a really clear photo of). It is rather like a very large squirrel.

Then we crossed the road and walked through secondary rain forest (i.e forest which has been cleared and then has regenerated).

 This brought us round to the shallow, but fast-flowing, Sarapiqui river.

To continue our exploration we had arranged for a guide to take us across the suspension bridge over the river into the primary rain forest which lay beyond.

The essential difference between primary and secondary forest was immediately apparent: the trees were bigger and more closely packed, there were more epiphytes and more activity in the canopy.

It was hot and humid in the rain forest but surprisingly quiet. Our guide was very enthusiastic about it: the forest was "very beautiful" and "gorgeous". I was thrilled to soon see a Giant Damselfly.

But I was frustrated by a blue Leaf butterfly which would only perch on the underside of leaves.

One of the features of Costa Rican rain forest is how many of the plants and creatures are dangerous: we soon saw the poisonous Blue Jeans Frog (a tiny red frog blue legs) and the Green/Blue Poison Dart Frog ..

.. and the bullet ant.

An American entomologist, Jason O Schmidt, has developed the Schmidt Sting Pain Index and according to him the bullet and offers the world's most painful insect bite.

Our guide also identified the black growths we had seen on several trees - they were termite nests.

Our fascinating introduction to the rain forest ended at a 300 year old hollow tree with bats roosting inside.

Conditions: hot (low 20s) and humid.

Distance: probably not much more than a couple of miles all told. Frequent stops for explanations and photographs.

Rating: four and half stars.

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