The plan for Day 6 was to head into Manzanillo rainforest (Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Gandoca-Manzanillo) with a local guide, so we did just that. We were picked up at the Banana Azul at 7am (5am for you pacific time people) and headed into Puerto Viejo to pick up our guide Ricky and continue on to Manzanillo.
The park spans from Manzanillo south down to the Panama boarder encompassing 5,013 hectares of land and 4,436 hectares of ocean. It protects 70% of the Southern Caribbean coast.
You can tell that Manzanillo area is more of a daytime area as it was pretty quiet. No one in the streets, no cars parked, nobody at the beach.
We started our walk from Maxi’s along a sand road towards the Manzanillo jungle. I guess it’s also a rainforest too. Along the way Ricky shared various tidbits about Manzanillo itself, including where the name comes from. The English translation of Manzanillo means small apple, there are also other places throughout Latin America with the same name.
I forget the name of the above fern type plant, but the fun name of it is called DontTouchMe. When you brush up against the fern like leaves they retract in order to protect themselves.When you touch 1 piece of the fern it doesn’t retract. It was fun to make them close, though we didn’t notice if they reopened any time soon.
Ricky talked about the history of Costa Rica, including how the majority of the Afro-Caribbean people are descendants of Jamaica. He talked about how the natural landscape is changing as more and more people take up residence in these tropical areas. He mentioned how there are plans for a large marina ($20M or so) for Puerto Viejo and how if it does get built that the beaches and landscape around will change for the worse. I also think that with a large marina, it will quicken the Americanization of the area. I would hate to see large resorts along the beaches of Puertu Viejo, Punta Uva, Manzanillo and such.
Ricky was really good about showing us if we keep our eyes open, we might see things people would normally pass by. Including these 2 Fruit Bats. Ricky said typically under bend palm-leaves such as the one in the photo above, there can be up to 5 fruit bats huddled next to each other.
Now in a previous post (Day 4 I believe) I showed you a photo of a large spider we came across. Well Ricky was showing us that those spiders (Orb Spiders) can be particularly harmless if you respect it. Ricky decided to have a bit of fun with a large female we found on a web.
While she walked around on my arm and hand, it seemed to irritate my mosquito bites. Her legs felt like little needles poking me as she moved around. Don’t think I’ve ever held a spider that big. I thought it was pretty brave of Robyn to have it crawl around on her, she’s scared of them. I’m got a love/hate relationship with spiders, if they don’t scare me I’m ok with them, if they pop out of nowhere, they get squished. Ricky also showed us how strong her web was. One strand of it was able to pull and bend a fairly decent sized branch without breaking. The cool thing about these particular Orb Spiders is that their web is of a golden colour.
Ricky also explained to us why the sand was black in various areas. He used his machete and gently glided it over the surface of the black sand. The black sand clung on to the metal of the machete, when he showed us the machete with the sand, it reminded me of iron filings and magnets. He said the black sand is iron and believes it is also how the Leatherback Turtles navigate to their birth places to lay their eggs each year.
The best photo I have so far of one of Costa Rica’s hummingbirds; Rufus Hummingbird. While I write this blog post the occasional hummingbird flies to the plants hanging on the roof, but are back lit so I can never get a good shot. Costa Rica is home to like 20 different varieties of hummers, whereas southwestern BC I think we have only 2 varieties; Ruby Throated and Anna’s.
Ricky had us also plant a coconut near the shoreline about 15 paces beside another one I think he planted with a previous group. Perhaps one day when Robyn and I go back, this same coconut will have grown into something larger. The coconut trees will bare their first fruit in 15 to 20 years.
We eventually made our way into the rainforest and within about 100 meters we saw our first sloth. A male was slowly climbing up a tree and Ricky mentioned that there was a female in a tree next to him the previous day.
We cut through some lodges and into the deeper rainforest. Within moments we saw some more Howler Monkeys including a female with a baby on her back. The group of them just moved around in the tree canopy as we stood beneath them watching.
We spotted a couple of red frogs throughout our trek through the rainforest as well. If it’s brightly coloured, remember you probably don’t want to touch it. There were also various geckos that were dashing around as well.
Ricky did a great job explaining various plant life to us as well. We got to see the massive Ironwood Trees that are home to Green Macaws and are protected by the Government, large Fig trees, a tree that’s branches can be used for a decent incense, trees whose outer bark have massive barbs on them and more. He even showed us a plant they call Snake Plant that can help stop the circulation of snake venom. The rainforest’s plant life is fascinating!
We also got to see yellow Eyelash vipers in the wild too! Good thing their yellow colour stands out, I wouldn’t have taken particular notice to this guy on a near by tree trunk.
We eventually reached a point that over looks the ocean with some partially secluded beaches. Here we rested for a few moments and took photos. Then made our way back to Maxi’s to meet up with our van.
Just before we got back to Maxi’s a local pointed out some green parakeets in the tree beside us. It was neat to see parakeets in the wild.
When we got back to Banana Azul we had a yummy lunch and then jumped into ocean to slowly watch the sunset for the last day of 2009.
Robyn and I would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year 2010!
Photos Taken So Far: 642
Next To Come: Who knows, it’s an unplanned day! Perhaps Punta Uva