A Travellerspoint blog

Up into the cloud forest and back down again

sunny 30 °C

Hello there again everybody, its been a while since you’ve heard from us last as we have been very busy on many different adventures. We have found many of the animals we set out to find and photograph in the rain and cloud forests. After the volcano area, where we found a small species of toucan called an aracari (pronounced arra-sorry), sloths and tent-making bats amongst many other creatures (all with the help of a guide) we headed off to the cloud forests of Monteverde which is around 2000 above sea-level. It is cold and wet most of the time, and the winds howl constantly. We even made use of our ski jackets here. It is a very hilly place and the roads are unpaved and bumpy with large rocks and potholes everywhere. We were luck to be blessed with our own resident two-toed sloth just outside our hotel. Ever –seeking the perfect wildlife photo, Will decided to climb up into the tree beside the sloth. I don’t think the sloth was too impressed, he wasn’t sure what to do as they move very slowly. This was a intimate encounter, although not resulting in the desired photo.

Monteverde is arguably the best place in the world for zip-lining (as the Americans call it) – we call them flying foxes or jungle surfing. You travel at a great speed on cables strung up between the forest valleys, some of which are a kilometre long. You can’t see the end of it while you are zipping through trees and along the top of the trees a hundred metres below you.

We saw a very rare and special bird here called the Resplendant Quetzal. It is dazzling electric green plumage, a bright red breast and long tails feathers like a bird of paradise.

On our night walk in this region we encountered giant tarantulas (see photos attached), the shy and elusive Olingo (not even in our thick animal guide book) which looks rather like a cat crossed with a possum, but is related to raccoons. It moves very fast through the trees and is rarely spotted. There were giant glow-beetles constantly signalling to each other through the trees all around us.

Headed off, the next day, to Cañas which is in the lowlands of the northern parts of the country (which is called the Guanacaste area) to see some of the big cats, which inhabit Central America (Puma, leopard and ocelot) in an animal rescue centre. It will be almost impossible to see them in the wild as they are too weary of man and have a very keen sense of smell (who wants to meet a 300 pound predator of humans in its natural habitat anyway)? We also met some toucans with big beaks and big personalities, and an extremely vocal otter. It was a small rescue centre with quite a lot of cats, and not really geared towards tourists (I’m not sure that too many come out this way) and relies on donations to keep itself going.

We stayed in Cañas for just one night and were lucky enough to catch the closing night of their fiesta with a parade of colourful percussionists, gymnasts and dancers that seemed to go forever. It was very festive and fun!

We are now in Liberia and Will intends to climb an active volcano here, we will keep you posted.

Posted by sarahnwill 18:25 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (1)

On to the next adventure in tropical Central America

semi-overcast 27 °C

Hola amigos! We are now in Costa Rica, Central America, between Nicaragua and Panama. The people here are very friendly, and call themselves Ticos. We are often mistaken as Gringos (Americans) because not too many Australians visit here. Where we are staying there were only 8 Australians who visited last year. This area is a bit like Julatten, similar plants – it is where we get a lot of our garden plants from and they grow the same crops as in FNQ - sugar cane, bananas, papaya & coffee.

However we are here to see the exotic creatures. Today we saw our first hummingbirds outside our cabina and vultures circling above us. There are also large glow-bugs around where we are staying.

We have come to the tiny village of El Castillo in the central highlands to see a very young (50 years old) and very active volcano called Arenal. We have chosen some great cabinas with huge windows showing the volcano which looms above us – now we just have to wait for the clouds to clear so we can see the glowing red lava flowing at night. We may have to wait a few nights as it rains a lot here and there is a lot of cloud. We haven’t heard it yet but they say you can often hear the volcano rumbling.

Tomorrow we are going on a walk in the rainforest around the lake below the volcano with a guide to try and find sloths, tent-making bats, toucans, anteaters, tarantulas, boa constrictors and vipers! We may even be allowed to hand-feed some toucans (not sure if that is such a good thing!). Over the next couple of days we will also be heading on a walk up to the volcano to see the fresh lava flowing in rivers down its side. We are not exactly sure how safe this is going to be, as there have been a few deaths in the past few decades from this volcano.

Our Spanish is very poor which makes communicating difficult, however with the help of our lonely planet phrasebook we are giving it a go. Many of the Ticos have some limited English so between us we manage “Spanglish”. It is working so far!

Until next time, Hasta luego!

Click here for photos of Costa Rica so far...

Posted by sarahnwill 21:11 Comments (0)

First blog in the exotic land of USA

sunny 0 °C

Well we know that there are many waiting out there in cyber-land with bated breath for this first installment of our adventures, so here it is.
We boarded a flight (on a new plane called an airbus which had never flown before) to Sydney and, 14 hours later, arrived in Los Angeles airport. First impressions? We didn't have tiime for first impressions, there were people coming up to us asking for money for the homeless and selling all sorts of services we didn't care for. You could no longer smell the sweet ocean breeze of the coral sea, it being replaced with the fumes of car exhaust from the LA traffic. We knew that we would have to tip everyone for everything and were nervous about it as we were unsure how much to tip. Sure enough the taxi driver, who took us from the airport to the hotel stopped, frozen in time, his hand on the open lid of the boot, staring at the ground. We knew instantly what this meant. He was waiting and we must give our first tip. "Heres a fiver mate" said will, as he handed him the dark green paper money, which all look the same (hope it wasn't a hundred). We spent only one night here as we had anticipated that we would not like this place.

Next day.

We're on the plane (American Airlines, you know the one you always see on TV crash investigation shows) and heading to Denver which is called The mile High City because it is, as its name hints, 1 mile high and surrounded by the snow topped rocky mountains (it's nearly the end of winter here). We actually flew over the Grand Canyon. Sarah said it was th most scenic flight she had ever been on. The trip was, however not without incident and we thought we might end up on one of those TV shows when the captain announced that we should all buckle up tight now due to extreme turbulance ahead! And it was extreme. At times we were being jolted sideways and experienced weightlesness at times as sarah reached for the sick bag. We could see the wing from where we weres itting and it was bending a little too much for our liking. Survived that one.

Denver and Boulder.

Very cold here averaging around 0 degrees celsius which is around 30 farenheit. We love everything about this place. The food is excellent and you are spoilt for choice. Everything is organic and freshly made. We have found food we could not have imagined. Even the drinks are exotic and interesting, had a cherry flavoured vanilla creaming soda today. The town of Boulder has beautiful acchitecture and large bronze sculptures of animals of the area such as mountain lions, beavers, wolves, giant elk. We saw our first squirrel too, which are much more intelligent looking and cute when not seen in a picture book. The locals are health-conscious and we saw groups of teenagers running through the street to get fit. Never seen that before. Not what our impressions were of the US.

We went skiing the next day and it snowed the whole time, beautiful, like a winter wonderland of varied pine trees and snow covered mountains with squirrels darting among the trees. At the end of the day Will decided to go for one last snowboard run and was caught in a blizzard. His $15 sunnies didn't cope and iced up! He couldn't see because the air was too cold and whipping into his face and eyes. Being at the top of the mountain and having to traverse a 45 degree sloap with mouguls diddn't help. In the end he had to ski down eyes closed. Extreme.

For more of our Boulder Photos click here

Posted by sarahnwill 10:30 Comments (4)

Test Photos

click here to view photos

Posted by sarahnwill 17:42 Comments (10)

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