“ Country: Costa Rica / World Region: Central America „
Cano Negro Reservation
We set off from our hotel in La Fortuna and drove an hour and a half through the San Carlos Valley to this reservation on the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. On the way we passed over a bridge with a large tree beside it and it was full of iguanas. It was really strange to see about 50 iguanas sitting in the trees eating the leaves just at the level of our bus window. Our guide had told us that we would be seeing an iguana tree and we thought he was joking but indeed there was a tree full of these huge reptiles chomping away on the leaves.
When we arrived at the town where we were to board the boat for our trip on the Rio Frio in the Cano Negro Reservation we initially stopped at the place where we were going to have lunch for a quick toilet stop before walking down a couple of blocks to the dock to board the boat. The boat was a covered pontoon type boat so everyone had an excellent view as there were no windows and there was also an open deck area at the front where you could go to take photos if needed.
Our guide was lovely, so enthusiastic and knowledgeable and he told us of his exciting news. A 'blonde' howler monkey that he was particularly attached to had given birth only two days previously and National Geographic had been there on that day and taken photos. He was really hoping that we might see this monkey who he had named 'Blondy' and so we went one way up the river to find her troupe. Amazingly we did find the troupe with Blondy in and were able to see this unique animal. She is not albino, she has a colour aberration and is a lovely golden colour. We could see her really well up in the trees above us as the boat driver drove up to the bank so we could get out and walk under the trees with the howler monkey troupe above. Unfortunately she was quite protective about her baby and kept her back to us and her baby tucked away safely but to see her was very special as she is an extremely rare case being this colour.
After we spent some time with Blondy and her troupe we turned around and went the other way down the river towards Nicaragua. The boat trip lasted about two hours and during the trip we crossed the border into Nicaragua very briefly but we did not officially go through border control. We did see the border post and the sign saying that we were entering Nicaragua which was quite a novelty on a boat trip to enter another country so easily.
Just before the Nicaraguan border we came across another troupe of howler monkeys and these were on trees quite low down and we were able to get photos so close up that we could almost touch the monkeys. They were so not bothered by our being there and just continued eating their leaves and occasionally howling in their typical fashion which is meant to be a warning for the others in the troupe that they need to be aware of danger but they didn't seem so worried as they hung by their tails and went on eating and we were there for a good ten minutes at least.
Apart from the wonderful howler monkeys we saw several Cayman of various sizes from about 10 inches long to well over 3 feet. They were basking out in the sun with their mouths open which did look a little threatening but they were so still that they looked like stuffed ones until something spooked them and they moved off into the water or into the undergrowth.
Costa Rica is a bird spotter's paradise as there are so many different and unusual birds to see. We saw several different egrets, cormorants, different breeds of heron, anhinga, roseate spoonbills, northern jacanas, a jabiru which is a kind of stork, vultures, hawks, several types of kingfisher, swallows which dived and flew around the boat and finally hummingbirds. Some were very easy to spot while for others you needed the eagle - eyed guide to point out to you as they were so well hidden and then often they flew on just as you saw them. There were parrots around as we could hear them but as they are green it is virtually impossible to see them up in the trees.
After two hours on the river looking at the wild life and learning about the different rain forest tees, kapok, teak, carob and many others, it was time to return to the dock and then walk back up to the restaurant for lunch. After lunch we were invited to look in the gift shop and look at the lovely carved wooden items that our guide from the boat and his brothers had created. They were all made from fallen trees and used the natural beauty of the wood carved and polished into interesting bowls of various shapes, animals, earrings, necklaces and other things, they were not just wood carvings they were real works of craftsmanship and very creative. We bought some animals for the grandchildren and a simple wooden mat made of ovals of different hard words polished and it is so simple, useful and yet very pleasing to touch and look at as it is so smoothly polished and yet all natural wood colours.
This was a very special trip and we were so thrilled to be able to get so close to the howler monkeys especially but also all the other animals we saw along the river. The guide was excellent and his enthusiasm for the animals and his knowledge about both the flora and fauna of the area really made the trip special. This was a trip that I am glad I did not miss and would recommend this to anyone interesting in seeing these animals in their natural habitat.
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