Costa Rica Day Five: Finally, A Clear View Of The Arenal Volcano And A Long Hike At The Lodge

Costa Rica Day Five: Finally, A Clear View Of The Arenal Volcano And A Long Hike At The Lodge

Costa Rica Day Five Arenal Observatory Lodge morning hike (3 of 50)
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It was my  fifth day at the Arenal Observatory Lodge in Costa Rica when I awoke early Tuesday morning. And it wasn’t raining!   It had rained much of the last five  days.  I still had not seen the summit of the  Arenal volcano even though t he lodge is located only a few miles away, on it’s lower slopes.   There were breaks in the rain, and some sunshine but the  volcano was always shrouded in clouds. On Tuesday morning, looking out from my balcony I finally saw clear skies. Arenal Lake was visible in the distance. I quickly finished a cup of coffee, grabbed my  camera, and walked down to the observation deck.  Here I joined about a dozen other early risers and finally took in  the spectacular view of Arenal Volcano.

It was impressive. The cone could be seen at the summit and  wisps of steam  were an  indication it was still hot and active. It’s this heat  creates  the many hot springs that are  located  nearby.  

One could also see the canals created by the lava flows when the volcano unexpectedly erupted in 1968. It devastated two villages, killed 84 villagers, and forever changed the surrounding countryside. Ash and boulders, some the size of cars,  were spewed   from the  volcano  over the farm lands, villages  and rainforests. It has been mostly dormant since 2010 with only the wisps of steam  reminding the local folks and visitors  that it is still active and can erupt again.

I enjoyed my first view of the volcano. It was around 6 a.m. and I  began my morning hike. I was off to once again explore the edges of the rain forest that surround the cattle ranch  lands and fields that are owned and operated  the lodge. First,  I walked through the beautiful gardens and saw many of the birds that I had photographed on my many previous hikes. It was nice to see the summit of the volcano towering over the lush,  beautiful  gardens for the first time.

There was a pair of yellow-throated toucans singing in the treetops. I love seeing this exotic and beautiful birds. 

I left the lodge gardens through the Green Gate, and along the paved Farm Farm  road. There are a lot of  unpaved side roads to the main Farm Road and following them can become confusing. They are not marked except on  my All Trails Map. This is a link to a map on my AllTrails App with  the route I followed.


Along the way  saw  this tawny-capped euphonia along the  Farm Road.

I also saw something else I hadn’t yet seen on my stay in Costa Rica, a rising sun. It was shinning brilliantly through the large Caribbean pines tress along the road.

I walked on the paved Red Farm  which became the Farm road again . It led  me to a private villa. Here the paved road ended and I had to enter a gate and on to the now dirt Orange Farm Road, It took me up a ridge which provided another view of the impressive  Arenal Volcano.

I followed the dirt road,  which took me through  cattle fields surrounded by the tall Caribbean pine and  rainbow eucalyptus trees.

Here I  heard  a  rapping sound,  and then I  saw,  a pair of pale-billed woodpeckers high in the treetop.

There was also a flock of red-lored parrots  squawking loudly in the trees. It took me a while to locate them but  I was finally able to find  a few of thee loud birds  before they flew off.

Also adding to the  sounds coming form the treetops were the loud calls of a few Montezuma oropendolas.

There was also a ducky capped fly catcher on a fence post,

an a bay headed tanager on a branch along the trail.

I followed the Orange Farm Road to the Pink Farm Road trail which now descended a ridge and took  me  through some more  fields. Here I had more  views of the Arenal volcano.

Cattle were grazing in some of the fields.

The Pink Farm Road trail crossed a small stream and then  took me  along  the edge of the rainforest. Large native tropical  trees were on one side of the trail and the fields with the imported Caribbean pine and rainbow eucalyptus trees on the other side of the trail.

Here I saw a squirrel, only the second one I had seen in Costa Rica, and  believe it is a Deppe’s squirrel. I like photographing birds but like to see and photograph mammals, snakes and reptiles even more so I was glad to see this critter scurry through the trees.

I also saw a  few birds including this great kiskadee perched on a branch  along the trail.

The Pink Farm Road Trail ended and then continued a short distance on the Green Farm Road Trail which became  the Blue Farm Road  Trail ( I know it was confusing to me too) and which led me to the Los Congrejos Trail. After  a short distance,  through some ranch land, it  entered the rainforest.

Here the bright sunshine filtered through and was dimmed  in the thick canopy of trees.

 I saw tropical ferns, vines and mosses growing on rocks, tree trunks and just about everything along the trail. 

The trail crossed a few fast moving springs where I heard the sound of frogs and insects. I was a little disappointed I did not see and photograph more wildlife but I still enjoyed the experience of the sights, sounds and smells of the rainforest. And, as I did on my hikes the previous day,  I found a lot of mushrooms growing on the dead and decaying tree trunks and branches along the trail.

I heard and saw a few birds but it was difficult to photograph them in the thick vegetation and dim light. . I was able to get a photos of a few warblers that were traveling together, although it took about a 1/2 hour to do so, they  included a chestnut sided warbler,

a golden crowned warbler.

and a buff rumped warbler. I hope the last identification is correct. There were many other bird songs in the  thick vegetation of the rainforest but I couldn’t even see them let alone get any photos.

The Los Congrejos trail wasn’t a very long trail but it was a wonderful  place to discover the beauty of a  rainforest. 

The trail ended  and I was back on the Blue Farm Road where I found more fields, cattle and views of the Arenal Volcano.

This time, instead of hiking back to the lodge, I followed the Blue Farm Road along the fields and eventually entered another area of primary rainforest.

Here I crossed a small stream and followed a trail to a small waterfall.

In these deep woods I saw a streak headed woodcreeper. and

a black-cheeked woodpecker

The trail left the edge of the rainforest and continued through more ranch lands and fields. Tall Caribbean pines and rainbow eucalyptus trees grow along the road.

The Arenal volcano  in the distance dominated the landscape.

I heard some more red-lored parrots and woodpeckers in the tall trees and saw a few of these very familiar birds soaring on the updrafts created by the heat from the rays of the sun, turkey  vultures. They are common in the skies of Northeastern Pennsylvania in our warmer months.

Yellow-faced grassquits and

cinnamon rumped seedeaters  were foraging in the fields.

The rains we had all week made me forget we were in the tropics. I left the lodge at 6 a.m. and had hiked about 4 hours. The morning sun was becoming intense. The temperature rose into the 80’s. Of course I did not put on insect repellant or sunscreen. And I brought no water. I was getting hot when I came to the  farm houses and work area. The lodge is also a working cattle ranch and some of the staff live here.

I could have hiked back to the lodge but  I decided to take the longer Red Farm Trail. This road first took me past some horse stables. I learned these horses are available for riding on the trails.

The road/trail, then, again,  followed the edge of the rainforest.  and soon I was able to walk in the shade of the trees that towered over the trail. I was glad it was getting hotter and I was getting more thirsty.

The road  approached the fast flowing headwaters of the Danta River it t then followed the river and along the edge of the tall trees of the rainforest. .   I welcomed the shade from the trees and the refreshingly cool air that the arose from the river.  However the trail soon left the edge of the rainforest and I had about a 1/2 mile hike through the fields and now very  intense  late morning sun 

There was almost no bird activity now as the temperatures rose into the mid 80’s. I did see a few white-nosed coati who didn’t seem to mind the heat.  I didn’t many other birds for the rest of this hike.  Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos of the birds and other critters  I saw on my hike. Costa Rica: Day Five: Arenal Observatory Lodge morning hike birds. January  9  2024.

After walking  on the Red Farm Road under the hot sun I was glad when  I came to the bridge that spanned the Danta River.

After crossing the bridge I   was again walking under the shade of the tall trees of the Waterfall Trail. It was a steep climb back up to the lodge but at least it was cool along the fast flowing waters of the Danta River. I didn’t hike back down the steep steps to see the waterfall.

I did see a few insects along the trail including this banded peacock butterfly

and this dragonfly. I think it is a swift river cruiser dragonfly. I wish I had more time to observe and photographs the insects, birds and plants along the trail but I was getting tired, thirsty and hungry.

It was 11;30 a.m. when I made it back to the  gardens of lodge. I  again enjoyed seeing Arenal Volcano in the distance  under the clear, deep blue skies. But   I was exhausted hungry and thirsty. . I had hiked  almost 6 1/2 miles in about 5 1/2 hours, the last few hours in the tropical sun and heat. But it was a great hike under the clear skies and with no threat of rain. . Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from  my hike. Costa Rica: Day Five: Arenal Observatory Lodge morning hike  January  9  2024.

I returned to my room, drank a lot of water, showered and walked over to  lodge restaurant for lunch with a view of the volcano.  I had  delicious fish tacos, and there were a lot of them . I was very full and ready to take a much needed rest.

However on my way back to my room I saw a group of people taking photos of something in the pine trees behind the lodge. I walked over and observed a troop of spider monkeys swinged through the trees.

I spent some time watching the spider monkeys. It  was a great way to end my first sunny morning at the lodge.

I spent the next few hours, resting. calling my law office,  checking emails from work  and editing photos. I was still tired from my morning hike but I had to get out to  explore the beautiful gardens and trails of the lodge one more time  before dinner.

I walked through the gardens seeing and hearing many of the same birds I had previously seen and photographed.  I walked aout the Waterfall Trail. I had hoped to see some different and more exotic birds or wildlife here in the lush vegetation of the rainforest.  I didn’t . However, I was satisfied just walking under the lush green canopy of leaves of the forest.

Everything was green. Every tree trunk was covered in vines,


or moss. There was so much life here.

I returned to the lodge. It was now late afternoon but I still stopped at the observation deck to watch the many birds feeding on the  fruit put out by the guides. I saw  most of the usual including buff throated saltators, 

golden hooded tanagers

and a new one, I believe a white tailed tyrannulet. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from  my  afternoon hike. Costa Rica: Day Five: Arenal Observatory Lodge afternoon  hike  January  9  2024.

As usual I made early reservations for dinner at 6 p.m. when the restaurant opens for the evening. This evening, even though I had hiked over 8 miles,  I wasn’t too hungry. I was still full from the fish tacos I had for lunch. I didn’t order an appetizer, and had a  grilled tuna with sesame seeds and sauteed vegetables. It was the first night I had no dessert. I returned to my lodge, edited photos and sat on my balcony and enjoyed the sounds of the rainforest. I retired early again looking forward the the guided birding tour I booked for 6 a.m.

“There are reminders of the truth to mankind about the universe: Lightning, earthquakes, storms! The angriest of these reminders is the volcanoes eruptions!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

All Nature’s wildness tells the same story: the shocks and outbursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, roaring, thundering waves and floods, the silent uprush of sap in plants, storms of every sort, each and all, are the orderly, beauty-making love-beats of Nature’s heart. John Muir

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