Costa Rica Day Four: Arenal Observatory Lodge. More Rainy Walks, Some Mushrooms, And A Waterfall

Costa Rica Day Four: Arenal Observatory Lodge. More Rainy Walks, Some Mushrooms, And A Waterfall

Costa Rica Day Three Arenal Observatory Lodge morning (30 of 39)
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It was my third morning in Costa Rica, where I was staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge,  at the foot of the Arenal volcano. And,  for the third morning,  it was raining when I awoke. It was a steady rain but  there were still some folks on the observation deck,  dressed in full rain gear. Once again I had to change my morning plans and waited  for the rain to stop or at least let up. I knew I was in a rainforest but this was supposed to be the dry season in Costa Rica. I still hadn’t seen the summit of the  famous Arenal Volcano because of the clouds and rain.

I  walked out my front door which is right next to the rainforest and saw something  in the treetops. I realized they were spider monkeys! They were one of the reasons I came to Costa Rica.  I remember seeing one on a Viewmaster slide when I was a child and always wanted to see one in the wild. Mission accomplished!

I watched the monkeys and discovered one was a mother with her infant.

After watching the spider monkeys I decided I wasn’t going to sit in my room so I left wearing a  poncho for only the  second time. I first stooped at the observation deck where I saw many of the usual birds visiting the left over fruit, and this one, a new lifer for me,  a chestnut-headed oropendola.  It is  a close relative to the many Montezuma oropendolas that visit the feeders.

I next walked over the “spider” bridge.

to one of the many gardens surrounding the lodge. 

I again enjoyed the many colorful and exotic flowers growing in the wet gardens.

Even in the light rain there were a lot of the usual birds fluttering through the gardens including the scarlet rumped tanagers, this is the male,

and this the female.

and this colorful summer tanager.

Thankfully the rains stopped so I walked out past the Green Gate and  decided to hike on the Yellow Farm Road Trail which took me past a beautiful private villa. The trail was the  border between the tall Caribbean pines and ranch land to the left of the trail , and the rainforest to the right. 

I followed the trail for about 3/4 of a mile when it came to Danta Bridge which spanned the  fast flowing Danta River. I crossed the bridge, which took me into some more ranch land. I turned around here  then headed back up the heavily wooded Waterfall Trail.

Hiking this trail, under the tall tropical trees, and through the lush green vegetation gave me a sense of what a rainforest should be like. Every tree trunk was covered with vines, air plants, moss or ferns.

And, I found something I didn’t expect to find on this visit to Costa Rica, mushrooms, a lot of them.

They were growing on almost every dead log,

branch or tree trunk. I tried to identify them with no success. I asked one of the guides is any of the mushrooms near the lodge may be edible and he told me there are over 9000 species of mushrooms in Costa Rica and about 100 are edible but not many of the edible one grow in the rain forest. I enjoyed seeing them since at home in Northeastern Pennsylvania I can identity, and eat, over 50  species of edible mushrooms. 

Wet green ferns of all types also grew along the trail.

And I also was treated to the sighting of a white collared manakin,

and a yellow throated euphonia, both birds of the  deep rainforest.

I followed the trail up a ridge and came to the path to the waterfalls. I climbed down the steep steps and was treated to a beautiful view of the Danta Waterfalls. I watched the fast flowing waters and listened to the roar of the falls for about 10 minutes. I was the only one there and enjoyed the solitary beauty of the waterfalls and rainforest.

I climbed back up the steep steps, and again experienced a common phenomenon in the rainforest, rain! A steady,  then heavy rain began to fall,  as I walked the 1/2 mile trail  back to the lodge.  My poncho, for the most part kept my camera and  iPhone dry but I did get a little wet in the torrential rain. It was certainly worth it. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from my morning hike. After drying myself off, I headed  to the restaurant and enjoyed breakfast, I had  tipico, a popular  breakfast in Costa Rica it is  eggs, plantains. rice and beans and fruit.  . Costa Rica Arenal Observatory Lodge morning hike January 8 2024.

After breakfast I edited photos, did some work for my law office, and waited for the rain to stop. It did, late in the afternoon, and I actually saw some blue sky. Clouds, however, still shrouded most of the Arenal volcano.

I wore my poncho, and I am glad I did. I   walked through the wet gardens, encountering a few white-nose coatis,

and rufous tailed hummingbirds, along the way.

I  followed  the Saino Trail down into the rainforest and walked under the lush green canopy of the tall tropical trees,  with lush ferns,

tropical flowers,

and some more mushrooms growing along the trail.

I also saw this stripe throated hermit hummingbird perched on a branch as I walked past it.

I left the Saino Trail and hiked over to the Old Lava Trail which would take down me to the Agua Caliente River. The trail began on a steep set of stone steps,

and continued downward. It became steeper, and more difficult after the steps ended and many trees roots crossed the trail

 And the rains started again. At first just a steady rain so I decided to cover up my camera and iPhone and continue down the trail. The rains became torrential. The poncho helped keep the camera and iPhone dry but  I was already wet so  continued down the now muddy trail. The trail became steeper and  more treacherous in the heavy rain. But I now was committed to reach the river.

And I did. I sat in the heavy rain and enjoyed watching the rapidly flowing waters of the river. I felt like I  had accomplished something great as I was trudging back up the trail when I encountered a young couple hiking down to the river. The woman had her young toddler in a child backpack  on her back. And grandmom followed behind. We only chatted for a few minutes in the heavy rain but I told them they were wonderful parents and that I admired them for hiking in these conditions.  I continued my long and exhausting hike back up the trail  Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from my  hike to the river . Costa Rica Arenal Observatory Lodge morning river  January 8 2024.

I was soaked when I reached the lodge . I returned to my room and, after  drying myself, my and my iPhone off , I rested up and edited some more photos for a few hours. But I was in Costa Rica and I wasn’t going to sit in my room long, so  decided to take another hike even though I had already hiked over 6 miles and  despite some more threatening clouds.

I stayed close to the lodge hiking the Culebra and other trails that  meandered through the gardens. However, I soon learned, when I tried to take some photos, condensation formed on the lens of my camera  from my hike in the heavy rain in the morning. I still hiked out to the Farm Road and back down the Waterfall but couldn’t take photos until the condensation cleared. It finally  did  while I was walking back up the Waterfall Trail,

and I was able to photograph   this yellow throated toucan,

this scaly-breasted hummingbird,

and this great kiskadee while walking in the gardens,

I ended my hike when the skies darkened and it started to rain again.

This time the rain didn’t last long and I headed back out to the observation deck where I joined a crowd of other guests, birders and photographers, enjoying  the view of the still cloud covered volcano,

and observing the birds visiting the feeders. And as usual there were a  lot of birds.  I  took a few more photos of the ones I had already seen including a red legged honeycreeper.

a  green honeycreeper,

a golden hooded tanager

and a collared aracari.

I also saw a few more birds for the first time including a white-tipped dove,

an emerald tanager, 

a black stripped sparrow,

a silver throated tanager,

and a house wren. I have seen these birds in my back yard. They do not migrate just just have a very large range where they live year round. Once again the observation deck attracted a variety of birds and also attracted a lot of birders and nature lovers. However it still hadn’t provided me with an unobstructed view of the Arenal volcano.  Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from my afternoon  hike. Costa Rica Arenal Observatory Lodge afternoon hike January 8 2024.

It was now late afternoon, and I had hiked over 8 miles, including the steep and exhausting hike down to the river in the rain. I was tired and hungry and couldn’t wait for my 6 p.m. reservation for dinner at the lodge restaurant. I arrived early, was one of the first ones greeted and seated by my waiter, and new friend, John Carlos, and was soon eating an appetizer some very good roasted garlic humus.

And then for my main course, rainforest seabass in a heart of palm sauce, asparagus, and truffle cream mashed potatoes and vegetables. It was delicious.

Of course I had dessert, chocolate ice cream. I was now full and returned to my room. I listened to the frogs, crickets and other tropical insects, edited some photos and was soon asleep looking forward to another day, of exploring  hopefully without rain,  the trails around Arenal volcano in Costa Rica.


“When you are in the presence of the beauty of nature, nothing but happiness can overtake you.”   ― Shree Shambav

“Wildlife photography is more than just taking pictures. It is about connecting with nature and understanding the beauty of the natural world.”
― Biju Karakkonam


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