Costa Rica

Livin the Pura Vida

Daniel Oduber Quirós Aeropuerto Internacional

We started our journey by flying into the airport (duh) at Liberia, picking up a rental van, then making our way to the Arenal area. Despite the roads being in much better condition than a few years ago, the drive was still long and hair-raising at times on dark narrow jungle roads with rain coming down and unmarked speedbumps along the way.

Liberia Arenal
  1. Open roads in the beautiful countryside

Getting confused by the GPS and turning on the wrong road sometimes yields a nice rainbow view though.

  1. Wrong turn Rainbow
  1. Lush countrysideds and lovely skies

Arenal Springs Hotel & Spa

  1. Butterfly 1
  2. Butterfly 2
  1. Arenal Springs

The next morning after a big breakfast of Gallo Pinto and fruit, we went to the Arenal Observatory for some hiking and nature.

  1. Scanning the skies
  • Tiny worm in gel

  • Pink Flower

  1. Beehive Ginger

The Danta Waterfall is a hidden gem tucked in the jungle and we got lucky with the light streaming through the canopy.

  1. Danta Waterfall
  • Lizard paying a visit

  • Dragonfly

We also got a brief glimpse of the top of Arenal as it came out from hiding in the clouds for a moment.

  1. Arenal finally showing herself for a moment

That evening I convinced a few people to join me on a guided night hike through the jungle to see some creatures that only come out at night.

  1. Snake 1
  1. Pigmy Frog

Snake in the vines

  1. Millipede
  2. Thumbnail size frog
  1. Toad
  1. Red eye tree frog

One of the many insects

This was the first time I've done any night photography of creatures, and these creatures being small meant it was pretty challenging to nail focus with such a small depth of field. Chelsea helping out with a remote flash was crucial but despite that I ended up throwing away a ton of shots.

Glass Frog

  1. Yellow Frog
  1. Snake placed on tree
  1. Viper
  1. Trying to catch some shuteye
  1. Red eye tree frog closeup
  1. Red eye tree frog closeup 2

Spider getting the first bite of the evening

Lizards know where to find an easy meal at the restaurant after the hike.

Light Lizards

Caño Negro on the Rio Frio

The next day the whole group went on an all day tour of the Caño Negro area close to the Nicaraguan border. It's a ~2 hour drive each way and then we got on a boat to see all the wildlife from the river.

  1. Boat Billed Heron

The guides were telling us the orange color of this howler monkey is a genetic mutation, probably caused by Pineapple farming in the area using sulfur as a pesticide. As you can see, the mutation was passed on to the next generation which hurts their chances of survival being easier to see.

  1. Grumpy Monkey Dad
  1. Mom and Baby
  1. Chill day munchin leaves
  1. Grumpy Monkey Glare
  1. Grumpy Monkey Howl
  1. Grumpy Monkey Peek
  2. Grumpy Monkey Glance
  1. Baby Monkey Peek

Our eagle-eyed guide spotted this very hard to see bird that was about 50 feet up in the tree and took a lot of pointing and looking through their telescope to find where to aim the camera. I believe it's a Great Potoo but I don't remember the name the guides said, only that it's one of the hardest to see since they're nocturnal (and obviously blend in very well).

  1. Hard to see Great Potoo?
  1. Anhinga called snake birds drying off
  1. Orange Chicken of the trees

Upward dog Iguana

  1. Green Chicken of the trees
  1. Howler Monkey Family
  2. Howler Monkey Family 2
  1. Amazon Kingfisher
  1. Lush Jungle on the River
  1. Watch where you're swimming
  2. First Caiman
  • White Faced Monkey

  • White Faced Monkey 2

  1. Did I sit on a spine?
  1. Please sir, can I have some more?
  1. Female Kingfisher sunning
  1. Anhinga sunning
  1. Caiman Couple
  1. Rollin down the river
  • Blue Heron

  • Basalisk Lizard sunning

  1. Basalisk Lizard branching
  1. Great Egret
  1. Sloth 1
  2. Sloth 2
  1. Happy Sloth

After the river cruise we got a tour of a nearby farm to see how Caña de azúcar (sugar cane) is pressed and processed into things (like moonshine) as well as taste some cacao, coffe, and sugar cane juice.

  1. Showing how sugar cane is pressed
  1. Sugarcane moonshine and cocoa tasing

Sky Limit Tour

Only Chelsea and I were brave enough to do the Sky Limit tour around Arenal which included 4 ziplines, tight ropes, mesh bridge, ladder crossing, waterfall rappel, bridges, tarzan swing, and more. It was a blast the whole time and one of the highlights of the trip for sure. Given the activity I could only bring my phone as a camera though.

Jungle giants hand

  1. Descending the ladders
  2. Tarzan swing!
  1. Waterfall Repel 1
  2. Waterfall Repel 2
  1. 600 meter zipline across the canopy
  2. Coming in hot!

Only Tucan I got to see

Just got one shot of the bustling night life in the La Fortuna town center that evening we went in for dinner.

  1. La Fortuna town square
  1. Rainy breakfast

Playa Carrillo

For the second half of the trip we headed west to the Guanacaste province and the Carrillo beach to relax.

Carrillo Arenal

Puente La Amistad

  1. Colonial Church of Nicoya
  1. Nicoya town Square
  1. Beautiful countryside on the way to Samara

By the time we finished the drive we were ready to hit the beach just as the sun was setting.

  1. Great hotel view from Nammbu Bungalows
  1. Can't resist that beach
  1. Evening stroll on the beach evidence
  2. Snails making interesting patterns
  1. Soft sand underfoot
  1. Stunning sunset view
  1. Stunning sunset view 2
  1. Leaf friend
  2. Red Ginger flower
  1. Pool sunset
  1. Woodpecker on coconuts
  2. Parakeets are easy to hear, hard to see


Samara is the bigger town next to Carrillo with more restaurants and shops. We explored during the day and then came back that evening for a lovely dinner on the beach and an unexpected front row seat to a fire dancing show.

  1. Samara
  2. Hammocks on the beach
  1. La Dulce Vida we ended up coming back to for dinner
  • Magpie Jay

  • Great Kiskadee

  • Massive grasshopper

La Dolce Vita dinner

This was a good reminder to always bring the nicer camera since you never know what'll happen. I was kicking myself a bit for leaving it at the hotel.

  • Fire Dance 1

  • Fire Dance 2

  • Fire Dance 3

We'll miss the beautiful sunsets for sure.

  1. Great place to enjoy a sunset

Stop to enjoy the last moments of sun

  1. Beach meditation

Pura Vida!

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