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.
Getting confused by the GPS and turning on the wrong road sometimes yields a nice rainbow view though.
Arenal Springs Hotel & Spa
The next morning after a big breakfast of Gallo Pinto and fruit, we went to the Arenal Observatory for some hiking and nature.
The Danta Waterfall is a hidden gem tucked in the jungle and we got lucky with the light streaming through the canopy.
We also got a brief glimpse of the top of Arenal as it came out from hiding in the clouds 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.
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.
Lizards know where to find an easy meal at the restaurant after the hike.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Just got one shot of the bustling night life in the La Fortuna town center that evening we went in for dinner.
For the second half of the trip we headed west to the Guanacaste province and the Carrillo beach to relax.
By the time we finished the drive we were ready to hit the beach just as the sun was setting.
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.
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.
We'll miss the beautiful sunsets for sure.