For the past couple of days, my internet has been almost entirely out. There were a handful of moments while sitting at home when I would hear the familiar ding of email notifications and would immediately go to send emails I had already typed in preparation for connectivity. Sometimes, it would be out before I could send them.

Since I was up and ready to go first thing yesterday but with nothing to do, I decided to make the bicycle trek to Parque Nacional Carara (Carara National Park) near Tarcoles which I knew would be a haul. It’s somewhere between 18-20 kilometers and starts with this monster of a mountain. As I was getting ready to leave, I stopped to talk to my neighbor Jorge for a bit. He said by car it was about 10 minutes but would take 2 hours by bike. I thought that was an exaggeration.

He wasn’t exaggerating. For the climb, I cycled up it as much as I could and then walked when I was tired. Rested often. Sweated like mad and drank tons of fluids throughout the trip. At the pinnacle of this mountain, it’s about 2 or 3 kilometers of flying downhill. It felt like a shorter distance on the descent heading to Tarcoles than it did on the climb of that mountain. But my senses were out of whack from exhaustion, I’m sure.

As luck would have it, the most difficult part of the ride doesn't have a shoulder to speak of.

As luck would have it, the most difficult part of the ride doesn’t have a shoulder to speak of.

It took two hours to get there with all the cycling, walking, and resting.

The Park

Carara National Park is interesting in that it sits on the dividing line between the very dry Northwest region of Costa Rica and the more wet rainforest typically associated with Costa Rica. Absolutely beautiful. It’s a big park for birders as there are supposed to be more species there than at any of the other (and larger) parks.

I have to tell you that I was so tired when I got to the park that I failed to take a photo of the actual entrance to the place and didn’t realize that until I was nearly home, eight hours after I left. Took a picture at the edge of the park en route, though. Whoopee!

Not much farther now...

Not much farther now…

After locking my bike at the ranger station, I bought a ticket ($10) and headed onto the trails.

Rainforest #969

Rainforest #969


Rainforest #995

Rainforest #995

I decided not to use a guide since I just wanted to wander around and take it very slow. Next time I go, I’ll use a guide both for comparison’s sake and for pointing out wildlife. Using them, you’ll see a lot more wildlife than going it alone as their eyes are accustomed and trained to easily spot what you would normally overlook. So I wandered through the park at my pace, stopping for however long wherever I wanted. Explored and relaxed at a section of stream underneath a bridge for a long period of time.

Bridge in the rainforest #173

Bridge in the rainforest #173


Bridge in the rainforest #127

Bridge in the rainforest #127

There were these crazy lizards that would literally run across the top of the water. I wanted to get video of it, but was too tired to figure out how to coax a lizard into running toward a camera. (I took the GoPro in addition to my 5D.) This guy.

Runs on water

Runs on water

Also at the river, there were a million of these little frogs everywhere!

Oh my god, I must have eaten like 30 of these things!  Sooo good!  Like jungle-flavored little gummy bears!  No, I kid.

Oh my god, I must have eaten like 30 of these things! Sooo good! Like little jungle-flavored gummy bears! No, I kid.


Tiny frog.

Tiny frog.

Apart from the plethora of lizards and salamanders, I saw numerous insects of various types. Would see bunches of butterflies all at once from time to time. And then, on occasion, birds would appear in my line of sight. There was one particular dragonfly that was absolutely magical in the light but I was resting by the river when it appeared and the appropriate lens was in my bag 30 feet away.

Dragonfly #217

Dragonfly #217


Gotcha, butterfly!  Kind of.

Gotcha, butterfly! Kind of.


Ant #234

Ant #234


My new favorite insect!  I saw these all over the road going to the park.  I need to spend some time photographing them in better detail.

My new favorite insect! I saw these all over the road going to the park. I need to spend some time photographing them in better detail.

Just as I was heading out, I spotted a Poison Dart Frog but, like so many of the birds, it was making itself scarce as I was thinking about taking a shot. So I ended up with a very crappy photo. Sorry about that. 🙁

Poison Dart Frog.

Poison Dart Frog.

There was just so much beauty to be seen everywhere. Some of it very exotic and wonderfully curious.

Rainforest #197

Rainforest #197


Rainforest #316

Rainforest #316


I'm sure there's a scientific name for these, but if the common name isn't "Nipplenuts" my inner 8-year-old is going to be very disappointed.

I’m sure there’s a scientific name for these, but if the common name isn’t “Nipplenuts” my inner 8-year-old is going to be very disappointed.


Rainforest #325

Rainforest #325

The entire excursion was awesome! All in all, I spent four hours at the park, on the trails. And that was wandering through the smaller part of the park. The larger section was closed, but there was plenty to enjoy. I didn’t see a tremendous amount of wildlife but I was more interested in the flora, honestly, from the outset so I was pretty content. And in awe. Just spectacularly beautiful. There is so much life, it’s insane.

I shot a lot of video clips, but it’s going to take a while to get through that. Here’s a video of some ants busy at work, though.

All of the photos from Carara National Park can be seen here.

Tips

The first two bullet points are bits of advice found everywhere and for good reason.

  • Take fluid. Lots of it. More than you think you’ll need. If you have a water bottle, you can refill it at the station, but you won’t want to leave the trails to go back to refill it if you run out.
  • Take insect repellant and cover yourself in it. As you sweat it off, re-apply.
  • For the photographer, I suggest having a long lens attached (or handy). If you’re going there to shoot wildlife, keep your camera in hand. If wildlife suddenly appears close to you, you only have a moment to shoot.

All of the photos from Carara National Park can be seen here.

About the Author

Hello, I'm Scott. I take photos. Do things. Whatnot. Mixed Digital Media Artist.

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