Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Walking In Carara

Walking In Carara

Costa Rica which is only the size of west Virginia, has 27 national parks scattered throughout the country. These parks contain an amazing variety of wildlife and ecosystems. I discovered that there was one park just at the base of the mountain where we are staying, so we decided it deserved a visit and a walk.

Carara National Park, is known for it's large population of birds, especially scarlet macaws which we have observed around the villa in the morning and evenings. The park charged $10 USD to get in and there are aways guides willing to show you around for a fee. Our goal was just for a good walk, since the villa is so relaxing we were really neglecting our walking (You already know how hard it is walking on the road), so we elected to go on our own. The park is located just down the road from the popular bridge over the Rio Tárcoles which is usually crowded with tourists peering down at the crocodiles sunning themselves in the river.
The Trees

We were surprised to find that the park has a nice loop trail that is completely wheelchair accessible. This loop is paved with concrete and has nice interpretive signs along the way in English and Spanish. We did this loop, and then ventured off on the rougher trails through the jungle. All the trails are easy to follow and well marked, although you have to watch where you are walking because of the roots, vines and rocks waiting to trip the unobservant.

The best time to visit the park is either at dawn or dusk when the birds are coming or going, but we were going at around noon, so we did not expect to see so many of the birds. A short way into the first loop however we heard the raucous call of the scarlet macaw, and searching the treetops we we able to see three sitting in the top of one tree. Their brilliant blue and red colouring make them easy to find among the trees. We also saw one little rodent in the underbrush a small round flightless bird, and a good sized gecko. The leaf-cutter ant were a surprise. Walking along the trail we came upon a green stripe crossing the trail. A closer look revealed hundreds of ants each carrying a little piece of a leaf. We stopped twice to observe these industrious little creatures.

Although we did not see many animals, the trees were especially interesting. It is fascinating to see so many different trees. Many were so tall you could not see the tops, and the large buttress root systems can provide hiding spaces for the largest person.

Another pleasant surprise was the heat. Although it was 29º out, the trails through the park were sheltered and not that hot. It made for an altogether pleasant walk.

Leaf Cutter Ants

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