As it was our last day, we returned to our villa in the late afternoon and the boys voted to hang out on the deck until dinner – relaxing. The guide had told me that the best time to see monkeys is from 4-5pm before the sun heads south on the road that leads north of the lodge. The benefit being that the road is on a ridge cutting through the jungle. I spent almost two hours hanging out on the road, watching the wildlife.

The first encounter were these Spider Monkeys. A male, female and a baby about 10 meters from me at eye level (as they were 20-30 meters up the trees, it was a sharp drop off beside the road). They just swung beside me. I think I watched them for almost an hour.

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Those babies need to hold on tight.

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The dad emerged from a tree beside me.

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I walked a little farther down the road and watch a group of Howler Monkeys raid the fruit off a tree.

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Their agility is remarkable.

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This fellow stood parallel to the ground, thanks to a very strong tail.

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As I walked back to the lodge, this little fellow hung about 2 meters above me, enjoying some fruit (unfortunately, he was directly into the sun).

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One way to make a few hours fly by. And then it was all over …

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The one thing that we got use to quickly at Lapa Rios was the sleeping. You learn quickly that early to bed is a must, because like it or not, early to rise was in the cards. By 8:30pm it was pitch black. Which is why they suggested that you bring a flashlight as you walk along the path – the lighting is dim. Getting to sleep was not an issue, as it is dark, dark, dark and you didn’t want to leave your light on as it attracted insects.

Lying in your bed, you could hear a hundred different sounds. Hit the play button here for a sample. Of course, there is always the exception. The cicada has to be the loudest, most annoying insect alive. It was like hearing fingernails down a blackboard if one was around.

A cicada (pronounced /sɪˈkɑːdə/ or pronounced /sɪˈkeɪdə/) is an insect of the order Hemiptera, suborder Auchenorrhyncha, in the superfamily Cicadoidea, with large eyes wide apart on the head and usually transparent, well-veined wings. There are about 2,500 species of cicada around the world, and many remain unclassified. Cicadas live in temperate to tropical climates where they are among the most widely recognized of all insects, mainly due to their large size and remarkable acoustic talents. Cicadas are sometimes colloquially called “locusts”,[1] although they are unrelated to true locusts, which are a kind of grasshopper. They are also known as “jar flies”. Cicadas are related to leafhoppers and spittlebugs. In parts of the southern Appalachian Mountains in the United States, they are known as “dry flies” because of the dry shell that they leave behind.

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Enjoy the Cicada.

The jungle starts to wake up around 5AM. Enjoy the sounds of the jungle, the ‘whoo whoo whoo’ is the deep call of the howler monkeys. I loved the early morning chirps and sounds of the birds, a pretty cool way to wake up.

And of course, a pretty amazing sunrise.

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Our favourite jungle hike was the Osa trail, with tons of wildlife and 3 different types of monkeys. Our first encounter was a small family of Spider Monkeys who swung above us (60m up) and seem very interested in our movement. The guide explained that of all the monkeys, the Spider Monkey is the most aggressive. The male spent many moments shaking the trees to signal that he didn’t want us around. The previous day another family told us all about their encounter with the Spider Monkeys who warned them off by throwing feces (LOL). We were lucky.

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The elevation changes on the trail were significant, you would often be looking down 60 meters or more as the jungle sloped down. This made for a few great encounters. We came across this Squirrel Monkey as he made his way through the jungle canopy. He was at eye level to us, but about 20 meters up a tree. Fun to watch him meander on his way.

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Further along the trail we came across a White Capuchin Monkey, which the guide explained is one of the most famous monkeys – often seen in movies. Also very smart.

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He was all by himself. The guide suggested that his ‘tribe’ was around so I climbed off the trail, up a little hill and sure enough, there they were. About 30 of them, hanging around and playing in a huge tree, relaxing during the hottest part of the day.

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Amazing to watch.


We were walking back to our lodge from lunch. My camera was in my backpack (a big no-no), but I wasn’t really thinking that I would see anything that I had not already shot on the walk back. Ayden stopped and pointed up, there was a beautiful Macaw in full view. He wanted me to take a shot.

I pulled out my camera (with 70-200mm attached) and all of a sudden not 2 feet up from my head was a rustling. We stepped apart (Ayden down the path – me up the path) and barrelling down the tree came this Howler Monkey not inches from us.

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He stopped at the railing. I was stepping back (a bit surprised). He paused. He looked at me. He looked at Ayden. Then barrelled across the path and I just held down the shoot (without aiming). Why are they blurry? Because the lens won’t focus that close – below 1.4m – as it is a telephoto. He was almost on top of us.

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He whipped up another tree and stopped for a look back.

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What would a trip to the jungle be without a post on the monkeys? Lapa Rios has 4 type of monkeys and they are a highlight.  With a jungle canopy of 80 to 100 meters, as I mentioned in a previous post, they are difficult to photograph as you are shooting up into the sun. But with patience, you will see the right shot. On our second day (and first big hike), this was my best shot, a Spider Monkey. Pretty bad. But it is all about patience.

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I found myself just watching them, until the guide called us away or it was time to head down the path. They are truly amazing creatures, swinging from tree to tree in huge groups, making what looked like 10 meter jumps from tree to tree. While walking down to the beach, we witnessed our first big jump. A group of Spider Monkeys were working their way through the canopy above us (60-80 meters) and I got these shots.

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No fear.

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The coolest thing was that the mother jumped with a baby on her back.

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We also got out first glimpse of a Howler Monkey, hanging out. We would hear lots of Howler Monkeys over the coming 10 days. Like nothing I have ever heard.

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Costa Rica claiming 25% of the worlds biology is not hard to swallow after you stroll through the jungle. In Canada, we have many different flowers, insects and mammals. But their coloring is much more subdued. Not so in the jungle, on the trip we saw all range of color – from bright colors to metallic.

Everyone knows about the beautiful parrots, macaws and like. There were beautiful birds everywhere. The key thing about spotting something in the jungle is not as much your eyes as your ears. I spotted all of these birds by their sound as they flew in and rustled the branches, or with the case of one bird pair … as they ate fruit and drop the rinds to the ground, through the jungle canopy.

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A dragonfly with fluorescent wing tips, just like in Avatar.

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I don’t remember all of the names (I have a laminated card in my office somewhere) .. but below are a few more colorful jungle inhabitants. The fiery billed Aracari.

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The vultures wing span had to be 8 feet. They just floated over us, day after day.

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A poison dart frog.

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The 8 foot Boa that spent the entire time we were there hanging out in the restaurant. In this shot, he was looking down on the men’s toilet ….

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I spotted this Parrot hanging out eating fruit over our room.

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As we hiked, we got lucky. The Trogon is not easy to see.

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Your room was properly protected with screens. But they always find their way in. This grasshopper was the purest of green.

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You don’t see metallic green bugs in Canada. It was about 10’ off the path and I just couldn’t stop marveling at the color.

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This dung beetle is brightly colored for a reason. Touch it and enjoy a noxious reward.

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The geckos were a frequent sight at Lapa Rios; on the path, on the deck of our villa, in the jungle. One fellow visited us every single morning as we enjoyed Costa Rican coffee and the sunrise (one of the best resort items – coffee delivered to your door at 6AM). His coloring was breathtakingly beautiful.

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Others hid on the trees or stopped to let me snap a photo (smile)

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In the evening, there would be 10 clustered around the outside light. I would imagine it made hunting insects easier. Very beautiful, and SO fast! I would imagine they need to be with all the birds around … or this fellow (who I saw a few times around the pool) … He had to be a meter long …. And man was he fast. He was up a tree in seconds.

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On the Lapa Rios website it talks about the beach and the fact that it is not a highlight .. in other words, you are not going there to hang out at a beach cabana. On our first day (they did not warn us), we went down late in the day (it is a hard 10 minute walk – as Lapa Rios is on the top of a hill) and arrived at high tide.

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The waves were random, it would appear calm like this and then a big one would come in. The ground was rocky and the boys took a bit of a beating (falling in the surf lead to a few significant scratches). I personally didn’t like the power of the surf and the under tow.

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So in the end, we spent the time walking the beach and found a few coconuts. I was convinced to go to work on one and after 15 very long minutes, finally broke it open where we tried the coconut milk and the meat. A definite first.

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Over the next few days, we learned that the best time to hit the beach is during low tide. It is the time when the boys took a surf lesson (very cool) and where we joined the guide for a starfish hunt. During low tide, the beach is very welcoming with little crabs everywhere.

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You also get to see what lays under the aggressive surf. Wear shoes.

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Amazing to see the camouflage. Spot the crab.

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We spent a few hours hunting for starfish. Simply lift a rock and your would find 10.

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The resort is a way up the hill.

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In the end, they should have mentioned low tide. Once we found that out, the beach took on a whole new level of enjoyment.


We arrived at our destination in Costa Rica after a long journey – the ecolodge Lapa Rios. The statement on the website says it all:

We have no Internet or phone access on the Lapa Rios property. In fact, we don’t even play music at dinner! Instead, we ask that you listen to the sounds of the jungle at night, the crickets, the cicadas and the kinkajous.

All this is very intentional. Lapa Rios is in a wilderness setting 12 miles from the office communication center. We aim to take full advantage of this isolation to concentrate on the peace and wilderness experience that can be appreciated. Communication between the office and the hotel is by marine radio for emergencies. We have several trips daily by car between the two locations to transport faxes or messages. To make a personal telephone call it would be necessary to take a 45 minute taxi ride to the office.

After your stay at Lapa Rios, you will thank us for not providing internet nor phone service.  It’s a feeling we all need to experience more often.  Disconnect and decompress!!

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Set on 1,000 acres in the remote south with a beach below and a view of the ocean … the adventure began. They welcome you with fruit drinks, the sounds of the jungle surround you and for as far as you can see .. it is ocean or jungle. And with no communications, it seemed very remote.

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In the main dining area there is a staircase to a viewing platform 15 meters up – which gives you this view of the jungle.

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Our first close up jungle inhabitant was this Golden Orb spider and his/her friends. We passed them every day.

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We headed to the pool for a swim before dinner. I noticed these fellows hanging out. It explains why in 10 days we saw a grand total of 3 mosquitoes.

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And so we started to settle in.


Our ultimate destination in Costa Rica was an eco resort about 45 minutes from the closest town, Puerto Jimenez. A small town in the gulf on the Pacific side.

A quiet remote town in the 1960’s, Puerto Jimenez has grown to become one of the largest towns on the Osa Peninsula today. Located in the southern part of the Puntarenas province, this laidback town is one of the main gateways to the beautiful Corcovado National Park. The last town before one can enter the park premises; a main ranger station is situated here with many tourists using this town to stock up on supplies before they trek their way through the gorgeous and diverse wildlife that the Corcovado National Park has to offer.
Situated in the Golfo Dulce, Puerto Jimenez has a wonderful beach where one can relax while taking in the superb beauty of the Osa Peninsula. This tiny ‘frontier’ town has a good number of hotel and resorts, both affordable and luxurious, with many rental tour companies and travel agencies in the area from where trips around the region can be arranged. Transportation can also be organized from Puerto Jimenez, while if you get bored you can head out to the lovely remote village of Cabo Matapalo, which is famous in the region for its awesome surf breaks.
With a history of being a key gold mining and logging town before the Corcovado National Park was created, the locals in the area still log and mine gold here, but in much smaller numbers as this entire region is now a protected habitat. In and around the Puerto Jimenez, there is much to see and do. Sport fishing excursions can be arranged, while for the more adventurous, hiking, rappelling, mountain biking and kayaking tours are on hand. If you prefer a more tranquil relaxed holiday, take a dolphin watching tour of the lovely Golfo Dulce and the Pacific, or simply sit on the beach to view some of the most amazing sunsets in all of Costa Rica.
You can get to Puerto Jimenez either by bus or car. However, it can be as long as a 10-hour drive so, it is better to fly in to the domestic airport out here from San Jose International Airport. Flights also come in to the airport here from Pavas as well.

The airport itself has a short runway right beside the cemetery … I saw a few cemeteries in Costa Rica with the most notable feature being the huge ceramic above ground boxes. Many of them were shattered on the end and empty.

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The roads are what you expect, requiring the right vehicle.

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The town itself is what you would also expect for a small rural location. Fishing, tourism, agriculture, a few run down shops.

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And about half way to the resort, we saw our first monkey …. Really glad I brought my 70-200.

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