Southern Costa Rica to host National Festival of the Arts

Golfito by Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in southern Costa Rica will host the National Festival of the Arts 2016 in August, featuring more than 600 artists of all types.

National Festival of Arts Costa Rica 2016

Costa Rica National Festival of Arts 2016

Golfito and other towns in the southern region of Costa Rica by Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge will host one of the country’s largest festivals of the arts over 10 days in August.

Usually held in the capital city of San Jose, the 26th annual Costa Rica National Festival of the Arts 2016 (FNA16) will take place August 5 to 14 in Golfito and Ciudad Neily, along with eight other communities in southern Costa Rica. With over 250 events and activities featuring more than 600 artists of all kinds, it is the largest annual arts festival in Costa Rica, and one of the largest in Central America.

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Close encounters with a whale shark in Costa Rica

Would you love to see a monkey in the wild? Or maybe a sloth right next to you in a tree? What about getting close to wild dolphins, or a humpback whale?

Dolphins in Golfo Dulce Costa Rica

When guests come to Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica, often they have a favorite animal they want to see in person. Maybe they have been dreaming about it their whole life. Or, they recently read up on the cool wildlife in Costa Rica. Given that Costa Rica is the eco-capital of Latin America with nearly 6 percent of the world’s biodiversity, it is understandable. Continue reading

Whale watching in Costa Rica at Nicuesa Lodge starts in July

Just offshore Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in the warm waters of the Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica, Pacific humpback whales are about to arrive on their annual migration to mate, give birth and socialize from July to October.

Humpback whale breaching in Golfo Dulce, photo by Lenin Oviedo

Humpback whale breaching in Golfo Dulce, photo by Lenin Oviedo

A real-life encounter with whales and dolphins in their natural environment is an unforgettable experience. There is a spine-tingling fascination about being in close proximity to giant intelligent beings sharing the planet with us, but inhabiting the mysterious watery depths where we as humans don’t live. I Continue reading

Jungle Survival Tips & How Not to Get Lost

Jungle rainforest

The jungle can be a fun place to visit and enjoy an adventure. But if you get lost in the jungle, fun can turn into scary very quickly.

At Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, we take the Costa Rica jungle where we are located very seriously. We inform our guests where they can go and what to watch for; but getting lost can happen if you don’t pay attention. See these essential jungle survival tips for what to do if you get lost in the jungle.

How to Survive in the Jungle

We talked with Mauricio Odio-Truque, a search and rescue specialist for more than 20 years in Costa Rica, and owner and expedition leader of Outdoor Adventures, for these essential jungle survival tips.

The best way to survive in the jungle is prevention says Odio-Truque. Don’t get lost in the first place.

Jungle survival

How Not to Get Lost in the Jungle

  1. Always tell someone where you are going and approximately when you plan to return.
  2. Don’t go into the jungle alone.
  3. Familiarize yourself with where you are going: a map, the terrain, where the trail goes, and how much time your route will take.
  4. Always carry with you the basic Ten Essentials of survival. For Costa Rica, a rain jacket and a big trash bag (rain protection & shelter aid) also will serve you well.
  5. Always stay on marked trails. Do NOT go off the marked trail, especially if you are on your own. When in doubt, it’s best not to continue and instead turn around and return. You could end up following an animal path rather than a real trail.
  6. Don’t mess with wildlife. Get too close and things might not end well for you. Especially don’t follow wildlife off the trail.

Hiking at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica

How to Survive in the Jungle if You Get Lost

1. If you still end up getting lost, follow the acronym STOP.

  • Stop. Rest. Don’t panic.
  • Think: about where you came from & where you are.
  • Observe & Organize: where you are, landmarks, orientation, etc.
  • Plan. Make a plan what to do. Don’t just aimlessly start walking. Clear your mind of emotions – panic, fear, anger.

2. Be patient. A lot of times you might not actually be lost. You might just be disoriented as to where you are and where you are supposed to be. Stopping and letting your mind settle may help you realize you actually do know where you are. And if you told someone where you were going and what time you expected to be back, then people will look for you.

3. Conserve your energy & control your emotions. If you don’t think you can find the trail and you really are lost, it is better not to keep wandering. Find an open space where you will be visible rather than hidden. If there is water close by, that’s even better. But don’t be immediately next to the water in case of flash floods from rain, and because the sound of the water could drown out the sound of someone calling for you.

10 Essentials for survival, courtesy of greatoutdoorsla.org

4. Manage your resources. If you need shelter, better to find an existing place that could serve as shelter rather than try to build one. In Costa Rica, big buttress roots of trees are easy places to put branches or palm leaves over – or that big plastic trash bag – to make a shelter. Use your flashlight to check first for snakes, scorpions, big spiders or other animals. For a fire, use a few long pieces of wood that you can push further into the fire as you need. In the jungle, low hanging branches of trees tend to be drier than branches lying on the ground.

5. Call for help. If you brought your cell phone with you and you have signal, use it to call for the nearest help (your travel companions, the lodge where you are staying, your tour company, etc.). Be sure to have those numbers. Use your emergency whistle to periodically steadily call for help – uses less energy than your voice.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica

Adventure vacations in Costa Rica

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge offers a unique and exotic destination for your Costa Rica vacation. If you are you looking for a real adventure in the rainforest, and also by the ocean, the top eco-hotel in Costa Rica has it all. Now, you can enjoy one free night in paradise when you stay a minimum of three or more nights at Nicuesa Lodge; valid through Sept. 30, 2016.

During your stay, be sure to enjoy the amazing adventure and nature tours, and the beautiful yoga deck by the beach.

Scarlet Macaws at Playa Nicuesa Lodge in Costa Rica

Article by Shannon Farley

Solar Energy updates at Nicuesa

Solar Energy updates at Nicuesa

What was done?

The solar panels have been replaced, as well as the batteries that were in place since the lodge opened its doors in 2003, both of these had a limited lifespan.  The new technology implemented is much more efficient.

Why were these changes made?

The amount of energy captured by the panels as well as the energy stored by the batteries was no longer the same, and as the days went on we were more dependent on the diesel generator.  When they were installed they were cutting edge technology and supplied hotel needs well, but as time went on they deteriorated, as was the case with the batteries.  What happens with all rechargeable products is that the battery life is designed to last a certain number of charge cycles.  Once this lifespan is met and exceeded, the batteries need to be charged more often, causing the generator to be the energy supplier and not the panels themselves.  As for the solar panels, their capacity to capture solar radiation started diminishing as years passed in spite of the constant maintenance provided.

How did you proceed?

We evaluated options presented by several companies in order to find technologies that provided smaller panels that more efficiently captured solar energy.  In the case of the batteries, we sought a higher storage capacity.  Once the technology we thought was optimal for the hotel was selected, the structure’s renovation began.  The new panels needed a moveable base in order to adjust their angle depending on the solstice and equinox, thus maximizing the collection of solar radiation during the entire year.  There are two very marked times a year when the angle of the Earth varies causing the number of daylight hours to change in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.  Costa Rica, being so close to the Equator, is not as affected by these changes of number of daylight hours a day, but the angle does vary and it is better to ensure the panels are optimally capturing necessary rays.  Once the new base structures were in place and a total of 22 panels installed, 11 on each structure, the new batteries were purchased, 24 in total.  The power inverter was also replaced by one that provides a better, more precise reading.

What have the results been so far?

We have noticed an improved efficiency in the solar panel usage reflected in the average number of hours the generator is in use, they have been cut in half.  Generator use comparison follows, first months of 2015 versus same period this year.

Average number of hours Generator is in use
Year/Month
2015
2016
January
10
6
February
11
6
March
11
5
Energy Consumed (kW/h)
Year/Month
2015
2016
January
47,8
62,7
February
48
58,21
March
50
57,69

Is has also been determined that this efficiency has allowed for higher renewable energy consumption for maintenance work such as upkeep of boats and dock, insfrastructure improvements, and others.

Diego de Nicuesa: Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge’s namesake

Playa Nicuesa in Costa Rica

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge gets its name after the picturesque little cove and beach in the Pacific gulf of Golfo Dulcein southern Costa Rica where it is located. Playa means beach in Spanish; but what does Nicuesa mean?

Turns out it is the name of the Spanish conquistador and explorer, Diego de Nicuesa (1464 – 1511).

Diego de Nicuesa, Spanish explorer

But who was Diego de Nicuesa, and how did a little Costa Rican beach receive his name?

Diego de Nicuesa was a very rich nobleman and a member of the Spanish Royal Court. He held the office of The Royal Carver, serving the king and queen at mealtimes. Nicuesa was known to be one of the most pretentious and arrogant individuals in Madrid, although reportedly he was very popular with the ladies at Court.

In 1508, Spanish King Ferdinand II (married to Queen Isabella I), looked for volunteers to go colonize the “new world”, called Tierra Firme, that had been found by Christopher Columbus. All of Tierra Firme, west of the Gulf of Darien where Panama meets Colombia, was named Castilla del Oro, or Castle of Gold, for the riches of gold alleged to be in those lands.

The King wanted that gold and appointed Nicuesa, along with Spaniard Alonso de Ojeda, to go colonize these new lands – giving each a separate territory to govern. Nicuesa’s land was what would now be the northern half of Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, while Ojeda had southern Panama and Colombia. At the time, however, Europeans did not know that the Pacific Ocean existed, and so their concept of the area confined to the east coasts and what land they could see extending beyond.

Diego de Nicuesa exploration map

Nicuesa and his men in their new home unfortunately were besieged by disease, hunger, the hostile jungle environment, and indigenous peoples who didn’t feel like being colonized. No gold was found. After more than a year, nearly all of Nicuesa’s 700 men had died, his horses had been eaten, and his ships were sinking. The ragtag group managed to build a small fort at a place they called Nombre de Dios, or Name of God, in the Colón Province of northern Panama.

The little colony nearly disappeared until at the end of 1510, one of Nicuesa’s captains, Rodrigo Enriquez de Colmenares, who had been left behind on the supply island of Jamaica, showed up loaded with provisions and fresh men. Colmenares found Nicuesa and the handful of men that were still alive and reinvigorated them with fresh food and clothing.

Nicuesa found out that a southern colony named “Nuestra Señora de Antigua del Darien”, governed by Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, was faring quite well and it wounded his pride. Since the little colonial town was technically in his territory, Nicuesa decided in early 1511 to journey there to enforce his power and take control of the settlement. But by the time he arrived, the colonists were warned of Nicuesa’s pretentious intent and denied him entry. Most of his men were allowed to stay, however Nicuesa and 17 loyal followers were put out to sea in a leaking ship and were never heard from again.

Vasco Núñez de Balboa went on to cross the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, two years after Nicuesa’s disappearance, becoming the first European to reach the Pacific Coast in the New World.

No one knows who named Playa Nicuesa. Maybe when Balboa was exploring up the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica he needed a name for the little beach and decided to immortalize Nicuesa as one of the first Spanish colonists.

The legend remains a mystery!

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica

To stay on Playa Nicuesa at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, check here for reservations. Get directions to Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge here.

Article by Shannon Farley