8 Wildlife Spotting Tips for the Costa Rica Rainforest

White-faced monkey at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica

The Costa Rica rainforest is full of wonders and wildlife – you just need to know how to look. The thrill of seeing a wild animal in its natural habitat, even if only for a moment, is unparalleled.

Costa Rica hosts more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity: 208 species of mammals, 870 kinds of birds, 1,250 kinds of butterflies and 8,000 different moths, 160 species of amphibians, 220 species of reptiles, and 34,000 types of insects. You’re certain to see something! Follow these tips to increase your chances of seeing wildlife in Costa Rica.
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Protecting the rainforest of the sea in Golfo Dulce Costa Rica

Interesting news has been happening recently at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in southern Costa Rica.

In an effort to help restore coral reefs in the Golfo Dulce, Nicuesa Lodge staff has been collaborating with the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the National Institute of Learning (INA) on the study project: “Ecological regeneration of coral populations present in the South Pacific of Costa Rica.” Since June 2015, they have been creating coral reef “nurseries,” transplanting fragments of coral onto artificial structures to grow coral gardens.

Coral reef restoration Golfo Dulce Costa Rica

So far, according to Nicuesa Lodge Sustainability Coordinator, Natalia Solis, coral is successfully growing and they are planning to create another structure off the beach in the small bay by the Costa Rica eco-hotel.

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Whale watching in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica starts in August!

Humpback Whale in Golfo Dulce, photo by Lenin Oviedo of CEIC

Whale watching season has returned to the Golfo Dulce in Costa Rica and Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge!

Starting this month in August, the tranquil blue waters of this Pacific gulf, between the Piedras Blancas National Park and the Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica, will receive the astounding phenomenon of the thousands-of-miles-long migration of Pacific humpback whales.
Humpback Whale mother & baby in Golfo Dulce
As southern winter turns the seas to ice in Antarctica, southern humpback whales swim north to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and as far as Costa Rica to its warm tropical waters to breed and give birth. Golfo Dulce is an important habitat for the endangered whales and is vital to the species’ survival, according to the Center for Cetacean Research of Costa Rica (CEIC).

A real-life encounter with humpback whales in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica is an unforgettable experience for anyone. You can see the whales on whale watching tours in Golfo Dulce from August to October.

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Harnessing the sun’s energy in the Costa Rica rainforest

A lot of people ask us about our solar drying room at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica. Given that we are a Costa Rica rainforest lodge – and that it does rain in the rainforest – a frequent comment in our guest reviews is how happy people are to have a place available for drying out wet clothes.

Guests who stay at our Costa Rica eco-lodge receive a cloth cotton laundry bag upon check-in, with their cabin or room name printed on it. Guests are invited to bring the laundry bag with any wet clothes to be dried to the main lodge building in the morning at breakfast time. Give it to a staff member and the clothes are hung up in the solar drying room. Lodge staff does not wash clothes – guests may do this in their sink or shower.

On a hot sunny day, clothes usually dry in one to two hours. Even on an overcast day, guests should receive dry clothes back in the afternoon of the same day.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is dedicated to sustainable travel and has received the highest rating in the Costa Rica Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST). The lodge dries all of its towels, sheets, bedding, etc. using solar energy. On a sunny day, 24 loads of laundry can be dried in three to five hours!

How does it work?

The solar drying room is located in a natural clearing in the rainforest behind the main lodge buildings, near the tree nursery and compost area. The floor of the drying area is made of gravel stones which heat up quickly, radiating that heat upward toward drying items. The stones also hold the heat if the sun goes away behind clouds.

A clear polycarbonate roof absorbs and reflects the sun’s heat, creating an “oven effect” with the stone floor. The roof is slanted at an extreme angle to create a circular air flow. Sides of the drying room are open for air ventilation and circulation. Lastly, aluminum rods are used for hanging wet items, because the aluminum also heats up quickly and helps with the drying process.

The entire system is very efficient. You can learn about our solar drying room on our Sustainability Tour when staying at the lodge.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located on a 165-acre private preserve in southern Costa Rica, bordered by the Piedras Blancas National Park and the pristine Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf). The only way to get there is by boat across the Golfo Dulce from either the towns of Golfito or Puerto Jimenez. The lodge is offering Green season specials through Dec. 15, 2014.

Article by Shannon Farley

 

A special place on the planet: Playa Nicuesa

Sometimes the places most worth visiting require a little more effort to get there. Like Playa Nicuesa.

I’ve taken a small 19-passenger plane 50 minutes south from San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, to the pancake flat coastal town of Puerto Jimenez. We disembark into the sweltering tropical heat of the near-equator and quickly jump into the air-conditioned taxi waiting to drive us five minutes to a rickety, dubious-looking boat dock. All smiles, we are greeted by our very friendly boat captain and guide, who assist our little group to clamber down the dock steps into the little panga boat – thankfully outfitted with a canopy roof.

As we zip across the calm blue-gray waters of the Golfo Dulce (“Sweet Gulf”) for our 25-minute boat ride to Playa Nicuesa – the only way to get there – I am mesmerized by the scenery. The horizon is filled with dense green forest and mountains; the Gulf stretches on and on like a giant mirror to the sky. There are no buildings to be seen, not even another boat. And I wonder if this is what Costa Rica must have looked like hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

Soon, we are pulling up to the long, very solidly built boat dock at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge. Here, the clear water looks like liquid jade, reflecting the endless shades of green of palm trees and jungle that crowd the edge of the pebble and sand beach. We are helped off the boat by smiling, friendly staff, and as we walk down the dock toward shore, I nearly expect to see Ricardo Montalban of Fantasy Island come out to greet us.

The extraordinary Costa Rica eco-lodge was designed for sustainable travel. Lodge buildings and bungalows are tucked into the forest, preserving the beautiful coastline. Everything is constructed from naturally fallen or farmed trees and recycled materials, like the roof tiles made from recycled plastic banana bags and other plastics. Lights and electricity come from solar panels and a biodiesel generator that burns recycled fast food oil and other vegetable oils. All water on the property is potable, being piped in from a mountain spring and filtered. The Costa Rica rainforest lodge is one of only three dozen hotels in Costa Rica that have received the highest rating in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST).

Guests are spread out around the lodge area – located on a 165-acre private preserve that borders the Piedras Blancas National Park – in six private cabins and the four-room two-story Mango Guesthouse. Beautifully built accommodations are very comfortable, and feature bathrooms with a high-walled open-air garden shower.

Over the next three days at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, I enjoyed dolphin and whale-watching to see migrating Pacific Humpback Whales that come into the pristine Golfo Dulce to give birth and breed – we saw a mother whale and her calf. I hiked in the rainforest on lodge trails; kayaked in the mangroves of Esquinas River; enjoyed a yoga class; sat at the beach and relaxed; swam in the warm Golfo Dulce; and had fun socializing with other guests at happy hour every night in the bar, and while savoring delicious, fresh, creative dishes from Nicuesa’s commendable kitchen.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located by the Osa Peninsula on Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica. To get there, drive or fly (NatureAir or Sansa Airlines) to either Puerto Jimenez or Golfito. Nicuesa Lodge will pick you up by boat and transfer you to the lodge (about 30 minutes one-way). Included in lodge rates are all meals, boat transfers, all taxes, all meals and snacks, unlimited self-guided hikes on preserve, use of kayaks, snorkeling and fishing equipment.

Article by Shannon Farley