Last Updated: 19-MAR-2016

Costa Rica 2013 - Around the house, Carara National Park, Crocodile Tour, checking out the Pacific at Playa Herradura & Jaco

All photos were taken with a Cannon PowerShot S90 10MP or a S100 12.1mp camera.
Any Video was shot with a Cannon PowerShot S100 camera and converted with AWS Video Converter 6

  • Information on cameras used on these trips

    Sunday - APR 14 2013

    Another beautiful day

    Some close shots of Atenas from the upper porch of the house. The left tower is right by the supermarket that we go to.
    The palm trees behind the right tower is the park and the church is right behind them.

    Looks like a celltower and or a internet antenna and some expat areas on the hills.

    Time for another walk down into the fields behind the house. This time Walt and Judy are going too.

    Messing with the leaf cutter ants. Atta cephalotes is a leaf-cutting, fungus-growing ant, with one of the most fascinating and complex social systems known to science.

    Got them disturbed enough that the large soldier ants came out.

    Mary discovered a very busy wasp nest in a tree. They were very small and extremely busy and hard to photograph. I got close a couple of times and they did not seem to react to my hand a foot or two away.

    Just a small hole in a tree.

    Interesting farming area again behind the house. Very dry.

    So dry the ground is cracking

    Back looking at various plants around the property

    We walked up to a restaurant called Bar El Guapinol. It was very good. (located at: 10.0001N 84.3925W)

    The menu

    Coke in GLASS ! And french fries ? Strange...

    Kitty who wants some chicken handouts... Not a problem

    The Plaza de deportes de San Jose Sur near the resturant

    Walking back home with lots of motorcycles going by.

    Clouds up on Poas Volcano (left) & Barva Volcano on the horizon.


    The roads are much better than we figured.

    The local cow gang

    Mary collecting ditch fruit. Not someting that you do in Pennsylvania.

    Road views. New house on our dirt road. Looks like rain but it never rained at the house today.

    Giant Toad or Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) Spanish Name: Sapo grande

    This nocturnal toad is difficult to confuse with other species mostly because of its massive size. Another distinct trait is the pair of large, triangularly shaped poison glands (paratoid glands) on the sides of the neck.

    Adults are much more toxic, and although they are still sometimes eaten by crocodiles, other reptiles, birds, or mammals, the glands in an adult contain enough poison to kill large animals. Adults can also eject their poison at an attacker.

    One of the toxins in the Cane Toad can cause hallucinogenic responses, making it of interest both to ancient indigenous cultures in Central America and to contemporary scientists. Using the toad by any method is not the best vehicle for hallucinogenic experiences the human reaction is unpredictable and this toad is potentially lethal.

    Well, as most of you know I have an interesting way of exposing myself to various toxins. This toad would jump in the pool each night and I would toss him out thinking he was trapped. Well he released his poison and it made part of my left hand fall asleep overnight. No harm done.. And I can add the toad to the list of no-touch.

    Another hornets nest. Very small and dead !


    The fan in the upstairs bedroom. A story here...

    We did not have A/C in the upstairs room and generally we did not need it. (the downstairs bedroom had it but the only way you could turn it on was with a remote control and it was corroded by bad batteries) So, we needed the fan... BUT.. The fan was extremely out of balance. Since I is an engineer I figured this would be easy... We tightened the blades.. FAIL... We tried to balance the blades... FAIL... We tightened everything else FAIL... I could see where previous renters actually put butter on the shaft to try to stop the clicking sounds it makes which are so loud that it could be heard probably 100+ feet from the house. Nothing worked. Since we were a pain over the debris in the pool I was not about to complain about the fan so I figured a counterweight system would fix it. And it did. The correct weight was my hiking shoe with a bottle of water in it. No more problems.

    Always take some extra shoe laces with you. You never know...

    Monday - APR 15 2013

    So, today was our trip to the Pacific. Up early... Some thunderstorms along the coast to the southwest at 5:30 am

    Looking east at the mountains south of San Jose at sunrise

    Looking at the Volcanos on the horizon at sunrise

    Horses along the road south of Atenas

    On the toll road (Costa Rica CR-27) that runs from San Jose to the coast. The quality is excellent. I don't see any issues in driving this, even at night.

    Only 20 km to Orotina and 45 km to Caldera which is on the coast south of Puntarenas.

    This surprised me as I figured Atenas was further to the Ocean as 45 km is 27 miles.

    Some bad photos of the CR-34 bridge over the Rio Grand de Tarcoles. Way less than an hour from the house to the costal area. Many people watch crocodiles from this bridge.

    The Tarcoles River, also called the Grande de Tarcoles River or the Rio Grande de Tarcoles, in Costa Rica originates on the southern slopes of the Cordillera Central volcanic range and flows in a south-westerly direction to the Gulf of Nicoya. The river is 111 km long and its watershed covers an area of 2,121 sq. km, which encompasses around 50% of the country's population.

    The river is the most contaminated river in Costa Rica, carrying much of the sewage from the central towns and cities. The river's watershed drains approximately 67% of Costa Rica's untreated organic and industrial waste and is considered the most contaminated river basin in the country. It was also affected by a leak of 400 thousand litres of diesel fuel by the state-owned Costa Rican Petroleum Refinery in 2000 which further damaged the ecology of the river and its immediate surroundings.

    The river's upper reaches form the northern border of the Carara Biological Reserve. It is a habitat for American Crocodiles, while the marshes located at the river's mouth have many waterfowl and wading birds. Among the many herons and egrets are the Boatbill and Bare-throated Tiger Heron, and other birds found here include Double-striped Thick-knee, Mangrove Warbler and American Pygmy Kingfisher. Reptiles, such as the American Crocodile, Cayman, Common Basilisk and large iguanas, are also easily seen.

    Carara National Park

    Carara National Park is a National Park in the Central Pacific Conservation Area located near the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It was established on April 27, 1978 as a biological reserve, but its growing popularity after 1990 forced the government to upgrade its category to national park due to the massive numbers of tourists who visited it. This change took place in November 1998

    Carara National Park contains more primary rainforest than the relatively close Manuel Antonio National Park. As such, it is wetter than the more popular Manuel Antonio National Park, and has denser tree growth and more mosquitoes and other insects. This environment makes Carara a haven for many bird species, being the park a popular birdwatching destination. In addition to Scarlet Macaws, birds found in Carara include orange-chinned parakeets and other parrots, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, motmots, jacamars, manakins, antbirds, and several species of trogon, including the black-throated trogon. Several species of water birds inhabit the park as well. These include the anhinga, several species of heron, egret andkingfishers. Among the reptiles present in the park are the American crocodile and several snake and lizard species. Green and black poison arrow frogs are among the amphibians present. Mammals include white-tailed deer, red brockets, collared peccaries, agouti, kinkajous, white-faced capuchin monkeys, mantled howler monkeys, Hoffmann's two-toed sloths and brown-throated three-toed sloths. However, mammals can be difficult to see due to the dense tree cover.

    We waited at the Ingreso principal al Parque Nacional Carara Natonal Park main entrance for the guides. As we waited, a number of logging trucks went by.

    We then went up the road a bit to parking at a trail head. This seemed to be a safe place to park but our tour guide Marian caught up to us later in the hike when enough other people showed up in the lot.

    The tour we went on was Victor Tours and Antonio was the guide (We want to do this again in December)

    Hornet nests. Looks like P. dimidiata

    The 4 of us with the guide. The temps were in the mid 80's at 7:30 am with 100% humidity. The bugs were not that bad considering.

    The size of the trees in some areas were impressive.

    Jesus Christ lizzard in hole in the tree.

    It is also known as the Jesus Lizard, Jesus Christ Lizard, or Lagarto de Jesus Cristo for its ability to run on the surface of water.

    Coati along the trail

  • MOVIE White-faced Capuchin monkey (36 meg)

    We saw two of the three species of monkeys at Carara, including white-faced capuchin monkeys (first photo) and spider monkeys (second photo).

    Would not want to walk into these

    Interesting how this plant stays so close to the tree

    Cicadas look like the same ones we have.

    Cacti in the trees

    Something got eaten ?


    Along one of the tributaries of the Rio Grand de Tarcoles.

    Baby crocodile

    Boat-billed Heron

  • MOVIE Following the guide (32 meg)
  • MOVIE Following the guide - Monkeys (23 meg)

    Walt & Judy had enough of the heat and humidity and headed back to the car. So Mary & I with the guide headed off trail to see what we could see.

    Interesting trees

    We will come back here in DEC 2013. The lighting, vegetation and distance to objects was a challenge for my pocket camera.

    The sloth

    So on the road heading south on CR-34 towards Jaco. The road was not as good as 27, but still a good road.

    Our first look at the ocean

    We stopped along Cr-32 and ate a very good lunch at Steve - n - Lisa's. The address is listed as Proferes - Rio La Pita, Carretera a Jaco

    We wanted to see the crocodiles near the mouth of the Rio Grand de Tarcoles. We went with Jungle Crocodile Safari . In any case the tour was excellent and it was just us on the large boats. The office was located at 9.7775N 84.6263W and the boats were a short walk away at 9.7787N 84.6259W.

    Various views along the river

    Little Blue Heron

  • MOVIE Picking up tire - slapping chicken (44 meg)

    Our first encounter with a crocodile.

    The guide would jump out slap a chicken on the water to attract the crocodile. Being that this occurs a few times a day the crocodiles probably know the drill.
    Still, I doubt this is real safe. The guy actually slipped a bit during this feeding.

  • MOVIE Feeding - Loud Snap - approach (37 meg)

    With all the submerged trees and the crocodiles in this area, I don't think this is a real safe boating river.

    Northern Crested Caracara, Northern Caracara, or Crested Caracara - The Northern Caracara is an carnivorous scavenger that mainly feeds on carrion.

    This is the biggest crocodile on the river according to the guides. Funny they did not feed this guy.
    Not sure the reason that a small kids shoe is on the shore in front of the crocodile and we did not ask.

    Cows and crocodiles. I doubt that is a good mix.

  • MOVIE Cows and Crocks (8 meg)


    Not sure what this was.

    So we went up a small tributary with mangrove trees along it. The mouth of this is at 9.7883N 84.6342W

    Views near the mouth of the Rio Grand de Tarcoles.

    Iguana at the docks

    So our first beach we check out was Playa Herradura (9 38'32"N 84 39'32"W)
    Playa Herradura is a small beach located on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, about 3.5 miles (6km) north of the town Jaco. It's Spanish name means "horseshoe". The water was calm here and much warmer than Jaco. We figured that the Nicoya Peninsula was blocking the big waves.

    Black sand beaches

    Walt, Judy and Marian watching the ocean from near the car.

    Jaco, Costa Rica was our next stop.

    Jaco'" is a coastal city, in the county of Garabito in Costa Rica's Puntarenas province. Located in the Central Pacific Region, on the pacific coast of Costa Rica. Jaco is approximately two hours by car from San Jose and Costa Rica's primary International Airport (SJO). Manuel Antonio National Park is located just one hour South of Jaco. Jaco has a population of apx. 10,000 residents. Jaco's beach is 2.5 miles (4 km) long and offers some of the best surfing in Costa Rica

    It was not as bad as we figured. Very North American looking with North American prices. We spent $7 for two ice creams along the main road.

    We parked on Calle Bohio street along the beach. One thing I did not like here was the guy that wanted a few bucks to help you park. So, Walt, Judy and Marian watched the ocean from near the car as Mary and I walked along the black sand beach. The waves were much bigger here and the water was a bit cooler.

    Rocks on the beach. You definitely needed beach shoes here.

    Time to head back. Along CR-34 we encountered a guy putting dots on the roads. I found my perfect job !

    Road views along 34 60km to San Jose.

    The tool booth on CR-27. 450cr tool. (a bit under a dollar US)

    Large fruit vendors along CR-27

    25 km to Atenas. Nice road

    Since we got home late it was a good night for pizza. Picked up a large cheese with bacon from a pizza place locaed on the NW corner of the Parque Central de Atenas in Atenas.

    Tuesday - APR 16 2013

    Today was a stay home day.

    Looks safe to me

    Views along the road as Mary & Ken walked up the road to Iglesia San Jose Sur a mile or two from the house.

    One thing I discovered is that this area is very rugged. The overhead images don't show that.

    We had cocktails at Aad & Marian's house. This was the view they had. The live West of Atenas.

    Another clear night to watch San Jose, southern cross and Atenas.

    Wednesday - APR 17 2013

    Today was another stay close day. Mary and I went out to look at the real-estate in the area with Andrew Partain from RE/MAX Atenas. He also has a blog at RE/MAX Atenas Blog

    We looked at a mix of houses-for-sale and rentals (although it seems that everything is for-sale here). We were very impressed with Andrew's knowledge of the area and will definitely use him if we ever buy and when we rent in the future.

    This is one of my favorite examples of why you have to be careful when you drive here. On one of the streets south of Atenas. That tree has rights !

    One of the houses we looked at had some amazing views to the East. Because it gets dark here around 6pm we have found that having the view is very important. We really enjoyed sitting out for 3-4 hours each night watching the planes going into San Jose and the stars. This house would be the place. But, it had no shade which during the day is important.

    This house is located at 9.9653N 84.4066W

    Zoomed in on Atenas. You can see the church

    Thursday - APR 18 2013

    Our last morning here. Sad.. Its hard to leave !

    The rum we were drinking

    Some photos from around the house

    Strange place for the drain as its right where you stand

    The kitchen

    The strange statue in the stair area.

    Various house views. The laundry building.


    Various property views. Very well kept and lush

    The solar pool heater. Would get the pool up to 93 or so each day. Overnight it would drop to 86 or so

    The Rancho

    Mary enjoying the pool on our last morning

    Last look around the house

    Flight Home

    The flight down and back from Charlotte, NC would go over Florida to Key West then the 90 miles to go over Cuba near Havana. Then you have over 500 miles of water to cross till you hit The Caribbean Mosquito Coast (or Miskito Coast) historically comprised an area along the eastern coast of present-day Nicaragua and Honduras, and part of the Western Caribbean Zone. It was named after the local Miskito Indians and long dominated by British interests. The Mosquito Coast was incorporated into Nicaragua in 1894; however, in 1960 the northern part was granted to Honduras by the International Court of Justice.

    Looking down around 14.7914N 83.3021W on the upper coast of Nicaragua

    Lots of fires

    Looking up the coast of Honduras at Laguna De Caratasca

    Flying over the Zapata Peninsula in Cuba now. This area is the Parque Nacional Cienaga de Zapata

    Key west, Florida. The last photo as it was cloudy and dark the rest of the way.

    Other Costa Rica links:

  • Retire Here, Not There: Costa Rica
  • The 'Dog Whisperer' of Atenas

  • Return to First Costa Rica adventure

  • Back to KM-FARMS Travel, Farm & Research