Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Costa Rica - Day 11 (Jan 13, 2009)

Our day starts VERY early so that we may be the first ones to the Canopy Tour at Villa Lapas. There are five suspension bridges, some crossing high above the rain forest below can be pretty scary. It is best to be on the trail soon after the sun rises, before it gets too crowded and before the jungle gets too hot. We have coffee and pastries in the dining room and get onto the bus bright and early. Our day starts with sightings of the Scarlet Macaws dining on balsa flowers and flying across the skies high above us. Once on the Canopy Trail, we see army ants, leaf cutter ants, birds and more as Charlie and Mark are sure to point out interesting sights.

We learn that Leaf Cutter ants will go up to 1.4 mile from their nest to search for leaves to cut and bring back to the nest (top left photo below), following pheromone trails through the rain forest. One trail we see crosses our path 4 times as we descend down the many switchbacks at the end of the trail. Once across the trail, they go straight up the side of the hill to the next switchback and so on until they return to the nest. They carry out their waste (right photo below) and pile it up a few feet away from the nest until the pile gets too big and then they will relocate. The bottom left and right photos show the ants carrying leaves and a traffic jam caused by a leaf that has fallen across their pheromone trail back to the nest.

From Costa Rica - Day 11

After we return from our Canopy Tour, we have lunch and free time until 3 PM. Some rest, some take walks in the rain forest and some adventure forth to do the zip line tour at Villa Lapas. I walk with the zip group to their first station and get videos (short ones) of each of them on their first zip through the jungle. Then I wander back through the rain forest, taking a wrong turn at one point which I correct once I realize I'm not on the same path we took earlier. The Tarcolito River bank beckons me and I capture several photos of butterflies along the river before heading back to our room for a short nap.

At 3:00 PM, we assemble for a short bus ride to the Tarcoles River for our "Crocodile Man Tour." We not only see crocodiles on this boat ride, but also have sightings of new birds, the Roseate Spoonbill being the most beautiful, as well as some we've seen before and now recognize easily. We end our day on the river watching the setting sun before heading back to Villa Lapas for dinner and packing up to head to our next stop in the morning.

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