Written by: John Greer and reposted from TreeXP.com
Our group originated in San Jose, Costa Rica before heading south toward Drake Bay, along the Pacific Ocean’s south-western side of the country. We entered into Poor Man’s Paradise by way of water landing along the beach, from a skiff, carrying both our group and our luggage.
The area had a primal feel about it, being nestled in the Central American jungle, adjacent to Corcovado National Park. This area is among a handful of the most bio-diverse places on earth.
Our group was tastefully hosted, guided, housed, provided delicious meals and granted access to many amazing features throughout the area, including waterfalls and wildlife throughout Corcovado National Park, as well as, a snorkeling/whale watching adventure to the nearby nature reserve at Cano Island.
On our hikes, we witnessed an assortment of bird and wildlife sightings. We also came upon a gathering of Humpback whales, at times coming close enough to film their underwater movements. At times, the experience felt surreal, being so fully immersed in nature.
Our next destination was the main reason for this expedition. This year’s annual Tree Climbing Rendezvous was being hosted at a location known as The Savegre Nature Reserve, situated 7,300 feet up in the mountains of central Costa Rica. The drive ended with a steep descent into breathtakingly spectacular narrow valley, lined with lush, giant old-growth trees, with the fast moving Savegre River cutting its way through the middle.
With the higher altitude came lower temperatures, which when combined with the rainy tropical conditions, at times became challenging to overcome. As such, the actual tree climbing time was often interrupted with down pours, often lasting for hours. Still, many climbers were resilient enough to endure the added risks and enjoy the incredible experience of tree climbing in a Costa Rican jungle.
Our group was afforded the opportunity to listen to various guest speakers involved with tree climbing expeditions that help protect forests, rehabilitate Orangutans in Borneo and study bald eagles in the United States. The group’s keynote speaker was Donald Perry, the founding father of technical tree climbing in Costa Rica and the inventor of the Zip Line. Being a part of this amazing group was an honor and a privilege.
The next destination for those continuing on in our group was in the area of La Fortuna, adjacent to Arenal Volcano. We bathed in volcanic hot springs and were treated to a Chocolate tasting tour, while learning traditional methods of producing fine chocolate from the Cacao Tree, also know as The Food of the Gods.
The next day we traveled to the Heredia Province of Sarapiqui and visited the Tirimbina Rainforest Center; a national wildlife refuge operated as an education, research, and eco-tourism center. We walked along soggy trails and on suspension bridges, while being fully immersed in nature.
A friend and I broke off from the main group and went walkabout. Along the way, we saw a Collared Anteater. It measured roughly 30″ tall and 3 feet long and was spotted on the ground, just off the walking trail. We made eye contact and when I tried to get a closer look, it turned and slowly headed deeper into the jungle, before I had a chance to get a photo. Later that day several climbers weathered the rain and climbed a tree along a river, while surrounded by a multitude of tropical birds.
Tortuguero was our final destination, before returning to San Jose and heading home. Getting there involved being transferred from our motor coach to a long skiff like boat, and shuttled along rivers through the mangrove forests, to the Laguna Lodge.
The lodge was located on a extended sand bar, between the Caribbean Sea and Tortuguero Lagoon. The beaches are protected by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, who through their efforts and for the benefit of Green Sea Turtles and our planet’s fragile ecosystem, transformed the area into Tortuguero National Park in 1975.