Lindblad Expeditions - From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica and Panama - Rafael Robles, naturalist
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From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica and Panama

Dec 4, 2012 - National Geographic Sea Lion

Aristolochia flower (Photo: Rafa Robles, naturalist)
Gesneriaceae flower (Photo: Jefrey Munoz, photo instructor)

Golfo Dulce, Casa Orquidea Botanical Garden & Golfito

Golfo Dulce area possesses unique habitats within the gulf, including the lowland rain forest, swamp forest, mangroves, beach and rivers.

Golfito is a port town and was a busy center for banana exportation when the “Bananera Company”, a subsidiary of United Fruit Co., was operating in the area from 1938-1985, Golfito was the company headquarters.

After breakfast we came ashore to visit Casa Orquidea, a beautiful landscaped private botanical garden overlooking the turquoise water of the Pacific Ocean.

Longtime residents Ron and Trudy McAllister have created this garden during the last 25 years. We were just getting ready for our walk through the garden, when two Scarlet Macaws were spotted on a tree right in front of us, we just couldn’t believe it. After enjoying the beauty of these colorful birds, we started our walk, only to stop a few steps ahead: two Chestnut mandible Toucan had just landed on a tree nearby. It didn´t take long before a group of tent-making bats where found hidden under a big leaf. They make their “tent” by chewing part of the venation of a big leave, making it fold down; that is where they hide from predators during the day.

In a matter of two hours we saw what the spices and fruits in our kitchen look like in their natural environment as vines and trees. We even got to taste the ones that were in season. Among some of them we saw ginger, vanilla, black pepper, cinnamon, cacao, cashew, mango, avocado, papaya and other fruits used by the native indigenous to dye cloth beautiful bright colors. For many of our guest the highlight of the morning was the eight King Vulture spotted flying up above!

In the afternoon, after a good lunch and some time to rest, we went to check the rain forest and mangrove estuary close to Golfito dock. Many of our guests went kayaking while others rode in Zodiacs. Among the pristine vegetation, the brightly colored red flowers of the “Wild Poinsettia” (Warscewiczia coccinea) were remarkable. Among the wild life, White faced Capuchin monkeys were spotted as they searched for food up in the trees. We also saw birds many species of birds: Ruddy Turnstone, Little blue Heron and Spotted sandpipers among others. In the late afternoon we cleared immigration in the town of Golfito since this evening we will start cruising toward Panama.

All this in our last day in Costa Rica: Panama we are ready for you!

About the Author

Rafael Robles·Naturalist

Rafa brings to his guiding and excellent academic background and a wide range of experience in the field of natural history interpretation, education, conservation and sustainable development. A botanist by profession, Rafa has written a number of publications including a Manual of the Flora of Costa Rica (a project of the Missouri Botanical Garden and the National Museum of Costa Rica) annotated checklists, interpretive trails guides for lodges and reserves, as well as training manuals, scripts and other texts. He is an expert in the Caribbean coast ecosystems and waterways near Tortuguero. Rafa also has related administrative experience, having spent two years as the Administrator of Mawamba Lodge on Tortuguero Canals.