From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica and Panama
Jan 15, 2013 - National Geographic Sea Lion
Casa Orquideas, Golfito, Golfo Dulce
After a calm nocturnal passage around the Osa Peninsula we entered Golfo Dulce (“Sweet Gulf”) at dawn and anchored off Casa Orquideas—a spectacular landlocked garden at the base of rain forest-clad mountains that sweep down to the shores of the gulf. Following a delicious breakfast, we ferried ashore by Zodiacs for themed walks led by our expert naturalist guides. We arrived during a light rain and heavy clouds, which lifted almost as soon as we landed, revealing the garden of splashy Gauguin colors in sunlit glory.
Created and maintained by U.S.-expats Ron and Trudy McAllister, Casa Orquideas held us spellbound with its profusion of orchids, gingers, heliconias, and other tropical plants. Bird-lovers were thrilled to spy a kaleidoscopic medley of colorful birds, from tanagers and toucans to scarlet macaws. And photo buffs practiced their macro and other photography techniques, tutored by naturalist /photo instructor Jeff Muñoz and National Geographic photographer Christopher P. Baker.
After returning to the ship, guests were able to opt for a cooling swim off the ship’s stern. We then convened in the lounge for a briefing about kayaking and snorkeling, followed by a fascinating lecture on the history of Costa Rica by naturalist Max Vindas. Lunch on board was followed by siesta time and the “global market” as the ship repositioned to the nearby fishing port of Golfito, a former center for banana production.
In mid-afternoon, everyone donned sunhats and sunscreen for exploring the mangroves, while more adventurous souls slipped into kayaks to do the same as we took advantage of a rising tide. “Oooh! Is that a blue heron?”… “Look! An ibis!”… “Oh my gosh! There’s a kingfisher!” We grinned ear to ear at such a profusion of marvelous birdlife as we eased through the narrow channels.
Back on board, we toasted our good fortune during cocktail hour as a prelude to enjoying our recap of the day’s activities offered by Jeff Muñoz (who beautifully illustrated his review of photo techniques) and Panamanian-born guide Cristian Moreno, who introduced us to the history and ecology of Coiba Island National Park. In all, another fantastic day aboard National Geographic Sea Lion.