From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama
Feb 20, 2013 - National Geographic Sea Lion
Casa Orquidea and Golfito, Golfo Dulce
Welcome to Costa Rica! After sailing overnight in the area of Gulf of Chiriquí in Panama and around the Burica Point right on the border, we found ourselves in Costa Rican waters. Early this morning, after a technical stop in the old port of Golfito, we repositioned our ship to one of the most expected stops of the whole week: Casa Orquidea botanical garden.
Costa Rica’s conservation initiatives are unique; we are preserving almost 25% of the country’s territory. However, in the last decade, our forest cover has increased thanks to the mutual support from our government and private landowners. Buffer zones have been established interconnecting the entire land and marine ecosystems around the country and especially here in Golfo Dulce and the Osa Peninsula. This morning we supported with our visit a small conservation project administered by its owners Ron and Trudy Mac Allister. Casa Orquidea is indeed one of those unique missions where the work of more than 30 years reached its pinnacle with an outstanding collection of plants from the tropical areas of the world.
Along with the flora, the birdlife finds a sanctuary with the vast amount of flowers and fruits produced by native and exotic species. Even tent-making bats, a frugivorous chiropteran, finds shelter under the foliage of a Licuala palm. Scarlet macaws, tanagers, honeycreepers, aracaris and caracaras were part of the confirmation of a great morning immersed with nature.
After a refreshing swimming in the gulf, by early afternoon we returned to Golfito. This time our intentions were to maximize our discovery of the myriad plants and trees in this southern region on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. Exploring with kayaks or Zodiacs was the best choice this time. Mantled howler monkeys showed their presence elusively on the middle canopy of the forest. Egrets and ibises performed their feeding ritual reminding us of the difficulties and efforts of the species to keep surviving.
Personally, searching for wildlife with my group of guests on a Zodiac cruise, the main star of the afternoon was a female American pygmy kingfisher. This coraciiform posed in all possible postures, setting off our desire to take as many pictures as we could.
We acclaimed life together; today the Golfo Dulce inspired us to continue with our passion for nature and the preservation of its flora and fauna.