Casa Orquidea Botanical Gardens and Golfito

Jan 16, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

Today, our last day in Costa Rican waters, we are ready to explore some more amazing sites in the Golfo Dulce, the southernmost gulf of the country.  Loaded with rich greenery and deep dark green waters, the Gulf has quite the distinct feature of being very deep.  At its mouth around 60 meters deep, but in some areas inside the Gulf are even 250 meters deep.  This morning we concentrated on the eastern side of this body of water and visited two interesting places. 

Early after breakfast, we disembarked onto the lovely Casa Orquidea Botanical Garden, where Spike the owner’s dog, along with hundreds of plants, flowers, and tropical fruit, welcomed us into their realm. Amongst other things, we saw a yellow-throated toucan raiding a great kiskadee’s nest, destroying it and eating the chicks, scarlet macaws, a white-nosed coati, Cherrie’s tanagers, yellow-headed caracara, king vultures, and many, many more. 

Back on board for an interesting presentation, lunch, and snorkeling gear distribution, we got ready for our second activity of the day, which involved the area surrounding the largest town inside the gulf, Golfito. We went out by kayak or by Zodiac to explore the water’s edge and mangrove forests that surround the town.  There were good sights of green iguanas, white throated capuchin monkeys, and mantled howler monkeys.  Another great day in charming Costa Rica.  On we go to Panama tomorrow.

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About the Author

Isabel Salas Vindas


Isa Salas is a Costa Rica born biologist, who loves her country and teaching about it.  Known for her professionalism and experience in the field of animal behavior, Isa earned her master's degree in biology from the University of Costa Rica, where she also engaged in research for the chemistry and biology departments. Isa has carried out specialized projects on mantled howler monkeys for Costa Rica’s National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio), and is one of the country’s experts on howler monkey sexual and social behavior. 

About the Photographer

José Calvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Nicknamed “Indio” (Indian) because of his powers of observation and quiet nature, José has almost two decades of experience working as a naturalist and photography guide; as well as being recognized as an expert birder and nature photographer in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is rich in biodiversity — over 893 bird species have been recorded in the country. Since very young José spent all of his free time in the outdoors in the forest, where he soon fell in love with the birds. He particularly enjoys listening to their calls, and watching their behavior. Oddly enough, another one of Jose’s passions is science and technology, and because of this, he was among the first in Costa Rica to experiment with digital photography. As the technology quickly improved so did his love for it.  He truly believes that nature photography is the perfect combination of both of his passions.

About the Videographer

Ashley Karitis

Video Chronicler

Ashley was raised in the foothills of the Cascade Range in Central Oregon. After childhood careers in ski racing, equestrian sports, classical piano, and summer jobs on a dude ranch, she emerged as a unique hybrid of adventuress, hobby farmer, and storyteller. 

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