Golfo Dulce, Casa Orquidea and Playa Blanca

Nov 27, 2019 - National Geographic Quest

Our last stop in Costa Rica was its southernmost tip, Golfo Dulce. Boarding Panama and surrounded by pristine mountainous rainforest, Golfo Dulce is one of the ultimate isolated and pristine remnants of forest. After breakfast, our first outing is Casa Orquidea, a favorite stop over the years, where most guests rave about the exuberant tropical gardens loaded with spectacular plants and birdlife, easy for all to capture great pictures. Our hosts Ron & Trudy McAlister are always happy to welcome us and share their artistic garden display of tropical flora, designed with love over 40 years and nestled into the pristine surrounding.

For a naturalist it is a pleasure to walk amongst so many different plants. Tons of explanations and observations of great bird life. As we entered their property, we were greeted by a white hawk perched up in the forest canopy, yellow-throated toucans flying in the surrounding forests and many other animals like a Central American agouti and various species of insects and reptiles. After a wonderful time appreciating the garden, we went back to the ship to enjoy a wonderful buffet lunch.

The afternoon was also full of surprises, as we repositioned the ship to our destination; we enjoyed the waters of the gulf leading us back to Playa Blanca. Most of us went out for the afternoon to meet our friends from LAST, a sea turtle and habitat (mangroves) conservation project that has its research site right in Playa Blanca. They had two turtles they had caught that day for measurements and data taking and we could share the experience with them by releasing them back into the sea. We also helped the mangrove conservation project by learning about the importance of mangrove forests and planting a red mangrove seed.

Sightings of Pantropical spotted dolphins completed our day. We said goodbye to Costa Rica with great photos and even better memories.

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About the Author

Richard Cahill


Richard was born in Panama City to American parents.  He is a seasoned naturalist guide and expedition leader.  Educated in business administration, Richard was one of the founding pioneers of the first ecotourism company in Panama 25 years ago. 

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

Eric Wehrmeister

Video Chronicler

Eric began his life on the far western edge of Chicago, where the concrete meets the cornfields.  His inspiration has always drawn from the expansive beauty of the natural world, as well as the endless forms that populate it.

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