Golfito & Casa Orquidea

Mar 12, 2020 - National Geographic Quest

Today we entered the second country of our journey, Costa Rica. We came into the Southernmost Gulf called Golfo Dulce – the Sweet Gulf – and into amazingly green and lush tropical rainforest covered mountains. Even deep into the dry season, this area offers green dense vegetation to meditate. Early this morning we had Golfito Port authorities check us into the country, and we began with our activities. First, in hand the kayaking or Zodiac ride amongst the Golfito estuary and in the afternoon onto the beautiful Casa Orquidea Botanical Garden.

Off we went early in the morning to enjoy the scenery of the mountains surrounding Golfito and we hoped to spot some wildlife in our kayaks or Zodiacs. We were not disappointed; both outings had the chance to see many animals, from birds to mammals to reptiles: howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys, little blue-green and tricolored herons, great and snowy egrets, American crocodile, yellow-headed caracara, common black hawk, and many more. Back on board for a presentation in Costa Rican history, lunch and a quick rest to get ready to disembark onto Casa Orquideas.

Ron and Trudy McAllister have been living in this area for the past forty years. They left their homeland to go south and this is as far as they reached. They fell in love with the lush forests and the nice people and decided to stay, live and raise a family. Into the garden we went, and were not disappointed: heliconias, orchids, bromeliads, aroids, giant palms, toucans, macaws, flowers and fig trees welcomed us into their realm. What a great way to start our trip in Costa Rica.

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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.

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