The sunrise at the middle section of Panama Canal was a spectacular way to start our morning. The sounds of mantled howler monkeys and yellow-throated toucans were part of the melody going on at Barro Colorado. Barro Colorado is critical for research in the area, and scientists from all over the world come to study the numerious species that call this island home. It is held as one of the best studied tropical rainforests in the world, led by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute since 1923. The trails show not only a great biodiversity of flora and fauna but also a complex of small laboratories and sampling sites in the field. We learn about stingerless bees, bats, and the incredibly industrious life of ants occupying the tree canopy. A second group around the island on Zodiacs. The shore of the islands is equally rich with wildlife, and the group managed to spot several crocodiles and birds. The morning went fast, and we now wait for our Panama Canal Pilot to complete our transit.
National Geographic Quest
We started with “Pura Vida” air, or the air of pure life. This was our first stop in Costa Rica on this expedition. We made it all the way to this country that houses 5% of the planet’s biodiversity. Saying goodbye to Panama was hard, but it is time to explore more on our journey. We anchored in Golfito, a little gulf inside a bigger gulf named Golfo Dulce. This explains why Costa Ricans are called “ticos”; we use diminutives in most of our conversations. We enjoyed the chance to explore the area. We split into two groups. One group took a Zodiac cruise inside the mangrove ecosystem, and another group kayaked from point A to point B. Both options gave guests the opportunity to learn about mangrove ecosystems, which have a lot to offer. We saw plenty of birds nesting, as well as a variety of different species of fish and mammals. Using the shelter of this impenetrable refugee, animals succeed in nursing their young until they are ready to take on the rest of the Neotropics. The mangroves never disappoint. Once we returned from the tours, everyone talked about their wildlife sightings. White-faced capuchins, yellow-throated toucans, sea turtles and yellow-headed caracaras all joined us this morning. After lunch onboard, we landed in “Rio Seco,” also known as the dry river. This site offers an incredible example of what reforestation can do to land. Once used for cacao plantations and cattle 30 years ago, the area now hosts a consolidated secondary forest. The forest shares boundaries with the protected areas of a national park. We saw scarlet macaws, squirrel monkeys, orchids, beautiful gardens, fruit trees and frogs. Heat in the early afternoon gave way to a cool and refreshing breeze before dusk. The day was a total success. A visit to the heavy rainforest in one of the planet’s most biodiverse regions is always special. Looking forward to see what we experience tomorrow.