Stragglers of the Geminid Meteor shower on the 14th are still streaking across the predawn sky for the early risers on National Geographic Sea Lion. We anchored off the Playa del Coco area to spend our day inland at Rincon de la Vieja National Park. It is our first taste of the tropical dry forest of Guanacaste, and the montane tropical forest of the Pacific slope. Hacienda Guachipelin provided a cornucopia of cultural, natural, and culinary experience.
National Geographic Sea Lion
What a great way to start the day: group snorkeling, a nature hike for others and beach times for the rest that just wanted to kick back and enjoy Playa Zapotal. As soon as we approached the beach, we were enchanted by a beautiful dry forest life: howler monkeys, crested caracara, tropical kingbird, great kiskadee, black vultures and many more. On the way back to the beach we were accompanied by big giant ceiba trees or kapok tree, name that resembled the kapok fiber used throughout history to fill mattresses, pillows, tapestries and dolls. Later this morning, I was ready to point out a nice white-fronted parrot when I heard a guest saying, “Ahhhh, this is life!!” And for some reason I was expecting someone else to comment, but instead nearly everyone took a deep breath and exhaled with a big smile on their faces. Meanwhile the parrot was gone, but that was a moment that I just could not interrupt. In the afternoon, we repositioned National Geographic Sea Leon onward to Playa Tamarindo, another paradise of a location in the northern coast of Guanacaste. Upon disembarking, we took ten-minute drive by bus through the middle of town to get to the third largest estuary and mangrove forest in Guanacaste. This amazing ecosystem is one very difficult for naturalist to interpret, because there is so much wildlife and you are constantly calling name after name with almost no chance to talk about the natural history or interesting facts about all of them. Herons, egrets, flycatchers, trogons, and birds of all sorts were fabulous, but by far the one that caught everybody’s attention without a doubt was the king of the estuary: the American crocodile! What a fantastic way to finish this journey!