National Geographic Quest
During sunrise, National Geographic Quest sailed to drop anchor between Muneco Islet and Junquillal Wildlife Refuge. On our way, the humpback whales showed up again and put on a show. At this time of the year, individuals from the Northern Hemisphere head down to give birth to their young. After breakfast, some guests headed to Muneco Islet for our first snorkeling outing. The backside of the islet gave us a protected cove. The beautiful geological formation bears witness to the magnificent uplifting of this unique region. Guests observed sea stars, damselfish, surgeonfish, bicolor parrotfish, and cornetfish. The experience was enhanced by the wonderful calls of the whales. What a beautiful way to snorkel! As a second activity, we enjoyed downtime at the wildlife refuge. We walked on a secluded beach where we spotted birds, such as white-throated magpie-jays and crested caracaras. Orange-fronted parakeets appeared to show off their colorful plumage. In the afternoon, photo instructor Jose Calvo gave us a great lecture that included useful photography tips. We enjoyed different options to explore Junquillal Bay Refuge. Some guests worked out their upper bodies by paddling kayaks while exploring mangroves, and others observed the scenery on Zodiac cruises. We all observed species like ringed and green kingfishers, little blue herons, spotted sandpipers, whimbrels, white ibises, and more. We talked about the habits and behaviors of the different species. The impressive root system of the mangroves welcomed us, and we were transported to a place with scenery that looked like it came from a story. We learned about this unique system and the challenges it faces to adapt and survive in high salinity environments. Other guests chose hikes through the tropical dry forest and enjoyed amazing views of the spectacular Peninsula de Santa Elena. Recap and dinner were followed by a wonderful presentation by the Director of Guanacaste Conservation Area, a UNESCO World heritage site. The speaker put in perspective the high importance of this protected part of Costa Rica, including its contributions to the world.