Hummingbird in Costa Rica |© Clare Gelnar

Hot Water Bottles in The Cloud Forest

Natural World Safaris

Clare Gelnar

04 Dec 2019

A 12-day holiday in the rainforests of Costa Rica, May 2019.

A knock at the door - “hot water bottles madam” - a lovely greeting on our first night in the Quetzales Cloud Forest. We had a giggle, thinking it unnecessary in this warm climate, but it was surprisingly cool as we returned to our cosy cabin after a delicious supper in the beautiful dining room. An exciting place to arrive after a breath-taking climb into the mountains from the delightful capital San Jose where we had stayed at the glorious Grana de Oro Hotel.

Pygmy Owl in Costa Rica |© Clare Gelnar

Hummingbirds were everywhere, all colours and sizes, often evasive when we were trying to film them and yet constantly darting in and out of the abundance of flowers and shrubs. A very early, short drive the next morning took us to the woods where quetzals nest, one of the few places. We were rewarded with stunning displays of their exquisite tail feathers as males and females alternated flying to the avocado trees and back to the nests. It was a cold start before the sun rose, and the warming up was a sign for the quetzals to disappear before any predators spotted them. We were kept company by a baby Toucanet peeping out from a hole in a nearby tree, waiting to be fed.

Bird in Costa Rica |© Clare Gelnar
Bird  in Costa Rica |© Clare Gelnar

An extraordinary journey took us to the Caribbean coast and Selva Bananito. An exciting flight in a small plane followed by a drive through banana plantations and then a river crossing by Unimog and finally our arrival at the lodge in the middle of the rainforest. Our room had a mosquito-netted bed looking out over the open veranda, with the sound of birdcall in the day and snuffling wild pigs at night.

Trogon Lodge in Costa Rica |© Clare Gelnar

We enjoyed birdwatching hikes and horse riding, an amazing sighting of a laughing falcon perched high above us showing off his highly poisonous snake catch, one solitary sloth 30 feet above us in a tree, rolled into a ball. Stopping for fresh lemonade from the flask, we spotted extraordinary “Jesus Christ lizards” so called as they step across the water on tip-toe. Travel guides promise mainly rice and beans in Costa Rica but we had lots of variety in our food everywhere we stayed.


Bird in Costa Rica |© Clare Gelnar

Finally, the Pacific coast by 4-seater plane, with stunning views of coffee plantations, rivers, hills and vast rainforest. Then, another exciting journey – catching a boat down the coast to the exotic Casa Corcovado set on the edge of rainforest. Rough waves in the little bay made landing exciting – make sure you change into shorts and sandals on the beach before your boat ride. Next there was a tractor ride up the steep hill and a welcome from the capuchin monkeys and delightful staff.

Trogon Lodge in Costa Rica |© Clare Gelnar

An exquisite lodge, an outdoor as well as indoor shower, the local coati sauntering by, Halloween crabs showing us the way through the beautiful gardens, the occasional agouti, much bigger than I had expected. An exciting snorkel off Cano Island led us to see turtles, whales, dolphins, porpoises and even an octopus spotted below us snorkellers!

Clay coloured thrush in Costa Rica |© Clare Gelnar

A family of coatis and a mother and young tapir were highlights of a fabulous trip, a particularly brilliant guide at the last lodge educating us in the flora, fauna and culture of this wonderful, peaceful, friendly, ecologically aware country.

Rio Celeste, Costa Rica

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View our Costa Rica safaris, or talk to one of our specialists for more details on travelling to Costa Rica. Please note we recommend a budget of from £7,000 / $10,000 USD per person for our style of trip to this destination.

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