The thrill for me when I photograph nature and wildlife is that I always feel as if I am on a treasure hunt—I never know what might be around the next corner and I am rarely ever disappointed.
Peek-a-boo! I see you Ms. three-toed sloth. This typically difficult animal to spot was sitting in this tree for two days 100 feet from my bungalow
The rainforest in Costa Rica is one of my favorite destinations (I’ve gone twice in the last five years) because its thousands of species of plant life, monkeys and other mammals, spectacular birds and brightly colored frogs, not to mention a boat load of fascinating (yes, a little creepy too sometimes) insects and reptiles, make every day a new adventure. And more times than not it begins only steps from your bungalow.
Morning is my favorite time in Costa Rica taken from my balcony
My favorite time is in the morning when everything is waking up. I’m not typically a morning person but when I know there are animals about I leap out of bed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed before it’s light. It’s a wonderful time: the howler monkeys bellow, the sun begins to rise, and the forest comes alive with bird calls and beautiful shafts of light that filter down through the trees.
On a blazing hot day, the rain forest in the morning is relatively cool. This view was from the many trails around my bungalow
Did you know that Iguana’s are excellent climbers? Somewhere in the back of my mind I vaguely knew but it wasn’t until Costa Rica that I saw just how adept they really are.
Who knew that iguanas where such savvy climbers? I sure didn’t. I spotted this guy waaaay above my head.
I was walking down a trail when I heard something rustling the ferns near me. The noise was so loud I expected to see a monkey but it was this 3-foot iguana that decided to climb the tree next to me
Monkeys, Monkeys and More Monkeys!
Monkeys are everywhere in Costa Rica and fascinating to watch. On any given day I saw numerous spider, Capuchin (or white-faced), and howler monkeys, sometimes all at once! (Be careful though.. while incredibly cute, monkeys can be aggressive. Be sure to watch from a safe distance and they’ll leave you alone.)
The lesser known two-headed Capuchin
Casually sitting eating a leaf, this howler monkey looked to me as if it was knitting. I loved the way it hung on to branch with its tail to steady itself
- Only feet from my bungalow, this spider monkey was feasting on a bushel of berries so large 10 monkeys couldn’t finish it
Birds of Many Feathers
I was never particularly a “birder” until I went to Costa Rica. As plentiful as pigeons in New York City, the rainforest is home to some of the most beautiful birds I’ve every seen.
A fiery-billed aracari – aptly named don’t you think?
The beauty of the tropical kingbird is a wonderful foil to the severity of the barbed-wire
A roadside hawk that had me hypnotized with his intense gaze
A real life toucan Sam… however, they’re not as nice as the fruit loops version – nasty tempers
Another beauty: a blue-crowned mot mot
Probably my favorite bird in Costa Rica – so pretty – the black-throated trogan
I was so used to seeing Parrots in pet stores I forgot they actually came from somewhere else
While not as colorful as her mate, this female black-throated trogon is still pretty stylish
Oh the Bouquets You Could Make!
I didn’t take as many photos as I should have of all the beautiful flowers and foliage but here are just a few of the treats I found while hiking.
A lovely red hibiscus hanging from a tree
I found these parrot flowers everywhere
The size of a teacup saucer these yellow allamanda were hanging outside my bungalow
A tiny forest of bamboo in the middle of the rain forest
The light after a rain was so pretty on this fern I had to take a picture
I loved the way these martini glass mushrooms glowed under the canopy
I don’t know the name of this mushroom but I thought it was really lovely
Don’t forget to look down
Between the birds and the monkeys it’s easy to stare at the treetops, but don’t forget to look down, there’s so much to see on rain forest floor.
I’m used to seeing grabs near the water, but I was so surprised to see this fellow wedged between some rocks in the middle of the forest. He seemed quite at home
I LOVE colorful frogs and this striped poison dart frog is one of my favorite
An amorous anoli flirts with a female nearby by puffing up his chest
An anoli of some sort that was skittering along the path with me.
I loved the way the light hit this centipede
The size of a small chihuahua, this common agouti looks like a giant tail-less rat
Another favorite: the green poison dart frog. He’s the size of thimble and soooo fast!
Go on a Night Hike
Not for the faint of heart but incredibly cool, and a tad hair-raising if I am being honest, be sure to take a night hike through the rain forest if your hotel offers it. Yes, you may see lots of spiders and snakes, but don’t worry, they don’t want you and they won’t follow you home. It’s perfectly safe and an amazing experience. There are so many interesting nocturnal sights worth seeing.
Silently slithering through the branches, this blunt-headed tree snake was fascinating to watch climb a tree
A dinner-plate sized (yes, you read that right) wolf spider that both captivated me and freaked me out. Thankfully, it never moved
Another frog! This time a nocturnal red-eyed tree frog. Isn’t he adorable?
A palm-sized tarantula hanging out on a ledge near our path
As the sun set this large owl butterfly visited me on the deck of my bungalow
Underneath a branch that hung over the path we were taking through the rain forest, this wolf spider sat chomping on an insect that looked like a cockroach
Savor Special Moments
Sometimes the stars align and you get to see something really special… On my last trip, I was lucky enough to see two things!
Three-toed sloth from above leaned back at one point from her perch on the tree to reveal a tiny baby. It’s not the best photo because they were so far away, but if you look closely you can see its little head, and a little arm hugging its momma. So cute!
A lovely rainbow peeks out from under storm clouds after a rain.