From Laura Bankey, Director of Conservation
Checking in from beautiful Costa Rica! The Costa Rican Tourism Board have been wonderful hosts and have planned some pretty amazing excursions for our group, winners of the Get Going Costa Rica sweepstakes and representatives from National Aquarium and the Greater Los Angeles Zoo.
Our adventure started off with a trip to one of the central valley's active volcanos. The Irazu volcano is more than 11,000 feet above sea level. We drove through some of Costa Rica's richest agricultural lands with fields full of onions, potatoes, and mustard. On the way to the top, we passed through a cloud forest, home to a large variety of plants and animals especially adapted to the high altitude and high humidity. Once at the top, it was just a short hike to the active crater. Spectacular!!
We were standing on the rim, and could see the bright-green rainwater collected by the crater more than 1,000 feet down. The landscape is gray for as far as your eyes can see. The volcanic ash has covered just about everything in sight. The last time the volcano erupted was 1994, and some of the vegetation is just coming back. It's a stark reminder of how our world is constantly changing.
Much of our afternoon was spent traveling down to the South Pacific coast to position us for a wonderful day spent at Corvocado National Park. The most popular way to get to the park is by boat. Our boat met us at our hotel in Sierpe on Tuesday morning. We traveled down the Sierpe River through acres and acres of mangrove forests. What a sight! Once we hit the mouth of the river, we headed out into the ocean along the coast of the Osa Peninsula toward the park headquarters.
Our main activity at the park was a three-hour hike through the rain forest. What an adventure! We weren't more than 50 feet inside the rain forest when we saw trogans, white-faced coati, a three-toed sloth, and howler monkeys.
As we traveled deeper and deeper, we saw frogs, tarantulas, and macaws. It was awesome to discover just how closely the National Aquarium's Upland Tropical Rain Forest compares to the real thing! During the boat trip back to Sierpe we also saw monkeys, a boa, and a humpback whale.
All in all, a very good day for wildlife viewing!