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Of course many of us come here for wildlife and Costa Rica wildlife is fascinating: one of my favourites is the Kinkajou. To spot a Kinkajou in Costa Rica you’ll probably need a torch or a night full of moonshine. Kinkajou’s are usually nocturnal and live in dense rainforest in the hollows of trees.

Kinkajou on branch. Costa Rica Wildlife: Kinkajou. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa RicaBut having said that we have seen a Kinkajou or two at Geckoes and hear them very often, at least a few times per week. They make a noise that sounds like this: weeep, weeep whoop. So although there may be many deep in the rainforest, they can also be seen in more inhabited spots. One evening, sitting outside at a local restaurant in Puerto Viejo I heard a scrabble in the tree next to me and there was a kinkajou eyeing my pasta.

Kinkajou eating mango. Costa Rica Wildlife: Kinkajou. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa RicaKinkajous are gorgeously fluffy bear like. They look adorable with their big eyes, small round ears and as if they would be very nice to cuddle! Also known as Honey Bears and in Spanish as Martillas or Martas. Apparently they love honey, hence the Honey Bear nickname. They are pretty docile and not averse to taking a tasty flower from your hand, but they can be skittish so any fast movement should be avoided, as then they may panic and bite.

Close up of Kinkajou. Costa Rica Wildlife: Kinkajou. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa RicaWith their long tongues, they eat fruits, flowers, licking the nectar or sometimes eating the entire flower and add insects and bird eggs  to their diet when possible.

Kinkajou eating fruit. Costa Rica Wildlife: Kinkajou. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa RicaThey are sometimes known also as the Night Monkey also they are no relation to the monkey species. The name could have come about because they have very flexible knees and ankles that can rotate 180 degrees, so are ace tree climbers like monkeys.

Kinkajou eating nectar. Costa Rica Wildlife: Kinkajou. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa RicaSo, when in Costa Rica you hear a ‘weep, weep, whoop’, take a look up into the trees and see if you can spot the gorgeous Kinkajou.

First, get your boat

First, get your boat

When visitors think about Things to Do in this area they don’t often think of a trip to Gandoca Lagoon. Of course there are loads of different trips and activities on this coast and so this one often remains in the background — but it shouldn’t because an afternoon spent at Gandoca Lagoon could be the highlight of your trip. It is certainly one of my favourites.

Take a couple of beers for your rowers and wildlife spotters: Thanks Junior & Roger!

Take a couple of beers for your rowers and wildlife spotters: Thanks Junior & Roger!

Sit back and enjoy the scenery

Sit back and enjoy the scenery

Easy to arrange, an interesting drive from Puerto Viejo and off the tourist track, this trip can hold all sorts of nature and wildlife surprises such as watching pelicans fishing at the end of the lagoon, egrets in mangrove swamps or even a manatee…

Egrets in the mangroves

Egrets in the mangroves

Fishing families at the end of the lagoon

Fishing families at the end of the lagoon

Pelicans fishing at the beach at the end of Gandoca Lagoon

Pelicans fishing at the beach at the end of Gandoca Lagoon

If you feel like spending a lazy afternoon in gorgeous natural surroundings, spotting wildlife whilst being rowed quietly along this pretty lagoon, then this is the trip for you.

20. Small birds on log: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica13 Bird on log: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica9 Monkey: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica 5 more wildlife: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa RicaGandoca Lagoon is like a miniature Tortuguero, but without the crowds or the travelling. Each time we’ve been to Gandoca Lagoon we’ve been the only people there and have always spotted plenty of wildlife and birds. If you want to photograph wildlife and birds, this is a wonderful place to capture some great shots. It is quiet, serene and as the sun sets, simply magical.

6 Birdlife: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica4.Spot the wildlife: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica 7 Pelican: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa RicaAlthough these photos hardly do it justice, the beauty and tranquillity of Gandoca lagoon is remarkable. If you want to get off the beaten path, this is the trip for you.

Trees silhouetted at Gandoca Lagoon

Trees silhouetted at Gandoca Lagoon

Sun setting on Gandoca Lagoon

Sun setting on Gandoca Lagoon

Have you ever seen a butterfly as big or bigger than your hand? Well, the fabulous Blue Morpho can have a wing span far greater than your hand — up to 8ins or 20 cms — now that’s what I call fabulous!

1. The iridescent blue Morpho butterfly, Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. www.geckoeslodge.com

 

 

 

 

 

At Geckoes we see several species of Morpho and on an almost daily basis. Due to the reflective properties of the scales covering their wings, their wings shimmer with a fantastic metallic mix of turquoise through to the darkest blue.

3. Wing tip Morpho butterfly, Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

 

 

 

 

 

Photographing a Morpho is a serious challenge… I can’t tell you how often I’ve rushed out with the camera only to have the Morpho soar upwards or land on a leaf and promptly close his wings, hiding his magnificent blueness. When his wings are closed the Morpho displays his eye-spots, thought to be a form of auto-mimicry to deceive predators into thinking they may be dangerous or inedible.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyespot_%28mimicry%29

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyespot_%28mimicry%29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their legendary colour has been much sought after and used for many aesthetic purposes from jewellery to ceremonial headdresses by indigenous tribes.
But for me the beauty of the Fabulous Morpho butterfly is not to wear it around your neck or stick it in a frame on a wall, but to see it fluttering against a rainforest backdrop, iridescent and as if lit from within.

2. Morpho butterfly on leaf, Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

 

 

 

 

 

When it has rained and the sun comes out at Geckoes, the garden is suddenly alive with these gorgeous Morpho butterflies … next time you’re here, creep out and see if you can capture them on film and if you manage it, can I have a copy?

Close up of Morpho Butterfly, Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a lot more about these beautiful creatures here:

Read more on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morpho

Apart from enjoying spectacular beaches and gorgeous rainforest, there are plenty of other Things to Do on this coast, such as visiting The Ara Project in Manzanillo.

Great Green Macaw having a little wash before Tea Time.

Great Green Macaw having a little wash before Tea Time.

The Ara Project is an organization dedicated to the reproduction and release of the Great Green Macaw. The Great Green Macaw is classified as a species in danger if extinction. Without help, these magnificent birds will disappear.

A breeding pair of Great Green Macaws

A breeding pair of Great Green Macaws

Currently there are less than 300 Green Macaws in Costa Rica and less than 1000 in the world. The Ara Project, Manzanillo is the only such project in the world!
So if you want to see these beautiful birds and you’re here on holiday, don’t miss this on your Things to Do list!

So what are these wonderful birds like? Well, Great Green Macaws are the second biggest bird of the family of parrots, with incredibly strong beaks that can crack the hardest nuts. You would need a hammer to crack a wild almond nut (their main food source) but they crack it just like that! Great Green Macaws are not just green — in flight they are spectacular and show their rainbow colours. They live in humid rainforest and so Manzanillo is their perfect habitat.

Macaws showing their rainbow plumage at The Ara Project.

Macaws showing their rainbow plumage at The Ara Project.

We decided to go and visit them the other day and what a thrill it was! We pulled into the little car park, which incidentally must be one of the more beautiful car parks ever, with views of great tracts of rainforest. Getting out of the car, we were met with raucous screeching and calling — the Great Green Macaws were announcing our arrival.

Tea Time at The Ara Project

Tea Time at The Ara Project

Immediately 7 or 8 Macaws came swooping overhead, alighting on nearby branches and curiously checking us out — as we checked them out.

A volunteer arrived with nuts and pieces of coconut which she put on a wooden tray and then hoisted up into a tree. It was Tea time for the Macaws.

Nuts and Coconut pieces for the Great Green Macaws at The Ara Project.

Nuts and Coconut pieces for the Great Green Macaws at The Ara Project.

We climbed a small hill and listened to volunteer Heike explain about the project, their work, their fun with the birds and all about the birds themselves.

At the same time as hearing about The Ara Project we were treated to stunning flights by the Macaws against a ‘Lost Eden’ backdrop of rainforest.

Not easy to capture Green Macaws in flight! But they look like flying rainbows.

Not easy to capture Green Macaws in flight! But they look like flying rainbows.

Several Macaws came to listen to Heike too and perched on branches within a few feet of us we could admire their gorgeous plumage close up.

Thrilling to see them on the branch right next to us.

Thrilling to see them on the branch right next to us.

It was one of those afternoons when you simply feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to see such natural beauty.

Beautiful Macaws in their natural setting.

Beautiful Macaws in their natural setting.

If you would like to know more about The Ara Project, Manzanillo, take a look at their website:

http://thearaproject.org

And when you visit this coast, go there — You will not forget the Great Green Macaws!

Two Green Macaws at The Ara Project, Manzanillo, Costa Rica

 

Agnes, Geckoes Lodge resident Agouti

Agnes, Geckoes Lodge resident Agouti

Agnes the Agouti at Geckoes Lodge is in love — I think. She is a regular visitor but usually alone. Then suddenly the other day whilst washing up I spotted her running and leaping with a friend.

Not the best photo of Agnes the Agouti & Friend but they were moving fast!

Not the best photo of Agnes the Agouti & Friend but they were moving fast!

Agnes the Agouti is one of my favourite residents at Geckoes. She has been around for years but is hard to photograph because she is not just fast — she is supersonic.

Our two Rhodesian Ridgebacks can go from being completely prone with four paws in the air to the garden within a couple of seconds. They are speedy. But they still cannot catch Agnes the Agouti. One second she is eating palm fruits or a piece of papaya out the back of the kitchen and the next moment she is 100 metres away with Ridgebacks Fred & Charlie in hot pursuit. Often seen early in the morning or at dusk Agnes the Agouti just laughs in the face of such efforts by Fred & Charlie. She knows she can outrun them easily.

One moment Agnes the Agouti is here and next minute -- whoosh! Gone.

One moment Agnes the Agouti is here and next minute — whoosh! Gone.

Agoutis are classed as rodents but they are so much cuter than any rodent I’ve seen. Watching Agnes the Agouti pick up a mango stone in her paws and give it a good chew is still a thrill after all these years.

Wiki has the low-down on them of course:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_American_agouti

Since Agoutis are monogamous maybe Agnes the Agouti has found her mate and with luck, we can expect a baby Agouti or two around Geckoes Lodge. I hope the babies will be as cool as Agnes — walking up to the entrance the other afternoon she was sitting with a nut on our road. She definitely saw me plus Fred & Charlie, but she didn’t run. Of course this confused the hell out of Fred & Charlie who just stood looking at her. Slowly, Agnes the Agouti sauntered into the forest. She’s got them sussed.

Thanks to Hacienda Baru for this fun clip of a busy Agouti.

http://www.haciendabaru.com

Living surrounded by rainforest is beautiful of course, but what really makes it fun is all the wildlife we get to see and Agnes the Agouti is certainly a star of Geckoes Lodge.

Here's Agnes the Agouti on the lookout for her boyfriend - hope she finds him.

Here’s Agnes the Agouti on the lookout for her boyfriend – hope she finds him.

 

Time to get back to the Jungle: Time for a Wildlife Week

Time to get back to the Jungle: Time for a Wildlife Week

Need to put some Wild in your Life?
When you’re planning your next holiday or vacation have a think about a Wildlife Week or two at Geckoes Lodge!

When we first arrived in Puerto Viejo, one of the greatest pleasures was the variety and amount of wildlife around us. That remains a daily joy and every morning I breakfast with the toucans in Geckoes garden. I laugh at the Howler monkeys who pelt me with miniature figs and Agnes, our resident Agouti hangs around near the kitchen eating fruit scraps.

Monkey Party at Geckoes Lodge

Monkey Party at Geckoes Lodge

Caribbean Costa Rica is not only famous for spectacular beaches and great tracts of rainforest but also for loads of wildlife. Think Howler Monkeys, Sloths, Agoutis, Night Monkeys, Armadillos and of course a plethora of birds and butterflies.

Agnes, Geckoes Lodge resident Agouti

Agnes, Geckoes Lodge resident Agouti

The Caribbean coast is simply the best place in Costa Rica to see a variety of wildlife without giving up comfortable places to stay, great restaurants and jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches.

Gorgeous Arrecife beach. Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Imagine a week or two where you can live a different Caribbean wildlife adventure each day and every day see something new and fascinating. We’ve put together a Wildlife Week Menu with choices to suit every age and inclination. There’s more than enough to see and do on this coast — if you want a different wildlife experience per day, no problem! In fact a Wildlife Week may not be long enough — you could fill a couple of weeks and still not see it all.

Toucan eating Palm fruit, Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Have a look at our Wildlife Week Menu:

http://www.geckoeslodge.com/wildlife-week/

Of course anyone even thinking of coming to this coast are wildlife enthusiasts but kids universally love it! In today’s world where daily life is full of technology, a Family Wildlife Week gives you all the chance to unplug and have fun together in amazing rainforest and on incredible beaches.

Ziplining through the canopy Puerto Viejo, Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Staying a Geckoes Lodge you are surrounded by wildlife and our rainforest villas are designed to make viewing easy and luxurious… you can simply wildlife spot from your plunge pool, hammocks, living area, kitchen and even your bathroom or bed!

Casa Bromelia 2 bedroom house Plunge pool, terrace & Outdoor dining

A Wildlife Week can be just the antidote to the concrete jungle and you’ll return home with not only thousands of photos but great memories. Make your life a little more Wild today — plan a Wildlife Week at Geckoes Lodge and get back to nature 🙂

Pelicans fishing at Gandoca

Here's looking at you Senor Howler

Here’s looking at you Senor Howler

Sloths: who doesn’t like sloths? Adorable, apparently cuddly, permanently ‘smiling’ and doing everything in slow motion. They are extraordinary in many ways and the first time I saw one in close up was a thrilling moment.

Sloth Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Over the years we’ve seen many Sloths in the garden at Geckoes Lodge. I can be answering my emails and suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I will see what looks rather like a moving branch on a tree trunk. Mind you, you can walk right past a sloth in a tree and not see him or her. The sloths that we see at Geckoes Lodge are the three-toed sloths and their camouflage against a tree trunk is impressive! Only when Sloths move is it easy to spot them.

Sloth in Geckoes Lodge garden Cocles Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Sloths are extraordinary in quite a few ways: apart from being the slowest mammals on earth, they can turn their heads 270 degrees, only defecate once a week, are so slow that algae grows on their coats and although clumsy on the ground, are good swimmers.

To find out about the strange symbiotic relationship between sloths and moths, take a look at this short video:

If you want to read more on sloths habits, Wiki has lots of info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloth

When sloths descend from their tree to go to the bathroom ( a weekly ritual) you may be lucky enough to have eye to eye contact. I was walking on a path at Geckoes with Fred, one of our Rhodesian Ridgebacks, when he suddenly stopped in his tracks. There, in a curved root pocket at the base of a tree was a sloth looking right at us. Fred knew not to approach. Sloths may be slow and clumsy on the ground but their claws are large and they will use them in self defence. So we just stood and looked and had plenty of time to get the camera! And after our sloth had posed for numerous photos, she just climbed back up her tree again and ‘disappeared’.

Fred meets Sloth at Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo Costa RicaHe looks comfy! at Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Sloths on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica have become famous with the wonderful documentary made about the Sloths at The Sloth Sanctuary in Cahuita. Called ‘Meet the Sloths’ it is a must for anyone who would like to know more about these weird and wonderful creatures. Fascinating, funny and seriously cute, you can follow a year in the lives of these Sloth Stars. The Queen of them all is Buttercup who reigns supreme from her own wicker throne. I’ve met her and yes, she is a Regal Sloth.

http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/meet-the-sloths

Of course when you get to this little corner of paradise you can visit the sloths at The Sloth Sanctuary in Cahuita and see all the characters for yourself.

http://www.slothsanctuary.com

And for the perfect finish, a quote from Ghandi which I think many sloths would agree with:

Sloth quote

We often have Howler Monkeys at Geckoes Lodge. We know immediately of course because Howler Monkeys are the loudest land animals on earth. The sound of Howler Monkeys carries almost 5 kilometres in dense rainforest. So you can imagine what that sounds like when they’re in a tree next to your house!

3 Wise Monkeys at Geckoes Lodge.

3 Wise Monkeys at Geckoes Lodge.

Even after living here for 9 years we haven’t worked out their schedule, but they appear in large troupes every few weeks or so. Then they hang around, pelting Geckoes Lodge with half finished fruits, seeds and leaves while they swing through the branches. I still get a thrill from watching them!

Monkey Business at Geckoes Lodge

Monkey Business at Geckoes Lodge

I think the term Howler Monkey is a misnomer because the sound they make is much more a growl, a grunt or a deep bark. They usually make their calls at dawn and dusk, but also apparently if they think it’s going to rain. They also make other noises though and can sound just like chirping birds.

 

 

 

The other day I was at Casa del Bosque preparing for guests when I heard their ‘chirping bird’ sounds. And there they were: a whole troupe just a couple of metres above me. Mothers with babies, big fearsome looking males and juveniles swinging by their tails.

Mama Howler with baby at Geckoes Lodge

Mama Howler with baby at Geckoes Lodge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's looking at you Senor Howler

Here’s looking at you Senor Howler

 

Sometimes we forget to tell guests about the Howler Monkeys. We have been asked by a white-faced guest or two what huge animal is around at dawn. The Howler Monkey dawn chorus can give guests quite a fright if they don’t know what to expect!

 

 

Just hanging around at Geckoes Lodge

Just hanging around at Geckoes Lodge

Actually Howler Monkeys are not that large and reassuringly they do not come down from the trees. So there’s no risk that you’ll go to make your coffee in the morning and meet a Howler in your kitchen. But of course everyone wants to see the Howlers.

 

 

Monkey Party at Geckoes Lodge

Monkey Party at Geckoes Lodge

Even when they’re not at Geckoes Lodge, Howler Monkeys can be frequently seen all along the coast here. From your bike, you may spot the monkey bridges spanning the coastal road. At Geckoes Lodge we’ve kept most trees so that the monkeys have their wildlife corridor and can move freely.

They are true Stars of the Rainforest and seeing them in their natural habitat monkeying around is a thrill not easily forgotten. Just one more reason to put Costa Rica on your bucket List!

Howler taking a Siesta

Howler taking a Siesta