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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.

Today’s offering in the Things to Do series is calling all horsey people, both experienced and first time riders! You’re going to love this… One of the best Things to Do here for you could be Horse Riding along the beaches and in the rainforest jungle.

Imagine riding along a beach like this:

Things to do: Horse riding at Arrecife Beach

Things to do: Horse riding at Arrecife Beach

Or under the trees like this:

Playa Chiquita Horse Adventures

Playa Chiquita Horse Adventures

And don’t worry if you’ve never ridden a horse, there are two horse riding stables here, both with expert riders who will take you out and give you the ride of your life!

Playa Chiquita Riding Adventures (http://www.playachiquitaridingadventures.com/) and Caribe Horse Riding Club (http://www.caribehorse.com/) have beautiful, well looked after horses, comfortable saddles, experience and passion for their animals and the tours they offer.

Happy Horses, Comfortable Saddles and Experts for the Ride of your Life!

Happy Horses, Comfortable Saddles and Experts for the Ride of your Life! Playa Chiquita Riding Adventures.

If you can’t get enough of riding along tropical beaches or through the rainforest Caribe Horse Riding Club also offer a complete Horse Vacation — 3 or 7 days of exploring this coast on horseback.

Or how about swimming with your horse in the Caribbean sea? This is how beautiful it looks: Imagine how that feels 🙂

Caribe Horse Riding Club

Caribe Horse Riding Club

Both Playa Chiquita Riding Adventures and Caribe Horse Riding Club don’t only offer the usual tours you might expect though… Want to propose on horseback on the beach? No problem, they’ll set it up. Feel like getting married on the beach and riding to your wedding? They’ve got you covered!

Caribe Horse Riding Club at Punta Uva Beach

Caribe Horse Riding Club at Punta Uva Beach

And so the possibilities go on: Honeymooners (or lovers!) can take a private romantic sunset beach ride followed by a couples massage or how about taking a horse ride by full moon?

Quite apart from plenty of wonderful horse riding options, don’t forget the wildlife spotting (and photo!) opportunities that come with horseback riding. Regularly spotted from the saddle are sloths, monkeys, hawks, toucans iguanas and legions of beautiful butterflies.

Things to Do: Horse riding along tropical Caribbean beaches

Things to Do: Horse riding along tropical Caribbean beaches

So when you’re thinking of Things to Do in Puerto Viejo, consider doing it in the saddle: It may just be one of the rides of your life.

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

When the Make a Wish organisation ( http://wish.org/ ) contacted us it was the first time ever that a request brought tears to our eyes!

The request was to host a family at Geckoes on behalf of Make a Wish to grant the wish of 14 year old animal lover Amelia. Her wish was to come to Costa Rica, stay in the rainforest and see sloths, her favourite animal.
To be part of making someone’s wish come true is not only a privilege but also such a great pleasure!

The Make a Wish organisation grants the wishes of children battling life threatening medical conditions. Funded solely by donations this wonderful organisation grants the wishes of about 27,000 children per year.

This is their mission:

Wishes are more than just a nice thing

A wish experience can be a game-changer for a child with a life-threatening medical condition.

This one belief guides us in everything we do at Make-A-Wish®. It inspires us to grant wishes that change the lives of the kids we serve. It compels us to be creative in exceeding the expectations of every wish kid. It drives us to make our donated resources go as far as possible.

Most of all, it’s the founding principle of our vision to grant the wish of every eligible child.

Wishes are more than just a nice thing. And they are far more than gifts, or singular events in time. Wishes impact everyone involved – wish kids, volunteers, donors, sponsors, medical professionals and communities. The impact varies. For wish kids, just the act of making their wish come true can give them the courage to comply with their medical treatments. Parents might finally feel like they can be optimistic. And still others might realize all they have to offer the world through volunteer work or philanthropy.

Whatever the odds, whatever the obstacles … wishes find a way to make the world better.

“We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”

— Make-A-Wish® Mission

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

 

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