22.1.19 Travel to Uvita

The day started well, Linda feeling much better. Not full breakfast better but at least a piece of toast and peppermint tea better. And a slight smugness that we had saved $300 on no supper, no lunch and no alcohol. I’m sure we can spend it, three times over tomorrow!

The trip down to Uvita started not so well. Our directions stated ‘Go to the main road’. Well, no clues. Sat nav said turn left, we did and the road certainly was not in any sense main.  Pot holes deeper than the grand canyon, no tarmac at all and the satnav just said ‘unmade road’. Thanks Garmin. We guessed. Eventually back to a road. In fairness the views were to die for. We almost did, but now, sitting in our next rather splendid hotel, it was all worth it. And we are safe, yea. Oxygen Villas is totally Fab. Views, great food, nice folk and a yellow throated toucan that  says hi. We have never seen one before. Life can not be sad with toucans in it. They are so happy. I know that this is pure anthropormorphing, but it makes us feel better.

Driving in Costa Rica is actually fairly mellow. And a car is really helpful once at the hotel.

Tomorrow down to the beach. Lovely temperature, sounds of the night and no mozzies. Perfect.Our route. 5 hours of fun.

Maybe tomorrow will be cold and cloudy. Don’t think so!

Cloud Forest, 21.1.19

A day of quiet contemplation. Well, not that quiet as it was blowing 40 knot winds and raining hard at times. The bird watching guided tour in the morning was cancelled and the heaters in the rooms struggled to keep us warm. But, we saw lots of clouds and forests, so all good!. Linda feeling a bit poorly so a gentle day.

We can imagine the relief that would be obtained from the tropical heat of the rest of the country. It is a pleasant 15c here whilst where we are going today, Uvita, it is 29c. And no bugs here. The humming birds, and birds in general, are great but we struggle to see and hear them in this weather. So only photos of things that don’t mind the rain. Plants. A reason to come back? Yep.

Cloud Forest, 20/1/19.

Our first night at El Silencio. Quiet, it is. And jolly wet, quite cold and not exactly cheap! Linda says the styling is superb, sharp and she wants to replicate it at home. Paul says, er, jolly nice. The room is fab, with a rather lovely hot, private Jacuzzi, yea! It was built 11 years ago, total luxury but not really our price bracket. Affordable for 3 nights, just. But we don’t exactly miss the bucket shower that we had in Cambodia. But here is probably 100 times the price. Honestly.

The birds are great, but gosh they are hard to photograph. The ones in the photo are purple throated mountain gem humming birds. We know. The male is purple and gets the credit and the name, but, as ever the female does all the work and has an orange breast. The male went down the pub and hasn’t been seen since. They fly so fast, in a random pattern and never stay anywhere longer than 0.00000001 s. ( I only slightly exaggerate!)

We saw the tufted flycatcher, guess what, catching flies. Cute. On a branch and zooming up for a fly and back to the branch.

It is very green, wet and rather lovely. Total contrast to yesterday in 30c and 99% humidity. Here it is about 1,500m high and we are enjoying no mozzies.

 

 

Day 4, To the Cloud Forest.

 

A day of travel. A 5.30 am start to get the best out of the Jungle walk, breakfast and then a cruise for 2 hours up a small ditch through the rain forest. Fab. The transition from protected national park rain forests to commercial lands was quite dramatic. Pristine nature, then commercial pineapples. Money …..hey ho.

First impressions of the cloud forest…, well, lots of forests, and, er, clouds. The rather special hotel,  El Silensio  is totally fab. And our car. A great 4×4, and not really needed so far, but, feels solid. And $5 a day for number plates, $22 a day for insurance, $3 a day for paint (joke) but $300 for 10 days over the price quoted that “included insurance and unlimited kms” etc.

Tomorrow, about 15c lower temp than yesterday, but new birds, new walks, and new forest noises. Bring it all on! Lovely meal, and feeling relaxed.

Tortuga Lodge, Day 3, 18/1/19

Expect the unexpected in the jungle – monkeys don’t perform and don’t appear to order.  Birds do surprising things.  The  screeching Montezuma oriole does somersaults on his branch showing off to the girls and toucans sound like frogs.  Red frogs and kingfishers don’t wait for photographers.  The endangered jaguar finds nesting turtles a delicacy.  It’s a precarious balance here.  Fifty years ago the jungle was being logged.  Today Torguguero has a chance with tourism and at least there is now a medical clinic.  The delicate environment here is threatened with plans for a new highway through the jungle, bringing the risk of mass tourism, pollution and destruction of the very thing we come to see: raw nature. None of the locals want it, except the (very few) land owners who will make a fortune. The same the world over. Some talk of bribery and corruption. Who knows.

Tortuga Lodge, Tortuguero.17.1.19

Storm in the night, heavy rain then howler monkeys for an early morning alarm call. At 5.15! On the water for our ‘cruise’ at 7.30 and into Tortuguero National Park. Brown water full of nutrients helps feed everything. Including logs that blink at you. Then you realise, a caiman. The green verdant trees blend into the waters edge, and eveywhere life is just teeming. Howler monkeys hang out with spider monkeys, and herons are trying to catch lunch. Bugs find theirs on our legs. As hard as Paul tries the elusive kingfisher defeats him, still. A hangover from Sri Lanka. One day…

Lunch back at the lodge was fab, then a wander into Tortuguero town, or rather small backpacker village. So glad tourists are able to give enough money to make it worthwhile for the locals not to kill everything and plant pineapples. Tasted home made chocolate from local cocoa, and learnt how they do it. Sticky walk back along 4km of deserted volcanic beach with the Caribbean rollers producing the sound track to our stay here. Amazing that anything can rise above the wave noise. But, gosh, they do. Hot, humid but everywhere it is just dripping life.

Tomorrow 6am walk in the jungle. Lots of mozzy spray needed.

Day 1 in Costa Rica, 16th Jan 2019

Well, our first 24 hours on Costa Rican soil. So far, well, actually, er, bloody amazing! Flight was OK. At least direct. BA ‘Rubbish class’ was a bit grim. The av stuff in flight did a but no v and  the food was at best OK. But on time and no drones. Good enough!

A slight mix up with how we actually made it to our first hotel. First one just a place to crash. Fine but available in every town and city all over the world. And a slight mix up how we were going to get to our second. But sooooo worth it! Tortuga Lodge is the sort of place that you dream of. Idyllic was a word invented for here. Soft wave noise, so much wildlife, great food, no cars, only accessible by boat and very few people. Fab. Worth the journey.

A walk in the ‘garden’ (30 acres of secondary rain forest!) and these photos. Loads of flying things. Some birds but mainly mozzies. Totally glorious.

End of day one!

Tomorrow a ‘cruise’. 4 of us in an open boat going into the national park. Yea!

My class of wine calls. Tough life.

The Next Chapter

We are waking up the Paul and Linda cycle blog. A bit confusing, as no cycling. But, Paul and Linda carry on!…..Travel around Costa Rica, looking at birds, bugs and things that bite. Sounds totally fab! And a bit more luxurious than our last trip. We hope.

Expect lots of photos.

The trip starts in 73 days!

Thank you Imagine Travel.

Our thoughts on kit, to follow. What shoes, jackets, trousers, the options are serious. Any help gratefully received!

Paul and Linda

Around Halong bay. 10th to 13th March.

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Our home for 3 days.

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Mill pond flat.

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Going through a ‘hole’.

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A real one. Sadly we can’t keep it. Unless we give $’s.

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Home for fisher folk.

Ha Long bay. For some people the whole reason for going to Vietnam. UNESCO world heritage sight. Some people go to Halong Bay for the day.  A 4 hour bus ride,as much fun as root canal work with no local anaesthetic. 4  hours around the bay, and then repeat the dental work.  The area is huge, beautiful, quiet and needs exploring. 4 hours just is, well, crazy.  We opted for a 3 day, 2 night aboard the Halong Phoenix Cruiser.  In between sort of weather.  A few days ago the area was covered in mist, and it would have been difficult to see much at all. We had mostly dry but rather grey, none of the bright sunshine in the adverts.  Still, the scenery is spectacular with the vast limestone rocks rearing up out of the sea.  Ha Long means ‘Dragon teeth’, or, rather, it may mean that. Our guide thought that loads of things meant all sorts of stuff. Sounds good, though. There are vast stalactite and stalagmite caves to visit, along with all the other tourists.  Would be easy to spend longer and take some time to look around the largest island, Cat Ba.

It’s all very orderly in the Bay with all the cruisers and ferries stopping in the same places.  Off-piste is strictly forbidden.  However, with a kayak, we were able to explore  the hidden coves and lagoons, away from the boats. We did manage one lunch with not another boat in sight, well away from the crowds. Exceptionally quiet and peaceful.  We were amazed to see some wild monkeys.  Maybe macaque monkeys. Our guide wasn’t sure. On Cat Ba they do have langurs, but are very rare and endangered. We were keen to support their conservation project.

Treated to some very good food with lots of fresh squid.  Paul tried to catch some. Failed, but had a bit of fun with synchronised fishing with three Germans.

Would love to revisit the area again for even longer. Ideally when the sun is out and 10 degrees warmer.

Back to Hanoi. 9.3.16.

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Too much cycling, not enough food.

Our train was better than we thought it might be. Good chat with Arturo, bottle of wine and a pretty good night’s sleep. Even better, when we arrived in Hanoi, only 1/2 hour to get our bikes, in good condition and hadn’t been knicked. Phew! Happy Paul and Linda.

Then to our old friends at Hong Ngoc Hotel, wander around Fine Art’s museum and met up with Simon and Ha for supper, times 2. Thank you both for your hospitality. Great to see you.

Then to Halong bay tomorrow.