Posts Tagged ‘howler monkey’

Hike through the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

Posted in Costa Rica on February 1st, 2010 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

To start the day we were woken up by howler monkeys. They make such a loud noise for being so small. They sound like pissed off bears mixed with thunder. If you heard it in the forest and didn’t know it was just a tiny monkey, you would be very afraid.

Ryan and I decided to take a hike through the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve on Friday, January 29th. We were ridiculously unprepared dressed in flip-flops, shorts (him) and a dress (me). Armed with our bag of pb&j sandwiches, water, and cameras, we set off.

Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

Ryan got bit by a black bullet ant which he said “stung like a bitch.” Afterward we were constantly looking at the ground to avoid more ant incidents. Don’t wear flip-flops in the rainforest, seriously. There were giant black and red ants all over. One red ant sank its huge mandibles into the leather on Ryan’s flip flop, right next to his skin.

Red Frog - Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

The reserve was beautiful with very lush plant life everywhere. It rained a ton and got very muddy. We felt like explorers tromping through the rainforest soaking wet with howler monkeys howling and jumping in the trees around us.

Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

The rainforest is a very dangerous place. There are huge ants, spiders, and wasps everywhere you look, plus poisonous red frogs and spiked caterpillars that can paralyse you if touched. Even the trees have spikes!

Spiked Tree - Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

The danger of the rainforest is balanced with its incredible beauty. There are massive trees with all kinds of epiphytes, bright pink plants, and lots of colorful flowers and  butterflys.

Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

We walked about 8 miles round trip and were muddy and soaked by the time we got home, but in great spirits.

Marvelous Manzanillo

Posted in Costa Rica on February 1st, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

On Thursday, January 28th, we had a delish brunch at Bread and Chocolate (I got an everything bagel with spicy chipotle cream cheese… it’s spicy!… for 1,000 colones) before hopping on the 11:45am public bus to tiny Manzanillo. The ride took about 40 minutes and cost 490 colones. It stops a lot; this is how locals get to the grocery store if they don’t have a car.

Manzanillo is a dinky 2 block town that is quiet and empty on the weekdays, and suddenly turns into a bbq beach party for locals from all over on the weekends. Manzanillo has about 200 residents and the town is centered around Maxi’s bar/restaurant near the fantastic white sand beach. There’s a school, a few sodas, 2 grocery stores, and a handful of places to stay in the town.

Playa Manzanillo, Costa Rica

We stayed at Cabinas Faya Lobi where we had a double room with a hot water shower, mosquito net, communal kitchen and free bottled water for $25 a night. There is no internet in the town, only one computer with a dial-up connection that seems to be perpetually down at a Cafe Ooh-La-La.

The afternoon was spent swimming in the ocean and walking south down the beach into the forest on a trail where we immediately saw 2 howler monkeys!

Howler Monkey - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

Not far down the trail you can find Punta Manzanillo which provides a fantastic view.

Punta Manzanillo, Costa Rica

After refueling at our hotel we  headed to Maxi’s restaurant for dinner. I got the vegetarian caribbean plate of onions and peppers in a tasty sauce with cabbage salad, rice and beans, and fried plantains for 2,400 colones. It was way too much food for me. Ryan got a chicken with rice dish with salad and fried plantains for 3,250 colones. The 10% tip and 13% tax are not included in the prices. It was ok but we didn’t think it was worth the price when we can just use the kitchen at Faya Lobi.

Street - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

On the way back we stopped at the grocery store to buy beer and a bar of soap (460 colones). The evening was passed drinking beer and playing chess. We met two other travelers from Portland who are on the first leg of what will be a 7 month trip. There was a rock ice limon beer left in the fridge so we tried and it was nasty! It tasted like a glass of salt water with lemon, or a tequila shot gone horribly wrong. Awful.

Sunset - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

On Friday, January 29th, we hiked through the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve. Here’s a post just on this mini-adventure: Hike through Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

We were sort of worn out from our hike in the Reserve, so most of Saturday, January 30th, was spent hanging out on the beach. It’s much more crowded on the weekends because a lot of locals drive here to picnic, bbq, and enjoy the beach. For dinner we made guacamole and I chopped up a huge carrot to eat it with instead of chips. Not peeling or cooking the carrot turned out to be a mistake; it made me sick for days.

Playa Manzanillo, Costa Rica

By Sunday, January 31st, Ryan’s toe that was bit by the ant had swelled up like a sausage (see the post about our hike in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve). He also discovered 4 massive mystery bug bites on his arm. I’ve never seen bug bites so big, they were like 50 cent pieces! Ryan was buying himself these mini ice cream sandwiches every night from the same store. The first night they cost 200 colones. Then they cost 300 colones. Then 350! That’s a 75% price increase in 4 days. That’s what happens when you shop at local stores; the prices are never marked so items end up costing whatever the clerk feels like charging you.

Sunday was our last day in Manzanillo. It was a good last day because we got to see 2 toucans from our hotel, as well as some kind of firefly-like bug at night!

Toucan - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

Jaguar Rescue Center

Posted in Costa Rica on January 28th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

On the morning of Wednesday, January 27th we rented bikes and rode 3km south to the Jaguar Rescue Center. The Center takes in all sorts of wildlife, rehabilitates them, and then releases them back into the wild. They also breed endangered snakes.

Sloth - Jaguar Rescue Center

At the center I enjoyed the best wildlife experience of my life; I held a baby sloth! Sloths are my favorite animals and they are even cuter in real life.

Sloth - Jaguar Rescue Center

Sloth - Jaguar Rescue Center

The light colored ones are 2 toed sloths and they are more aggressive because they hunt for insects. You can only pet them on their backs. The 2 toed sloth’s fur is softer than the more wiry fur of the darker colored 3 toed sloth. The 3 toed sloths are super friendly; they just want to hug you all day. One of the baby 3 toed sloths came to the rescue center when it dropped off its mother from a tree right into their garden. When the mother sloth drops her baby she doesn’t usually go down to collect it. The center has tried to release both the 6 month old 3 toed sloths into the wild but they just keep coming back!

Sloth - Jaguar Rescue Center

Ryan and I both got to hold the baby 3 toed sloths. When it was time to go visit the howler monkeys the volunteer put one of the 3 toed sloths on the tree. Ryan started taking pictures of it on the tree, then it grabbed onto him and climbed right on his neck!

Sloth - Jaguar Rescue Center

He held it for a while, then we tried to put it back on the tree but it was hard because it had a very strong grip. It was so cute; the sloth didn’t want to be on the tree, it wanted to be on Ryan and it kept reaching for him after he let go of it. These guys are major buds. I could hug them alllll day.

We also saw the baby 2 toed sloth attacking the baby 3 toed sloth. It was the slowest fight ever. The 2 baby 2 toed sloths had a love hate relationship with each other. Sometimes they were fighting and sometimes they were licking each other’s faces. The 2 baby 3 toed sloths really liked each other and the volunteer said they sleep together at night curled in a little ball. Sloths are usually solitary animals and they keep to themselves in their tree most of the time.

Sloth - Jaguar Rescue Center

We went in the big howler monkey cage and the baby howler monkeys climbed all over us. They were having a good time chewing on the camera strap, and on my hair.

Howler monkey - Jaguar Rescue Center

Howler monkey - Jaguar Rescue Center

After playing with the monkeys we saw 2 baby crocodiles in a pond, an owl with a broken wing, and lots of poisonous and non-poisonous snakes.

Last we saw the Margay cub. The Margay is a beautiful wildcat related to the Ocelot. They are adept tree climbers and jumpers.

Margay - Jaguar Rescue Center

When the tour was done we paid the $10 donation and rode home. Tomorrow we are leaving Puerto Viejo to go 12km south to the super small town of Manzanillo to enjoy the lovely beaches and hike in the wildlife refuge.