2020 Costa Rica trip - A photo travelogue

On March 2, I was picked up in San Jose (A) for transit to the first lodge in Tortuguero on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Here I stayed at the Mawamba Lodge (B) for two nights. To get there, we had to drive for 5 hours from San Jose, and then take a two-hour boat trip to reach the lodge situated at a canal just outside the Tortuguero National Park. Tortuguero National Park, the third-most visited park in Costa Rica, is situated in the Limón Province in the northeastern part of the country. It was very hot and humid there, as the place receives 6400 mm of rain a year. After returning with boat (Tortuguero can only be reached by boat, there are no roads going there), the next destination was the Tirimbina Lodge (C) in Puerto Viejo De Sarapiqui. This eco-tourism lodge is situated in the rainforest near the Tirimbina Nature Reserve. A suspension walking bridge brings you into the reserve.

The third destination was the Maquenque Eco Lodge (D) in Boca Tapada near the Nicaraguan border. Located inside a mixed National Wildlife Refuge and bordered by wetlands and the majestic San Carlos River, this lodge was a highlight of the trip. Here I lived in a treehouse 10-15 meters above the ground in the rainforest. An amazing experience! Moving on from Boca Tapada, the next two nights I spent at Arenal Oasis Eco Lodge (E) in La Fortuna near the Arenal volcano. On the second day here, I went on a boat tour in Caņo Negro Wildlife Refuge on the Rio Frio River close to the Nicaraguan border. Caņo Negro Wildlife Refuge is the largest wetland in the country (100 km2). From La Fortuna it took about 2 hours' drive to get there, but this boat tour was the best out of my five boat tours in Costa Rica in terms of wildlife photography.

After a bus-boat-bus travel, I reached the fifth destination, the Hotel Cipreses (F) in Monteverde. The aim with this destination was to visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest. In a private guided bird tour, I got to see one of the famous residents in the cloud forest, the Resplendent Quetzal. The last destination was Hotel Cerro Lodge (G) in the Central Pacific area close to the Carara National Park and Tarcoles River. As on the Caribbean coast, here it was very sunny and hot. The western side of the mountains in Costa Rica is much drier and sunnier than the eastern side. All in all, it was a great trip, and I got to see a substantial number of birds and animals and experienced the different regions of the country. Costa Rican people were nice, and I think this country is an excellent destination for tourists interested in nature and wildlife photography.




A Green Honeycreeper having its banana lunch in the rain, Maquenque Ecolodge. The screws are there to prevent species such as Chachalacas to mess up the feeding area


Destinations in Costa Rica, 2020


Spectacled Caiman, one of the "target" species in Costa Rican eco-tours

Hotel Bougainvillea garden, San Jose


San Jose street

View from Hotel Parque del Lago, San Jose


San Jose street (with McDonalds ..)

Landscape seen from the bus from San Jose to Tortuguero


Roadside garage

Local village in the Caribbean lowland


Airport used for spraying pesticides on the banana crop

Mawamba Lodge boat used for the 2-hour transport from Cano Blanca to Tortuguero


Caribbean Ocean, From the outlet of Rio Parismina on the boat trip from Cano Blanco to Tortuguero

Boat trip from Cano Blanco to Tortuguero


Early morning boat tour in Tortuguero National Park. Lot's of boats with tourist, something not shown in the commercials :)

Nice, warm and humid rainforest


All were forced to carry uncomfortable life jackets. And, not much "eco" here, this is mass tourism ..

An old Howler monkey? Thin legs, fat belly and double chin... Tortuguero


Tree-climbing Green Iguana, Tortuguero

View from Mawamba Lodge, Tortuguero

No cars here. Tortuguero town


A guide demonstrating the Cashew fruit at Mawamba Lodge

Caribbean Ocean



Boat trip from Tortuguero to Cano Blanco

Roadside cafe


Local police

Tirimbina Lodge reception


Tirimbina Lodge restaurant

A small creek in Tirimbina Nature Reserve


Unpenetrable jungle. Tirimbina Nature Reserve

Suspension bridge across the Sarapiqui River, Tirimbina Nature Reserve


View from the suspension bridge across the Sarapiqui River, Tirimbina Nature Reserve

Termite mound attached to a tree, Tirimbina Nature Reserve


Sloths covered in green algae and moths, from a night walk at Tirimbina Nature Reserve

Sarapiqui River


Sarapiqui River

Banana ripening bag. These bags are also used to protect the banana from insects, and remains are found littering the countryside, here along the Sarapiqui River. Luckily, today they are mainly using degradable material and not traditional non-degradable plastics



Sarapiqui River boat tour. The guide to the left, and the boat driver to the right

A Spectacled Caiman in Sarapiqui River


Riverside Plumed Basilisk, Sarapiqui River

Locals in Boca Tapada


Countryside living in Costa Rica

Arriving at Maquenque Ecolodge in Boca Tapada


No raod to Maquenque Ecolodge, so boat transport across the San Carlos River is required

Treehouse up in the sky. 52 steep steps and 12-15 meters high up in the rainforest canopy, Maquenque Ecolodge


Maquenque Ecolodge treehouse


Treehouse, Maquenque Ecolodge


Maquenque Ecolodge

Maquenque Ecolodge main building. This was my favorite lodge


Maquenque Ecolodge restaurant

The nest of the Montezuma Oropendola, Maquenque Ecolodge


Bare-throated Tiger-heron at Maquenque Ecolodge

A Chestnut-mandibled Toucan in the treetop at dusk, seen from the tree-house at Maquenque Ecolodge


Spectacled Caiman after dark, at Maquenque Ecolodge

View from the King Vulture hide in Boca Tapada


In the King Vulture photography hide, Boca Tapada

San Carlos River in Boca Tapada


House in Boca Tapada

Arenal Oasis Eco Lodge reception, La Fortuna


Arenal Oasis Eco Lodge restaurant

Gray-headed Chachalaca with chick at the feeder at Arenal Oasis Eco Lodge


Rufous-tailed Hummingbird at Arenal Oasis Eco Lodge

Arenal Volcano near La Fortuna


La Fortuna

Coffee plantation?


Factory toward Caño Negro

On the way toward the Caño Negro region north of La Fortuna


Farmed land north of La Fortuna

Countryside landscape


Farmed land

In the countryside, many people use mopeds or motorcycles for transport


This guy brought his whole family!

Countryside trucks, the same type of pullers as used in the US


Countryside Costa Rica

Frio River in Caño Negro


Frio River in Caño Negro

From the boat tour on Frio River in Caño Negro


Frio River in Caño Negro

Boat-billed Heron at Ecocentro Danaus, La Fortuna


Spectacled Caiman at Ecocentro Danaus

According to the guide, this orange-colored Golden-mantled Howler Monkey was unique, Caño Negro


Long-nosed Proboscis Bat lining up for rest, Caño Negro

To go from La Fortuna to Monteverde required transport by bus-boat-minibus


Lake Arenal is the largest lake in Costa Rica

Lake Arenal


On the way toward Monteverde. Arenal Volcano in the background




Lunch in Monteverde


Visited Selvatura Park Hummingbird Garden in Monteverde for hummingbird photography. Here a Green-crowned Brilliant

Monteverde Cloud Forest


Monteverde Cloud Forest

Monteverde Cloud Forest


Monteverde Cloud Forest

My guide in Monteverde Cloud Forest during the morning walk


On a guided walk in Monteverde Cloud Forest

Western hills, view toward the Pacific Ocean on the way from Monteverde to Tarcoles


Pacific side hills

Restaurant at Cerro Lodge


Evening view from Cerro Lodge

Pacific sunset near Cerro Lodge


Rufous-naped Wren checking out the kitchenware at the Cerro Lodge restaurant

Looking for birds on the Cerro Lodge Entrance Road


Cerro Lodge Entrance Road, view toward Tarcoles River. Carara National Park in the background

Tarcoles floodplains seen from Cerro Lodge. The Pacific Ocean in the background


Cerro Lodge is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see the Scarlet Macaw

Tarcoles River bridge


People admiring the crocs beneath the bridge across Tarcoles River

American Crocodile beneath Tarcoles River bridge


Boat tour on Tarcoles River

Boat tour on Tarcoles River


Boat tour on Tarcoles River

La Paz Hummingbird Garden. Most people tried to take pictures of the hummers with their mobile phones. I felt like a geek with my monster lens :)


Countryside farm north of San Jose

Countryside junkfood


Stopped for a strawberry snack on the way home from La Paz

The Central valley toward San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica


View from the Holiday Inn Hotel in San Jose

Downtown San Jose


Downtown San Jose

Downtown San Jose


Downtown San Jose

Toward the end on the trip, the coronavirus scare caught up. Here a warning on the minibus trip from Monteverde to Tarcoles


On March 15th 2020, on my way back to coronavirus-land. From the airport in San Jose