Tag Archives: rainforest

Costa Rica Rainforest

Location: Limon, Costa Rica

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Today we made port in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. This was another port that we were really looking forward to visiting, because today we were going to explore a real tropical rain forest. No, Tijuca didn’t really count. This was a full day tour, we were one of the first people to leave the ship and one of the last to get back on board.

Our excursion started off with a river cruise through the Tortuguero Canals. We were told beforehand that this would be our best opportunity to see wildlife that day, due in part to it being early in the day, near water, and relatively out in the open. We spent about an hour cruising through the canals. During this time we were able to see…

…howler monkeys…

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…a two toed sloth…

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…an active three toed sloth…

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…cayman…

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…crocodiles…

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…various birds…

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Kingfisher
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Green-backed Heron
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Cormorant

… and more!

Green Basilisk
Green Basilisk
Bats (very small bats)
Bats (very small bats)

Following the river cruise we drove about 2 hours inland toward the mountains. It was here that we spent time at a private reserve near a national park. We started our tour there on a nature hike where we saw carpenter ants, bullet ants and:

toucans

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and an anteater.

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We had an authentic Costa Rican lunch with lots of yummy foods. It poured during lunch time. But luckily it cleared up in time for our tree top gondola ride.

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A naturalist guide joined us in the gondola as we cruised through the rain forest both near the forest floor and a hundred feet up at the tree tops.

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We returned to the ship just before last call. In the evening we saw Mark Preston of The Lettermen.

Tomorrow is our third day at sea. We plan to accomplish nothing.

Number of primates: 2, howler monkey and human

Number of pilose: 3 (anteater, two toed and three toed sloths)

Free purell squirts: 9

Total steps: 8,299

 

Tijuca Rain Forest

Location: Rio

Although we didn’t cover as much ground within the city as we did yesterday, we still managed to check off a few items from our Brazilian bucket list. We started the day early with a jeep tour of  Tijuca National Park. After seeing some exotic wildlife at Sugarloaf yesterday, we were hopeful that we would get to see even more today. Due to traffic it took a while to get to the rain forest, but along the way we got to see where many of the Rio political elite call home. Not surpisingly, many of the homes were surrounded by high walls and designed to blend in with the surrounding jungle. Our first stop within the park was a waterfall. We were told that due to the drought this summer, the water flow was greatly reduced. Its still looked impressive to us and we decided to make waterfall couple pics a megatrip tradition and posed for a picture.

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Next we hiked through the forest stoping to see the wildlife whereever we could find it. The guide took us to a few location where sloths and monkeys usually hang out. Sadly they weren’t present this morning. On the plus side, we did get to see some exotic insect life, including blue morpho butterflies and marching ant trails.

Not a morpho blue... they wouldn't sit still for a photo.
Not a morpho blue… they wouldn’t sit still for a photo.

After we exited the park, we stopped at the Vista Chinesa to get a great look at Rio from afar. Despite the haze, we could still spot Sugarloaf, Corcovado and Ipanema in the distance.

Another pretty view!
Another pretty view!
A friendly little lizard.
A friendly little lizard.
Corcovado and Sugarloaf can be seen behind us.
Corcovado and Sugarloaf can be seen behind us.

After we returned to the hotel we went to relax at Copacabana beach. The sand was so hot, but hotel attendants were there to wet the sand with cold water, and set up beach chairs and umbrellas. We really enjoyed our stay at the J.W.Marriott, the service was great!  Ryan tried to swim in the ocean, but that didn’t last very long. Despite reports of 24C (75F) ocean temperatures around Rio, the actual temperaure couldn’t have been above 55F.

After spending a few hours working on our tans on the beach, we migrated back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day at the pool.

View of Copacabana Beach
View of Copacabana Beach

In the evening, we went out for dinner and walked around buying tchotchkes for family back home. The last thing we did before bed was pack up our bags for the next phase of our trip.

Tomorrow we have an easy morning of lounging around the hotel pool before we catch an afternoon flight to Buenos Aires.

Today’s Weather: Hazy, High: 88F (feels like 91F) Low: 74F

PS… We are very excited not to be experiencing ‘Snowmageddon the 2014 Edition’ back home right now!!

PPS… We officially hit 4000 page views of this blog. Thanks for reading everyone!!

Cramming It All In

Location:  Auckland, New Zealand

Today was our last day in New Zealand and Polynesia. So it’s only appropriate that we try to get as much done before the ship leaves at the end of the day. Today we took another jam-packed tour that left way-too-early in the morning.

Our first stop was the Gannet Colony. Gannets are the second largest seabird in the world. They are pretty rare, and only live in Sydney and a couple places in New Zealand. This morning we saw there spring/summer nesting location. Rachel got some fantastic pictures.

A view of the Gannet Colony on the west coast northern Auckland.
A Gannet flying in the wind.
A close up of a Gannet

Nearby Ryan went down to Muriwai beach. What made this beach really unique though was that the black sand was especially fine (think baby-powder or silt) and has a very high iron content. You could literally pick up the sand with a magnet!

Our next stop took us to the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. We walked along an elevated boardwalk path to see the treetops of the rain forest.

In Waitakere Ranges National Park. Overlooking Manukau Harbor.

Afterwards we took a train ride through the rainforest to near the top of the Upper Nihotupu Dam. The train was especially tiny. It was originally built to transport rocks from a quarry to fill the dam about 80-90 years ago. Today its used to help inspect and maintain a water main that transports water from the dam to Auckland. The train had to pass through man-dug tunnels and tight cliffside corners, pass over narrow bridges; all while giving a nice view of the ground and treetops of the forest. From the end of the 40 minutes train ride was a 0.7 km walk to get to the top of the dam. It wasn’t a tough climb, but we were rewarded with some great views and strong winds. On the train ride back through, they engineer turned off the lights in two of the tunnels allowing us to see some glowworms on the ceiling.

The ‘Rainforest Express’
On the train
On the train
Our roomy train car.

Our final stop was to a local winery. We toured the vineyard, tasted some whites and were served a nice (late) lunch. Afterwards we made our way back to port. The last thing we did was pick up the usual tourist junk. Ryan got a spiffy kiwi Hawaiian shirt.

Tomorrow is another day at sea, with the Australia portion of the Honeymoon ahead!

Word drops: 1

Pictures taken so far: 5183

Auckland sky line seen from the ship.