Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ostional wildlife refuge

Turtles at Ostional (Photo by AFP news agency)The Ostional Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife refuge of Costa Rica, part of the Tempisque Conservation Area, was officially created in 1984 but was originally declared a protected area in 1982, and its status has been changed several times since then, including covering a larger area both on land and out to sea.

It was created to protect important nesting beaches of the marine turtle Lepidochelys olivacea (Olive Ridley turtle) or Lora turtle as it is known locally. The best time to visit Ostional is just before and during an "Arribada". The best months to see the biggest "Arribadas" are between July and December.

During the "Arribadas" a few hundred turtles will come out on the beach with their stream usually continuing for the next three to seven days.

So many turtles come onto the beach in a short time span that most of the first nests are destroyed by later turtles. Therefore, in 1987, a project was initiated to allow local people the right to collect and sell a percentage of the eggs from the first three days of each arribada. This is the only place in the world where it is legal to harvest turtle eggs. This practice is designed prevent poaching and to help the local community.

"Arribadas" occur all through the year, at least once a month and, in some months, may occur twice. The months between June and December, during the rainy season, see larger "arribadas". That means that the number of nesting turtles may be in the range of hundreds of thousands as opposed to tens of thousands for the dry season months.

The ranger station at Playa Ostional is open from 8 am to 4 pm. Guided tours are available with bi-lingual park employees. Contact the ADIO (Asociacion de Desarrollo de Ostional) for more information. 506-682-0470 Costa Rica.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tapanti National Park

Tapanti National Park, sometimes called Orosi National Park, is a National Park in the Pacific La Amistad Conservation Area of Costa Rica located on the edge of the Talamanca Range, near Cartago. It protects forests to the north of Chirripo National Park, and also contains part of the Orosi River. The Pittier Ranger Station at Tapanti is open for visitor attention from 5am to 5pm. Hiking trails lead to scenic overlooks and picnic areas. Oropendula Trail and Pantanoso Trail lead to a swimming area with picnic tables and grills. La Pava Trail takes you to the Salto and Palmitas Waterfalls. Arboles Caidos Trail is a heavily forested nature hike. The La Esperanza de El Guarco Biological Station is in Tapanti National Park. It has lodging for up to 15 people, with water, restrooms, showers and electricity.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Junquillal Bay wildlife refuge

Junquillal Bay wildlife refuge, also called the Bahia Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge, is a wildlife refuge that is part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area and the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste World Heritage Site in the northwestern part of Costa Rica. It protects areas of tropical dry forest and coastal mangroves. The wildlife refuge is open 24 hours with visitor attention from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Hiking trails, camping areas with water, restrooms and bathing facilities are available.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Costa Rica video - Costa Rica travel photography

Here's a Youtube video by Josia Jones showing a beautiful montage of photos of Costa Rica. Basically it's a photo compilation put together with a little recorded music on top for aesthetics. I hope you enjoy it!

Note: a high-speed internet connection is recommended to watch the video.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Costa Rica's national tree

The Enterolobium cyclocarpum, known more commonly as the "Elephant Ear Tree" in tropical regions of the U.S., is Costa Rica's national tree.

In Costa Rica its popular name is "Guanacaste," just as the province where it's more commonly found. Other popular names include Devil's Ear, Earpod Tree, Parota (Spanish), Huanacaxtle (Nahuatl).

This tree is widely grown as a shade tree to shelter coffee plantations and for shade and forage for cattle. It also improves soil fertility by nitrogen fixation.

The wood is lightweight (density 0.34–0.6 g/cm³) and water resistant, which is why it's used to make items such as doors, windows, furniture, cabinets, and for shipbuilding.

The seed, which is not eaten by any animals currently native where the tree occurs, is harvested and eaten boiled by many Mexicans while the seed pods are still green.

This deciduous, large foliage tree gets it's name from it's ear shaped fruit pod, which grows up to 10 cm (4 in.) in diameter.

It is a medium-sized to large tree growing to 25–35 m tall, with a short trunk up to 3.5 m diameter, and a broad, widely spreading crown. The bark is light gray, with dark reddish-brown vertical fissures.

The leaves are 15–40 cm long and 17 cm broad, the leaflets are slender oblong, 8–15 mm long. The flowers are white, 5 mm long.

The fruit is a large dark brown ear-shaped pod 7–12 cm diameter, containing 8–16 yellow seeds, 14.5–17.5 mm long, 7.8–11.2 mm wide, and 6.2–7.2 mm thick and weighing about 1 g; the pods take a full year to mature.

Information taken from wikipedia.

For more on the Guanacaste tree:
-Country Day School, Costa Rica: Enterolobium cyclocarpum
-Costa Rica's National tree at