Along the Natchez Trace

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Day on the Mountain

What a fantastic day!  Jose Luis, the owner of Mango Hotel, took Lois, another traveller, and Bill and me on a day-long tour.  We were on the road before 7:30 am...  heading up to the Poas Volcano.

This volcano is still active and you have to get up there early in the morning if you want to see it in action, otherwise, cloud cover or fog or steam obliterate the view.

We stopped on our way up to the Poas Volcano and had our picture taken overlooking the valley.

We're armed and ready...  cameras, binoculars and all the stuff tourists need to catch the moment.

Looking down into the crater...  we were lucky this morning as the visibility was quite good.  Sulfurous clouds often obscure this mile wide crater (said to be the 2nd largest in the world).

A little better view of the crater...

And...  guess what!  There was a geocache at this location!!!!
This was a "earthcache"...  which means that instead of finding a hidden box with a log, I had to answer some "earthy" questions and post my picture at the site holding my GPS.  The elevation here was 8,249'.

We walked about 40 minutes to Botos Lake, an ancient crater made by the volcano thousands of years ago.  The walk was along a trail through the woods...  lots of beautiful wildflowers...
Like this bromelaid (airplant)

And this beautiful flower...

And this unusual plant.... (not Bill...  the green stuff)
I don't know the name of this plant, but the locals call it the "Poor Man's Umbrella".  We saw leaves even bigger than these...  HUGE!

We finally made it to the lake...

This was such a peaceful spot...  we were early enough that there were very few hikers on the trails.  But... can you even imagine how this must have been when this part of the volcano was active?

We really enjoyed the walk...  saw some new birds, including the Collared Redstart...  but I wasn't quick enough to get photos.

From the Poas Volcano, Jose Luis drove us to La Paz Waterall Gardens.  The admission sounds kind of steep...  $35 a person...  but is well worth it.  Actually, the waterfalls were the last thing we saw while there...  they have flora and fauna of Costa Rica displayed in natural settings.

There is a huge cage with the toucans...
It's one of the cages that's about the size of a house...  you go through double doors and walk in among the birds.  They had just been fed, so weren't very excited about sitting on your shoulder or arm.  They had all the species found in Costa Rica here...  so colorful!

There was also an area that had parrots.

These Macaws were my favorite.

A couple of posts ago I said that I saw a gorgeous blue butterfly but couldn't get its picture.  Well, I was happy to learn that La Paz has a butterfly house.  Even bigger than the toucan house, this enclosure houses thousands of butterflies...  all kinds of CR species. 

The butterfly I'd seen was the Blue Morpha...
 In the butterfly house, hundreds of these were floating around...  what a sight!  They are big and so showy.

But as much as I loved seeing the blue morphas, I'll have to admit that I loved this one even more...
The Malachite

This one looks like a green monarch.  Here it looks kind of yellow, but it is actually a lovely green.  I have always loved the gemstone, malachite, and Jean, a friend of mine in Ohio once gave me a malachite pendant.  I've seen this butterfly in Mexico, so was thrilled to see so many in the butterfly house.  There were so many different species..  and SO colorful!

Now...  on to the best part...

The hummingbird area. 
The birds here are not in any kind of enclosure.  The thing drawing them here is all the feeders and all the flowers and plants they like to draw the nectar from.  I think there were about 15 different species flying around...  and... if you've ever had a hummingbird feeder out, you know how territorial and pugnacious these little critters are.

The ones here were no different...  they just had more birds intruding on "their" feeders.

Here are two that I was able to get fairly decent pictures of...
 This is a Violet sabrewing.  Look at that curved bill! He was the biggest bird we saw in this area... and he sure did dive-bomb the others!
This is a female Purple throated mountain-gem.  The male looks totally different.  I'd never seen an orange hummer before so she was another special bird.

The flowers and trees are all native plants...
This huge canna lily planting is past its prime, but was still so beautiful.

Oh yes...  this is the main attraction...
The Waterfalls!

We walked along the top area... looking down at the falls and the river below...

And...  we walked down to the bottom of the falls...
 I didn't count the steps...  don't have nearly enough fingers and toes...  but all the walkways were well done...  safety features were excellent..  and quite tasteful.  Most of the railing were actually concrete poured to look like rustic wood branches.  Very nice!
And at the bottom of the falls...  looking back ...
Quite a view!

Of course all tourist attractions have gift shops...

Here's Lois, our fellow traveller, looking at some chocolates.  Lois is from Manitoba...  she is a nurse and owns a bakery.  We've enjoyed meeting and talking with her here at the hotel.

The day went fast...  We had lunch at the lodge.  A delicious buffet that gave us enough energy to walk a few more miles before it was time to head back.

A view of the valley...  San Jose is nestled at the far right....  WAY off in the distance.  The cloud cover came in and it got quite foggy in places as we descended down into the valley.

We got back to Mango Hotel around 3:30.  Exhausted, but...  oh, so happy to have had such a lovely day.

A couple dozen pictures can't begin to show the beauty and the diversity of this country. 

Today, Jose Luis will drive us to Cuidad Colon, where we've rented a house for the month of April.

We'll leave the Grecia area in a couple of hours and head out. 

This part of our time in Costa Rica is actually a bonus.  We needed to stay somewhere until the rental became available.  Believe me, we couldn't have found a better place.

Oh yes, I really dont' know if these are banana or plantain trees around us.  Jose Luis says in Spain all these kinds are called plantain, but here he says there are so many different kinds and terms he hasn't become familiar with what's what. 

Gotta pack and get ready to head out...

That's all for today...


  1. What a great day you had. I am just enthralled with how colorful everything is (maybe because everything seems gray in Oregon right now haha). Loved the birds and the butterflys and the colorful flowers. And the volcano shots were amazing. Thank you so much for sharing all the photos. I can only imagine how beautiful it all must be in person.

  2. Wow, beautiful photos! Thanks so much for sharing. You're having a great time, I can tell. Wonderful adventure, and more yet to come.

  3. Wow...that is all I can say. Beautiful photo's Thanks so much for taking the time to blog

  4. Thanks for taking me back to La Paz ... we really enjoyed our day-visit there. The bird enclosures are new; a reason to go back :-)))

  5. That looks like fantastic day! To stand on the side of an active volcano must have been priceless! Beautiful photos--thank you for shareing :)

  6. Hi, I am new to your blog. Looks like you are having fun In Costa Rica. Nice house !!!

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  8. Love the birds and waterfalls. And the volcano !! What a treat.I hiked up to an active volcano in Guatemala once and it was something else. Hard to explain to people. That one was bubbling away and doing little mini eruptions. Most likely quite dangerous to go as close as we did. We had to hike a long ways to get to it with some Guatemalan guides we hired. What an experrience !!