After a quick stop-over in San Jose, and in a major digression from our original rough plan for Costa Rica, we headed to the Pacific coast to the wonderful Penisula de Osa, to a place called Drake Bay (named after good old Francis - little trouble-maker that he was). Drake Bay, or to be precise Agujitas, is perched on the edge of the massive Parque Nacional Corcovado, but it may as well be in the park considering the wildlife living in the bay. Corcovado is covered in sprawling primary rainforest and probably the area of Costa Rica with the greatest abundance of wildlife. Jaguars and Pumas live here alongside some of the world´s most exotic birds, amphibians, reptiles and marine life imaginable. Notably, the forest is home to the Scarlet Macaw - that beautiful and very large red parrot with a loud screeching call - and the waters here are a melting pot full of whales from both hemispheres, joined by dolphins, orcas, sharks and marine turtles.
We did two organised trips from here: a one-day trek though the national park around the Sirena ranger station, and a snorkeling trip around the spectacular Isla del Caño off the coast or Corcovado. On both days we saw either dolphins or humpback whales (sometimes a mother and calf together) simply whilst on route in the boat, and at Caño we saw a large group of orcas from the shore - a rare sight!
During the Sirena trek we saw spider monkeys and howler monkeys, a woodpecker, a couple of river otters, a flock of pelicans flying through the sky, and we heard a toucan - still haven't seen one yet! We also got up close and personal to a couple of tapirs foraging in the bushes, which was the highlight of the day. On the way back we stopped of for a swim in the warm sheltered waters of Playa San Josecito, which was nice since we had tried, and failed, to reach this beach the day before by walking from Agujitas. This walk, incidentally, was an epic journey in itself - an unguided 6 hour trek along the shoreline past beautiful beaches and through jungle paths filled with wildlife. Sarah got our best shot of a Scarlet Macaw that day.
The snorkeling trip was also amazing, although, unusually, we didn't see sharks or turtles, both of which I am still desperate to see in the water. The coral reef was impressive though, and we often found ourselves enveloped in massive swirling schools of fish. At the ranger station on Caño we had lunch whilst thousands of hermit crabs walked about on the beach. We found one that, in a sad testament to the impact of humans on the wildlife there, had chosen the clear plastic lid from a water bottle for his new home, in preference to a shell like most of his comrades. I think he thought that he had the coolest house on the beach though!
Our cabina in Agujitas was in a condo-like terrace perched on the side of the hill, and the balcony had panoramic views of the spell-binding Drake Bay. Think watching the sun set over the pristine rainforest to the sound of distant howler monkeys, with parakeets, pelicans and Scarlet Macaws gliding across the vista!