When you get in a rainforest it’s important to be aware of certain things… Here are four stories in the rainforest and the tips I learned from them.
There is nothing better than walking with a local naturalist guide, that will help you see the unseen and will translate the sounds that you don’t know.
But, if you are a bit like me… Probably you would like to take a walk alone and live the experience within, in silence.
I’ve done it since I was a kid, and up until today, I keep on doing it. My experiences in the rainforest will help me to help you enjoy it even more.
It happened to me once, I was staying at a great forest lodge in the area of the Arenal Lake, and one morning I left the hotel without saying a word to anyone and I went on a gorgeous trail, as I walked in I saw a trail leading to a “palms garden.” I walked in and saw a bit later that the trail was actually closed. See… I am an adventurer… Or so I want to believe! And I went ahead of the signs and entered the old palms garden. It was so beautiful! Huge trees and a wide variety of palms. An infinite array of green shades in a peaceful setting.
The trail had not been used for a while evidently and the more I walked the harder it became to follow it. Until it came to a point where a big tree had fallen on it, and there was no way to go on. I tried to go around it, and as I saw it was almost impossible decided to go back to the trail I had been walking on… And bam! The trail had disappeared. Where was it? All trees seemed the same, plants seemed the same. I tried to use the fallen tree as a reference point, but I simply could not see where it was.
To make things worst I saw a tiny coral snake on the ground quickly hiding under a log.
I was lost, alone, and none knew where I was.
I didn’t know what to do. For the first time in my life, I was in a rainforest and frightened of it.
To make things even worse, a group of white faced monkeys started to hit me with branches and fruits, and I had to run to cover myself.
It was really a traumatic experience. Fortunately, I had water with me, good hiking boots, and I found an old cement trail that had also been closed, follow it, and after a couple of hours, I was back on the main path. But here in Costa Rica, we all know stories of people that got into a forest and never came out.
Tip #1, Please, tell someone (The hotel receptionist, your tour guide or whoever!) that you are taking a walk in the forest and the trail you are taking… And make a map! It’s really hard to find a rainforest lodge that doesn’t have maps! Use them!
This happened in Tortuguero, on an old trail in the National Park. We were a small group with a local guide, the Park Ranger told our guide that there was a tapir on the trail.
Our guide, who knew his business, told us to remain as silent as possible and we all started to walk slowly and alert into the trail.
Soon enough, maybe five or ten minutes on the path, our guide made a pointing side and there it was! A tapir, sleeping on the edge of the pathway! Some of us simply stayed there looking at this large mammal, some of our group took out their cameras and started shooting pictures.
Up until a group of teenagers (Students most likely) approached laughing and shouting. Our tapir opened its eyes and started running crazily, bumped one of our group members who fortunately only fell to the ground (The tapir didn’t step on her or anything) and that was the end of it.
Tip #2: If you want to see wildlife and actually enjoy the forest, Silence!
Story # 3
This is a short one. In the area of Rincon I was with a group and guide, and as we were walking I felt there was something in my shoe, so I leaned on a tree trunk to take off my shoe. My guide, fortunately, smarter than me, told me “Cuidado!” and pushed me off the tree…
And then I saw it: I big bullet ant was walking around where I had my hand just seconds ago (Bullet ants are big, and their name comes from the pain their sting causes)
Tip #3: Watch before putting your hand… anywhere!
This happened in Carara. I was with a group on a birdwatching trip. But you know, you always want to see monkeys! So, there we were with our binoculars looking for macaw nests and a group of white faced monkeys started to jump over our heads, one of them was making this weird noise, and our guide told us that it was a territorial warning.
I was told! And I didn’t listen!
He told us… “Move from there and close your mouths!”. Before I could grasp the meaning of his words, there I was covered in monkey pup… including my open mouth! Yes! Yikes!
I spit for about ten minutes, washed my mouth for over twenty minutes and tried to throw up for thirty.
Tip #4: When in the rainforest never look up with your mouth open, never stay underneath the monkeys.
I could go on forever! There are many stories, and many lessons learned, these four are my main ones! Do you have any stories and their experiences to talk about?
Please send me those to firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you have any questions, comments or want to design a great trip in Costa Rica, you can also call me to:866-799-2147
Written by Alain Vega for 2Costa Rica