Central America - A Taster

Introduction

After a difficult year in 2023, we decided to take a short notice trip to central America for a few reasons.  It was time we got our travel mojo back.  We wanted to try out cruising as a means of travelling (in anticipation of a desire to go to to Antartica which is only generally accessible by ship), to relax a bit and finally to see a bit of the world we have hankered after seeing. The opportunity of rolling in a passage through  the Canal was just too good to miss.  Costa Rica, Panama including The exotic Darien Gap area and Panama Canal and the San Blas postcard paradise tropical islands off Colombia made it quite an itinerary.

We travelled 1,900 miles down the Pacific Coast and Caribbean in 10 days with a new view every morning, so we can say the Cruising passed with flying colours.

The lush, dense and steep jungles of the Darien Gap, Panama . Famously difficult territory to access and get through.  

Costa Rica  - First new-world primates & coatis

Our first encounter was on the first morning was to a wildlife refuge which we toured on foot after a short zodiac trip between ship to the beach.  

Almost immediately we saw two of Costa Rica's most iconic primates.  Firstly the incredibly inquisitive White Faced Capuchin and shortly there, after the larger and very much noisier (Mantled) Howler Monkey.  The Howler is reputed to be the loudest monkey in the world with  a deep bark/burp whenever they are disturbed by other animals/humans or approaching rain and thunder or simply kiting in-touch. They can be heard for several miles in the thick jungle.  The Capuchin can often be found in family groups in the jungle itself or even lounging in the rafters of houses adjoining it from Where they can dash out and grab food or interesting trinkets from unsuspecting passers-by.  Audacious!

Finally, there are a couple of White Nosed Coati which were snuffling about hoovering up windfall fruit from the undergrowth. I'd guess these are in-between the other two primates in size, perhaps a little larger than the capuchin in size.  We were completely ignored which tends to show they have little to fear from people in this reserve.  

Macaws and Crocs

A day or two later, we went on another trek , in two parts. Firstly to see the jungle up high from footbridges in the canopy and then after lunch from the water.  Unfortunately, although the view was great, we saw few fauna from the bridges (perhaps because it was late in the morning or perhaps, the group just made too much noise).  Nevertheless we stopped on the drive up to the forest to watch the national bird, the Scarlet Macaw.   They are becoming more common in CR these days.  Indeed, on our return to the ship later we saw six together near the marina making a good deal of noise in the tree tops.  Macaws are usually seen in pairs.  It used to be thought they mate for life but recent DNA testing reveals only 25% of the males are the fathers of the chicks.  It seems that a lot of males are being taken advantage of in the care of the chicks! 

In Progress...