Categories
Birding Costa Rica Introduction

Birding the La Selva entrance road, Costa Rica

The OTS (Organization for Tropical Studies) station, “La Selva” is one of the most famous research centers for studying tropical ecosystems in the world. It is located near Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui in the north Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica and protects 1,600 hectares (3,900 acres)of primary and secondary lowland forest. With so much of the lowlands already deforested and La Selva a 2 hour drive from San Jose, its lowland rain forests are also some of the most accessible in Costa Rica.

Being that it is a research station first, ecotourism site second, they charge an entrance fee that unfortunately isn’t as low as its elevation. It costs over $30 for a guided walk (guide necessary), more for overnight stays. At least early birding walks are offered and the guides are top notch. Meals are pretty costly though especially for being quite basic ($12 for lunch!). Most unfortunately, the rates are the same for Costa Rican residents. Since the average wage in Costa Ricais far less than wages of most visitors, guess who has little incentive to visit La Selva and learn about the wonders of the rain forest? Guess who is more likely to continue with beliefs that rain forest, although pretty useless, is for some weird reason valuable to rich foreigners? I am guessing and hoping that OTS probably has a community outreach program with free guided visits for local school groups. If they don’t, they better start since it is the local people who ultimately decide how natural resources are preserved, used, or obliterated.


Oh yes, since this post is supposed to be about birding the entrance road, though, I better start writing about that! If you don’t want to bird the reserve proper, people in the past have often had good birding along the access road. I visited the road for a few hours last week and the birding is not just good; it has improved! I saw more forest based species than in the past; especially in the vicinity of the stream crossing. Activity was good all morning (I recorded nearly 80 species) and I hope to get back there soon- not just because I love a morning of good birding but also because workers were building what looked like a kiosk just past the entrance to the road. I won’t be surprised at all if this structure ends up being something to control access to the entrance road itself which will probably mean goodbye to the good birding there unless you want to pay an exhorbitant entrance fee. I will keep readers posted about that. Meanwhile, enjoy these pics of the fine morning I had along the La Selva entrance road:

The view of a road with great tropical birding

Grey-capped Flycatchers are a common sight in the humid lowlands.

One usually sees Plain-brown Woodcreepers at antswarms. Woodcreepers are actually not that toigh to ID if you get a good look at the head. Note the straight bill and near lack of markings on Plain-brown. Got lucky with this at the stream crossing along with…

Black-throated Trogon,

a beautiful Broad-billed Motmot,

and best of all, Rufous-winged Woodpecker!

The Woodpecker is a pretty uncommon sight. I also had flyover Double-toothed Kite, a small kettle of Broad-winged Hawks and several Ospreys steadily flapping their way southeast towards the same place I would go for winter; the Caribbean.

Other highlights and interesting sightings were Pied Puffbird calling across from the bus stop, flyover Brown-hooded Parrots, good looks at lots of Yellow Tyrannulets, both Yellow-Olive and Yellow-Margined Flycatchers, Rufous-tailed Jacamar,

very close looks at Cinnamon Becard

and a big flock of both Oropendola species rummaging through and ravaging the bromeliads and foliage in their search for arthropodic delights.

Sightings weren’t just limited to birds; I also saw this Two-toed Sloth,

and Green Iguana as well as Howler Monkeys.

Like I said, I hope to get back there soon!

Categories
Birding Costa Rica Costa Rica living weather

The Costa Rica Meteorological Institute

Its the rainy season and its not going to get any drier until December. In fact, the next two months are when it pours buckets of water sometimes night and day. The combination of lower light levels and a hydrophobic camera make bird photography very challenging. But, I have an excellent resource on my side to help me choose the best day to head out and practice patience with the birds. The trick up my sleeve, the ace in the hole, is the National Meteorological Institute of Costa Rica. They have been consistently accurate and also provide forescasts by region. Its especially helpful since the daily newspaper doesn’t bother with the weather. Maybe they figure its too predictable; hot in the lowlands, cooler in the mountains with rain most of the time! Ha!- this is a mere generalization; some days in rains more than others or its sunny only in the morning. These subtle factors are critical for me in deciding when I will head out for bird pics. Although the site is in Spanish, it should still be helpful to non-Spanish speakers and is a great resource for anyone on their way to Costa Rica.

Categories
Panama trips

A wild ride in Panama

Many of the buses and taxis in Panama are driven by their owners. This probably explains the absolutely amazing “bus art” so prevalent around Panama City. I wish I had pictures because words fail miserably in describing the visual display involved. Next trip to Panama City, I will make sure I take lots of pictures, maybe even interview someone to see why they named their bus, “Shirley” or “Terminator” or “Mama”. As entertaining and informative such a post would be, alas, it will have to wait for a future trip. Nevertheless, I hope to now entertain readers with this post which is also related to other aspects of owners driving their own taxis. Although only an hour in duration, and not measuring up by any means to “Mr. Toad’s” wild ride, I think it still zooms into that category with screeching tires.

After a pleasant stay in the fresh mountain air of the Lost and Found eco-hostel, it was time to head back downhill into sticky, hot David. Lacking a car, I tried flagging down one of the small buses that zoom between Bocas and David to no avail. A white pick-up acting as a collective taxi stopped though. I said, “How much to David”? The driver yelled, “Three Balboas! Lets go!” Ok! I threw my pack in the back and hopped in to share the ride with two silent, dour-faced fellows in the back and two talkative guys (driver and co-pilot) in the front. I never found out why those guys in the back looked sour; they weren’t exactly open to conversation. Maybe it was because they didn’t like partaking in a race. Can’t say that I did either although I admit that it was pretty memorable. Although the race wasn’t official, we were certainly trying our best to beat the bus to David. I was reminded of the similarities between the words “fearless” and “reckless”. Our driver was both; he would zoom past the bus, then the bus would zoom past us, playing vehicular hopscotch all the way down the mountain. Never mind that it was a two-lane road with solid double lines. Ha! Those yellow lines don’t count- we are exempt because we are in a race! So what if the race is private; we are racing nonetheless! While we sat in the back silently contemplating trials and errors in life such as choosing to take a collective taxi for example, our driver and copilot laughed like mad, honking at and waving to a kid in the bus who just as recklessly stuck his head out the window to laugh back at them. Ha ha ha!! Isn’t this great?!? Who needs a carnival- Lets all risk our lives as we zoom down the mountain! As a curious side note, while the scenery blurred by (reminiscent of how our lives were flashing before our eyes), our driver never ceased to talk on the phone; he kept answering it with a shout, “Hwua!!” while simultaneously honking the horn at all passersby. Old barefoot woman?- HONK!! Farmer on a horse?-HONK!! Young nubile Panamanian girl?-HONK!! HONK!!, the copilot pitching in with a, “HHEEEEYY!!” that would have even made the most effeminate of Neanderthals grunt in admiration.

Somewhere near the town of Gualaca (which oddly enough sounds a lot like “Guacala”! meaning disgusting), we (miraculously) slowed down to pass through. This slow-driving was an all too short respite in our wild ride and was still replete with driver and copilot window yells. It was also fiesta time in town so it was no surprise when we saw a pick-up full of beer-drinking fellows just outside of Gualaca. What WAS a surprise (to me at least) was that we deftly pulled up next to the party truck (on our two lane road) and while both going about 50mph received a can of beer in a highway hand off. Having become used to the extreme taboo that drinking and driving is in the USA, I assumed that our co-pilot was going to drink the beer. After all, HE was the one who got the hand-off; it seemed like he deserved it. Nonetheless, he was merely one more link in the hand-off chain because he opened it and gave it to our trusty taxi driver who upon completing the play, didn’t waste any time in guzzling it down. He followed this up by tossing the empty straight out the window! I could barely keep from laughing at the absurdness of this situation especially because my co-travelers were as nonplussed as ever. I mean did they even see what happened? Was this an everyday Panamanian taxi occurrence along the Bocas-David highway? I don’t know because I wasn’t about to get any answers from those glum riders. As that was the only beer he drank, I did not demand that we stop and instead concentrated on looking forward to arriving in David. Even those expectations were cut short, however, when our taxi sputtered to a halt somewhere along the busy Pan-American highway. Maybe the white collective pick-up just got tired of all that bus racing between Bocas and David.

We waited for a bit on the roadside in the hot tropical lowlands before someone in a small SUV stopped. After some futile attempts in tinkering around with the engine, our driver convinced him to tow the taxi to a nearby repair station; along with us inside of course! Off we went, getting towed down the Pan-American highway, all sorts of traffic zooming past us, the driver and copilot once again laughing like mad-hatters as we came close to bumping into our erstwhile tow truck. On one small hill, the tow rope actually broke! No matter!- it was retied  and onward we went heading towards David. The last step to the repair station was probably the sketchiest because we had to take a left turn off of the busy highway. As we slowly turned into the repair shop, for a moment we were sitting in the lane for oncoming traffic, our only hope being that tow line that had already broke once! It felt like trying to start your engine on railroad tracks with the train horn signaling imminent doom. Ok, it wasn’t exactly that frantic, but it certainly wasn’t comfortable either. Reaching the parking lot of the repair station, we jumped out of the taxi onto sun-drenched gravel; I with relief, my fellow passengers with the same dour and non-plussed appearance. I almost told them, “Hey! We aren’t playing poker here!- show some emotions! I mean, we’ve just come down the mountain partaking in some unknown race and almost dying several times in the process!”, but while I was paying the driver they disappeared into other taxis. Finished with the wild ride, I immediately flagged down another taxi (a car) and finally made it to the Purple House in David without any further racing or beer drinking.

Next time I go to Panama, I sure hope I have my own car!

 

 

Categories
Costa Rica living Introduction

Costa Rica Independence Day

Today, September 15th, is Independence Day for Costa Rica! This means a national day off to commemorate when Costa Rica declared independence from Spain in 1821. It also means an end to band practice at the Mauro Fernandez high school in Tibas with a concurrent commencement of afternoon peace for the surrounding neighborhood. For the past three months our neighborhood has been witness to the daily afternoon ritual of drum and xylophone madness. Interestingly enough, this torrent of sound seemed to coincide with the start of the daily afternoon downpours. It was like a staccato competition; the fury of adolescent angst against rain pounding on tin roofs. All this practice was meant for today when the band got to march through Tibas and sonically demonstrate why they are failing their classes. They marched along with several other school bands in a parade that lasted for about three hours. We watched the latter half of the parade along with hundreds of other people from the main park in Tibas. We missed the first half because we have a one month old baby. I think that’s going to be my excuse for everything. Like if someone asks me why I think it’s Tuesday when it’s Wednesday, where I have been, what have I been up to, I will show them a picture of Miranda. It was cool to see the second half though and didn’t miss our neighborhood high school because they finished up the parade.

When we got to the park, there were people everywhere. I don’t know where they came from. I mean I see very few people on the streets of residential Tibas. I guess they stay in their houses, watch TV and drink coffee (based upon experience with my mother in law). Well, they all came out today to watch the parade, drink “Imperial” (beer of Costa Rica), socialize and drink more Imperial. My father in law was one of those. In fact, he came down from the hills to watch the Tibas show (he lives higher up in Moravia). He said it was like driving through a labyrinth of parades to get here but it was worth it. Paul likes fiestas of all sorts; one of his favorite activities is singing karaoke at his house. Here he is shading his partner, Julieta, who in turn is helping Miranda partake in her drink of choice.

  

Here’s a patriotic shot of flag carriers passing in front of the church where we got married.

 

These kids announced the arrival of their school; Kamuk. I don’t know where that name came from but it makes me think of elephants.

 

 

Much of the Kamuk school carried placards denouncing television. Seriously, they were very anti-TV. These kids dressed as firefighters have a sign that says, “No more Tricks! TV producers respect us! You need us kids to help you with TV shows.”

 

 

This semi threw me for a loop until I realized it was carrying a float.

 

 

Then the float through me for a loop because it looked like it was full of garbage! Check out the fake Great-tailed Grackles picking at garbage next to some dirty kids.

 

 

It was actually a pro-recycling float and even had a singer! I couldn’t hear what she was saying but suppose it was something along the lines of, “Recycle, recycle before you are all smudgy and have to fight over garbage with

Great-tailed Grackles!” On the back of the float, a sign read, “Together we make a culture of peace”.

 

 

Kamuker girl scouts; sorry, no cookies today.

 

 

Most schools had someone dressed up like a red-cross worker. Poor kid; looks like he’s thinking of rescuing himself after marching around for hours in the tropical heat.

 

One school saluted the crowd.

 

 

 

There were even a few of these traditional “mascaradas”- giant puppet/mask like things meant to entertain and/or frighten (kind of like clowns except not as scary).

 

 

I think this one was supposed to be Che or Fidel saying, “Watch out kids! Here I come with my own special brand of forced socialism!”

 

The Mascaradas came with a cool pro-ecological truck.

 

 

There were also kids in traditional dress parading…

 

and in the audience.

 

Costa Rican majorettes.

 

 

Last but not least, the Mauro Fernandez band arrives on the scene with flags…

 

 

and then the fruits of the drumming practice we had been force fed. I must admit that their practice paid off and by the amount of applause they received I think the rest of Tibas agreed. 

 

Categories
Introduction Panama birding Panama trips

Birding at David and the Lost and Found eco-hostel, Panama

In early August, 2008 I took a short trip from Costa Rica to David and the Lost and Found eco-hostel, both in Chiriqui, Panama. I would have liked to explore more around David but due to time and transportation limitations, wasn’t able to look for Veraguan Mango. Nor was I able to bird the extensive mangroves and nearby forested islands in the Chiriqui gulf. Nevertheless, I hope to give birders an idea of what to expect and at the same time encourage them to explore underbirded, promising areas near David. I certainly hope to do so at some future time.

Birding in David

David, the second largest city in Panama, is pretty birdy as a result of green space in the form of empty lots, gardens and many remnant trees. Found in the Pacific slope lowlands of western Panama, David is hot and humid and located at the junction of drier habitats to the east and wet forests of the Chiriqui Endemic Bird Area to the west. As is the case of most urbanized areas, birding is better outside of the city but if you can’t do that at least you should see a fair number of widespread neotropical species. I visited Pedegral Port one morning hoping to get images of aquatic species. Although I didn’t get lucky with aquatic birds, it sounds like a boat trip through nearby mangroves would be very worthwhile according to Guido Berguido who apparently found Yellow-billed Cotinga!

Pedregal is found at the end of the main road heading south from the airport. There is a small yacht club with small restaurant. Overall, the place was undeveloped; don’t expect that to last for long! This would be an excellent place for mangrove education and tourism. I took a taxi there for about $3-$4. Buses are also available but may be infrequent.

The following is a list of species (most very common) recorded while casually birding around the Parque Cervantes and empty lots and shaded streets near the Purple House Hostel http:// www.purplehousehostel.com as well as a few hours one morning at Port Pedegral. There are certainly many more possibilities including at least a few owl species:

P= only recorded Pedregal

Magnificent Frigatebird (P)

Anhinga (P)

Great Egret (P)

Little Blue Heron (P)

Neotropic Cormorant (P)

Black-bellied Whistling Duck (P)

Spotted Sandpiper (P)

Collared Forest Falcon (P)

Yellow-headed Caracara

Crested Caracara

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Pale-vented Pigeon

White-tipped Dove

Ruddy Ground Dove

Red-lored Parrot

Blue-headed Parrot

Crimson-fronted Parakeet

Orange-chinned Parakeet

Brown-throated Parakeet

Squirrel Cuckoo

Short-tailed Swift

Mangrove Swallow (P)

Grey-breasted Martin

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Blue-crowned Motmot

Lineated Woodpecker

Red-crowned Woodpecker

Barred Antshrike

Tropical Kingbird

Piratic Flycatcher

Social Flycatcher

Boat-billed Flycatcher

Great-crested Flycatcher

Dusky-capped Flycatcher

Common Tody Flycatcher

Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet

Southern Beardless Tyrannulet (P)

Yellow-bellied Elaenia

House Wren

Cay-colored Robin

Bananaquit

Baltimore Oriole

Orchard Oriole

Bronzed Cowbird

Great-tailed Grackle

Blue-grey Tanager

Buff-throated Saltator

Black-striped Sparrow

Thick-billed Seed Finch

Blue-black Grassquit

Yellow-faced Grassquit

Yellow-bellied Seedeater (P)

Below are some bird photos from David and Pedregal

Blue-black Grasquit; one of the most common neotropical bird species.

Crimson-fronted Parakeets are especially common in David.

Mangrove Swallows fall into the cute category.


Red-crowned Woodpecker is one of the most common birds in David

Ruddy Ground Doves are also pretty common

Tropical Kingbirds are aggressive!

The Lost and Found Eco-Hostel

The Lost and Found Eco-Hostel is probably one of the only hostels in the world nestled within it’s own cloud forest preserve. After running into several of their pamphlets at other Panamanian hostels, I finally got the chance to visit for a few days in early August, 2008. Located at 1,200 meters on the Pacific slope, aside from some shade coffee and a small orchard, this hostel is surrounded by a large area of old growth moist and cloud forest. Birding was pretty good around the hostel itself with American Swallow-tailed Kite being one of the more common, spectacular species. For most of the day at least a dozen graced the sky with their aerial acrobatics. Mixed flocks and frugivores often came through the trees near the hostel, especially the forest edge at the trailhead.

The few trails that accessed the forest were fairly muddy and rough but offered good birding and extended for a few ks. One trail apparently reaches a river and enters forest with a more Caribbean slope aspect. The upper part of the trail that follows a ridge with stunted trees and bamboo probably has specialties such as Maroon-fronted Ground Dove and Blue Seedeater.

Although one of the owners, Andrew, is there most of the time, it’s probably best to contact them before visiting. Both he and Patrick were very helpful and friendly. They manage the place quite well and even have a feeding platform for nocturnal animals. I look forward to my next visit.

For more information including pricing and directions, see http://birdingcraft.com/wordpress and http://www.moreinpanama.blogspot.com

Lost and Found email: thepanpro@yahoo.com

Phone: 65819223 or 66545961

The following is a list of all species recorded (66 total) during a stay of about three days with notes on abundance. As I was focused on bird photography, birders working the trails should come up with several more species. Regional endemic taxa are highlighted, a few photos at the end.

Little Tinamou

heard below orchard

Black-breasted Wood Quail

few coveys heard

Black Guan

a few seen fruiting trees

Turkey Vulture

a few seen

Short-tailed Hawk

1 seen

White Hawk

1 seen

American Swallow-tailed Kite

very common

Band-tailed Pigeon

a few flyovers

Ruddy Pigeon

1-2 heard

Chiriqui Quail Dove

1 quick flyby in orchard

Sulphur-winged Parakeets

good views of flyby flocks

Mottled Owl

1 heard

Squirrel Cuckoo

1 seen

White-collared Swift

100 or so in flock

Green Hermit

several seen

Green Violetear

several seen

Violet Sabrewing

a few seen

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

a few seen

Mountain Gem species

a few seen

White-tailed Emerald

several in orchard-quite common

Orange-bellied Trogon

a few seen

Emerald (Blue-throated) Toucanet

several seen

Prong-billed Barbet

a few seen

Golden-olive Woodpecker

a few seen

Red-crowned Woodpecker

a few near road

Spotted Barbtail

pair in forest

Red-faced Spinetail

a few near orchard

Spectacled Foliage-gleaner

several-pretty common

Lineated Foliage-gleaner

one heard forest

Spotted Woodcreeper

1-2 seen

Wedge-billed Woodcreeper

1 seen

Olivaceous Woodcreeper

1 seen

Ruddy Woodcreeper

pair in forest

Rufous-breasted Antthrush

1-2 heard

Immaculate Antbird

a few heard

Slaty Antwren

few in forest

Three-wattled Bellbird

1-2 heard

Dusky-capped Flycatcher

1 pair

Tropical Peewee

1 orchard

Yellowish Flycatcher

common around hostel

Paltry Tyrannulet

several

Mountain Elaenia

a few

House Wren

hostel mascot

Gray-breasted Wood Wren

A few heard

Southern Nightingale Wren

1 heard

Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush

several, common around hostel

White-throated Thrush

1 seen

Mountain Thrush

few seen

Long-billed Gnatwren

fairly common forest

Tawny-crowned Greenlet

A few forest

Lesser Greenlet

Several

Brown-capped Vireo

Several

Three-striped Warbler

A few forest

Golden-crowned Warbler

A few

Bananaquit

A few

Tropical Parula

Several

Slate-throated Redstart

Several

Common Bush Tanager

A few

Scarlet-thighed Dacnis

A few

Silver-throated Tanager

Several

Bay-headed Tanager

A few

Crimson-collared Tanager

A few

Flame-colored Tanager

1

White-winged Tanager

Pair

Yellow-throated (White-naped) Brush Finch

Several

Here are a few bird photos from the Lost and Found eco-hostel

Saw this stunning White Hawk sitting in the pouring rain.

The most common, widespread Myiarchus Flycatcher: Dusky-capped Flycatcher.

Young Trogons are funky looking birds indeed! This is an Orange-bellied.

Here is the dapper adult male.

Orange-billed Nightingale Thrushes were very common.

As were Paltry Tyrannulets

And Spectacled Foliage-gleaners

This White-tailed Emerald is sticking its tongue out.

Categories
Introduction Panama trips

The Lost and Found eco-hostel, Chiriqui, Panama

There are two basic categories of travelers; those who travel because of obligation and those who travel because they want to. Sure, someone can fall into both categories (think business tripper who would rather be on a plane than drinking alone while playing solitaire in his/her post-modern apartment) or none (think an over-dramamined passenger who ends up continuing onwards to Oslo by accident instead of getting off the plane in London). Although I have traveled by choice in aluminum tubes at unnatural speeds and heights, purposely rode in buses on frightening mountain roads, and made the decision to take boats up muddy Amazonian tributaries, I think I have most often fit into both categories. For example, when I took a four day bus trip with a friend of mine from Niagara Falls to western Mexico during the winter break of 98, we were dual category travelers; I wanted to go there but was obliged to take the bus because of my personal funding situation while my friend wanted to see Mexico and felt obliged to get away from arctic January Niagara.

When I recently when to the Lost and Found eco-hostel in Chiriqui, Panama, I arrived as a traveler who not only wanted to stay there but also felt obliged to stay at an “eco-hostel”; a concept I have always dreamt of and hoped to see come to fruition. I had been intrigued again and again by their pamphlets at other Panamanian hostels; the Hospedaje Heike hostel in Bocas del Toro, Zuly’s Backpackers in Panama City and at the Purple House in David. Simple, photocopied pamphlets that told of a hostel nestled in cloud forest. I mean what a great deal!- affordable lodging shared with other like-minded travelers in beautiful mountain forest excellent for birding! Sounded like an ideal place to go for a border run; cheap lodging located in a natural setting. Somewhat in the middle of nowhere, it also sounded ideal for bird photography; nothing else to do, nowhere else to go but to concentrate on the birds.

 After some searching on the web I found their blog which had most of the information I needed including photos. I decided to contact the owners though because the directions seemed rather vague. They were something like watch for the sign on the right just after the village of Valle de la Mina along the Chiriqui-Almirante road. Patrick and Andrew got back to me in a very timely manner and assured me that the quoted prices and directions were correct, so off I went!

On July 30th, I left on the San Jose-David bus at 7:30 A.M. We were lucky with the weather and had a beautiful sunny ride up and over the high Talamanca mountains; home to Resplendent Quetzals, cold mornings and montane rain forest on Cerro de la Muerte. We made a few stops for bathroom breaks and lunch, arriving to the border around 1 P.M. Luckilly, things went quickly at the Paso Canoas border crossing that day with us back on the bus after only an hour and a half of waiting in lines, getting stamps and being confused. I spent the night in hot David at the Purple House Hostel (everything really is purple there!) and continued on to the Lost and Found Hostel the following day, arriving around noon (take the bus to Changuinola and get off when you see the yellow sign-about an hour out of David). Their directions are accurate; you really do have to keep an eye out for the yellow sign on the right hand side of the road just after the town of Valle de la Mina. It is obvious and says, “You have found the lost paradise” but you could miss it if you weren’t watching for it.

 

From the sign, it’s a pretty steep walk uphill to the hostel; ideal for going slow and taking in the beautiful surroundings. The climb is worth it because as far as hostels go, this is a really good one. The beds are huge, dormitories spacious, hot water showers, food and drinks are available for purchase (can also bring your own- much cheaper), cool outdoor area for eating and hanging out, awesome mountain scenery, and trails through primary rain and cloud forest. At night, nocturnal animals sometimes come to a feeding platform. If it’s raining (quite often) you can hang out in the game room to read or rent a dvd. The place is also kept clean and well-maintained by Andrew- on site most of the time. I got fewer photos than I had hoped for but not due to a lack of birds. Photos were tough because my equipment wasn’t quite adequate for the low-light conditions prevalent in cloud forest. That and because birds are for the most part impatient and love to fly away just as you get them into focus; camera shy or unfriendly- you decide.

The Lost and Found eco-hostel is perfect for travelers looking for very affordable lodging within a natural setting; an escape of sorts. It’s also an excellent option for field courses and research. The Lost and Found is probably one of the only cloud forest hostels in the world, and I look forward to my next stay. 

For the most up to date information, check out the Lost and Found blog at: http://www.moreinpanama.blogspot.com

 

Advantages in no particular order

Beautiful natural setting with trails

Good, friendly management

Hot water

Nocturnal animal watching

Game room to escape to when it rains too much

Readily accessible along the highway between David and Bocas del Toro

Fresh mountain weather makes nice escape from the hot lowlands

Guided trips possible to the nearby Fortuna forest reserve

 

Disadvantages in no particular order

The steep walk up to the hostel

Pretty isolated

Very buggy during the rainy season; mosquitoes, black flies and horse flies must die!

Here are a few photos of the place:

 

 

The yellow sign you don’t want to miss.

 

Another yellow sign welcoming visitors at the hostel; the cobra makes it cool!

 

The central dining, kitchen, hang-out area.

 

You can enjoy a coffee with beautiful mountain scenery.

 

 

Here is a Ringtail scurrying away from the feeding platform.

 

 

Its so wet that land crabs live here!

 

Lost and Found in the mist.