Friday, May 28, 2010

Braulio Carrillo National Park Costa Rica 3/13/10

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The Braulio Carrillo National Park is located in the Central Volcanic Mountain Range in Costa Rica. It is positioned between the Poas and Irazu Volcanoes. The journey through the mountains seemed long and treacherous. We drove up in thick clouds and I watched in amazement as clouds floated right past our car (picture above of my view in the vehicle). We all squinted as we tried to see the position of cars through the thick haze. Every sharp turn along the mountain, I held my breath as I wondered if we would make it along the narrow road and not hit another vehicle.

Braulio Carrillo National Park information 


The habitats of Braulio Carrillo are Cloud Forest and Humid Tropical forest. Now I really understand why it is called a Cloud Forest! The rain forest is very humid and every tree has a fur covering of green moss and clinging vegetation lines the branches of trees. Along the trail marched a procession of Leaf-Cutter ants mingled with the chirps of calling insects and screeches from birds.


Braulio Carrillo National Park was found on April 5th, 1978. The park contains 6,000 species of plants and 515 bird species, one of which is the Quetzal. Hidden among the canopy of trees are Jaguar, Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkey, White-faced Capuchin, and Anteaters. The park also contains several dormant volcanoes including Cerro Chompipe, Cerro Cacho Negro, and Cerros Las Tres Marias.


The picture above shows a tree in the rain forest with stilt root. The tree seems to perch in mid air upon its moss laden roots. There are many theories as to why such a root system is necessary. It could be to help with rapid vertical growth towards the canopy or for extra support with the excess rain and wind. Whatever the reason it is fun to gaze at the giant tree and I imagine it’s shape to be that of a tepee!


In Braullio Carrillo National Park runs a stream. Here light is able to penetrate through the rain forest. The stream provides drink for the various wildlife that inhabits the park. Below are pictures including a camouflaged frog among the leaves, a butterfly with shimmering patches of blue, two different flower species, and a video of Leaf-Cutter ants marching across the rain forest floor.



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Leaf-Cutter Ants in Braulio Carrillo

I included interesting facts in the video and music.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tapanti National Park’s Waterfall 3/12/10 Part 2


Tapanti National Park in Costa Rica is located on the edge of the Talamanca Range, near Cartago. The area in which the park is located, is one of the rainiest areas in all Costa Rica. It receives an annual rainfall of 250 to 300 inches! The heaviest months of rainfall is May and October. If visiting, be prepared to use an umbrella! The rainfall provides water for the 150 rivers located in the area.


My mom, dad, and I took the La Pava Trail which proceeds to the Salto and Palmitas Waterfalls. The Salto Falls is a 300-foot high waterfall! The towering falls can be heard from a distance as it’s powerful waters come crashing down the mountain side. I had a sense of  entering the Garden of Eden as I gazed at the forested mountain side which contains the Salto Falls.


Along the interior of Tapanti National Park rushes the white water rapids of the Grande de Orosi river. Various other rivers and streams empty their waters into the Grande de Orosi river. The powerful rushing fluids are used to generate hydroelectric power and to supply clean drinking water. The giant boulders which dominate the bountiful waters are proof to it’s powers. It is said that during the rainiest seasons the waters can begin to raise and move boulders across rivers. The signal of such a movement of water sounds like roaring. If you hear roaring that continues to increase it would be a good idea to flee the river because such a powerful current will remove everything in its path.


Flowers at Tapanti National Park

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Helaconia  IMG_5274

My YouTube video of Tapanti National Park

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tapanti National Park 3/12/10 Part 1


Our next destination was Tapanti National Park.  To get to the park we had to drive through coffee plantations, sugar cane fields, past a volcano, over mountains, and across old bridges. We daringly crossed the bridge above using great caution. We had to slowly drive on narrow wooden planks to make it across. What an adventure! You can imagine that we were thrilled after surviving the bumpy pot holed gravel roads (4 wheel drive needed) and making it to Tapanti National Park.

Information about Tapanti National Park.                    ,-reserves-and-protected-areas/tapanti-national-park/


The park was founded on February 1982 and is 12,500 acres. It is located in the Oriosi Valley 90 minutes from San Jose, Costa Rica. The protected rainforest is in the northern Talamanca mountain range.

The park contains 45 species of mammals and 260 kinds of birds including the spectacular Quetzal! The park is also home to 28 species of reptiles. Another interesting fact I learned, is that the area in which the park is located, is one of the rainiest areas in all Costa Rica. It receives an annual rainfall of 250 to 300 inches! The heaviest months of rainfall is May and October.

IMG_5230 The trail 2

One of my goals that day was to photograph different species of butterflies, particularly a Clearwing butterfly. I also wanted to get close up video footage of the waterfall at Tapanti. My parents and I decided to take the La Pava trail to reach the waterfall. In my next posting I will share photos of the waterfall and videos of my journey!

Insects and Plants Along the Way

Heraldica Clearwing

Above is a Heraldica Clearwing! It has been one of my dreams to photograph a Clearwing in its natural habitat.

  Rusty-tipped Page

Brown Siproeta butterfly (Spiroeta epaphus)


Protographium Calliste albius

Elizabeth’s Traveling Tips: Most of Costa Rica’s National Parks only cost a $1 for students and children.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My Costa Rica Tour in Turrialba, Costa Rica 3/12/10


For my second Costa Rica tour, we traveled to Turrialba, Costa Rica. Our destination was the Turrialtico Lodge and National Park Tapanti. This tour is from March 12 – 15, 2010. It took a whole day flying from Orlando to Costa Rica and driving through the traffic in San Jose, Costa Rica. We took JetBlue which has a direct flight from Orlando to Costa Rica. They were courteous, more leg room and even gave us free snacks and the drink of our choice!!

Costa Rica

I had a wonderful view from the plane window. Just look at the mountains! Unfortunately you can see the brown area where trees have been cleared. Thankfully, Costa Rica is realizing the deforestation issues and setting boundaries to insure the survival of native species. They have many national parks for preservation. During this tour I will share with you my tours of the Tapanti National Park, Braullio Carillo National Park, and Earth University.


The Turrialtico Lodge is in Turrialba, Costa Rica on the Caribean side. The lodge is surrounded by tropical gardens and the backdrop is the active Turrialba volcano. The lodge has trails and a restaurant with delicious homemade meals served Costa Rican style. 

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The Turrialtico Restaurant was opened in 1968. The meals served are customary to Costa Rica. The Restaurant over looks the mystical Turrialba valley and volcano. The restaurant at night is just as beautiful with it’s twinkling lights and the restaurant’s rustic feel.


Behind me, you can see the beautiful view of the Turrialba Volcano.


The Turrialba Volcano is active and erupted on January 6th, 2010. This was the first eruption since 1866. The release of ash and gases caused an evacuation of the countryside. The volcano is monitored so people can be notified of danger. Thankfully though, I was at a safe distance in the Turrialtico Lodge.


I had a beautiful view of the Turrialba valley from the lodge. Below is a spectacular HD video of Turrialba, Costa Rica.

Elizabeth’s Traveling Tips: To insure that you arrive at your destination, reserve a GPS along with your four wheel drive vehicle.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Golden Orb-Web Spider of Costa Rica

Golden Orb Spider

While visiting Jaco, Costa Rica, I got to watch a golden orb-web spider spin it’s delicate, silken web and another spider eat its juicy meal. This particular species above is Nephila clavipes (nickname banana spider). They colonize Central and South America. Their range in the United States is in the Coastal Southwest and then inland from North Carolina to Texas.

These large spiders do not wander from their webs to chase after food, but let the food fly to them. The spider above was consuming a meal while I watched it and then accidentally dropped the food! It was funny to watch the spider chase after its lost meal in frustration. It did manage to catch the food, but then dropped it again loosing it for good.

The female of this species has a body size of about two to three inches. This does not include the legs! The male is much smaller than the female, which you will see at the end of the video, I created below.

spider 2 body

This is another Golden orb-web spider I saw in Costa Rica. It was not quite as large as the first spider above, but it was just as brightly decorated. Its body was colored with orange, yellow, and black, which were arranged in a unique pattern. Amazingly, these two spiders were the only spiders I saw while in Costa Rica. Spiders must hide well because I was expecting to see some giant tarantulas!