The Rainforest Blog
Drs. Howard Topoff and Carol Simon – both professors emeriti of The City University of New York and Research Associates at the American Museum of Natural History – will be guest lecturers for the week of March 1-7, 2014, at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, a member of Enchanting Hotels & Resorts Costa Rica.
Immersed in the dense tropical rainforest bordering the Piedras Blancas National Park in southern Costa Rica, Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is a unique Costa Rica eco lodge. The remote wilderness retreat is located on a 165-acre private preserve; the only way to get there is by boat across the pristine waters of the Golfo Dulce from either the towns of Golfito or Puerto Jimenez.
The area is part of an immense biological corridor extending from the world-famous Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula to the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve and the Piedras Blancas National Park, down into Panama. The inner sea of Golfo Dulce, known as a tropical fjord, is a critical habitat for migrating Pacific Humpback Whales, and resident and migratory communities of dolphins – Bottlenose, Spotted and Spinner – and sea turtles.
For the past 30 years, Drs. Topoff and Simon have been study trip leaders for The Smithsonian Institute, The American Museum of Natural History, Naturalist Journeys, Elderhostel, and several cruise lines. The husband-and-wife team’s specialty is animal behavior, tropical ecology and evolutionary biology. Their educational programs and entertaining multimedia presentations are highly popular.
Dr. Topoff has spent nearly 50 years researching the social behavior of animals, notably on army ants and slave-making ants, conducting his field research in Central and South America, Africa, and in the deserts and mountains of Arizona, USA. In addition to his publications in scientific journals, his more popular articles have appeared in magazines such as Scientific American, Natural History and National Geographic. Dr. Simon specializes in ecology, behavior and evolution, principally researching the social behavior of reptiles in North and Central America.
- Introduction to Rainforest Animals & Plants
- Social Behavior of Monkeys of Central and South America
- Social Insects of the World
- The Evolution of Animal Coloration
- Poisonous Reptiles and Amphibians of the Rainforest
- The Evolution of Animal Communication
- Courtship and Mating Strategies of Animals
For more information and reservations, contact Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge. The award-winning eco-lodge offers ecotourism, nature and adventure vacations, family holidays, honeymoon trips, and yoga classes and retreats.
Article by Shannon Farley
Sandwiched between North and South America and two oceans, Costa Rica is an amazing bridge of biodiversity bursting with natural wonders. For such a small country, it is home to more than 500,000 species; 250 of which are mammals.
Costa Rica’s south Pacific region of Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf) is one of the most intense zones for plants and animals. Surrounded by the Corcovado National Park, Piedras Blancas National Park, and Golfito Wildlife National Refuge, Golfo Dulce is wild jungle at its best.
Here are five strange and exotic mammals you don’t want to miss seeing at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge on Golfo Dulce:
1. The Central American Agouti is a large rodent, kind of like a hamster on steroids, which feeds mainly on fruits and seeds. You can see them roaming the forest foraging during the day. Agoutis have a keen nose and sharp hearing, and make a high pitched noise when frightened.
2. The Tayra, known as a “tolomuco” in Costa Rica, is in the weasel family. Most tayras have either dark brown or black fur with a lighter patch on its chest. Tayras eat mainly rodents, but also fruits, honey, reptiles and birds. They live in hollow trees, underground burrows or nests in tall grass.
3. Also called a coatimundi, the White-nosed Coati is a long-nosed brother of the raccoon. They are omnivores, preferring small vertebrates, insects, eggs, and fruits like bananas and papayas. They can climb trees easily and use their tail for balance, but usually they are on the ground.
4. Sloths are known for being incredibly slow; sloths sleep 16 to 18 hours a day and live high in the tree canopy, coming down only once a week or so to relieve body waste. Although slow in the trees and walking, they are actually strong swimmers. They eat mostly buds, tender shoots and leaves, mainly of Cecropia trees. You can see both the Three-toed sloth and the Two-toed sloth at Playa Nicuesa.
5. The Northern Tamandua is a medium-sized anteater with a prehensile tail that can latch onto tree trunks and branches. Its fur is pale yellow over most of the body, with a distinctive “vest” of black fur. Living mostly in the trees, its tongue is long and covered in sticky saliva able to pick up ants and termites – these animals might eat up to 9,000 insects in one day. Northern Tamanduas are mainly nocturnal.
See these animals and much more at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge on their 165-acre private reserve bordering the Piedras Blancas National Park at Golfo Dulce. The eco-lodge is a great place for travelers interested in ecotourism, nature and adventure. For the best wildlife viewing, go on a guided hike on the lodge’s trails in the early morning or just before sunset.
Article by Shannon Farley
March 1-7: Drs. Howard Topoff and Carol Simon
Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is excited to host Drs. Howard Topoff and Carol Simon – both formerly professors at the City University of New York and Research Associates at the American Museum of Natural History – during the first week of March. These two research scientists and study leaders of natural history will offer daily multimedia presentations focusing on the Natural History of Costa Rica – including the following topics:
Introduction to Rain Forest Animals & Plants
Social Behavior of Monkeys of Central and South America
Social Insects of the World
The Evolution of Animal Coloration
Poisonous Reptiles and Amphibians of the Rain Forest
The Evolution of Animal Communication
Courtship and Mating Strategies of Animals
Howard Topoff has spent 40+ years researching the social behavior of animals. His field research has been conducted in Central and South America, Africa, and in the deserts and mountains of Arizona. In addition to his publications in scientific journals, his more popular articles have appeared in magazines such as Scientific American and Natural History. His research has been featured on National Geographic Television, and Scientific American Frontiers.
Carol Simon is broadly trained in ecology, behavior and evolution. Her research on the social behavior of reptiles has taken her to many areas of North and Central America. Her current field research on reptile behavior is based in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona.
As far as beautiful tropical birds go, Scarlet Macaws are the kings and queens. There is nothing quite like the flash of brilliant red, blue and yellow of wild Scarlet Macaws flying overhead or their loud raucous squawk to let you know you are in the jungle.
An endangered species, Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) live in tropical forests from Mexico to South America. In Costa Rica, they live in dry, moist, and wet tropical lowland forests along the Pacific Coast where large mature trees provide nesting holes and food of nuts, fruits and flowers. Macaws especially like Costa Rica’s coastal almond trees.
Their distinctive noisy cry carries for miles, so you usually hear them before you see them. When you do sight a Scarlet Macaw in the wild, they are a breathtaking rainbow of colors – fire engine red bodies with sunshine yellow and royal blue wing feathers tinged with a bit of green, and a distinct stark white patch around both eyes. Unfortunately, the birds’ striking colors makes them a favorite on the world illegal pet market, tagging prices of up to several thousands of dollars. Poaching and loss of habitat from deforestation are the main factors for the Macaws’ declining numbers, according to the ARA Project.
The non-profit ARA Project operates a breeding and wilderness release program for the Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) and the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) in Costa Rica. Over the past 13 years, the ARA Project has freed 70 Scarlet Macaws in their Tiskita release site on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. “These macaws have survival rates of about 85% and have successfully reproduced in the wild,” said Project co-director Chris Castles. “There are over 100 macaws there now including the babies born in the wild.”
Macaws can live to be over 60 years old and mate for life. There are an estimated 1,500 Scarlet Macaws living in Costa Rica. You can see them along the Central Pacific Coast from the Carara National Park to Manuel Antonio, and throughout the Osa Peninsula and Golfo Dulce region in the South Pacific.
At Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge on the Golfo Dulce, Scarlet Macaws like to hang out in the almond trees by the beach, munching on the tasty almond fruit. Including the Macaws, at Nicuesa you can see more than 250 species of birds. Nicuesa Lodge is actively involved in wildlife conservation and protects 165 acres of rainforest in a private reserve bordering the Piedras Blancas National Park. The area is a biological corridor connecting to the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park to the west and Panama to the south.
Nicuesa eco-lodge is a great place for travelers interested in ecotourism, nature and adventure. We offer guided birding walks and hiking in the rainforest, among other adventure tours.
Article by Shannon Farley
One of the most frequently asked questions we get at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is: “What are the meals like?” Given Playa Nicuesa Lodge’s remote location, this is an important question. Everyone wants to know what they are going to eat!
At Playa Nicuesa Lodge, all meals and snacks are included in guest stays. We know what you’re thinking … isolated eco-lodge means spartan, simple meals, right? Wrong. Nicuesa’s chefs prepare exceptional meals of world-class cuisine fresh every day. Emphasis is on healthy local Latino-style cuisine, fresh fish, tropical fruits and vegetables.
On our 165-acre private reserve we grow many different tropical fruit trees, including mangoes, star fruit, oranges, lemons, papayas, water apples, bananas and coconuts. Our edible garden supplies us with pineapples, sugar cane, some vegetables and herbs. Our breads, tortillas and desserts, juices and salsas are made fresh in our kitchen, as is our signature lemongrass tea. The water at Playa Nicuesa is drinkable right from the tap. It comes from a natural spring, and we have a UV and sediment filtration system.
The Golfo Dulce in front of the lodge is full of fresh fish. Take one of our fishing tours, or learn to fish with a hand-line right from our dock. What you catch may be dinner or an appetizer that night!
Menus may be custom tailored to “children friendly” foods, vegetarians, and persons with specific dietary needs. We ask that you or your travel agent let us know about any dietary requirements as early as possible before your arrival. Since the lodge is remotely located, we plan all meals far in advance. See sample menus here.
Dining at Nicuesa Lodge is family-style in our uniquely designed tree-top open-air dining area (or, you may dine at a separate table upon request). We always enjoy the wonderful conversations and sharing of adventures that take place between our guests. Happy hour with drink specials and appetizers is nightly between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. in our thatched roof candlelit bar.
Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located on the Golfo Dulce next to the Piedras Blancas National Park in the South Pacific region of Costa Rica. Nicuesa Lodge is a unique adventure travel destination. We offer family vacations, honeymoon trips, nature and adventure vacations, and yoga classes and retreats.
Article by Shannon Farley
The mango house is great for all types of travelers. Especially a good choice for friends or families that want to be close, but also have the privacy of your own room with private bathroom. Also great for single travelers or those who are a bit nervous about staying in the jungle, as the mango rooms are more in an open area then the private cabins that are tucked into the rainforest. Also great for parties of approximately 6-10 that want to rent all 4 rooms at once.