The Rainforest Blog
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
Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula is renowned by scientists, explorers and nature lovers as an astounding paradise of biological diversity. The southern Pacific Ocean off the Osa Peninsula is natural wonder of marine life, home to more than 25 species of dolphins and whales, four of the world’s eight different sea turtles, along with manta rays, sailfish, marlin, tuna and sharks. The southern Pacific, and especially Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf), are vital breeding and reproducing areas for endangered hammerhead sharks and migrating endangered Humpback Whales.
All of this rich marine biodiversity, however, is almost entirely unprotected, except for small areas around a few national parks – the Ballena Marine National Park off the coast of Uvita, the Caño Island Biological Reserve, and off the coast of the Corcovado National Park. Activists say the waters stretching along the entire coast of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, need to be protected, and have begun a campaign to create a “Multiple Use Marine Protected Area.” Led by Sierra Goodman, the founder of Vida Marina who guides marine tours and does research off the Osa Peninsula, the MPA for OSA group (Marine Protected Area for Osa Peninsula) states that Costa Rica’s marine life is in grave danger from commercial shrimp trawlers, long line fishing, over fishing, tuna nets, and ocean pollution.
“Commercial fishing techniques such as long lining, shrimping, gill netting and tuna fishing are wreaking havoc on this delicate and biologically diverse area and its marine inhabitants, and if urgent and drastic actions are not taken immediately, the world will lose this treasure forever. Costa Rica’s dolphins, whales, sea turtles and other marine flora and fauna are being decimated at alarming rates,” declares the MPA for OSA website.
The MPA for OSA group hopes that by declaring the southern Pacific Coastal waters, from the Ballena Marine National Park out to Caño Island and down the Osa Peninsula, a “Multiple Use Marine Protected Area” that private, commercial and sport fishing, as well as scientific research, tourism and marine transportation can all work together sustainably. The protected area would have a management plan, supervision and enforcement. The group also wants to create a Marine Education and Research Center.
According to the MPA for OSA, Costa Rica’s South Pacific is one of the “most biologically diverse ocean ecosystems in the world.” The reason is an immense habitat called the Costa Rican Thermal Convection Dome, where shallow warm waters lie on top of low-oxygen cold water, creating a perfect ecosystem for a great variety of marine life. The dome off the coast of Costa Rica is the only one in the world that is constant year-round, producing extraordinary ecologically-rich waters.
“Twenty years ago there were dolphins as far as the eye could see, and tuna everywhere. Today these monster factory ships have made Costa Rica’s ocean into an almost barren sea,” laments Osa Peninsula fisherman Fred Maschmeier on the MPA for OSA website.
The MPA for OSA has created a petition on Avaaz to ask the Costa Rican government to fast track the establishment of the marine protected area. The group is calling for an immediate moratorium on commercial fishing in the area while details are worked out. The group also has a crowd funding campaign to source funds to continue their research and get local communities and the government to work together.
When you stay at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge on the Golfo Dulce, you can see and experience Costa Rica’s amazing marine life. We offer boat tours of the Gulf to see marine life such as dolphins, sea turtles and whales.
Located on a 165-acre private preserve backing up to the Piedras Blancas National Park, Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is a unique adventure travel destination for our remote, pristine wilderness location. We offer family vacations, honeymoon trips, nature and adventure vacations, and yoga classes and retreats.
Article by Shannon Farley
Like the lion or the tiger, the jaguar is the “king of the jungle” in the Americas. It is the largest feline in the Americas and the third largest in the world, notes Wikipedia. With a range extending from Southwestern United States and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina, there are only an estimated 15,000 jaguars left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
“The jaguar is still an abundant species, but is threatened by habitat loss and persecution,” notes a 2008 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). “Due to loss of habitat, poaching of prey and fragmentation of populations across portions of the range, this species is considered to be ‘near threatened.’ If threats continue at the current rate, the species will likely qualify for ‘vulnerable’ status in the near future.”
This spotted cat most closely physically resembles the leopard, although it is usually larger and stockier, and its behavior is more similar to that of the tiger. Jaguars prefer dense rainforest for their habitat, but will range across a variety of forested and open terrains; they usually stay near water, and jaguars are noted for enjoying swimming like tigers.
In Costa Rica, the Osa Peninsula is an important refuge for the jaguar. The large cats roam between the vast Corcovado National Park, the biological corridor of the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve, and the Piedras Blancas National Park. The biggest threat to the jaguar population is being killed by farmers, reported a 2011 article on jaguar conservation by the Tico Times. According to Eduardo Carrillo, biologist and director of the International Institute of Conservation and Wildlife at the National University (ICOMVIS-UNA) in Heredia, the conflict between farmers and jaguars has resulted from the loss of the wildcats’ natural prey.
“Much of the reason that jaguars enter farms to attack cattle is because sport hunting has diminished their principal prey and sources of food in protected areas,” Carrillo said. “People kill the principal prey of the jaguars and it leaves them without sufficient food. As a result, they leave the protected areas and kill cows and pigs, which results in the jaguars being killed by farmers. In Costa Rica, it is the principal cause of the decreasing population of jaguars.”
Wildlife conservation groups on the Osa Peninsula are actively trying to educate farmers and landowners located near national forests on how to protect their animals while also safeguarding the jaguars.
In Puerto Jiménez, Yaguará (the native word for jaguar) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that protects wildlife, mainly wild cats. They work with the community and the National Parks system to study jaguars and ensure their survival and also for their prey throughout southern Costa Rica and northern Panama. Yaguará is experimenting with alternative strategies, such as a farmer compensation program when a wildcat kills an animal.
The organization has created an extensive network of infrared “camera traps,” which use motion detectors to capture on film anything that passes by the camera. Yaguará’s scientists use the information to study the Osa’s wildcat populations, especially those of ocelots, pumas and jaguars.
Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, across the Golfo Dulce from the Osa Peninsula, also has installed camera traps to record wildlife activity in their 165-acre private rainforest preserve. The Playa Nicuesa Reserve borders the Piedras Blancas National Park, which connects to the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park, so it is feasible that they could capture on camera the same jaguars that roam the Osa.
Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is an environmentally sustainable lodge on the pristine Pacific coastline of the Golfo Dulce. The award-winning eco-lodge caters to travelers interested in ecotourism, nature and adventure. They offer family vacations, honeymoon trips, nature and adventure vacations, and yoga classes and retreats.
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.