Costa Rica 2004

by Oskar Conle & Marina Friede
(by positioning the mouse pointer over the pictures you will get more infos about the pictures)

In February 2004 we made a short trip to the region of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica together with my father and my sister. It was meant to be a holiday for relaxing rather than a trip for colleting phasmids.

We took a Martin-Air flight from Amsterdam via Miami (USA) to Alajuela, Costa Rica. After spending a night at the hotel Barceló San Jose Palacio in San José, we drove by van to Manuel Antonio the next morning. Close to Jaco we came across the well-known crocodile river, where actually some crocodiles were relaxing in the sun. Reaching Manuel Antonio on narrow streets took almost 4 hours. Our hotel, the "Parador", was situated on a small peninsular which was lined by two beaches. A really wonderful place admist breathtaking nature. The five star-resort offered everything one can dream of but unfortunately there were also tourists who took young Tica girls to their rooms. In addition to this, the fact  that sewage was piped directly into the sea really displeased us. We had chosen this resort mainly because it was bordered by forests and from our balcony we could observe squirrel and howler monkeys. A privat beach, belonging to our hotel was just about 500 away and offered great swimming opportunities. For 12 days this hotel was our place of departure, from where we ventured on different field trips with our rental-car (Jeep Cherokee). Several times we visited the beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park and it's beautiful beaches. It was amusing to observe a rooster fish (about 120 cm long) going after a flock of smaller fishes, with his big spikes exposed high above the water level. Being in panic, the smaller fish jumped out of the water and abruptly ended up on a fat tourist, who then rushed back to the beach at a quite unexpeted speed.
During our stay in Costa Rica some rather strong earthquakes took place, which made the hotel's corrugated sheet roofs clattering.

We visited different Nature Reserves, Butterfly Houses and National Parks in this area. Phasmids found during our nightly field-trips were mainly Pseudophasma unicolor (Gray, 1835) und Oncotophasma martini (Griffini, 1896). A bit further inland we also found Calynda coronata (Carl, 1913). Apart from these we saw at least 2-3 snakes every night, which meant we had to be careful. Omnipresent were also Costa Rica's Black Iguanas (Ctenosaura similis), which can be quite confiding.

Some advice for Costa Rica travellers:

  • If you have or want to spend a night close to the airport, then it is better to stay at a hotel in or around Alajuela, and not in San José. This town is closer to the airport, much more friendly and less criminal.
  • Small privat hotels are more recommendable than big american resorts - except one wants to have animation and discos at night.
  • In either case it is advisable to rent a four-wheel drive car. Prices are comparatively cheap. When taking the bus network, one has to be prepared for long delays.
  • Speed surveillances are quite common in Costa Rica, therefore better stick to the speed-limit!
  • Close and hide away all bags when visiting the Manuel Antonio National Parc, the monkeys steal like magpies!
  • Flying in via USA one has to endure annoying checkups. Therefore make shure not to have anything in your luggage not well liked in the USA. In the entry application give "transit to Costa Rica" as the reason.
  • Costa Rica is just right for natur freaks, but avoid the rainy season which is uncomfortable.