Any morning in which we can wake up, look through our window and see the lush, dark green tropical rainforest draping directly into the deep blue Pacific Ocean, is a very good morning in my book. We were ready to begin our tropical adventure after arriving to the port of Caldera yesterday and after a long day, finally boarding our trusty vessel, National Geographic Quest. Our navigation crew repositioned the ship from the Central Pacific coastline to the southernmost peninsula of Costa Rica. We will spend the next three days exploring its wild side.

Lush green forest waited for us in a privately owned wildlife refuge called Caletas. A local Costa Rican owns the refuge. We disembarked to explore the area in two ways. First, guests could walk a long forest loop trail to introduce them to the magical world of tropical rainforests and diverse wildlife sightings. Second, guests could take a short trail hike that focused on photography, birding and interpretations on garden plants. Mind you, a shorter distance does not mean less time spent. In addition, a classic favorite, “the stationary hike,” was on offer. This experience consists of taking a chair, finding some nice shade and relaxing at the water’s edge with a book. Whatever activity one picked, there were endless possibilities to find something interesting.

After a well-deserved and delicious lunch, we boarded Zodiacs to explore the Agujitas River and the water’s edge by taking a two-hour hike from Caletas to Drake’s Bay. We returned from sightings of scarlet macaws, swarms of army ants, leafcutter ant trails, riverside wrens, dot-winged antwrens, common black hawks eating fish, trogons, chestnut-backed antwrens and three species of non-human primates in the same spot at the same time. It was a lovely first day full of activities and information that introduced us to the dynamics of the expedition. We are looking forward to the rest of our week.