Santa Elena Bay and Junquillal Wildlife Refuge , 11/23/2022, National Geographic Quest
National Geographic Quest
Costa Rica, Panama & Colombia
Today we had a great day exploring the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, including Santa Elena Bay, part of Santa Rosa National Park. National Geographic Quest is the first ship that has ever anchored in this beautiful bay.
We were the only people in the area, and we took advantage of the privilege. We had the bay and the trail to ourselves, and we explored the area at our leisure. We observed the unique dry forest ecosystem and some of its beautiful flora and fauna.
Federico Chacón, or “Fico” as he is better known by his friends, started guiding one-day nature tours on weekends and holidays at the age of 18 right at the time he started studies at the University of Costa Rica. It was just a part-time job, that wa...
Once more today, we had the privilege of waking up in this majestic place on the Pacific side of the North Pacific tropical moist forest. We observed an active volcano and enjoyed ziplining, horseback riding, hiking on forest trails, and waterfalls with swimming holes. We observed this incredible tropical forest and some of its inhabitants, including monkeys, black iguanas, and tropical birds.
Today we had the privilege of being the first and only tour group or ship allowed to visit this unique dry forest habitat. Lindblad is the only expedition company with authorization to anchor in this bay and visit Santa Elena National Park. We hiked along a recently built trail and experienced some of the last remnants of mature tropical dry forests anywhere in Meso America. After our morning walk in Santa Elena, we were fortunate to see nurse sharks and olive ridley sea turtles during our tour along the bay. In the afternoon, we reached Junquillal Wildlife Refuge, where we saw spider monkeys as well as white-faced capuchins, bringing us to a total of three primate species so far. Some of our guests enjoyed beach time, while others took kayaks or standup paddleboards out on the water.
We awoke to a beautiful sunrise over the Pacific Ocean on our first day exploring the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, located on the northwest peninsula of the country. Guanacaste is a tropical dry forest, and we are visiting during the dry season. The coast is lined with a patchwork of forest, from lush green plants to deciduous trees that have lost their leaves and flowers. This morning, some of us took to the ocean to snorkel the rocky reefs of Punta Zapotal, while others went to shore to hike. All of us enjoyed the wildlife, from the tropical fish of the Pacific to the howler monkeys in the forest. In the afternoon, we explored by Zodiac, entering a beautiful mangrove forest. Mangroves are an incredibly important nearshore habitat, providing safe havens for juvenile fish and sharks, as well as nesting and feeding habitats for birds. After enjoying the sunny heat of the tropics, we returned to National Geographic Quest for ceviche and beverages as we watched the sunset. It was a great start to our trip in Costa Rica!