La Selva Reserve and Rafting

Sarapiqui Travel Blog

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Blue jeans frog
We spent the morning at La Selva Biological Reserve. It's also a research center, and the excursion was $35 including the guided tour, which was excellent. Our guide, Joele, was a soft-spoken local (there were several Americans and Germans about - I believe the place is partially funded by foreign universities), and he would quietly wander down the cement path (made for the bicycles that the researchers used to get to the far reaches of the reserve), and he would scan the trees for signs of wildlife. When he suspected something, he'd point out a sound or tracks in the mud, then point his binoculars to spot it, then arrange his long tripod with the long lens on it so we could get a nice close-up look. We saw a lot: a bunch of wild boars, a tapir, a couple of "blue jeans" frogs, howler monkeys, a sloth, leaf-cutter ants, turkeys, and some folks saw a toucan.
The highlight for me was when he pointed at a large flat leaf that he said had been cut along the spine to create a tent. And huddled underneath were a cluster of absolutely adorable Honduran white bats. They were like tiny cotton balls with a face. So cute.

In the afternoon, a van picked up me, Morgan and Jayne to take us 15 minutes away to the put-in of the Sarapiqui River white-water rafting. It's dry season here, so the water level was a little low - it's a class II-III, and we noticed a family with fairly young children (6-8 years old?) also taking the trip. Jayne had had a scary experience on her previous and only other rafting trip (not sure where this was) - it was a class V and I can't believe the outfitter would let a beginning rafter on an expert river, but she fell in twice, ripped up her leg pretty badly and got trapped under the raft for a bit, so she wanted to get over her fear and have a good experience, and the Sarapiqui was perfect.


Green Rivers had modern equipment (rafts, life jackets, kayak for the safety guide coming with us) and our guides, Walter and Pablo, gave us a pretty thorough safety talk and went through all the commands. Since there were only four of us in the raft, including Walter, it was pretty light, and we were all good paddlers and paddled together, so I think his job was pretty easy! I've gone white-water rafting about 15 times (although no rivers larger than a 4+) and I generally like a 3+ river...some fun rapids, some laidback sections to enjoy the scenery, and nothing to scare me to death. This was a bit tame, but still a lovely day on the water. We spotted several different kinds of herons, egrets and kingfishers, and watched Pablo do his stunt moves on the kayak.
Honduran White Bats
There were only a couple of "technical" rapids, and I got bumped around a bit, but again, not really scary, just fun. Walter told us about his rafting competition in New Zealand where the Costa Rican team came in 15th out of 24 and froze to death because they didn't have wetsuits...they thought the water would be warm! Pablo and the driver took us home, as Walter lived right past the next rapid, so he took the kayak to get home!

Esteban had a meeting with us at 6pm to explain how the homestay would work tomorrow, and then most of the group went to the fancy restaurant in the hotel up the street for dinner, and Morgan and I went to the Chicheronera that Esteban had pointed out - it was inside this building with a huge dirt parking lot.
..it was where they held the cattle auctions, apparently. No lights outside and the sign wasn't lit, but we saw folks in there. It was a locals hangout - a bunch of guys teasing each other, and the family. We ordered plates with cochinilla humitas (a smoked pork dish - we finally figured out that "al humo" means "smoked") and some chicherones - both good - and along with a ginger ale and a guanabana juice, only 7,000 colones ($13).

Sleeping was a bit of an issue at the posada...there was no sub-flooring, just a bunch of boards, and even though the room was raised a bit, the bugs could still get through. There was a mosquito net, but the wee beasties found their way in and I got about 20 bites in the 2 days there, even using the insect repellant with Deet. We found a large grasshopper-looking beastie climbing on my backpack - he had crazy colors on him like a cartoon bug. No idea if he was a biting sort or not, but he was huge and we didn't want to crush him, so we got him onto Morgan's swim fin and flapped him out into the night.
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Blue jeans frog
Blue jeans frog
Honduran White Bats
Honduran White Bats
At La Selva Reserve
At La Selva Reserve
La Selva Reserve
La Selva Reserve
La Selva Reserve
La Selva Reserve
Walking Mangrove at La Selva Reser…
Walking Mangrove at La Selva Rese…
Wild boar in La Selva Reserve
Wild boar in La Selva Reserve
Eyelash Viper in La Selva Reserve
Eyelash Viper in La Selva Reserve
La Selva Reserve
La Selva Reserve
La Selva Reserve
La Selva Reserve
Sarapiqui
photo by: txmissie