Day 5 |
Oct 16, 2008

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

By Robin L. Aiello, Marine Biologist and Ecotourism Specialist

Position: 9° 58’ 15” N and 84° 49’ 51” W

Weather: Overcast skies, with warm temperatures and heavy rains

We awoke today to overcast skies and rain. But fortunately, the seas had remained relatively calm throughout the night, letting us have a good night’s sleep.

The Prince Albert II arrived as scheduled into Puntarenas, but disembarkation was delayed because the sea conditions made it difficult to tie up. Winds and a 3-knot tidal current kept pushing the ship off the dock, so the deckhands had to use all possible lines to secure the ship. In the meantime, while we waited, Jon Bowermaster introduced one of the Ocean 8 videos of his amazing sea kayaking journeys around the world. This video, called ‘The Dangerous Archipelago’ was all about the Tuamotus Islands in French Polynesia – its beauty, relaxing lifestyle and the issues facing it with regards to future climate change.

Soon after the video, those of us wanting to take a short wander around the town before the excursions, departed at 1:30pm. Puntarenas, literally translated to mean “point of sand”, is a small town situated on a sandy spit attached to the mainland by a relatively narrow causeway. Few of us actually ventured off-ship due to the pouring rain!

But 14 of us did venture off for the afternoon excursion to the tropical Forest Tour. Our guide told us all about the local life in this mid-Pacific region of Costa Rica as we drove about an hour to a beautiful Rainforest National Park. During our drive, we passed over a main river and were amazed to see the extent of flooding. In the park, we wandered slowly through the rainforest as our guides pointed out a range of wildlife and plants. It was wonderful to see the rainforest as it ‘should be seen’ – in the rain!

We saw strangler figs trees, lots of epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants high in the canopy), orchids, cactus (yes…a cactus that grows in the rainforest!) and many more endemic species of shrubs, vines and trees. As for animals, most of them were taking shelter from the rain, but we did see leaf-cutter ants working hard carrying pieces of leaves nearly 10 times their own size and a few large centipedes crawling up tree trunks. The highlight of the trip was a pair of magnificent Scarlet Macaws sitting in full view on a branch high in the canopy.

Once back onboard the Prince Albert II, we dried off and then joined the Expedition Staff for a short briefing about the activities planned for our next day in Puerto Quepos, Costa Rica. Although another day of rain is predicted, we are hoping it might clear up!