Co-ordinates: 08°42.09N, 83°42.21W
The first day on a voyage is always a very busy day, specifically for our guests. They have to get comfortable with the ship, and then there are a lot of briefings for them so that they are prepared for the excursions. This time was no different. At around 9:00 am the first dolphin sightings were announced through the PA system. Spotted dolphins were swimming around the bow of the Prince Albert II. Shortly after this at 10:00 am, the mandatory Zodiac briefing started in the Theater, followed by a briefing on the excursions scheduled for today and tomorrow. Not even 20 minutes after Expedition Leader Robin West had finished his briefings, a humpback whale was breaching and flapping just ahead of the ship. But for some of our guests the morning activities were still not over. At 11:45 the First Timers Cocktail Party took place in the Observation Lounge, and all our guests and staff were sitting there with one eye always at the sea, hoping that there would be another whale flapping around. So as I mentioned before the first day is always a very busy day on board.
We reached our first destination, the Corcovado National Park at Osa Peninsula around 1 pm. Zodiacs were dropped down and my colleagues and I drove to the shore to put up pins and other gear at the landing site. The day was perfect for the walks into the national park. It was slightly cloudy and a cool breeze came from the ocean towards the forest. As on the last visit, we offered our guests two walks; A short “Coastal Walk”, which goes along the beaches and the coastal forest till the mouth of the Rio Claro and a long “Forest Walk”, which goes up into the hills behind the beautiful coast. This time I was on the longer walk through the excellent tropical forest which covers the hills.
We first passed by the Lodge, where later on we would have a well-deserved pause with refreshments. Then after a short passage through fields of manioc and sugar cane, the trail through the forest began. But already on the way up to the lodge we were able to see toucans, scarlet macaws and the three toothed sloth. The hike through the forest was a real fine introduction into the ecosystem of the tropical rain forest. Not only did we see a lot of animal life, for example: Blue-crowned manikin, Red-lored parrot, Chestnut-mandibled toucan, Fiery-billed aracari, Euphonia, bats, amphibians, Crested Anolis lizards; we also heard the howler monkeys and observed plants offering many interesting insights into the life of the forest.
Buttresses, lianas, epiphytes, hemiepiphytes, flowers and fruits gave a lot of opportunities to explain to our guest “en vivo” how a tropical rain forest is functioning. The guests were even able to experiment on their own the climatic conditions inside such a forest such as: high humidity (we all were sweating like we left recently the shower), low light conditions (for taking good pictures you have to use the camera flash) and no fresh breeze from the ocean. Under these conditions and looking out every minute for new exciting animal and plant life, the trail lead us up and down the hills and along river beds of the Corcovado National Park. After nearly four hours of walking, we reached the lodge again and the starting point of our expedition and first experience through the rain forest in Costa Rica. Fruits, delicious juices and local snacks, like empanadas, were served and they tasted just wonderful after this hike.
Back on ship again, our guests were invited to the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party in the Panorama Lounge and to the following Captain’s Dinner in the restaurant.