This was the intention from the very beginning, and was incorporated into the design and building of the hotel.
The biodiversity of the surrounding forest was not only sustained, it was actually increased by replanting much of the natural habitat for the indigenous wildlife.
So on our first day we set out on one of the many trails to check out some exotic animals, but struck out pretty badly.
If not for a troop of capuchin monkeys that we stumbled upon near the end of our walk, we would have been skunked completely.
This didn’t make us very confident in our chances for animal encounters on the night tour we were scheduled for that evening.
If we couldn’t see them in broad daylight, how in the world would we in the dark?
The answer was simple, by knowing how to look. Turns out there were tons of critters all around us; we just sucked at spotting them.
We had only taken a few steps away from the hotel when our guide, Danny, pointed out a screech owl up in a tree. In an instant he had him in his flashlight beam and we were looking the wise guy right in the eyes.
Making our way down some stairs we encountered our next nocturnal native, a cane toad. Also known as the giant toad, this is the largest amphibian in Costa Rica, probably because no one messes with them.
The two bulges on the side of Mr. Toad’s neck are chock-full-o-toxin, and kill most anything unlucky enough to eat him. Over time, most everybody in the animal kingdom has learned to leave the cane toads alone.
While we were watching the toxic toad, we kept hearing a thumping sound, something like a big stick beating on a log. The pitch blackness made it all the more surreal, what in the heck is going on out in the jungle?
Well it wasn’t really in the jungle after all, the goings on were in a small, man-made frog pond just a few hundred yards away.
Yup, a bullfrog, or rather several bullfrogs feeling rather romantic, was raising all that racket.
Once upon our discovery, Princess Veronica attempted to conjure up a prince by giving one of the loud-mouthed amphibians a smooch.
Guess she picked the wrong frog, because she’s still living in a very small castle on wheels.
The bullfrogs were not alone in their pool; there were several other representatives from the scores of frog and toad species that call Costa Rica home.
Without a doubt, the most famous of these is the Red-eyed Tree Frog. Let’s face it, these guys take a great picture, but it almost has to be at night.
In the daylight our little buddy Agalychnis callidryas hides on the leaves by staying perfectly still, keeping those bright red peepers closed, and being just the right shade of green.
Guess Kermit never thought about that advantage, it makes it a little easier being green.
While we were entranced by the red-eyed guy, Danny found another example of one of Costa Rica's forty three different types of tree frogs. He brought the pair, who were locked into some serious night fever, over to show us.
The pair appeared completely oblivious, or at least it was going to take a lot more than a few humans messing with them to break the mood.
Most all of the frogs seemed to think it was the right time of the night, and some of the toads too.
We learned how to determine the difference, toads can be identified by their bumpy skin, perhaps that’s why they have been tagged with causing warts.
Having our fill of the amorous amphibians, we set out deeper into the darkness to see what we could find.
Danny led us to what looked to be an ordinary tree -- that is until we turned upside down and looked into a small hole in one of the limbs.
A pair of bats was hiding inside, leaving us scratching our heads in wonder.
How in the world does he find these things?
Our last encounter of the evening was with a three-toed sloth hanging from a branch.
While these guys are not nocturnal, it’s hard to tell because they hardly move even when they are awake.
Their diet of leaves provides very little energy, leading to a very low metabolic rate of less than half that for most mammals their size.
By the time we returned to the hotel we had seen a cane toad, four types of frogs, two sloths, several birds, and three species of bats.
Guess that proves that with the proper guide there is plenty of easily observable wildlife, even in the dark.
But hey, we spotted that troop of white-faced Capuchin monkeys with no help at all. So if all of the animals would swing from tree to tree while chattering and making lots of noise, in broad daylight, we’d be good.
Needless to say, we’d be going back out with Danny the next day.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
A HUGE gracias to Parador Resort and Spa for providing this adventure! As always, all opinions are our own.
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