tag archives: costa rica

costa rica part 2: volcan arenal, hanging bridges and tropical fruit

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here’s part two of my trip report / photo album for the biological excursion to costa rica.

previous parts:


dona christina presents plants from her medicinal garden "la aroma-tica", near la fortuna part two started with a visit to doña christina’s medicinal garden “la aroma-tica”, in la fortuna. on an area of 2.500 square meters, she and her family run a “finca integral” (organic farm) and cultivate tea, herbs, medicinal and pharmaceutic plants.
it’s always fascinating to see what different plants are used for, traditionally and recently – from natural fabric dyes to cancer treatment. [more...]

[categories: nature, photo, travel] [tags: , ]

costa rica part 1: volcan barva, volcan poas, and rio frio boat trip

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it’s been almost exactly one year since our biological excursion to costa rica – one of the best excursions ever – ended, and i’d finally like to share with you some impressions of that great journey.
our field trip was led by dr. anton weissenhofer from the university of vienna, who is one of the founders of the austrian biological research station la gamba in the southwest of costa rica, in the midst of the rainforest of the austrians.

werauhia ororiensis, a beautiful tillandsia species the first phase of the excursion consisted of

  • hiking trips and walks up to volcanoes barva, poas, a boat trip on the rio frio (=part 1),
  • a hike to volcanoe arenal and its succession of vegetation, a visit to a local medicinal garden, and walking through the canopy on hanging bridges (=part 2),
  • before we drove all the way down to the golfito region for…

phase two:

  • a practical course at la gamba field station (=part 3).

phase three included

  • a hike through the rainforest of the austrians to the sea,
  • camping at a place very close to paradise,
  • a mangrove boat trip into the delta of river esquinas,
  • and the drive back to san jose (=part 4).


highlights of part one included:

  • the first wet tropical mountain rainforest we saw. so much green!
  • a short stop to coffee plantation “cafe tres generaciones”
  • observing the endemic bangs’ mountain squirrel (syntheosciurus brochus, also: poas squirrel)
  • practically being surrounded by water when a sudden cloudburst hit us during the rio frio boat trip
  • pineapple plantations, howler monkeys, cayman spotting, tillandsia and other epiphytes literally everywhere you looked
  • visiting the nicaraguan border

we stayed at hotel doña ines in san jose, and catarata eco-lodge in la fortuna. both accommodations were very nice.

as stated before, travelling with other biologists is a special way of travelling. i realized that when colleagues were disappointed to not find any big, poisonous critters in their rooms.
it’s also very cool that the entire bus suddenly stopped along the road as soon as somebody shouted “bird!”, “sloth!” or something similar. when we did that at the boat once, the captain got nervous and told half of the group to stay on the other side of the boat, so the boat wouldn’t fall over.

for the rest of the story, i’ll let the pictures (and captions) speak for themselves this time. german captions are available in the gallery, as usual.


[categories: nature, photo, travel] [tags: , ]

photo: spot of light

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random photo:

snapshot: backlit leaf on the ground of the rainforest
a backlit leaf on the ground of the rainforest
piedras blancas rainforest, costa rica
[category: random photos] [tags: ]

translucent glass frog

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i was fortunate enough to spend almost 5 weeks in costa rica earlier this year, and it was unbelievable: the trip itself, the people i went with and/or got to meet, the sheer diversity of life – from entire ecosystems down to curiously specialized organisms.
right now, i’m in the process of going through and organizing the many photos i took there… and even though i’ve only just finished day 6, i already know which picture i would choose, had i to limit myself to a single photo to show:

translucent glass frog (cochranella sp.) on a young dieffenbachia leaf, illuminated from below

what you see here, is a little glass frog (cochranella sp., centrolenidae), illuminated from below the leaf it’s sitting on with only a headlight.
glass frogs are aptly named for their often transparent abdominal skin. this allows one to see through its belly and make out some of the inner organs. the “x-ray effect” effect in the photo shows not only a vague blueprint of this glass frog (including the spine and individual vertebrae), but also “highlights” the one organ that must be as oblique as possible1 in order to work properly: the eye.
the young dieffenbachia leaf with its water conduit system tops the photo off with a perfect background.

  1. except, of course, at the pupil []