Onward To Osa

The transfer from Manuel Antonio to San Jose was a short one. During the one evening in San Jose, I visited a huge shopping center, called Multiplaza. I lost my rain jacket somewhere in Costa Rica, so I needed a replacement. This shopping center could be anywhere in the world, it looks and feels like its counterparts in the US, Switzerland or even Russia. All the global and expensive brands are there, they even had an Audi and a Swatch shop.

Early next morning I took a bus to the airport, where I boarded a 12 seat Cessna to fly to the Osa Peninsula. It was a nice flight in that small aircraft, and for once I could observe the pilots doing their job.  The days since arriving in the Osa have been mostly been spent observing animals in their wilderness habitat.   Fantastic! We’ve seen macaws, coatimundis, parrots, vultures, snakes, spiders, monkeys and a sloth. The animals are all around, so you need to use a flashlight at night, not only to find the way back to your bungalow, but even more to make sure that there are no animals in your way.  I’ve gone on a lot of guided tours, and the guides are outstanding! I did a night walk, where we spotted the deadliest snake in Costa Rica. It was laying right besides the trail, very well hidden. No way I would have ever spotted it myself, a slightly scary feeling, but the good news is that snakes generally don’t have any interest in humans as long as they’re not disturbed.  (Another good reason to follow a guide’s advice and always be looking down when you’re walking in the rainforest!)

But the highlight of the trip was a 3 hour hike through primary rainforest. It is hard to describe, but to hike through an area with so many different plants and animals, knowing that this has been there for hundreds and thousands of years and still remains untouched by humans is very, very special. It was so calm, quiet and natural. As I said, hard to describe. . . We spotted lots of spider monkeys, birds and different kinds of animals during the walk.

What amazed me the most were the trees. Especially strangler figs. They start to grow in the canopy of another tree when their seeds are dropped there by birds or arboreal mammals, and their roots grow down to the ground. Then they grow from there up again in vines surrounding the original tree, strangling it. It takes about 60 years to kill the host tree, which slowly decomposes and leaves empty space in the middle of the strangler fig like an empty trunk. Hiding places are created for small animals, assisting their survival.

Remember the walking trees in Lord of the Rings?  Some Tolkien-esque trees here are called Walking Trees. Their trunk grows on roots about 1-2 meters above the ground. If the tree does not get enought light, it stops growing roots on one side and grows others further away to the side where it gets more light. The tree ‘walks’, and in this way the tree can move it’s position by almost 1 meter! Amazing!!

My last activity was to plant a tree. I planted an endangered species to help reforest an area that is currently only secondary rainforest. It will take my tree about 60 years to grow into a sizable example of it’s species. I dedicated the tree to someone who will be very close to my heart…

2 thoughts on “Onward To Osa

  1. This is such perfect timing – I’m planning a trip to Osa myself! I would love it if you could give me any recommendations on good tour organisations or places to stay (I’m volunteering here though, so on a tight budget). And is the climate okay around now? I’d really appreciate some advice from someone who just went.

    P.S. This weekend I’m going to do the volcano sandboarding Seth Inman wrote about for Raxa a while back. You guys have the best ideas!

    Thanks so much for this – as I said, perfect timing.

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