Why would Kathie Lee, a modern Canadian mom, want to visit an old growth wet forest in Central America? Because of the bugs!
Q: Corcovado National Park is rather remote, in the very south of Costa Rica. How did you come to visit it?
A: My partner and I were vacationing with family at Dominical, Costa Rica and the plan was that we’d have a couple of days on our own. When we learned that Corcovado National Park, a protected rainforest, was on the Osa Peninsula just down the road from where we were staying, we knew that was where we wanted to go.
Q: What was the big attraction for you?
A: I read that there are 6,000 species of insects in the park and I’m really into bugs. My daughters and I used to watch Miss Spider and her Sunny Patch Kids and she taught us to be good to bugs.
Q: Was it difficult to get into the park?
A: We went from Dominical to Sierpe, which is just a little boat-docking town. There you buy your ticket for the motorboat ride to Drake Bay, where we stayed overnight. The following day we went into the Park with a group.
The boat goes down the Sierpe River for about 20 minutes to where the river meets the ocean and the boat has to crest. It was a little nerve wracking seeing the strength of the ocean and being in this little boat. Everyone in the boat stopped talking and just focused on what was happening. We were all relieved when we finally did crest and then it was about another 20-minute ride on the Pacific Ocean to Drake Bay.
Q: What is Drake Bay like?
A: Drake Bay is a little village on the ocean. There’s a dirt road with a few restaurants and a couple of places to sleep that look like shacks. That is really all there is.
We stayed in this little hotel that we’d booked in advance. Our room was in the loft and we could see the rest of the house through the cracks. There was a plate of fruit waiting for us and it was very cozy, very comfortable.
The place where we went for dinner was not fancy but everyone was friendly. First they welcomed us to their village and then asked what kind of pizza we were looking for. Our view from this restaurant was the beach and it felt surreal.
Drake Bay is not a place for swimming. The waves are rough. Even when we waded in up to our knees we had rocks crashing on our legs. I also felt there were sharks nearby.
Q: Did you go in alone or with a tour?
A: We were part of a group and I think you need that for safety. We left at 6:30 a.m. and after a 30-minute or so boat ride we were dropped off at the side of the park with our guide.
The jungle in the park is really thick with no paths so you could be lost in a heartbeat. Poisonous snakes are all over the place and there is a jaguar population.
The tides can also be a danger because when the tides come in the streams get deep. Our guide told us about a group getting caught in water that was waist high and full of crocodiles, hungry ones. It’s not a joke. It’s not like crocodiles have a ticking time clock to let you know they are coming. Luckily the group made it.
I heard the snap of a crocodile and could see its little eyes popping up in the water.
Q: What did you think of your guide?
A: The guide was awesome, very patient. It was obvious that he loved doing this. He would tell us to watch for ticks and don’t wander. He also pointed out things that we would never have noticed on our own. Like this walking stick insect that was bigger than the guide’s hand. He said he’d never seen one that big before.
The guide had a telescope and whenever he spotted something he would plop it down so we could all have a look. We got to see all four species of monkeys and that was pretty cool.
He said wild boars are not just pigs and need to be treated seriously, especially when they travel in packs. Then they can be very defensive and rush you. We listened to the guide and when we came upon them we all stayed back.
Q: What was the most interesting thing that you saw?
A: My partner, Matthew, wanted to see an eyelash viper. That was very important to him. And he saw one, all curled up. They are very poisonous, very dangerous. They are also aggressive and will attack.
For me it was the spiders and I wanted to see the Golden Orb. Getting this shot of the large female Golden Orb with the little male beside her was just perfect. You can tell it’s a Golden Orb by the yellow colour of its web. The web is much thicker than you would expect, almost like string. They repair, not rebuild, their webs.
You have to be careful or you will bump into spider webs. I am into spiders but not into their web.
I really wanted to see a tarantula. I did find an exoskeleton of one that I brought home.
Some in the group were very squeamish, yelling “eek” all the time. That just disturbs the nature piece and if they don’t like it they should just go away.
After we left the jungle we had to walk quite a distance along the beach back to where we caught the boat, which was actually the most difficult section because we were baking in the sun. Little lizards and hermit crabs were everywhere.
We were back in Drake Bay in the afternoon and then caught the boat taxi to Sierpe and got back to Dominical by nightfall. So we were there for one night and two full days.
We went there for the nature, for the wildlife, and that is what we got. I found it to be so peaceful.
This interview with Kathie Lee has been condensed and edited.
Photo credits Kathie Lee
© Riding the buses 2014