Costa Rica – Panoramas

I spent a few hours over Easter putting together some of the photo stitches that I took in Costa Rica. There are two stubborn ones which I’m not having much joy with (very wide angle both horizontally and vertically, so the resulting photo looks very fish-eyed). Here are five of the panoramas which came out great.

You can scroll around the panorama in the Java Applet linked below. You can drag the view around with your mouse, or use your keyboard’s arrow keys. Pressing – or + lets you zoom out or in, although the images are displayed at 1:1 resolution already.

Arenal Volcano: Panoramic view of the very-active Arenal Volcano, taken from the Lost Iguana hotel, to the east of the volcano. Lava flows can be seen on the left hand side of the volcano. 28 megapixels.

Arenal Volcano
Click to view panorama

Irazu Volcano: Panoramic view of the two craters at the top of Irazu Volcano, the highest active (but dormant) volcano in Costa Rica, at 3,432m above sea level. The main crater on the left contains a green crater lake. 78 megapixels.

Irazu Volcano
Click to view panorama

Poas Volcano: Panoramic view of the crater lake in Poas Volcano (2,708m). The lake normally appears bright turquoise when conditions are clear (rarely). You can see yellow puffs of sulphur to the right of the lake. 23 megapixels.

Poas Volcano
Click to view panorama

Sunset from Finca Rosa Blanca, Santa Barbara: Viewed from a coffee plantation in the hills. 72 megapixels.

Click to view panorama

Rainforest of La Paz Waterfall Gardens: Panoramic view of the rainforest around the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, near Vara Blanca. 17 megapixels.

Rainforest from La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Click to view panorama

Costa Rica – Week 2

Have been without internet for the last few days, and with good reason. Went to the Caribbean coast for 5 days, to a great area in and around Puerto Viejo, which is half Spanish (Costa Rican), and half Reggae/Jamaican. Very laid-back and rural. The reason I had not internet is that our “hotel” was a tree house. Yup, all wooden, no outer walls, and built around a tree. OK, so there were some mod-cons (quite surprising), but when it rained (torrentially) it sounded like a jet plane on the tarp covering (not great when it keeps you awake two nights running), and there were 360 degree views of the rainforest all around. Which meant it was very easy to see lots of wildlife – we had an opossum rummaging around in a cupboard (very nonchalantly), lots of crabs in holes between us and the beach, lots of weird spiders, lizards, insects and pretty flowers. And thankfully, surprisingly few mosquitoes.

I took advantage of being on the coast and did my Advanced PADI Scuba course – 5 dives, including a mandatory deep dive and navigation dive, and I then chose Peak Performance Buoyancy, Underwater Naturalist (took a few photos), and a Night Dive, which turned out to be an incredible exercise in dealing with the worst conditions you could not wish to encounter (3 feet of visibility in a pea soup, very strong currents, and 10 feet of space to get through a gap, with the reef everywhere I swam. Still, was good experience, if not entirely pleasant! And I now love green glow sticks for an entirely new reason: survival!!!

Anyway, not going to ramble on too much – the photos should show it all, but brief background to some of these pics: went on a walk through the Cahuita Reserve, saw Capuchin monkeys up close, a good view of a sloth (and more ;), and a couple of snakes.

For the last 3 days we’re staying in the centre of the country again, at the most amazing hotel – it is in a big area with a butterfly observatory, serpentarium, 5 huge waterfalls, ranarium and hummingbird garden. So I’ve been taking photos pretty much constantly ;)

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

This is my favourite photo of the whole trip, can’t believe I got to see this frog and get this shot!!! Will probably be the cover photo for my book :)

Flame of the Forest
Flame of the Forest

Lizard in Heliconia
Lizard in Heliconia


Eyelash Pitviper
Eyelash Pitviper

Sloth and baby
Sloth and baby

Sloth and baby

Ever tried taking a photo of a bat at night…?

…or a hummingbird?


Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog
Blue-jeans poison dart frog


Clearwing butterfly

Red-Eyed Tree Frog
Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Red-Eyed Tree Frog


Resplendent Quetzal
The Resplendent Quetzal, a rare and magnificent sight

Iris after the rain

Cloud forest

Flying Tree Frog
Flying Tree Frog

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Glass Frog

Costa Rica – Days 4-7

In the last few days have been on a river safari in the North, 2 miles from the Nicaraguan border, where we saw a whole host of birds and other wildlife. Back at the hotel, in the late afternoon I went walking through the jungle on my own and came across a 6ft snake on the path in front of me. Needless to say I waited patiently for it to get out of the way before continuing! Turns out it was one of the safer snakes in Costa Rica, but it sure didn’t look like it at the time! I went back on a night trail (somewhere less isolated this time) and snapped lots of insects and little frogs.

Went white-water rafting the next day, and got nicely sunburned on my thighs :S The following day went spelunking with bats and big spiders with scorpion-like pincers, and in the afternoon relaxed in geothermal springs (41 degree water on sunburned legs = OW!!)



Snake-bird / Anhinga


Ringed Kingfisher
Ringed kingfisher. The fish was far too big for it to eat, so after a few attempts at swallowing it, the kingfisher discarded it and carried on fishing.

Mussurana Snake
The 6ft Mussurana snake that crossed my path in the middle of the rainforest. Best not to meddle…


A ball of spiders (well, they’re actually harvestmen, or daddy-long-legs)…

Arrow (crab) spider

Costa Rica – Day 3

Today’s activity was canyoning, which is abseiling/rappeling down waterfalls in a canyon. While the 2 guides had a dry bag, I chose not to take my camera, but my brother’s camera has several shots of us abseiling, and a few photos of the stunning scenery. Imagine being in the thick of the rainforest, with steep walls either side, a flowing stream at your feet, and waterfalls every now and then, which we got to rappel down :) My very favourite was the 60m fall we dropped down, getting soaked halfway down, and abseiling the bottom half. Not quite adrenaline-fuelled, but the experience and view both up and down were amazing.

Getting to the canyon, walking through the stream and abseiling, then walking back up, driving to lunch (spoke to a guy with his cute little girl, called Emily, thankfully my Spanish kicked in :), and back to the hotel took pretty much the whole day. There was some more lava visible coming down the volcano, and some stunning stars, but clouds came and spoiled both views while I was wandering around the hotel grounds trying to get a photo. (The volcano has just rumbled, it still has indigestion even when cloudy ;) Instead, I spotted dozens of fireflies in the trees, flashing away, and heard frogs croaking near the pool. I found two of them in a small pond, and spent a long while getting some nice photos of them :)



Frog Croaking

Costa Rica – Day 2

I wasn’t planning on writing again today, but today’s events were even better than yesterday, and while I’ve got free internet at the hotel, and my family are all early-to-bed people on holiday, I thought I’d write some more :)

A couple of things I forgot to mention yesterday were that they play lots of Salsa and Merengue music everywhere, and that every time I try to speak any Spanish, I think of Italian. It’s like I have a brain elf that goes through lots of doors in my head, trying to find the right one for a word translation, and occasionally opens the wrong door and sees a word in Italian, Dutch or Hebrew. Weird analogy, but it came to me this afternoon ;) My brother has been getting by fine, having travelled around Central and Southern America a few times. Hopefully it’ll kick in. Didn’t help that we flew over here with Dutch airlines, where I found myself speaking Dutch to the staff!

Anyway, back to Costa Rica – this morning we went to Sky Trek (, which has a cable car over the tree tops (for some nice views, and to get height for the next step: a series of unbelievable zip lines hundreds of feet over the trees. There were 7 in total, and the longest was 600ft above the tree canopy, and 750m long, reaching speeds of 45mph. While the thrill was amazing, I just couldn’t get over the breathtaking views, with rainforest waaaay below, and Lake Arenal in view… I got some video footage while going along. If anyone’s seen Medicine Man, or David Attenborough documentaries, this is similar, but with a huge injection of adrenaline and speed! Alton Towers’ Air, eat your heart out ;)

On the drive back from that, we stopped on the side of the road to see a few Howler Monkeys climbing and jumping through the trees. We knew they were Howlers from the driver, and then definitely when they started howling!

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey and baby

We stopped in the nearest “village”, La Fortuna, which seems to have popped up due to tourism, but has kept a nice village square, church, and two high streets. Quite a few dogs wandering around, and some interesting locals, made for some good cultural photos of non-wildlife.

Saw a pair of macaws in the grounds of a neighbouring hotel, one of which flew from the trees straight onto my brother’s arm. Some pretty butterflies in their garden, and vultures swirling overhead.

Blue and Yellow Macaw

Blue and Yellow Macaw

Back at the hotel, the clouds cleared over the peak of the volcano, and we could see puffs of smoke appearing down the sides. The puffs progressively appeared further and further down the side of the volcano, almost like ripples appearing when you skim a stone on a pond. I then realised that the puffs were caused by lumps of rock tumbling down the side of the volcano. As it got dark, we could see these rocks glowing red, and they’d appear now and then in varying amounts. I was taking some photos of these, and suddenly saw the whole top of the volcano erupted!!!!!

Arenal Volcano Eruption

An unbelievably lucky sight to see!!! I managed a lucky photo, but the sight (and delayed sound) were unforgettable! My family were all inside and missed it, but came out after the loud rumble to see lava flowing down the side of the mountain.

I’m very VERY lucky to have seen a volcano erupt :) All the while, there were howlers howling in the distance, frogs croaking, crickets, a large spider on the leaves above my shoulder, and a pretty frog in the pond just in front of our rooms. Ah, jungle bliss :)

Costa Rica – Day 1

I had the great fortune of going on holiday to Costa Rica for two and a half weeks. Here are some notes I wrote while I was out there, along with a few photos from each day.

Yesterday was travel day – 10am flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Orlando (for compulsary USA fingerprinting and photo, even though we got straight onto another flight), then Orlando to San Jose in Costa Rica.

After a decent night’s sleep and shower – we took a taxi to Arenal, an active volcano in the middle of the jungle. On the way, we saw a troupe of Coati (aka Pizote) by the side of the road. Very cute, and not at all afraid of cars or people.


The volcano was impressive, but the peak was shrouded in cloud. Hopefully it will clear, and the flowing lava will be visible – apparently it’s most impressive at night…. The hotel is a set of houses, dotted around in the middle of the jungle. Went for a pleasant hike through the jungle near the hotel, up and down steep hills, and saw leaf-cutter ants aplenty:

Leaf-Cutter Ant

Leaf-Cutter Ants

The sights were complemented by bird-calls and jungle sounds aplenty. I was in my element, and snapping away! Had a swim when we got back, the pool overlooking the volcano, with jungle birds calling nearby. We’re here for the next 4 days, doing some interesting activities like walks through the tree-top canopy, river safari, canyoning and white-water rafting.

Sunlit Ferns

Sunlit Leaf