I opened my eyes slowly… a roar just woke me up. It is distant however sounds quite close… A howler monkey, somewhere nearby is claiming for his territory and telling strangers: “I own this… Don’t you dare!”. I close back my eyes… The sounds in the surroundings are remarkable… Frogs, and dozens of chirping birds are very close. It is still a bit dark in the outside…
Finally I decide is time to wake up. Look at my phone screen… 5:15 a.m….. And this is vacation!? Really!? Well yes! For some of us, vacation is not a time to simply stay in bed until it is really late… At least not every vacation day. It is a time to forget about the office, the contracts, the vendors and the clients. It is a time to be active, but in a very different relaxing and fun day. And this day is going to be exactly that! An active relaxing fun day…
I finally decide to get out of bed, get a fast shower, repellent after shower, dress and repellent again… and go to the meeting point of the hotel. A birding walk is about to start. (Oh yes! Of course… Coffee first, then binoculars!).
We go out walking by the nearby hotel forest. Birding is, amazingly, better in the secondary forests than in the primary forests. And it is always much better at this time of day than any other time.
The good thing about traveling with Camino is that our guides are so well prepared for everything, carrying a good telescope, binoculars and knowing every single bird they see (Well! Maybe not every single one of them.. but they are really top notch birders!).
The first thing our guide shows us is a mixed flock… What is that? Well! It happens to be that the rainforest struggle is to eat and to mate and not to be eaten while trying to do it! Mainly that is what it is all about… In a bird’s /iguana’s / lizard’s etc. minds it is like “I do have to look great… be shiny… show off… But invisible to the hawks… toucans and others!.. How do you do that?” … Well no! There is no way to do it. You are either showing off or getting invisible… Except maybe for male iguanas… That turn orange brown when they are really in the mood.
However… a mixed flock is a group of different species of birds all eating from the same tree, bush or group of trees and bushes. Hummingbirds, tanagers, wrens, seedeaters and flycatchers… all together. Like a flock. And it is quite interesting because some of them eat the same, but mostly in all cases they eat different things. A certain specie might go for the fruit, another one for the seed, and a third one for the nectar in the flowers… and of course there are those that wait for another bird to move the branch well enough to get the insects that live in the inside.
So, anyways… that is the first catch of the day! Afterwards we saw a couple of keel-billed toucans (The ones with the colored beaks… Similar to the fruit loops ones), and, close to the river a bunch of herons and egrets.
The walk is slow, the guide talks a bit about the different species, and contrary to the expected, we are not looking up the whole time. Every now and then we look down, underneath the bushes for species like the Black Crowned Antpitta
For those who have never done it, birding is one of the most fun, relaxing activities you can do… You are just there, in the forest wondering if it is the slaty tailed or the back rumped… whatever. For some people it is a very serious matter, if it is one or the other, for some others, include me in this group, it is simply fun. Without getting obsessive or anything, checking by bird list it’s always sort of a pride.
Back at the hotel, of course we were ravenous and breakfast answered back with a delicious array of choices! Like in most hotels (From three stars up) breakfasts are really good! Fresh bread, butter, guaba jam, lots of fruits, and in this case an omelet choice! You do have to love those cooks at the end of the buffet line, with little bowls of mushrooms, ham, cheese, onions, tomatoes and peppers for you to choose. I am predictable and always ask for the same: Everything but peppers.
After breakfast we must get ready to travel as we are departing this area to go to next.
As a traveler I’ve learned two things from packing, unpacking and packing again. Unless I stay three nights at the same hotel… I don’t unpack. And if I do… The word is roll…. Roll, unroll… Period.
When I am traveling like this also… It is all comfortable non ironing clothes… If possible Columbia… or Columbialike. Fresh, comfy… Easy.
So! After the walk, shower again, repellent, clothes… and yes, more repellent! We are going for a walk in the forest on our way to our next place!
We have to take our luggage to the lobby of the hotel, do the check out and then we’ll just have some time to do kill, take pictures, birdwatch a bit more, read or talk with the rest of the group. I decide, of course to go for the photos.
Flowers, textures… Kinda’ funny. I love these sort of pictures and in the tropical gardens of the hotels there are so many!… At the end I never use them, but they are simply gorgeous!
The bus is ready and we are ready to go!
We get on, and start driving towards a biological station with a great primary forest.
It is not ten o’clock in the morning and we still have a lot to do!
You simply have to love vacations in the tropical rainforest!
(Look for part 2 in the next few days)