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Costa Rica's Beauties and Beasts

semi-overcast 27 °C

The upside of staying in a cloud forest high in the mountains of Northern Costa Rica is that we are surrounded by the lushest vegetation and beautiful flowers like these imitation Christmas ornaments...
...and this very unusual large white phallus. (No suggestions for its common name is required - thank you.)
The downside of this watery world is that we are subjected to frequent torrential downpours and persistent clouds shrouding the mountains and the volcanoes – that's the nature of a tropical cloud forest. Although the sun shone at times, we never saw much of the Arenal volcano. However, the fertile slopes of this still active volcano are home to a myriad of creatures including these cute coati – South American raccoons...
While they may look cute they are apparently pretty nippy and we were warned to keep clear. But the tropical forests of Costa Rica are home to many creatures that are far more dangerous than a coati and far more difficult to see. There are many poisonous snakes and spiders, but this tiny frog is the deadliest of all...
This red strawberry poison dart frog is small enough to sit on the nail of your little finger, but it has enough venom to kill you and, possibly, a friend. Luckily for us this little creature was behind glass at a nature conservancy, but we wouldn't want to meet one in the wild. This cute little red-eyed tree frog, on the other hand, is not at all venomous and is the iconic amphibian of Costa Rica.
These camouflaged little frogs are nocturnal hunters so they hide under leaves and keep there eyes shut during the day, but the flambouyant butterflies like this giant blue morpho are more than happy to show off their brilliant colours in the sunlight in order to attract a mate...
There are some 1500 species of butterflies in Costa Rica and we have seen them everywhere. Photographing them in the wild has been a challenge, but at the Butterfly Conservancy near La Fortuna we were able to see them in all their glory. These tiny glass-winged butterflies are almost invisible in flight and can only be seen when the sun catches their gossamer wings.
While these sara-longwings make a pretty scene against the colourful flowers.
We have left behind the rain forests of Costa Rica as we head north to Guatemala to visit one of the many wonders of the ancient world. Our morning began with a three hour drive on some of the most tortuous mountain roads imaginable as we returned to San Jose and dropped off our rental car We then flew to Guatemala City and after a change of plane we flew on to the small town of Flores close to the Belize border. Meet us there in a couple of days and we will take you back to a time before Christopher Columbus 'found' this incredible place. Hasta pronto – See you soon.

Posted by Hawkson 18:30 Archived in Costa Rica

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Thanks for all the incredible colourful photos and wonderful reminders of lush beautiful Costa Rica. Especially appreciated here in snowbound Ontario where it’s white on white!
Safe journeying,intrepid travellers that you are!

by Alison Fitzgerald

That shot of the insects with the transparent wings is a prize winner--see The Guardian's best of animal photographs.

by R and B

How wonderful to see such beautiful flowers and butterflies on grey Vancouver days.

by Sue Fitzwilson

The red in the butterfly against the lilac of the flowers is just gorgeous. Another prize winner. Through a lens stunning.

by Tom

Stunningly beautiful photographs. Little creatures are so amazing.

by Janet

Glorious photos .

by Christine Lloyd

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