Wild Junket » Central America http://www.wildjunket.com An adventure travel blog that brings you on a rollercoaster ride around the world Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:30:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Nicaragua on Horseback: Riding in San Juan del Sur http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/10/16/horseback-riding-in-nicaragua/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/10/16/horseback-riding-in-nicaragua/#comments Wed, 16 Oct 2013 14:33:01 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=15589 Lead the WayCombing through the walls of sturdy tree trunks and canopies of lush green leaves, we set out from Morgan’s Rock in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, on the back of a truck just before the afternoon heat reached its highest. We reached the stables by dirt road in less than ten minutes, where we met our horses. I was [...]

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Our editor, Elica Sue, recently returned from a trip to Nicaragua, where she traveled all over the country. Today she shares her experience in San Juan del Sur. 

Combing through the walls of sturdy tree trunks and canopies of lush green leaves, we set out from Morgan’s Rock in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, on the back of a truck just before the afternoon heat reached its highest. We reached the stables by dirt road in less than ten minutes, where we met our horses. I was introduced to my partner for the day, Palomita. Swathed in beautiful blond hair and a smooth brown coat, Palomita was the horse I’d always dreamt of: gentle, calm, and wise beyond her age.

Lead the WayExploring the jungle on horseback

Wildlife Encounters

Once we mounted on our horses, we set off down the dirt paved roads into the thick forest. Along the way, I didn’t expect to meet as many animals and creatures as we did — a white headed capuchin monkey hung from the tree branch overhead and a large lizard slithered its way across the trail. The monkey stopped and stared at us for a brief moment before taking the path of branches above us, where it met its family and a baby. Hector told us that it was a rare treat to see a white headed monkey and we felt privileged to have had such a close encounter.

White FaceWe found a white headed capuchin on the way

A View to Behold

The path began to curve up a slope, and the horses worked hard to keep their pace. All of a sudden, we emerged from the thick foliage and arrived at a ledge that overlooked the rest of the jungle and  the coastline. Hector rolled out a picnic for us while the horses stopped for a rest. Everyone watched the clouds roll overhead and their shadows cast upon the trees beneath our feet. From afar, the waves crashed onto the beach in a hypnotic motion. It was a sight to behold.

Look at the ViewThe view from the lookout point

A Closer Look at the ViewA close up of the beach

Riding by the Sea

It seemed like only a moment ago when we were peering at the beach from above. Now we were trotting by the sea, with the hooves of the horses softly sinking into the sand beneath. The hoof prints were prominent in the light sand, like the imprint the waves had left before retreating into the sea. The horses took their time strolling on the beach, giving us time to enjoy what we had left of our horseback riding experience.

Beach with HorsesRiding on the beach


Disclaimer: This was made possible by Morgan’s Rock Ecolodge, but all opinions expressed are our own.

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Wildlife and Scenery: Kayaking Lake Nicaragua http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/10/15/kayaking-in-lake-nicaragua/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/10/15/kayaking-in-lake-nicaragua/#comments Tue, 15 Oct 2013 14:30:52 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=15500 Blue SkiesFrom my room at the I could see the shimmering Lake Nicaragua lit up by the morning rays.  At 7 am, the tropical air was already hot and steamy. The howler monkeys were already awake, their loud bawls echoing from the jungle surrounding the lake.  Birds perched on tree branches were chirping and singing their morning tunes. [...]

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Our editor, Elica Sue, recently returned from a trip to Nicaragua, where she traveled all over the country. Today she shares her experience in San Juan del Sur. 

From my room at the I could see the shimmering Lake Nicaragua lit up by the morning rays.  At 7 am, the tropical air was already hot and steamy. The howler monkeys were already awake, their loud bawls echoing from the jungle surrounding the lake.  Birds perched on tree branches were chirping and singing their morning tunes. White lilies and their green pads floated innocently on the calm waters, adding a hint of peace to the scenery.

We were kayaking on the glassy water surface of Lake NicaraguaCentral America’s largest lake. As a natural freshwater lake, it draws all sorts of wildlife to its shores. From cormorants to freshwater fish, the lake is teeming with life. Earlier that morning, we had set off from the Jicaro Island Ecolodge, a luxury resort set on our own private little island rising from the water of Lake Nicaragua. Our friendly guide Julio had promised to bring us around the lake to catch a glimpse of local flora and fauna.

As he assured us, wildlife isn’t the only attraction on Lake Nicaragua. From the lake, we could see and feel the energy of Mombacho Volcano, one of Nicaragua‘s most famous volcanoes. Its rises from a sea of greenery and soars into the blue skies, with clouds hanging over its peak. Here, we also got to meet locals who live on the many islands that dot the lake. A few of them were fishing in their row boats that morning. As we paddled past them, they waved at us, smiling subtly.

Here, diverse wildlife and unique scenery come together to create a beautiful backdrop. I’ll let my photos do the talking for now, enjoy!

Blue Skies

A view of Mombacho Volcano from the Lake

More Lily

A water lily amongst hundreds in Lake Nicaragua 

Yellow Birdie

A vibrant Kiskadee bird perched on a branch

Doves

Two doves resting on a bare tree branch

Drying your Wings

A cormorant spreading its wings in the sun to dry off

Turkey Vulture

A turkey vulture waiting for its next prey

Mangoes

Mangoes hanging high on branches over the water

Daily Catch

On a row boat, casting out a net to see what fish will be caught today

Fishy

Catch of the Day: one species of fish out of over 40 in the lake

Drying Out Laundry

People living on some of the many islands in the lake make up part of a unique community


 Disclaimer: This trip was made possible by Jicaro Island Ecolodge, but all opinions expressed are our own. 

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A Glimpse of Nicaragua’s Flora and Fauna in San Juan del Sur http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/09/04/a-glimpse-of-nicaraguas-flora-and-fauna-in-san-juan-del-sur/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/09/04/a-glimpse-of-nicaraguas-flora-and-fauna-in-san-juan-del-sur/#comments Wed, 04 Sep 2013 14:00:24 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=15526 Over the TreesI could hear the sound of waves crashing onto the beach which wasn’t too far, but I could also hear the calls of the howler monkeys, who always seemed to be hiding within the branches of the high trees. Underlying their distinct howl was the jungle orchestra: crickets chirped while frogs croaked. Colorful mud crabs [...]

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Our web editor Elica Sue has just returned from Nicaragua where we spent a week or so exploring its wilderness. She shares stunning photos of the wildlife she encountered in San Juan del Sur.

I could hear the sound of waves crashing onto the beach which wasn’t too far, but I could also hear the calls of the howler monkeys, who always seemed to be hiding within the branches of the high trees. Underlying their distinct howl was the jungle orchestra: crickets chirped while frogs croaked. Colorful mud crabs skittered around on the marshy earth, seemingly unaware of our presence. Lizards sometimes appeared out of nowhere, and with their quick movement, they would be gone the next moment.

Nicaragua is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna that inhabit its jungles, volcanos, and sea. Having the opportunity to stay at Morgan’s Rock, an ecolodge located in San Juan del Sur on the Pacific side of Nicaragua, I had a chance to live in harmony with nature and see the animals in their natural habitat. Here are some of the wildlife photos I snapped during my stay at Morgan’s Rock:

Over the Trees

A shot of the jungle and a part of the Pacific coast of Nicaragua

Hoppa

A green grasshopper paid me a visit during dinner one night

White Face

A white headed capuchin monkey

Lizard or Iguana?

Spotted a lizard in a walk through the jungle!

Howler Monkey

A howler monkey in the trees

Lizard in the Lamp

Saw little creatures in the light fixtures every night at dinner!

Colorful Crab

 Mud crabs can be found everywhere, especially after it rains

Flor Roja

A beautiful red flower in the jungle

Madroño Tree

The national tree of Nicaragua is the Madroño

National Tree: Madroño

A closer look at the Madroño tree

Disclaimer: This was made possible by Morgan’s Rock Ecolodge, but all opinions expressed are our own.

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Highlights of Nicaragua: From Lakes to Volcanoes http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/09/03/living-up-to-its-name-nicaraguas-lakes-and-volcanoes/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/09/03/living-up-to-its-name-nicaraguas-lakes-and-volcanoes/#comments Tue, 03 Sep 2013 14:00:43 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=15542 On a BranchAs a country steeped in nature and wilderness, Nicaragua is most famed for its multitude of lakes and volcanoes. I wasn’t aware of how prominent these two features would be until my recent visit. While in Nicaragua, I had the opportunity to see with my own eyes, the features that characterize this country as so. [...]

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Our web editor Elica Sue has just returned from Nicaragua where we spent a week or so exploring its wilderness. Shes sums up the beauty of Nicaragua in this post.

As a country steeped in nature and wilderness, Nicaragua is most famed for its multitude of lakes and volcanoes. I wasn’t aware of how prominent these two features would be until my recent visit. While in Nicaragua, I had the opportunity to see with my own eyes, the features that characterize this country as so.

Lake Nicaragua

Lake Nicaragua is Central America’s largest lake and the world’s 19th largest lake. There is a vast diversity of birds and wildlife, and there are said to be over 365 islands on the lake; some of which are uninhabited. A good way to see Lake Nicaragua is to go kayaking — you’ll be able to experience wildlife in its natural habitat and the small island community while enjoying the serene energy of the lake.

On a Branch

A cormorant resting on a branch on the lake

Boat

Those living on the lake use row boats as transportation

Una Casa

A local community

Mombacho Volcano

After staying at Jicaro Island Ecolodge, I got accustomed to seeing one of the most famous volcanoes in Nicaragua. It reaches to over 4,400 feet in height and is considered an active volcano, though the last known eruption occurred over 440 years ago in 1570. Though I did not hike the volcano myself, Mombacho has a couple hiking trails and has a cloud forest near the top of the volcano.

Blue Skies

A view of Mombacho Volcano from Lake Nicaragua

The View from Above

A view of Mombacho from above the trees near sun down

Masaya Volcano (Santiago Crater)

One of the first national parks to be protected in Nicaragua, the Santiago Crater rests within the Masaya Volcano National park (which also houses the Masaya Volcano). It is one of the easiest volcanoes to access, and there is a museum for visitors to learn about volcanoes, geology, history, and even the wildlife that surrounds the volcano. Created a little over 150 years ago, it’s possible to see green parakeets fly through the cloud of sulfur into the crater — the green parakeets make their living inside the crater.  I was not able to see the crater at night, though our guide, Alex, told us it’s possible to see the red glow from below.

National Park

Welcome to the Masaya Volcano National Park

Long Time Ago

Hardened lave from 1772 in the Volcanic Rock Valley

Mural and Map

An ecological museum inside the park that touches on various subjects such as history, ecology, and geology

Smoking Crater

The Santiago Crater filled with sulfur

Not as Smoky

A view of the layers inside the crater after the wind blew sulfur in the other direction

Apoyo Lagoon

Apoyo Lagoon was first a crater created from a volcanic eruption about 23,000 years ago, which over time, began to fill with water to bring us to the present day Apoyo Lagoon. The picture below shows the closest point I was able to get to the Apoyo Lagoon, but the amazing view makes up for it. It is possible to go down closer to the lake, where you can see the beaches, go swimming, and participate in a multitude of activities.

Lake Apoyo

A shot of Apoyo Lagoon in the afternoon

Concepción

I also did not have the chance to visit Concepción volcano during my stay in Nicaragua this time, though I was able to see it almost all the time! Concepción, along with Maderas, both stratovolcanoes, are what make up the popular Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua. Concepción has had multiple eruptions within the past years, with the latest being a little over three years ago in 2010; this volcano is considered active.

Árboles

A far away view of La Concepción–can you see it?

Volcán?

A far away “close-up” view of La Concepción

Disclaimer: This trip was made possible by Jicaro Island Ecolodge, but all opinions expressed are our own.

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To the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes: Nicaragua http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/08/08/to-the-land-of-lakes-and-volcanoes-nicaragua/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/08/08/to-the-land-of-lakes-and-volcanoes-nicaragua/#comments Thu, 08 Aug 2013 14:30:00 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=15076 Granada Nicaragua-4-2Our web editor Elica Sue is off to visit Nicaragua on behalf of WildJunket! Here, she shares what she’ll be up to. After an extended academic calendar dipped into my summer, I’ll have the opportunity to visit a part of the world I’ve always wanted to visit: Nicaragua, also known as the land of lakes and [...]

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Our web editor Elica Sue is off to visit Nicaragua on behalf of WildJunket! Here, she shares what she’ll be up to.

After an extended academic calendar dipped into my summer, I’ll have the opportunity to visit a part of the world I’ve always wanted to visit: Nicaragua, also known as the land of lakes and volcanoes, is located in between Honduras and Costa Rica in Cental America. Despite its small size, it packs in plenty of natural sights and diversity. I hope to be exploring everything from volcanoes to lakes and beaches and share my experiences here with you.

Granada Nicaragua-4-2Flickr photo by Marion Robin

I’ll be flying into Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, then heading off to one of the country’s most important cities: Granada. After spending a couple days touring Granada and its historical charm, I’ll be heading to San Juan del Sur by Morgan’s Rock, an ecolodge located on the southern coast touching the Pacific, hidden away in a jungle. At this quiet locale, I will hopefully get a taste of what life is like in the Nicaraguan wilderness with hikes through the jungle and horseback rides along the coast. Wildlife is also part of the reason why I’m visiting – sloths and snakes are just a few of the jungle’s residents that I hope to meet!

volcano in NicaraguaPhoto by Morgan’s Rock

For the next leg of my trip, I’ll not only be able to see Lake Nicaragua, but I’ll get the chance to stay on a small private island, with Jicaro Island Ecolodge. I’ll be spending my last few days surrounded by the largest fresh water lake in Central America and getting a good glimpse of a very different side of the country. At the end of the journey, I hope to have seen and learn as much as I can of Nicaragua and its landscape and people.

487300_569879949690194_1292786062_nPhoto by Jicaro Island Ecolodge

Disclaimer: This trip was made possible by Morgan’s Rock and Jicaro Island Ecolodge. 

 

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Toucans, Flycatchers and Woodpeckers – A Birder’s Paradise in Honduras http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/05/24/a-birders-paradise-in-honduras/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/05/24/a-birders-paradise-in-honduras/#comments Fri, 24 May 2013 14:34:49 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=14461 A keel-billed toucanOn our last day at Pico Bonito, we awoke before dawn, determined to carry out our mission: to search for the famous toucan. The Pico Bonito National Park is home to a myriad of wildlife, ranging from the world famous toucan bird to the Central American aguti, the elusive jaguar and ocelot (a type of [...]

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On our last day at Pico Bonito, we awoke before dawn, determined to carry out our mission: to search for the famous toucan.

The Pico Bonito National Park is home to a myriad of wildlife, ranging from the world famous toucan bird to the Central American aguti, the elusive jaguar and ocelot (a type of big cat). Out of the 750 species of birds that inhabit Honduras, 500 of them are found here in Pico Bonito. New species continue to be found each year. Head naturalist of the Lodge at Pico Bonito, James Adam,  even goes so far to call this, “the toucan capital of the world”. Undoubtedly, we made it our mission to catch a glimpse of the toucan bird while we’re here.

Over the weekend, we had hiked around the surrounding rainforest, hopped on a boat to see howler monkeys on the Salado River, and even gone on a night hike in the jungle – but the toucan bird had eluded us. It was now our last opportunity to see a toucan bird.

Blurry eyed, we wandered through the lodge’s ground finding our way through the early morning mist. Even before leaving the grounds, the birds were already circling overhead. My excitement heightened with each bird we saw –- the yellow social flycatcher that perched on its nest, the cute crested chestnut colored woodpecker working away on a tree, the beautiful cotinga with its psychedelic blue feathers and the famous motmot with its long self-trimmed tail.

Elmer eventually led us up to the top of an observation tower that opened up to sweeping views of the Nombre de Dios mountain range. The minute I stepped foot on the platform, Elmer called out to me, “Quick, look!”

I turned to my right, and there it was: a rainbow-colored keel-billed toucan perched on the top of a tree right beside the tower. It wasn’t close enough for us to snap a good photo and didn’t even stay long enough – but through the binoculars, I got a glimpse of its gorgeous pointed beak, big eyes, yellow feathers, and brown back. It was indeed a very special moment.

Our mission was now complete but I felt as though my love affair with birding had just begun.

A keel-billed toucan

The stunning keel-billed toucan finally makes its appearance (Photo courtesy of head naturalist James Adam)

Social flycatcher

A bright yellow social flycatcher greets us in the morning

a blue cotinga

Beautiful blue colors of the blue cotinga

The famous motmot
The famous motmot makes an appearance too


Additional Info:

The Lodge at Pico Bonito is a luxury eco-lodge that specializes in birding opportunities in and around the Pico Bonito National Park. There are several viewing towers located around the property, which are excellent for birding. You are free to explore or your own or alternatively, you can book one of the birding packages with the lodge. Room rates start at US$215 per cabin. 


Disclaimer: This trip was made possible by the Lodge at Pico Bonito, but all opinions expressed above are our own. Photos above were also provided by them.

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Life on the Water: Honduras’ Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/05/23/honduras-wildlife-refuge/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/05/23/honduras-wildlife-refuge/#comments Thu, 23 May 2013 14:30:04 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=14698 A crocodile in the Salado RiverA thick leathery body floated over the glassy green water surface as we glided by the edge of the swamp in our motorized wooden boat. Our local guide Elmer signaled for the boatman to move closer. Once we were within an arm’s length from the body, we found a pair of big marble eyes staring back at us. An enormous [...]

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A thick leathery body floated over the glassy green water surface as we glided by the edge of the swamp in our motorized wooden boat. Our local guide Elmer signaled for the boatman to move closer. Once we were within an arm’s length from the body, we found a pair of big marble eyes staring back at us. An enormous crocodile, lay just inches away from us.

It was early in the morning and the air was wet and hot. We were gliding across the water of the Salado River, one of the many water channels that flow through the Pico Bonito National Park, just 45 minutes away from the coastal town of La Ceiba in Northern Honduras. The river is part of the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge, home to a vast collection of endemic wildlife ranging from the shy and elusive manatee, to howler monkeys and crocodiles. But because of its isolated location, it receives only a trickle of curious travelers and wildlife seekers.

A crocodile in the Salado River

Wildlife Safari on the River

Earlier that morning, we had left our comfortable base, the Lodge at Pico Bonito, to explore the area around the national park. At the village of La Union, we’d found our ride: a rickety tourist train dating back to 1912, previously built to transport coconuts and now used as a form of transportation for visitors. Along with a big group of young students from Tegucigalpa, we boarded the locomotive, swaying to the slow but hypnotic motion of the train while traversing the 9.5km-long trail.

On our left, we watched the early morning sun rise above the Pico Bonito Mountain Range; and on our right, clusters of villages and patchworks of farm lands whizzed by. Locals waved at us, children shouting ‘hola!’ as we trotted past.

Once on the river bank, our next ride was awaiting: a small six-passenger boat equipped with a motor, that would take us deep into the swamps surrounding the Salado River.  On the surface, the river looked just like any — with emerald green mangroves fringing its banks and murky water lurking its shores. But on closer look, it’s in fact a sanctuary, inhabited by thousands of plants, fish, birds, reptiles as well as local villages.

the Salado River

a local fisherman

Covering an area of 13,500 hectares, the refuge sprawls across two major rivers – Cuero and Salado – stretching all the way to the Caribbean Sea.

Covering an area of 13,500 hectares, the refuge sprawls across two major rivers – Cuero and Salado – stretching all the way to the Caribbean Sea. The refuge is home to hundreds of local fishermen who depend on the river for livelihood. Our young boatman is one of them, having grown up in the nearby village of Salado Barra which houses over 40 families. He now works for the Cuero y Salado foundation, shuttling tourists around the river. Having spent decades of his life here, he knows the river inside out.

Within five minutes on the boat, he already spotted our first animal. A beautiful black bird with yellow feet was walking lightly on the water lily leaves, picking on insects hiding within the plants. A northern Jacana, said our naturalist Elmer. These birds have big webbed toes that help them tread on floating plants. Besides the yellow feet, they usually have big yellow patches on their foreheads and their underarms are painted in yellow too. We soon saw it for ourselves when the northern jacana spread its wings and took off, displaying its gorgeous golden-yellow wings in the sky.

Further along, we spotted three northern jacana babies, all eagerly chirping away under their father’s protection. For these birds, their father – instead of mother – takes care of the infants, staying with them for three months before they are mature enough to hunt and survive on their own. Nearby, we found a juvenile Great Blue Heron staring out into the water, looking for the catch of the day. Despite being a juvenile, the heron was already rather large in size, spotting a dark green beak, yellow eyes and dark magenta feathers.

a northern jacana

the juvenile Great Blue Heron

Crabs, Reptiles, and Bats

Continuing on our journey, we glided closer to the mangroves, skirting the edge of the muddy banks. Elmer explained that mangroves play a vital role in this eco-system, holding the roots and protecting land in the area. The Salado River itself has three species of mangroves, each of them easily distinguished from the other based on its color: white, red and black. These mangroves also provide food and shelter for many of these animals, including the toads and mangrove crabs that we saw sputtering across the roots and muddy riverbed.

Sprouting from these mangroves were sapotone flowers, their white lily-like petals and red thin needles creating quite a contrast to the greenery of the setting. And on these sapotone trees were brown patches that seemingly moved with the wind. As our boat inched close to a sapotone tree, Elmer whipped out his binoculars and urged us to take a look. Through the magnifying lenses, I stared for a few minutes before finally realizing what I was looking at: with sharp eyes, small rabbit-like nose, pointy ears, and big wings by their sides, these were long nose bats hanging from the tree trunk, immaculately camouflaging into the backdrop. By this time, our boat was almost touching the tree and just at that precise moment, the bats flapped their wings and fled in all directions. They were gone in just seconds.

A mangrove crab

A long nose bat

Soon enough, we were slowly weaving through a narrow channel flanked by thick fig trees and coiling vines. Three turkey vultures circled overhead, while a large montezuma oropendula stood on a branch staring at us from a distance. A huge lizard was lounging out on the shore under the sun when we were sailing close to shore. According to Elmer, this species of lizard is known as Jesus Christ Lizard, because of its ability to walk on water. While we didn’t quite see the lizard work its magic, we could sense its unspoken power.

Various types of birds, lizards, bats and even crocodiles had made their appearance — only the legendary howler monkey was missing. When we went backpacking in Guatemala a few years ago, we had heard the loud roar of these howler monkeys. The howl they made was so loud and disturbing that we’d found them hard to forget. But in actual fact, we had heard them but never seen them.

Various types of birds, lizards, bats and even crocodiles had made their appearance — only the legendary howler monkey was missing.

Howling Haven

“Its so quiet. Usually we can hear howler monkeys in the refuge, even if they’re 5km away.” Elmer shared, “they are probably out hunting since after the rain last night.” I was beginning to lose hope. Perhaps it was our fate.

But then our boatmen suddenly killed the engine, shushed us, and pointed to the trees overhead. There was a crew of six monkeys right above us — some were lazing on the fig tree branches chewing on fruit, others were swinging from tree to tree with babies on their backs, and one was staring at us cheekily, as if it were up to no good. A few minutes later, the cheeky one spread its legs and started pissing above us, in a bid to protect its territory. Thank goodness it missed.

We spent several minutes quietly watching the monkeys in action. Surprisingly, there was no howling. They didn’t even make a sound. Perhaps they knew we came in peace. Indeed, it’s hard not to be at peace in such a glorious setting, surrounded by the wilderness of the Cuero y Salado.

a howling monkey and its baby


Additional Information:

This visit to the Cuero y Salado Refuge can be booked at the Lodge at Pico Bonito. It’s priced at US$70 per person including lunch. The tour includes entrance fee, the train ride, boat trip and local wildlife guide.


Disclaimer: This trip was made possible by the Lodge at Pico Bonito, but all opinions expressed above are our own.

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When the Forest Comes Alive: Pico Bonito at Night http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/04/25/when-the-forest-comes-alive-pico-bonito-at-night/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/04/25/when-the-forest-comes-alive-pico-bonito-at-night/#comments Thu, 25 Apr 2013 14:30:13 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=14455 a shiny grasshopperDarkness engulfs us in the thick of the woods, with the yellow beams of our torches and a faint slither of light from the lodge illuminating the way.  It’s after hours here at the Lodge at Pico Bonito but instead of downing piña coladas, we are hiking along one of the many trails that criss-cross [...]

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Darkness engulfs us in the thick of the woods, with the yellow beams of our torches and a faint slither of light from the lodge illuminating the way.  It’s after hours here at the Lodge at Pico Bonito but instead of downing piña coladas, we are hiking along one of the many trails that criss-cross the area, hoping to track down some nocturnal animals in the wild.

Located in the northern coast of Honduras, the Pico Bonito National Park is an area with one of the highest biodiversity in Central America. It’s home to various species of amphibians, coatis, monkeys, parrots, and parakeets. Within the impenetrable cloud forests perched high up in the Nombre de Dios mountain range, you can even find the endangered Honduran emerald hummingbird and the prized bright-blue feathered cotinga, favorite of the Mayans.

In the day, we had the opportunity to catch fleeting glimpses of a variety of birds – from the legendary mot mot, to the yellow-tailed Montezuma oropendula and the chicken-like the great tinamou.  But once the sun set and darkness unfolded, it became a different world out here. Gone are the diurnal birds and rodents, in their place are tiny peculiar insects, large venomous snakes, and big cats lurking behind the trees. The forest feels almost as if it’s alive.

a shiny grasshopper

Safe Encounters

Feeling the tension in the air, we are all slightly nervous as we’re reminded of what James Adam, the head naturalist at the Lodge at Pico Bonito, had shared with us earlier. A few years ago, he had battled a near death experience, after being bitten by a deadly coral snake in this forest. If he hadn’t been rushed to the hospital and given the one and only anti-venom injection in the hospital, he would have lost his life.

Thankfully, instead of dangerous snakes, we encounter a tiny red-and-black ladybug munching away on a green leaf, a giant cricket with red eggs on its body, and a lime green katydid wildly fluttering its antennae-like feelers. Further down the trail, we come across a tropical wandering spider, its luminescent white eyes sparkling in the darkness and its milky translucent legs firmly attached to a leaf. A common toad hops past, with an inflated throat to boot.

a cricket

A common toad

Bringing New Life

“Guaaaaakkk,” a loud noise erupts all of a sudden.

“What was that?” We all unanimously ask. It’s so loud that whatever made it must be near. Our guide Elmer calms us down and points out the creature responsible for that ominous sound. Right above our heads on one of the tree leaves is a red-eyed tree frog – a creature we’ve heard so much about.

It has finally showed up. With its shimmering blood red eyes, it stares at us innocently, stretching out its lime green webbed feet on the giant leaf.

a red-eyed tree frog
tree frog

brown tree frog

We look around the pond and find even more tree frogs around us, belching out melodic tunes together along with the pitter patter of water streaming in. Our guide Elmer tells us that the team had built this pond in 2009 with the hopes of attracting these red-eyed tree frogs. Now after almost three years, they’re here, clearly thriving even more than ever.

In the blur of flash lights and darkness, we all smile as we watch the frog in awe – cheering for the new life that’s been created here in Pico Bonito.


Disclaimer: This trip was made possible by the Lodge at Pico Bonito, but all opinions expressed above are our own.

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In Search of the Toucan – Pico Bonito, Honduras http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/04/24/in-search-of-the-toucan-pico-bonito-honduras/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2013/04/24/in-search-of-the-toucan-pico-bonito-honduras/#comments Wed, 24 Apr 2013 14:30:26 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=14438 an iguana Outside our thatched bungalow, we hear the jungle slowly awaking with the chirping of birds, shrill cries of cicadas and loud croaking sounds of frogs. Together, they form a synchronized jungle orchestra, their natural symphony echoing throughout the forest that surrounds us. Daylight has yet to arrive and the animals are already wide awake. We slip over the [...]

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Outside our thatched bungalow, we hear the jungle slowly awaking with the chirping of birds, shrill cries of cicadas and loud croaking sounds of frogs. Together, they form a synchronized jungle orchestra, their natural symphony echoing throughout the forest that surrounds us. Daylight has yet to arrive and the animals are already wide awake. We slip over the sheets, open the windows and feel the musky and fresh early morning air outside, and prepare for another beautiful day in the jungle.

We’re here to spend the weekend in the Pico Bonito National Park, Honduras, in search of some birding, hiking and boating opportunities away from the crowd. Located on the northern coast of Honduras, Pico Bonito may be just 15 minutes away from the gateway city of La Ceiba yet it’s still quite a stranger to tourism. As the country’s biggest national park, the protected area spans over an area of 564 square kilometers, with many pockets of wilderness that are impenetrable. With one of the highest biodiversity in Central America, the national park sprawls across a multitude of forests – ranging from low-level dry forests to high altitude cloud forest – in the Nombre de Dios mountain range.

This largely unexplored area is home to a myriad of wildlife, ranging from the world famous toucan bird to the Central American aguti, the elusive jaguar and ocelot (a type of big cat). Out of the 750 species of birds that inhabit Honduras, 500 of them are found here in Pico Bonito. New species continue to be found each year. Head naturalist of the Lodge at Pico Bonito, James Adam,  even goes so far to call this, “the toucan capital of the world”. Undoubtedly, we’ve made it our mission to catch a glimpse of the toucan bird while we’re here.

Over the short span of a weekend, we’ll be unearthing as much of Pico Bonito as we can from our base, the Lodge at Pico Bonito, a luxury eco-lodge standing at the foothills of Pico Bonito in the midst of the lush, tropical rain forest. A network of hiking trails, as well as two rivers and a series of waterfalls are peppered all over the grounds of the property. We won’t have to travel far to see wildlife or immerse in the natural environment – the lodge is literally in the heart of all the action.

Here are some photos Alberto has snapped so far. But do we complete our mission in the end? Keep reading to find out.

an iguana
a grasshopper
Central American aguti
the northern jacana
mangrove crabs
a crocodile in the Salado River
the great blue heron
a turkey vulture
Ginger plant
floating on the Salado River
Hiking in the national park
At the Unbelievable Falls
Our guide Elmer showing us the cocoa seed
The exterior of our cabin
Our rustic and stylish bungalow

Read the full article here


Disclaimer: This trip was made possible by the Lodge at Pico Bonito, but all opinions expressed above are our own.

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Slowing Down in Loreto, Baja California http://www.wildjunket.com/2012/12/13/relaxing-in-loreto-baja-california/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2012/12/13/relaxing-in-loreto-baja-california/#comments Thu, 13 Dec 2012 14:30:55 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=12423 VDP Loreto 2012: Simple**Our teammate Elica Sue was recently in Baja California, Mexico. Here’s one of her stories from her trip to Loreto, stay tuned for more.** I recently just returned from Loreto in Baja California del Sur, Mexico, and am still just as enamored with it as I was when I first arrived. It was difficult getting my head back [...]

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**Our teammate Elica Sue was recently in Baja California, Mexico. Here’s one of her stories from her trip to Loreto, stay tuned for more.**

I recently just returned from Loreto in Baja California del Sur, Mexico, and am still just as enamored with it as I was when I first arrived. It was difficult getting my head back to my daily life in California, but even now from time to time, I still think back of my beautiful days in Loreto.

VDP Loreto 2012: Simple

During my visit in early November, the weather was as close to perfect as it could get—coming from a California native who is picky about weather. The hot days had already passed in the summer, but the cooler days had yet to arrive; I could step outside at night in my pajamas to admire the stars without needing a jacket. The weather was perfect for snorkeling, fishing, as well as taking tours to see San Javier and cave paintings.

Suite Time to Relax

My home for four days and three nights was a one-bedroom suite on the fourth floor of the beautiful resort and spa Villa Del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto. My room was equipped with everything from a kitchenette to a washer/dryer, and two full bathrooms to a king size bed, a one-bedroom suite would be a great match for a group of four.

Within the resort, there are seven pools that create the shape of a turtle, surrounded by a variety of places to eat such as the Casa Mia and The Market Restaurant (both of which have an excellent cuisine), to name a few, and the Sabila Spa, which gives you another opportunity to relax.

VDP Loreto 2012: La Vista, La Vida

Beauty from your Balcony

Villa Del Palmar itself is surrounded by La Sierra Giganta on one side, and by the Sea of Cortez on another — it’s the perfect paradise to escape to if you’re looking for peace and quiet with a scenic backdrop. Anyone at the resort can access the beach, just a few feet away with a rental stand for kayak enthusiasts.

It’s likely that no matter what time of the day you happen to steal a glance from nature from the resort, you’re bound to find something new and different every hour; watch the sun rise and paint the sky and mountains with pastels, or sit on your balcony with a cup of coffee at night and admire the shimmering stars that sparkle above the mountains.

I enjoyed both the beauty of the location as well as the resort—instead of rivaling each other, they compliment each other well to create a relaxing environment for both people who just want to get away and people who find a little bit of adventure.

VDP Loreto 2012: Amo La Vida

*Disclaimer: This trip was made possible by Villa Del Palmar Loreto, but all opinions are our own.

 

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