Tucked deep into the tropical rainforest in the Southern Pacific region of Costa Rica, about 20 minutes from Dominical, you will find the remote and breath-taking Nauyaca waterfalls.
In a wide valley canyon, Nauyaca is a dramatic series of cascading waterfalls, draped and framed with lush, jungle greenery.
You can choose to join a guided horseback tour to get to the falls, or you can do the hike yourself, which is about 5 miles roundtrip. It is moderately difficult, with a few steep hills, and can be slippery with mud during rainy season.
Once you arrive at the falls entrance you can choose between the upper or lower falls.
The upper falls are impressive, tumbling dramatically over a 140-foot cliff, cascading into the sheer rocks below.
The lower falls are mellow, the water meanders over a wide, 60-foot drop off, creating several large and refreshing pools for swimming beneath the falls.
Typically there is a local man who will bring his rope and help people climb about 20-feet up the lower falls, where they can bravely leap off the rocks, plunging into the deep, natural swimming pool below.
We have enjoyed many laughs over this next picture. It looks like my husband Andy pushed our friend Jimmy's lifeless body off the cliff.
You can also climb down beneath the lower falls to escape the crowds and relax in the river, or shade, while admiring the stunning view of both falls above.
Costa Rica is land of many waterfalls and the cascading Nauyaca waterfalls are a natural attraction which should not be missed on your vacation. My husband and I have spent time at many waterfalls in Costa Rica and we agree that Nauyaca is by far the most impressive.
There are numerous tour companies in the area, which you can arrange a trip to Nauyaca through, transportation included.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Driving from Dominical, turn right after the police checkpoint at the Rio Baru Bridge. Following signs for San Isidro, head 7 km up a winding road to the ticket booth on your right, you will see a large Nauyaca waterafall sign across the road.
Here you can purchase your ticket for $8-$9/person (depending on the season), and you will receive a wristband to show at the entrance. Park your car, take all valuables with you and begin your hike!
Remember to bring plenty of water, shoes with traction, sunscreen and a camera so you can capture some unforgettable waterfall memories.
Happy Exploring Amigos!
It's a bird...it's a plane...
Wait, it is a bird, the size of a plane (that happens to look like superman), and sounds like it's dying.
That is when you know you are in Costa Rica. A flash of brilliant red circling over head, a boisterous and ferocious squawk piercing the jungle silence, two determined wings delicately slicing through the salty ocean breeze.
Usually heard before they are seen, these vibrant scarlet macaws are the only macaws found on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. Giant rainbow birds, they display fire-engine red with a stroke of royal blue, and a dash of sunshine yellow, making quite a colorful display in the sky.
They are magnificently awesome and will make a birdwatcher out of anyone.
Scarlet Macaws are loyal and romantic birds, as they mate for life. Rarely will you see an odd number. Typically you will see them flying in pairs, or in groups, but in distinct sets of two.
They are the ultimate love birds.
Sometimes you may be lucky enough to see them traveling in small family groups, and at times they may even merge into large flocks of 25-50. My husband Andy and I have seen over 20 flying by at once, and here is a distant photo I managed to snap of 16 scarlet macaws circling the valley by our house.
Occasionally you will see a rare odd number. Typically the odd-man out may be a rebellious juvenile macaw who has yet to take on a life partner, and is still enjoying the bachelor life.
Macaws are the largest parrots in the Americas and can live to be up to 60 years old. Scarlet macaws were once nearly extinct in Costa Rica because of poaching, the illegal pet trade, and loss of habitat due to deforestation.
However in the last 12 years isolated populations of scarlet macaws have expanded into healthy flocks in Costa Rica. Today an estimated 1500+ scarlet macaws inhabit the tropical lowland forests along the Pacific coastline of the country. They can be seen from the Jaco/Manuel Antonio to the Carara National Park. Flocks can also be seen in abundance on the Osa Peninsula and along the Golfo Dulce region.
My husband and I are lucky enough to live in one of these unique areas. All of these photo were taken from our home in Osa Mountain Village/Toucan Valley. We spend hours each day, on our balcony, watching the macaws circle and soar above us. They groom each other while bickering, pausing only to munch on some almonds, or mingle with the toucans.
If you're not staying in one of the parts of Costa Rica that the macaws inhabit, you can still tour any animal rescue center or sanctuary to visit rescued macaws, and to experience a rare, up-close macaw encounter.
Or schedule a quick visit to Osa Mountain Village/Toucan Valley for an in-person macaw sighting in the wild: http://www.osamountainvillagecostarica.com/
The scarlet macaw is distinct and unmistakable. With long and pointed tail feathers, vibrantly-painted plumage, and an ear-piercing shriek, the macaw makes a life-long impression.
It is a pleasure to live amongst their presence, and to get to witness them in their natural habitat in the wild.
May you be lucky enough to one day experience these awesome creatures in person...
until then, pura vida amigos.
The indigenous Boruca (Brunka) people of Costa Rica, their famous hand-carved masks and the annual Festival de los Diablos.
Winding through the Talamanca mountains the sky is gleaming blue, wispy clouds float and swirl across the valley as our car climbs the steep ridge. Following the dusty road, with our family who was visiting for Christmas, we continue to climb and admire the beauty of the nature that surrounds us, as we head toward Boruca. The landscape looks like a painting.
The Boruca (or Brunka) are a tribe of indigenous people living in the Southern Pacific section of Costa Rica, in the Talamanca mountains, near the Panama border. The population of the tribe is over 2,000, mostly residing in the Reserva Boruca. The Reserva Boruca-Terraba was among the first indigenous reserves established in Costa Rica and has a colorful history.
Most indigenous tribes in Costa Rica were defeated by the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500's, but the Boruca were one of the few native tribes to survive the conflict with their community, village and tribe identity still in place. As soon as you enter the charming Borucan territory you can feel the pride they hold and share for their sense of culture, artistry and community.
The Borucan population's main source of income is from the sale of indigenous arts and crafts. The Brunka's handcrafts are a huge part of the community, holding both cultural and economic value. Nearly 80% of the population participates in the indigenous arts, selling their unique and colorful handmade creations to tourists and visitors.
The most well-known indigenous art in Boruca are the famous hand-painted masks, made for the annual Festival de los Diablitos, which are sold all over Costa Rica. The masks are made of balsa wood, or cedar, and are hand-painted using natural dyes. Most have the face of a devil and are worn by the Borucan men during the Juego de los Diablitos (The Dance of the Little Devils), their traditional New Years celebration.
After arriving in Boruca we head into the museum to admire the vibrant collection of masks hanging on display, and we learn about the background of the Brunka people and the tradition of their annual Festival de los Diablos.
A festival of many names, the annual Danza de los Diablitos is a three-day New Years fiesta, which typically takes place between Dec 31 - Jan 2, and has been celebrated every winter since early colonial times. The Danza ceremony is a reenactment of the resistance of the "Diablo", which symbolizes the victory of the Boruca people against the Spanish conquistadors.
Upon arrival to the area the Spanish people called the Brunka people devils because they were not baptized, and it was instead assumed they worshipped the devil. This is why the main characters in the annual festival are the devils, or "diablos", or little devils, "diablitos".
The devils dress up in these intricate hand-carved masks, as the masks represent the indigenous defeating the Spanish. The indigenous tribes only had natural weapons, facing the advanced weaponry of the Spanish, and believed in the power of animals for protection, like the jaguar.
Wandering the peaceful village, we make a few stops to chat with some local artists. Some are outside their homes, under shade, carving. Some are inside, putting the finishing touches on their masterpieces. Many artists sell from their living rooms and you may be invited inside to admire their collection.
After touring the village, we decide on our purchases. With so many intricate, detailed, colorful masks to choose from the decision is not an easy one. But we are happy with our choices and stop at a scenic view point on our way out to snap some photos and make some lasting Borucan memories.
I will be proud to hang our vibrant and unique Borucan mask on our wall, to forever watch over us and always remind us to stand up for what we believe in and to fight for what we stand for.
The Boruca people remind us that a community cannot be defeated if in fact their culture still remains alive today.
“We continue. We continue fighting because there are many things that strike us, that hit us and try to destroy us, but we continue to fight despite it all. We fight to maintain — to maintain our culture, to be united for the well-being of our culture.” – Damaris Morales, school teacher in Boruca
As our Costa Rica travels wind down, we are realizing how many things are still left on our Costa Rican bucket list. After spending nearly the last 2 years exploring this beautiful country from end to end, we still had not yet witnessed baby sea turtles heading out to sea...and this was simply unacceptable to me.
Costa Rica is a country that is all about ecotourism, and it is home to many nesting beaches for four kinds of sea turtle species: olive ridley, hawksbill, green and leatherback.
Numerous local organizations help to preserve and protect these critical nesting habitats of the sea turtles. These organizations also allow tourists the rare opportunity to view the nesting turtles and the courageous and vulnerable baby sea turtles as they slowly but bravely head out to sea.
Reserva Playa Tortuga is a turtle rescue center located along the southern pacific coast of Costa Rica, just before the entrance to the Osa Peninsula, near the town of Ojochal. A non-profit biological research and education center formed in 2009, Reserva Tortuga does important work for the sea turtles in the Costa Ballena area. To learn more you can visit their website: http://reservaplayatortuga.org/
Noticing a post on the Reserva Tortuga Facebook page that they were releasing 55 baby olive ridley sea turtles into the ocean at 4pm one afternoon, and that it could be the last release of the season, we knew we could not miss this incredible experience.
It was finally Turtle Time!
Playa Tortuga, where the baby sea turtles are released between July and December each year, is the closest beach to our house at Osa Mountain Village and is usually deserted.
But when we show up for Turtle Time the beach is packed with rental cars, turtle lovers, and selfie sticks. The roar of the waves was only matched by the excited chattering and shrieks as we all took turns admiring and delicately holding the precious baby sea turtles.
We whisper to some, wish them luck and encourage them on their long, looming journey ahead into the unknown.
The volunteers and biologists at Reserva Tortuga soon collect all the turtles and place them back into the bucket. Excitedly, the small crowd mobs down to the beach, to watch the release of the baby turtles into the calm ocean waters.
Just as the crowd has mobbed toward the beach, the baby turtles now mob toward the ocean, flipping and flopping and struggling to make progress toward the vast sea of freedom lying ahead.
Some showed little patience for their slower neighbors ahead, and climbed their way over the turtle pile to the head of the pack, leading the way to the ocean.
Some were determined and didn't stop until they reached the water...
Some took it slowly, but cheerfully, and paused often to rest and admire the distance and struggles they had come in their short, hard life.
Some were angry at this obsurd inconvenience...
And some were just plain tuckered out and wanted to give up...
But they all eventually made it to the ocean, as we cheered on their determined little turtle souls. The moment they reached the wave line was a victorious moment for all, turtles and humans alike.
As we check another item off our Costa Rican bucket list, we reflect on the message of the experience, as we watch the turtles join the sea.
From the sea turtles we learn that your speed through life does not matter, only your determination does. We learn to never give up, especially when life gets tough, because easier waters are just beyond the next wave. We learn to be at ease in our own shell. And we learn to enjoy each step of the journey, because the journey itself is the adventure.
"Behlold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out."
-James Bryant Conant
Charming 1 BR villa for sale in Osa Mountain Village/Toucan Valley, an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica. Listed at $99,000!
Tucked into the mountains, just above the entrance to the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, lies a quaint, peaceful community that goes by the name of Toucan Valley, also known as Osa Mountain Village.
Located in an extremely biologically diverse section of the Earth, this jungle paradise is packed full of abundant wildlife, vibrant flora and fauna, dense jungle, serene waterfalls, friendly faces and overflowing fruit and vegetable gardens.
Ten months ago my husband and I found ourselves at Osa Mountain Village/Toucan Valley, about 30 minutes south of Uvita, along the Pacific Coast. We were planning to rent a villa for one month, and then continue our travels around Costa Rica.
But once you step foot onto these inviting grounds, you never want to leave. So we didn't.
Osa Mountain Village/Toucan Valley is a special place. A charming, organic farm surrounding a village of happy, laid-back people, that feels like home the instant you arrive. Immersed in nature, surrounded by lush jungle, fruit trees and waterfalls, the high elevation of 1800 feet provides comfortable temperatures year-round, while creating expansive ocean views.
Our friend and neighbors Arne and Monica are selling their charming villa, unit 17A, as they are moving to a larger house down the street.
Located in an ideal section of the village, right next to the pool and bar, as well as the laundry facilities, their villa is listed for sale at $99,000. While conveniently located in a prized spot with easy access to everything, you still have privacy and seclusion from the expansive, over-sized porch.
Toucan Valley is an American-built community, with all the comforts and modern conveniences you could imagine. Villa 17A is 900 square feet, with many beautiful upgrades.
Villa 17A is a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom unit. Spacious and comfortable, with large rooms and lots of natural light, it is the perfect size with a flowing, breezy layout.
The inviting pool and community center are right outside your door, featuring a restaurant, bar and 3 solar heated pools, with salt water filtering system and no chemicals.
With numerous refreshing waterfalls surrounding these lush grounds, there are plenty of hiking trails of varied difficulty, for you to choose from each day you spend in paradise.
Also surrounded by diverse and expansive organic fruit and vegetable gardens, you can make farm-to-table a part of every meal, as you pick fresh produce directly from the well-maintained gardens. Help yourself to the resident banana box, or take a walk through the fruit orchard, or pinch some fresh herbs to make a special garden dinner.
And don't forget to leave your veggie basket out every Sunday and Wednesday evening, so you can wake up to farm-fresh eggs and your bi-weekly surprise from the garden fairy.
When you're feeling adventurous there is a canopy zipline tour that goes through the village, which includes 18 stations, an extension bridge, ending with a Tarzan swing out over the jungle valley.
And Toucan Valley earns it's name, as numerous families of toucans bounce amongst the trees, playing follow-the-leader, calling to each other across the jungle.
Not only is OMV/Toucan Valley a bird-watcher's dream, and one of the few places in the world where you can witness scarlet macaws in the wild, it is also one of the only places in Costa Rica where you can witness all 4 monkey species in their natural habitat.
This extremely biologically diverse section of jungle will leave you speechless as you are gifted animal encounter after animal encounter.
Just a 20-minute drive from some of the most beautiful beaches across the land of "rich coasts, you can choose to spend your day at one spectacular beach, or beach-hop your way up the desered, breath-taking coastline.
OMV/Toucan Valley is a place that feels like home the second you step foot onto the colorful, peaceful grounds. The laid-back vibe oozes into your soul within seconds. It is a place your feet may leave, but never your heart.
If you are ready to claim your own piece of secluded paradise, at an organic farm in Costa Rica, there is no time like right now, as right now is all we have.
Please contact the owners with any questions, or to arrange a tour.
Phone: US (772) 249-1080
Costa Rica: 8311-1221
Para Espanol contact:
Phone US (772) 380-4979
Costa Rica: 8571-1390
When my husband and I spontaneously quit our jobs, sold our house and bought one-way tickets to Costa Rica, I had numerous moments of second-guessing our decision. Constantly searching for signs, while worrying about the unknown, and while full of mixed feelings about leaving our home and loved ones in our dust, I over-analyzed every situation we found ourselves entangled in.
Being lost in San Jose at 2am, and not speaking the native language, was my first moment of regret. Being forced to drive our car through, not over, a dangerous river crossing was my second. Being struck at by a 6-foot pit viper was yet another. Getting stranded at a volcano, sliced open by a sting ray barb, and stung by a jellyfish...these moments began to pile up.
Looking back at all of those moments, I now realize if I had been offered an instant portal back through time, shooting me directly into the safety and comfort of our home we had just sold in Bend, OR, I would have gladly accepted.
But the first big sign I took to mean we were traveling down the right path, was the day we were introduced to our new constant companion. The only being that would accompany us on every adventure across the country, guiding our way safely and efficiently. A beloved friend, a loyal amigo, a vessel to make possible the daring dreams we were seeking.
It was the day we met our 1997 Toyota 4Runner.
BJC 535. That is her license plate, and that was the biggest sign to me that we were on the correct path in our lives. BJC were the same letters on the license plate of my car back home. From one BJC to the next. Someone out there was letting me know I made the right decision by moving to Costa Rica.
BJC now stands for Badass Jungle Car, and the beast has earned her name in the last 18+ months, as she has safely transported us through the best months of our lives, on the worst roads of our lives, all over the breath-taking land of "rich coasts".
She is an underdog, simply because she is 2-wheel drive in a country where 4 by 4's are worshipped. She is unfairly judged due to this label, on a daily basis. The sympathetic looks we get are offensive, as we reveal her hidden secret, whispering to her to not be ashamed and instead to wear her differences proudly, like a rainbow flag. We assure her that the bullies are just jealous of her sleek track record, along with her beast-like abilities and pure sex appeal.
Haters gonna hate. Meanwhile, we'll be at the beach...
With her powerful, purring engine, her ruthless and determined mountain tires, along with my husband's skilled driving abilities and heavy foot, we smile and wave at all the slow 4 by 4's we fly past, as we drive home each day on our "4-wheel drive only" mountain road.
Who doesn't love the story of a victorious underdog? Badass Jungle Car got us through the worst rainy season in history, while we lived at the top of a rugged, washed out mountain road, at times having to drive through landslides to get home. BJC never let us down. The odds were not in her favor, yet she rose to the top, to the literal top of our mountain, day after day, storm after storm, natural disaster after natural disaster. If cars could talk...oh, the stories she could tell.
Like the time she led us to a struggling sloth, trying to slowly cross a busy highway, with trucks barreling at us in each direction. She pulled over, and insisted we help the sloth to safety. Most cars in Costa Rica cause the death of sloths, yet BJC prevents them. A sloth-saving car...yeah, I'm pretty sure she has a stockpile of good karma now looming in her corner...(which can now be yours for only $7500! Who says you can't buy good karma?)
We'll just be over here changing the world, one sloth at a time.
Here is our friend Mr. Sloth smiling and waving at us with BJC beaming in the background.
Or the time she led us to a rare, secret low-hanging coconut tree, so we could stock up on fresh pipa frias. We lived on these pipas for weeks, which saved my life one morning from a horrific boxed red wine hangover (dang you Clos, never again).
Or the numerous times she took us on deserted beach drives, spinning through the sand, along the shore, never faltering in her confidence and always returning us home safely.
Or the endless days she granted us, swinging our worries away in a hammock, safe in her shadow, under her protective, motherly gaze.
Or the numerous Costa Rican traffic jams that she patiently waited behind.
Or the times she led us up rugged mountain roads, through potholes and rivers, to picturesque, expansive viewpoints of the coastline, like this view of the famous Whale's Tail beach above Uvita.
Or the many road trips she took us on, to explore the scenic valleys and colorful, rural mountainsides.
Or the countless new beaches she introduced us to and allowed us to fall in love with over and over again.
Or the unique, vibrant sunsets she witnessed beside us, as we admired the sun descending on another day in our pura vida paradise.
So many memories, so many experiences, so many friendships made. (Sidenote: it's extremely easy to make friends in Costa Rica when you have a car).
Right now is the beginning of the end to our 2-year Costa Rica trip, and we are preparing ourselves for the dreaded goodbye. Before the sun sets on this phase in our lives, we want to dedicate some time to finding BJC a loving new home who will treat her as we have: like a member of the family.
We purchased her in San Jose for $10,000 in July of 2015. We have taken incredible care of her, with regular maintenance and love. Her Marchamo is paid through the end of 2017. She will be available in the end of February, as we are moving back to the states. With just over 100,000 miles on her, she has an automatic transmission, guts made of steel, and a brave, strong engine.
Starting at $7500 (U.S.), we are open to negotiation, so please feel free to make an offer.
We live near the town of Uvita, along the Southern Pacific Coast, and can meet anyone within that area if you would like to see the car in person, or take her for a test drive. We will possibly be driving to the Nicoya Peninsula, sometime in the next month, and are happy to make some stops along the way if anyone is interested in meeting her.
Please email me with any questions, or to set up an appointment for a viewing/test drive, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or you can text us at (506) 8449-5829.
We do not receive voicemails, and have bad cell reception at our house, so please email or text only. And don't panic if we don't get back to you right away, we are out enjoying our last days of beaches and hammocks and sometimes we are unreachable for a day or so.
As we look forward to our future, we are sad to say goodbye to Badass Jungle Car, as she has been a true companion through the best days of our lives. She found her way into our lives easily and chose us at the right time. Now I am confident that she will find her way into the next person's life at also just the right time. And maybe that person is reading this right now.
Pay it Forward BJC, hasta luego and may we meet again someday on this crazy adventure called life.
Happy Travels and Pura Vida!
Kari Pinkerton Silcox
It would be a tragedy to die, having never really lived. Which is why my husband Andy and I quit our jobs, sold our house and decided to chase our dreams. We moved to Costa Rica without a plan, and this is the story of our adventure.