There is silence in the forest? That does not apply to Costa Rica. There, nature sounds like a construction site.
Forest is above all one thing: still. At least for us Europeans. We associate with a collection of trees the idea of tranquility, at most disturbed by a short rustle or a distant croak. Who spends time in the rainforest of Costa Rica, has to rethink quickly. It has little to do with rest. The nature here is loud, close, direct, often shrill and very enduring. Not infrequently it sounds like a construction site. Although one that makes you curious instead of annoying.
For example, in the central highlands, two hours northeast of the capital San José. The La Tigra Rainforest Lodge has built their rooms on stilts in the rainforest, leaving them open on one side for a head to head with nature. Only a curtain, slightly stronger than a mosquito net, hangs between the overnight guest and the rainforest. There is nothing to see except blackness. But the ears get something offered. It’s hammering, drilling, rattling. And something pops on the roof again and again. If you lie alone in your cabin without the knowledge of guides or locals, you hear a lot. But what? An animal sounds app – that would be something.
There sounds the metallic “Tink” of the Tink frog. Like a tuning fork. Anyway, an immense frog concert is going on, even if the word concert does not really suit the tropical version. The symphony creaks, sounds like a dentist drill, a stuttering micro, a megaphone or an eccentric cell phone ringing sound. And then a howl: from a Costa Rican coyote? Everything is superimposed by the chirping of the cicadas. A type of continuous noise, the locals probably no longer perceive, despite the immense volume. Until it is replaced by the rain, which bangs suddenly on the corrugated iron.
The blue-jeans-frog has blue legs, in the glass frog you can see the heart beating
“Your music in the rooms will be animals and nature,” Adolfo Quesada Alfaro, manager of the lodge, said on arrival. “We want to introduce you to nature.” And not to distract from that, there is also only in the lobby Internet. Only twenty years ago there were only a few guava trees here. Everything was already cleared, like so much in Costa Rica: for banana, coffee and pineapple plantations. As cattle pastures. Or just because a property with trees on it was worth nothing: what good would you do with it? At some point you have changed your mind. Luckily. “Today we have more trees than in the seventies,” says Paul Valenciano, who reforested the grounds of today’s lodge to later sell the wood. But when the time came, he did not want to destroy the newly created ecosystem, decided on a lodge. Most of the trees were left standing, huts were felled and found their place in small clearings.
The closeness to nature interests tourists who have always come to Costa Rica mainly for flora and fauna. Where else in the world live 500,000 species? Does one find about five percent of the biodiversity of the earth? Is a quarter of the country under nature conservation? There are also biocorridors connecting protected areas via private land.
“The animals are coming back,” says Adolfo. Gold hares, wild boars, wild coots, coyotes, Hokkohühner and coatis have already seen them in the photo lodge of the lodge. They plant more and more trees, consciously native ones and those who love certain species of animals, such as mountain almond trees for the macaws, which they would like to see here again. At night a wrapper licks a forgotten plate in the restaurant. And in the meantime so many frogs are hoping in the forest that they can offer frog trips. “There are 22 species, two years ago we had four or five.” The frog that stands for Costa Rica is among them: red eyes, grass green, red-eyed tree frog. But also the common rain frog. The tiny blue-jeans frog, strawberry red with blue leggings. Or the glass frog, through which one can see through and beat the heart.
The rainforest is an adventure – just because of the intensity, the volume, the variety of shapes, patterns and colors. Because of the sheer amount of plants and animals. Because everything that at least seems familiar to us is much bigger: butterflies, rubber trees, ferns, ants, giant trees. As if someone had given too much fertilizer.
Roberto Quiros strides with a ranger shirt, outdoor pants, rubber boots and an observation scope through a forest in Guanacaste on the Pacific coast. Actually a dry area, but right here, around Ostional, it stays green all year round. Everywhere mangroves and tropical wet forests, up to 50 meters high trees. Roberto is a biologist and works for a hotel through whose private reserve he is currently leading. “Do you see the tree over there, the one with the many thorns on the trunk, which he has only as long as he is young, later he no longer has to protect his leaves like that.” He taps his fingertip against a thin branch of acacia. Ants crawl out immediately. Ready to piss the troublemaker properly. A symbiosis. At first, one thinks that the three kilometers of paths that Lagarta Lodge has created on 35 hectares of reserve are not much – but what has been learned about nature at 300 meters is adventurous, the forest full of stories. The crocodiles are waiting at the other end. The presence of the howler monkeys is not to be missed, and the hummingbirds even come to the balcony.
For those who are not thrilled enough, the rainforest is also a great adventure playground. As with La Fortuna, near the volcano Arenal: The fast ride goes on a canopy. Down the gorge, left the waterfall. Almost one kilometer far and almost one hundred meters high stretches the Zipline. The treetops on the other side are getting closer. How does that work? Take a deep breath: the canopy provider has cut a hole in the nature around the wire rope. Twice it pops loud. Did something go wrong? No, these are the automatic rope brakes so that thousands of Canopists do not overshoot. When you canopying you put on a harness, latches with two carabiners in a metal sled on thick wire ropes, which are stretched through the treetops and gorges. A bit like on children’s playgrounds, only in fast and big. In the meantime, people are attracting a lot of action into the rainforest: rafting, canyoning, waterfall jumping, Tarzan swing and canopying or ziplining. The latter is said to have been invented even in the country. 1979, by a biologist who wanted to do research in the treetops. Nature, rainforest and adventure can not be separated in Costa Rica.
Getting there: z. With Condor from 670 euros, from Frankfurt / Main to San José and back.
Accommodation: La Tigra Rainforest Lodge, double from 65 Euro, www.latigralodge.com. Lagarta Lodge, Junior Suite from 200 Euro, www.lagartalodge.com
Leisure: Arenal Mundo Aventura, 60 euros for 3.5 hours, www.arenalmundoaventura.com