Montezuma School Goes Bird Watching

When a group of 15 seven and eight-year-olds become first-time birders for a day, there’s no stopping their curiosity, excitement and all around fun. That’s exactly what happened last week when JC led a group of students from the Montezuma Elementary School on a bird watching outing and nature lesson in the outskirts of the nearby town Cabuya.

Montezuma School Goes Birding - JC's JourneysBirding and Learning

The goal of the day was for the group of first and second grade kids to get an in-depth lesson about four birds they would be sure to see in the area:  Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, and Brown Pelican.

Learning the names of these birds in both Spanish and English, as well as details of the species’ appearance and behavior, the group then got a chance to view the birds through a scope and binoculars. Getting an up-close vMontezuma School Goes Birding - JC's Journeysiew of the birds using these tools piqued interest even more and got the kids excited about the bright colors they could see and compelled them to seek out more and different birds on their own. The kids learned that there were officially 903 species of birds in Costa Rica and spotted a hummingbird which offered a prime opportunity to explain how hummingbirds are great pollinators, and thus the importance of protecting them and all wildlife.

In addition to the many birds kids learned about that day, howler monkeys made a grand appearance, and while these kids are no strangers to the sight of a howler monkey, JC pointed out some interesting facts about them and made his famous howler imitation much to their amusement.

Lessons in Recycling

LMontezuma School Goes Birding - JC's Journeysastly, as part of their final lesson, the kids each received a birding journal crafted from recycled cereal boxes, milk cartons and cardboard to integrate the concepts of recycling and environmental protection for the sake of wildlife conservation. Filled with new knowledge, the group will later jot down details and draw pictures in their journals recalling information from the outing such as the bird’s name, location, diet and migration patterns to reinforce their lesson. But before returning to school, Kevin, a local shuttle operator and driver for the day, encouraged each student to collect a few pieces of rubbish strewn around the beach to deposit it in it’s proper recycling bin back in town. These kids are awesome! We can see that they are truly inspired and already have great respect for the environment and wildlife around them.

Montezuma School Goes Birding - JC's JourneysIn timing with World Responsible Tourism Day, this small outing is just the type of thing we hope to continue doing with Montezuma School and other schools in the area. We love doing tours and sharing this love of nature and environment with visitors from around the world, but it’s just as important for us to share it with those around us every day as well.

Happy World Responsible Tourism Day! And thanks Montezuma School! It was fun spending time with you and we’re sure you will have some things you can teach us next time too. 🙂

See more info about our birding tours here.


Adventures in Osa Peninsula

In our last blog we told you about our Road Trip to Rio Celeste, but what we didn’t tell you is that we kept heading south after that and made it all the way to Osa Peninsula. It was absolutely breathtaking, to say the least. Full of natural beauty, green, wild, rugged, and very inline with the images that come to mind when you think of Costa Rica. This area is fascinating as there is so much going on in terms of conservation, community and also responsible and sustainable tourism.

Bridge to Rancho Quemado

Sustainable Tourism in Osa    Cable Tree Rancho Quemado

What most people know about Osa Peninsula is associated with the large national park there; Corcovado National Park. But there is much more going on in the entire peninsula. We took a long rocky road to Drake Bay and passed through an area which we later learned was becoming part of a new rural tourism initiative. We were so lucky to meet Jessica Roldan who’s working to help the local community benefit from rural tourism. She explained to us one of the new projects called Rancho Quemado, where visitors can experience a traditional and local way of life, with everything from more nature trails to sampling homemade cuisine, and making handmade sweets using a traditional sugar mill. Projects like these benefit the community, help preserve cultural traditions, and contribute to  environmental conservation.  (See our Let’s Get Local tour for a similar concept in the Southern Nicoya Peninsula).

While we didn’t have time to explore this area more, we found that people in Osa and particularly in Drake Bay were especially helpful, proud of the environment they want to conserve, and willing to offer lots of unique tips for seeing the best of area.


Tips for Visitors

Osa Peninsula1. Getting there: Getting to Osa can be challenging and few tourists make it here. It is possible to get there by car, but the road conditions definitely call for a 4×4 vehicle, and your rental car will probably hate you for subjecting it to this drive. There are buses that go all the way to Puerto Jimenez. From there you can book a tour either to Corcovado or reach the town of Drake Bay by boat. There is also a small airport in Drake Bay which Nature Air flies to from San Jose. Keep in mind rainy season (September-October) will make road travel to this area virtually impossible.

2. Tours: Give yourself at least 3 or 4 days in the area, and book your tour to Corcovado in advance! We found out the hard way that you cannot go to Corcovado without a booking a guided tour, so make sure you plan to spend around $75 for a day tour depending on where you start from.

3. IMG_4982Where to Stay: We didn’t stay overnight in this area, but from many recommendations, Lapa Rios Eco Lodge  is an excellent option. They are truly committed to ecotourism and offer many social and environmental programs. There are also very affordable and modest cabins in the area like Rancho Verde Bed and Breakfast. You can also stay in Drake Bay (pictured left) where there are plenty of accommodations. (If you need some more options or recommendations, comment or email us. We made some great friends and connections in the area!)

4. Bird Watching: If you’re coming to Costa Rica to do some birdwatching, this is definitely an amazing spot to do so. You’ll see plenty of the desirous toucans, macaws and sooooo much more.

5. Conservation: Because the area holds so much natural beauty… let’s do our best to keep it that way. Book tours with responsible guides and companies, and be sure to work in a tour that relates to rural tourism to support the local communities as well.