A few years back I traveled to Costa Rica to brush up on my Spanish and explore their lush forests to get acquainted with their insect and plant populations. Though a relatively small country (about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined), it harbors around 6 percent of the world’s biodiversity and has protected over one quarter of its land. To this day, it’s one of the most impressive places that I’ve been when it comes to what's under the canopy. Pura vida!
I hadn’t made any further plans to travel back to the country, but had gotten a request last year from the organizers of Envision Festival to speak at their event, so I took that as an opportunity to do a more extensive plant and insect trip.
I rented a 4x4 for the first half of the trip, which was such an efficient way to travel through the country. The hills are flushed with the vermillion poró gigante (Erythrina poeppigiana), which clearly stand out amongst the verdant setting. As I neared small villages, (which seem to pop up along the roadsides intermittently and almost unexpectedly), it was common to spot wild and cultivated bananas, plantains, and even coffee in the lower montane regions. Once I ventured into the upland forests, however, I was enveloped by the intoxicating smell of green. Every possible surface—whether it be leaf or trunk—was inhabited by moss, ephiphyte or vine. Costa Rica is particularly known for their Bromeliad and Tillandsia, with over 2,000 species of bromeliads currently documented. And the orchids, ferns, and philodendrons are also something to marvel at. (The Lankester Botanical Gardens alone have over 800 species of orchids and a range of other plants). I typically like to head to the forest with a botanist or guide who is most familiar with the native (or introduced) plant species, but given I was ultimately going to one of the lesser known National Parks—Tapantí—there was no guide to be had.
Given that I made many stops along the way, I thought it’d be wise to break up the trip into 10 posts starting with the region of Orosí in Cartago, which is where I initially started my sojourn. I’ll try to aim for around two—maybe three—new posts per week, though the frequency will depend on my schedule, as I’ll be preparing for the launch of my new book this week, which you should check out too!