What a beautiful morning! The sun is up, the sky is blue and we are off on our first visit of the trip. Costa Rica is only 9 deg off the Equator so has 12 hours of daylight all year round, from 5.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. consequently most people start, and finish, work early. Hence the evening rush hour starts at 2.30 p.m.!
Victor, our guide, is on hand and we meet the rest of the group, minus 2 just for today.
First stop is the Doka Coffee Plantation. Coffee is one of the big exports of the country alongside bananas and pineapples. 95% of the coffee is exported! Doka is a family run concern and boasts the oldest wet mill in the country, used for removing the outer coat of the Red Cherries (ripe fruit containing the bean). A complex and fascinating process starting with the fruit being handpicked (by Nicaraguans!) then incredibly ancient looking systems are used to extract the bean, sort by quality, dried then roasted. All seems to work and we have excellent coffee samples and chocolate coated beans to finish with!
Onwards and upwards to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, in place of visiting the Poas Volcano which has decided to become active! The weather is beautiful, now 25 deg, so we can see the volcano but there is no obvious sign of any activity!
La Paz is pretty busy with local visitors - Friday off work? Quite humid now as we are in the lower level cloud forest. Turning a corner there are iridescent humming birds darting around feeders. Some of them are only about 3 inches in length. Flashes of purple, green and turquoise challenge us photographers as we try to capture these beautiful birds.
In complete contrast are 2 Sloths hanging upside down and moving decorously along a tangle of branches. Toucans, parrots, snakes and poisonous frogs are all kept here. Plus Puma, Jaguar and Ocelot. All of these are rescue animals which were kept illegally as pets!
Magical butterflies make my day by deciding to settle on my arm and backpack before we head off down the valley to the main waterfall. Really it is the surrounding forest that is the draw with lianas cascading over trees, and then bushes that I recognise as small house plants in the UK!
A brilliant start to our tour!