Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hiking in Santa Rosa

Last Friday, my friend and I traveled to Santa Rosa National Park.  We took the 1pm bus from San Jose to Liberia.  After 5 hours of traveling we arrived in Liberia and were going to buy another ticket for La Cruz and get off the bus at the entrance to the park.  However, it was already dark, and we didn’t know exactly where the bunkhouse was within the park so walking was not a good idea.  Instead, I found a guy to drive us into the park for $40.  Hiring a driver from a bus station is not always recommended but is common in Costa Rica. 
The first destination sign for Naranjo Beach!
Santa Rosa is a big research station for biologists, and we stayed in the bunkhouse for the scientists.  The room was smaller than a dorm room.  The room consisted of a bunk bed, a desk, window, and shelves for clothing and other objects.  There was a bathroom at the end of the building with three showers and three toilets.  The showers were cold but felt great after a long, hot day hiking! In the bunkhouse we met a molecular biologist from Canada collecting ants found on one of the volcanoes in the reserve.  He is a molecular biologist because he is mostly interested in the ants that are half a millimeter or smaller.  He was very nice and showed us how he collects the ants. We also met two young women from Canada who were tracking a troop of holler monkeys. They were interested in how the eating habits changed as the monkeys aged and as the seasons changed.  
The view from the lookout for Naranjo beach and the rock in the ocean is Witch's Rock
 Saturday morning we had breakfast at 7am with a few of the other visitors, scientists, and park workers.  The atmosphere at breakfast was like a big family reunion.  We were welcomed right away.  After a breakfast of Gallo Pinto, we started off on our 13km (8mi) hike to the beach!  The hike down took us 3 hours, but we stopped a lot to take pictures of birds, lizards, flowers, and holler monkeys.  The monkeys were may favorite! The land in Santa Rosa is very interesting because it changed from dense forest, to grass lands, back to forest, to a sandy forest with cactus, and then to beach.  That is one reason why so many scientists come to Santa Rosa, the ecosystem changes drastically in a relatively short area.   We also took a short (1.2km) detour to see the overview of the ocean and Witch’s Rock.  Once at the beach we swam in the ocean, walked along the beach, watched the surfers, and had lunch.  After lunch we hiked another 6-7km exploring the forest near the beach.  We say a lot of lizards and iguanas!  We also say a parrot!  Around 3pm we began the long hike back up the hill.  Going up was much harder than going down and took about 2.5 hours!  We arrived at the bunkhouse at 5:40pm, and I went immediately to the shower!  I was probably in the early stages of dehydration and heat exhaustion!  Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay in the shower too long because I needed to head over to the dining hall before 6pm when dinner ended.  All told, we hiked about 35km (21mi)!

Two holler monkeys in the trees over the trail

One of the three baby monkeys we saw while at the museum!
Sunday morning we packed our backpacks, swept the room, and headed to breakfast to pay for the room and food.  The rooms were $15 a night, and the food was about $16 for the three meals.  After breakfast, we hiked to the museum.  Santa Rosa is well-known for the 15 minute battle between Costa Rica and the pirate army called the filibusters lead by American William Walker in 1856.  It is a bit of a funny story. Walker was lawyer, journalist, and pirate with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies in Central America crowning himself king.  He invaded Honduras and then attacked Nicaragua where he declared himself “President” of Nicaragua in 1856.  Walker tried on numerous occasions to invaded Costa Rica.  The Costa Rica army of volunteers battled the pirates for a year before Walker was defeated by the combined forces of Central America.  In 1860, Walker was betrayed by friends pretending to be supportive to his cause of establishing English colonies and turned him over to Honduran authorities.  Walker was then killed by firing squad in Honduras where he first invaded Central America.
One of the hundreds of Iguanas we saw running around the beach area!
The museum commemorating the battle is actually a replica of the ranch house originally in Santa Rosa.  The original house was burned down by two arsonists/poachers in 2001 as a way to exact revenge on the park rangers.  The house was rebuilt mostly through donations from school children and volunteer work.  Half the house is a museum for the battle, and the other half contains artifacts from the early days of ranching in Costa Rica.  There is still a huge stone corral outside the house that is used every November as a demonstration of ranching history.
The ranch house consisted of a four buildings arranged in a rectangle with a courtyard in the middle.
After touring the museum, my friend and I began to hike out of the park.  On the way out, I flagged down a car leaving the park and asked them to give us a ride to Liberia.  The family consisted of the grown son, an old woman, and a young woman.  They were very nice and we chatted (in Spanish) during the 30 minute ride back to Liberia.  We arrived in Liberia around 10:45 and were able to purchase tickets on the 12pm direct bus to San Jose.  We arrived in San Jose around 4pm!  A perfect ending to an adventurous weekend!

Pura Vida from outside the Museum in Santa Rosa!

1 comment:

  1. What a GREAT weekend! Your pictures are beautiful! -- I am not sure that I could have finished that hike! (I think I am in good shape.. but 21 miles is a hike!... especially in that type of weather) Sounds like you are able to "get about" on your own! Good for you! Lynda B.