Day 7 may have been our most packed day yet on this trip. We started off with a morning hike of the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, which is run by high school students, where we learned about how they got involved, and the conservation efforts the reserve is undertaking. We then began our hike through the beautiful forest, where we saw a few birds, but heard the most important one on the list: the Resplendent Quetzal. Hearing this bird brought chills through me, as it is such a beautiful and highly respected bird. After this hike, where we witnessed different biodiversity than we did at Tenorio due to elevation, we headed off towards a couple hours of horseback riding.
The horseback riding was an adventure in of itself, as it was my first time on a horse since a scary incident that happened in Yellowstone years ago. Thankfully my horse didn’t fall this time; however, he never wanted to walk down a slope, turning his head around each time to look at me and make sure I wanted him to follow the horses in front of us. One of my friends had an allergic reaction while on their horse, which made it harder for them to enjoy the horseback riding. However, going through the trees and up and down hills was very fun, and taking many pictures along the way definitely made it worth it. Once we finished the horseback riding, we returned back to the hotel, where we ate yet another delicious lunch.
After lunch we had some relaxation time before we headed off to the orchid garden in town to get a tour of all the different types of orchids. The tour was a little underwhelming as there wasn’t as much color as I thought there would be, but I was able to spot a new hummingbird in the process of being there. We did get to see the smallest orchid in the world, which was smaller than a pinhead. We then walked around the garden on free time, with the guide teaching me how to use a speed light to take better macro photos. Once this tour was over, we headed to a tree planting with the Reserve we were at earlier, at a location down the street from our hotel. After we planted these trees, and learned a bit more about the local involvement in reestablishing the biologic corridors to the Pacific coast, we headed back to our rooms for a bit before heading off on our night walk.
The night walk was fascinating, as we saw and heard creatures we normally wouldn’t see during the day. We saw kinkajous, an armadillo, sleeping birds, a couple Mottled Owls, and some insects and snakes! I actually added two new species of birds this night, the owl and a sleeping Keel-Billed Toucan! Sadly I haven’t seen a Keel-Billed Toucan during the day yet, but hopefully that comes soon!