Playa Malpais and Santa Teresa -> Jicaral -> Nicoya -> Barra Honda
We planned to continue around the peninsula but the weather wouldn’t cooperate. The days were clear, but every night there were thunderstorms that put on a dramatic show and raised the level of the Rio Bongo to about nine feet. We tried unsuccessfully to find someone to take us across in a boat, and eventually decided to backtrack to Naranjo before continuing to Barra Honda National Park.
There are advantages and disadvantages to bicycling. At Barra Honda, as with the other parks that are accessible by road, they don’t open the gates to cars until 8:00 am, nearly three hours after the best wildlife viewing time. We applied one of the advantages of bikes…you can pick them up.
Cyclists can simply lift their bike over the gate, ride into the park and pay their entrance fee on the way out.
At some National Parks we had a hard time arriving early because the nearest place to stay was 30 or more km away and not all of the parks allow camping. Barra Honda is in the middle of nowhere and doesn’t allow camping but they do have a couple of simple cabinas with bunk beds near the ranger station.
The headline attraction at Barra Honda is the caves, but since neither Sue or I spelunk, we spent our time hiking instead. The park protects a series of flat-topped limestone hills, that stripped of vegetation and placed in Colorado could pass for mesas.
Even though we were there in the rainy season, the cactus scattered through out the forests made it obvious that they were very different from the coastal rainforests. The ecosystem is one of the last remaining areas of dry tropical forest in Central America (and the world for that matter).
The areas we hiked through were about half old growth and half secondary forest, but the secondary forest was old enough that it was difficult to discern without the delineations on our guide map. We were accompanied for much of our walks by a troop of monos cabos blancos (white face capuchin monkeys) who seemed to resent our intrusion.
At first we weren’t sure that they were actually following us as they clamored and swung through the treetops, but when they started screeching and throwing things at us, we were convinced.