On The Night Tour in Drake Bay, Costa Rica, you’ll have the opportunity to witness an impressive set of nocturnal species in their natural rainforest habitat, all by the light of the stars and a headlamp.
Eyelash palm pitvipers and boa constrictors are among the snakes that are plentiful in this region, just north of Corcovado on the Osa Peninsula. Gaudy Leaf Frogs are abundant, too, and tours may include the exquisite sight of one laying a "clutch" of 20 to 50 sticky eggs. Bugs, insects and spiders are guaranteed, and spottings such as the elusive velvet worm have recently wowed guests on The Night Tour.
Eyelash palm pitviper in Costa Rica — Photo courtesy of Geoff Gallice
The Night Tour is offered nightly from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations are required for The Night Tour, and space is limited to eight participants. The cost is $35 person.
Petzl Tactikka XP headlamps are offered for visitors’ use on the tour, but you may need a flashlight to guide the way from your hotel to Drake Bay Café, the meeting place for The Night Tour. While on the tour, turn your camera settings to macro, and prepare to keep flash use to a minimum to avoid disturbing the natural environment.
Sandals, flip-flops and bare feet are not suggested; closed-toe shoes comfortable enough for walking are recommended.
Getting to Drake Bay takes some planning, and only guests with rooms reserved at the limited number of resorts are able to enter this remote region valued for its rich biodiversity and lush landscape.
The first leg is a 40-minute flight from San Jose to Palmar Sur, or five- to six-hour ride by road, followed by a 20-minute taxi ride to the town of Sierpe, from where you'll board a boat to traverse the 25 miles to Drake Bay, a 1.5-hour voyage that glides through Sierpe-Terraba Mangrove Reserve, Costa Rica's largest mangrove reserve.
The voyage crosses the mouth of the Sierpe River and passes through the Pacific Ocean, offering unparalleled views of Caño Island and the Osa Peninsula Coast.
The Night Tour is guided by Tracie Stice, otherwise known as "The Bug Lady," and her husband Gianfranco Gomez, a Costa Rican naturalist guide and photographer with a soft spot for snakes. Stice is a biologist who earned a Bachelor of Science with an emphasis on entomology before moving to Drake Bay 15 years ago, immersing herself in the world of tropical insects and spiders in Costa Rica’s Osa Penninsula.
In addition to a highly readable blog, The Night Tour's bug-loving duo has recently released a full-color book full of original photographs of all sorts of nocturnal animals of Drake Bay. Aptly named, Encounter makes for a unique souvenir of a visit to Costa Rica or a gift for another unusual wildlife lover.
Visit The Night Tour's website for more information.