Postcards From Costa Rica

Sunset over the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica. (Camera: Agfa Isolette II; Film: Fuji Reala 100, 120 format)

Every year I lead a stargazing trip to a beautiful, dark-sky location in Costa Rica. Our destination is on an immense nature preserve and working farm on the Gulf of Nicoya. This is the driest part of the country and we usually go in February, which is the driest (most cloud-free) time of year.

As rich and rewarding as the skies are at night, there’s a tremendous amount to see in the daytime too. Our local naturalist (the always affable and knowledgeable Jorge) conducts daily guided walks to show us the region’s amazing array of birds, monkeys, crocodiles, and other flora and fauna. One of the highlights of our stay is a boat trip up the coast to the nearby mangrove swamps. Costa Rica is a birders delight and the mangrove habitat is an excellent place to add to your life list.

The main reason we go to Costa Rica though is to enjoy the stars, which is why the tour goes by the banner of the Annual Costa Rica Southern Sky Party. And from our site’s latitude (only 10° north of the equator), the night sky really is spectacular. We get to see parts of the Milky Way that don’t rise from Canadian latitudes (or, for most of the U.S.), including the amazing stretch of densely star-studded Milky Way lying between the Southern Cross (Crux) and the awe-inspiring Eta Carinae Nebula. All this magnificence can be enjoyed with binoculars or a small telescope.

If you’d like to join us, visit the TravelQuest Internationalweb site for more information. The tour is quite small and generally sells out, so if it does sound like something you’d enjoy, book early.

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