In 2017, as part of the conservation and investigation efforts made by Programa Jaguar from UNA (National University), SINAC & ACG (National Conservation Area System & Guanacaste Conservation Area) and Sensoria; five camera traps were set in selected and mapped locations alongside Sensoria and the Rincón de la Vieja National Park.
This expedition intended to retrieve those cameras and evaluate the damage caused by the volcanic eruption registered on June 11th and Tropical Storm Nate which struck Costa Rica from October 4th-9th of this year.
This is a no entry zone for which we had proper permits and authorization from ACG.
We spotted some tapir and puma tracks along the way.
The damage caused by Nate was evident. The old trail was covered by dozens of giant fallen trees and broken branches. So we had to make our way around them.
As we reached the top of the volcano the evidence of its violent eruptions dominated the beautiful scenery. The magnitude of the destruction caused is difficult to portray in images.
Ash, volcanic debris and burnt plants and brush decorated our path, creating a sensorial contrast of obscure textures that were enhanced with a slight smell of sulfur.
The grotesque scenery was then contrasted by the incredible fresh water springs that still run down the volcano.
We continued our way into the jungle to retrieve one of the cameras (we’d pick up the rest on our way down).
Before heading down we made our way downriver to document some of the majestic scenery and were delighted by pools and waterfalls, a warm sun and a clear view of the volcano.
After a 11.5km long hike of 600m elevation (up then down) we had retrieved the first 3 cameras… it was now time to see the results…
After our extreme hike we proceeded to view the material from the camera traps.
Very exciting stuff! But we didn’t spot just animals…
Next day we began our second hike to retrieve the last two cameras.
We first took Sensoria’s trails then detoured along some fascinating canyons.
Thin white ash trapped along the river and volcanic water combined to create beautiful turquoise pools.
As we continued into the jungle we ran into some amazing plants and animals, including an ornate hawk eagle and a very small but very venomous coral snake.
We picked up the first camera easily, but once we got to the marked spot for the second one we couldn’t see it… Found it! Thanks Nate!
We continued our way towards the river to evaluate the damage caused by the volcano on two legendary waterfalls. The trail was intense.
Ash and volcanic debris everywhere! Even though the volcano changed the waterfalls they still looked beautiful… time will fully heal them soon!
On our way back we endured some more of this difficult terrain and enjoyed the beautiful sights… then headed back to the main house.
The material recorded by the cameras wasn’t short of surprising and gratifying.
The mission was now complete. The recorded material will be revised and listed as part of Programa Jaguar’s ongoing research around Costa Rica. And hopefully we will return to the volcano soon, to set up the cameras once again!