Adventures in Golfo Dulce & Golfito

Exploring the lush mangroves of Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce with UnCruise Adventures. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

UnCruise Adventures Safari Voyager dropped anchor in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica this morning. I was here last year, on another cruise, but I awoke to find us anchoring much farther into Golfo Dulce than I had ever been. Last year, the other ship I was on tucked into a cove near the Pacific Ocean. This year aboard Safari Voyager, I came up on deck to find us anchoring in the middle of an inlet, in the heart of this ecologically-diverse area.

Once again, there were no shortage of adventures today as we enter the mid-point of this Uncharted Isthmus! Sloths, Monkeys and Mangroves itinerary that began Saturday back in Puerto Caldera.

The Safari Voyager at anchor off Golfo Dulce. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Today, guests could take part in a skiff and stroll excursion that would weave its way through the complicated tangle of mangroves that line the northern end of the Gulf. Or, guests could take part in a guided kayaking excursion along the coastline and into the mangroves. Finally, a charger hike was offered for those who wanted to get out and really get the blood pressure up.

I chose the skiff and stroll excursion, minus the stroll. I really wanted to go back and relax aboard the ship for a bit, and it was no issue to simply cut the “stroll” part out of the skiff tour and head back to the ship.

At 8:20 am, we set out from the Safari Voyager. With Expedition Team member Chris as our guide, we sailed away from the ship and into the mouth of the inlet that would lead us to the mangroves. The tidal fluctuation here is in excess of eight feet, and Chris figured that we probably had 10 feet under our keel as we set out.

Later in the day, we’d see the tide run completely out of the area we were in, exposing the riverbed underneath.

We set out on the Safari Voyager’s skiffs this morning..Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…for a tour of the lush mangroves that line the upper reaches of Golfo Dulce. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Expedition Team member Chris leads the way…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…as we head deeper into the mangroves. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our two-hour long skiff exploration took us along the lush mangroves that line this end of Golfo Dulce. Along with two other skiffs from the ship, we carved our own path, and our Costa Rican drivers were careful to keep us separate from the other skiffs to ensure each raft had the chance to blaze its own trail.

UnCruise doesn’t overcrowd its skiffs. In our raft we had a total of six people, plus guide Chris. That ensures that guests aren’t bumping into one another, and have plenty of space to turn around and take photographs, which happens a lot.

The highlight of our mangrove tour was the discovery of a small inlet, just big enough for the skiffs to enter. We sailed slowly for over a kilometre into this uncharted wilderness, where impossibly tall branches blot out the sun and the call of unseen birds can be heard echoing in the darkness.

This hidden inlet was the highlight of my tour today. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Returning to the mother ship. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Separated by the Osa Peninsula, Golfo Dulce is a birder’s paradise. Here, you can find birds of all shapes and sizes from colourful toucans to zippy hummingbirds. And that doesn’t take into account the brilliant butterflies, lizards, monkeys and snakes that you may or may not encounter along the way.

This afternoon, we sailed for Golfito, a small former tourist town located on the eastern edge of Golfo Dulce. Here, Safari Voyager cleared customs and immigration as we prepared to leave Costa Rica behind us and enter Panama tomorrow.

Back aboard Safari Voyager…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…we sailed for Golfito for customs formalities, provisioning…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and a little maintenance. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our passports were collected at the start of the cruise, so no action was needed by guests. Costa Rican authorities came aboard and collected the exit forms we’d filled in at embarkation. They also stamped each of us out of the country, and presumably the Panamanians are going to stamp us in at some point.

The crew of the Safari Voyager take advantage of the time needed for this process to offload garbage and bring on fresh water. We also brought on a gentleman who was going to help fix a generator issue that had affected the output of the port side air conditioning for about a day.

To fix this generator issue, our Captain informed us that the power to the ship would be turned off for about an hour. If you’re following along, that also meant the ship’s air conditioning systems would be turned off.

Relaxing out on-deck in Golfito…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…as the sun goes down on another great day in Costa Rica with UnCruise. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Leaving Golfito…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and saying goodbye to our local pilot. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

On most cruise lines, this would be a problem. Not on UnCruise. The line encouraged guests to sit and enjoy the open decks, where a cool crosswind was keeping things temperate. Bar stewards went around and collected drink orders, keeping guests happy throughout the three-hour stay.

At one point, guests spotted some magnificent birds in the trees across from the pier, and soon an entire crowd had gathered on the starboard aft deck to see them. I personally delighted in watching the activity on the pier as officials of all sorts came and went throughout the afternoon. I also admired the hardworking crew of the Safari Voyager, who made a human chain on the promenade deck to move garbage off the ship, and who worked together despite the heat.

After about an hour, the issue was fixed, and the air conditioning roared to life again. The entire procedure was handled so well and with such transparency that I didn’t encounter a single guest who minded the unscheduled delay.

Shortly after 6:00pm, Safari Voyager dropped her lines and we began to thrust away from the pier at Golfito. The skies were illuminated with another trademark Costa Rican sunset; a vibrant display of colours that is unlike any other place I’ve been to on Earth.

Our voyage to Costa Rica has finished, but our journey through Panama is just beginning.

Goodnight from aboard the Safari Voyager, bound for Panama. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report aboard UnCruise Adventures’ Safari Voyager continues tomorrow with our first Panamanian port of call: Isla de Coiba! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

Safari Voyager - Costa Rica & Panama

DAYPORT
Day 1Arrival in San Jose, Costa Rica & Embarkation in Puerto Caldera
Day 2Manuel Antonio National Park, CR
Day 3Curu National Park, CR
Day 4Oso Peninsula, CR
Day 5Golfo Dulce & Golfito, CR
Day 6Isla de Coiba, Panama
Day 7Transiting the Panama Canal
Day 8Disembarkation, post-cruise Panama City stay and recap.
 

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