Nighttime in the Cloudforest

Location: Puntarenas, Costa Rica

It was the pitch dark of night.

Crickets chirped. Frogs croaked. Humans talked.

I was given a heavy-duty flashlight, but for some reason, mine was awfully dim. I think it was on the last of its life.

I followed my guide onto the trail, keeping close watch on the bright beam from his flashlight.

I jumped as I heard a sudden crunch from behind. Our guide was quick to flash his light, and I was saddened by the sight.

Someone had crushed an innocent giant weta.

We continued on the trail, and this time, I was sure to step carefully. It wouldn’t be hard to accidentally step on an insect the size of my thumb.

Where the guide’s light flashed, my phone followed.

Swarms of leafcutter ants paced the path. Giant soldiers patrolled their lines, keeping their small workers safe from predators.

Atta Cephalotes

A mob of long-legged spiders tore apart a dead bumblebee. It was a mighty feast for them all.

Harvestmen

I was surprised by a massive katydid grappling the stem of a baby tree. It was a huge insect!

Scurrying from the branches overhead was a little mammal. I was very excited to see it, as I definitely have the least amount of mammals in my photo collection.

Woolly Opossum

One of the most fascinating finds, was a scorpion that our guide found. He picked it up by the stinger, and shone his black light over the arachnid, and to everyone’s utter amazement, it glowed!

Little Brown Scorpion

Our next stop was an exciting one. Our guide lined us up one-by-one and told us not to make a sound.

Naturally, people were scared. It was completely dark. Cougars prowled the forest. And apparently we were standing right outside the den of a giant tarantula.

While others with a great fear of spiders trembled, I smiled. I couldn’t wait.

The guide gently tapped a stick outside the spider’s hole, hoping the tarantula would think it a measly little bug to feast on. A long time passed, and our guide almost gave up. But as soon as he turned, the spider attacked!

Costa Rican Redleg Tarantula

It was amazing! Sure, I owned 2 tarantulas at home, but neither of them compared to this beauty. The colours on its legs and its immense size.

For some reason, lots of people in my group were screaming and stepping back. I moved in closer of course.

I wanted to stay forever, but then our guide got a call. A security guard, deep in the woods, saw a very rare animal resting in the trees, and if we didn’t come quickly, we could quite possibly miss our chance to see it.

Midnight Trail is what happened next. You can read the post if you want the full details.

The hike was finished, and I was content. I had seen many more animals than I had planned on finding, including a rare Kinkajou and a giant tarantula.

But there was still more to be seen.

As I left the forest, I heard a resounding and rhythmic croak. I followed the sound to a nearby pond, and I nearly laughed in delight at what I saw.

It was the toad I always saw in zoos. The amphibian with title of, biggest toad in the world. And I saw one. In the wild!

This was one epic hike night hike through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve!

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