Photo of the day (3.11.10)

The wildlife photography of Max Waugh, a.k.a. Fiznatty on Flickr has been featured on Gadling probably more than any other user. And I just couldn’t pass up this one.

Max describes a Costa Rican beach:

The mouth of the Sirena River in Corcovado National Park has a nasty reputation. It empties into the Pacific Ocean and brings together some intimidating predators which scour the river and surf for easy prey. Big crocodiles come from the fresh water side while bull sharks swoop in from the ocean. Occasionally the crocs even head out into the saltwater. Recently 5 large crocs were spotted more than 3 miles from shore.

This fellow was much closer, but I did see him run headlong into a small bull shark. They both turned tail and swam in opposite directions.

I made a mental not that I wouldn’t be swimming on that beach anytime soon. Apparently Max’s picture came too late for one of his commenters, surfwax who wrote:

Oh my…I surfed this spot *before* finding out what you know so well. This photo is awesome, but also makes me think I was rather lucky.

Are you a Flickr user who’d like to share a travel related picture or two for our consideration? Submit it to Gadling’s Flickr group right now! We just might use it for our Photo of the Day!

24 Hours in Rio de Janeiro: Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer

One can’t visit the country of Brazil without going to see the enormous statue of Jesus on top of Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro. It’s like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower or to Giza without seeing the Pyramids.

Perched at the top of one of the tallest peaks in Rio, Christ the Redeemer spreads his massive arms and welcomes the sinful populus into his bosom. It’s an awe inspiring site, and even better up close.

There are several ways to reach Corcovado from the beach towns of Rio de Janeiro. The fastest way is to hail a cab from the street and make your way directly to the base of the mountain — it’s a 20 minute ride that should cost about $10. The more adventurous (or frugal) can take one of several buses. Anything that says “Corcovado” on the windshield will get you there, but it’s fastest to take bus 170 from the city. That bus will drive you clockwise around the inland lake at the heart of Rio and then through Corcovado mountain, after which you can get off when you see the tram (or when the other tourists disembark.) Taking the bus will cost about $1.25 and should take 45 minutes or so.
Once you make it to the foot of the mountain, a $20 tram will take you close to the summit. Departing every 30 minutes, it’s a twenty minute ride up a steep slope to the summit station, the last 10% of which offers some outstanding views. Make sure to sit on the right side of the tram on the way up for the best photos.

It’s another brief elevator ride to the base of the statue once you exit the train, the climax of which is a commanding view of the back of Christ the Redeemer. Much of the surrounding area has been developed for tourists, and those in that frame of mind can grab a meal, wooden replica or trinket here. Most, however, make the quick walk around the perimeter of the statue toward the viewing platform, where one can find both an excellent view of Rio de Janeiro and of the massive, stone statue.

From the summit, visitors can take either a car or the train back to the foot of the mountain, after which another bus or cab can be taken back to the coast. Try to schedule at least 3.5 – 4 hours for the entire affair from front door to front door.

The most remote (and beautiful) corner of Costa Rica

If you want to experience Costa Rica for its natural parks and avoid beautiful-but-touristy places (such as Quepos) head over to Osa Peninsula, home of Corcovado National Park, which is the largest park in the country (and much of Central America). I was just there in November and would recommend it to anybody who is looking for adventure travel. November is a good time to go, too, because it is the end of their rainy season but not quite their high season yet. You will end up doing a lot of trekking–both in jungle and on the beach–so plan accordingly and bring a lot of sunscreen.

We took a local flight on Sansa from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez and rented a 4X4 car from there. You can also take a “colectivo” shuttle bus (cheaply) or a taxi (expensively). It is about a three hour drive to Carate. This is where “the road ended” and we hiked 3 miles on the beach to the eco lodge. The beaches are amazing and so are most of the eco lodges. Still, the key here is modest: tents, simple meals and lots of scenery. Anyone looking to get “eco-pampered” with a massage in the sunset should probably go to Quepos instead.

Costa Rica is a beautiful country that has so much to offer to different types of travelers. Don’t get discouraged just because your neighbor told you it is getting touristy. There are still real gems to find in Costa Rica.


Also: Check out the story + gallery (below) of Gadling blogger Jerry Guo catching bats in Costa Rica.