A word from founder Bruce Smith

“Welcome to Seascape Kayak Tours. This company began as an outgrowth of my passion for paddling, outdoor education and sharing special marine environments with others. I love introducing people to wild places and helping them feel comfortable and reach their potential on the water. Whether you choose to join us for a sunset paddle, a day trip or an extended expedition, you will travel with just a few others, in a safe, sensitive and environmentally sound manner.”


Client Corner Recent Posts

Tambor Tropical WildlifeMarch 19th, 2009

Word from Bruce is that El Espiritu del Mar is going along swimmingly. The group set off Tuesday morning, and by now have experienced two of their four camping nights. I’ll paddle in and join them for their final night in their base camp on Playa Quesera. Meanwhile, I promised to share some exciting developments in the natural world from our base at the Hotel Tambor Tropical.

The mangos are ripe right now on the Nicoya Peninsula. This is a harbinger of much activity. Like, right now, in front of our apartment at the hotel, a local climber dude with a huge machete, no shoes on and no fear of heights is 40 feet up in the top of a tree and large fruits are falling all around on the ground. It also means that animals of all sorts are more active.

Every day in Costa Rica brings new and unexpected sightings of amphibians, reptiles, birds or mammals. Yesterday, for example, I led a couple from New York on a hike in Curú Wildlife Refuge, which is about 25 minutes from Tambor. In addition to seeing Howler, White-faced Capuchin and Spider monkeys all vying for the mangos in the reserve, we came upon two of my favorite mammals, the agouti (like a wild guinea pig or hamster) and the white-nosed coati (cousin to the raccoon, with longer snout); both of these are shown on our photo gallery in the Pacific Costa Rica Nature section. We also identified a total of 17 bird species just on one walk.  

What Bruce and I find just as exciting as going to Reserva Curú are the many opportunities to see wildlife right here on our doorstep at the Hotel Tambor Tropical, or on the nearby Rio Panica, which Bruce describes in detail in his blog entry of March 15. For example, when the members of El Espiritu del Mar, the yoga and kayaking trip, arrived at Tambor Tropical, it was an auspicious beginning. A large green iguana, a beautiful species rarely seen on the hotel property, chose the moment of the group’s arrival to show itself on the grounds, to the delight of photographers and newly converted lizard lovers alike. 

Green Iguana

Green iguanas can be as large as 6.5 feet long and make their homes in trees along rivers and streams. They are slow moving, are not poisonous and will not bite unless given no other choice. Although not considered endangered, they are hunted for their meat, and thus are becoming more and more scarce in populated areas. We learned from Juan Carlos, the manager here at Tambor Tropical, that this particular individual probably grew up in the hotel’s gardens, as he was seen quite a bit here when small. But becoming more self conscious as a teenager, he left the area, probably to spend more time right beside the river, and is only spotted on special occasions now that he is an adult.

One of the bird species most coveted by avian enthusiasts visiting Costa Rica is the trogon. While we don’t have the most famous member of the Trogonidae family, the Resplendent Quetzal, here on the Nicoya Peninsula, we do see the black-headed trogon, with its bright yellow belly, and beautiful long squared-off tail. It’s easiest to find this trogon by first tuning in to its distinctive call, described by Stiles and Skutch in A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica as "a rapid, rattling series of clear, barking notes that accelerates into a chuckling trill that falls in pitch." (That’s true, but I guess you sort of have to hear it for yourself before that description really makes sense.) A few days ago, while packing for the yoga/paddling trip, Bruce and I heard that unmistakable call just in front of our apartment, and ran out to see not one but two pairs of black-headed trogons flitting and perching in the mangos and palms for several spectacular minutes. We never figured out if they were protecting a juvenile or competing with resident flycatchers for food or territory. Whatever their objective, we were thrilled to see and hear them so close to home.

Black-headed trogon

I’ll close with a slightly more humorous animal story: Tambor Tropical’s hotel manager, Juan Carlos, and Bruce have discovered they have a lot in common. Two of the things that unite them are a love of wildlife and a passion for paddling. So it didn’t take long for the two to establish a tradition of having their weekly meetings on the water, planning around high tide in order to kayak up the Rio Panica. Last week’s meeting was going along rather smoothly when they came around a bend in the river and discovered a member of the wild kingdom that they would never have expected to find on a river in Costa Rica. 

Water Buffalo

A huge water buffalo, who’d possibly never seen a kayak, displayed all sorts of quizzical expressions for several minutes before making it clear he would not allow their passage up the river. When they came back to tell me they encountered this beast, not at all endemic, much less indigenous to this area, I thought they were pulling my leg. However, they explained that a nearby resort "imported" the big bovine some years ago to be part of a zoo that never materialized. The moral: when in Costa Rica, always expect the unexpected.

Pura vida,

frances

 
 

 


El Espiritu del MarMarch 17th, 2009

This morning saw the departure of our first combination yoga and paddling trip. Our yoga instructor, Lauri Nemetz, and three participants Wendy Crowley, Greg Kofsky and Sandy Taylor spent several days at Tambor Tropical before the launch acclimatizing. Yesterday Bruce met with the group to go over the planned five-day itinerary, orient participants to the region and discuss environmental safety. Bruce also took the group on an initial paddle here on the Rio Panica and there were several initial yoga sessions here at Tambor Tropical as well.

yoga

INSTRUCTOR LAURI NEMETZ LEADS THE GROUP IN GENTLE INTRODUCTORY YOGA PRACTICE IN A THATCHED RANCHO AT THE HOTEL TAMBOR TROPICAL. 

Wendy Crowley, 54, found out about the trip via the internet. "From the moment I googled this trip, I knew I had made the right decision," she said. "Engaging in my first yoga session, then hitting the water for a calm kayaking experience is indescribable. This trip will be a highlight of my life, I know."

Greg on river"PADDLING DOWN A TROPICAL ESTUARY IS ONE OF THE MOST RELAXING THINGS I CAN THINK OF DOING," SAID GREG KOFSKY, 23. "ONE OF THE FEW THINGS THAT BEATS IT IS YOGA." 

Yoga instructor Lauri Nemetz teases the group that she could join the circus and utilize her seemingly uncanny ability to name her students’ past injuries, vocations and recreational preferences. "You’re a runner, aren’t you?" She says to Wendy Crowley, while assisting her with a leg extension. Earlier she anticipated that Sandy Taylor would have a little trouble with a stretch for her wrists. And that was true because Sandy spends her work days doing surgery: she’s a veterinarian. 

How does Lauri know all these things about the body? In addition to holding certifications in teaching hatha yoga and yoga therapeutics, she has studied anatomy extensively. And this allows her to focus on each individual’s physical habits and preferences, allowing each member of the group to benefit personally from her attention to his or her specific needs. Lauri will often create modifications on a posture for each participant in the group, so that every person is taking a different pose that will allow their unique set of abilities and limitations to make the most of their yoga practice. 

Bruce teachingEL ESPIRITU DEL MAR GROUP PARTICIPANTS LISTEN AS BRUCE SMITH PROVIDES A GEOGRAPHICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ORIENTATION TO PADDLING IN COSTA RICA. 

The group will come off the water on Saturday, when I’ll update you about their experience. Meanwhile, stay tuned for some special wildlife blogs from Tambor Tropical.

Pura vida,

frances


Seascape Water LogMarch 15th, 2009

Welcome from Bruce Smith

 

The launch of our new web site last fall has generated a tremendous amount of excitement… Frances Figart worked intensively with her technology team to create an informative, user friendly interface that finally captures the true spirit of Seascape… I know I am biased, but I consider our site to be one of the best  sustainable adventure tour operator sites on the web.

 

We are constantly updating the site with new trip photos and information…

On a recent day trip, I reflected on how nice it would be to share our daily experiences with members of the sea kayaking community…

 

Therefore, we have decided to launch this blog, to which we’ll make entries daily or, if out on trips, at least weekly. We’ll share information about special people and places, natural and cultural history, local environmental issues, and general paddling information. 

 

The main contributors to the log will be Seascape staff. However, we will also invite experts in specific areas to share with you on a regular basis…

 

Paddling the Panic RiverTHE PANICA RIVER IS LINED WITH TROPICAL DRY FOREST AND MANGROVE, CREATING AN EXCELLENT ENVIRONMENT FOR BIRDING

 

 

The river provides a place to reflect and to focus on the important things in life.

 

Seascape’s new southern base of operations is Tambor Tropical hotel in Playa Tambor…

 

Bahia Tambor is characterized by a very long volcanic grey sand beach which faces the open Pacific, but is protected by dramatic rocky points (puntas) to the north and south. The point to the north is locally named La Lagarto or the Alligator, and it does look very much like an alligator or crocodile in wait…

 

Rio Panica and Estero Pochote are two meandering watersheds that flow into the bahia. Rio Panica, located two minutes from our base, offers an incredible paddling experience. The ideal time to enter the river mouth (boca) is approx. 1 hour before high water… a quick easy surf and you are in following the tide. 

 

Bare throated tiger heronBARE-THROATED TIGER HERON HUNTING ALONG THE BANKS OF THE RIO PANICA

 

The river is lined with tropical dry forest and mangrove, which provides an excellent nursery ground for various fish species… This is a birder’s paradise; so far we have observed the following species: Osprey, Whimbrel, Spotted Sandpiper, Ringed Kingfisher, Belted Kingfisher, Green kingfisher, Bare Throated Tiger Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Panamanian Fly Catcher, Great Kiskadee, Yellow Throated Euphonia, White Ibis, Black-crowned Tityra and, most recently, a flock of Roseate Spoonbills.

 

On shore we have also observed a number of large Green Iguanas and numerous Striped Basilisk lizards dancing across the water.

 

Sunset on Rio PanicaWHEN SUNSET AND HIGH TIDE CONVERGE, IT’S A BEAUTIFUL TIME TO BE ON THE PANICA

 

The Panica River, albeit a special ecosytem, is threatened by local sources of pollution. We will keep you up to date on the health of the river and how we are working with the community to build partnerships to protect this important watershed.

 

Pura vida,

Bruce