We’ve known for years, that some of the best bird watching in Costa Rica is from the terrace at Casa Mango. Besides the variety of seasonal birds, we’ve enjoyed the congos (Howler Monkeys) eating the tops off the Secropia tree in front of Casa Papaya – the leaves make them high. The coatis stop by in the evenings to steal the bananas we hang in the Rancho. But our guests are not satisfied without a wilderness hike in the “jungle”. Now we can offer that too. With the newly opened Samara Trails, Playa Samara has it all. Besides the beautiful beaches of Samara and Carrillo, perfect weather, and great restaurants and bars, we now have forest hiking just 1/4 mile up the road from Casa Mango and Casa Papaya.Recently, I went with Alvaro Teran on a tour of his mountain, where as a child he used to visit his grandfather. Once a ranch, its cattle were removed about 30 years ago to make the Werner Sauter Reserve. Alvaro and his neighbors have built a great trail system that winds through a variety of trees, lovingly labeled, and across creeks with rock bed “bridges”. He’s a great guide, speaking perfect English or his native Spanish, and tells stories along the way about folk uses of many of the plants you see. The trail climbs gradually to an amazing vista, extending east to Playa Carrillo and west to Punta Samara. Along the way we saw loads of birds, monkeys, coatis, and an armadillo. In recent months, Alvaro has spotted an Ocelot. [caption id="attachment_1172" align="alignleft" width="545" caption="You can tell they're not termite nests because of the tails."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1163" align="alignright" width="545" caption="This Guanacaste tree is much older than 30 years."][/caption] But the trip is mostly about the trees that make everything else possible. Huge trees! How could a forest recreate itself in just 30 years? That’s the beauty and mystery of the tropics. The trail passes through an experimental Pachote tree farm, where there is very little undergrowth, typical of monoculture, and ends with the old Mango Orchard, where Alvaro will search for a perfectly ripe fruit to send home with you. It was a great morning: a forest hike without a long drive. Here’s Alvaro’s statement from Trip Advisor, where there are several positive reviews: “Samara Trails is a trail system within the private 346 acre Werner Sauter Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is in Dry tropical forest and contains various species of plants and animals including monkeys, birds, mammals, and amphibians. The hike takes approximately 1 1/2 hours to complete - private hikes are completed at 7am or 3:30 pm and are led by the grandson of Werner Sauter, founder of the Wildlife Refuge.” Samara Trails is quickly becoming a favorite thing to do for visitors to Samara. A nice break from the beach!