John and Milena Beer’s trusty 4-wheel drive vehicle hauled us slowly but surely up Calle Vargas to the crest at La Lorena and then down a wicked slope to Los Bajos del Volcán where we were received a very friendly reception, with coffee and snacks, from proprietor Jibe Brenes. Getting back up the slope is quite a feat but John is an expert off-road driver and we got back to the top without incident.
Jibe, who has lived here all his life, was able to give full details on recent events here in the wake of the big volcano ash fall at the beginning of June. There have been only two ash falls here at Los Bajos: one with the big and disastrous eruption of the Irazù Volcano almost 60 years ago, and the other on June 4 of this year. Ash began to fall at 9:00 pm and continued to fall until 8.00 am the next day. Despite an immediate and very difficult evacuation of all animals, several of Jibe’s cows subsequently died. Jibe returned 8 days later to find many dead wild animals and birds, including quetzals and solitaires, strewn around the area.
The Resplendent Quetzal was our main target on this trip but we failed to find one this time and had to be content with the magnificent scenery and some good views of other typical highland bird species. Here are a few that are hard to miss but that also held still long enough for John to get a photo: