On the river in the Costa Rican rain forest

A paddle along the Rio Cuarto reveals colorful plant life along the riverbank.

diane bair for the boston globe

A paddle along the Rio Cuarto reveals colorful plant life along the riverbank.

In the small towns that fringe the rain forest of the Sarapiquí region of Costa Rica, Sunday morning is a quiet time. Sunday is a family day here. Shops and businesses are closed. The early risers head to Mass, but outside of church, the villages barely stir.

That makes it a perfect time to slip a kayak into the Río Cuarto at Cinco Ceibas Rainforest Reserve, and listen to Mother Nature’s vibrant soundtrack. The moist, tropical air is alive with a chorus of cheeping frogs and squawking parrots. As you maneuver through the riffles, you’ll enter a jungly world of giant ceiba (kapok) trees; thick, rope-like vines; and flashes of brilliant color, perhaps the bright yellow tail of a bird called montezumaoropendula, or the scarlet flowers of the heliconia. Suddenly, the air is punctuated with a terrifying roar — howler monkeys. In the canopy overhead, there’s a rustle of leaves and you see a half-dozen of them, pulling fruit from a fig tree and swinging from vine to vine. Sunday morning isn’t so quiet on the Río Cuarto.


Diane Bair and Pamela Wright


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