Returning from our hike to the not so impressive 500 m wide crater lake of Chato Volcano (a dormant volcano that flanks the southeast side of the Arenal Volcano), we asked the friendly park ranger Saul Calderon Solano where we could find the icon of Costa Rica; the red-eyed tree frog. He said they are hard to find by day as they then remain motionless and rely on their camouflage; they cover their blue sides with their back legs, tuck their orange red feet under their bellies, and shut their red eyes, thus, appearing almost completely green. He could, however, show them to us that evening.

Saul asked us at which hostel he could pick us up, so we told him the truth, namely that we are sleeping in our rental car to save costs. Immediately he welcomed us to stay in the house for the park rangers together with their puppy. Nothing fancy, but it was like a fairy tale.


After a bath in the free natural hot spring ‘mini-Tabacon’ near the Tabacon Resort outside La Fortuna, we started our frog safari. Saul could easily find these cute, gorgeous amphibians and took them from the trees so we could hold them and observe them up close, fantastic! The red-eyed tree frog is not poisonous, but uses its abruptly opened, big, red eyes to startle the predator, giving the frog a chance to flee.

Maybe because we were so enthusiastic about these cuties, Saul asked us to join him and his brother Josue to search for other remarkable frogs the next day.

After saying farewell to the puppy and the wild coatis (tropical racoons) the next morning, we started our expedition along a creek near La Fortuna. We were lucky to see an owl and many other special birds. The brothers were real experts in finding the tiny frogs in the high grass. They even found a little glass frog, which is so transparent that their internal organs can be seen through their skin, impressive.


Next, they found some blue jeans frogs. The blue jeans frog is also called (strawberry) poison-dart frog due to the Amerindians’ indigenous use of their toxic secretions to poison the tips of blow darts. However, only four of over 170 species have been documented as being used for this purpose. The most lethal animal toxin known belongs to a frog (phyllobates terribilis) related to the blue jeans; poison from a single frog can kill twenty thousand mice or ten adult humans. The strawberry poison-dart frog is not known to be lethal to men, but its skin secretions may have unpredictable effects on humans. Saul and Josue said we could only hold these frogs for a few minutes and had to carefully wash our hands, to avoid getting the poison into our eyes, which might make you blind!

We couldn’t have wished for a better experience to see these bright creatures thanks to these brilliant brothers! Costa Rica is a real wildlife paradise; it feels like being on Animal Planet!


Costa Rica

Chato Volcano