flying and swimming at cenote Azul in Bacalar, Mexico

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naturist swimming 0007 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Cenote Azul is nothing less than an amazing body of water – azure, clear water that goes immediately into abyss, right off the edge of its shore.

lake view 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

We’ve already described quite a few cenotes in the vicinity of Tulum and Merida, Yucatan. Each cenote is different, but this one is very special. For once, it’s really huge, for a sinkhole, which it essentially is, and it’s right next the world famous resort at the lake Bacalar.

So, I was very skeptical of a possibility to enjoy this nature’s wonder au naturel, but luckily I had my local CouchSurfing host George to show me around – and he knew where to go. Most of the shore is covered  in vegetation, and there is a “hidden” access across from the tourist area with a restaurant.

lake view 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

They wouldn’t see what you wear not wear under water anyway

naturist underwater 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

– or above water for that matter either 😉

naturist tree 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

And is this how fish see us from below?

naturist underwater 0007 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Not such a pretty picture, unless they are into impressionist art…

We, however, could see the fish very well in that clear water, and plenty of it:

lake fish 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

some swimming freely, and others attached to the underwater tree trunks.

lake fish 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

So were we – soaring above the blue abyss,

naturist swimming 0008 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

with occasional rest at the underwater trees…

naturist underwater 0008 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Nowhere else did swimming feel so much like flying, with the boundary between air and water seemingly imaginary…

naturist swimming 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

We felt like birds! … or bats?

naturist tree 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

As we climbed the trees, we actually awakened some bats, quite a lot of them!

bats 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

We would never have noticed them sleeping on the trunks otherwise.

bats 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

And they were quite an inspiration:

naturist diving 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

we took off the tree branches

naturist swimming 0002 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

and flew back into the blue abyss!

lake view 0002 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

As you can tell by this story, Cenote Azul felt magical.

naturist swimming 0006 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

It’s impossible to really express it with words and photography, but perhaps this video will do a better job.

thermal pool ‘El Tambo’ in Papallacta, Ecuador

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By coincidence, as I was preparing yesterday this blogpost about an outing with the group of Nudismo Ecuador a year ago, they went to the same place; so I am starting with a few photos from their recent trip

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… and continue with the story of my visit: A few years ago I got an idea to travel to either Ecuador or Peru and of course looked up options for naturism; Ecuador seemed to have a much more vibrant naturist community with a few active groups. I had to cancel and postpone my trip a couple of times, but a year ago I finally went there and indeed found a good bunch of local naturists. There is a couple of groups in Quito, with weekly gatherings at a pool with sauna and less frequent outings to thermal pools outside the city. Even though Ecuador is situated (you’ve guessed it!) at the equator, the capital and a few other major cities have pretty cool or even chilly climate being high up in the mountains (Quito is the second highest capital city in the world), so hot springs is a natural choice if you want to hang out naked. I had been in touch with one of the local naturist groups – Nudismo Ecuador – for a while, so when my plans solidified, I made sure to coordinate to meet up with them. So a dozen of us went to the thermal pools of Papallacta east of Quito.

There are no officially designated clothing-optional pools, but some admit naturist groups with prior arrangements. This one is called ‘El Tambo’. If you want to enjoy it sans clothes, coordinate with Nudismo Ecuador by e-mail. After parking, there is a short pebble walkway (quite slippery from the mist),

view 0000 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

on which we stripped off right away, as from then on only sheep could see us. They seemed a bit a amused,

naturist 0003 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

as at this altitude of 3.5km asl, even some plants prefer to have a wooly cover.

plants 0003 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

So, yes, it was quite chilly, especially in the mountain mist, so we quickly proceeded to the pool,

naturist 0004 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

although some preferred to gain some body heat from running around the pool first.

naturist 0005 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

But once we were in, it was pure relaxation… until more group member arrived and we decided to play a ball game. The invented it on their own, so I was curious to try!

naturist water ball 0000 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

While water volleyball is common at naturist resorts,

naturist water ball 0002 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

this one is more reminiscent of rugby: you score by touching the “gate” area of the opponent team.

naturist water ball 0003 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

Due to having to run in water, passes are more common in this game,

naturist water ball 0004 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

and less chance of injuries from tackling.

naturist water ball 0005 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

We did take it seriously, so the victory was well celebrated =)

naturist water ball 0006 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

After the game, we were certainly warm enough to venture out for a brief hike, even though it was drizzling.

naturist 0001 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

Some of the mountain peaks around are covered in snow – it would have been even more amazing to see them while hiking naked or enjoying the pool, but there was a thick cloud blocking the view (typical for the area).

view 0003 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

We went down to a small river,

view 0001 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

and on its bank there was a natural thermal spring

view 0004 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

with contrasting, almost neon, colors.

naturist 0000 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

All that moist results in dense vegetation.

plants 0000 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

Some plants were blooming,

plants 0001 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

and tree trunks were covered in ferns, moss and lichens.

plants 0002 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

After the hike, it was already time to go back to Quito, but that hot shower felt amazing!

naturist 0002 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

So even though there is not much official recognition of naturism in Ecuador, local naturists are certainly very active, and my further travel proved that there is plenty of opportunities for naturism!

Naked in Motion – 2 years of nude yoga in New York, and counting

naturist yoga 0000 Naked in Motion, New York City, NY, USA

Naked in Motion‘ is a group of a few yogis in New York City and Boston with a great mission “to create spaces where all people can experience the freedom and empowerment of clothes-free movement without worrying about their safety”, and they have been making lots of buzz in press! So much in fact, that it’s hard to believe they are only two years old. This is particularly encouraging, given that many naturist events and organizations in NYC have recently disappeared, e.g., body-painting dance parties, Zensual yoga, Vita Nuda gatherings and sudden departure of YNA (I certainly miss their Nude Year’s Eve parties).

So, I finally made it to visit ‘Naked in Motion‘ – for their birthday class last Saturday (which only makes more sense to celebrate in birthday suits). The class was led by the founder – Willow,

naturist yoga 0002 Naked in Motion, New York City, NY, USA

and she made sure it was a safe and comfortable experience for all. Before the class, she read ‘Community Rules’ (which also came in the confirmation email). Frankly, I am not a fan of rules, but I may be just used to being in the naturist environment, where there is usually no need for such rules to be told explicitly – I  heard from other newcomers that they appreciated this approach. The major part of the rules ensures that the environment is non-sexual and body-positive, and a subset is aimed to women and transgender people in particular, as they may have additional hurdles on their way to feeling comfortable in their own skin.

naturist yoga 0003 Naked in Motion, New York City, NY, USA

After all, ‘self-kindness’ seems to be the major goal of this class. You can read more about this approach and mission of ‘Naked in Motion’ on their website, as well as in their numerous interviews – from local New York Post and Time Out New York to Today News Africa.

As this was a celebratory event, it ended with some food (even naked yogis love pizza), mocktails, and socializing – not surprisingly, but totally unexpectedly, I bumped into some friends from Sandy Hook. In the absence of the beach during winter, such events are only more appealing!

naturist yoga 0001 Naked in Motion, New York City, NY, USA

My excuse for taking so long to this class is that I have a luxury of having a weekly private yoga gathering where I live, and I would certainly go back frequently, if I didn’t have this luxury. Given that Naked in Motion provides several classes a week right by Penn Station, there is no excuse to not check out their class if you live in New York metropolitan area (or visiting) and up for some naked yoga. My next visit will be for pilates though – I’ve never done it before, and I love trying new things in the buff!

And to sum up, here is a minute-long documentary about them.

camp Gymnasium at Burning Man 2017

Just on time, as Burning Man kicks off its ticket madness today, here is a recollection of events at our theme camp Gymnasium and beyond in 2017. If you would like to get engaged with our camp this year in any way, please e-mail us or leave a comment to this post! You can read more about the concept of our camp on its webpage, but overall our theme refers to the Ancient Greek institution for athletics, philosophy and socializing.

naturist camp Gymnasium 0000 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Traditionally, our first even was a running race – from the esplanade to our camp at 7:30 Plaza.

naturist camp Gymnasium 0001 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Being on the first day of the festival, the race was dominated by our own campmates,

naturist camp Gymnasium 0002 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and the winner turned out to be yours truly 😉

naturist camp Gymnasium 0003 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

This time, we no longer used laurel wreaths ordered online – instead, we had them hand-made by two campmates from the Netherlands. They added a bit of a Dutch twist to it though: judging by the shape of the leaves, it was more of a ‘weed’ wreath 😀

Our Gymnasium also featured a massage station,

naturist massage camp Gymnasium 0004 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

especially popular after sport events, and some lucky winners even got a four-hand massage.

naturist massage camp Gymnasium 0000 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Even though our theme camp was first conceived with an idea to revive the ideals of the Ancient Olympics, we keep on adding more elements to have a more complete ‘gymnasium’ in its original meaning – with philosophical discussions and arts as well.

naturist camp Gymnasium 0007 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

2017 saw our first installment of a pottery workshop, which was a lot of fun, for campmates and guests alike!

naturist camp Gymnasium 0005 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

It all started with a block of clay.

naturist camp Gymnasium 0006 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and after rolling a few pieces, we moved on to creating vessels using the coiling method.

naturist camp Gymnasium 0008 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Of course, our inspiration came from Ancient Greek vases,

naturist camp Gymnasium 0011 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

more specifically, of black-figure type

naturist camp Gymnasium 0012 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

(but not without some Burning Man twist to it).

naturist camp Gymnasium 0013 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Though only the most determined students remained until that stage of the workshop 😀

In 2016, we pumped up the acrobatics compartment of our Gymnasium by adding a gymnastics wheel, aptly fitting to that year’s theme of Burning Man,

naturist aerial camp Gymnasium 0016 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

but in 2017 one of the campmates brought and entire aerial rig!

naturist aerial camp Gymnasium 0014 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Needless to say, it was a very popular attraction among our guests

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and campmates alike.

naturist aerial camp Gymnasium 0003 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Some poses seemed easier

naturist aerial camp Gymnasium 0007 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

than the others,

naturist aerial camp Gymnasium 0006 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

but all of them evoked flying!

naturist aerial camp Gymnasium 0009 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

The gymnastics wheel was busy too,

naturist aerial camp Gymnasium 0001 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

but not everyone needed equipment for their acrobatic tricks!

naturist camp Gymnasium 0036 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Surely, there was also plenty of fun to be had and art to be seen outside our camp,

naturist camp Gymnasium 0014 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and we had a couple of group outings.

naturist camp Gymnasium 0016 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

A great aspect of art at Burning Man is that it is interactive,

naturist camp Gymnasium 0017 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and 2017 was particularly good in this respect.

naturist camp Gymnasium 0019 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Many art pieces were calling to incorporate you, to become their part!

naturist Jesus Gymnasium 0020 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

The Tree of Ténéré was certainly one of the most popular installations day and night (you can see it by night in the video above).

naturist camp Gymnasium 0022 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

This cylinder of LED stripes seemed like a pretty simple construction,

naturist camp Gymnasium 0023 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

but once you got inside and someone spun it, it would turn into an amazing spectacle of color!

naturist camp Gymnasium 0024 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Inside this red circular tunnel, one could feel like on a spaceship mission.

And Incendia was our favorite sound camp to dance [naked] at night –

naturist fire at Incendia 0027 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

their roof was on fire, literally! 2017 was a hot year at Burning Man, but the nights were still quite chilly, so that fire felt nice.

fire at Incendia 0028 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

It was hypnotizing to observe the fire from below, but if that wasn’t enough,

fire at Incendia 0029 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

you could use special viewing glasses that multiplied the visual input.

naturists partying at Incendia 0031 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

We first saw this camp at FreeForm Festival in 2016, but at Burning Man their installation was much bigger. And thanks to that fire, we could dance naked all night long – till sunrise!

sunrise at Incendia 0034 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

I was gifted glasses that transformed any source of light into a heart ❤ shape, so when I tried them with the rising sun, it was amazing!

The DJ who played that night – Seth Schwarz – was really good, my major music discovery of 2017. Along with mixing records, he played an electric violin, and it wasn’t just a gimmick but an essential and natural part of his set.

Seth Schwarz at Incendia 0033 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

… Well, and if you have heard about our camp before, by this time you must be wondering about our famous naked oil wrestling. Of course this was the main feature of Gymnasium again!

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0070 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Unfortunately, there was a mistake in the Burning Man app and  info center that showed our camp in a completely wrong location, which we found out only after a couple of days, but we still had a good attendance of our most popular event.

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We had three wrestling events, with a winner in each, and one was particularly memorable. Despite seemingly having a disadvantage,

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0002 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

he knew what he was doing

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0006 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and sent his opponents out of the ring with ease!

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0004 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

That golden laurel weed wreath was well deserved!

And here is a video with clips from some of the matches, enjoy!

Are you going this year? Let us know and join our events!

WNBR – Mexico City 2017

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naturist 0033 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

It’s been a month since the devastating earthquake in Mexico City, and let’s hope it will recover well, to be better than before. I saw quite a bit of this city in June during one of the most fun events imaginable: the World Naked Bike Ride! Already in my first ever WNBR – in Madrid 2009 – it was clear that such rides provide an amazing way to see the city, and in the company of hundreds naked (or so) people. Can you think of a better city tour? And it’s all for a great cause to promote cycling to be the major mode of urban transportation in response to ever increasing pollution and overpopulation. Nudity here helps to get the message across: cyclists use the pure power of human body (so, show that body!) – and yet we are the ones who are most prone to the truly indecent exposure to the traffic and vehicle pollution.

naturist 0001 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

And it doesn’t hurt to get some more specific messages written on those naked bodies, so in the beginning of the event, many people spend time with body-painting and decorating themselves in other funny and creative ways. I had ‘energía pura’ written on my thigh,

naturist 0000 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

and this guy – ‘fragile’,

naturist 0007 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

another reminded to keep the distance of 1.5 m away from cars (‘distancia de autos 1.5 m’),

naturist 0005 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

others just acknowledged their love to cycling,

naturist 0010 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

etc etc.

naturist 0008 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

And this couple conveyed a message about society’s ridiculous approach toward body acceptance without words but by wearing a bathing suit – one between the two of them =)

naturist 0031 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

WNBR brings all kinds of people together,

naturist 0019 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

and naked, we feel even more united.

naturist 0024 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

Even the President north of the border joined WNBR in Mexico City!

naturist 0028 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

Haha! Oh well, that would have been quite revolutionary, but with his views on climate change and lack of respect to (at least female) bodies, this must have been just a sarcasm. By the way, one of the chants at the WNBR in Mexico City was ‘si Zapata viviera, en bici anduviera’ (if Zapata lived, he would go by bike). But he is not around anymore, and other prominent politicians are notably absent from the WNBR. So, can we only hope for superheroes?

naturist 0020 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

Well, actually events like WNBR show that we all can be a solution, especially if we act together.

naturist 0035 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

As always at such mass naked events, it was interesting to observe reaction of the public, and while the majority seemed to be quite intrigued by the parade, some were not as amused.

naturist 0016 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

Certainly it’ll be helpful if not only general public but some businesses recognize the value of such events (though maybe that ‘Uber eats’ guy  just joined us on the way from work).

naturist 0018 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

Well, bike rental services would be the most obvious interested party, and actually there were some offering special deals for WNBR in Mexico!

naturist 0025 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

It is always nice to see other body-powered modes of transportation at these rides, such as skateboards and roller blades, as well as various forms of bicycles – tandem,

naturist 0009 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

tall,

naturist 0023 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

recumbent…

naturist 0034 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

And this sculpture was seemingly participating too, though it attracted a bit less attention.

naturist 0037 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

We had a brief stop at Auditorio Nacional on the avenue of Paseo de la Reforma,

naturist 0036 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

but quite a few people also stopped to take pictures with the sculpture of Alas de México (Wings of Mexico). This is apparently one of the most photographed places in Mexico City (well, as it is obviously set up perfectly for a portrait), but I guess there are not many possibilities to take a nude photo there, even though its sculptor, Jorge Marín, would surely approve that, as most of his creations are nude or almost nude.

naturist 0038 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

After that, we were back to the streets,

naturist 0039 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

in the true spirit of the World Naked Bike Ride.

naturist 0041 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

Unlike in New York City, but similar to other major cities that host WNBR, this manifestation here was sanctioned and supported by police. The route has to be coordinated in advance and changes every year. Sometimes it goes through more parts of the city, sometimes fewer; this year it covered a decent section of the center, but apparently there’ve been longer rides in its history. We ended at the same spot where we started, which was nice to take some photos with another landmark – Monumento a la Revolución.

naturist 0045 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

With so many participants, in the end there were still some that I hadn’t seen during the ride with interesting body paint (Día de los muertos style),

naturist 0046 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

… or no body paint at all.

naturist 0048 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

There also was a street vendor with ice-cream, which was perfect after the ride.

naturist 0044 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

And I enjoyed a few minutes of just being naked on the street, as if it was just another day in the city… but without clothes.

naturist 0047 WNBR World Naked Bike Ride, Mexico

One can dream! But World Naked Bike Ride certainly helps with body acceptance and thus may make that dream come true!

Here is a bonus – a 15-minute video excursion through the center of Mexico City with a bunch of naked people.

 

Gymnasium schedule at Burning Man 2017

In a couple of weeks, our theme camp Gymnasium will come again to the much anticipated Burning Man festival. If you read this and plan to be there, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to visit our camp.  You can read about our theme camp idea on its page and check out our last year’s experience.

 

Below is the list of our events, but keep in mind that we plan to do even more than we have announced – so stop by our camp at 7:30 Plaza and you’ll find something fun to do and learn… all in the buff! For example, we got a gymnastics wheel last year, which turned to be a hugely popular toy, and this year we’ll add an aerial rig to our arsenal! And what is amazing is that even our busy schedule is just a tiny fraction of all the “craziness” that Burning Man is!

  • Butt-Cheeky Run Come get your burn started – with the sun’s soft caresses on your butt cheeks! The Ancient Greeks always trained and competed naked – in fact the ’gym’ comes from the word ‘gymnos’, meaning ‘naked’ in Greek. Come experience the freedom of running together in the altogether! Or at least come and see what a great spectator sport it is:) We’ll do a warm-up at the camp and then run wild in the ‘hood and all the way to the Man!
    • Monday, 28 August, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Naked Oil Wrestling Wrestling is one of the most fun sports you can ever try. It’s also one of humanity’s oldest and was among the major events of the original Olympics. Long before we were kicking balls around we were rolling around in the dirt, putting each other in headlocks! It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete novice who’s never tried it in your life or an experienced fighter, come along and experience this amazing bonding experience in Gymnasium, Black Rock City’s Ancient Greek wrestling school!
    • Tuesday, 29 August, 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    • Thursday, 31 August, 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, 2 September, 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Discus-ish Throw in the dark… and in the buff Discus (well, LED-lit frisbee) throw competition followed by ultimate frisbee game (or regular frisbee, depending on the mood). Bare your body, but wear lights! The Ancient Greeks always trained and competed naked – in fact the ’gym’ comes from the word ‘gymnos’, meaning ‘naked’ in Greek. Come experience the amazing freedom of running and jumping and exercising free of clothing! Or at least come and see what a great spectator sport it is:) This is our only night event, but don’t worry about cold – movement will keep you warm!
    • Wednesday, 30 August, 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    • Friday, 1 September, 8 p.m. – 9 p.m. (rain date)
  • Naked Piggy-Back and Wheelbarrow Run Race are with us for this fun athletic event! Bring your friends, but choose wisely, as you’ll have to bear them on your back, bareback… or vice versa. Great bonding experience guaranteed! The Ancient Greeks always trained and competed naked – in fact the ’gym’ comes from the word ‘gymnos’, meaning ‘naked’ in Greek. Come experience the amazing freedom of running and jumping and exercising free of clothing! Or at least come and see what a great spectator sport it is:) PS In ancient Olympics this would have been an equestrian event, but BMORG wouldn’t let us bring horses…
    • Friday, 1 September,  4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • Nude Yoga + Wine Nude yoga and acro-yoga – for a better flow and connection 🙂 We’ll end the session with drinking wine in your favorite poses, as Ancient Greeks sometimes drank wine in acrobatic poses at their symposiums. Then you could stay for our philosophical discussions sessions. Free your body, free your mind!
    • Monday, 28 August, 4:45 p.m. – 6 p.m.
    • Wednesday, 30 August, 4:45 p.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Naked Philosophy Nudity has the power to surprise and shock, yet why, on reflection, can something as mundane as the naked body inspire simultaneously so much passion and revulsion? To be naked in 21st century western society demands intense self-examination, the questioning and reappraisal of conventional conventions and morality. In this sense, naturism, as the cultural and political movement of nudism is often known, is an inherently philosophical practice. And what better way to do philosophy than naked? We’re sure your college seminars would have been much more fun nude. Come and join us for lively discussions, debates and story-telling. We’ll be discussing naturism, body image, sharing experiences, debating body modification, if and how laws should be changed – really everything related to the human body.
    • Monday, 28 August, 6 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
    • Wednesday, 30 August, 6 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
    • Friday, 1 September, 6 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
  • Kerameikos (Ancient Greek pottery) Ever wondered how those ancient vases were produced and decorated? Find out at our pottery school at Gymnasium, and you’ll be able to make some ceramics (kerameikos) of your own! It’s a three step process: first, we’ll make the vases of different shapes using coil building techniques; then, we will let the clay dry to apply the slip and carve designs. (You can use the break for lunch or try some of our big toys, such as aerial rig or gymnastics wheel). At the last stage, the pots have to be fired after Burning Man, but we could ship your masterpiece to you, if you’d like! Otherwise, we’ll use it to decorate our camp and use the most appealing ones to award the winners of our athletic events next year.

 

Hope to see many of you there!

hiking the Appalachian trail in Vermont… as nature intended

naturist 0004 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Although the US has a fame for being a prude country, there are some local exceptions, and Vermont is one of them: there is no state law against public nudity (though there is one against disrobing in public :D) And with all those green mountains around (just think of the state’s name etymology), it’s a perfect destination for naturists!

My long-time pen pal Ed organizes an  annual summer solstice naked hike in Vermont, and though I could never make it for this group hike itself, I went on the same route with Ed and another friend, Matt, just later in summer (mid-August).

naturist 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

The route includes a part of the famous Appalachian trail, so you’d expect a few fellow hikers, but it’s great to have the law on your side – just make sure to leave your car naked, and you don’t need to hide!-)

naturist 0003 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Shortly after the trailhead, we got to a small waterfall

naturist 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

– nice to start the hike on a fresh note!

Make sure to take advantage of this skinny-dipping spot, because after that the trail gets very steep.

naturist 0005 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

The forest is dominated by fir trees – young and old,

naturist 0006 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

and ferns are common in the undergrowth.

fern 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

But then we came across something spectacular. You may know of the hikers’ tradition to pile stones into cairns, but here it has been taken to another level!

view 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

It looked like a miniature city lost in the woods.

naturist 0007 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

We left our contribution too, but mostly just marveled at the scale of this cairn.

naturist 0010 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Some of the installations were amazingly balanced at the trees and appeared as if suspended in the air!

naturist 0009 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

When we got to the open space at one of the highest points of the trail, we enjoyed the great views

naturist 0011 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

and some flat rocks that served well for resting.

naturist 0012 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

What else could we ask for? Maybe some berries?

plants with berries 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

There weren’t any edibles around (at least as fat as we could tell), but we saw some pretty fruits,

plants with berries 0001 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

including this dark-blue berry.

plants with berries 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Then there was another spot with cairns –

naturist 0013 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

not as massive but perhaps even more impressive in terms of the art of balancing those uneven stones.

view 0001 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Yes, here hikers take cairns seriously!

naturist 0014 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

We didn’t cross many streams,

naturist 0015 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

but about two-thirds of the route we came to a lake –

view 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Little Rock Pond, actually. It was great to refresh and swim in its clear waters. There was a ranger, but again, here we didn’t have to worry that our natural attire would cause any trouble in legal terms. There were a couple more nude swimmers, and the rest didn’t seem appalled by nudity either.

But then, all of a sudden, came a heavy downpour and we had to rush out. It was actually quite a warm rain, and as you might know, the skin is waterproof – so we didn’t feel the need to wear clothes. It was an interesting experience to walk in the forest in such a heavy rain, but it did prevent us from the idea of camping there.

Next day, we explored another trail, which lead to the Stratton Pond (east of the Stratton Mountain).

naturist 0017 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

This trail was mostly flat. About midway, it passed along a mossy swamp,

view 0003 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

which provided a nice change of the scenery. However, many of the trees in the swamp were dead, and seemed to have died recently. This swamp was apparently a result of beavers building a damn on the stream there… Oh well, if only they heard about climate change challenge, maybe they’d spare some of those trees…

view 0004 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Soon after that, we approached the lake, and of course we wanted to go for a swim.

naturist 0016 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

We took the trail around the lake (to the left) and found a nice spot for a camp (would be perfect for an overnight stay!),

view 0006 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

even with some food supplies,

view 0005 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

but more importantly – with good access to the water!

naturist 0018 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the water though. This pristine lake was a home to many newts

newt 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

and dragonfly nymphs!

dragonfly larva 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Amazing to see insects the same size of a vertebrate next to each other, and probably if newts lived in the water at juvenile stages, they’d be hunted by dragonfly nymphs. But their life cycles are reversed: the nymphs eventually come out of water and transform into dragonflies, whereas it is the juvenile form of newts, eft, that lives on land.

newt 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

The bright orange color of eft’s skin warns of its poisonous properties,

newt 0001 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

so better don’t hold them in your hands however cute they may seem. (But who knows what they transform into on later stages?)

Same probably goes for some brightly colored berries that we saw on this trail, though I’m not sure what they are.

plants with berries 0003 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

But luckily there were some delicious blueberries too!

plants with berries 0004 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

By mid-August, blubbery season is usually over in my local Harriman Park, but here in Vermont they seem to ripen later. So it was good to get some extra for the summer.

mushrooms 0001 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

There was an abundance of mushrooms of all kinds as well,

mushrooms 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

some of them might be poisonous,

mushrooms 0004 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

others edible.

mushrooms 0003 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

I use an app from Audubon society to detect mushrooms, and boletes, like this two-colored one

mushrooms 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

or white suillus, are easy to distinguish.

mushrooms 0005 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

A few of the local bolete species turn blue when bruised, especially noticeable against the yellow pores.

mushrooms 0006 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

But in this case, the bright color is not a warning sign – just a result of the oxidation of pulvinic acid derivatives, none of which is poisonous. So, on the way back we collected enough mushrooms for a delicious soup!

mushrooms 0007 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

But even without all these wild gourmet treats, the trails of Vermont are calling us, we’ll surely be back!

the legendary Ledges of Vermont

naturist 0001 Ledges at Harriman Reservoir, Vermont, USA

They might be legendary only in a relatively narrow circle among those who like nude recreation, but the Ledges in Vermont was one of the first naturist locations I heard of in the US, and this place is certainly worth the hype.  The Ledges represent flat rocks situated on the Eastern shore of the Harriman Reservoir.

naturist 0000 Ledges at Harriman Reservoir, Vermont, USA

The lake is mostly surrounded by forest, so the shores are green, and the water is very clean (the bottom is dark though, so it makes the water look dark too). So the Ledges give an impression of a pristine place, despite being very popular and quite crowded on weekends – the parking lot was full, and quite a few people arrived by boats.

naturist 0001 Ledges at Harriman Reservoir, Vermont, USA

The name of Harriman is already associated with naturist activities for me, because of numerous naked hikes that we’ve done in Harriman State Park in New York, but this place is recognized as clothing-optional officially!

naturist 0005 Ledges at Harriman Reservoir, Vermont, USA

We spent a great August day there – swimming, sunbathing, chatting – so when the time came to leave, it was hard to do so

naturist 0003 Ledges at Harriman Reservoir, Vermont, USA

to the extent that some of us felt glued to the place…

skinny-dipping in the Adirondacks

naturist 0001 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

The Adirondacks are great for hiking and kayaking, but even relaxing by a creek may turn out very special there, as it happened to us at the so-called Potholers on the East Canada Creek. One of the reasons was that it was secluded enough to have the spot to ourselves most of the time, so we stayed comfortably naked.

naturist 0000 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

Upstream from where we stayed, the creek was deep enough for swimming.

naturist 0010 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

Downstream were the rocks, flat and comfortable – you can’t ask for a better way of relaxation than chilling outdoors with the sound of running water.

naturist 0011 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

Well, maybe if you get in that running water for a shoulder massage!

naturist 0004 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

Some of the “potholes” create perfect natural bathtubs, where you could sit with the water flowing over your shoulders and massaging you! And the temperature of the water was (in July) just perfect – refreshing but not chilling.

naturist 0007 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

It was also nice to go behind that water wall and close yourself from the outer world for a moment.

naturist 0003 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

Of course you could still see through, even though quite distorted. But there were some very peculiar things to observe indeed!

Check out this video:

We are pretty sure this behavior has never been seen (or at least recorded) before, and we still don’t know its meaning. What is it?

Maybe that is what happens when naturists become naturalists and artists at the some time 🙂

On that trip, we also visited the G-lake. It was great for swimming, but while bushwalking around it, one of us got stung by wild bees!

naturist view 0000 G Lake, Adirondacks, New York, USA

And not to make you completely against the idea of visiting this lake, we also saw a leech there. But it was actually a pretty sight, because it swam gracefully at the surface and was brightly colored – green with orange spots; so I actually regretted I didn’t have my camera at that moment. Well, but at least we were lucky to record the elusive Homo tritonii at the Potholers!

trekking through a biodiversity hotspot in Costa Rica

español

view 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

In the previous blogpost from Costa Rica, we teased you with a prospect of a naturalist report, so here it is: we had quite a remarkable expedition in one the most biodiverse locations in the world! And well, you guessed it – most of this trek was done by me (and to a less extent by my friends) in the buff – so once again, we were mixing naturism with big interest in natural history.

Costa Rica is a favorite for nature enthusiasts, with the highest percentage of protected land in the world; but even by Costa Rican standards, Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula is very special. There are simply not many places left in the world where tropical rainforest meets the sea, and this park conserves the largest primary forest on the American Pacific coastline. For better or worse, visiting this park is highly regulated, e.g., it is forbidden to visit without a certified guide. The good thing is that the number of tourists is maintained at low levels, so there is no risk of overuse, but this makes it expensive and dependent on finding a guide. In our case, this guide also had to be OK with the idea of free-hiking, i.e. hiking without clothes. We were lucky to find one (through CouchSurfing) – both open-minded and knowledgeable about local wildlife. If you want to have a similar adventure, we highly recommend Elias (you can contact him via WhatsApp +50683811556).

So, we could enjoy this amazing natural habitat in the most natural attire,

naturist 0000 Corcovado, Costa Rica

but thanks to our guide we could also see a lot of wildlife that would otherwise be nearly impossible to spot – like this Dendrophidion snake.

Dendrophidion snake 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

‘Hot lips’ of Psychotria elata plant were much easier to notice, and they seemed like a nice greeting in the beginning of the trail from Los Patos to Sirena station.

Psychotria elata – hot lips plant 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

The forest was dominated by massive trees,

tree 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

but during the first hour or so, there was also dense vegetation around the trail.

naturist 0001 Corcovado, Costa Rica

One has to be careful not to touch tree trunks and branches without looking at them, as they may be covered in spines,

spiny tree 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

and some look just vicious!

spiny tree 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

The first bird on the trail was crested guan (actually 3 of them).

crested guan 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Our guide didn’t seem too excited to see them, as they must be very common, but to me even this relative of turkey seemed like a good start for birdwatching (and guan is quite different from the turkeys we see in North America).

crested guan 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

The first section of the trail after Los Patos is quite hilly, so I was certainly glad to walk without clothes, as you get sweaty easily in those conditions (and I guess even more so when you go there after 3-4 months of the northern winter, as we did this trip in the end of March last year).

naturist 0002 Corcovado, Costa Rica

The next animal we spotted was a green parrot snake creeping up the tree (this was my first tree snake).

Leptophis ahaetulla – green parrot snake 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

This plant creeper’s movement we wouldn’t be able to detect unless we used cameras over long time, but it was interesting to see how it was able to climb up the trunk vertically, with one type of the leaves attached to the trunk.

tree 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

This lizard seemed to be quiet curious about us,

tree lizard 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

and it was posing well for the camera while climbing up the tree.

tree lizard 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Meanwhile, another kind of lizard seemed to be a lot more timid and preferred to hide in the leaves on the ground.

lizard 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Then we saw plenty of animals of a specific kind that are not only not trying to hide but actually clear their path from dead leaves…

leaf-cutter ants 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

while carrying freshly cut leaf pieces towards their colony for mushroom farming.

leaf-cutter ants 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

It was interesting to see the work of leaf-cutter ants at different stages

leaf-cutter ants 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

(though the final steps of mushroom farming are well hidden under ground).

There were probably many more insects that remained unnoticed, as most of them are well camouflaged

grasshopper 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

… unless they have outstanding pink eyes, like this grasshopper!

grasshopper 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

This shiny beetle didn’t bother to hide, but then it was quite well armored, as if made of metal.

beetle 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

After three hours of hiking, we crossed the first stream. It was shallow, but the water was clear and refreshing. It was full of small fish (also well camouflaged).

fish in the stream 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

After walking in the dense forest, it was nice to be in a more open space,

and even nicer – to cool off in the stream (skinny-dipping, obviously).

naturist 0004 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Here we saw another lizard, the iconic basilisk, but only young individuals (nothing like the dragon at the Villa Roca hotel).

basilisc lizard 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

One of them was on the hunt for dragonflies,

basilisc lizard and dragonfly 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

though not very successfully.

basilisc lizard 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Not too far from the stream, we saw a blue-crowned motmot (similar to the one I saw by the cenotes in Yucatan).

Blue-crowned Motmot 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Back in the forest, we were impressed again by the trees and their roots. Those intertwining roots may create cozy niches for other plants

palm tree in ficus 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

or anyone else willing to occupy them.

naturist 0021 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Some of those supporting, buttress roots were truly massive!

naturist 0006 Corcovado, Costa Rica

It’s worth noting, that to a large extent the roots wouldn’t be able to function without symbiosis with fungi, which do a lot of invisible job in the forest. We only notice them when they produce fruiting bodies for sexual reproduction, such as this purple mushroom.

purple mushroom 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

At another spot, the ground was covered in purple flowers.

view 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

This made us realize how much we were missing out by not being able to see the forest from the top. Quite a few of those trees must have been blooming, but the only way to see the flowers was when they would fall on the ground.

Besides the trees, lianas constitute a large and important part of plant life in the tropical forest,

liana 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

and we saw really massive lianas in Corcovado, as thick as trees. And some had to take peculiar forms on their way up (a U-turn?)

liana 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Many lianas interweave and twist their stems, and this one on the photo below reminded me the double helix of DNA.

liana 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Sometimes it was even hard to tell the border between neighboring trees, or where their roots ended and lianas began – as if they were all interconnected.

tree 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And of course there were plenty of tree-dwelling animals that like this kind of mess.

squirrel monkey 0005 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

As we got across a big group of squirrel monkeys, it was amazing and amusing to see how easily they moved jumping between all those branches and lianas (on the photo above you can see how the tail is used for balancing).

squirrel monkey 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And they were equally good at using those brunches lounging =)

squirrel monkey 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

It was hard to tell who was more curious: monkeys about us, or we about them?

squirrel monkey 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

(Here you can see how the tail is used as a fifth limb.)

Though not all of them seemed that amused by the naked ape on the ground…

squirrel monkey 0004 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

While we were goggling at our fast-moving tailed and furry relatives, Elias noticed another creature in the trees – a sloth!

sloth 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

It was sleeping (of course!) despite all the locomotion around.

The monkeys were in no rush to move away, and we could have spent much more time staring at each other, but we had to continue our trek.

squirrel monkey 0006 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

By that time, the forest became much drier (by rainforest standards), and flatter.

liana 0004 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

We passed through a grove of bamboos that were very tall but much thinner than typical species, but they were all intertwined and thus supported each other.

view 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Although by then we had seen and heard plenty of parrots, they were all in a distance; so when we encountered a scarlet macaw feeding calmly in plain view, it was a beautiful and rare sight!

Scarlet Macaw 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

The next birdwatching opportunity presented itself shortly after and was equally exciting, though the bird wasn’t as bright except for the red face. It was quite excited about something too, as it announced its presence by piercing screeches (was it a warning for us?)

Mountain caracara 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

It was a bird of prey, caracara, but I cannot tell the exact species. It looks most similar to mountain caracara, but this species is not known on the Osa peninsula… any specialists among the readers here?

The afternoon was quite hot, so when we crossed another river, it felt very timely.

view 0004 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

As the sun was setting, we had to continue to the campground at the Sirena biological station, but we were close already. That was when I realized I lost my shorts from the open pocket in the backpack! Unfortunately, the camp site is not clothing-optional here… but luckily one of my friends had a spare pair of briefs that looked like bicycle shorts.

At the approach to Sirena, we passed through a grove of fruiting pam trees with giant leaves.

palm tree 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

The last animal we saw on the trail that day was a quiet bird tinamou.

tinamu 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

But that wasn’t it for the day. As we were setting up the tent at the campground, a tapir ventured out in the open!

tapir 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

I was stunned – this was the largest animal I’d seen in the wild.

tapir 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

But the tapir himself couldn’t care less, was just passing the grassy area without much rush before disappearing in the forest again.

tapir 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

As it was getting dark, we went to the cafeteria for dinner, where I had to explain that my boxers were shorts – you know, they still want to keep some style for dinners even  in the middle of the jungle 😀

At night we were enjoying our sleep despite the sounds of howler monkeys (which I first thought were jaguars!) and a thunderstorm. By the morning, everything was calm again. After breakfast, we ventured out to continue our trek.

view 0005 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Almost immediately after the station, the trail comes to the beach and it goes along the shore, but as I mentioned, this is a place where the beach and the forest meet – so here you can enjoy them both. The sand is mostly volcanic black, though not as pure black as at Kehena in Hawaii.

tree with yellow and red flowers 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

There was a tree with flowers that were either yellow or red, which seemed very unusual.

tree with yellow and red flowers 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

One possibility is that the color changes as the flowers mature, because the fresher ones tended to be yellow. Any other ideas?

tree with yellow and red flowers 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

We had to cross quite a few river mouths, but they were all pretty shallow. I believe this may change quite a lot depending on rain and tide.

view 0006 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

This explained why there were so many birds on the beach that are more typical for fresh water bodies,

bittern 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

such as these bitterns.

bittern 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

At the beach frontline, coconut palms were often the prevalent species; we passed through a few groves of those.

naturist 0007 Corcovado, Costa Rica

And the conditions seemed to be good for coconuts to germinate there. We also found a coconut that was full of juice, and our guide opened it for us using rocks and a regular knife. That a was perfect refreshment.

coconut sapling 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

But here and there the trail would go deeper in the forest, with its giant trees and their intricate root systems.

naturist 0009 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Don’t be surprised if you see something like this golden orb-weaver spider on the web between those roots.

golden orb-weaver spider 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Though if you are lucky, you may see something prettier. You don’t see many orchids in the forest, because most of them grow higher in the trees.

orchid 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

But here at the edge of the forest, even epiphyte orchids can grow closer to the ground, with more light available.

orchid 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

There must be a lot of competition between plants in this dense habitat which we don’t notice, unless it’s something more obvious like this menacing strangler fig getting a hold of another tree.

strangler fig 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

The amazingly intertwined lianas allowed me to stay suspended in the air, and I let my inner Tarzan out =)

naturist 0010 Corcovado, Costa Rica

But this trail never went too far from the shoreline, so there was a refreshing breeze.

view 0007 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And on the beach, there was quite a lot of shade in the first half of the day.

naturist 0012 Corcovado, Costa Rica

So overall, this section of our trek went a lot more leisurely; just once in a while we’d need go over or around the rocks.

view 0009 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Even though it’s a rainforest, there are some trees here that are adapted for periods without much rain by accumulating water in their thick trunks. These are ceibas, and they can get very tall too.

naturist 0013 Corcovado, Costa Rica

And if you smack their trunks, you can here a ringing resound because of their hollow nature.

Ceibas have beautiful flowers, but we only found their leftovers with stamens.

fallen flower 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And there were more trees with impressive buttress roots.

tree 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

As we were approaching noontime, the sun was getting very strong, and there was less shade.

naturist 0015 Corcovado, Costa Rica

But we found a good spot to take a break, dip in the ocean and roll in the warm sand…

naturist 0016 Corcovado, Costa Rica

and climb a tree too.

naturist 0017 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Then the weather changed rapidly, and we were afraid to get in a rainstorm, but it never got stronger than some drizzle.

view 0010 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

So far, that day wasn’t very rich on animal sightings, we could only hope to see something in the ocean – Costa Rica is a known whale-watching destination after all, but there was nothing to be seen in the water from the shore… Then, Elias pointed at a whale on the shore itself!

Well, it was a dead one…

naturist 0019 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Very much dead indeed, but it’s as close as I’ve ever got to touching a whale. And we can only guess how it got this far in.

At the same spot, we saw a family of curious spider monkeys,

spider monkey 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

they might be wondering as to how we lost our fur 😀

naturist 0018 Corcovado, Costa Rica

But it’d be fair to say, I felt like they were recognizing some family resemblance. Later, we saw a much bigger group of monkeys, but too high up in the trees to take photos. However, they also got interested in us, and were throwing fruit to us (and it didn’t seem like it was done in an aggressive manner). This reminded me of a recent story of a girl that was lost/abandoned in the jungle but survived at least partially thanks to the food that monkeys shared with her. Unfortunately, the mangos that were offered by the monkeys to us were not ripe at all except for one that was only barely edible.

Our next encounter was not so sociable, but I was very glad to be able to see it – an anteater. It was a northern tamandua, which is not a rare species, but still very elusive, especially during day time.

anteater northern tamandua 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And it is quite an agile tree climber, using its tail as an additional limb.

anteater northern tamandua 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

We also saw two common black hawks.

mangrove black hawk 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

One of them was enjoying a meal.

mangrove black hawk 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

We saw a plenty of flying scarlet macaws again, which was a beautiful sight, but they moved too fast for taking photos.

Then we passed through a banana grove,  to which we probably wouldn’t have paid much attention, if only to check if for any fruit to snack on (and there weren’t any ripe). But our guide called us to look under one of the leaves. And there was a group of bats! Only one of them stayed for the photos though.

tent-making bat 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

These are called tent-making bats, as they roost under big leaves which they bite in central section so that it folds as if roof of a tent.

tent-making bat 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And since they a frugivores, bananas can provide both food and shelter.

By the way, although most of the Corcovado National Park is a primary forest, some sections on the shore, where this trail passes, go through former plantations. I’ve already mentioned mangos and bananas, and they are not native species there. And even though Costa Rica is the largest producer of pineapples, those are not native either.

wild pineapple flower 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

I assume this is a flowering pineapple plant, but it might be another bromeliad.

The last animal we saw by the trail before reaching La Leone ranger station was a coati.

coati 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

These relatives of raccoons are among the most ubiquitous mammals in Corcovado, and they usually live in groups, so it was ironic that we saw only one and by the end of our trek, after having seen plenty of more exotic animals.

After some rest at the ranger station (already clothed), we continued walking on the beach towards the nearest settlement – Carate. There, we had a nice dinner and a shower, and then camped on the beach (naked again).

view 0011 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

It was a pitch-black night, warm but with a breeze, and camping on sand was comfortable – all promised a good night sleep. But we didn’t realize that there were numerous crabs waiting to come out from their holes at night. And some of them happened to be under our tent. So if you camp on a beach like that, try to find a spot without any holes.

Next day, we planned to explore the forest along the river Rio Nuevo, but the car that was supposed to pick us up didn’t arrive, and there was no mobile phone service… Then someone came to let us know that the car broke on the way, so we had to take a bus to Puerto Jimenez.

Elias then organized another excursion for us in the afternoon. It was no longer within the park, actually next to cow pastures, but the prospect of skinny dipping in the river sounded good.

naturist + monstera 0020 Corcovado, Costa Rica

I found a fruiting monstera plant, and as I had tried this fruit for the first time just briefly before the trip and loved it (and it was very expensive at a NYC supermarket), I was eager to munch on this one in nature. Even its scientific name is Monstera deliciosa!

monstera 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

But unfortunately it wasn’t fully ripe, and it still had some irritating scales 😦

When I walked along the river, I saw a basilisk again.

basilisc lizard 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And this time, I finally saw with my own eyes, why it is also called a Jesus lizard – it can walk on water! Well, not really walk but rather run –

basilisc lizard 0004 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

and so fast, that you can hardly capture it with photography (unless you are well prepared for it).

I also saw a couple of tortoises in the river. But in a hole on the riverbank, there was another iconic reptile of the American tropics

boa constrictor 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

– a boa constrictor. Unlike with the basilisk, I didn’t see it in action. I actually noticed a few ticks attached to it – so instead of a boa constrictor sucking life out of its prey, I saw those small arachnids sucking on its blood.

boa constrictor 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

So much wildlife in so many forms we saw in those 3 days in Corcovado National Park and its surroundings, it’s amazing! If you are a nature enthusiast, it is certainly a top destination. Hopefully, you’ll have a good guide too. And in case you lose your shorts, you may find mine somewhere on the trail 😉