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 😉

Raja Ampat archipelago in the Indonesian Papua: paradise above and under water

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naturist 0002 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Who wouldn’t like a full week spent at a tropical, green archipelago surrounded by pristine waters? Writing this makes me want to throw myself back to those worry-free 7 days (almost a year ago) of a sailing trip at one of the natural marine wonders of our planet.

clown fish coral reef 0001 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

This post comes all the way from the magnificent marine park of Raja Ampat in Papua.

islands view 0011 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Raja Ampat is an archipelago on the northern tip of the Bird’s Peninsula on the island of New Guinea or Papua, as it’s locally called. It belongs to Indonesian territory and is one of the easternmost provinces in the archipelago. Raja Ampat is a local language for Four Kings. In terms of history, Raja Ampat Archipelago in the 15th century was part of the reign of Tidore Sultanate, a great kingdom centered in Moluccas Islands. The Sultanate of Tidore appointed 4 local kings to rule the islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool, which are the four largest islands to this day. The term 4 Kings who rule the islands became the root of the name Raja Ampat.

We spent the whole week in Raja Ampat. We were a group of 6, sailing on a wooden boat to explore the archipelago. This is the best way to explore the area: since it is an archipelago, you need to spend most of your days on or in the water to get the best experience of Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat is claimed to boast the richest marine biodiversity in the world.

clown fish coral reef 0000 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Right from the moment I arrived in the islands, I couldn’t stop my admiration of the beautiful surroundings – its breathtaking landscape and waters just blew my mind away.

naturist 0001 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Many locals claimed these islands to be a paradise on Earth, and I must agree with that statement!

islands view 0004 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

We started from the central islands of the archipelago.

islands view 0003 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

We were presented with a wide array of beautiful corals from the first days.

coral reef 0008 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

They were very colorful and in good shape

coral reef 0007 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

– encouraging to see that in the age when many coral reefs suffer from bleaching due to pollution.

coral reef 0000 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

The fish too were no less colorful, as if they were competing to win the best outfit.

coral reef 0002 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Merely by snorkeling, you can see the best of Raja Ampat.

naturist 0005 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Yes, you need very minimal 😉 gear to enjoy all that extraordinary underwater world!

naturist 0007 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

The next days were spent venturing northbound

islands view 0007 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

to get to Wayag –

islands view 0010 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

the jungle covered islets, that often appear in the internet as a classic example of ‘tropical paradise’.

islands view 0006 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, fishing, are among the things you could enjoy in the sailing trips… In Raja Ampat, you can even feed sharks and swim with them too!

shark coral reef 0000 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Well, they weren’t that huge, but at first it was scary and made me nervous… Soon enough though, I found myself mingle with those sharks at ease, which was quite fascinating.

There are lodges on the bigger islands, and some of them offer full packages, where you can do a lot of water activities. But for me, sailing trip seemed to be the best way to experience Raja Ampat, as it allowed to wander as far as we wanted.

islands view 0012 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

It was also great to have some breaks from being on/in the water, and explore the islands – even hiking naked in the tropical forest!

islands view 0008 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

While the rest of the group were not keen on disrobing, I managed to exercise some naturism, mostly away from the group. I must admit that I am a newbie to naturism, which prevented me from being myself and naked in the whole journey… but I still enjoyed a good portion of it in the buff! I still recall how nice it felt to be naked and let the tropical breeze sweep your skin.

naturist 0010 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

It was definitely hot, but enjoyable. As many have said, the sun is the best treatment.

naturist 0004 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Best part? Of course swimming naked and snorkeling in the most beautiful underwater world!

naturist 0009 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

If you are keen on spending some of the best days of your life in this paradise, I would surely recommend you to visit the islands. The authorities restrict the number of tourists visiting the islands, which is actually nice, as you can enjoy the islands almost all to yourself when you get there, especially, once again, if you take a sailing trip. The crew of the boat might be not too familiar with naturism, if you want to make it a nude sailing trip, but I think they’d be open enough if you could explain it to them.

 

text and imagery by Miko

Villa Roca hotel and beach Macha in Costa Rica

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naturist 0000 Villa Roca hotel, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Costa Rica may be among the world’s top destinations for naturalists but unfortunately not for naturists: even though the climate is certainly appropriate for walking around au naturel, legally it is forbidden. However, there is a couple of clothing-optional resorts/hotels. Three of such locations that I found online are strictly for couples only, so the fourth one, Villa Roca hotel – for “gays, lesbians and their friends” – actually sounds more inclusive!

It’s located in Quepos village by the popular national park and beach Manuel Antonio. The hotel itself is not at the beach, but you have an amazing view from up there – you almost feel like you could glide from that infinity pool above the forest and on to the Pacific Ocean (even more so infinite).

naturist 0001 Villa Roca hotel, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

The hotel is not clothing-optional throughout, but you can be naked around the pool and hot tubs. Those were perfect for relaxing after our long hikes (hint for the upcoming blogpost ;-)) One of the hot tubs is down by a long staircase and hidden away from the rest of the hotel, so it’s particularly peaceful… and perhaps your only company will be this little dragon.

basilisk 0000 Villa Roca hotel, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

This was the most impressive specimen of a basilisk I had seen! This lizard is famous for its ability to run on water (but I guess he’s not allowed at the pool).

basilisk 0001 Villa Roca hotel, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

It was somewhat even more peculiar to see cows at the beach though – somehow those two don’t come together very often!

cows 0000 beach, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Well, that’s Cows’ Beach for you 😉

cows 0001 beach, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

So yes, of course we weren’t just hanging out by the pool – beaches are the main attraction in Quepos. The main beach of Manuel Antonio is really beautiful, but unfortunately you cannot be naked anywhere there… Not anymore – there actually used to be a section with nudists – Playita, but when a big hotel was built in the area, they started policing the beach once in a while. I surfed there but didn’t get to do it naked and didn’t see anyone else naked 😦 Hence we headed to a more secluded location – playa La Macha.

naturist 0001 playa Mancha, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Cows’ Beach is the first cove on the way there, but as you can see on the photos, it is really reserved for cows! After you walk through the jungle by not very well maintained but short trail, you’ll be rewarded with this hidden gem:

view beach 0000 playa Mancha, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

A calm and picturesque cove with shallow and warm water, surrounded by the forest.

view beach 0001 playa Mancha, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

There is plenty of natural shade, and one tree proved to be quite cozy to seat on too!

naturist 0000 playa Mancha, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

This a great place, if you want some quiet time for conversations with friends or reading… only interrupted for some swimming!

Tyagarah lake, Australia

Tyagarah Lake is located in Northern New South Wales, Australia, about a 30 drive minutes from well known Byron Bay (and the very popular naturist spot Kings Beach). It is a picturesque small freshwater lake just minutes from the beach. A much larger lake is across the road next it but this is swampy and inaccessible.

view 0002 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Tyagarah Lake is a popular spot for locals and not a known tourist spot, as it’s off the main highway, on a dirt road and not near any towns.  But it is still easy to get to: turn off the Pacific Highway onto Greys Lane and follow it as it turns into a dirt road on the way to Tyagarah Nature reserve beach. Before you make it to the beach you will see cars parked on the road.

view 0005 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Look for the Tyagarah Nature reserve signs to find the path in.  It’s only a very short 3 min walk in to reach the lake.

naturist 0000 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

While I like it as the main destination for the day it is also a popular stop when driving back from Tyagarah Beach (also a naturist spot!) to rinse off the ocean and sand on the way home.  It is such a beautiful peaceful spot.

naturist 0001 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

The water is never too cold and is the perfect temperature to jump right in.

naturist 0003 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

The surrounding trees go right up the waters edge providing many shady resting spots.

view 0004 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

The surrounding trees are known as “Tea Trees” or “Paperbarks” (Melaleuca alternifolia).

Tea tree (paperback) 0001 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

This is what makes the lake particularly special. At first glance the water looks brown and barely swimmable, but it because when Tea Trees grow beside a lake, their oil drips down into the water making it look like tea.

view 0001 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

The water is very fresh and clean and the oil leaves a lovely moisturizing residue on your skin.

tea tree 0000 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Tea Tree oil has been used traditionally by Australian Aboriginal people as an antiseptic on the skin and as an insect repellant. Squeezing the small leaves releases the oil and a refreshing scent.

Tea tree 0002 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Tyagarah is named from an Aboriginal word meaning tussocks of sharp bladed grass. There is lots of grass of this description growing in the lake, so it is well named.

view 0003 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Other beautiful sights on the lake are the water lilies and dragonflies.

dragonfly on water lily 0000 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

When it’s time to leave after a last swim and before you put your clothes back on, a short walk can be taken all the way around the lake and reveals and some smaller inlets and swampy areas.

naturist 0002 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Hidden paradise in Trinidade, Brazil

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Paraty is one of the most visited cities of the green coast of Brazil thanks to its natural beauty and historic sites. And just a few kilometers away, you can find a paradisiac corner of Trinidade. This little village has a few amazing beaches, but the best one, in my opinion, remains unknown to most tourists.

Just before entering Trinidade from Paraty, you’ll see a sign on the left side saying “Praia
Brava”.  From there, you’ll take an easy trail through a beautiful forest for about 20min

naturist beach 0000 praia Brava de Trinidade, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

until you get to the hidden beach Brava.

naturist beach 0004 praia Brava de Trinidade, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
No villas, restaurants or any vendors – only magnificent views of the ocean and splendid vegetation around!

naturist beach 0003 praia Brava de Trinidade, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Follow to the left to the rocks with a writing that notifies about nudists, and you may enjoy it all in your natural state 🙂

naturist beach 0001 praia Brava de Trinidade, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

That’s what I did, and even spotted a sea turtle!

turtle at the beach 0005 praia Brava de Trinidade, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

some memories from Florida Young Naturists’s Spring Bash and nature trail at Sunny Sands Resort

I thought I’d skip a report on this event entirely due to lack of photography, but when I mentioned it in the previous post, I realized I had to share with the world at least some of my good memories – so here are a few words about the Florida Young Naturists‘ Spring Bash and its venue, Sunny Sands Resort. It’s a spacious resort, mostly oriented to permanent or part-time residents; FYN certainly changes its pace! There are some basic amenities typical to a naturist resort, such as a pool, a hot tub, volleyball court; the restaurant seems to be open only during such events. The Spring Bash itself was very well organized, with numerous fun activities, seminars and workshops hosted by the participants: e.g., capoeira and acro-yoga (by yours truly), salsa, juggling, fire-spinning, discussions on polyamory… There were professional masseurs too, and needless to say they were very much in demand – one had to sign up for a session. I got probably the best deep tissue massage I had ever had (and to add a cherry on the cake, the masseur was my namesake!) All these activities were free, and there was a good sense of community and active participation. In the evening there was live music, and the band got naked too. When we gathered around the fire pit at night, one guy started singing a Swahili song, and then taught us all the chorus (which alternated between male and female voices) – it was a beautiful experience! Thus, it was a very busy event, but you could always leave for a walk on the nature trail if you wanted some quiet time.

As it often happens, naturist events and venues have prohibitive or very restrictive photo policies, so I cannot provide a full report from FYN Spring Bash in the same sense, as I do from Burning Man, for example. But here are some photos from Sunny Sands’ nature trail, which is worth a mention too (even with a risk of confusing naturists and naturalists 😀 )

woodpecker 0000 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

Woodpeckers seemed to be particularly active at the time.

woodpecker 0001 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

This one literally stuffed his beak with larvae (probably saving them for the chicks).

woodpecker 0002 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

But I’m not sure they’d touch this hairy caterpillar.

caterpillar 0000 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

There used to be a pond of a decent size, but most of the water has vanished now.

crane 0000 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

But what’s left still provides home for water lilies, frogs

crane 0001 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

and a family of cranes!

crane 0002 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

I’ve never seen wild cranes so close, though these ones are clearly used to human presence.

crane 0003 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

(And perhaps it makes them feel safer that the humans around them are naturally naked :-))

Playalinda beach… after Florida Young Naturists’ Spring Bash

Playalinda is one of the few official naturist beaches in Florida and is certainly one of the best overall. I visited it last April as part of the group outing at the Naked Spring Bash of Florida Young Naturists.

naturist 0001 Playalinda beach, Florida, USA

It’s a great beach with plenty of space whether you are with a big group or want to chill quietly enjoying the sound of waves.

view 0000 Playalinda beach, Florida, USA

If you want to enjoy the waves in a more active manner, Playalinda is known to have a pretty good swell for surfing, but it wasn’t the case at the time of my visit. However, the waves were perfect for body surfing.

naturist 0000 Playalinda beach, Florida, USA

Naked body surfing is as natural as it gets when it comes syncing with the ocean and feeling it power!

Unlike the urban Haulover Beach in Miami, where we went after FYN Spring Bash 4 years ago, Playalinda is set in a natural surrounding of the Cape Canaveral National Seashore.

naturist 0002 Playalinda beach, Florida, USA

Nudists usually congregate at the section near the farthest parking of Playalinda beach (and as the commentator indicated below, just a little further north there is an officially clothing-optional Apollo beach),

view 0001 Playalinda beach, Florida, USA

but even from there you can see well the NASA Shuttle Landing Facility… Those were the days, when you could sunbathe naked and watch the shuttle lift off into space! Nowadays you may be lucky to see the launch of a rocket by SpaceX though. So, next time I’ll try to time my visit well (and check the surf forecast too).