Seth recently posted about Xandari’s forest trails, so I thought I would follow up with another post on one of the forest’s best features, the river running through it. The small river that winds along the edge of Xandari—indeed, forms the resort’s southern boundary—is home to five waterfalls. Although they are no Niagara Falls, they are still well worth the trip down to see them, especially the Gran Catarata (“Grand Waterfall”). There, the water is funneled through a narrow channel before falling over fifty feet into a small pool. Because the water flows west, the sun always rises from behind the waterfalls (east); the result is some pretty spectacular displays of light as the sunbeams form a kind of a halo around the top of the cascades–see the above photo for that, or look below for a less dazzling picture of the same waterfall.
The Gran Catarata is the fourth of five waterfalls along the river. The fifth and eastmost fall, also perhaps the widest, can be reached by taking a gently graded path directly to it, but the fourth through first (counting from east to west) all branch off on vista paths from a steeper and more challenging trail. Don’t be deterred by the prospect of working up a sweat getting down and back: the waters are always refreshingly cool, and you’ll have the chance to see birds in the forest and along the river that are not common on Xandari’s upper property. Along the paths, keep an eye out for rarer species of hummingbirds visiting the isolated flowers, like the Stripe-throated Hermit, Green Hermit, or Violet Sabrewing. Listen for the Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush and the choruses of Rufous-and-White, Rufous-Breasted, and Plain Wrens. Finally, keep your eyes peeled for Sunbitterns, water-thrushes, ducks, and other birds that may be visiting the river to feed or drink.
Mammals are also common—sometimes you’ll catch a glimpse of a raccoon or other small mammal if you’re lucky, but more often than not you’ll be able to find plenty of traces of their passing. (For a quick tutorial on that, check out my previous posts on tracks by the rivers, here and here.) Seth and I have even seen large, brightly colored river crabs on several occasions—and no, they’re not on the restaurant’s menu!
Whenever we run into guests who haven’t had a chance to go down to the waterfalls, we always impress upon them the value of doing so. You can’t really appreciate Xandari without seeing its thirty-plus acres of private wildlife preserve and the ecological diversity that comes with its location nestled on the slope of a mountain overlooking Valle Central. Good ways to see the forest and river include the waterfall tours, birding tours, and plant tours. All of them will get you up close and personal to some of the more amazing features of Xandari.