Tirimbina Biological Reserve

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We arrived, as part of an escorted tour group of 17, in good time for the start of our Tirimbina Rainforest and Chocolate tour. As we waited by the entrance for the centre guide to join us, a couple of us keen photographers were captivated by a Toucan high above us. Whilst we were looking up and snapping away, the centre's tour guide apparently appeared and promptly vanished with the rest of our group, leaving us wandering about trying to find the right path through the forest!

Reunited with our group, thanks to one of the shop assistants (yes, even rainforests have a gift shop you have to visit before you are allowed to exit!), we found ourselves at the tail end of a long, single file queue marching along a fairly tricky, slippery forest trail and across a long suspension bridge. We could neither see nor hear the guide at the front and gained very little from this part of the tour, especially when a worthy member of our group physically barred our way until the first 10 members of the group were fully across the bridge. (She had actually read the sign dictating that only 10 people should be on the bridge at any one time!)

The views from the bridge were attractive, but we saw no wildlife except for a black vulture and are still, to this day, wondering why some trees and plants bear bright pink or orange ribbons. "Chinese whispers" passing along our group changed it from "snake sightings" to "snake bitings" and finally to "name markings"! When we were finally delivered to the demonstration area, where we were sat on hard, wooden benches, we were treated to an excellent and entertaining account of the history of chocolate growing and manufacture by two charming young women. We sampled every stage of production and also enjoyed a hot chocolate drink, which we could flavour with a selection of ground spices. I chose chilli powder. Ouch!

The presentation and sampling all took nearly twice as long as they might have due to the presenters having to pause regularly whilst every word was translated into French for the group of Swiss tourists who were already waiting for us in the hut (and were possibly the reason for our somewhat speedy route-march through the forest!) It was an excellent demonstration but I would have liked to have had more time to enjoy the walk through the forest and learn about the flora and fauna.

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