Casa Maria Lodge located in a large track of cloud forest is truly a glimpse of paradise as seen by the live-in owners, Norbert and Gaby Flauger. An hour and a half from the Caribbean and about three hours west of Caracas, Casa Maria is a perfect spot for birdwatchers insect, reptile or amphibian buffs, botanists or nature photographers.
Dozens of tropical birds gather each dawn for a morning feast. A light in a wire cage attracts moths by the hundreds and the birds know this is an easy banquet. The humans know this is a spot for good photography. Why sleep when a camera can be shot? Woodcreepers, tyrant-flycatchers, tanagers, and oropendolas tempt a birder/photographer to try to look in six directions at once.
Robbie, the yellow-crowned parrot, and the blue-headed parrot entertain guests during meals. Robbie is the only parrot I know who comes to the kitchen door as dusk comes. He expects to be admitted for his night’s rest. Gabby opens the lower cupboard by the back door and he enters for bedtime.
We walk along the roads near the lodge and see flocks of birds. David, our guide, sounds off like a pygmy owl over and over. The small birds flit through the trees as they look for this owl who is small enough to not fear. Curiosity draws them within our view. Binoculars keep busy as first one in our group and then another proclaims, “Up there at twelve o’clock in that thick dark green tree.” “Over on that highest bare branch, which tanager is that?”
The lodge owners, Gabby and Norbert, are from Germany. Norbert is an expert in insects, butterflies and reptiles, an entomologist. Gabby excels in hospitality and culinary arts. All meals are sublime, but the desserts exceed all superlatives.
Two nights at Casa Maria was not long enough to luxuriate in this tropical paradise. Their web site is aptly named, www.bugparadise.com.