Monday, 22 November 2010

Tortuguero

Arrived at San Jose by night and had the sensation of going back to reality, normal airport, normal cars, normal city.

After meeting up with Helena and a cool night to put conversation up-to-date, next morning we decided to head to Parque Nacional del Tortuguero, close to the border with Nicaragua on the Caribbean coast.

We almost missed the bus and the punishment was to spend half of the 3 hour bus ride standing. The bus took us through bumpy roads, into greener and more dense vegetation, after that a 1 hour taxi ride (actually it was a 4x4 jeep) through even more bumpy roads. And finally a 1 hour taxi boat took us to our final destination.

The boat took us trough canals and rivers, and the lack of water of this time of the year made the ride even more enjoyable, since the boat had to slow down to pass through the low sand banks.

With the help of the boat owner, we managed to spot 3 crocodiles, one of them jumping in our direction from the river bank, but disappearing under water. From then on I kept my hands inside the boat.
We also saw other not so common animals like iguanas and birds.

Tortuguero is like a large sandbank covered with vegetation.

This sand bank extends for several kilometers (about 100 km) having on one side the ocean and on the other a river/canal. This place is known for the turtles that use the beach for nesting their eggs. Depending on the season one can see either the adult turtles laying their eggs, or the new born turtles emerging from the sand doing their first steps on their way into the Ocean.



After checking into the hotel we went for a walk on the beach. The soft sand, a mix of white and grey, extends from north to south and the wilderness of palm trees and dense vegetation is just one step away. With the sunset the the animal noises from the jungle increases, most distinct are the howler monkeys the birds and on top of that a constant insect soundtrack.

After walking down the beach for 10 minutes, we saw a few people standing by the trees, as we aproach them it is impossible to stop a big Woooww.

Miniature creatures emerging from the sand, paddling on the sand in energetic moves in direction to the water, more and more emerge, and in a few minutes tens of them are crawling around our feet. A bird flies over and picks one of them, a local guy seeing our disapproval says, its nature. In about 10 minutes about 50 little turtles made their way into the water. The Sun sets in a warm tropical beach with the sound of little waves, perfect. Time to go back as this is also the time when mosquitoes have their dinner.

Next day, its 6h30am and we are already sitting on a boat making a tour around the little water channels, there is so much to see.

The captain of our boat is one of the oldest guides in Tortuguero, he explains us how the local community went from being turtle hunters, into wildlife preservers in the last 30 years.

He spots iguanas on the trees very easily. We also have the chance to see a little family of spider monkeys crossing the river over the tree tops, and a baby cayman.



We moor our little boat and we walk into the jungle, we see 'walking trees',spiders, reptiles and even a red frog.


He explains about the healing powers of the plants, we taste sugar cane and acid cane.

Mosquitoes are very active in the jungle and he also shows us different leaves that have mosquito repellent properties. I try them all, and keep my rain jacket on for extra precaution.
 

Back to the main island, we visit the little village, where we spot a major iguana in one of the balconies.


We eat local food and go back for a walk in the Tortuguero reserve, where we spot a family of monkeys passing over our heads, a huge crab-looking spider falls on my arm.
We continue the walk for about 2 km where we see mostly reptiles and insects, but also big plants.

One the way back we prefer the beach, where then again another nest of turtles awakens, leaving another tens of turtles to crawl around our feet into the water.
I could watch this over and over. We go back to the village and have coconut water before watching the sunset over the canal.


If you ever come to Costa Rica don't miss this place!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gostamos muito de ver as vossas fotos e achamos que voçês são um casal de aventureiros

Anna said...

Dear Nuno! Thank you very much for the wonderfull photos and your storytelling ;-D Lol /Anna