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Published: October 8th 2013
You got nice muscles eh bro ?
Iguana Tortuguero National Park
It is an impressive sight seeing a large Caribbean Green Turtle lay over a hundred eggs to the point of exhaustion, and then expending whatever remaining energy on faultlessly covering in the nest. We were privileged to witness this on our one night in Tortuguero, near the border with Nicaragua on the Caribbean coast. She was a big creature, well over 1m in length and the eggs were the size of ping pong balls, strategically placed in the deep nest like one of the clown machines that you always seem to lose money on at a local fare. Unfortunately we did not get to see her haul herself out of, or back into the ocean, as the whole process takes a very long time, but what a surreal experience, standing in the middle of nowhere watching one of nature's great spectacles.
To get to Tortuguero, we had to peel ourselves away from Cahuita, where we spent 8 wonderful relaxing days going to the beach, snorkelling, animal watching, talking with our lovely hosts, and our very own private watchdog. If we were not running out of time, then we could have spent a month there.
After 1hours drive north of
Cahuita, we arrived in the slightly seedy port area of Limon and Moin. From Moin it was a 4 hour boat ride up the naturally made canals and river systems that weave up the coast. Initially it was through land that was partially jungle but more cattle grazing land, but soon the jungle took over as it got deeper, darker, and taller. Caiman, Crocodiles and fresh water Turtles sunned themselves on partially submerged logs and millions of butterfly's flopped around everywhere. Spider monkeys swung from tree to tree like small hairy Tarzan's, and Howler monkeys did what they do best, howl from the shadows.
The town of Tortuguero is on the boundary between the national park and the Caribbean sea, and is only accessible by boat, or plane on demand. There are no cars, nor many bicycles as the town is so small, everyone walks. We are here in the off-season, during which the normal population is around 1500. Increasing to 2000 during the peak season. The beach is pretty rough and dangerous with riptides, and along with the bull sharks that populate the area, it was not an enticing place to swim. So full credit to these massive
Tortuguero National Park
turtles that come here to lay, as it is a nasty beach to get in and out of. Four out of the eight species of sea turtles in the world nest in Tortuguero over a period of 6 months. We have arrived at the tail end of the season, literally with one week or so to go, for a decent chance of seeing them lay their eggs. So we are very fortunate to have experienced this event.
Back after midnight from turtle viewing, we were back in a canoe at 6am to go animal watching. The sun has already risen over an hour ago, but with the immense height of the jungle the majority is still shrouded in shade and the animals still warming up. A canoe is a fantastic way to silently move down the myriad of swollen creeks and tributaries, watching reptiles, mammals and birds warm up. The size of the jungle is amazing, it is different to what we have seen in the Amazon basin and river areas. By canoe it is possible to take in the size of the jungle, in places it's a 100m high and covered in vines, inside is dark and a
Tortuguero National Park
different world. The sounds of all sorts of weird insects resonates from within, and the animals slowly get going as the light starts to penetrate.
An hour after the canoe tour we had to get packed and ready for the transfer to La Fortuna, another 2hour arse numbing boat ride...
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