The tucked away Caribbean beauty

Published: March 5th 2017
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I'd wanted to go to tortugero ever since I first started my travel research. Although it's not currently turtle season it is still rich in wildlife. There are no roads here - you have to fly or boat in. The boat to and from tortugero is half the charm here - it's a 1.5hr steady boat cruise along the river, spotting wildlife as you go.
As we were crossing the country by bus I could see a definite change in the landscape and housing style as we got closer to the Caribbean coast. This side of the country has a more laid back feel to it than the Pacific side, which is a refreshing change from the ultra touristy destinations we have been to recently.
On our drive up to the boat dock we spotted another sloth on the power lines, and the jungle type scenery had me very optimistic for our wildlife spotting here.
During our boat trip down the river we spotted Caiman, toucans, monkeys, kingfishers, iguanas and lizards. Once we got to tortugero it feels very much like a Caribbean island - it almost is with water on two sides and no road connections. The width of the peninsula varies from 60-300m between the ocean and river.
On the first day here we had a relaxing beach day - we were told not to swim due to rip currents, but there weren't any, and all the locals swim. We also booked a canoe tour for the next day to see more wildlife.
Our canoe tour was scheduled for 6am - perfect for seeing wildlife before it gets too hot. After 1hr queuing for tickets to the national park - because everyone else wants to go at 6am before it gets too hot too - we were told the quota for boat numbers had been reached and we were the only boat turned away. On this note we were told to be back at 8am for the next tour. After 40mins waiting our guide and boat finally turned up, but had to wait for another boat for the people initially booked on for 8:30. Once we got going it was pretty hot, but we still managed to see a lot of bird life around the lake, a caiman and a few iguanas and lizards. I did really enjoy the boat trip, so it was worth doing.
Upon returning from our trip we went to pay in the office - voicing our displeasure at being so messed around and hoping for a discount, but no such luck! They didn't even have a note that we hadn't paid, so I wish I hadn't bothered! This experience put me off doing a night tour with them, and I went to another company by the boat dock who seemed much more organised.
We planned on walking through tortugero national park before the heat of the day, when animals are more active, but due to the mornings events we postponed this until 3pm when it started to cool down. The first thing that struck me was that we had just paid $15 entry to this national park, and the path connected in many places with the beach, so we could have done it for free! There are no park wardens to stop you, only the man at the entrance in his nicely air conditioned office.
During our walk we saw a variety of lizards and two birds. When we were almost back I almost stepped on a snake too! That was definitely the highlight of my walk.
That evening I did another night walk, as my last one was so good. Unfortunately this one didn't have as many animals, but I did still see 3 big snakes sleeping in trees, a couple of frogs and a couple of small lizards. There were also a lot of grasshoppers, in a variety of sizes.
The next day it was time to head down to Puerto viejo, in the south of Costa Rica. Our day started with another boat trip out of the park - this one being 45mins longer as the water levels had dropped even lower during our short stay. We saw a sunbathing turtles and 2 big crocodiles this time - I'm glad only the men had to get out to push the boat when we got stuck! We also saw a lot more herons and a couple of king fishers.
The next day in Puerto viejo we hired bikes to cycle around the beaches. The beaches are beautiful here, and the bonus of cycling from beach to beach is that when it gets too hot you can stop at the next beach for a swim! We cycled all the way to manzanillo, which the signs say is 12km from Puerto Viejo. On the way home we cycled for the last couple of kilometres on the duet path between the road and beach, in amongst the trees. This was a good adventure to finish off the day!
Next stop - Panama! Last country in Central America

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