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Published: September 12th 2012
"I only have eyes for you"
We got so close to the caimans that Ake even managed to touch one on the tail.
Seeing giant turtles, cuddling with sloths and touching a caiman
After having spent a few days in the area north of San Jose
we decided to make a quick visit to the east coast and the Tortuguero village and Tortuguero National Park
. Tortuguero National Park is, as its name suggests, known for being a nesting place for giant turtles.
Each year thousands of turtles nest on the beaches of Tortuguero National Park. At the height of the nesting season it is almost a guarantee to see a turtle if you take a turtle watching tour. The turtles lay their eggs at night. They come up on the beach and try to find a good spot. When they have found a spot they start digging a nest for the eggs. The turtle then lays maybe as many as 100 eggs in the nest. It is while the female is laying the eggs it is possible to watch the turtle. When the turtle is looking for a place to dig the nest and while she is digging she is easily scared. But when she is laying the eggs she is in a kind of a trance and has no idea what is happening around her.
Each group or individual who
On the tour of Tortuguero National Park we saw lots of wildlife. This lizard is one example
wish to watch turtles must be accompanied by a trained guide. The guide helps locating the turtles, the help is needed because it is not easy to find a dark pregnant turtle on a 5 km pitch dark beach, and also makes sure that the turtles are disturbed as little as possible.
On the first night we stayed in Tortuguero we took a turtle tour. We had a bit of bad luck though and didn't see any turtle that night. Our guide was kind enough to offer us a tour for free the next night because he didn't want us to leave the island disappointed. On the second night we saw a turtle. We were right up beside her while she was laying the eggs and she had no idea we were there.
After she had laid her eggs she covered the nest, a procedure we couldn't watch because that would frighten her, and then we saw her going back into the ocean.
On the night when we didn't see any turtle we know for sure that there were several turtles laying eggs in a part of the beach where we didn't walk. We walked that section
Jesus Christ Lizard
This little fellow is nicknamed Jesus Christ Lizard because it has the ability to run on water.
of the beach the day after and we saw maybe a dozen tracks left by turtles walking on the beach. There is no doubt that the turtles visiting the beach were there for laying eggs. Turtles never visit dry land for sightseeing, sunbathing, shopping or anything like that. Their natural habitat is the ocean and they only venture out of there when they are laying their eggs.
The Tortuguero National Park is not all about turtles. The national park also includes several islands covered with rainforest and a few canals and small rivers. On one of the days when we visited Tortuguero we took a boat tour into the national park. The tour guide took us in a canoe between the islands and up two small canals in the park. During the tour we saw birds, a very relaxed iguana and a Common Basilisk
. The Common Basilisk is also known as the Jesus Christ Lizard for its ability to run on water.
On the canoe tour we also saw several caimans. We came so close to one of them that Ake even dared to touch the caiman on the tail. The caiman had its head deep into a shrubbery
A track made by a turtle
We walked the beach in the day and we saw maybe a dozen tracks left by turtles walking on the beach. The turtles had been visiting the beach in the night to lay eggs.
so Ake was pretty sure that he would have the same number of fingers when he retracted the hand as he had when he plunged it into the water.
From Tortuguero we went back to San Jose. There Emma's sister Anna left us and went back home because Anna's vacation was now over. Both Ake and Emma could stay a bit longer so we left San José right away and went to Cahuitas on the west coast for a visit at a sloth sanctuary nearby.
At the sloth sanctuary they take care of sloths that for one reason or another can't survive in the wild. Sloths have very long claws that look dangerous. But when a sloth is accustomed to humans it is totally harmless and very cuddly. One of the sloths loves to hug and cuddle so much that once you hold him you it is hard to pry him off. As a joke they have named him Velcro.
In the next blog entry we will among other things write about a half marathon we ran in San José.
Tot: 2.767s; Tpl: 0.02s; cc: 17; qc: 33; dbt: 0.0186s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb