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Published: August 23rd 2013
We left Cahuita early to catch the bus to Limon (1 hour), then took a short taxi to the port of Moin to take our 4 hour boat to Tortuguero. The boat ride was wonderful, more like an excursion than just transport as the waterways through the jungle were really pretty and we saw lots of wildlife along the way.
Tortuguero is even hotter than Cahuita with the same level of humidity, I'm not sure I could ever acclimatize to this. The village itself is within the national park of the same name and is completely cut off from the rest of Costa Rica by the many waterways through the jungle, so no cars here which is wonderful and the only way to get in and out is by small boat. The village (population 1200) is on a strip of land about 500 meters wide and about 5 km long with the Caribean Sea on one side and jungle river the other side. Mark had a great time traipsing up and down the beach fishing for snook and tarpon (fishing not catching unfortunately, although he did hook his first tarpon but it got away).
We went on a guided
That´s a paddling
Canoe tour Tortuguero
canoe trip through the waterways that are prohibited for motorized boats. The jungle was stunning, peaceful and the water changed colour from milky coffee, coffee with little milk to coffee with no milk depending on the currents and proximity to the sea. We saw several species of heron, wading birds, kingfishers and a river swallow. We also saw iguana, jesus christ lizard (Mark saw one running on water!), river turtle, howler monkey, and some fabulous caiman. I would have loved to have seen a toucan (Mark had seen some on a boat fishing trip) but there weren't any about, we were treated to a small group of spider monkeys feeding at the park entrance when we returned though.
One of the main draws of Tortuguero is the sea turtles that come here to nest. This is the season for the green turtles so we went on a guided night tour. We set out at 9pm and got on to the beach at 10pm. Over the next hour we saw about 11 turtles hauling themselves up and down the beach, digging their nest holes, laying eggs and covering their eggs. They are about 1 meter in length and it looks
Canoe tour Tortuguero
like such a huge effort to move on the sand, they drag their huge bodies about 1 foot then have to stop to rest for a few moments before continuing. The shore is protected for 22 miles with no one allowed on the beach from 6pm to 6am. You can only see the turtles with a registered guide. Each group is allocated a guide and has to wait off the beach until a "spotter" from the beach lets the guide know that a turtle is there. The guide then directs the group where to go, always behind the turtle and shines a red light so as not to disturb them. No cameras, phones, or flash lights allowed and everyone is instructed to keep their voices down. It is a great system that they have in place and one that seems to work as numbers of nesting turtles returning to Tortuguero seem to be increasing, ironically they don´t ban dogs from the beach however, and they do occasionally dig up the nests which seems such a shame and something they could easily control in such a small village. This year they have lost 101 turtles to Jaguars which is a good
sign of a healthy ecosystem and a healthy population of Jaguar too.
We had a couple of huge thunderstorms during our stay, always at night luckily but right overhead. Some of the cracks of thunder were so loud they made me jump in bed, and the rain sounded like a train it was so strong. The storm felt like it was right overhead and we were surprised that none of the houses were hit as they all have metal roofs. It just made our stay in Tortuguero all the more dramatic.
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