Tortuguero State Park

Trip Start Apr 04, 2009
Trip End Apr 14, 2009

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Limon,
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We leave early Tuesday morning to go on the arial tram through the rain forest near Tortuguerro.  We are spending two nights in seclusion without Internet or phone contact (unless there is an emergency).  I will take lots of photos and keep a journal while we are there.  Once we hit Fortuna (central Costa Rica) on Thursday afternoon, I will get the updates posted here.

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The next few days should be amazing.  Rain forest, cloud forest (humid but less rain), crocodiles, caymans, sea turtles, boat rides, arial trams in the canopy of the rain forest, more volcanos, butterfly gardens and increasing heat.  I will be lathering up the SPF 45 first thing tomorrow.  From what I understand the Atlantic coast is hotter than San Jose, and the Pacific coast is hotter than the Atlantic.  Aye carumba.

The drive to Tortuguero was great.  We stopped at the Arial Tram in the rain forest and did a nature walk.  Our lunch stop was at a butterfly garden.  The area is in the Province of Lima which is quite poor and does not see as much tourism as the rest of Costa Rica.  Our bus had to navigate about 40km of dirt roads to get to Cano Blanco where we boarded our boat in to Tortuguero.  On the way in we saw the Caribbean ocean and a tree full of Howler monkeys.

I have tons more photos and catching up to do but it is very late and I am dead tired.  The howler monkeys woke me up early the last few mornings as promised.  Will catch up on the journaling tomorrow evening, but enjoy the photos for now.

Reflecting back on Tortuguero, it is a definite highlight, in a trip made up of highlights.  I imagine the Amazon would be similar in many ways, but Costa Rica is a bit more accessible.  On a trip with a lot of time on the bus, Tortuguero was a 2 day break of boats and walking.  We saw howler monkeys within 5 feet of us as they descended from the trees.  Birds were everywhere.  There were herons, anhingas, egrets and dozens of other species.  We saw two spider monkeys crossing the canals high above in the trees.

It was hot but windy all the time.  The smell of the jungle mixed with the salt air blowing in from the sea.  The food at Pachira lodge was top notch and you knew the fish was fresh.  The open air cabins were unique.  The screen windows were covered with curtains, but no glass in the windows.  The howler monkeys started their screaching around 4:30am both mornings and the lodge served coffee to your door at 6:00am, as if you were not up already.  We had a local Calypso band play live at the lodge on the second night.  I bought their CD and I am listening to it now as I write this on the beach at the Hilton Doubletree resort in Puntarenas.  It is a bit cloudy today or I would probably be inside avoiding the heat.

I had been hoping to see some turtles while in Tortuguero, however this is not the common season.  In July they come lay their eggs on the 22km of beaches.  Up to 3000 turtles have been counted in just a single night.  About 60 days later the babies hatch and waddle their way to the ocean.  This is a spectacular show from what the locals are saying.

The town of Tortuguero was neat.  There is a large Caribbean influence in the culture and food in the area.  Most of Costa Rica is latino, but the black and mulato cultures are more common on the Tortuguero coast.  The homes are all very small, with rusted sheet metal roofs.  They had elevated walk ways through the town where local artisans sold souviniers.  Although there is a problem with drugs in the town, it did not feel unsafe.  That being said, one of the tour members had a camera lense stolen.  He talked with Karen, and she talked with our boat captain who grew up in the area.  He talked with the locals and was able to arrange for a buy back at $20.  A bit sketchy...

Over all, the visit to Torgtuguero was very memorable for all the right reasons.  It was a mix of education about the local flaura and fawna, mixed with jungle living in a resort style setting.  Roughing it in style.

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