Boat Trip and Walk to Tortuguero

Trip Start Jul 18, 2009
Trip End Aug 03, 2009

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Limón,
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another boat trip was arranged for today but because we had stayed a third day we had a new guide Umberto. He didn't seem as enthused as Allan and it all seemed it bit too much effort for him. However the sun was shining and the wildlife was out in force and this seem to encourage him . The first thing we saw were some turtles sunbathing on a branch in the river, necks outstretched straining to get as much warmth as possible. A few minutes later we spotted a two-toed sloth high in the trees, on closer inspection we could just about see that she had a baby with her hidden in the thick foliage. As per usual the sloths were not moving much a result of the food they eat which consists mainly of leaves that provide very little energy or nutrition and do not break down easily. They deal with this lack of energy by having very low metabolic rates and by doing the least possible. They are one of nature's strangest animals with those odd short flat heads and incredible claws that Wolverine would be proud of.

Umberto then took us to see some baby Caimans that he had seen a few days before. At first it was difficult to see them in the reeds but then all of a sudden there they were. Umberto took the boat closer into the reeds so that we could see them better. A bit later we came across a fully grown Caiman floating motionless at the river’s edge and then another mouth open wide as though it was panting in the heat.

An Anhinga stood still wings outstretched drying them off in the morning sun. Its feathers are not waterproof so it has to spend long periods drying out its wings. The word 'anhinga’ comes from the Brazilian Tupi Language and means snake or devil bird. The snake part must be because of its extraordinarily long neck.

Clinging to the underside of a large branch Umberto spotted some Proboscis bats sheltering from the hot sun, we counted about 10 and it looked like some were babies. We could have easily missed them as they looked like nobbles on the tree at first.

A large troupe of spider monkeys noisily clattered through the trees swinging on their disproportionately long limbs. Many had small babies clinging tightly to them. The younger infants are carried around the females belly but as they get older she puts them on her lower back. It was difficult to photograph them as they were incredibly quick and the high canopy of trees was so thick that it was dark even on a sunny day. I could sit and watch them all day as they are so entertaining almost tumbling through the trees without a care. Unlike the howler monkey they have a much better diet of fruit and this gives them much more energy.

This morning we were also lucky enough to see a Collared Aracari a smaller toucan lower down in the trees eating some fruit that it had found. We had seen quite a lot of toucans but many were high up in the trees and difficult to see. This one stayed for a long time twisting and turning on a branch to reach its food. A really beautiful bird with its large black bill coloured yellow and red on top to match its plumage.

The rainforest is full of lizards and that morning we saw one of the most startling looking, the Emerald Basilisk Lizard. These lizards have incredible sail like crests on their back, head and tail. They actually have the ability to walk on water and because of this they are also known as the Jesus Christ Lizard for obvious reasons. Flaps between their toes help support them, creating a larger surface and a pocket of air.

That afternoon we decide to walk into the small town of Tortuguero. A trail that followed the power lines into town showed us the way. It was incredibly hot and the small dirt road did seem interminable but the thought of a nice cold drink at the end of it kept us going. The town itself quite scruffy and is a collection of brightly coloured houses and corrugated huts. Two large brightly coloured parrot statues up on high plinths stand rather incongruously at the river’s edge surrounded by gaily coloured picnic tables and chairs. The town is full of gift shops and cafes and after walking around we decided to get a cool drink in the Budda Café in the centre of town. The garden was cool and it was a relief to get out of the hot sun.

On the way back we decide to walk along the beach. The sand here is dark as a result of the volcanic rock and littered with an amazing variety of seed pods and branches. The vegetation comes right down to the beach and every now and again you see a large iguana scurrying for cover. The beach is covered with holes in the sand and is the only giveaway to crabs who have buried themselves to keep from drying out in the hot sun.

The heat of the day gave way to a massive storm that evening that lit up the night sky and the lightening seemed to flicker almost continuously.
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