Getting to Tortuguero
Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
300Trip End Nov 04, 2008
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Where I stayed
Princesa - $45 triple, ensuite, ac, next to beach, good
If you check on the map, the distance from Cahuita to Tortuguero is not that large, but there are actually no direct roads along the coast. One has to drive as close as possible (La Pavona) and then get a boat down the river for about 1 hour. Additionally the real roads stop in Guapiles, so most of the trip was on a dirt track full of acceptable pot holes...good we have a 4x4 (we haven't regretted it a moment).
As a final element to the adventure, the bridge past Cariari (30 kms from La Pavona) had collapsed so a few additional kms had to be done over jungle road...good fun, but not if you are in a rush to catch a boat!
Anyway, after lots of map reading tests (which the three of us failed misereably as the map we had did not have local roads) we got to a small hut in the middle of a banana plantation (La Pavona). We had missed the boat bus we wanted, so we could either wait an hour or get a private taxi boat (which we did for $20,000 colones = $40 dollar....much cheaper than what the tour agencies had tried to charge us, but more expensive than the public boat which is only $1.600 colones).
The boat tour to Tortuguero as you can see from the video was a nature tour in itself. As we had the boat to ourselves and a guide (self appointed) they were taking us all around to show us the caimans, turtles, etc.
We arrived at Tortuguero and checked into La Princesa hostel which was also recommended by Adolfo...and a good place too! Its only a few metres from an incredible Caribbean beach and also where the turtles lay their eggs at night. The best part is that it counted with air conditioning in the room (not usual for the cheaper accommodation) and that saved our lives...the humidty is very intense. All for $15 dollars per person.
Tortuguero itself has a Caribbean character to it, with all the locals heavily trying to be Bob Marley both in hairstyle and in music they listen too, but apart from that, in 10 minutes one has finished seeing all there is to the village
Sadly a few European tourist groups found out about this area some years ago and have spoilt much of it (out of the tortuguero village). They have built large "eco lodges" and swarm the canals with powerful motorboats taking tourists in large groups....making them feel like they are really ecological when in reality they are destroying the area and leaving little money to the locals....so is life!
One of the worst realities is the disappearance of the large manatee from the area. It used to be quite common but the power boats have killed a great number of them, and made the rest move elsewhere. How can anyone hurt creatures such as the one on this picture (see link): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manatee
For dinner we tried a nice little reggae restaurant and engulfed the local "casado"(married) which is basically rice, frijole beans, banana and chicken....excellent.
Early night as we had to be up at 4 am for the canoe trip we had booked with Adolfo (great name for German tourists...they all seem to laugh).