Canoe trip and turtle spotting

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Nov 04, 2008

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Getting up at 4am is not what Stefan thought a holiday was about...but he would soon be glad he made the effort!

Its obvious that to see wildlife at its best one has to adapt to their time tables, and as the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm, and the caiman his prey...

Luckily we had our little alcohol cooker to make some coffee before we parted and wake us up slightly, in any case we were on board the caneo and rowing away at 5am. Steffi claimed he could not row due to breaking his arm 6 months back, so it was Vero, Adolfo (guide) and Marcos who did all the rowing. It was great fun the first 3 hours, but olympic style rowing across a river with a strong current at times got the best of our energies (we did force Steffi to do some "rehabilitation" of his arm during the last hour!).

We decided to do the rowing trip on a canoe as it does not scare the wildlife away and it is much less harmful to the jungle and animals. Most of the power boat tours that we saw had a bunch of sunburnt gringo's on them with very bored they had hardly seen or heard any animals.

To the contrary on the canoe we saw and heard (apart from when the power boats started arriving around 9am) a huge amount of wildlife which has made a great impact on us. Again, we spotted all these and identified them together with Adolfo who explained their diets and habits:
- Boat-billed Heron (excellent watch as it hides its beak when you get close to it with its wings...similar to ostrich hiding head)
- Green Heron
- Bare-throated tiger Heron
- Anhing
- Swallow tailed kite
- black vulture
- white fronted parrot
- violaceous trogon
- toucans
- streak headed woodcreeper
- cane toad
- black river turtle
- spectacled ciaman
- american crocodile
- emerald basilisk
- jesus christ lizard (called like that as it can walk over water!)
- long nosed bat
- white ibis
- matted howler monkey (their shouts early in the morning are just amazing)
- spider monkey
- white throated capuchin

One of the more attractive animals was the caiman, which in most cases is only spotted by guides who know which areas they like to 'hide'. However, after a few sightings Veronika also started spotting them in their resting position.

The canoe trip started at 5am and ended at a good 5 hours of rowing and seeing animals. By that time we were all quite exhausted and sweating heavily due to the strong sun. An experience well worth doing!

After a short siesta at 7pm, we got ourselves prepared with a pizza dinner at 'Budda Bar"(the best seafood pizza Marcos has ever tried) as we joined a group to try to see the turtles laying their eggs on the beach. Turtles only lay their eggs in certain months and at night, and they are very picky of where they do that and trying to see this nature show involves extremely good luck and patience.

At 9pm we joined the National Park Ranger who would guide us (in the dark and with photos possible) along a 4 kms stretch of beach to try to find a turtle laying its eggs ($15 dollars per person). We walked from 9pm to midnight, and did find the tracks of 2 different turtles, but sadly the did what the ranger called 'half moons' which means they arrived at the beach, didn't like the place and turned around and into the sea again.

So sadly we didn't see any turtles but the size of their tracks did show us how large these creatures are...

Off to bed at midnight in order to sleep 4 hours as we had to be up at 5am for a trek in the jungle with Adolfo.
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