Carara Biological Reserve

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

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Where I stayed
Outdoor - $35 double, beach, tv sat, ensuite, good

Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Saturday, May 31, 2008

Believe it or not the sun is still with us, and with great strength.

Up early as usual to make sure we spot as many animals as possible. Today we visited our last national park in Costa Rica - Carara Biological Reserve - which is on the way back towards Costa Rica.

We were actually very lucky to have crossed the bridge at Parrita yesterday (see videos and picture) as a tree fell during Saturday and has blocked the bridge. Also further to the south some of the roads have been washed away totally together with an important bridge so hundreds of people are trapped there. So we were out just in time.

Link to news in Spanish:

Anyway, we arrived at the national park of Carara and the tickets office tried to sell us the services of a local guide. They have always tried it and we have always refused as we can spot animals and get around quite acceptable. However, we did hire a guide for 3 hours this time round as the storms had thrown down trees and covered some of the tracks of the path...additionally no one had walked around the path for 4 days since the rain started and the possibilities of snakes in this park is very high.

It cost us $20 dollars each but it was well worth it, not only because of the explanations he gave to us, but because the jungle was in a total mess. Water had risen to nearly 2 metres height in most of the path we walked in the morning, so it was not easy to find your way. There was thick mud and small rivers all along and we often had to climb on top or around huge trees. It would have been impossible without the assistance of a guide.

Steffi actually had a couple of moments of panic when we reached some of the deeper puddles. The guide had not been able to find rubber boots of his size (45) so he had his normal light trekking shoes. In a moment of terror he shouted "my feet will get wet!". Unluckily for him...going back was not an option! His feet did get wet....

The rubber boots incidentally are not only for the mud and water. There are plenty of snakes around that jungle and some of the aggressive type that will attack even if not provoked, so rubber boots are a good defence for those incidents.

The park itself has 2 routes:
- the difficult one which takes about 2-3 hours when there are no trees in the path and which we did with a guide. There is plenty of wildlife and lots of crocodiles close to the lake area.
- the touristy one. It has a cement path all along with explanations and wildlife is more difficult to see, especially when the bus groups appear and talk all the way along. In any case we did see quite a few animals.

All three of us did the first trek in the morning, and Vero and Marcos did the second one after lunch. A total of 6 hours walking along a wonderful protected area. Stefan decided the afternoon walk was too much for him and stayed under a tree reading...

After the treks we started our 100 km way back to San Jose to hand the rental car back, with a short stop at Torcales bridge. This is quite a popular stop as if you pop your head over the bridge side you can see a large number of american crocodiles sleeping.
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