Sunday, April 21, 2013

Our Time In Tortuguero

Our packet of instructions said 6:35 a.m. pickup for our transfer to Torteguero. Arriving just a few minutes late, we were apparently the last pickup. With six of us in an 18-passenger van, we headed out of the city.

Oncoming car lights can barely be seen.
Our route took us east through Barillo Carillo National Park. This is a beautiful rain forest and, on this particular day, it certainly lived up to its name. We hit rain and fog along with lots of traffic. Up hills and down hills. I'm sure glad I wasn't driving.

About 8:30 we stopped in Guapiles at Rancho Robertos for a buffet breakfast. Then back on the road, for about another hour, to the "port." Along the way we stopped for some nature lessons, including information on bananas and pineapple. Didn't know that Costa Rica was the largest grower of pineapple and the pineapple we had at breakfast every morning was fantastic.

Finally, the "port," a large parking area along the river, with one building that housed a small grocery store, bar and restaurant. Lined up along the shore line were boats going to the various Tortuguero lodges. Our luggage was loaded onto our boat, we were handed off from our land guide to our river guide, and off we went.

The main pier in Tortuguero.
While the main goal now was simply to get us to the lodge, if the guide spotted something special he pointed it out ... such as a male and female Great Currasow, an endangered species not spotted very often. After about a 45-minute ride, we passed the town of Tortuguero just as the skies opened up. But it didn't last long and we made it to our lodge and accommodations without getting drenched.

After a delicious lunch in the open air dining room, we were taken by boat into Tortuguero. I visited this village in 2007 and what a change in those six years. It is larger and with a lot more souvenir shops. It is also busier. Miss Junie's, where I stayed last time, has had a badly needed face lift.

We had a free 1 1/2 hours here and it was plenty of time. We walked over to the Caribbean, which was very rough and where I managed to get my sneakers soaked. (Fortunately we had air conditioned accommodations and they eventually dried.) We had some fun with a young couple we met, Adina and Liviv, who are from Romania. Liviv spoke minimal English and yet he and Jerry managed to get on just fine, with Liviv doing his best to help Jerry in and out of boats and to spot wildlife for Jerry to photograph.

Howler Monkey
We stayed at our lodge for two nights. The stay included two boat excursions into Tortuguero National Park. Unfortunately, those excursions were disappointing. While we did see wildlife, the most exciting wildlife we saw was in the morning at the lodge. Jerry was up early and there were howler monkeys all over the trees ... plus running along the roof over the walkway.

Female Three-Toed Sloth w/ Baby
And both of us got to see a sloth -- with a baby -- come down from her tree for her once-per-week poop time.

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