When we arrived in San Jose, we
were met by Luis from Costa Rica Expeditions. As we drove
northeast from San Jose, through national parks and a cloud
forest, Luis pointed out places of interest and gave us a
nice overview of the history of Costa Rica. We stopped for
breakfast at a roadside open-air restaurant and had "tipico"
Costa Rican breakfast - scrambled eggs, rice and beans made
with a little coconut milk, freshly-made corn tortillas, and
a few fried bananas. It was the best breakfast we'd ever had
for about $2 each including a big bottle of water!
Shortly after the breakfast stop, we turned off the main
road onto a local road and eventually onto a dirt/gravel road.
We passed villages with names such as Los Angeles and Maryland
(we asked, no one knew why) and the Chiquita and Del Monte
banana plantations. After about an hour and a half on the
bumpy road we arrived in Caño Blanco - a town that
seemed to exist primarily as a jumping off point for trips
to Tortuguero. In Caño Blanco we joined two other van-loads
of guests, and their 20 pounds of luggage each, and boarded
the Tortuguero Lodge boat.
Ride through Plantations
Click the image to get nauseous!
Getting to Tortuguero
Click the image to travel the canals!
Fernando, the boat driver and our guide, spotted lots of
wildlife on the two hour trip to the lodge. We saw crocodiles,
caimans, egrets, cormorants, and even an otter! Once inside
the national park we stopped at the ranger station for a picnic
lunch and ended up arriving at the lodge around 3pm.
There are no roads or cars in Tortuguero - the canals are
the streets and highways. The main village of Tortuguero is
located on a strip of land with the Caribbean on one side
and the main canal on the other. Tortuguero Lodge is located
further North and on the opposite side of the canal (see aerial
photo above). The grounds of the lodge are beautiful - intentionally
wild with lots of tropical flowers and a beautiful canal-front
setting. Our room, #6, was on the first floor near the pool
and seemed to have more screened window openings than walls
which created a nice cross breeze and made us feel as if we
were sleeping in the adjacent rainforest. It was also only
a short walk to the dining room.
Meals at the Tortuguero Lodge were family style - and for
being in such a remote location they had a very decent bar
:) The first night we sat at a table with Eve & Hanna
from Massachusetts, Andrew & Stephanie from Los Angeles,
and Robin & Bill from South Pasadena with their sons Alex
and Thomas. This really fun group of people made mealtime
entertaining, and also made for fun excursions.
We took a half day tour of the canals with Fernando. Like
on the ride to the lodge, he spotted all kinds of wildlife
- three types of monkeys (spider, howler, and white faced),
crocodiles, iguanas, caimans, and lots and lots of birds.
We spent the afternoon exploring the grounds of the lodge,
although the forest trail behind the lodge proved to be entirely
too muddy and buggy. We didn't even have to go into to forest
because there were troops of spider and howler monkeys right
in back of the lodge rooms!
the image to hear the birds!
the image to hear the birds!
the image to hear the bugs!!
We also went on a nighttime turtle expedition with Fernando.
Dressed in dark clothing, we first went by boat to the village
of Tortuguero. From there, we walked down the beach in complete
darkness (the moon had not yet risen) for what seemed like
miles. Then, the group stopped to watch a GIANT green sea
turtle cover her recently-layed eggs. While she finished,
Fernando explained that Caribbean sea turtles return every
year to this 22 mile strip of beach to lay their eggs. When
she was finished, she lumbered back down the beach and returned
to the sea while we all watched a near-full moon rise over
the ocean. Very photogenic, but no cameras were allowed on
the turtle expedition so you'll have to take our word for
Every morning in Tortuguero we were wakened at 4:30am by
the wild sounds of the howler monkeys (click
here to listen for yourself!). Their hoots and barks can
be heard as far as a mile away, but from our screened in room
it sounded like they were about 100 feet away! Seriously,
I'm glad someone mentioned "just wait until you hear
the monkeys in the morning" because if I didn't know
the noises were from a relatively small monkey I would have
been pretty freaked out.
When it was time to leave Tortuguero, we simply crossed the
canal where we were met by the charter plane for the 30 minute
flight to San Jose. MUCH easier than the car/boat combo used
Next stop, Corcovado
the Journal Entries!
me the Monkeys!