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The Mad Dash through Costa Rica...Living Pura Vida with Bugs

Our time in Tortugero and Puerto Viejo..where we left early after loosing the war with the bugs


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We left San Jose on the 9am bus. Sadly it was another full on day of travelling. This time we were heading to Tortugero, a place you can only reach via boat. Tortugero is in the middle of a national park on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. It is famous for the Tortuga (turtles) that come up onto the beach to lay their eggs. The turtle population is increasing in the area rather than decreasing which is a rarity.

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Besides the turtles the small village and park is also famous for the naturally formed canals all through the rain forest.
It was two buses before we got to the boat. Both times the buses were jammed full of tourists and locals combined. The boat was an hour and within 5 minutes we had already seen our first crocodile…there was no way I was going to be swimming in the canals! Along the way we also saw bastille lizards, caimans and parrots amongst other animals. The ride in was like we were on a nature tour already. As we went in to our hostel we learnt the village is basically sustained by tourists, in the past money was made from the turtles eggs and shells but thankfully this is not the case anymore. Our hostel was a great place and even in the dorms we had plenty of space. That evening after fruit shakes for lunch and a spectacular sunset we were off to see the turtles coming onto the beach to lay their eggs.

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There are rangers and a lot of rules regarding people on the beach at night. The local beach closes every night at 6pm to allow turtles to not be interrupted in there nesting process. I never realised what a sensitive process it was. If a turtle notices anyone or anything on the beach they go straight back into the sea and don’t lay that night. I also didn’t realise that they lay eggs more than once during the nesting season…usually about every four weeks for the three-month season. The babies have a 1/1000 chance of surviving until they are one year old. There are numerous factors that can kill them and affect the baby turtles once they hatch. They tend to go towards the white (the surf) but because of towns and lighting the white of town is brighter and sometimes they go towards the towns instead. We managed to see four turtles on our tour. All of them green turtles. They were HUGE and weighed about 200kgs at least and were a 1.5m long.
We managed to see all of the nesting processes including them scanning the beach, making their nest, laying their eggs, and the camouflaging process. You aren’t allowed to use flashlights or cameras on the beach to ensure that the light didn't confuse the turtles so we had to walk around and adapt to the darkness of night. The eggs were the size of ping pong balls and there were at least 80-120 in each nest. The nests were huge as well and you can see why the mother turtle is exhausted afterwards.

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The next morning we headed out on the canal in a canoe to search for wildlife. We saw an anteater, a blue red poison dart frog, monkeys, crocs and caiman, land turtles and more birds. It was tranquil and peaceful even when it poured down with rain. We spent the afternoon exploring the town and relaxing after the little sleep from the late night and the early morning.

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The next day we opted to take the more expensive but easier and more scenic way to Puerto Viejo, our last stop in Costa Rica. We took a boat down through the canals for four hours and arrived in Limon. From there it was an hour shuttle to the Caribbean town.

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Arriving in Puerto was interesting. It was a typical touristy Caribbean town…and for this I was a little sad. There were bars everywhere and the place has a few issues with drugs and alcohol. The prices also reached a tourist premium we discovered when we went for lunch! We managed to catch up with Craig and Aroha, our Kiwi friends from San Pedro and have a few rounds of cards and a cheap street food dinner. The street food dinner was surprising delicious!

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Our hostel was interesting place and that night we were attacked by mosquitos which managed to get into our mosquito net. By 3am in the morning we couldn’t hack it anymore and knew we would be leaving the next day. I awoke the next morning and further confirmed this as my face and neck were smothered in hives! We had two options…change hostels or continue on to Bocas del Toro in Panama a day early. We opted for going to Panama early which turned out to be the best option for both of us.

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The 2 hour bus to the border, a small walk over the bridge, no problems with immigration, a shuttle and a boat ride later we had finally arrived to a haven of islands and I couldn’t wait! The day due to our tiredness still felt like an ordeal! We were on the homeward stretch to our boat…only just under 2 weeks to go!

Posted by chellebelle 09:20 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged birds turtles canals bus puerto canoes viejo sloth crocs mosquitos hives tortugero pricey Comments (0)

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