This was a return journey for us to Costa Rica after a gap of 15 years. After an 11 hour BA flight we landed in San Jose where we were met by Johnny Villalobos our tour leader and naturalist guide. Our first night in Costa Rica was at the Presidente Hotel where we would overnight and meet the remaining members of our group. The hotel was centrally located and was comfortable. The outside corner wall was brightly painted with murals. Inside was an interesting lounge area. Vintage sewing machines on pedestals and antique painted ox cart wheels were placed against brick walls.
After meeting with everyone we were given the times for the next day. Breakfast would be from 6.00am and we would be leaving at 6.20am. Stopping for a second full breakfast en route to Tortuguero NP on the North East coast of Costa Rica. Tortuguero is a popular tourist area of the Caribbean coast but still only accessible by boat or light aircraft.
Tortuguero National Park
After an early start and light breakfast we stopped for a full breakfast near the town of Guapiles. At a restaurant with a large Kapok tree in the grounds. It was lovely to stretch our legs and take in the scenery around the restaurant. Hummingbirds and blue morph butterflies flew over our heads.
After breakfast we were on our way to La Pavonna where we would board our motorboat. The dock at La Pavonna wasn’t quite what we expected. It was extremely crowded and appeared chaotic. A large number of people dragged their bags through the sand down the steep bank to the muddy water’s edge. Here 14+ motorboats were waiting to take the tourists to their lodges.
Leaving the chaos behind we headed for the Evergreen Lodge. A journey into the tranquil and unspoiled waterways of Tortuguero. Passing on the way caiman lazing on sand banks, Basilisk lizards and Iguana clinging to branches and Snowy Egrets strutting along the banks. Reaching our accommodation at the Evergreen Lodge after about one hour.
Evergreen Lodge is situated on a strip of land between the Caribbean Sea and the main lagoon. It is surrounded by coastal rainforest. The lodges are surrounded by beautiful gardens and without leaving the area you can encounter wildlife. The lodges were attractive and comfortable. We were staying here for two nights. After a welcome drink we were shown to our rooms followed by a delicious lunch. After a short rest it was time to get back on the boat for a short trip to Tortuguero village.
Sea Turtle Museum and Beach
The boat docked at the wooden jetty and we clambered out to visit the Sea Turtle Museum. Entrance was a $2 dollar admission fee to what proved to be a well laid out informative display. Tortuguero is famous as a nesting site for the endangered Green Turtle, which comes to lay eggs on the beaches between July and October. After the visit to the museum we watched a video about Archie Carr. He was a conservationist who for thirty years worked to protect the green turtles of Tortuguero and set up the STC. The Sea Turtle Conservancy was considered to be instrumental in the conservation ethos of Costa Rica.
Leaving the museum we started walking on the beach. It was easy to see evidence of turtle nests and the broken shells of the hatchlings. A Montezumas Orependulum flew through the trees along the edge of the beach.
We left the beach to get a closer look. As we stood watching a flock of Great Green Macaws flew over and landed in a beach almond tree. Acrobatically they perched on branches and started to eat the almonds. Our guide, Johnny, was extremely pleased to see them in these numbers. As they are making a comeback to this area of Costa Rica.
We carried on walking along the track into the village. This is mainly a long strip of track with small houses, hostels for back packers and colourful shops on either side. The canal was on one side and the sea on the other side. Bicycles were the only transport and pedestrians wandering along the track. Along the track remains of machinery were used as sculptures . Lots of children played and rode past at a furious pace. In a little swampy area a juvenile yellow crowned night heron stood looking for food.
As the sun was going down it was time to get back on the boat and head back to the lodge for the evening meal. Around the lodge Capuchin monkeys were making a noise climbing in the trees around the cabin. Whilst next to the swimming pool spider monkeys where swinging from branch to branch.