Costa Rica 2006 Day Three: Tortuguero National Park

by Kara on October 22, 2006

Children swimming and playing in the water. Tortuguero village, Costa Rica.

Children swimming and playing in the water. Tortuguero village, Costa Rica.

In the morning our guide took us over to the village of Tortuguero, where we had a tour of the tiny town. There were lots of kids playing in the water when our boat drove up, but the guide told us every once in awhile a kid (or adult) gets attacked by a caiman or crocodile. He said that every once in awhile, a shark makes its way into the rivers from the ocean. They don’t recommend swimming.

We had lunch in Tortuguero Village at a Caribbean restaurant, Miss Juney’s. The food was delicious. When walking around near the restaurant, we saw emerald basilisks all over the place, as well as some common basilisks. Common basilisks are also often called Jesus Christ Lizards, for their ability to run across the surface of water.

Green-Backed Heron

Green-Backed Heron

After lunch, we had some relaxation time, because a beach hike was planned for after dark to see if we could watch a sea turtle laying her eggs. We took off our shoes and sat on the porch of our cabin with our feet up. Just while sitting there, we saw the following birds: a lattice-tailed trogon, a great kiskadee, a rufous-tailed hummingbird and a chestnut-mandibled toucan. We also saw a praying mantis and some sort of giant beetle. I never got tired of just sitting there watching all the birds and critters.

Dawn on the beach in Tortuguero National Park.

Dawn on the beach in Tortuguero National Park.

After dinner, at around 11 pm I think, we headed across the river to the beach. It turned out to be quite a workout. They had lookouts around the beach to spot the turtles, and of course we turned out to be at the wrong end of the beach. When a turtle was spotted, they shined a red light so people could head that way. We hiked five miles through the sand quite rapidly and finally came upon a massive green sea turtle laying her eggs. We almost missed it. We saw her lay her last few eggs, then bury her nest. The whole process clearly wore her out. She had to take breaks while burying the eggs. But we had to be careful not to stand in the path of flying sand from her powerful flippers. We then walked behind her as she headed back to the ocean, also a lengthy process for the tired turtle. Finally, we turned back to the lodge. We saw a tarantula in the woods on our way back, and heard lots of howler monkeys, who also acted as our morning alarm clocks every day.

Check out more of Stephen’s pictures of Costa Rica.

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