Costa Rica 2006 Day Two: Tortuguero National Park

by Kara on October 21, 2006

An aerial view of San Jose from a single-engine Cessna.

An aerial view of San Jose from a single-engine Cessna.

We got up early and headed back to the airport to fly to Tortuguero National Park. The flight, on a single-engine Cessna, was only about 35 minutes. The “airport” at Tortuguero is just a little landing strip. We went straight to breakfast, then took a morning boat tour. The roads in Tortuguero are actually rivers, so all travel is by boat, which I found quite relaxing. The bird life in the park is abundant. Just on that first morning tour, we saw a bare-throated tiger heron, a keel-billed toucan, great-tailed grackles, a yellow-crowned heron, a little blue heron, an aracari, a night heron, a snowy egret, white-fronted parrots, black vultures, a northern jicana, a green backed heron, and… well, you get the idea. I can’t believe how long my list is! On that morning jaunt, we also saw long nose bats, crabs, an iguana, a river otter, a spectacled caiman, spider monkeys, a howler monkey, and a black river turtle. Unfortunately, most of the notes in my journal are lists of species we saw, so I have to rely on my somewhat limited memory to recreate the trip.

A snowy egret in Tortuguero National Park.

A snowy egret in Tortuguero National Park.

We headed back to Tortuga Lodge for lunch. Meals there were always quite generous, which is not necessarily a good thing, because much of our time was spent sitting in a boat. We thought the chicken wraps they brought out were the main dish, then they brought out vast amounts of beef and rice and beans.

After lunch, we took the boat across the river to the beach and walked around looking at the empty green sea turtle nests where the eggs had already hatched. We saw lots of tiny flipper prints in the sand but no turtles. The time to see hatching turtles is usually in the early morning.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron


We had a wonderful dinner of sea bass with passion fruit sauce and headed off to our cabin. We were warned to carefully shake out our shoes in the morning before putting them on, in case of scorpions. I am happy to say that we never encountered a single scorpion during our stay. After the giant cockroaches and even more giant spiders from our trip to Peru last year, I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of ornery critters in Costa Rica.

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

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