Friday, October 23, 2009
There is a spot known as Crocodile bridge on the Pacific Coast side of Costa Rica. We stopped to walk out onto the bridge and look down at the crocs. When we got out of the van it was bright and sunny. Part way across the bridge, a major rainstorm hit. We saw it literally coming towards us like a big sheet of water. There was no possible way to escape so we just got completely soaked. Fortunately it was a warm rain!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
At this stop I also had my first encounter with biting Costa Rican ants. Ouch!!! Not a good idea to wear Tevas. Before I really knew what was happening they got some good bites in, and they stung for a long time.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Leaving Tortuguero requires a boat ride that is one to two hours. Along the way, we passed by some water buffalo, which was very interesting. They were laying in the cool waters - and I don't blame them: it was hot.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I had hoped to see Squirrel Monkeys in Costa Rica as well, but that did not happen fur us. Next time!
I was pleased to find a small snake sleeping in a big leaf in Tortuguero. Not long after, our guide found another. It's about as round about as a crayon, and quite long - probably at least 3 feet in length. I gather it is no threat to humans, and is quite common.
Several times we did see them from the boat we used to drive around the waterways in Tortuguero. We heard them hiking near Arenal volcano, but did not see them there. In Monteverde Cloud forest, we saw them at a distance through a spotting scope and watched them eating ripe figs and playing with each other, surrounded by flies. Certainly it was nice to see some New World monkeys, and I enjoyed hearing them very much - though hated, as always, the stupid people who try and imitate their calls.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
As we were there in low season, we got lucky. My friend and I were the only ones from our hotel who booked the tour the night we went, so we had our own private guide, who was very knowledgeable and dedicated to turtle conservation. We were also lucky that all the groups combined only numbered 30-40 people on the beach. In peak season it can be 250, which is hideous to contemplate!
As soon as we got to the beach we saw a turtle in the distance beginning to dig a nest. We got clearance to go closer when she began laying eggs. I was surprised how close we got - 6" from the turtle! We could see each soft, bouncy, ping pong sized white egg drop into the hole in the sand. Supposedly the turtle goes into a kind of trance once laying begins - she did not seem to notice us, but who knows for sure.
We were also lucky enough to see three hatchlings that crawled very quickly towards the ocean and got washed away on the waves. Normally you can't see that at night, apparently, but we got lucky. The beach opens at 5am and we were told you can often see hatchlings then, so we got up early - but unfortunately we didn't see any when photos were allowed. However, I did take a photo of an egg that was laying near a nest, and a photo of the turtle tracks in the sand. The beach is covered with these turtle tracks all along the beach.
Sadly, however, despite the evenings efforts at conservation and turtle protection, the morning revealed that there is still a huge problem with humans harvesting turtle eggs. Many, if not most, of the night's nests had been dug up, with human footprints and fresh excavation. While there were some dog tracks on the beach, there was no evidence of dogs digging up the eggs - plenty of evidence of humans doing so. That was very disheartening and upsetting to see. Hopefully education about conservation and the turtle's over exploitation will take hold more and more in Costa Rica, but it is quite clear they have a LONG way to go on that front.
Despite the negatives, seeing the turtle egg laying and the hatchlings was my favorite part of the trip - truly a neat thing to see.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
While I did not see as much wildlife as I had hoped - I did learn about Central American wildlife viewing enough to know how to see more next trip, and I saw an introduction. Most wildlife centric trips cost more than the one we elected to take, though we emphasized it as much as we could. It was a nice mixture of seeing things and adventure and a much needed break.
As always, I'll try and pick and share my favorite photos of the trip here, and animal stories. (I review the hotels and restaurants on TripAdvisor). Today's installment is a close up of an iguana we saw in Tortuguera, on the Carribean side of Costa Rica. Overall that was my favorite spot we visited as it was the most remote and we saw the most wildlife. There were a lot of small lizards there as well as some quite large ones. We saw one that was a few feet long climbing a tree, which I'd not seen before.