We really wanted to go Tarpon fishing in the Caribean sea but only got informations from fishing charters in big expensive lodge. A three-four days fishing trip in Tortuguero would have cost us around 2-3000$ per person, the cost of our entire 2 weeks trip in Costa Rica. We couldn't afford it and we were very disapointed about it. We decided to invest in sailfishing on the Pacific coast instead...
But while there, our guide Soul came from Tortuguero and told us we could go out Tarpon fishing with guides from the village. He recommended Emilio. In the end, we went fishing with his son, Tony, and a friend. They took us out at sea and we tried our luck.
It's still expensive, around 40$ an hour (we even saw 50$ an hour per person), but at least we got the chance to try it. The sea isn't always appropriate to go out, sometimes it's to chaotic. You have to pick a good day. And still crossing the bar, the wall of waves crushing on the coast, is terrifying. It's the only time I got scared in a boat, ever. But once at sea, the water is calmer and we could cast our rods. We jigged, we cast, we trolled, we saw a few tarpons jump, but (yes, again) caught nothing.
And I got seasick... This sea is unforgiven and much more difficult than the pacific ocean in Quepos! But still we are very fortunate to have been given the chance to try it, very happy with our experience... we know we have to come back!
Also, ask to check the lures box before hand. tony's ones were a litte rusty but we only saw them once at large... Maybe his father's were better, since he was really renoun for being a great fishing guide...
We went fishing, on a low budget, on the Rio Tortuguero on a late afternoon. Roberto, our guide for the day, heard that we love fishing but didn't get to catch anything on our sea expedition. He took upon himself to arrange a little fish expedition on the river...
He dosen't fish with a rod, he fishes with only a wire. A fishing line coil around a plastic coka bottle. A little hook. A shrimp his son found in the aquatic plants. And out we go!
We fished around the river, in low water, with still incredible view on the wildlife, learning the hand technique from Roberto's son. We, again, didn't caught anything. But had a great time, a great experience. And in the end, Roberto got us two fishes from his refrigerator to eat that night. Miss Junies cook it for us. An incredible memory!
He didn't charge us for anything for the fishing expedition, but since we spent the day with him in the park and at te mountain, we left him a big tip.
Just on the other side of the Tortuguero river mouth rise the tortuguero mountain, the highest point of the region, a big 119m. A great opportunity to stretch our legs and get a great view of the area.
Roberto offered to take us to the mountain, accomodating our taste and needs. He got us rubber boots because the trails are more than muddy. He took us on the 11h shuttle out of Rubens dock. He took us through the San Francisco village at the foot of the mountain, teaching us about the fruit trees. Took us in the caves to see the bats. Took us up to see the gorgeous view. Offered to grab a drink, a suave mango en leche, at a local soda, before catching the shuttle back in the village.
Again, thumbs up for Roberto!
Bring A LOT of water. It's going to be incredibly hot and humid and no wind to wash it away... A great sweat! Bring dirty clothes, at least you're going to leaves with them. Bring insect repellent, apply with your first step on the land. you will get bitten. Bring camera and binocular to catch this incredible view!
See my Tortuguero travelogue for more pics.
And then you can visit at night (only on the Tortuguero Rio, not the park's canals), getting a different perspective on the wildlife of the area. Some are sleeping, some are feeding and some are blooming. An Intriguing tour!
We hired Rubens again, from Rubens Viajes Bananero, with his silencious little motor. 30$ per person.
Different kind of guides for different kind of tours in Tortuguero. Shop around or hire them all, you'll always get a new perspective on the wildlife and scenery of tortuguero. The lodges offer big comfy covered boat ride. little guys in the city will take you out in their own boats - canoe - kayak. Depending on the size of that boat, you'll get a motor (check if it's remotely silencious) or a scull. The last being absolutely quiet, but not allowing you to go as deep in the canals.
Pay your entrance fee of the park at the gate (we took a 10$ per person 3 days pass). The guide cost from 15 to 40$ per person. Get there early to really enjoy the wildlife.
And then the adventure begins! It's a labyrinth of little canals deep in the rainforest of Tortuguero, offering sight of so many wildlife you forget the names! Herons, Egrets, parrots, toucans, Manakins, hummingbirds, haws, Iguanas, Caimans, red frogs, monkeys, sloths, turtles, ... the feeling you get from gliding inside the untouched jungle, mearly an eye in one of nature's wonders, is unutterable. Warm rays of the rising sun, bubbly water bypassing a branch, soft songs of birds, joyous noise of monkeys, fog lifting with the days on a gorgeous dark jungle, ... Incredible!
Two guides we hired: Rubens from Rubens Viajes bananero. 40$ per person on motor boat. Fun guy with all kinds of anecdotes. www.tortuguero-costarica.com
Office 506-709-8005, Mobile 382-6941, english 261-6939
Roberto Rankin from Kuluchs Tours. 15$ per person on canoe and (one) scull (only Roberto row!). Exquisite guide who take special care on delivering carefully plan tours that fitted our likes and needs (we went fishing and hiking with him too). Highly recommended. 506-709-8049, Mobile 354-2796 email@example.com
See my Tortuguero travelogues for more pictures of these tours.
A small village of some 600 people, there is a very laid back feel to the place. The main "road" is a gravel path which meanders through the houses, past the football field and souvenir shops, church and the small Natural History Museum.
In the photograph you can see the Police Station and to the right of it - the small wooden shed is the local jail!
On a short walk around the grounds during the evening, we were lucky enough to come across this beautiful red-eyed green tree frog. The guide picked him up carefully and we were all allowed to handle him. He would suddenly hop from one person's arm to another, which could give you quite a start if you weren't looking. The tiny suckers on its feet felt very strange on your skin and it really was a most incredible experience - probably the highlight of my visit to Tortuguero.
The frogs are causing a little bit of a problem by the fact that they are being attracted to the water in the swimming pool. Of course, the chemicals in the pool are not very good for them, so staff are constantly fishing them out and taking them to the pond!
Tortuguero is famous for its nesting green turtles between July and October (we missed them). A small exhibition has been set up in the village of Tortuguero to show the public the progress of the conservation project, and encourage the world to show an interest in their work.
At some point, the captain will moor the boat and take you off on a short but rewarding jungle trek.
These are not mass frequented paths, and you really feel as if you're at one with nature here. Frogs are plentifull - be careful so you don't step on one! Lots of monkeys too.
Most of the tours of tha National Park are carried out by motor launch. Whenever any wildlife is spotted, the captain will switch off the ngine and glide silently along the canals. One of my favourite moments was on such an occasion, the eerie silence only punctuated by birds calling and the wind whistling through the leaves, lying back in the boat looking up at the rainforest canopy above with the dappled sun peeking through the branches of this centuries old forest.....
We saw numerous birds, caiman, crocodiles and lizards. The guide was excellent at spotting and pointing out birds and animals.
This emerald basilisk was one of the highlights of our sojourns on the Tortuguero waterways. We had a dozen people in our group and nobody saw the basilisk except for Fernando our guide. In fact, half of us couldn't see the basilisk even when we got to within twenty feet of the creature. Only when Fernando pulled out his laser pointer did everyone finally sight the lizard. The reason the basilisk looks so clear in the photo is because I was zoomed in to the maximum setting on the camera--and the falsh helped.
Spider monkeys can be about four feet long, but most of that is tail (two-thirds). The monkeys are slender, long-limbed and only weigh about 15 pounds. They are fruit eating animals and they make very little noise. They can be difficult to spot since they are often at rest high up in the canopy. We never got close enough to the spider monkeys to catch the details of their faces. Mostly they appeared as gangly silhouettes high in the treetops.
The life of the sloth is devoted to hanging from tree limbs by means of its sturdy claws. The sloth eats tree leaves and it has a super-slow rate of metabolism. It will take days to digest its meal and therefore it takes meals only sporadically. The sloth moves about so little that its body is actually fertile ground for the growth of colonies of algae. The algae in turn provides a greenish camouflage for the slow-moving sloth.
We stopped at a grassy reef so that the members of our party could change out of their drenched ponchos (I had gone without). So I had some time to fool around with the macro settings on my zoom lense. Personally, I think this is one of the most incredible photos from the entire trip. The dragonfly was extremely tiny and it was nothing but dumb luck that I was able to snap a shot, in focus, as it paused on a thin reed.
My buddy, Mrclay, has been asking about the large predator reptiles. Unfortunately, we did not get to see the resident crocodile. But the croc's close cousin the caiman was seen in abundance.
The caiman can probably down a wading bird or your neighbor's poodle, but it is definitely not a man-eater. Still, the prehistoric look of these carniverous reptiles is awe-inspiring. Definitely one of the highlights of Tortuguero.