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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The ringed kingfisher is not often found in the U.S. (only in the extreme southeastern tip of Texas). But we saw plenty of kingfishers on the Tortuguero River. They are carniverous and hunt fish, frogs and water retiles. I desperately wanted to get a decnt photo of a diving kingfisher but they were way to fast--I was lucky to get this one perching on a limb overhanging the water.
The bare-throated tiger heron is a wading bird that does not grace U.S. shores. Like all wading birds it plies the brackish waters for fish and other aquatic creatures.
Check out this great birding resource to learn more about herons: http://montereybay.com/creagrus/herons.html
The sungrebe has a special adaptation that is unique in the world of birds--the male can put its young into shallow pockets under his wings and transport them while swimming or flying. Young swans allow their young to hitch a ride on their back and other grebes also allow such hitching, but no other bird is known to fly with their chicks. Fascinating, no?
The sungrebe is exceedingly rare and shy, so we were most fortunate to get a glimpse of this wonderful bird.
We saw several members of the Trogon family in Costa Rica. All trogons are very colorful--none more so than the resplendent quetzal. Trogons are tropical arboreal birds (that means they live in jungle trees) who feed on insects and caterpillers. The elegant trogon is the only member of the trogon family that makes an appearance in the U.S., but only in the far southeastern corner of Arizona.
The bird shown in this photo is the slaty-tailed trogon.
Hands down my favorite animal sighted in Costa Rica. I'm sure that a jaguar would top the frog--but it is nigh near impossible to catch sight of a jaguar. So I will gladly settle for the dart frog.
These frogs are extremely small--this one was no bigger than my thumbnail. And they are extremely toxic. The reason that they are called poison dart frogs is that the secretions from their bodies were used by indigenous peoples to coat their blow-darts which were then employed to bring down big game.
Some people have also licked frogs in the hopes of reaching a hallucinogenic state, but that is not recommended as it could be potentially lethal.
check out the Nashville Zoo site for info on blue poison dart frogs: http://www.nashvillezoo.org/blfrog.htm
The anhinga is a diving bird. It will float along the river and then dive down underneath the surface to give chase to a tasty looking fish, It can swim underwater for several minutes at a time. When it returns to the surface it will find a place to roost and then unfold its wings so that they can dry out.
Also known as the snake-bird because its long curvy neck can resemble a snake when it is diving and swimming underwater.
Bright orange iguanas--never expected to see that. But I have learned that it is common for the males to turn orange during mating season. It is their signal to the females that they are ready to go. I guess subtlety is lost on your average iguana.
For more on Central American reptiles look at: http://centralamerica.com/cr/moon/moreptile.htm