San José to Barra Tortuguero

9 - 10 Dec 2005

Wildlife watching by boat


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There was a lot to do at the airport before we could take off for Barra Tortuguero. The man at the Operations office was friendly and courteous but rather slow in processing our permit for domestic flights. The landing fee only cost a few cents and didn´t help much to pay for the paper the receipt was written on, let alone the clerk´s salary!
It was just a 30-minute flight to Barra Tortuguero on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. As its name suggests, it’s generally a good place to see turtles. However, we knew this would not be the season for them, but we were going anyway since the place is teaming with wild life.
The landing strip at Barra Tortuguero runs between the beach and the river behind. There are no roads, so the only way to get to the village is by boat and there was not a soul around. Not knowing the number of a taxi service to call, we used the sat phone to call the nearest lodge and they sent a boat to fetch us. We didn´t stay at the lodge though, preferring to stay in the village. We chose the Casa Marbella, run by Daryl – born at Paddington Hospital, London, brought up in Canada and living in Barra Tortuguero for the past 12 years. The small hotel is named after his pretty young daughter.
We sprayed ourselves liberally with insect repellent and went for a jungle walk where we saw spider monkeys. We walked back via the beach where we had a refreshing dip and looked for turtle nests. Clearly all the hatchlings of the season had already made their way to the sea. All we could see was traces of turtle egg shells.
Early next morning, Daryl took us on a boat excursion to spot the local wild life. He doesn’t miss a thing, even finding the most well camouflaged of creatures such as caimans and river otters. We saw 3 kinds of monkey: spider, white faced capuchin and howler. Although we’d heard them before in Guatemala, this was the first time we actually saw them. In addition, we saw several kinds of toucan, including the large keel-billed one, green, blue and white tiger heron, fly catchers and, from a distance, red lored and green parrots and kingfishers. We were so glad we’d decided to go with Daryl instead of renting a kayak. We wouldn’t have seen half the animals and it would have been hot and sweaty work.
After breakfast on the shady terrace by the river, Daryl drove us back to the landing strip with an English couple staying at the hotel who were keen to see us off too.

Daryl's boat had both a powerful outboard motor and a quiet, small electric motor for wildlife watching

A well camouflaged Caiman

White faced capuchin monkey

Take-off from Barra Torguero with the paved airstrip at the far end of the beach.

JAlbum 6.2 Copyright: Angela & Flemming PEDERSEN