Turtles and Volcanoes

Our month in the Puerto Viejo area came to an end…

…meaning fond farewells to some incredible views and beaches.

Our good friend Domi caught up with us in Puerto Viejo and the three of us made the day-long trip up the coast to the village of Tortugero, by three buses and one river boat.

Like Bastimentos, Tortugero does not have any roads and is only accessible by boat. Located on a long strip of land sandwiched between a river and the sea, it is a vibrant community integrated with the activities of the national park.

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Much of the wildlife here is protected; during our stay we saw toucans, river otters, caimans, howler monkeys, parrots, hummingbirds, iguanas and herons – the latter two pulling some rather yogic looking poses! However, our efforts at producing photographic evidence of these sightings were less than impressive.

The highlight of our time in the area was witnessing the nesting of green turtles on the beach at night. That this happened under the most amazing clear, starry sky that we’ve ever experienced made it even more overwhelming. Observing the nesting is only possible with a registered guide and without torches, cameras or binoculars.

Leaving the heat and humidity of the coast, we journeyed inland past banana plantations, through lush forest and high over fast-flowing rivers, with misty peaks rising in the background. The rain-sodden and unexpectedly cool Alajuela – near the Costa Rican capital, San Jose – was our destination…

… which we used for a day’s exploration of Volcan Poás.

The main crater was shrouded in mist on our arrival so we continued along the path to a lake formed from another crater that has filled with rainwater. A sight that would stand up well in its own right.IMG_5503

On the accessible trail in the vicinity of the lake grows some fascinating plant life including moss-covered, twisted trees, many with bromeliads sprouting at various points on their branches. Wildlife included elusive hummingbirds and much-less-than-elusive squirrels!

We returned to the main crater more hopeful than expectant that the mist would have cleared, only to find ourselves in luck! With cloud still clinging around the edge and sulphurous steam rising from its centre, it made a majestic albeit fleeting sight, as the mist rushed back in within minutes. Still plenty of time to experience one of the many natural wonders this small country has packed into it.

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