After an overnight stay in San José, the next part of our travels began with a coach to the docks at La Pavona, followed by a boat from there to Laguna Lodge, as Tortuguero can only be accessed by boat or plane.

We set off from Hotel Presidente at 6:10 after a quick bite for breakfast. José, our guide, had met us at the hotel and took us to meet the bus with the others who were travelling to Tortuguero. After a couple more pickups we headed out of San José along the route 32 heading higher up as we left the city, passing alongside coffee plantations.

We then headed through the cloud forest of Braulio Carrillo National Park and passed over the continental divide between the Pacific and Caribbean sides of Costa Rica. Along the way, José provided a commentary for us about everything we were passing in both English and Spanish, which was really interesting and a great way to get tuned into the language. Some of the highlights were the indicative species of a cloud forest - known locally as the poor man’s umbrella (Gunnera insignis), the dark colour of the Rio Sucio as it picks up the oxides on it’s route from the Irazu volcano.

Rio Sucio

Rio Sucio

Poison-dart frog

Poison-dart frog

We stopped a breakfast of Palmitos and rice at Rio Blanco restaurant in Guapilles where we also got to explore along by the river. As we returned to the coach, José asked us if we’d seen the frog and as we hadn’t, he took us back to see it and scooped up the poison-dart frog from the undergrowth to place on a leaf for us to see clearly. After lunch, we passed through banana plantations complete with their own banana train to transport bananas which we had to stop for while the bananas crossed the road.

Banana plantation

Banana plantation

Banana train crossing

Banana train crossing

When we got to La Pavona, it was interesting to see all the boats waiting at the docks and the supply boat being loaded up with lots of bags of rice!

Boats at La Pavona

Boats at La Pavona

Loading supplies at La Pavona

Loading supplies at La Pavona

River travel

River travel

From there we boarded the boat to head along the windy river to the lodge. Along the way we had our first insight to what was in store for us in the park - passing through jungle landscapes and seeing monkeys, lizards and birds. Our lodges were side by side just around the corner from the botanical garden walk and the path through to the beach on the Caribbean side, which is where the sea turtles' nest and bury their eggs.

Windy river, low water level

Windy river, low water level

Heron

Heron

Basilisk / Jesus Christ Lizard

Basilisk / Jesus Christ Lizard

We had lunch at Laguna lodge and in the afternoon visited the town of Tortuguero by boat. Tortuguero is a very small town with a number of shops and cafes and we were able to stock up on insect repellent and buy some post cards and souvenirs, however as there is no postal service there we couldn’t get any stamps. When we got back me and Jessica explored the botanical garden and saw a hummingbird, a blue morpho butterfly, a snake and lots of interesting plants.

Carribbean

Carribbean

Our rooms at Laguna Lodge

Our rooms at Laguna Lodge

Tortuguero

Tortuguero

on to Exploring Tortuguero