We did four tours within and around the National Park. We did two boat trips, one early in the morning, the other in the afternoon, into the canals, where we saw a multitude of birds, animals and flora. The guides and boat captains were very informative in Spanish and English on what we saw. They had an incredible ability to spot the wild life and then bring the boats as close as possible to the point of interest. There are also bird spotting trips, but we did not go on one of those.
We did a trip to Tortuguero to see the village and how the local inhabitants live. This was perhaps the least interesting of the tours we did.
For our fourth tour did a night time visit to the beach to see turtles laying eggs. The trip was very informative. There are two tours each evening from our lodge at 8pm and 10pm. The beach is divided up into about twenty zones each about a kilometre long. The zone that one visits is the one closest to the place where one is staying. The National Park carries out a lottery each day to determine on which timed tour one is to go. We thought that we had been unlucky when we were informed that we would have to wait for the 10pm to midnight visit, but in fact we were lucky as those who went out at 8pm did not see any egg laying, whereas we did. Each tour comprises a guide and about ten visitors. You leave the hotel in silence and with as little light as possible,walking in single file. Turtle spotters on the beach radio the tour guides to tell them where in each zone a turtle has been seen. Once on the beach, only the guide is allowed to shine a red torch light so as not to disturb the turtles. The turtles can be easily frightened and go back to sea if disturbed, but once they start to lay their eggs they go into a semi-trance and can be approached without seeming to disturb them. Despite the dark, light rain, not seeing much for most of our two hour walk and the attention of insects when we stood still, the 15 minutes or so when we saw a turtle laying, made it well worth while. We saw only one laying turtle, some groups saw none, whereas others saw several, it is all a matter of luck.
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