Friday, January 15, 2016

Tortuguero Rain Forest - Part 1

This is the rain forest and it rains here – a lot. This is much different than when we visited the Amazon rain forest when we were in Ecuador for Christmas two years ago. We spent three days at a camp there and it did not rain once. The first rain came as we were transferring from our bus to the boat that would carry us to the camp. Our guide suggested that we just wait for a bit before venturing out. That was a good plan as by the time he let us go, the rain had mostly stopped and we only had to worry about slipping in the mud. The next rain came as we were heading to our room. Fortunately, most of that was covered walkway so we did not get too wet.  It seems to rain about once every two hours for 30 minutes or so.

We were all checking out the sloth.
Beautiful red frog with blue legs

The drive was interesting. First we passed over the mountains through a cloud forest, an environment we will return to next week. It was interesting to climb up the pass, head through the fog and see the changes in plant life as we did so. Our lunch stop included a look at both two and three toed sloths and some red dart frogs, also called strawberry frogs. These tiny beasts are as poisonous as they are beautiful. Most of the body is a lovely red color contrasting with their bright blue feet and legs.

Bananas on their way to the production facility
The last part of the ride was through banana and pineapple plantations. We got to watch the men working in the banana orchards and the bananas hauled into the produce plant. The boat ride was very similar to our trip in the upper Amazon rain forest in Ecuador a couple of years ago with the trees coming right down to the water line and the foliage so dense it would be very hard to walk through. One nice difference is that we saw no evidence of industrial activity. In Ecuador, we met several freight barges and more than a couple of oil transport stations. It helps that there isn’t much oil here and the government is much stronger when it comes to protecting the environment.

Our camp is literally carved out of the forest. Unlike our camp in Ecuador, the buildings are surrounded by the natural forest. The trees have not been removed and replaced by grass as they were in Ecuador.

Young basilisks can run on the water

This plant looks like a banana. Hummingbirds love the flowers

In the afternoon, we took a slow boat ride on the Tortuguero Canal and its tributaries looking for animals and birds. The rain held off and the clouds even parted giving us some sun for a few minutes here and there.  While we did not see many birds, we did get a couple of great views of caiman and good looks at sloths and turtles and iguana.

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