After a good nights rest, we wake very early to head to Tortuguero. We meet up with the rest of the group at a restaurant along the way, and then combine with the others heading for the same lodge. We pass by some towns and soon are on a rocky dirt road that heads to Caño Blanco Dock, where we will meet up with our boat transfer. In the meantime, we pass by a huge Del Monte banana packaging plant, and stop to see the entire process since workers are there. The sheer quantity of bananas is fascinating, as well as the vast amounts that have to be rejected if there are any defects. We continue on another half hour to the dock and there board our boat to cruise the waterways towards Tortuguero Village. Along the way we are lucky and spot howler monkeys perched high in the canopy, many different kinds of birds (whose names I do not remember, due to the fact that I am not a birder), as well as a caiman sunbathing. After about an hour in the boat, we arrive to Tortuguero Village where we get out to explore the small town and learn a bit about the history here. It is now about 1 in the afternoon, and while it has been a long morning, we will probably not want to return later to see it, so we stop on the way.
We spend around 45 minutes in the village, then board the boat to go the rest of the way to Turtle Beach Lodge. This hotel, while located further north than most, is unique in that you have to go by much smaller canals to get there. It almost feels as though one is in the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios, except everything is real, there are not nearly as many “stuffed animals”, and there won’t be a huge rollercoaster drop at the end! We arrive to the lodge, are welcomed with fresh juice and shown to our cabanas. They are very clean, yet have a rustic feel to them – perfect for coming to explore the rainforest!
We decide to wander around the property and find that the coastline is on one side of the property with miles of sandy beach to explore in each direction. The pool looks inviting and the grounds are very beautiful and peaceful. After dinner and a quick nap, we head back on the boats to go try to spot a green turtle coming on shore to nest. You have to wear dark clothes and leave your flashlights and cameras behind. While the whole experience is a bit confusing (as we had 3 different language groups represented in our boat and the guides aren’t always making sure to translate everything that is said) it was well worth the patience it required to see the huge green turtles laying eggs, burying them, and then returning to sea. We were here in min October, which while it is the dry season on the Caribbean giving us great weather, it was also the end of the turtle season so we weren’t sure we would see anything. We sat most of the time waiting for the guides who were going up ahead to find the turtles and say it was okay to come. The turtles get scared if they see people/predators before they actually start laying the eggs, and then may turn back so there is a lot of waiting around for the turtle to dig the hole for the nest before you can actually go see them. The whole experience was amazing!! To watch a huge 300 lb turtle do what is instinct so perfectly and then pull herself back down to the ocean was unlike anything I have ever seen. The few minutes of watching these animals made the hour or so of waiting around worth every second!