Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica | The Laguna Lodge, the village and … the mosquitoes!
Pura Vida! These are the first words you are going to hear coming out of the locals’ mouths when you reach Costa Rica. It is used as often as we use «hi» in Greek, and means «Pure Life». How can life not be pure when you live in this earthly heaven? It is not accidental that the people of Costa Rica are on the very top of the list of the world’s happiest people! The tropical climate, wild plantations, the lakes, the rivers and clean oxygen affect the quality of life in the most positive way. Did you know that there are 26 National Parks in the country? Today I will take you to the north-western side of Costa Rica, to one of the most beautiful and most famous parks. I hence welcome you to the Tortuguero National Park!
We left San Jose, the capital, early in the morning, and travelled towards La Pavona. There we would take a boat to take us to the Laguna Lodge, our stay for the next two nights. It is worth mentioning here that you can only visit the park on a boat or a plane. There are no roads nor cars! For two days, there would be us and wild nature! If you happen to visit the place, I suggest that you book via a travel agency, via your hotel or a local tourist agent, to save you from the trouble of travelling to and from San Jose, which is about 3 hours away from La Pavona without a direct bus route. Following that, it will take you another hour and a half to reach the Lodge.
The Laguna Lodge is situated in the jungle, surrounded by tropical plantations. There is a river bearing the same name on one side (Tortuguero river), while on the other side you can admire the blue waters of the Caribbean. It comes with two swimming pools, a botanical garden, a bar, and a restaurant serving delicious dishes. Rooms were exactly as I expected; simple, basic accommodation. Forget about shampoo and coconut hair conditioners. Oh! Of you hate insects, spiders and small reptiles, this is not a place for you. It’s possible that you will wake up having one of the aforementioned on the pillow next to you. Get this! You are in the middle of the jungle!
After getting our room keys, we began exploring the surroundings! I decided that it was a good time to check the botanical gardens. In my shorts. And my flip flops. Without a mosquito repellent. This is where you start clapping your hands and go «Way to go, Katerina!» before going ballistic on me. Just 5 minutes after entering the garden, I felt like my skin went on fire. I tried to exit as fast as I could. It took me 10 whole minutes to find my way around the maze that was the garden, by which time it was too late. My body was full of rushes and I scratched myself to death. Since then, the repellent became my bestest of friends.
Following this funny yet tragic experience, and having applied every cream I could get my hands onto, we entered the boats to visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the Tortuguero village, which is 5 minutes away. It is a colourful village of 1000 people, which is situated on a thin line of land. On one side there’s the Caribbean and on the other side there are rivers and canals. Just imagine living there. No car, no pollution, wildlife all around including rare birds and animals, listening to the sea waves crushing on the shores at night. Pure magic!
If you consider that we were at a place where it rains for about 330 days a year, our first day was like a gift. The second one though wasn’t as sympathetic. The positive thing was that we managed to go on a safari at the river in the morning! Have you ever done that? It was my first time and I must admit, I found it exciting! We moved from canal to canal and an experienced guide was walking us through the various animals that we came across. We saw Makaw parrots, iguanas, crocodiles, cormorants, turtles and many other kinds of animals and amphibians. The highlight of the safari however was that we managed to see all three kinds of monkeys residing in the Park! The capuchins are by far the cutest and smartest monkeys I’ve ever seen! Do you remember the monkey in «Pirates of the Caribbean»? That was one such monkey!
The rest of the day went smoothly at the lodge’s bar, since it was raining cats and dogs from the moment we went back. My mind though was already planning ahead to what I would be doing at night at the Caribbean shores! I would be travelling with a ten-member team and a ranger, to watch the turtles laying their eggs under the veil of darkness and rain. Enough said though. That was a unique experience so I will be devoting an entire article on that. So visit my blog again soon and learn everything about how turtles give birth! For now, take a look at my video clip and re-live all the things you’ve read about above! ( Here you can read the post about the turtles nesting!) Until next time! xoxo