Nature, water and no cars

Tortuguero (Land of the Turtles) National Park is a remote nature reserve on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. There are no roads here, access is by boat or plane only.

The airstrip is across the river from where DonQui is staying

DonQui arrives by plane, a small Cessna that lands on a jungle airstrip opposite the Tortuga Lodge and Gardens where he will be staying for a few days.

The verandah is a perfect place to relax

DonQui’s intention is to relax and enjoy the nature surrounding him. The verandah of his ‘cabin’ is the perfect place to do this. There is no glass on the windows — only mosquito netting. This way the sounds of the rainforest are always present.

DonQui enjoys he hammock

The hammock is a particularly good way to relax and to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the surrounding forest.

Water and rainforest are the heart of Tortuguero

The Tortuguero river flowing by the lodge invites further investigation.

Tortuguero Village

A short boat ride along the river brings DonQui to Tortuguero Village. Founded in the 1930s to mill the timber from the surrounding forest the village now makes its income from tourism. Back-packers, ecologists and adventures come here to experience the vast natural beauty of the region.

DonQui enjoyed a beer at this bar overlooking the river

The village has a Caribbean vibe as many of the modern inhabitants have come from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.

Sunrise over the Tortuguero river

The true beauty of the area can only be explored by boat. So it is that DonQui sets off at crack of dawn to experience the sights and sounds of the rainforest.

A boat trip into the rainforest

It is hard for DonQui to express in a few words the great beauty, rich vegetation and abundant wildlife he experienced in the couple of hours he spent exploring the area under the guidance of a highly knowledgeable local guide.

Into the rainforest

The vegetation alone was worth it but the sights and sounds of the birds, reptiles and animals made it even more special.

The birds are abundant and varied
A cayman pokes his eye above the water

DonQui sees a huge variety of wildlife including howler and spider monkeys, turtles, a three toed sloth, caymans, herons snd many other birds

One of the many intriguing waterways to explore

Water is the best way to explore but behind the Tortuga Lodge there are a number of trails that invite exploration.

A trail through the forest

A walk along the forest trail is muddy. There is a clue in the name of ‘rainforest’. It rains a lot and the ground is always soggy even after several days without rain. DonQui does not see as much wildlife on his walk as he does on his boat tour but the atmosphere is hard to beat. He can hear howler monkeys in the distance and sees a number of colourful frogs.

The trees are filled with birdlife

The grounds around the lodge are incredibly beautiful. Toucans, parrots and monkeys are often seen.

An Iguana sunning himself by the river.

The grounds are beutiful

The grounds of the Tortuga Lodge and Gardens

DonQui always feels that he is part of the forest even when he is enjoying the civilised surroundings of the Lodge.

The dining area

Meals are served on an atmospheric dining area overlooking the river. Menu choices are relatively limited as food has to be flown in.

Seafood rice

After a few days the simple menu begins to grow a bit thin but the seafood rice is DonQui’s favourite staple.

Tortuguero river

So is Tortuguero worth a visit?

Absolutely yes, according to DonQui.

If you like nature, enjoy tranquility then there are probably few places than can beat it. In late summer/early autumn one can also witness the turtle nesting which gives the place its name.

On Safari

Before DonQui takes his blog out of  Tanzania he thinks he should say something about the wildlife.

Cape Buffalo

He did not have the chance to get to any of the parks on this most recent visit but he has in the past.

Grass fire on the Serengeti copy

It is hard to put into words just how magnificent the Serengeti is.

Wildebeast Migration 2It helped that DonQui managed to time his visit to coincide with the Wildebeest migration. This was good luck rather than good management as the migration started a few months earlier than expected due to early rains.

hyena

A night out on the plains under canvas with hyenas and leopards prowling around the campsite was an experience DonQui is not likely to forget in a hurry.

Zebra for Breakfast 1 copy

He felt more than a little uneasy early the next morning when he saw close up how one of his black and white stripy relatives had become breakfast for a pride of lions.

The Serengeti was simply magnificent. It is one of those incredible places that should be visited at least once in a lifetime.

KenyaTanzaniaAdventure29 copy

The Ngorongoro crater — the world’s largest inactive volcanic caldera — is famous for its high density of wildlife. Despite the magnificent scenery and plentiful animals, it at times it seemed to DonQui that it was a bit like a trip to the zoo with an even higher density of people.

tourists
Guides radio each other as soon as some interesting animals are spotted and before you can blink the poor beasts are surrounded by dozens of vehicles filled with camera toting tourists.

If DonQui ever gets the chance to again go on safari in Tanzania he would like to try to make it to one of the lesser visited parks such as the Selous Game Reserve or Ruaha National Park for more of a wilderness experience. Maybe one day he might even make it to Gombe to see chimpanzees in the wild.