August 2022

At the beginning of August we went to Tortuguero National Park to see turtles. You can only reach Tortuguero by boat. So we left the van in a secure parking lot and with a backpack for an overnight stay and of course Binkie in the other backpack, we left for Tortuguero in a narrow but long motorboat so we could join a turtle watching tour in the evening. Tortuguero is a small but very touristic village. And because it can only be reached by boat, there are only pedestrians and cyclists.

The village has around 1200 people living there and is about 1.5km long and less than a km wide. But they manage to accommodate a huge amount of tourists there. July and August are their busiest months, not only because of the school holidays, but also because the turtle season is at its peak in those months. Every night lots turtles, mostly green sea turtles come to the beach in this protected area to lay their eggs. And every night there are about 850! people on the beach with their guides to see these turtles. This has turned into a kind of a turtle Disney. Most groups have about 10 people in them. You then join about 5 other groups. The “spotters” then tell the guides where “their” turtle is. The groups of around 60 people are spread out across a few kilometres of beach and you are in a group from 20.00 to 22.00 or from 22.00 – 24.00 hours. So you basically share one turtle with 60 people. You then have to wait in line until it is your turn to watch the turtle. Once the turtle starts laying eggs, she goes in a trance and doesn’t really notice her surroundings any more. There are different stages to laying and burying the eggs and we got to watch three stages, the laying off the eggs, the first or the start of the burying and the end. For every stage we had to get in line again. It is strictly forbidden to use any light except for the red light the guide has. So we don’t have any photo’s. I have always wanted to see a sea turtle and was glad I had the opportunity. However the mass scale on which this is being done was not what I had expected. The next morning we took a boat back to the mainland and we were lucky enough to see a Cayman sitting on a tree log in the river. I really enjoy seeing animals in the wild. For me it is completely different than watching them in a zoo. Probably because they are free and not in a cage.

From Tortugero we drove back in the direction of San Jose. There aren’t that many roads so when you are driving through Costa Rica you’re bound to pass San Jose. Here we also celebrated our 2nd year on the road on August 5th. From San Jose we drove on to explore the west coast South to the Osa peninsula. Our first stop was near Jaco where we also got to see the beautiful Ara’s. A big group of those colourful birds lives just next to the main road.

We also had an amazing campsite, right on a beautiful beach, next to Antonio Manuel National park (which we didn’t visit). In the trees there were monkeys and we also finally got to see the famous sloths! They are so incredible cute. Their faces especially really make your hearth melt. I want one! We came here for this reason but of course you never know if there are actually going to be animals so I felt very lucky and happy for actually seeing them. We stayed for several days on the beach and left on Friday afternoon, before the weekend crowds.

We visited several other beaches and saw more Ara’s. We drove back to San Jose and stopped at what is known as the crocodile bridge. Below this bridge there are often several crocodiles lying around.

Near San Jose there is Paso de Quetzales where we hoped to see the illusive bird, the Quetzal. This bird only lives in central America and most of them in Costa Rica. It is considered (arguable) one of the most beautiful birds in the world. This place is only open in the weekend and the last time we were near SJ, it was during the week, so we drove back on a Friday. Unfortunately we only got to see one Quetzal from quite far away and in the shadow of the tree. The owner of the restaurant told us it was a quetzal, but honestly it might as well have been a parakeet ;( We drove back to the pacific coast using the nr. 2 highway which is also part of the famous Panamerican Highway. This steep mountainous highway reaches altitudes above 3.300 meters. A good test for the revised engine of our van; everything worked fine. We came across the Quetzales national park and leaving the highway we camped just next to the park. It was a great spot, quiet and green. And with a nice change in temperature, around 20°C and even a bit cold in the night! (11°C) The next morning we got up at 6 am to try and spot the Quetzal, but again no luck. We were camped next to a small road that we thought was a dead end (we didn’t have any internet). But the previous evening quite a few cars drove out of it on to the highway, several of them had bikes on the back. Curiously we decided to check it out, and we found a beautiful green valley, which kind of reminded us of the Alps. Lovely meadows, cows, a clear river, waterfalls and wooden cottages. We enjoyed the views and went for a short hike as well and had lunch and in the afternoon we decided to drive on to the coast.

We camped at playa Dominical for a few days and near Uvita as well. Then one of Kilian’s molars started to hurt. In Uvita we found an English speaking dentist. As Kilian needed a root canal and a new dental crown we had to return to Uvita in a week. Meanwhile we decided to explore the peninsula Osa. A beautiful peninsula full of jungle and bad roads 🙂 I had wanted to camp at a place in the jungle which we had found through ioverlander. Apparently you could see quite a few snakes there (yes we purposely wanted to camp somewhere with snakes) But due to the rainy season it was unreachable. That was disappointing and we couldn’t find another place in the jungle to camp. Most land in CR is private property, except the beaches, which by law are public and therefore offer room for camping. So we had to drive back to the coast and on the last day of August we just happened to end up on playa Preciosa. Which turned out to be a blessing in disguise and led me to fulfilling a long awaited dream. You’ll be able to read about that in another blog soon.

2 thoughts on “August 2022”

  1. Those ara’s! Big birdlover here. Sloths are sweet too 😄
    I hope the dentist did a good job and the pain is gone, Kilian. Congratulations with your two year-on-the-road anniversary.
    I’m curious to read the next blog.
    Greetings, Ilona

    • Hi, if you’re a birdlover you’ll really like CR. Lots of colourful birds and birds of prey here. And yes the dentist did a good job. Thanks for the congratulations! I’ll write more stories soon. The first news and pictures are on IG though. Greetings, Marcia


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