Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tortuguero, Costa Rica and Bocas del Toro, Panama

Last week we took a group trip to Tortuguero, Costa Rica and Bocas del Toro, Panama. We left on Monday at 6:30am. We rode the bus for several hours. At one point we stopped at some banana fields. We watched how they brought the bananas in from the fields, removed them from the bunches and cleaned them. Next we went by boat for about an hour to reach the hotel. The hotel is by itself across the river from the town of Tortuguero.

The hotel was large and very spread out. The main building housed the reception and dining areas. It was then about a 5 minute walk to our rooms. The rooms were in groups of 4-6 with walkways connecting them and rocking chairs on the porches.

Monday afternoon we went across the river to Tortuguero. It is a small town where there is a conservation center to protect the sea turtles and the beach where they lay their eggs. At the beach you could see the areas where the turtles had dug out the sand to create a nest for their eggs.


Tuesday we took a hike in the (very muddy) rain forest. We also took a boat tour through some canals and looked for wildlife. Some people went kayaking in the river and saw a crocodile. There was also a tour at night where you could go to the beach to watch the sea turtles come up on the beach and lay their eggs.

boat tour (it was raining)

In the evenings we hung out in my friend's room playing cards.  It was a lot of fun and our best option as there was nowhere else to go even if we wanted to.

We left Tortuguero on Wednesday, rode the boat for an hour back to the bus. We boarded the bus around 9:45am and reached the Panama border around 3:15. During this time the air conditioning on our bus stopped working and you could not open the windows. Needless to say we were all very hot and sweaty. After almost 2 hours like this, we switched to another bus. About 10 minutes before we reached the border, the driver pulled the bus over because there was something leaking out of the bus. We then had to get all of our luggage and switched onto a public bus to reach the border.

We spent about an hour mostly standing in line, then walking across the bridge and standing in line again. The bridge was interesting. There were rails down the center of it, some of the boards were loose and we saw several large trucks drive over it while we were there.

Panama is an hour ahead of Costa Rica, so by the time we left the border (in buses again) it was after 5:00pm and beginning to get dark. The last leg of our journey was a half hour boat ride to the island of Bocas del Toro. It was pretty cool as it was completely dark out and all you could see was the stars.

view of Bocas del Toro from our hotel balconey

Thursday and Friday we went out all day in the boats to visit different nearby areas in the Caribbean. We went to Isla de Pajaros (Island of the Birds), which we could not actually walk on but everyone went snorkeling there. We also went to la playa de las estrellas (beach of the stars), so named for the many starfish there, and la playa de las ranas rojas (beach of the red frogs). We also went to Bahía de los Delfines (Bay of the Dolphins). Our driver drove the boat in circles to create waves which the dolphins like to jump over. Everywhere we went was beautiful and the water was amazingly clear.

Isla de los Pajaros


at playa de las estrellas

playa de las ranas rojas

island where they filmed Survivor Panama

mountains in the clouds


  1. Great pictures, but you need to take more with Lauren in them!

  2. Esther, the pictures are just fabulous! I especially liked all of the marine shots. Also of you in the rain poncho. Continue to have a great time and adventure.

  3. Awesome! All those places look amazing. Sounds like it was a sweet trip.