When the driver pointed out a few crocs, I reconsidered our plans of kayaking through the canals. This isn't the best pic, but you can see this crocodile is pretty big, and has his mouth open. I turned into a total scaredy-cat!
When we arrived to the village, it reminded me a bit of my Bocas del Toro trip, with the houses on/over the water, only I knew my toilet wasn't going to flush into the water. One of the great things about Costa Rica is that [most of] their sanitation/water system is good!
We had met a guy named Adolfo at the bus station in Cariari. He was working in a tour office and was really informative (he ended up being our guide for the park, I wish I had his contact info). He recommended that we stay at Cabinas Icaco. It was great suggestion…clean room, warm-ish water, located right on the beach with a balcony and the bedroom was painted turquoise! Here is Ernesto standing in the breeze on the balcony. (actually I think he was looking for a wi-fi connection on his itouch. ha!)There are over 300 species of birds in this area, and I had my [I mean Kate's] binoculars ready. This gorgeous bird, a blue tanager, was enjoying a banana at the market. That afternoon we covered the whole town on foot. (in about 15 minutes) The houses were all bright colors, I especially liked this one. This bike caught my eye in front of a yellow house.
We walked to the entrance of the national park read all the info about the turtles. We passed Ernesto Tours! (sorry, I cant really recommend them, but I do like the name)We ate dinner at the Buda Café, a spot that is so welcoming with their new age music spilling out onto the dirt road. The ambiance was so cool and unexpected in a town of many Soda’s (ie:mom & pop kitchens). It had red paper lanterns, decorative touches like candles and handmade placemats. There was also a lounge area where you were able to enjoy a coffee, which we did several times while it rained outside.
We arranged our canal tour early, it's the best time to go (or after a rain, as the animals come out to dry) His boat was a large canoa (canoe) with no motor, and he paddled us through the many canals for almost 4 hours. He was wonderful! He pointed out wildlife that Im sure we would have missed. This is why I recommend that you spend the $15 per person for a guide (and Lonely planet does too). It was worth it. He knew the names of all the birds we saw: toucans, kingfishers, and many different herons. We could hear the howler monkeys the whole time. Their noise carries for up to 3 miles! I don’t think there is any way we would have spotted this without him:
Do you see them? Do you see the baby Caymans? (crocodile family) Mama was nearby.