A drive down the coast brings us to Puerto Viejo, sandy beaches, palm trees and an endless amount of boutique hotels, cabinas, sodas, restaurants and tourists riding around on bikes. We stop at a bakery (with slow bad service) for breakfast. It looked busy which is usually a good sign, but we discover it‘s just another tourist trap!
We drive out to the other entrance of Cahuita National Park, to the Puerto Vargas ranger station, this time paying a $5 entrance fee each, then along a gravelly road to a car park. The path takes us right along the sandy beach strewn with branches and strangely shaped tree trunks.
We don’t seem to be as lucky in spotting the wildlife on this side as we were yesterday from the other entrance to the park but we see a few crabs and lizards.
The narrow path continues on through the dense forest where we see hundreds of hermit crabs congregated together in a tree.
Further along we see squirrels and a troop of white-faced capuchin monkeys This side is not as good as the other for wildlife spotting but it‘s still a peaceful walk.
Famished after our trek, we head back into town to Coco‘s for lunch, this time going for rice and beans with spiced chicken which is delicious! Martin goes for the traditional casado, a mix of nachos, beef, guacamole and tomato salad.
4th November JAGUAR RESCUE CENTRE
After a rainy and stormy night catching the tail end of tropical storm Hanna which had made landfall in Honduras and Nicaragua, we wake early and pack up for the morning tour at the Foundation Jaguar Rescue Centre in Puerto Viejo, a 20 minute drive down the coast. The only way to visit is via a tour and the young volunteer guide shows us around the centre in a small group. All of the animals here either have some type of injury or have been orphaned. The list of residents is continually changing as the centre rehabilitates them for reintroduction into the wild either in their native habitat or the La Ceiba Natural Reserve, a 45 hectare area of primary forest, whenever possible.
All of the animals have a story which the guide shares with us; we are shown the wildcats first, a cute baby ocelot hanging out in his enclosure and a sleeping margay, wounded by a machete. There is no jaguar, the centre was named after its first ever inhabitant.
A pair of spectacled owls is next, one of whom has one eye due to rocks being thrown at it. The guide tells us some people believe these owls can put a curse on you and will try to scare them away.
A pair of white-tailed deer follow us around for the entire tour, we are warned that they seem to take pleasure ramming into people.
Motmots, colourful birds fly around freely whilst a keel-billed toucan kept as a pet and whose feathers had been cut to prevent it from flying is slowly growing them back. He flies from a tree down to a ladder.
Onto the caiman enclosure and then the snake exhibit including pit vipers, constrictors, venomous Fer-de-Lance and Bushmasters.
The highlight of the tour is definitely going into the baby monkey enclosure, no cameras allowed so no photos! The cute mini spider and howler monkeys are so playful, jumping all over us!
Next up is the frog pond with our guide pulling back the underside of a leaf to reveal the famous and minuscule red-eyed tree frog!
An anteater wrapped in a blanket is held by a volunteer; our guide explains that it had fallen out of a tree and can‘t walk very well.
Next up is the sloth nursery where four incredibly cute 1-2 year old sloths are hanging out in the trees! Most had been attacked by dogs or injured by power lines. It‘s great that the centre gives the animals the chance to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
After the tour, we head further south down along the coast, all the tourists seem to be riding around on bicycles, it seems to be the thing to do here! However, with the absence of any cycle lanes and riding three or four deep it makes driving around them quite dangerous. We arrive at Punta Uva and Playa Chiquita where we go for a snorkel in the warm blue waters, easily reaching the reef from the beach. Reindeer and lettuce coral is plentiful and there are a variety of fish including angel and triggerfish.
We stay in some jungle cabins in Puerto Viejo on huge green and plant filled grounds and are awoken in the night by some strange scratching noises on the roof; some torch lit investigations can‘t seem to uncover what is causing it! It wakes us up a few more times during the night so suffice to say we don‘t get a good night‘s sleep!