Manatus Lodge, tortuguero,

Large Male, green iguana basking on the riverside

Location: Manatus Lodge, Tortuguero, Costa Rica,

Famous for: Toucans, iguanas, Caiman and manatees among other fabulous wildlife.

When to go: There is no right or wrong really, the dry season: Late November to late April. Rainy or ‘tropical’ season: May through to November. The wildlife varies depending on the season you choose, but ultimately there is no bad time to go!

Cost: The cost for Mantaus lodge can be found on their website here…>

Flights/travel: The road to Manatus from San Jose is excellent and at the end you will be treated to your transfer by boat, which is more like a mini expedition and will give you a taster of what you will experience during your stay. All in all about 4 hours by road.

Time difference: 7 hours behind UK

Two toed sloth…sleeping

Manatus Lodge: Perfectly situated on the banks of one of Tortuguero’s many waterways and next to Tortuguero’s National Park make this an ideal base for exploration. It is a small family run lodge with a good sized restaurant and a laid back attitude – just perfect for relaxing into.

As you are on the water, you are able to head out in Kayaks on your own (with safety jackets) or take one of the many guided tours along the national park canals (my advice would be to book private tours which will allow you to tailor the tours to your requirements/interests.

The waterways here are unusual as you have brackish water to the front of the lodge and through the forests behind, a freshwater canal – a combination which makes for an interesting mix of bird and wild life from seafaring frigate birds to toucans and trogons (that’s another bird). Guests have access to the trails through the forest and although fairly short, the treks are interesting and packed with poison dart frogs, toucans, howler monkeys, spider monkeys and various unidentified rustlings…

Male green basilisk (Jesus Lizard)

The lodge grounds also provide a well manicured garden area to walk and watch the birds, if you are a bit nervous of the jungle and a nice pool if it gets too hot and you want something other than brackish or fresh water to throw yourself into.

Wildlife: There is as much to see on the water here as you will see elsewhere on land and the water safaris are particularly relaxing as you gently chug along and just watch the world go by. The guides, like guides everywhere know exactly where to look and can spot things that you often can’t see even when you are on top of it – but trying to beat them in spotting the next thing is a good job creation scheme.

You will see Caiman and turtles in the water possibly even a manatee and a huge number of kingfishers (much braver and easier to see that the UK variety) as well as tiger herons, boat bills and spoon bills and fly catchers too numerous to mention.

Monkeys will peer down at you from the trees and occasionally you may spot a sloth – doing what sloths do best and staying very still. If you are really ucky you may catch a glimpse of the wild pecaries (boar) from the safety of the boat. There are a huge number of raptors in this area: vultures (turkey, king and black headed) red tails, roadside hawks and cara cara can also be seen, waiting to attack the sunbathing iguanas. The green basilisk (Jesus Lizard) can also be seen here and if you are lucky enough to see one running over the water (hence the name) don’t try to get a photograph, just enjoy the moment.

What to take:
• Waterproof and breathable jackets

• Quick drying walking trousers (‘zip off’ are always handy) and tops
• refreshing wet wipes or a bandanna to dip in the water and cool your neck
• Walking sandals for walking and stability on the boats
• Insect repellent
• Binoculars or monoculars – invaluable when you are out walking
• Waterproof rucksack or rucksack liner, rain can fall without little warning and be very heavy
• A refillable drinks bottle
• Some Spanish language basics…

What to expect: This area is prone to rainfall as is all of Costa Rica,but at least it’s warm rain and things dry out quickly! Just be prepared. Umbrellas are provided by the rooms should you need to take cover on the way to dinner, but all the walkways are reasonably sheltered

The fish is fresh and copious, so you can expect a good number of fishy options on the menu, every one of them truly delicious.

Expect to be surprised by the plethora of rich wildlife you will find on what looks like a quiet stretch of the river.

Remember, you are on a river and therefore there will be mossies, and they love nothing more than a bit of tourist!

You can find the Manatus website here…>