Turtles, turtles everywhere!

Trip Start Feb 03, 2013
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Trip End Jan 25, 2014


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Flag of Costa Rica  , Guanacaste,
Thursday, October 3, 2013

I went to Sámara on the Nicoya Peninsula, in search of turtles as the arribada (roughly translates as 'arrival into port') had reportedly started. The turtles ran to their own schedule, but when they did arrive it was a stunning sight to behold.

A short but sweet trip to Playa Sámara almost came up empty on turtles, as nature had it's own plan and the turtles stayed away on my first day. With stunning scenery and suprisingly good weather, it was however still a lovely detour to make. It was extremely low tourist season in Samara which meant I had the pick of all the beds in my eight bed dorm and a lovely terrace, overlooking the plunge pool, to myself. With the sun out and the sound of waves crashing nearby, I decided to stay for one more day, to make the most of the beach and just in case the turtles fancied making an appearance.

I was thankfully rewarded on my second day by the turtles appearing in their droves! After an extremely bumpy ride, down moon crater roads with streams running across them, we arrived in nearby Ostional beach around thirty minutes before sunset. Ostinal is the second biggest nesting ground in the world, where thousands of Olive Ridley turtles come to lay their millions of eggs in the black sand. When we arrived there were already hundreds of turtles on the beach with more still arriving, apparently a few hours later the beach would be so full, there'd be no room for us!

Around 60cm in length and with their shells weighing up to 40 kilos, a lot of the turtles seemed to be panting from the effort, taking regular rests as they made their way up the beach, leaving tractor-like marks in the sand. With so many of them on the beach, there were moving boulder like shapes as far as the eye could see. I was told that they have a one track mind, with the mums-to-be solely focused on digging their hole, laying around 100 eggs, camouflaging the nest and then heading back out to sea.

They use their powerful flippers to drag themselves up the beach and then to dig their nest, I got accidentally flicked with a flipperful from quite a distance, so can appreciate how much sand they're shifting! It's all a lot of work for the turtles and once laid the eggs are then in grave danger vultures, stray dogs, poachers and other careless turtles. Considering only a small proportion of the baby turtles will make it out into the ocean, when they hatch around 45 days later, it's obvious why these beautiful animals are endangered.

No sooner had the sun set, the wind picked up and it started to bucket with rain. All the onlookers (carefully) rushed back to their vehicles and made a quick getaway, in case the streams across the roads turned into rivers on the route home. It was a shame to leave the turtles so soon, but as it's wet season we'd been lucky to have the time we did to revel in the sight.

After the excitement in Sámara, yet another (definitely my last!) whistlestop visit through San Jose is now required, before I fly up to the new sights and sounds of Guatemala tomorrow.
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