Monday, 28 December 2015

Costa Rica - Bahia Drake

A Southern Pacific Coast Adventure! Ten days near the Panama Border: ecotourism and sea turtle volunteering project.
View from Tranquilo Lodge Cabinas
Destination? Drake Bay, Costa Rica
Travel Mode? Air United flight from New York City to San Jose, Land Taxi and boat from Playa Tortuga to Bahia Drake, Air Returned on Nature Air flight from Drake Bay to San Jose
Time spent here? 10 days
Month? August
Stayed for? 3 days at Tranquilo Lodge, 7 days in homestay with a family

Quite a variety of sunset colours ... perfect to try out my new DSLR!
As you can see, the Drake Bay vista is incredible.

I spent my first 3 days here at the Tranquilo Lodge, for some much needed R&R. I was a bit like a "test guest', I stayed at the Lodge before its official opening to the public and for some of the time had the resort completely to myself!
I stayed in one of the Deluxe Cabinas at the top of the hill overlooking Drake Bay. The cabinas have a private hilltop pool and bar so you can really make the most of sunset and sunrise (if you fancy waking up before 5AM on vacation). I ate 3 meals a day at the lodge, which all featured a variety of fresh produce. I would also highly recommend Ana the masseuse. After 2 weeks living in the jungle before arriving at Tranquilo, this was my first ever massage and it was heavenly.

Private pool overlooking Drake Bay

I then moved further around the bay to join the sea turtle volunteering project for 7 days with the Corcovado Foundation. I undertook night patrols almost every night, which involves walking down to the beach at around 11PM, and patrolling the coast line for around 4 hours. It is an incredible experience but not as easy as I expected it to be! Walking on sand is tiring during the day, but felt even more so at night. This is all made very much worthwhile when a sea turtle arrives on the beach to lay eggs.

From my experience, the egg laying process could take over an hour, as the turtle may take a long time choosing the perfect spot! It's extremely important that during this time the turtle is protected from poachers. I didn't encounter any poachers during my time at Drake Bay and I felt very safe there at night. There is a strong community in El Progreso and many people in the village also volunteered with us on turtle patrols. Beach patrols in general, however, are not without their threats. Incidents (some fatal) are reported every year, in clashes between poachers and those attempting to protect the nesting turtles.

Sea turtle eggs are enjoyed as a delicacy particularly by the elder generation of Costa Ricans. A fundamental part of the work of the Corcovado Foundation involves education in the local community, as well as providing a viable employment alternative to poaching.

Unfortunately I don't have any photos from the beach at night as we couldn't scare the nesting turtles! Here's a tiny section of the kilometres of coastline we patrolled.

It was an exhausting experience but could not have been much more rewarding. Each nest a turtle lays safely can hatch around 100 baby turtles. This is something I have always wanted to do, and I would love to volunteer with sea turtles again in the future.

I spent a month travelling the Costa Rican Pacific coast. If you are planning to visit Costa Rica and have any questions, feel free to ask.

With love, Tania xo

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