Exploring the Wild – Puerto Limon

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Puerto Limon or Limon (meaning lemon in Spanish) is the capital city and main hub of the county of Limon in Costa Rica and is home to several species of indigenous wildlife.

Limon is one of the lush regions of Costa Rica with the Talamanca Mountains on the south and has a 125 mile shoreline between Nicaragua and Panama that was first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502. The second largest city in Costa Rica and the home of the Afro-Costa Rican community, Limon is a port city that is best known for its amazing rainforests that is best explored on boat and by a walk through its secondary rain forests.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Mangrove Musings

The best place to start your exploration of the region is to head to the Tortuguero Canals that are reachable via a boat tour from the embarkation points at Moin. Here you can hire a covered boat that will take you along a 45 minute ride through the mangroves laden canals that are abuzz with birdsong and animal hoots. Being in the Caribbean region this is an area that has a rich biodiversity and offers numerous photo-ops. Of course hiring a guide is a must because the wildlife here is completely camouflaged in the pristine environs and will need an expert eye to be identified. The primary vegetation here is tropical palms, mangroves and sturdy trees with water lilies and water hyacinth that floats on the water. If you are lucky this is the place where you can spot the sloth a tree dwelling arboreal mammal that is known for its slow movements. There are essentially two kinds of sloth – the two toed and the three toed, which you can see from the claws on their front limbs. They tend to eat the leaves of the trees they cling on to and are usually found hanging upside down. They are usually in the same position and barely move as they take a long time to digest their food which makes them lethargic and sleepy most of the time. Interestingly they carry their babies on their stomach as well, which is a fantastic sighting here. As the boat chugs along the canal, you will see several species of birds that may be hard to photograph including kingfishers and egrets. This place is also home to the Great Blue Heron, whose eye has a distinctive yellow hue and has a white head. Look carefully and you can also spot the Iguana, again its green and brown body which completely merges with the tree it perches on so keep a watch for the tail that is usually hanging below. Another species that is seen here is the fisher bat that helps in pollination so keep an eye out for that near the bridge at one end of the canal.

Three toed Sloth
Three toed Sloth

Rainforest Walk

Once done with the boat ride, take a guided walk into the periphery of the rain forest. Here there is a proper path that is made so that you can explore the flora and fauna at close quarters. Among the first things to see here are the varieties of heliconia flowers that are blooming in all shades of yellow, red, pink and orange. This is also banana country (Costa Rica being the second largest producer in the world) and there are plantations that you see everywhere. Cacao trees are also seen in abundance here and you can observe how the bean grows along the branch of the plant as opposed to the stem. Break open a ripe fruits and you can see the cacao beans covered with a slimy looking texture which is edible but tastes nothing like chocolate. In fact when you eat the seeds they have no taste at all. In the walk you can also spot a lot of birds including the great tailed gackle and jacanas. At the end of the walk you are treated to tropical fruits and lemonade and it is but impossible to admire the bounty of the landscape here.

Iguana
Iguana

Fact File

  • Limon is a popular port destination and port of call for almost all the cruise ships. You can also check www.ncl.com for ships that call here.
  • While US Dollars work well, keep small currency handy and check in advance if the store will return change in USD or local currency.
  • Pick up Costa Rican cacao beans, chocolates and RainForest Alliance Certified coffee as souvenirs.

This story first appeared in The New Indian Express Sunday Magazine dated Mar 31 2019 here:

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