By: Anjelica Veca
Although Rosie, our tour guide, had warned us about the alligators and crocodiles in the river, the temptation to dip my hand in the water won out. After all, the name of the river is Río Frío (Cold River)—I just had to see if the river lived up to its name! Turns out, the water wasn’t very cold at all and I pulled my hand back out before any crocodiles could come nibble on my fingers. I was happy, though; even in the rain, the Costa Rican wildlife tour was absolutely stunning.
We were escorted onto the little riverboat by Rosie, who owns and operates the nature tour along with her husband. She was wonderful: warm and open, instantly engaging, friendly and extremely knowledgeable about all of the plant and animal life we encountered along the river. She was aided by her coworker Pancho, who captained the boat. He was incredible in his own right, whistling to the birds as we passed, drawing them out of the foliage so they would be more visible to our untrained eyes, sharing tidbits about each species that only a true bird lover would take the time to learn. It was a wonderful experience and I am so happy I could live it.
Despite the rain, we saw a variety of fauna, including monkeys, iguanas, alligators, a wide variety of bird species, and one very lost looking bull.
The plant life along the riverbank was also impressive and what most captured my attention and satisfied my sense of whimsy were the towering trees whose roots had formed an intricate weave as they grew and stretched down the bank. Tolkien-inspired imaginings flashed through my mind as we stopped to admire these grand tropical giants, and I suddenly felt very young next to these ancient river guardians.
I passed the tour alternating between rapt attention, utter fascination, whimsical musings, and hearty laughter. I completely forgot that I was on a riverboat tour; the environment we had created within our group made it feel like we were a bunch of friends spending the afternoon on the river. It was a really relaxing and fun way to see yet another Costa Rican ecological treasure: Caño Negro (roughly translated: Black Channel), whose name originated from the crystalline waters and black sediment of its riverbed. Today, the river is more café con leche (coffee with milk) than black, due to a manmade canal which inadvertently allowed Río Frío to mix with Caño Negro, darkening its waters and obscuring the visibility of the river’s trademark black riverbed. This doesn’t take away from the stunning array of foliage and wildlife, however, as both managed to continue thriving in the river despite the inadvertent mixing.
We finished up the tour and headed back to the main land where a delicious lunch awaited us. The bus took us home, well-fed, newly educated, and all smiles. It was a wonderful afternoon for everyone.
Recommended for this tour:
*The river boat is covered, but you may want to apply sunscreen to your shoulders and forearms, especially if you’re sitting along the edge of the boat.
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