The Mangroves of the Sierpe River, January 29

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Heron at the start of our trip

We had a great deal of difficulty arranging a tour to the Sierpe River mangroves today.  The hostel at which we are staying would only do the tour for a minimum of five, and no-one else here seemed to want to do it.  However, they were able to arrange it through another hotel, so at seven this morning we piled into the back of a one ton truck with a bunch of others  (they were going to the beach as well, but to catch a boat to take and leave them at the town of Puerto Sierpe).

Our boat showed up about 15 minutes after we’d arrived, but when they tried to land in the surf caught a wave and took on water.  So they circled around through the bay while they emptied the water before trying (and succeeding) to pick us up on their second attempt.

We went back to their hotel where we picked up six  fellow tourists and our guide, and then took a brief tour up the river by their hotel where we saw a number of different kinds of herons.a

Then we were off for a fifteen  minute ride across the ocean.  It was quite smooth, except where we had to cross the surf at the mouth of the river.  Here they had us put on lifejackets, and then the boat driver surfed us in excellently.

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Squirrel monkey

We saw many shorebirds — herons, egrets,  whimbrels — eating crabs on a mudflat near the mouth of the river as it was low tide.  Later on during the tour we saw many other birds, several troops of spider monkeys, a large american crocodile sunning itself on the bank, and another swimming in the river.  Later on we saw some long nosed bats, and a spectacled caiman.  We also saw a lot of iguanas.

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A boat on the Sierpe Riverr

We stopped for a break in the town of Puerto Sierpe.  In the town square they have huge round stone ball about four feet high.  No one seems to know the origin of these, but apparently there are many smaller ones, and another large one in this area.

On the way back we were hunting for a sloth since the other tourists wanted to see one.  Finally we found one high in a tree, and then we headed back at high speed.  As we crossed the surf we headed at full tilt between two large rocks.  It didn’t look very good with the breaking surf, but it was surprisingly flat white water between them.

The other tourists were surprised at how we got out of the boat when we got back to the beach.  They have a well made floating dock at their high class hotel in a sheltered cove. We just hopped out into the surf with our shorts rolled up as high as possible. Though we are now used to this method, they hadn’t seen it done before.  The boats back in to the sand, watch for and ride in on an incoming wave that is not too large,  raise their motor at the last minute, and then you hop out.

Tomorrow morning it will be an early start as we head to Sirena Station for our night in the jungle.

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