Continuing down the pacific coast towards the Panamanian border we are now at a town called Uvita. Well hardly a town just a few restaurants, and places to stay strung out along the road leading to the Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, which is the reason we are here. We are staying at a lovely little apartment we found on Airbnb behind a very nice complex called Plaza Bahia Moana, with a great little cafe restaurant called Le French Cafe who serve lovely food and has really lovely staff.
Marino Ballena Park, (Ballena is Spanish for whale) was created to provide a safe haven for the migrating humpback whales who come to breed in the warmer tropical waters just off the coast. The whales migrate down from the west coast of America and southern British Columbia which is where they feed. Unfortunately for us the best time to see them is between June and November so we were out of luck. In a way though we are quite glad, because as well as the restaurants and accommodation along the road there are quite a few places where you can book a whale spotting tour, with lots of dormant boats by the side waiting for the season to start. I can only presume in the height of the whale spotting season there will be lots of these boats out on the water, full of tourists chasing the whales around just to get a photo. Which is something we both don’t agree with. We declined to do this in Sri Lanka because of the same reason.
I have to mention how friendly and helpful the Costa Rican people are, everyone we have met have been lovely. When we walked down to the park entrance to see where we had to go for our visit, a local man who was selling his driftwood carvings called us over and and took us to the edge of a small stream and pointed out a female Caiman and her babies. He didn’t want any money he was just pleased to show them to us.
Uncannily the park is shaped like a whale tail, which can be seen at low tide (See Photo) which I didn’t take incidentally. This is caused by two converging currents that when meet, push the sand up and create a walkway to another sand bar that runs across like the letter T, hence the name whale tail. The picture will explain a lot better than I can.
The whale tail can only be seen at low tide, so it’s best to check out tide times for the day of you visit. Entrance fee to the park is $6 dollars per person and you can come and go as many times as you like on the same day.
The walk to the viewing point of the whale tale involves crossing a water inlet which when we crossed to get to the viewpoint it was just over ankle deep. Once at the whale tail there is a path which goes off into a mangrove where hopefully you will spot some wildlife (we didn’t incidentally). Also there were a few signs warning you of crocodiles, slightly worrying. All the same it was a nice walk but extremely hot and humid. The path exits where we had previously crossed the inlet, but the river was much wider and the water was much deeper as the tide was coming in. We watched where other people were crossing and followed them. Hanging on to each other we gingerly crossed, the water was much deeper than previously. We had no alternative but to carry on as we had to cross to exit the park, this is when I managed to find a deep hole and went over and nearly under. With my rucksack full of expensive cameras and equipment and my iPhone in my pocket I thought the worse. Thankfully my iPhone being the latest model is advertised as being waterproof up to 6 metres for 30 minutes. Thankfully I did not descend 6 metres and I wasn’t under for 30 minutes, but a quick dunk for about 10 seconds and all was well. Also thanks to my good quality Osprey rucksack my cameras and lenses were fine. Panic over.