02 Costa Rica Rainforest(1993) The tropical rainforests contain most of the earth's animal and plant species, almost every day a new insect species or plant is discovered, and most of our medicine comes from there. In addition to the animal and plant life there is a marvellous and beautiful world of life in the rivers and canals which crisscross the rainforest. In Costa Rica and Nicaragua you experience an exotic and colourful fish life with fish conceivable variety and size. Even saltwater fish move in and hunt in the rivers and canals at high tide. Sharks and jacks are often caught far up in the rivers, as with playful dolphins and huge green sea turtles.

In mid-March, Claus and I arrived in Tortuguero, known for both its rainforest reserve with the sea turtles' favourite spawning beaches. We stayed on a small island, which is formed by the canals running parallel to the sea being crossed by rivers flowing into the sea, thereby forming a kingdom of elongated islands along the Caribbean coast and a network-like water system that extends far into the rainforest. The village of Tortuguero is an idyllic paradise of palm trees, beautifully flowering trees, a jumble of small paths with cottages and small intimate eateries where the food is as lovely as the surroundings. And on the other side of the wide canal lies the rainforest in all its splendour and might.06 Costa Rica Rainforest

It is possible to rent tour guides and motor boats, but we did not feel that a noisy speedboat would be optimal in the narrow canals, so we hired a local guy named Jim to paddle us around in his dugout wooden canoe. It turned out to be the right decision, for the other tourists from Tortuguero had not experienced a fraction of the wildlife we ​​got to see. Besides, we would also hate to scare away what we were there for, the fish...

When you paddle around in the canals with the overwhelming jungle vegetation and the exceptional wildlife, there is wonderful peace of mind, but just as you are deep in trance, everything breaks into chaos when a giant tarpon takes up the hunt for small fish and sends cascades of water to all sides.
20 Costa Rica RainforestAlthough tarpon is one of the ultimate fish to catch, we made a greater effort here to catch the other species. On ultra light gear and small brightly coloured spinners with a feather duster on the treble hook, we caught all sorts of strange and interesting fish that were guaranteed to blow the mind of any serious aquarium enthusiast. Several species of cichlids weighing up to 1 kg in the most beautiful colours imaginable attacked the small spinners furiously when we fished all the way in between tree roots and under overhanging palm leaves. They suddenly came rushing out after the bait in the clear water, and often the whole family participated in the hunt. The local names for the cichlids are "mojara" and "guapote", respectively.

One of the most exciting fish to catch over there is called in the local language "machacha". It most resembles a chub or ide in colour, size and body shape, but here the comparison stops. The machacha is a true jump master similar to tarpon, and additionally it is equipped with teeth of piranha calibre. We had a lot of hair-raising fights with these toothy acrobats, and we managed to catch a couple of serious sizes of about 3 kg, which is considered pretty big in the area.54 Costa Rica Rainforest

At the mouth of the river to the Caribbean Sea, we encountered a slightly different variety of species such as snook (very much similar to zander) and triple-tail (seabass/seaperch species). Snook can weigh up to 25-30 kg and is a favourite of the American anglers. Triple-tail on the other hand is a little more unknown among anglers, but they leave nothing behind when it comes to fight. This prehistoric-looking perch species, with its giant fins, fights furiously, which gives the fisherman more than plenty to handle on standard pike or carp gear. We were lucky to land two beautiful specimens of about 10 kg, which then ended up in the pots to everyone's enjoyment. We were told that these fish can reach weights of around 20 kg.

Amongst alligators and caimans, toucans, howler monkeys, large green iguanas, poisonous coral snakes, tiny hummingbirds and giant metallic blue butterflies, one cannot help but stop once in a while and assure oneself that it is reality.

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