Costa Rica is an amazing country for bird watching tours, adventure activities, and many beaches to explore. If you like to see many river birds and crocodiles, Tarcoles River is an excellent place to go.
The Jungle Crocodile Safari tour provides loads of information about the Tarcoles river birds and crocodiles. Located on the 3rd largest river in the country, Tarcoles River is in close proximity to Playa Jaco or Herradura.. The river starts in San Jose and follows all the way to the Pacific Ocean. We’ve cruise many times on the river with various tour companies, but our favorite is the Jungle Crocodile Safari Company.
Tarcoles River Location
About the Tarcoles River
The river is very polluted so we wonder how the crocodiles and birds still survive. We’ve seen only one crocodile “Lady Gaga” who happens to have a tumor on her head. Costa Rica is helping to clean up the rivers from pollution.
Along the river banks you will probably see horses or cows from the fields nearby. Sometimes they will venture down into the shallow area. Most of the time they are safe, but if they are in the territory of a crocodile than it’s a good possibility of an attack.
Many river birds live here as well as migrate from other countries. I’ve seen the Magnificent Frigatebird, Little Blue Heron, Great Blue Heron, Tiger Heron, Snowy Egret & Great Egret every time I’m on this tour.
Along the bridge you will see many people stopped to look over at the crocodiles. Usually there is at least 25 or more at any given time. It can be very crowded on the bridge and the sidewalk is very narrow. From this area you will see crocodiles but probably not birds. I think it’s better to take the tour to see more.
The river is so popular even the National Geographic made a video in the past in this location. Many tour companies will stop by here for a view as well as locals.
In the above photo is a view of the Carara National Park located close by. Often you will see in the afternoon Scarlet Macaws flying from the park across this river.
Keep an eye out along the riverbank walls for holes. These are where you might find the iguanas. You might also see them sitting on rocks close to the dock or on top of logs along the river side.
Crocodiles in the Tarcoles River
The river hosts around 1500-2000 crocodiles. Here you will see American Crocodiles ranging from a few feet to sixteen feet in length. Crocodiles can live a long time and continue to keep growing in size. Below is one of the largest crocs on the river. Your guides will try to spot this one for you and get as close as possible so you can have a photo just like this.
Facts about crocodiles
Female crocodiles will lay about 60 eggs in a nest. Of these sixty about 1 will survive. Many are eaten by other crocs as well as the Tiger Heron. The temperature of the nest will determine which sex will be born. Higher temperatures will product females and low temperatures males.
Crocodiles have more of a U shaped snout and only canine teeth. They can also hold their breath underwater for about 1-2 hours. This is why the guides may not always be able to spot certain ones. Since crocodiles are very territorial it does help to find their location.
To keep cool and regulate their body temperatures you will see them resting on the riverbanks with their mouths wide open because they have no sweat glands. Crocodiles can live up to about 100 years or more depending on the environment.
The crew is what makes this tour special. From the owner Claudia to the guides & drivers of the boat. Everyone tries to offer the best experience possible for their guests. You will certainly learn lots if you listen closely as I have over the last several years. Hansel pictured above provides you will so much information about Costa Rica, the wildlife on the river and the crocodiles.
The Jungle Crocodile Safari is now offering photos done by a professional photographer in case you forgot your camera. A sample is pictured above.
What we like about the tour
Claudia the owner is always making improvements to her building. Just last October 2017 Costa Rica had Tropical Storm Nate ripe through parts of the country. Claudia’s building was damage beyond repair. The boats were safely store down river in the mangrove area until the river returned to normal.
Since this devastation a new building has been made, sidewalks to the riverboats are complete, and the building itself has nice washroom facilities. You can still see the damage from the storm in their old location as you glide down the river.
Our favorite guides are Hansel and Wilky. You will learn a lot about the river, Costa Rica, and the birds so make sure you listen up. I’ve been on this tour many times and haven’t been disappointed once in fact I usually learn something new each time.
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