Damas Island vs. Tarcoles Croc tours

Jun 29th, 2008, 01:02 PM
  #1  
RAC
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Damas Island vs. Tarcoles Croc tours

We've heard very good things about both tours, but they seem like they might be a bit redundant. Has anyone done both?
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Jun 29th, 2008, 02:03 PM
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Sorry, haven't done the Tarcoles Croc tour, but I would assume the focus of that one would be to provide sightings of actual crocodiles. While there's a chance you may see crocs on the Damas tour, they don't seem to be sighted there with the same frequency as on the Tarcoles river. We saw a few caiman on the Damas excursion, but no crocs.

I would expect there would be similarities in the scenery (mangrove ecosystem, etc...) and probably some monkey sightings and typical wetlands birds (egrets, anhingas, herons...) on both.

The Tarcoles runs along the boundary of Carara National Park, so you might luck out and spot some scarlet macaws there...
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Jun 29th, 2008, 02:39 PM
  #3  
RAC
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cmerrell:

Did you enjoy the Damas tour? Was it worth the time/money? Is it anything we wouldn't have seen at Cano Negro?
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Jun 29th, 2008, 02:50 PM
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There was some similarity between Cano Negro and Damas, although the waterways we explored on the Damas trip were narrower and the whole forest was closer around the boat. I think there might have been different mangrove species involved as well.

We definitely saw more wildlife in Cano Negro, which is always a big selling point for me. Of course, you can't predict what you will or won't see anywhere; animals don't appear on cue!

I would say if you're trying to narrow it down to just one river excursion, choose Cano Negro and go with a good company like Sunset or Aventura. You'll have a terrific time! Damas was certainly enjoyable, but it wasn't the same high point that Cano Negro was (for me, anyway).

If you do decide to do a Damas tour, try to find a company that doesn't feed the cappuchin monkeys! It seems to be a fairly common practice around MA to do this. Although it provides amazing photo ops for the tourists, it really is not in the monkey's best interest. Okay, stepping off the soapbox now...

Hope this helps.
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Jun 29th, 2008, 04:36 PM
  #5  
RAC
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We've actually already done Cano Negro--this will be our second trip to CR.

Hmm. Back to the drawing board.
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Jun 29th, 2008, 07:02 PM
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Did you visit MA on your last trip, or will this be new territory for you? Maybe that info will help people make some good suggestions.

I guess one question to consider is how much did you enjoy Cano Negro? If you really liked it, another river/mangrove tour will probably fit the bill nicely for you. Damas was very pleasant, but we did it just a few days after Cano Negro, so it was hard not to draw comparisons. We saw tons of wildlife at Cano Negro and a more moderate amount at Damas. We still enjoyed it though...

And that's not to say that you won't see a lot more than we did at Damas. Unfortunately, there's just no way to predict it! If there was, I would have seen a big cat (ocelot, puma, jaguar...) by now!

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Jun 30th, 2008, 04:36 AM
  #7  
RAC
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We really liked Cano Negro--tons of monkeys, caimans, etc etc.

Isn't the wildlife closer on the Damas tour?

This will be our first trip to MA.
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Jun 30th, 2008, 08:27 AM
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Many of the waterways were narrower so that you could practically reach out and touch the Mangrove roots in some sections. There were little crabs crawling all over the roots which was pretty neat to see. Other wildlife included caiman, iguanas, racoons, and some nice birds like tiger herons and kingfishers. The most unusual thing we saw was a little silky anteater that was sleeping in a tree (it was very small and sort of hard to see, but still cool to know it was there).

We had a very personal encounter with a troop of cappuchins right on the boat with us! This was because our guide did bring some bananas for them. I can't deny that it was very cool to see them that closely, but I did feel a bit badly about it afterwards because I know it's not good for wild animals and people to interact like that. Our guide was a really nice young man who obviously loved the wildlife of his country, so I bear him no ill will. Just felt a bit wrong about the whole monkey experience afterwards...

Overall, the tour was very relaxing and serene with pretty scenery. I do have some photos online if you'd like to check them out:

www.cmerrell.smugmug.com

I can't link directly to the first photo for some reason, but if you click on my Travel gallery, the Damas photos are located under Costa Rica: December 2006. They are photos #178 thru #183.

There are also various photos of MA park in the gallery... And you should be able to get some good wildlife sightings there (monkeys, sloths, coatis, bats, birds, etc...)

Let me know if you have additional questions about Damas, I'll answer to the best of my ability!
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Jun 30th, 2008, 09:05 AM
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RAC, you may already know this, but if you stop at the Rio Tarcoles, it's really easy to see the crocs. Just have someone stay with your stuff to be safe. We easily saw 15 crocs just by looking down off the bridge. I've read reviews of the croc tours, and a lot of them feed chicken to the crocs, which is a no-no.
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Jun 30th, 2008, 09:40 AM
  #10  
RAC
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Volcanogirl:

We stopped by the Tarcoles bridge the last time we went. But, we were hoping to get a closer look at them. For better worse, after seeing them I was almost obsessed with seeing them again.

I understand the concerns about the croc feeding. On the other hand, the only reason the crocs are tolerated in that area is because they're a tourist draw. So, I definitely have mixed feelings about it.
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Jun 30th, 2008, 10:04 AM
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We did a tour the Damas Tour by kayak. This is a different experience than the motorized trips. We really enjoyed it and would do it again.
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Jun 30th, 2008, 10:33 AM
  #12  
RAC
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I thought about doing the Damas kayak tour. My two concerns were:

1) We wouldn't be able to take many photos--our camera isn't waterproof;

and

2) It looks like it could get really sticky, hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable, given the heat and humidity. Is this unfounded?
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