We were greeted Christmas morning to a very overcast sky and scattered showers. I admit I was a little bit grateful as the forecast for high temp dropped by about five degrees(f). Our excursion today was to take us on a short walk in the rain forest, followed by a canal cruise then a drive through the city back to the ship. We were again instructed to bring a government photo ID, and our vaccination card (or photo of it). This time, however, they had someone just off the ship who took photos of our vaccination records.
I came armed with a full bottle of mosquito repellent as mosquitos just love me (sadly). I had husband spray me down, then I offered the bottle to anyone else who might not have thought to bring some. I had a few takers out of the group!
The walk was uphill, steep, but not overly so, and we were moving at a slow pace in order to look for wildlife. However, I have to add that the path was covered with rocks, leaves, and protruding roots and, being a rain forest, it was all wet, which of course made it slippery. On the way back down the hill one lady from the tour slipped and landed on her back. Fortunately she wasn’t hurt, but I did hear later in the cruise that a woman on another rain forest walk fell and broke her leg. So if you consider this excursion, please wear sturdy shoes and use caution.
We were not far along the walk when our guide spotted poisonous tree frogs. Beautiful in color, green with black spots. He actually nudged it out from under a leaf so we could get some pictures. A little further on the walk, we came across a few more, and then even more. They were found in abundance under a large growth of bamboo.
The bamboo was amazing and grows in abundance here. They are quite impressive in size and shape of the stalks. I’ve included a picture with my hand in front of one of the stalks – and note I do have large hands.
As we continued to walk up the hill, someone shouted the word many of us were hoping to hear ….. S-L-O-T-H!! Excitement abound as everyone looked for the sloth that had been spotted above in the tree. I saw it! And it was moving around in the tree! Even our guide was excited about this as he says it is often hard to spot them so high up. He guessed the sloth might have been moving around to either dry off a little, or find a better position for any additional rain. It was really a neat experience to see the sloth in its natural habitat.
I wasn’t able to get a picture of it as it was partially hidden behind a large branch, but slightly above the sloth and on the far side of the tree was a vulture. Our guide mentioned, when it took flight, that it was actually a King Vulture and he added they are quite rare to see. I really wish I had been able to get a picture. When it took flight, its wing span was amazing!
After some time spent taking pictures and watching the sloth we continued on for a couple more minutes then headed back down the hill. When almost back down, we stopped at a fork in the trail and there were facilities to use before getting back on the bus and heading for the canal ride. I added mention of facilities because some folks do wonder if there are places available on tours. We couldn’t have timed it more perfectly. No sooner than we got back on the bus, it began raining. he bus ride took a few minutes and took us past their Chiquita Banana facility.
The place we parked and got off the bus had some beautiful flowers planted around. There was a trail to the boat, lined with beautiful tropical plants and flowers. Our guide also pointed out a not so pretty (in my opinion) side of nature, a couple of decent sized spiders. Ick!
Fortunately, the boats were covered as the rain continued. The seats were hard metal, but they did have life jackets placed on the seat backs to help with a little comfort. We all boarded the boat and before we could even pull away from the dock, old eagle eyes (I believe it was the same woman that spotted the sloth on the walk), spotted a sloth moving around a lot in the tree across the canal. We ended up sitting there for a couple of minutes and this guy was very active, climbing from branch to branch, front and back and at one point almost looked like it did a little swing. Again, amazing, just amazing! And then off we went!
Both our guide, and the driver of the boat were on the lookout as well for wildlife. The canal cruise was only about 40 minutes I believe, and we saw at least a half a dozen sloth along the way. Along with the sloth, we saw several birds, including a couple of types of heron.
There was a lot of talk along the way about alligators/crocodiles. It was mentioned they had Caiman there. A smaller version, with a little different color and head shape. Lo and behold we came upon …. yes, a caiman! Just sitting there on someone’s boat ramp! The home owner’s dog (fenced in on the front porch) was none too happy about this guy being there. But it sat there for a minute or so letting us take pictures, then it walked into the water and let us get some good pictures of it swimming near the boat! Pretty cool!
And last but not least, of the amazing creatures we saw along the way, were the iguanas. We even spotted what they call, a “Jesus Christ Iguana”. Sorry, not pictured, I was having problems getting a good view of him with my camera as they kept swinging the boat around so everyone could get a good view.. As our guide explained it, this is the iguana that you sometimes see in videos running across the water – hence their nick name for it (because Jesus walked on water). Such beautiful color on these green iguanas, and they were not easy to spot as they blended in with the greenery around them all too well!
When the canal cruise was over, they had a small container of fresh fruit for us. There was also a stand where you had a small selection of souvenirs to choose from. Then it was back to the bus. There were facilities available here as well if anyone needed it.
Once back on the bus it was time to head back to the ship. At the port, they drop you near a shopping area that is a short walk from the ship. It is a bunch of little vendors with t-shirts, wood carvings, paintings on wood and other little things. Fortunately this area is covered by a large tent. This excursion was about four hours long in total and, like the other ports, was a morning excursion to beat the heat of the day. Then it was back onboard for more shipboard fun! At the end of the day, we returned to our cabin to find certificates for completing the Panama Canal transit the day before.