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“Really cool experience!”
Review of Rio San San

Rio San San
Attraction details
Reviewed 7 April 2010

How cool, I didn't think there would be a place on tripadvisor for this tour!
I did the manatee tour in May of 2009. I was volunteering in Gandoca and every Sunday on our day off we'd head over to Changuinola for food and internet (easier to get to than Puerto Viejo, plus it's cheaper!) One of our taxi drivers told us about the manatee tours, and one day we decided to give it a try.
Tip #1: call ahead! The people at the AAMVECONA office were nice but they weren't too happy that we decided to just show up out of the blue (we also had to wait about 30 minutes for a boat to come) So, if you can, call ahead! If I remember correctly the tour was around $20 - $25.
When the boat arrived the three of us that were going hopped in and rode straight to the look-out dock (I think the tour takes you other places, like the volunteer station, but we didn't have time for that, as we still had to head to Changuinola and be back to Costa Rica before the border closed). On the way there our boat driver stopped to show us a mother and baby sloth (cuuute) and a snake hidden in a tree branch.
When we arrived at the look-out there was a person waiting for us (I think he worked for AAMVECONA, I can't remember) He lowered the plants and bananas to almost water level and we sat and waited!
Tip #2: BRING BUG SPRAY. Wear pants if you can, no matter how hot it is. The sandflies were KILLER and there is no where to go! And the manatees can take a while (see tip #3) so you will be miserable if you don't bring bug spray. As turtle volunteers we weren't allowed to wear bug spray but we were used to it, so we didn't bother, not knowing... not kidding, the WORST sand fly experience I came across while in Panama/Costa Rica. Wouldn't have been bad at all if we had had bug spray...
Tip #3: Be prepared to wait! We waited about an hour and a half for the manatees to show up. You aren't guaranteed to see them but if you are patient you will usually be rewarded. We waited, and they came - and it was amazing! The water is murky so you won't have a perfectly clear view of them, but you could still see them in the water and they were super cute when they came up to eat the bananas and leaves. It was a really cool experience, especially since I've only seen manatees at SeaWorld...seeing them in their natural habitat was awesome.
I would 100% recommend this tour but whether or not you will enjoy yourself depends on the type of experience you are looking for and your expectations - you won't be able to see the manatees perfectly, and you might have to wait a while (bring a book, haha). Personally though, I'm glad I did it.. it was great!

4  Thank burnthiscity
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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6 - 10 of 13 reviews

Reviewed 24 July 2008

we did not take the yellow bus from Guabito into Changuinola direct. We got off at the half way point on the bridge over the Rio San San. You should DEFINITELY do this! Enter the office of AAMVECONA upstairs and tell the guy in Spanish that you want a boat to take you to the PLATFORM. He will wake up the boat captain (as they only get 2 or 3 requests per month) and charge you $70/boat plus $5/person with a maximum of 10 people per boat. Please email ahead if you know you are coming on a specific date to [--]. You will put on your life jacket and enter the boat to go down the Rio San San into the San San Pond Sak HUMEDAL (wetlands area). On this river there will be crocodiles, but also the largest population of Manatees (72 of them) in Central America. The Captain and your guide will take you down river to their cabin on the Caribbean (mouth of San San) where you can watch several 20 year old volunteer females digging in the beach for eggs that didn’t hatch and escorting the baby tortoises as they hatch to the water (with the shade from their body). These babies are so cute and I have some pics of them if you want. You can also buy but the only drinks they have are: coffee, warm water and fresh Coconut water from the coconut.

After a brief stop here to visit the tortoises on the beach, you will reboard your boat to go to THE PLATFORM. This deep jungle patform is very cool. The boat guide will hang fresh Bananas and banana leaves from overhanging branches so they are below the platform and at the water surface. This will become Manatee food in about 30-60 minutes. Then the Captain of your motorized canoe will drive under some overhanging branches and place you at the ladder to the platform (deep in the jungle so bring tons of mosquito spray and sunblock). Once the captain turns off his motor, the Manatees will circle around for a while and eventually come to eat your Bananas. On the day we were there, the rain had flooded the river 2 days before so the river was very high. Thus the water was dirty and we only saw noses and branches being tugged on. But usually, the water is clear and you can see their bodies while they eat.

After that we returned to the main office and said goodbye to the boat captain and guide to reboard the yellow bus toward Changuinola on the bridge for another 70 cents.

6  Thank mtrinko
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 weeks ago
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Reviewed 3 April 2017
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Reviewed 8 May 2015 via mobile
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