Many adventure and nature destinations around the world offer nighttime tours to nature reserves. Atlantida is no exception, and you can enjoy a nighttime croc tour in Punta Izopo National Park. This is one of the National Parks in Tela. Because of its timing, this tour allows you to see, both the daytime and the nighttime wildlife that live in this National Park. Garifuna Tours, one of the local tour operators in Tela offers this unique experience. They are also one of the few tour operators in town with the Atlantida Calidad Turistica badge, which ensures a great service!
The departure point is at the local Garifuna Tours office, which is next to the Lancetilla River in Tela. Departure is promptly at 4 pm, so make sure you are there a few minutes before. If you are in a downtown hotel you can arrange to have them pick you up at your hotel. The departure time will allow you to arrive at Punta Izopo with light to see the wildlife that is active during the daylight hours. Then you will enjoy a magnificent sunset and finally, see the nighttime wildlife start its activity after dusk. This is an interactive tour. By this I mean you will have to paddle your own sit on top kayak. You may choose between a one or a two-person boat. If you feel insecure on your own, ask the guide to accompany you in your boat. He will gladly help you out!
Our nighttime croc tour in Punta Izopo adventure begins with daylight. Chances of seeing monkeys are very good at this time of the day. I was fortunate to hear and see some howler monkeys. They live on the mangrove forest canopy that surrounds the lagoon and wetlands of Punto Izopo National Park. They were aggressively howling, with the intent of scaring us away. Instead of scaring us, the guided us to the area within one of the mangrove canals where they were and saw them up close! I am not a birder, but I must say that we saw many different birds that seemed to be getting ready for nighttime. Many were residents, but there were also many migratory species who are here to escape the cold winters up north. These will be on the way back home soon, as spring and summer are just around the corner!
It was interesting how everything changes as soon as it gets dark in the swamps. Since we have an almost full moon tonight, it was not pitch black. But it is certainly spooky as we paddle along the dark mangrove canals. We get our flashlights out, to help us spot the crocodiles. One of the experiences that this nighttime croc tour in Punta Izopo offers is to spot the alligators. When you flash your light on them, their spooky red eyes glow back at you! When you know that these large reptiles can grow as long as 15 feet, you can feel very insecure when you see their eyes glowing at you! We never saw one that was over 7 feet, but in the dark, they seem huge! Fortunately, they just lay quietly on the swamp shores or on large trunks just over the water.
Navigating these canals in silence was quite an experience. The monkeys and the birds had gone to sleep. We could only hear the noise of the water as we used our paddles to propel ourselves through the canals. It was quite nerve racking to know that we were so close to the crocs and we could not see them, and they could see us! I literally could feel their eyes gazing on me as I paddled through the narrow and spooky canals! This nighttime croc tour in Punta Izopo National Park is really a unique experience! In addition to the crocs, the bats were very active as soon as it became dark. They were all flying around in search of insects to eat. How they can find an insect to eat in the dark and with no eyes is beyond me!
By the time the tour ended, and we were back in Tela, by 8 pm. I felt drained from the excitement of navigating through croc infested waters! I hurried back to my hotel for a shower and then was ready for a good dinner to share the experience with the new friends that I met during the tour. We agreed to meet for dinner at the new Italian restaurant in town: Carmina Street Food. There, while we enjoyed a great dinner and sipped a glass of wine, we chatted and exchanged emotions about the unique experience we had just lived! This nighttime tour in Punta Izopo was well worth it!