On the Caribbean coast, north-west of Costa Rica, Tortuguero national park stretches over 47,000 acres and people usually stay for 3 days as the wildlife and nature are truly exceptional. The region's greenery is so lush, furrowed by many canals, rivers and marshes, and this lushness is easily explained by some of the world's most abundant rainfall levels (200 in/year). Often called Costa Rica's Amazon jungle, this group of lakes allows no less than 2,000 plant species and 400 trees to be preserved. Early morning walks by the water turn out to be full of discoveries, with 57 amphibian species, 111 reptiles, 600 mammals and even more than 300 bird species hiding in the jungle and mangrove. Particularly walk along the secondary canals in order to get a better chance of seeing them all!
Open since 1975, Tortuguero National Park was originally created to protect green turtles, killed for their meat. Nowadays, they live peacefully and lay their eggs from July to October on the beaches, where the waves of the Atlantic ocean break. From February to June, leatherback turtles, the world's largest, lay their eggs (up to 120 eggs at once) in the moonlight. A small museum is dedicated to them in the village of Tortuguero.
From San Josť, the small aircraft will land after a mere half-hour flight on a track between the Atlantic Ocean and the main canal of Tortuguero. This is ideal for a first glimpse of the density and size of the tropical forest! Alternatively, there is a 3 hour drive, then a boat ride. The inevitable tour of the canals lasts approximately one and a half hours before getting to Tortuguero.
Boat tours with a guide from Tortuguero National Park (favour secondary canals); excursions through the jungle; a walk to the top of Cerro Tortuguero (500 ft) to see the forest and the ocean from the region's highest point; a visit, once you have seen the park, to Tortuguero's fishermen's village and the Caribbean Conservation Corporation's small museum, engaged in the protection of turtles.
Keep your eyes peeled: trees, plants, animals, insects and birds that you've never seen before can be discovered in Tortuguero National Park and outside it. Same thing on your night walk, if you want to see the turtles laying their eggs!
Do not hesitate, if you can, to leave your luggage in a safe place, in San Josť for example! Only take a strict minimum of things with you so you can be lighter in the heart of the jungle and not be bothered by valuables!
A dark night sky is necessary to see turtles laying their eggs on the beaches (outings are organised in the park's rangers).
Swimming in the Atlantic ocean isn't possible, even for surfers, because of the big waves, dangerous currents and presence of sharks.
The fruits offered by the surrounding nature.
Not much! You will find a few souvenirs in small shops and from sellers in the village of Tortuguero or at your lodge (wooden objects, low quality jewellery, etc.).
On the banks of the great canal and a few minutes' walk from ...
On the banks of the main canal and a few minutes from the entrance ...
Located on the edge of a wide canal and a few minutes away from ...
The Mawamba lodge has an access both to the beach on the Caribbean ...