Introduction and History
Tortuguero National Park is located in Limon which is a province in Costa Rica. It was declared as a National Park in 1970 (Wikipedia). Tortuguero Park is only reachable by airplane or boat and hence, stays to date one of the wildest parks in Costa Rica because of lesser human alterations and interventions. Despite reaching difficulties, this park is still the 3rd most visited park in Costa Rica. The weather here at National Park stays mostly wet all year and gains approx. 250 inches of precipitation per year.
Location and Geography
Tortuguero National Park is located in the Northeastern Caribbean coast of the country and covers an area of approx. 77000 acres out of which around 52000 acres are in the Atlantic Ocean. The name Tortuguero comes from Spanish origin which means ‘Land of Turtles’ with the park taking this name from the neighboring town of the same name. Tortuguero town can only be visited through boats or small airplanes since there are no roads to lead there. The main source of income for town natives is tourism.
The area that the National Park holds now used to be an extensive network of volcanic islands. Later on, with the passage of time, alluvium soil filled in the cavities and the marshy islands were formed.
The word Tortuguero indicates the significance of turtle nesting at the site of National Park that mostly happens along the 20 miles long coastline of the park. There are a bunch of turtle species found here including Green Sea Turtles that were near to their extinction because of their hunting for different purposes.
Main Attractions and Activities
As the name indicates, the main attraction of this park is Turtles. There are several species of turtles that are found here out of which Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Loggerhead are notable. Turtles have nesting seasons here mainly in the months of March and October. The largest of the turtles are leatherbacks that can be around 2 meters in length and weigh approx. 700 kg (Adults) while most common of these species are green. Visitors can visit and see the turtles nesting but some restrictions are set and a certified guide needs to be taken along these walks.
Tortuguero has a network of beaches, lagoons, rivers, canals to attract people of varied tastes. These waters hold over 50 species of fish, hence making it a good spot for fishing. Like turtle nesting, in specific areas, there are some rules and regulations to be met for this sport as well. Dryland animals are also in abundance here and include different kinds of cats such as jaguars and puma as well as monkeys such as capuchin and spider monkey. So, wildlife enthusiasts will find a great time visiting Tortuguero National Park.
The park also holds attraction for bird fanatics as they are also found in plenty here with around 375 bird species. Some majestic birds that one may spot here are kingfishers and parrots. Different underwater species reported from this place include eels, bull sharks among many others. Hence, Tortuguero National Park is equally attractive for underwater animal explorers and bird lovers.
There are around 2200 species of plants other than around 400 species of trees in the National Park. Some species of grasses can also be found here hence, making Tortuguero National Park an equally wonderful spot for botanists or the public in general.
How to get to Tortuguero National Park
As mentioned before, Tortuguero National Park can only be accessed through aircraft or boats. But that doesn’t mean that you will have to fly hundreds of miles or row tens of kilometers. One can always travel to the nearest spot of the Park where roads can reach. In this specific matter, it is the dock at La Pavona. From San Jose, one can either hire a taxi or can travel through the bus for La Pavona via Guapiles. If you decide on traveling by bus, then you might have to change different busses to reach your destination.
- The approximate fare it will cost by bus is around $6-12 while it will cost around $100 if you decide on hiring a taxi for your personal reasons.
- The quickest way to travel all the way to Tortuguero from San Jose is by airplane. It will cost around $30-300 depending upon the season you choose to travel.
- In the rainy season, one will have to decide between traveling through boat or by air since not everyone would prefer boating in rain and others will not like to fly in rain. The aerial journey starts from San Jose International Airport and ends at Tortuguero Airport which also serves as the airport for the Tortuguero National Park.
- Tortuguero Park’s office remains open from 6 AM to 4 Pm, 7 days a week. The entrance fee for foreigners is different for kids and adults. It is $5 for kids and $15 for adults. For natives, the entrance fee ranges from ¢500-1000 (Costa Rican colons).
Hotels and Restaurantes
Accommodation resources are available in Tortuguero village. According to booking.com, Cabinas Icaco Tortuguero and La Casona de Tortuguero are two well-rated hotels in Tortuguero. Both of them feature basic facilities such as family rooms and free Wi-Fi in most of the hotel area. Hotel Cabinas Icaco is located at the beach of Tortuguero National Park while La Casona is 400 m away from the National Park and is located in the Tortuguero Village.
A number of restaurants are available in the vicinity of the National Park out of which Mi Nino and Donde Richard are rated 1st and 2nd respectively on tripadvisor.com. Both of the hotels are vegetarian friendly and offer meals such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Tortuguero National Park holds a special attraction for those who want to see nature up-close. As said before, this Park is one of the wildest parks in Costa Rica holding numerous species of underwater, dryland animals as well as birds and turtles in particular. So, all these facts make Tortuguero National Park a must-see spot for visitors.