Tortuguero is located within a conservation area on the north side of the Limon province in Costa Rica.
The national park is considered to be one of the most visited parks in the country, this in despite the fact that it can only be reached by boat (The park is connected to Limon through a series of canals and rivers) or by plane.
The park is incredibly rich when it comes to its biological diversity, and the main reason for this is the existence of 11 habitats, which includes Lagoons, Swamps, Rainforest, and Beaches, all of which form the unique scenic beauty of this place.
Tortuguero is famous because this is the place where many turtles lay their eggs every year.
But the practice of harvesting such eggs spread among the locals back in the 50’s; and in order to protect the turtles and the rest of the wildlife in the area, the Park was established in the early seventies.
Today four species of turtles lay their eggs here: the Giant Leatherback Turtle, The Green Turtle, The Loggerhead and the Hawksbill Turtle.
Getting to Tortuguero
Since you can’t drive there directly, we recommend to take the bus to Limon and from there head to one of the embarkation points, including Caño Blanco, Cariari, and Moin.
Once there, you can take any of the boats heading to Tortuguero.
If you are the backpacking type and are looking to save some money, you can opt for taking the bus for Cariari at downtown San Jose, and once you have reached that town, you need to pick another bus to La Pavona, and finally a boat to Tortuguero from there.
Flying is also possible, and there is a daily flight from the Juan Santamaria Airport, although if you really want to enjoy Tortuguero at its fullest, a boat trip is recommended.
Also, if you are staying for a few days in one of the local lodges, they will most likely offer you transportation from San Jose to Tortuguero and vice versa.
What to Do in Tortuguero
Here are some of the things you can do in Tortuguero:
Turtles nesting and animals:
If you wish to see how the turtles lay their eggs in the sand, you should come to Tortuguero in the months between July and October, and a nightly exploration of the beaches which are frequented by the turtles is recommended.
If you visit during the prime nesting period, then you will most likely get to see Green Turtles, which is the most common species here.
To take a tour during the night, you should be accompanied by a licensed guide, and the tours can last between two to four hours.
The wildlife in the park is also very rich, with different species of monkeys (mostly howlers), Jaguars, Anteaters, Peccaries, Butterflies and Birds.
So exploring by foot is also a good idea (though it is best if you have a guide with you, as he’ll tell you all you might want to know about the different species of Flora and Fauna you might get to see).
The other top activity in Tortuguero is to take a boat trip through the different canals around Tortuguero, as it will give you the opportunity of spotting any of the different species of birds and animals which call this place home.
Also, if you feel adventurous enough, you can go to the center of the village and rent a dugout canoe from one of the locals.
This can be an interesting ride, but you should be careful though, as these little boats are a bit heavy and can become difficult to maneuver.
Important Numbers and Websites:
- Municipalidad: 2758-8176
- Buses: 2221-1334
- Hospital Tony Facio (Limon): 2758-2222