The Tortuguero National Park is a true paradise for nature lovers and tourist that come to Costa Rica to observe birds and other animals.
The biggest part of the park consists of swamps crossed by several canals. One can arrive by boat or by plane in Tortuguero, there is no connection overland. There are daily flights from San Jose to Tortuguero. More interesting than a domestic flight is the arrival via boat. Already on the trip one can observe exotic vegetation and several animal species. The canals run parallel to the coast line.
The journey on the canal from Moin, a town next to Limon, to Tortuguero lasts three to four hours. Monkeys, iguanas, crocodiles, toucans, herons and many aquatic birds have their habitat in the jungle that surrounds the canals. On the trip the boats pass the town of Parismina, which is a popular starting point for sport fishing trips. In spring mostly tarpon is fished, from mid August till November snook.
An alternative route is the drive to Cariari and from there by boat to Tortuguero. This boat ride is shorter than the one from Moin, but the one from Moin leads to a part of Costa Rica where the nature is more beautiful. In Cariari it is possible to park the car at a guarded parking space.
Several tour operators offer complete trips from San Jose with accommodations and transportation to and from Tortuguero included.
Most of the exploration of the national park is done by boat, but there are some trails too. Who wants to walk a bit can hike on the Tortuguero Nature Trail to the beach. The trail is only 2 kilometers long. The walk back can be done on the beach, were coconut palms offer some shade. Another interesting option for hikers is the walk up to the highest elevation of Tortuguero, the 119 meter high Cerro Tortuguero. Be prepared with the right footgear, because the trail is often muddy. And bring some repellent in case you will have some mosquitos.
The easiest way to get to know Tortuguero National Park is by kayak or small motor boat. Several endangered animal species, like the Green Scarlet Macaw, live here.
Leatherback Turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs from April till June. Followed by the Green Sea Turtle that comes between July and September. To be able to protect the endangered turtles better scientist try to find out more of their way of living, but there are still many unsolved mysteries. Some turtles even have been equipped with gps transmitters so that their routes can be followed by investigators.
The local guides have a lot of knowledge about the sea turtles. The nightly turtle tours are not only impressive, but also very informative.