national parks costa rica tortuguero costa rica turtles
Tortuguero National Park resides just south of the village by the same name. Accessible either by boat or plane, this small community has gradually developed as a direct result of the green turtles annual nesting process. Infact, this region is the most important nesting site in the entire western half of the Caribbean for the green turtle. The leatherback and hawksbill also nest along these beaches which parallel the inland canals.
A natural system of canals and navigable lagoons, of great scenic beauty, cross the park from the southwest to northwest forming the habitat for seven species of land turtles, the manatee or sea cow, and the crocodile. Also, a wide range of crustaceans and some 30 freshwater species of fish, including the gar, eel and bull shark inhabit these waterways. This region of Costa Rica is one of the rainiest and most biologically diverse regions in the country. Eleven habitats have been identified within the park, in addition to several species of trees, i.e. crabwood, banak, Santa Maria, bully tree and dove wood.
If you prefer this approach, depart either very early in the morning ( 5-6 a.m. ) or late in the afternoon ( 4-6 p.m. ), as the midday sun is quite overbearing. As well, the wildlife is much more prolific during those times; the wildlife tends to retreat under the forest canopy during the hot, sunny midday sun. Usually stable and dry, the canoes can accommodate up to 4-6 passengers, and provides an ideal opportunity to get close and personal with the many monkeys, lizards and birds along the canals. The slower, quieter canoes will not disturb the animals as do the larger, engine powered launches provided by the jungle lodges.
How To Get There
If you choose visit Tortuguero via bus and canals, set aside the entire day for your trip. Direct buses depart hourly from San José to Limón and take four hours. The taxi ride from Limón to the port of Moín should take no more than fifteen minutes of your time. Several launches use the port of Moin as a departure and arrival point. While some of the launches are privately hired by organized tour operators, several are for local hire. Local merchants depart throughout the day at unspecified times. Most will not depart until they have filled their launches, therefore there is no guarantee that they will even depart. We recommend that you arrive as early as possible and get on the first launch to depart. Prices vary depending on the time of day, number of passengers and size of the boat. No naturalist guides are present, nor is food or beverages. Buy what you need in Limón before departing for Moín, as the trip normally takes approx. 4-5 hours.
If you are participating in an organized tour, chances are you will not depart from Moin, but further north; as mentioned earlier. Tour operators normally provide bilingual naturalist guides, lunch and beverages, however, there is no guarantee. If you prefer a slow, narrated trip through the Torguguero Canals, take an organized tour. Normally, an experienced tour guide will reveal surrounding wildlife as with local flora and fauna.
Caribbean Conservation Company (CCC)