costa rica national parks tortuguero costa rica

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.

Special Considerations
While in Tortuguero, the major portion of your time will be spent either watching leatherback turtles or viewing local wildlife along the many inland canals. If you are participating in an organized tour, chances are your lodge will provide the necessary launch and bilingual guides as part of your tour. These launches accommodate several dozen people and provide a comfortable, stable, and safe vehicle from which to view the local flora and fauna. If you prefer a more quite and more rugged approach, we recommend that you rent a dugout canoe from one of several local merchants in the village of Tortuguero. Your lodge may also provide canoes or kayaks, if available.

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
From San Jose, you have three options. First, fly on a scheduled flight departing San Jose. This flight provides spectacular views of the mountain range which separates the Central Valley from the Caribbean coast, along with a unfamiliar view of the intricate canals and lagoons of the Tortuguero National Park.Second, take a public bus from San Jose to Limon and then take an unscheduled launch from the port of Moin. Third, participate in an organized tour, which usually departs San Jose early mornings. Several tour operators use a port further north than Moín, which shortens the boat ride significantly. This port however, is only accessible for those participating in an organized tour.

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)
    The Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC) and the Sea Turtle Survival League (STSL) are working to ensure the survival of sea turtles through research, education, advocacy and the protection of the natural habitats upon which they depend. This site is provided as a source of information for the world to learn about sea turtles and the threats to their survival by the CCC and its STSL program. We hope you enjoy it and come back often to see our issue updates, research findings and program additions.

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