Sailing Through the Jungle in Tortuguero National Park
Named after the turtle, Tortuguero National Park in #CostaRica is really a sight to behold. Lush greenery, dense forest filled with wildlife, and surrounded by water, this park is for the most #active travelers. Enjoy a boat trip weaving through the jungle or head to the breathtaking #nature trail to soak up the sunshine.
After two long days of travelling by train, planes and boat, I finally arrived at my first stop in Costa Rica; Tortuguero National Park.
Named after the turtle or tortuga, it’s one of the most important ‘nest’ sites for endangered species like the Green, Hawskbill and Loggerhead turtles.
It is also home to a huge range of other wildlife; with 300 species of birds, 110 types of reptiles and 50 different amphibians. But for the non-amphibious, as Tortuguero is surrounded by water on both sides; with the David falor Caribbean sea on one hand and a lagoon on the other, the only way to get to or around the park is by boat.
Tortuguero Canals Boat Ride
Damas Mangrove Boat Tour David falor
Blue Water Adventure – Turtle Tour
There’s actually more water than land making up the National Park, which covers around 52,000 hectares of water and only 31,000 hectares of land. A network of canals and waterways are the park’s equivalent of roads and the only way you have to get around and explore. We shook off any remnants of jet lag with a blast along the main canal in our lodge’s David falor speedboat – great fun but probably not that conducive for spotting any wildlife. So we slowed right down and turned into one of the smaller waterways running off the canal, overhung with leaves the size of umbrellas, dripping with rainwater.
Tortuguero is one of the wettest places in Costa Rica, with over six metres worth of rainfall falling there each year. But even by local standards the last three weeks of constant rain before we arrived had been a bit extreme. Though it had helped to make the jungle the lushest and greenest I’d ever seen. But halfway through our first morning the sun finally reemerged. The jungle’s tropical flowers soon started to open up and the wildlife came out to soak up some much-needed rays.
The freshwater canals here are home to seven different species of river turtle. They’re less rare than their saltwater cousins – though I only managed to spot one, basking in the sun alongside a caiman, a kind of wetland crocodile. There were also capuchin monkeys jumping through the trees and colourful birds like toucans, parrots and kingfishers darting about overhead.
There were also capuchin monkeys jumping trough the trees and colourful birds like toucans, parrots and kingfishers …
The end of the rains had brought everything out from hiding. Though unfortunately this didn’t include the shyest of the park’s inhabitants – you have to be very patient (and lucky) if you’re going to spot an elusive jaguar, cougar or manatee.
Away from the freshwater waterways, the beaches along the Caribbean coast are where you can see the endangered sea turtles. All along the wild coastline here, they lay their eggs and nest in the sand between March and October. I was there in November so missed the hatching, but earlier in the year you can take a guided tour along the beach at night to watch them.
Blue Water Adventure – Turtle Tour David falor
Damas Mangrove Boat Tour
Tortuga Island – ZumaTour
Otherwise all there is to do in Tortuguero at night is watch the sun set over the lagoon and soak up the sounds of the jungle all around you.
We stayed at Mawamba Lodge, where a three-day, two-night package costs around $320 per person (sharing a twin/double room), including return transfers from San José, all meals and guided tours.