Tortuguero National Park, on Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast is one of the most important nesting sites in the world for the green sea turtle, which finds its way onto the brown-sand beaches every year. Its territories protect not only the turtle-nesting beach, but also the surrounding forests, canals and lagoons. Everything in Tortuguero centres on the waterways and access is by boat or air only. Its peaceful atmosphere and the feeling of being in one of the most remote places on Earth attract nature lovers, yet the area has managed to develop a low-density tourism system.
A visit to Tortuguero offers great opportunities to spot wildlife in varied habitats which include tropical rainforest, mangroves, wetlands and traditional coastal environments. The best way to see the alligators, iguanas, howler monkeys, boa constrictors and the myriad of bird life is to explore the tranquil waterways and canals that run inland from the coast by small boat. All the lodges include boat trips.
For many, the highlight of a visit to this reserve is the chance to see the giant green turtles coming ashore at night to lay their eggs, from July to October. The hatchlings emerge from the nest in November at the latest. Leatherback turtles can also be seen from March to June.
As these carefully preserved nesting sites are very vulnerable, great care is taken to minimise human impact and conserve the environment for the turtles. Due to the seasonal nature of these tours, most lodges charge an additional fee for turtle-watching night trips.
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