Home » Destination Guides - Countries » Costa Rica » Tortuguero
This region includes the village of Tortuguero, an extensive network of canals, and Parque Nacional Tortuguero, and has some of the most spectacular flora and fauna in the country.
The canals of the Tortuguero region were built so that the local inhabitants wouldn't have to sail out on the rough sea in their small boats. The 100-kilometre canal network runs from Moín, near Puerto Limón, to Barra del Colorado, and was completed in 1974.
The Tortuguero region has an especially abundant flora and fauna due to its favourable climate. It receives over 5,000 millimetres of rain annually - one of the highest rates of precipitation in the world! There is no dry season per se, although less rain does fall in February, March, and September. It is therefore extremely important to bring along boots (hiking or rubber), as well as a raincoat. The average annual temperature is 26° and the nights are cool. If you plan on walking in the forest, remember to bring along your insect repellent, or you will be too busy swatting at these pesky creatures to get any really good photos of the many brightly coloured frogs!
Parque Nacional Tortuguero, with 18,946ha of land and 52,266ha of water, was created in 1975 to protect the region's turtles, but also its forest and canals, which are quite similar to those found in Amazonia.
A female turtle will lay between one and six sets of eggs, 10 to 14 days apart, every two to four years at sundown, when the tide is high. Green turtles lay eggs between July and October, and leatherback turtles lay theirs between February and June.
Tortuguero's turtles have been hunted for their eggs (tortuguero means "turtle hunter" in Spanish), which are a delicacy, ever since people first lived in the region. Their over-hunting for overseas markets in the 20th century has threatened the survival of this species.
In addition to the four species of turtle found in the Tortuguero region, there are 107 other reptile species, 57 species of amphibians, 55 species of freshwater fish, 60 species of mammals and over 300 species of birds, including toucans, trogons, parakeets, herons and other egrets, which can easily be observed up close, provided you have the proper equipment. In fact, walking along the canals of Tortuguero without binoculars is a bit like fishing without a rod! There are also great hiking trails near the Cuatro Esquinas entrance, by Tortuguero, and around Jalova, south of the park.
Cerro Tortuguero stands 119 metres tall and is located 5 kilometres from the village. It is accessible only by boat, from the mouth of the lagoon. Then, a short but steep path leads to its summit. It takes about 30 minutes to make it to the top, which will give you plenty of time to stop and admire the monkeys, small, colourful poison-arrow frogs, and great variety of plants and trees in the forest. At the top, there is a view of the canals, the forest and the vast ocean; and if you look straight down, you can clearly see the mouth of the Laguna Tortuguero at the bottom of the hill.
To learn more, Ulysses suggests...