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Tortuguero
Travel Guide


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Tortuguero National Park is located on the northern tip of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, close to the border with Nicaragua. This name of this park translates in English to “turtle catcher”, and the name is something of a giveaway as to what has given this incredible swathe of terrain its name: turtles. The park gets its name from the region’s earliest settlers, who were responsible for almost entirely depleting the coast’s population of green, hawksbill, loggerhead, and giant leatherback turtles until the Caribbean Conservation Corps turtle research centre was founded in the 1970’s. Tortuguero National Park is one of the most isolated regions in all of Costa Rica as it is only accessible by plane or boat. However, despite the challenge of reaching this amazing network of wetlands, waterways, lagoons and rainforest, it is the third most visited destination in the entire country.

Experiences around Tortuguero

What not to miss

Tortuguero National Park is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Costa Rica. It is home to an impressive 11 different types of habitats, which include rainforests, mangrove forests, swamps, beaches and canals. The watery nature of the area means that it is difficult to explore on foot, and a boat, whether it be a small motorboat, kayak or canoe, is the best way to discover this immensely varied part of the country. The waterways are overhung by drooping vines, and the forest floor springs with colourful orchids and vegetation that thrives in these marshy and damp conditions. The national park is home to over 300 species of birds, and crocodiles can be seen almost everywhere. The highlight of a visit to the park is, of course, seeing the giant turtles that give it its name. The best time to see them is at night, but make sure not to bring any bright lights that may disturb them. Check out the Caribbean Conservation Corporation’s Visitors’ Center and Museum for more information on the lives and breeding patterns of the turtles in advance of your nighttime expedition. There are also plenty of eco-experiences to be had in the park, as it, like many places in Costa Rica, has a focus on sustainable tourism.

Mawamba Lodge Top

Mawamba Lodge is located between the Caribbean Sea and the canals of Tortuguero National Park, it offers spacious rooms, an outdoor pool and an on-site restaurant. Each rustic room here features wooden décor and comes equipped with a seating area and a private bathroom with a shower and toilet. They also include a private balcony with a hammock and rocking chairs. At Mawamba Lodge you will find a 24-hour front desk, lush tropical gardens and direct beach access for leisurely walks. The property features 2 butterfly gardens, frog gardens and nature trails, exclusive for guests. Accommodation in Tortuguero with regular lodge package activities that consist of: Visit to Tortuguero town, Eco-boat tour through the Tortuguero Canals to observe wildlife (time of the day and order depends on your lodge), and a Guided nature walk along the lodge property. Lodge transfer services from and to San Jose (or drop off at Guapiles, when requested) by shared shuttle bus and boat; from the Guapiles restaurant to the port it takes approx. 1.5 hours and from the port to the lodge another 1.5 hours.

Aninga Lodge Top

Surrounded by a network of the scenic canals, Aninga Lodge is located in one of the most exotic regions of the world, characterized by its rich flora and fauna. This lovely lodge has 32 comfortable spacious bungalows with comfortable beds, private bathrooms, hot water and ceiling fans, also there is a beautiful swimming pool, an excellent restaurant and bar service. Accommodation in Tortuguero with regular lodge package activities that consist of: Visit to Tortuguero town, Eco-boat tour through the Tortuguero Canals to observe wildlife (time of the day and order depends on your lodge), and a Guided nature walk along the lodge property. Lodge transfer services from and to San Jose (or drop off at Guapiles, when requested) by shared shuttle bus and boat; from the Guapiles restaurant to the port it takes approx. 1.5 hours and from the port to the lodge another 1.5 hours.

Manatus Lodge Top

Manatus Lodge offers an outdoor pool, tropical garden and a restaurant. It iss located along the Tortuguero canals. Each room here will provide you with cable TV, air conditioning and a minibar. Featuring a shower, the private bathroom also comes with a hairdryer. You can enjoy garden views from the room. Free WiFi access is available in all areas. There is also a fitness centre. Accommodation in Tortuguero with regular lodge package activities that consist of: Visit to Tortuguero town, Eco-boat tour through the Tortuguero Canals to observe wildlife (time of the day and order depends on your lodge), and a Guided nature walk along the lodge property. Lodge transfer services from and to San Jose (or drop off at Guapiles, when requested) by shared shuttle bus and boat; from the Guapiles restaurant to the port it takes approx. 1.5 hours and from the port to the lodge another 1.5 hours.

El Tortuga Lodge & Gardens Top

El Tortuga Lodge & Gardens is located on the riverbank, surrounded by jungle, and has an outdoor swimming pool, free WiFi and a restaurant serving fusion cuisine with Caribbean flavors. All rooms have river views, windows with mosquito nets, ceiling fans and private bathroom with hairdryer and toiletries. Accommodation in Tortuguero with regular lodge package activities that consist of: Visit to Tortuguero town, Eco-boat tour through the Tortuguero Canals to observe wildlife (time of the day and order depends on your lodge), and a Guided nature walk along the lodge property. Lodge transfer services from and to San Jose (or drop off at Guapiles, when requested) by shared shuttle bus and boat; from the Guapiles restaurant to the port it takes approx. 1.5 hours and from the port to the lodge another 1.5 hours.

Turtle Beach Lodge Top

Surrounded by lush jungle, a meandering private canal and a half mile of private beach on the Caribbean sea, Turtle Beach Lodge is the ultimate in seclusion, tropical beauty and exotic adventure. The lodge provides highly trained staff and guides who ease you into an extraordinary jungle experience. Their airy cabinas feature comfortable beds, ceiling fans, cool tiled floors, private baths with hot showers and wide, screened windows that let in gentle ocean breezes and melodic sounds from the jungle as you fall asleep. Accommodation in Tortuguero with regular lodge package activities that consist of: Visit to Tortuguero town, Eco-boat tour through the Tortuguero Canals to observe wildlife (time of the day and order depends on your lodge), and a Guided nature walk along the lodge property. Lodge transfer services from and to San Jose (or drop off at Guapiles, when requested) by shared shuttle bus and boat; from the Guapiles restaurant to the port it takes approx. 1.5 hours and from the port to the lodge another 1.5 hours.

Pachira Lodge Top

The Pachira lodge is strategically located only 5 minutes away from the extraordinary Tortuguero National Park, and right across the main “canal” facing the town of Tortuguero. Surrounded by a network of very scenic canals, this is considered one of the most exotic regions of the world, characterized by its rich in flora and fauna. Stay at one of their comfortable rooms with private bathroom, hot water and ceiling fans and enjoy all our buffet-style meals that are included. Accommodation in Tortuguero with regular lodge package activities that consist of: Visit to Tortuguero town, Eco-boat tour through the Tortuguero Canals to observe wildlife (time of the day and order depends on your lodge), and a Guided nature walk along the lodge property. Lodge transfer services from and to San Jose (or drop off at Guapiles, when requested) by shared shuttle bus and boat; from the Guapiles restaurant to the port it takes approx. 1.5 hours and from the port to the lodge another 1.5 hours.

Fast Facts on Tortuguero

USEFUL TRAVELER INFORMATION

This section is a quick overview to help in planning your trip to Tortuguero.

When to go

Tortuguero is a tropical region and as such has a warm and rainy climate all year round. Most of the visitors to this area come to see the turtles, so a visit during nesting season from April to October is a must. Tortuguero is the primary Atlantic nesting site for the green turtle, but you might be lucky enough to see the larger leatherback turtle earlier in the season too. If you visit later in the season, from November to early January, you may witness baby turtles making their way from their sandy beds towards the sea. Most of the lodges will provide you with rain gear, given that showers can happen at any time during the year in this area.

How to get there

Tortuguero has a small airstrip 2.5 miles (4km) outside the village. There are daily flights to and from San José, and twice a week to La Fortuna. Additional flights are often added during the high season, but departure times can vary according to weather conditions. If you have the time, take a boat to Tortuguero through its canals and rivers. Most visitors will arrive in Tortuguero village, where the majority of the hotels and amenities, including tour operators, are locate,. It is recommended that you explore the area as part of a tour, because it is difficult to get around, and there are also limited numbers of tourists who can go to the beach at night to see the turtles.

Infrastructure

There is a variety of accommodation in and around the village of Tortuguero, but no accommodation within the park itself. For information about routes, tours and activities in the park, visit the Park headquarters at Cuatro Esquinas, just south of Tortuguero village, where the ranger will be able to provide you with maps, tips and information. The best time to visit the park is in the morning or early afternoon, as it is cooler and there is a higher chance of seeing wildlife.

Tour Packages to Tortuguero

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