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A nature lover’s paradise, Tortuguero National Park is one of Costa Rica’s true gems, beloved by travellers for its high concentration of turtles (including endangered species) that nest here.

The Parque Nacional Tortuguero (Tortuguero National Park) is a large national park and protected area on the northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Famous for its turtles, this is a teeming nesting ground for 7 species of sea turtles, including the endangered Green Sea Turtle species.

While a peaceful stroll along the marked pathways and beach trails will take you past many turtles (and their eggs), the park is best navigated by kayaks or canoes (known as cayucas or botes). This allows you to explore the park’s dense rainforest landscape, winding your way through lagoons, creeks, and freshwater passages. Keep an eye out for dozens of native species of tropical birds, monkeys, and caimans.

The Area

Tortuguero National Park consists of 19,000 hectares protected land, and includes beaches, freshwater rivers, estuaries, and tropical lowland rainforest. It has been a designated turtle nesting sanctuary since 1963, and was declared a national park in 1970. The elevation ranges from sea level (0 metres) to 390 metres at the peak of Cerro Tortuguero. In ancient history, this area was an archipelago of volcanic islands, but over the millennia sediment from the mountains nearby has helped to fill in the gaps and create a marshy, boggy landscape.

The Best Time to Go

One of the reasons that Tortuguero is so lush and rich in wildlife is its plentiful annual rainfall, which nearly reaches 6 metres – yes, 6000 mm – per year. It can rain heavily at any time, so ensure that you pack appropriate rain gear no matter when you go. The wettest months are December, June and July, while the drier months are February, March and September. The average annual temperature is 26 °C, so it is reliably warm, humid and tropical all year round.

Of course, you should consider the nesting seasons of specific turtle species when determining the best time for your visit. The Green Sea turtles and Hawksbills nest through July to October (with the peak in August), and the Leatherback nest from February to April. That said, you will see individual turtles throughout the park no matter when you plan your trip.

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