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A true natural wilderness deep in the tropical jungles of Costa Rica, Tortuguero National Park is considered one of the most biologically diverse regions in the country. It is a hidden treasure of fascinating views, incredible wildlife and exotic flowers for any outdoor enthusiast, birdwatcher or nature lover.

This coastal lowland region was declared a National Park in 1970 by the Costa Rican government, primarily to protect the green sea turtle population from extinction. In Spanish, Tortuguero means “Region of the Turtles.” The Tortuguero beach, stretching some 22 kilometers (14 miles), is the most important nesting site of the green sea turtle in the Western Hemisphere.

From July to mid-October, this endangered reptile visits this beach to lay eggs. During the turtle-nesting season, guided night walks are available for visitors to experience this amazing natural wonder. The leatherback and hawksbill species come to nest here as well, but they are far less common.

The National Park was also created to protect a unique series of natural inland waterways with a high concentration of flora and fauna species. This intricate network of man-made canals and fresh water rivers creates a sort of inter-connected water highway. Traversing swamp forests and meandering through secluded lagoons, this easy flowing waterway system is the only means of getting around in the area.

Cerro Tortuguero is the highest point in the park, reaching 150 meters (500 feet) above sea level. A short but adventurous climb to the top is rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the canals, forests and coastline. This forest-covered hill resembles the shape of a turtle and some consider it a possible navigational marker for the green sea turtles.

Located within the park boundaries is the village of Tortuguero, a gathering place for travelers interested in visiting the turtle museum, hiking in a tropical rainforest, strolling along the beach, or shopping for souvenirs. The friendly residents possess a mix of African and Spanish cultures found only on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.

Touring the canals by boat is the best way to experience the lush vegetation and abundant wildlife. You can spot iguanas basking in the trees, sloths climbing in the forest canopy, herons searching for fish or caimans resting along a sunny riverbank.

Flat-bottom motorized boats carry nature enthusiasts deep into the wild jungle through the forest-lined canals searching for snakes, monkeys, lizards, river turtles and macaws. The local naturalist guides have seemingly telescopic eyes, enabling them to spot the local inhabitants, well-camouflaged to the untrained eye. Smaller waterways branch off the main canal, allowing tour boats to explore this fascinating region more closely.

Relax and enjoy the natural beauty all around as the boat drifts silently through the tranquil backwaters. The tropical plants, dense vegetation and interesting wildlife showcase an impressive spectacle in the northeastern region of Costa Rica. For a truly extraordinary experience in a natural wildlife sanctuary, travel to Tortuguero National Park.



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