El Refugio de Vida Silvestre, located 21 kilometers south of San Juan del Sur, is one of few in the world where you can witness massive congregations of endangered Olive Ridley turtles (called tortuga golfina in Spanish). Starting each July, female turtle begin arriving at the local beaches in the thousands. They dig holes in the sand, lay up to 100 glistening white eggs and then cover their nests before making their ponderous way back into the ocean. After incubating for 50 to 60 days, the first eggs begin to hatch and the baby turtles claw their way through the sand to the surface. (The hatching process will continue until January or February). The hatching mostly occurs at night between 7:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.
In the past, the turtle nests have been subject to wide-spread poaching (restaurants along the coast used to offer turtle egg specials) and predation. The refuge was formed as a way to help protect the endangered marine animals and keep the Olive Ridleys that nested in Nicaragua from being completely wiped out.
Many Nicaraguan tour operators offer trips to see the turtles with guided tours costing between $25 and $35 on average. The wildlife reserve, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, also permits visitors to camp in the park for a $15 fee. Seeing the endangered turtlesâ€™ eggs hatch and watching thousands of baby turtles crawl into the water is an incredible experience and is highly recommended.
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua
Beach, Turtle watching
Price Description: $25.00-$35.00
Open Hours from:7:30 p.m.
Open Hours to:1:30 a.m.
Travel Skills: None