One of the last remaining swathes of tropical rainforest in Central America, Tortuguero, which means ‘land of the turtles’, is best accessed from Puerto Limon, situated 50 miles south of the park or directly from San Jose the capital. The area is surrounded by banana and coffee plantations and some of the final stages of the journey are via canal as there is no road access. The guided tours of the area are a mix of boat tours through the network of water and rainforest canals that form a large part of the area.
As a key nesting area for endangered green sea turtles as well as leatherbacks, hawksbill and loggerheads, the turtles are the main draw. In fact, the area was specifically declared as National Park in 1970 in order to protect the turtles that were nearing being hunted to extinction for the production of turtle soup. There is however a host of other flora and fauna in the area and it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Amazon of Costa Rica’ for its diversity of nature and wildlife. The fertile rainforest also provides a sanctuary for 60 mammal species including tapirs, jaguars, monkeys and sloths, 170 species of reptiles and amphibians and in the region of 300 recorded bird species including green macaws, toucans, parrots, hawks and kingfishers.
There is so much life here that it is often referred to as the 'Amazon of Costa Rica'.