Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast is one of the world’s prime turtle-nesting hubs. Each year the reptiles return to the same beaches where they were born in order to produce another generation of eggs. Literally translated as ‘Land of the Turtles’, Tortuguero National Park is the best place to witness this spectacle.
Head south on the Tortuguero Canal after dark, eschewing the main beach’s crowds in favour of more secluded sands. Led out onto the moonlit beach by a guide, you stand just a few feet away from the turtles and watch as they lay eggs. Covering their nests to deter predators, the enormous creatures subsequently stumble back to the sea.
We can also arrange for you to meet local experts at the Sea Turtle Conservancy Visitors Centre, to learn more about the turtle population and efforts to save them. The green turtles are classified as an endangered species and the national park’s beaches are patrolled by licensed rangers during the turtle season. The prime time to visit is during the green turtle nesting period between July and September.
There’s no shortage of other wildlife too. Approximately 138 species of mammals, 442 types of birds and 118 species of reptiles reside in this jungle. Explore the canals and lagoons by boat to get up close to resident wildlife, which includes sloth, monkey, caiman and the Jesus Christ lizard – nicknamed for their uncanny ability to run on water.