Tortuguero (Land of the Turtles) National Park is a remote nature reserve on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. There are no roads here, access is by boat or plane only.
DonQui arrives by plane, a small Cessna that lands on a jungle airstrip opposite the Tortuga Lodge and Gardens where he will be staying for a few days.
DonQui’s intention is to relax and enjoy the nature surrounding him. The verandah of his ‘cabin’ is the perfect place to do this. There is no glass on the windows — only mosquito netting. This way the sounds of the rainforest are always present.
The hammock is a particularly good way to relax and to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the surrounding forest.
The Tortuguero river flowing by the lodge invites further investigation.
A short boat ride along the river brings DonQui to Tortuguero Village. Founded in the 1930s to mill the timber from the surrounding forest the village now makes its income from tourism. Back-packers, ecologists and adventures come here to experience the vast natural beauty of the region.
The village has a Caribbean vibe as many of the modern inhabitants have come from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.
The true beauty of the area can only be explored by boat. So it is that DonQui sets off at crack of dawn to experience the sights and sounds of the rainforest.
It is hard for DonQui to express in a few words the great beauty, rich vegetation and abundant wildlife he experienced in the couple of hours he spent exploring the area under the guidance of a highly knowledgeable local guide.
The vegetation alone was worth it but the sights and sounds of the birds, reptiles and animals made it even more special.
DonQui sees a huge variety of wildlife including howler and spider monkeys, turtles, a three toed sloth, caymans, herons snd many other birds
Water is the best way to explore but behind the Tortuga Lodge there are a number of trails that invite exploration.
A walk along the forest trail is muddy. There is a clue in the name of ‘rainforest’. It rains a lot and the ground is always soggy even after several days without rain. DonQui does not see as much wildlife on his walk as he does on his boat tour but the atmosphere is hard to beat. He can hear howler monkeys in the distance and sees a number of colourful frogs.
The grounds around the lodge are incredibly beautiful. Toucans, parrots and monkeys are often seen.
The grounds are beutiful
DonQui always feels that he is part of the forest even when he is enjoying the civilised surroundings of the Lodge.
Meals are served on an atmospheric dining area overlooking the river. Menu choices are relatively limited as food has to be flown in.
After a few days the simple menu begins to grow a bit thin but the seafood rice is DonQui’s favourite staple.
So is Tortuguero worth a visit?
Absolutely yes, according to DonQui.
If you like nature, enjoy tranquility then there are probably few places than can beat it. In late summer/early autumn one can also witness the turtle nesting which gives the place its name.