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Tortuguero National Park

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Travel Guide Central America Costa Rica Tortuguero National Park

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Introduction

Tortuguero

Tortuguero

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The Tortuguero National Park is what most visitors brings all the way up to the town of Tortuguero along the Caribbean coast and the main activity probably is seeing turtles laying their eggs on the beaches. Most of these tours last for several hours and leave when it's dark. It is not always season though and your best bet will be visiting during April to May for leatherback turtles and July to October for green turtles. Canoe tours, wildlife watching and jungle trips are other options with one of the many tour operators in this fantastic area.

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Sights and Activities

Flora and Fauna

In Tortuguero are about 400 tree species and 2,000 plant species. The largest and oldest trees are the almond trees (Dipteryx panamensis). The wood of these trees is so hard that termites do not eat it and it is heavier than water. The almond tree is an important food source. In these trees nestle the rare buffon macaws (Ara ambigua), of which about 30 pairs are breeding here. The riparian vegetation is dominated by fig, mimosa, legumes of the pea family (Leguminosae, Pterocarpus officinalis, Prioria copaiifera) and Raphia palms. Many vines hang like curtains along the banks, such as the velvet bean (Mucuna Pruriens).

About half of all bird species in Costa Rica (350) live here. The jaguar, puma, ocelot, tapir, manatee, peccary and many other mammals, including several species of bats, possums, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates live in this area. In Tortuguero three special monkey species are found: the mantled howler, the white-headed capuchin and the Central American spider monkey. The latter is most threatened for extinction. It lives here as it needs food from forest with a great diversity of plants. Other mammals, such as coatis, sloths and raccoons are seen here even as they prefer young secondary forest.

There are seven species of sea turtles on earth of which 5 come to Costa Rica and 4 to Tortuguero to lay their eggs. All species are threatened with extinction. Several thousands of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) come from June to October to lay their eggs. The average female lays 110 eggs which have an incubation period of 2 months. The few that survive return to Tortuguero after 25 to 50 years.

The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), which can grow to more than 2 m, comes between February and June. This big sea turtle has a less hard shell than other sea turtles. The shell consists of small bone chips and is coated with a substance which is reminiscent of leather. The leatherback turtle is a scuba diver and eats jellyfish. Plastic bags are their downfall, because they confuse it with jellyfish. Approximately 100 females come to Tortuguero. Other important breeding areas are Playa Grande (Pacific) and Manzanillo (Caribbean) in Costa Rica.

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Opening Hours

Year-round.

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Cost

Entrance to the park is $15.00 per day. This is just the entrance fee and does not include a tour.

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Getting There

The only way to access the park is by boat.

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This is version 4. Last edited at 11:13 on Jan 15, 18 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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