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Costa Rica – Tortuguero National Park

Published: 21.8.2021
Today a great journey is upon us for we leave Liberia and head to the east coast of Costa Rica, which is washed by the Caribbean Sea. We go to Tortuguero National Park (Parque nacional Tortuguero), located in the province of Limón. The name Tortuguero comes from the Spanish word tortuga - tortoise. The park covers an area of 312 km² and also has a small village. You can only get here by boat or plane.

From Liberia we take a bus to San José, the capital of Costa Rica, it takes more than 4 hours. We get off at the bus station and take the next bus that will take us to Cariari. This takes an hour and a half. Even here, however, our travel does not end, because we have to get to the village of Pavona, from where the boat sails to the national park. Here we definitely recommend to continue by bus, which is in the village in half an hour and connects to the boat. Moreover, it is considerably cheaper than a taxi. If you miss the boat, you have to wait in the port, where besides a few overpriced kiosks, a flock of mosquitoes and also very unpleasant blacks trying to turn tourists, there is nothing at all. They know that people are already tired after a long journey and there is another waiting before them, so they really bargain, they change their demands and sometimes their behavior is even aggressive. At this place it was probably the first and last time we met really unpleasant locals. Otherwise, the Costa Rican are very friendly and helpful.

Port Tortuguero

The next boat trip takes another 45 minutes and be sure to pack a raincoat, the weather is constantly changing and the water splashes in all directions. Finally, we arrive in a colorful village and suddenly improve our mood. This place is definitely worth it and even a long journey should not discourage any tourist. Colorful houses, cheerful locals, huge crabs fleeing from every pedestrian, and constantly changing weather, fresh coconuts and a stormy sea in which it is almost impossible to take a bath.

colorful village   colorful village

Interestingly, it is possible to pay by card almost everywhere (sometimes with a surcharge and sometimes without). Beware of basic food prices, although shops are only a few meters apart, prices can vary extremely. There is also plenty of optional excursions right on the spot, we definitely recommend a cruise where you can see a lot of animals up close, mainly thanks to the incredibly great guides. When traveling on their own, an ordinary tourist would not notice even half of them. We admire a group of screams, a young caiman, a lot of birds and lizards and a spider who weaves a really strong web. Interesting, though quite long and sometimes frightening is also a night walk through the jungle. Here we also meet a big strangler, a sloth mum with a baby, toucans, a red-eyed tree frog) and a poisonous spider.

lizard   cormorant drying his feathers

Tortuguero National Park - boat cruise   Tortuguero National Park - boat cruise

The entrance to the park is only a few steps from the village, there are several routes and waterproof footwear is suitable, but large muddy puddles are usually only at the beginning of the route, so there is no need to borrow everywhere offered clearings, not exactly comfortable. We are glad that it is not raining, but the heat becomes extremely hard, and from the evaporating water everybody is able to do nothing but rest. The rain is strong and unpleasant, but often much better for a trip.

a walk in Tortuguero National Park    local flora

In the evening we set off again into the streets. The locals are practically grilling pork and chicken on a stick every day after dark at the main road. Food costs only 1000 colonies (approx. 46 CZK), which is really free compared to prices in restaurants. But what's more, the meat is really delicious, be sure to taste it.

in the streets   in the streets

GPS: 10°27'00.6"N 83°30'23.2"W

Text and photos: Veronika Schubertová

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