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Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park

Information:

General characteristics:

Tortuguero was declared a National Park on September 24, 1970, and its limits have been modified three times (1980, 1995, and 1998) to incorporate more territory. Its extension has gone from 64,701.45 to 76,937 hectares. Of these 50,284 are marine and 26,653 are terrestrial.

In the case of the land area, 99% is used for the absolute protection of resources and 1% as a visitation site. The marine area is dedicated 100% to absolute conservation.

Tortuguero National Park (PNT) is located in the northeast of the Costa Rican territory and is one of the main tourist icons of Costa Rica because it is internationally recognized for protecting the most important green turtle nesting beach in the western hemisphere.

Away from the city and made up of an extensive network of rivers and canals, access is possible only through small boats: this is the Tortuguero National Park, a place unlike any other; where the small communities that surround the Protected Wilderness Area, such as Barra del Tortuguero and San Francisco, still preserve their traditions and also enjoy the benefit of having the only means of transportation by bicycle, making the tour a true encounter with Caribbean culture.

Tortuguero National Park is a paradise for research and ecotourism, the ecosystems in the area are so complex and diverse that the visitor can expect anything on the tours, going from tranquility to encountering any of the flora and fauna species characteristics of the Costa Rican Caribbean.

Close to the community of San Francisco and Barra de Tortuguero it stands out for being the highest formation in the area, of great tourist attraction, and invites you to appreciate the largest wetland in the country from its top, its unparalleled landscape will amaze you.

The views of the herbaceous marshes, the yolillal, the beach, the low forest, and the plain forest predominate from this viewpoint.

Weather:

The Tortuguero National Park is dominated by humid tropical forest and very humid tropical forests. The average annual precipitation reaches 6,000 mm. The months of greatest precipitation correspond to July and December, the least rainy are March, April and October. The annual average temperature ranges between 25 ° C and 30 ° C. The heat, humidity and rain are companions on the tour.

Ecological importance:

  • Protects beaches for spawning 4 species of sea turtles: Green (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Bighead (Caretta caretta).
  • Protects important populations of species in danger of extinction.
  • Protects the habitat of the manatee (Trichechus manatus), which is one of the rarest and most threatened mammals in Costa Rica.
  • Protects the habitat of the largest cat in America. Tortuguero has one of the largest populations in Costa Rica and a consolidated research program.
  • Protects the ecosystem called Yolillal (Raphia taedigera).

Flora and fauna (currently identified):

 – 734 plant species.

 -442 species of birds.

 -138 mammal species (101 genera and 32 families).

 -118 reptile species (76 genera and 22 families).

 -58 species of amphibians (27 genera and 11 families).

 -460 species of arthropods.

Cerro Tortuguero is located at the end of a long fluvial peninsula that extends from north to south through the RNVS Barra del Colorado, with the town of San Francisco, Tortuguero lagoon and the Caribbean Sea as immediate limits.

At an altitude of 119 meters above sea level, it is a small cone formed by pyroclasts and massive balsamic blocks and scoriaceous that formed approximately 1.8 million years ago during the Quaternary period.

Due to its location and the highest altitude gradient in the area, it has ecological characteristics and particular microhabitats that are protected and responsibly exploited.

Featured species:

-Green turtle (Chelonia mydas): One of the initial reasons for the creation of the PNT is that this species has Tortuguero as one of the main spawning beaches in the world.

-Green limpet (Ara ambigua): A species of bird in danger of extinction that has been recovering its population with Tortuguero as one of the main nesting and feeding sites.

-Caiman (Caiman crocodiles): Species present along the Tortuguero channels, sometimes it is possible to observe it sunbathing.

-Black turtle (Rhinoclemmys funerea): One of the species of the Tortuguero river. In the channels, you can get to see several on the same trunk.

-Jacana (Jacana jacana): One of the most colorful species of birds present in the Tortuguero canals.

-Needle Duck (Anhinga anhinga): A characteristic bird of the Tortuguero canals, it can be seen in branches drying its wings after diving.

-Red and Blue Frog (Oophaga pumilio): Without a doubt a species of common amphibian in the place, with a very striking territorial behavior.

-Green limpet (Ara ambigua): A species of bird in danger of extinction that has been recovering its population with Tortuguero as one of the main nesting and feeding sites.

 -Violaceous Trogon (Trogon caligatus): Species present along the trail, sometimes it is possible to observe it in the clearings of the trail.

-Colorado Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) and White-faced Monkey (Cebus capucinus): Of the most striking and dispersing species of plants.

History

From Turtle Bogue to Tortuguero

The before …

 From the pre-Columbian natives, the first explorers and pirates, to the first settlers; all had the turtle as the main consumer product, through their meat and eggs and even their shells were also used to make complementary products.

Turtle Bogue or Boca Tortuga, as Tortuguero was previously known, was populated at the beginning of the 20th century, near the 1920s, by Afro-Caribbean families from Limón and Parismina, along with some migrants who came from Barra del Colorado and Nicaragua.

These migrations occurred for two main reasons:

  1. Be part of the economic benefit generated by the golden age of the exploitation of precious woods worldwide, where Tortuguero and its vast forests offered a large number of high-quality timber trees, such as Almond or Cativo, which were relatively easy to transport through the canal network.
  2. Take advantage of the expansion of the agricultural frontier to establish new lands and plantations, especially coconut and mango.

 The Turtle Bogue consisted of a few families distributed in a small earth bar and a sawmill where all the wood that was being removed from the Tortuguero forests was processed.

The after…

In the 1950s, an event that changed history happened at the Turtle Bogue. A zoologist from the University of Florida, Dr. Archie Carr is interested in the behavior of sea turtles, so he searches the Caribbean and Central American countries for the ideal place for his studies.

 In this way he arrived in Tortuguero, attracted by the rumors of a beach that was filled with green turtles and completely wild conditions, founding CCC (Caribean Conservation Corporation). From their studies, the ecological importance of the entire Tortuguero plain begins to be evidenced, not only for being the main spawning ground for sea turtles in the Latin American Caribbean but also for the complexity of ecosystems that it housed and the large number of species that inhabited them.

The growing ecological information joined the conservationist trend of the country in the 70s, triggering the declaration of the Tortuguero National Park on September 24, 1970, by Executive Decree 1235-A, published in Gazette No. 213, which indicates its limits. territorial and the general rules that will govern its management. On November 3, 1975, through Republic Law No. 5680, its declaration and management regulations were reaffirmed. Since the PNT was established the limits have

They have been modified three times by Executive Decree (1980, 1995 and 1998). Its extension has passed from 64,701.45 to 76,937 hectares. Of these 50,284 are marine and 26,653 are terrestrial.

The declaration as a National Park and the fame of sea turtles meant that by the mid-1980s the first travelers were arriving, at that time adventurers looking to explore new horizons. Little by little Tortuguero became a town that lives on tourism, where very few of its inhabitants eat turtles and rather help in the conservation of sea turtles and their ecosystem.

Services and attractions:

Services

  • Berth.
  • Drinking water.
  • Health services (availability of health services for people with different abilities).
  • Self-informative kiosk.
  • Tourist services such as food, accommodation, guides, transportation, telephone, internet, and others are offered privately in the town of Barra del Tortuguero.

Main attractives

  1. Sea turtle observation program:

This ecological tourism management tool allows to properly manage the high visitation of the beach in the sea turtle nesting season. Through this program, Tortuguero National Park joins forces with a local organization to establish turtle trackers: highly trained people who are the only ones who, under high ecological measures, detect turtles when they are emerging from the sea. This makes it possible to avoid the large number of visitors walking on the beach and, through ignorance, to scare away the turtles. Rather, visitors will be located in waiting bases receiving valuable information about the turtles until the turtle is in a spawning process that can be observed. The turtle spawning season runs from June to October. It is important to verify the opening of the season to corroborate the presence of turtles since it is possible that the ecological dynamics change.

  1. El Jaguar land trail:

This linear path runs 2.5 km parallel to the beach of Tortuguero National Park and is the path used in the Tortuga season. It is demarcated with entrances to the beach every 100 meters and numbered from 37 to 60. In the spawning season, turtle tracks and nests are seen. Animals such as hawks, monkeys, peacocks, and a large number of dragonflies and butterflies can be found.

  1. Aquatic Trails:

Canoe, electric motor and kayak tour:

  • Caño Chiquero-Mora Trail: This 2.3 km route is exclusively for non-polluting small boats. With dense and tall vegetation, occasionally you can see the tolomuco. Near the 1900 meters, the trail divides and that is why it is known as Caño Chiquero and Caño Mora.

Tour in motor boats:

  • Río Tortuguero Trail: This 4.3 km route constitutes the gateway to the PNT canal sector. It is possible to observe a variety of waterfowl, amphibians, and reptiles, as well as a large number of poponjoche trees, striking for their large flowers and fruits.
  • Caño Harold Trail: 3.5 km route in a wide channel of calm waters that facilitates the observation of animals. The secondary forest predominates and you can even see some coconut trees and cocoas. Reptiles abound like turtles and alligators.
  • Caño Palma Trail: This 5.1 km channel is the only one that does not have an entrance through the Tortuguero River but in Laguna Penitencia, which is located next to the Tortuguero Hill in the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge. It is a narrow channel with dense vegetation where water birds abound.

Regulations:

  • Respect the Regulations for Public Use of the Park.
  • Respect the park’s visiting hours.
  • Respect and follow the instructions of the rangers
  • Stay on the trails.
  • Please do not take trash to the PNT and pick up what you find.
  • To protect sea turtles access to the beach is restricted from March 1 to October 31 from 6 pm to 6 am.
  • Prohibited from entering the Park with drugs, stimulants, or alcoholic beverages.
  • Sports activities and sound equipment are not allowed.
  • Bonfires are not allowed.
  • Do not carry weapons of any kind.
  • Plants and animals are living things, do not mistreat or feed them.
  • Fishing is not allowed.
  • Pets are not allowed.

Recommendations:

  • Take care of your belongings.
  • Bring cool clothes, hat or cap, insect repellent, sunscreen.
  • The use of rubber boots is recommended.
  • Take care of your hydration. Bathing in the sea or lagoons, dangerous currents, boats and animals in transit is not recommended.
  • Respect the Park’s Public Use Regulations.
  • Respect the park’s visiting hours.
  • Respect and follow the instructions of the rangers
  • Stay on the trails.
  • Please do not take trash to the PNT and pick up what you find.
  • To protect sea turtles access to the beach is restricted from March 1 to October 31 from 6 pm to 6 am.
  • Prohibited from entering the Park with drugs, stimulants or alcoholic beverages.
  • Sports activities and sound equipment are not allowed.
  • Bonfires are not allowed.
  • Do not carry weapons of any kind.
  • Plants and animals are living things, do not mistreat or feed them.
  • Fishing is not allowed.
  • Pets are not allowed.

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