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Tortuguero Nationwide Park in Costa Rica: All the things You Must Know

If there’s one place in Costa Rica that truly stole my heart, it’s Tortuguero National Park. Located on a small island off the Caribbean coast, it’s a gem that is truly underhyped. Since there isn’t a lot of information out there about visiting as a solo female backpacker, I’m here to give you all the […]



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If there’s one place in Costa Rica that actually stole my coronary heart, it’s Tortuguero Nationwide Park. Situated on a small island off the Caribbean coast, it’s a gem that's actually underhyped. Since there isn’t numerous info on the market about visiting as a solo feminine backpacker, I’m right here to present you all the main points that I want I knew earlier than I went.

Right here’s all the pieces you have to find out about visiting Tortuguero Nationwide Park, particularly in case you’re heading there solo:

Visiting Tortuguero Nationwide Park:

1. The sunrises are value waking up for…

I visited Tortuguero in July, and the solar rose daily at 5:30am. The solar rises over the ocean — a spectacular sight any time of 12 months. Because it was the wet season, the clouds usually lined the solar, and I didn’t see vibrant colours, nevertheless it was magical nonetheless. The mist from the waves, paired with the mild dawn glow, made for a peaceable scene that was positively well worth the day by day 5am wake-up name.

2…however the sunsets over the river slay, too.

Though the dawn in Tortuguero had its magic, so did the sunsets, which replicate superbly off the river. There are a couple of eating places and cafés which have riverside seating the place you may get pleasure from a meal or a drink whereas watching the sundown.

My favourite spot was El Patio, which had scrumptious Caribbean-style Costa Rican meals and an superior view. The solar set at 6pm every night time, so I snagged the closest desk to the water’s edge round 5:30pm. One other great place is correct subsequent door at Buddha Café, which is just a little fancier and has a terrific collection of wine and desserts.

You don’t need to seize a desk at a restaurant to observe the sundown, although. Head to the park on the fringe of city or sit on the major dock for an equally candy view.

3. You possibly can’t swim on the seaside.

As a result of sturdy rip currents and massive waves, it isn’t protected to swim on the seaside in Tortuguero. You received’t see anybody within the water, and there aren't any lifeguards to assist out in case you might be at risk. I used to be shocked that I didn’t see any indicators explicitly saying to remain out of the water, however locals warned me to not go in. I took that as sufficient of a cause to obey, although I used to be temped due to the warmth.

Though you may’t swim right here, the seaside remains to be a chill spot for hanging out. There are many palm bushes to calm down below, and I noticed hardly anybody else right here within the mornings.

4. It's important to take a ship to get there.

As Tortuguero Nationwide Park is on an island, it is sensible that the one approach to get there's by boat. Nevertheless, it’s not as fast of a trip as you would possibly suppose. Since Tortuguero is sort of distant, simply getting there's an journey in itself.

However contemplating the fare is just 2,000 colones ($3 USD), it’s fairly cool that your first style of the fantastic thing about Tortuguero is driving by means of the canals with out paying for a tour.

5. There aren't any ATMs in Tortuguero, however you’re not completely out of luck.

It might not be clever to reach to Tortuguero with out stopping at an ATM earlier than you go. Most cities and cities in Costa Rica have ATMs, however Tortuguero is an exception. In case you overlook to deliver colones, you might have just one possibility for withdrawing money.

There’s a small restaurant on the town that does casual money withdrawals. It’s throughout the road from the small grocery retailer that has the large concrete turtles out entrance. There’s no deal with (like most locations in Costa Rica), however you may ask round and any individual will assist you to discover it. The massive draw back of withdrawing money this fashion is that they cost 8%, which is fairly ridiculous IMO. In case you’re in a pinch although, it really works effective.

6. Neglect about reserving excursions prematurely.

Contemplating that Tortuguero has a largely money economic system, it’s no shock that reserving excursions forward of time isn’t widespread. Since there are such a lot of firms on the island, it’s quite simple to guide when you get there; there’s actually no have to guide on-line. I additionally observed that the excursions out there on-line are considerably costlier than these you may guide in individual.

Many of the excursions out there from native firms on the island are practically similar, and have about the identical worth level. I solely took excursions by means of Miss Junie’s Lodge, per the advice of my tour information in San José. In case you’d prefer to guide a tour with them, simply head to Miss Junie’s a minimum of a day earlier than you’d prefer to guide, and so they’ll let you understand what they've out there.

7. Be sure to guide your park admission forward of time, although.

Similar to Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park, it’s essential to book your park admission a minimum of in the future prematurely for Tortuguero Nationwide Park. You possibly can select your time slot if you buy your ticket. I like to recommend going to the park within the morning, as there’s a greater probability of recognizing wildlife then.

If you guide, additionally, you will select which a part of the park you’d like to go to. Admission is $15 plus tax, which you should use to entry a number of areas throughout the identical day.

8. Hang around the place the locals do.

I don’t know what was occurring with these colourful bears, however in some way their quirkiness made sense in Tortuguero.

Tortuguero’s laid-back vibe was refreshing. I observed straight away that this city was tiny and close-knit. Strolling down the principle highway — the one paved one — I noticed the identical faces time and again. The identical man promoting arroz con leche from a field on his bicycle was met with excited greetings of “Hello, instructor!” All people is aware of everyone in Tortuguero, which is a big a part of the city’s appeal.

It was very simple to talk with locals right here and hang around at their favourite spots. Being a small island, there’s actually no different alternative. The principle park on the town is correct on the water, and many individuals collect there within the evenings to observe the sundown. I joined them, chatting and enduring jokes about my gringa accent.

I feel it is a massive a part of why I loved Tortuguero a lot, and I feel different vacationers who additionally need to be taught in regards to the native tradition will as nicely.

9. Keep away from strolling round Tortuguero alone at night time.

Though chilling out with the locals was a terrific a part of my expertise in Tortuguero, I solely did so through the day, ensuring to go again to my hostel after sundown. I didn’t expertise a lot avenue harassment right here, however I’ve heard tales about different solo feminine vacationers not feeling as protected in Tortuguero. I made a decision to not threat it, contemplating that past the principle highway, the city isn’t very nicely lit. Strolling round at night time was thus a no-go for me.

I did an evening tour to see the turtles nesting, which began at 9:30pm. To keep away from strolling alone after darkish, I made a decision to have dinner shut by and hang around on the restaurant till it was time to go to the assembly level. Afterward, my tour information Cloide walked me again to my hostel; you may ask your information to do the identical for you. They appeared used to this sort of request, which gave me the impression that they knew that it wasn’t protected to stroll residence alone at nighttime.

10. There aren't any vehicles in Tortuguero.

Contemplating that it’s an island, it’s unsurprising that there aren't any vehicles in Tortuguero. Meaning you must depend on the small boats if you wish to go to different elements of the nationwide park. The boats solely cost about 2,000 colones ($3 USD) per trip.

11. Go to throughout turtle season!

These tracks are from a feminine sea turtle as she made her manner again to the ocean after nesting.

Inexperienced sea turtle nesting season in Tortuguero is from July to October. These beauties are endangered, but tens of hundreds of them lay their eggs on the shores right here annually. As I visited in mid-July, I used to be desirous to see these spectacular animals in motion.

I couldn't have anticipated how wonderful of an expertise it could be to see inexperienced sea turtles laying their eggs. I did an evening tour with Cloide from Miss Junie’s Lodge, which price $25 and was value each penny. We needed to put on all black and promise to reach to our assembly location with none electronics, as to keep away from disturbing the turtles with the white mild from our telephones or cameras.

Cloide led me and the remainder of the group to the seaside, in search of any turtles that we may discover nesting. I didn’t understand how shut we might have the ability to get, however after we discovered one, we took turns getting nearer to observe her lay her eggs. The entire nesting course of took about an hour and a half, and we bought to observe her make her journey again to the ocean. The expertise was priceless and by far my favourite exercise in Costa Rica.

In case you’d somewhat see the infant sea turtles hatch, choose to go to between September and November. Since I visited through the starting of nesting season, the little guys weren’t able to make their brave journey to the ocean fairly but. Phrase on the road is that September is a good time to go to Tortuguero, as a result of you might have the possibility to see each nesting and hatching. Nevertheless, it’s one of many rainiest months of the 12 months and that makes it more difficult to actually reap the benefits of all the pieces else Tortuguero has to supply.

12. Canoe excursions with native guides are the best way to go.

As I discussed earlier than, my information in San José really useful taking a tour with native legend Cloide. I didn’t know what to anticipate earlier than assembly him, however I had heard that he was one of many unique eight households that based the city. Once I arrived at Miss Junie’s lodge to guide a tour with him, I used to be enthusiastically greeted and given a fast historical past lesson in regards to the city and the origins of the nationwide park.

The following morning, I went on a canoe tour ($30 USD) with Cloide by means of the canals of the nationwide park. It was the most effective tour I had in Costa Rica, arms down. Not solely was Cloide in a position to spot animals from distant, giving us all the main points on the wildlife and ecosystem, however he informed us about his life and went into depth in regards to the historical past of the world.

I like to recommend taking both a canoe tour or renting a kayak to discover, versus the motor boats. Paddling with out the noise of the motor makes it extra possible that you just’ll see wildlife, plus you may get into the tighter areas the place animals like to cover.

13. Hold a watch out for the “chickens of the bushes.”

Rooster of the ocean? No, rooster of the bushes. Whereas floating by means of the canals in Tortuguero Nationwide Park, hold a watch out for these enormous iguanas resting within the bushes. I had by no means seen such giant ones earlier than, and positively had by no means seen them resting on branches so excessive up. They do that so as to get essentially the most daylight doable, with out turning into weak to predators just like the cayman. I had enjoyable in search of them, as their camouflage made it tough to see them with the bare eye.

Iguanas have been simply one of many many animals I noticed in Tortuguero. From scarlet macaws flying in tandem above to the sneaky cayman ready for his or her prey within the water under, this place is totally buzzing with wildlife.

14. The very best meals on the town is at Miss Junie’s.

In case you can’t inform already, I’m a reasonably large fan of Miss Junie’s. Not solely did I guide my excursions there, however I had the most effective meal at her restaurant. Serving up Caribbean classics like rice and beans and Caribbean-style fish and rooster, Miss Junie’s has a fame for being the most effective restaurant in Tortuguero, perhaps even your complete Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

Though the costs listed below are a bit increased (about $15 per entrée), it was fully value it. It’s a family-run institution with heat hospitality and mouthwatering meals. You don’t need to make a reservation, however the hours and days of operation are unpredictable. Normally they solely open for dinner, beginning at 6pm, so your finest guess for making an attempt Miss Junie’s restaurant is to point out up round 6 or 7 to see in the event that they’re cooking.

15. It’s a terrific various to visiting the Amazon.

I learn earlier than arriving in Tortuguero that many vacationers examine it to the Amazon rain forest due to the winding canals, biodiversity, and local weather. I've by no means been to the Amazon, so I can’t make a firsthand comparability. Nevertheless, the expertise of paddling by means of the canals was one which I received’t possible overlook.

Contemplating how a lot nearer Costa Rica is to the US and the way far more accessible it's, visiting Tortuguero is a good various to the Amazon. Even in case you plan to go to the Amazon sometime, contemplate visiting Tortuguero first to dip your toes in (actually and figuratively) this sort of journey. In comparison with the extra distant areas of the Peruvian, Colombian, or Brazilian Amazon, Tortuguero is way simpler to achieve, and even perhaps extra reasonably priced.

The place to Keep in Tortuguero

For backpackers: Aracari Backyard Hostel

I stayed at Aracari Garden Hostel, which has dorms and personal rooms. My personal room was simply $35 per night time, which is under the common worth for a single personal room in Tortuguero. The backyard was peaceable right here, and the general vibe was chill and pleasant. They provide their very own excursions, which have been a bit pricier than those I booked by means of Miss Junie’s.

I might suggest Aracari for solo feminine vacationers or backpackers, though I noticed {couples} and households staying right here as nicely. There was a great mixture of vacationers, and a social environment that made the place really feel extra welcoming.

For mid-range solo vacationers, {couples} or households: Miss Junie’s Lodge

Miss Junie’s Lodge is a little more dear, with rooms beginning at round $75 per night time. Nevertheless, the value consists of breakfast, which is a giant perk, contemplating how nice the on-site restaurant is. Miss Junie’s is only a hundred meters from the seaside, which means you’ll have the ability to hear the waves crashing and see the dawn.

Attending to and from Tortuguero Nationwide Park

San José to Tortuguero

To get to Tortuguero from San José by way of public transportation, first take a bus to Cariari (2,000 colones, or $3 USD) on the Gran Terminal del Caribe station in San José. Buses depart for Cariari at 6:30am and 9am and take about 2.5 hours.

When you get to Cariari, you may take a taxi colectivo from the station or anticipate the one bus that goes from Cariari to La Pavona port at 2pm. Both the taxi colectivo or the bus ought to price just one,000 colones ($1.50 USD). The journey takes about 1.5 hours.

In La Pavona, you'll take a ship to Tortuguero for two,000 colones ($3 USD), which takes about an hour. The boats depart at 7:30am, 11am, 1pm, and 4:30pm.

I like to recommend taking the 9am bus to Cariari from San José and taking it simple. You possibly can seize a chunk to eat in Cariari earlier than the bus leaves at 2pm after which catch the final boat from La Pavona to Tortuguero. The opposite possibility is leaving at 6:30am, with no assure that there will likely be taxis colectivos operating from Cariari to La Pavona.

Tortuguero to San José

To get to San José from Tortuguero, take a ship from the principle dock at 6:30am to La Pavona (4,000 colones, or $6 USD — and no, I don’t know why it’s costlier this fashion). Then, you may take a taxi colectivo to Cariari for two,000 colones ($3 USD). I didn’t know that this was commonplace follow however went this fashion anyway and it was effective. The driving force was pleasant and gave me and the opposite passengers rambutan (a fruit like lychee) to snack on.

As soon as in Cariari, you may take the subsequent bus to San José. They depart at 9:30am (in case you left Tortuguero at 6:30am, you’ll catch this one), 12pm, 1:30pm, or 6:30pm. The fare is 2,000 colones ($3 USD).

This route was extremely easy, and I ended up attending to San José sooner than I anticipated, rolling in round 11:30am. I assumed I might get there round 1pm, so it was a pleasant shock that issues went so easily. I can positively credit score the early begin to the journey’s success.

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Similar to that, my final cease in Costa Rica closed out my epic one-month journey with a bang. Tortuguero was fairly probably one of the vital attention-grabbing locations I’ve ever been, and I hope to return sometime quickly, even when it’s solely to eat at Miss Junie’s, see extra turtles, and take one other tour with Cloide.

Keep tuned for extra Costa Rica content material coming quickly!

Support author of this article and visit his post, originally published HERE

This post is originally published at Be My Travel Muse blog and it's not owned by this site! Respect content authors!