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The Tortuguero National Park, on the Caribbean coast, offers some of the best wildlife watching in Costa Rica. Apart from the nesting turtles, after which the area is named, the coastal rainforest is home to caimans, monkeys, river otters, sloths and hundreds of species of birds.

The national park is one of the most important nesting sites for sea turtles in the Caribbean, with four of the eight species in the world laying their eggs on the black sand beach. It is possible to arrange night time tours to the beach to see the turtles laying eggs or hatching, although this must be done in a guided group and the numbers of visitors are controlled. These can be booked from your jungle lodge. The busiest months for turtle activity are July and August, although you may also see turtles from March to November. The village of Tortuguero itself is a good place to find out about the conservation of the turtles. Please note, the beach is not safe for swimming.

The rainforest inland from the coast offers excellent wildlife watching opportunities, and is best explored by boat on the canals. The edges of the forest along the waterways are a good place to see howler monkeys and spider monkeys, as well as birdlife, such as toucans. The jungle lodges arrange guided boat excursions.

The area can only be reached by boat or by plane. The land and boat journey from San Jose takes about five hours, starting with a beautiful three-hour coach journey through the Braulio Carillo National Park and seeing the banana plantations en route. You then take a two-hour boat ride to your jungle lodge in Tortuguero, which is a great introduction to the wildlife of the area. Alternatively, the light aircraft flight takes approximately 30 minutes.