Our journey to Tortuguero national park begins with a drive from a town called Sequirres along a very bumpy road through Del Monte’s banana plantations. We see the factory where they wash and pack the fruit. I feel like I am looking in at a zoo to be honest and don’t much like it. There is a man outside selling coconuts and he has the largest bug I have ever seen – like a massive cockroach – which sits on a stick of sugar cane wiggling its pincers. As we drive on, long, concrete housing blocks come into view. Apparently they separate the single workers from those who are married. I wonder why – is it to encourage the single men and women to mate? A bit like a ‘Love Island’ reality TV show but without the sexy bedrooms and candlelit dinners? The final leg of the journey is by boat, which takes 2 hours. It’s a relaxing experience, watching the rainforest thicken and the birdlife as you travel up river, closer to the Caribbean sea and the entrance to the park.
There is a wealth of wildlife to see up here. On our first day we went on a 30 minute walk around the Mwamba property and saw red eyed green frogs and poisonous red frogs. On our early morning boat trip (6am start) we were really lucky and saw a large troupe of howler monkeys playing in a couple of tall trees – the young ones leaping from branch to branch like little tarzan’s! We also saw a white faced cappuccino monkey, 4 green macaws in flight, a Kill Bill Toucan, and 3 river turtles swim up to our boat to say hello. What a way to start the day.
Leatherback turtle nesting season is March 1st to June 30th. The green turtle nesting season runs July 1st – Nov 1st. Obviously right at the beginning of the season the odds on you seeing the magnificent creatures come up onto the beach and lay their eggs are lower. So probably best to visit when the season has got going a bit.