Tortuguera – An Inland Island
Visiting Tortuguera (AKA Tortuguero) is like going in a time machine directly into a prehistoric jungle.
From Puerto Viejo it’s pretty easy to hire a launcha (water taxi) to take you to the remote fishing village of Tortuguero.
The ride is around three hours long and takes you through crocodile-filled rivers and emerald rain forests. During the dry season, the boats occasionally run aground, and the boat crew relies on passengers to hop into the murky water and push. Sometimes with crocodiles close by. Luckily our boat only had a few people in it so we were very light. We sped past others who were not so lucky.
The main activities in Tortuguera are sport fishing and wildlife watching. The jungles around here abound with incredible species diversity. Hire a local guide and you will see lots of beautiful animals on a short canoe ride through Tortuguero National Park.
While here I was lucky enough to see a leatherback sea turtle lay her eggs on a moonlit beach. The animal was massive and prehistoric looking, and I had an incredible encounter with her. She was many times larger than I, and her determination to make it up the beach was inspiring. Encountering such an animal, especially during such a critical moment, is what it is all about.
After spending 30 minutes or so watching the turtle lay her eggs from a safe distance, a “conservation” group came up, and started snapping photos, and scared the turtle back into the sea. This can be very bad, as the turtle was already tired from digging and getting pounded in the surf. She then would have to make another attempt at the beach, after already being so worn down. Out guide said she probably wouldn’t have a successful clutch of eggs that year. If you choose to volunteer with a turtle rescue operation, please do your homework and make sure they are legit, and not just out to make some money without care for the wellbeing of the animals.
Here are some images from the trip. Contact me if you have any questions about Tortuguero, and thank you for reading!