Barra del Colorado and Tortuguero Natural Wildlife Refuge
Tortuguero National Park is located on the Caribbean coast of Limón province, approximately 80km northeast of the city of Limon. It was established by the law No. 5680 of November 17, 1975. It has an area of 18.946.9 hectares in the terrestrial and 52.265 in the marina.
It is the most important area of the entire western half of the Caribbean, for the green turtle nesting. Other species of sea turtles that also nest on the beach are the leatherback and hawksbill.
The park is crossed by a natural system of lagoons and waterways of great scenic beauty and is the habitat for species of sea turtles, manatee or sea cow, the crocodile, a large variety of crustaceans and about 52 species of sweet water, including the gaspar fish.
It was created to protect the flora and fauna of this region and to facilitate investigations, scientific studies and to provide environmental education.
There are three life zones: tropical wet forest, wet montane forest with transition to basal and the tropical rainforest. It includes eight types of major associations (trees, shrubs and herbs) and three minor associations (mostly herbs).
The costal vegetation with predominance of grass, the rain forest with an abundant of layers and verticals, dense and diverse understory characterized by ferns, white palm and several species of annonaceae, forests on hills, the yolillales, consisting mainly of raffia palm and located in the central sector of the park, herbaceous swamps formed by herbaceous plants up to 2 meters high and herbaceous communities on lakes with floating vegetation as choreja or water lily; are some of the most prominent plant associations of the park. Tortuguero is one of the rainiest areas of the country, between 5.000 y 6.000 mm per year. It can be distinguished two types of rain: the local downpours of short duration are the most frequent and the characteristic rainy period of the Caribbean that last up to 15 days. These rainy periods are caused by winds from the north and northeast.
The most characteristic species of flora are: cedar male, sparrowhak, pylon, the javillo negro, the golden fruit, the manu, the maría, the camphor, the canfín, the cativo, raffia palm, the suita palm, the royal palm and the choreja or water lily. The choreja sometimes can make masses so compact that may impede navigation.
The fauna is rich and diverse. Among the most prominent are the tapir, jaguar, ocelot, peccary, howler monkey, white-faced monkey, red or spider monkey, sloth, the tepezcuinte, coati, the raccoon, the hammer, otter, the tolomuco, the fishing bat that is one of the biggest of the country and feeds on fish that catch with his strong legs and long claws when hovers over the water surface; the calf frog, the glass reticulated frog whose internal organs can be seeing through its transparent skin; the poisoned frog or red toad whose skin is toxic.
Some of the protected birds are: green macaws that are endangered species, the peacock, the turkey vulture, hawk crab, the violet trogon and the oriole of Montezuma. In addition, leatherback, hawksbill and green turtle; the black “jicotea” turtle, is very common in the canals from Moin to Tortuguero.
Park facilities and hours
There are three stations within Tortuguero National Park, open for visitor attention from 8am to 4pm.
Cuatro esquinas headquarters: has camping available. It is at the north end of the park, in the town of Tortuguero. Three trails are in this area: the Gavilan trail leads southward through the forest about a mile and ends on the beach. La Ceiba and La Bomba trail take you up Tortuguero hill, to a tower which provides a scenic vista of the region.
Jalova station: is on the south end of the park, near Jalova Lagoon, north of the town of Parismina. The El Tucan Nature Trail begins at the station and parallels the Cano Negro waterway. Two other trails provide short nature hikes, Tragon and La Ranita Roja.
Aguas Frias Station is on the western border of the park. It can be reach by turning north off the highway at Guapiles and driving through the town of Cariari, Pococi. The Los Raudales Nature Trail leads to the scenic lookout point at Lomas del Sierpe.
Our reception desk will be pleased to answer any questions you may have about these or other tours. Tours can be booked through our receptionists prior to or during your trip.
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