Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Located in the Northeast corner on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica is Tortuguero National Park The name of the park comes from the Spanish word for "turtle," and for good reason. This fragile area, with its 51,000 acres of rainforest and 22 miles of beach, is the Western Hemisphere's most important nesting area for Green turtles. During the summer months, thousands of them are tagged by Caribbean Conservation Corporation researchers and participants.

For families, the best times to see Green turtles is from late June or early July through late September. At this time, one can also sometimes see Hawksbill and Olive Ridley sea turtles. Giant Leatherback turtles come to Tortuguero to nest between mid-February and June or early July. From late July through September, one may also see baby sea turtles emerging from their nest and dashing towards the sea. Although there is no guarantee that visitors will see sea turtles at any time, viewing Green turtles at the height of their nesting season is quite likely. Scheduled evening turtle walks are led by guides, and Park regulations strictly prohibit the use of cameras and video recorders (even when equipped with infrared lights), flashlights, and any other sources of light.

Tortuguero is very remote area, and is most easily reached by plane or boat. One of the best ways for families to share in this unforgettable experience is by taking a tour to the region. Austin-Lehman Adventures includes Tortuguero in both of its Costa Rica itineraries. One of these trips is designed for teens and adults, while the other has been custom designed to meet the needs and interests of families traveling with children between the ages of 5-12. In addition to having the opportunity to view sea turtle nesting during the summer months, the trips include explorations of Tortuguero's extensive waterways. The Park's 99 miles of canals are home to countless varieties of birds, as well as monkeys, sloths, caimans, and a large number of other animals. For more information, visit the Austin-Lehman website at Austin-Lehman Adventures.

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