Tortuguero National Park has become a year-round destination even though sightings of green turtles peak in July and August. By January, when Ruth and I were there, they have all returned to the sea. Even though we saw none, we saw plenty of wildlife, enjoyed being in a tropical rainforest, cruised the Tortuguero River and a lagoon that is often compared to The Amazon, and visited isolated Tortuguero Village.
Al took us to a landing on the narrow, shallow-at-this-time-of-year Tortuguero River, and we boarded a boat like the one above for a cruise down it to the wide Tortuguero lagoon’s resorts and lodges. On the river we saw several bird species like the blue heron, a black river turtle, a caiman, orange iguanas, green lizards, etc. At one point we passed men bagging lots of sand for construction projects, which was a bit of a shock in a protected national park.
We put in at Tortuguero Village and walked to a beach on the Caribbean. Strolling up it, we were encouraged not go swimming because of the undertow. I was reminded of the near-drowning scene in the much honored Netflix film Roma, which was filmed much further north along this coast in Mexico. We celebrated being here with coconut water. This in-the-parque village with African roots is accessible only by plane or boat and is the spot where hordes of tourists come to observe turtles in their natural nesting grounds during the summer months when it can be well-over 100°. Families were plentiful that day as were adventure travelers cruising the lagoon and river and enjoying hikes in the rainforest when the temperature was only in the 70s.
We went back to one of the resorts on the lagoon for a meal and to watch white-faced monkeys romp. We sauntered through groomed jungle gardens, saw locals fishing despite alligator warning signs, and heard tourists speaking many languages while birdwatching and cruising.
I can see why Tortuguero, which means “turtle catcher”, is a popular all-year destination.