Founded to protect the nesting ground of the green turtle and stretching along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast for 65 miles, Tortuguero National Park has been called the “Amazon of Costa Rica” for its fertile network of waterways. At once intimate and magnificent, it is one of the last remaining tropical rainforest reserves of its size in Central America. Its lush labyrinth of canals, deltas and lagoons harbors eleven habitats and a hugely diverse array of wildlife, including some 320 species of birds, three types of monkeys, and a menagerie of sloths, river otters, caimans and, of course, turtles. Getting there is half the adventure, as the heart of the park is accessible only by small aircraft or boat. After, return to San José for an insightful walking tour of the Costa Rican capital.
Available only with the Air Package.
DAY 1: Depart from home / Fly to San José, Costa Rica / Transfer to hotel
Your flight departs from home for Costa Rica early this morning. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets. Please note that flights departing from the East Coast will typically arrive in Costa Rica in the mid-afternoon, while West Coast departures will arrive later in the evening.
Upon arrival at San José’s Juan Santamaría International Airport, meet your complimentary hotel shuttle curbside outside the customs area. The driver will be holding a Wyndham San José Herradura sign. The shuttle service operates approximately every 30 minutes, so please be patient if you do not immediately see the Wyndham representative. You may also contact the Wyndham hotel directly at 2209-9800 to confirm the next transfer time. Your transfer by minibus to your hotel in the outskirts of San José takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
The rest of the day is free to settle in and explore the city. Choose a restaurant for dinner on your own.
Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be available until 3:00 pm. You may store your luggage at the reception desk.
The reception desk will provide tomorrow’s transfer time to the airport for your flight to Tortuguero when you check in. If for some reason this information is not available, please ask the receptionist to assist you in contacting the tour operator handling your transfer and flight to Tortuguero. (Costa Rica Expeditions, tel. 2257-0766 until 8:00 pm, 8707-5212 after 8:00 pm.)
Our splendid San José hotel, Wyndham San José Herradura, is located just minutes from the International Airport and approximately 30 minutes from the center of the city. VBT provides you with City Information that includes recommendations on what to see and do in San José during your stay.
Hotel: Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel
DAY 2: Private Charter Flight to Tortuguero / Independent exploration of Tortuguero
Early this morning around 6:00 am, transfer to the Pavas domestic airport. Here you will board a chartered plane with other guests for the 35-minute flight to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast. Please note: You are only allowed ONE piece of luggage on this flight, and the weight cannot exceed 30 pounds. Additional luggage may be stored at the Wyndham San José Herradura as you will return here before your main trip begins.
Enjoy a scenic flight over Braulio Carrillo National Park and the Atlantic lowlands, landing in Tortuguero’s beachfront airstrip. Tortuga Lodge staff will meet you and accompany you by boat to the Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, located on the lush banks of the Tortuguero River. Enjoy breakfast upon arrival.
During your stay, you will enjoy one guided boat excursion and one guided visit to the town. The timing of these excursions may vary, depending on weather conditions and availability. You will have ample free time to explore and fully experience the magnificence of Tortuguero. Stroll in the spectacular gardens, hike the scenic trails behind the lodge, meet local schoolchildren and assist them with their English classes (arranged daily by the lodge staff), swim in the riverfront swimming pool, or simply slip into a hammock set between the tropical rainforest and the Tortuguero River, relaxing amid the tropical sights and sounds of the tropical rainforest. If you wish, you may schedule additional tours at your expense.
All meals are included during your stay at Tortuga Lodge; complimentary tea and coffee are available throughout the day.
Hotel: Tortuga Lodge & Gardens
Meals: B, L, D
DAY 3: Tortuguero Village & Sea Turtle Conservancy Visitor Center / Natural history boat excursion
Early risers may join a morning bird walk through the lodge’s gardens, departing from the reception area every morning at 6:00 am. Your Tortuga guide will help you spot some of the many species that make their home here in the canopy.
After a sumptuous breakfast, you will embark a small boat for a visit to Tortuguero Village. After stopping at the Park headquarters and the general goods store, tour this quaint little jungle hamlet lined with colorful Afro-Caribbean homes. Stop for a chat with the locals and learn about life in this spectacularly lush and fertile place. Later, visit the museum founded by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, formerly known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC). Every year from June through October, thousands of Atlantic green sea turtles come to Tortuguero Beach to lay their eggs. The Conservancy continues the work of the late Dr. Archie Carr in monitoring, studying, and tagging the turtles. After time to learn more about this fascinating cycle, return by boat to the lodge.
After lunch and a siesta, set out into the waters again with your Tortuguero naturalist guide to explore this unique ecosystem of waterways. Head into the backwater creeks and lagoons of Tortuguero National Park, encountering lush rainforest flora and magnificent fauna, such as caimans (small crocodiles), tiger herons, and boisterous toucans. Train your eyes into the trees for glimpses of and howler, spider, and white-faced capuchin monkeys. There’ll be ample water on board for your three-hour expedition, with additional beverages available at an additional cost.
You return to the lodge in time for bocas (Costa Rican hors d’oeuvres) at the poolside bar, followed by dinner at the riverfront open-air restaurant.
Please note: The time of your scheduled tour may vary, depending on weather conditions.
Hotel: Tortuga Lodge & Gardens
Meals: B, L, D
DAY 4: Transfer to San José
After an early breakfast, we shuttle by boat (5 minutes) across the canal to the Tortuguero airstrip for our charter return flight to San José. Upon landing we will be met by our local guide who will escort us to the center of Costa Rica’s capital.
Then enjoy a walking tour of San José’s capital, admiring the splendid ornate interior of the National Theater and stopping to view remarkable pre-Columbian artifacts at the Gold Museum. After lunch on your own in San José we you will transfer to your hotel where you may retrieve any bags you may have left behind before your flight to Tortuguero.
Enjoy the remainder of the day and evening at your leisure.
Hotel: Wyndham San José Herradura