Set on the wild beaches of the Caribbean coast, Tortuguero National Park is one of the best places for wildlife viewing in the country.
The forest here is flooded, so boats replace cars as the principle mode of transportation. A number of lodges border the park, all providing a simple yet relatively comfortable standard of accommodation.
The daily tours are usually conducted on a shared basis by the lodges’ trained naturalist guides. While the programme can feel somewhat regimented, there really is no substitute for exploring the forest by boat.
Gliding silently along the narrow waterways rather than trampling en masse through the undergrowth gives you the best chance of seeing the creatures before they become too aware of your presence.
On one half-day tour it is not uncommon to see quite a staggering amount of wildlife. Troupes of White-faced capuchin monkeys hop nimbly across the branches overhead and shy Spider monkeys peer through the foliage.
River turtles take advantage of the chinks of sunlight and bask on half-submerged logs, while tiger herons stalk the riverbanks. Overhead toucans, parrots and kingfishers provide period flashes of colour. If you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of a river otter’s sleek back or a caiman’s snout as they break the murky water.