Tortuguero National Park, one of Costa Rica's most famous wildlife refuges, is best known for the thousands of turtles that flock to the beaches to lay their eggs each summer. However, there are also many other unique species of animals and plants living in the region. Many trails wind their way through the park, and the El Gavilan Trail is just the ticket if you want to catch a glimpse of the park's wildlife and still get a chance to see turtles nesting on the Caribbean shore.
The El Gavilan Trail, which is only about a mile long, starts at the Cuatro Esquinas Headquarters, one of the park's three stations. The trail takes you on a short walk through the forest before bringing you to the beach. You will likely hear the calls of parrots, kingfishers, toucans and other birds on your walk. Keep your eyes peeled to catch a glimpse of the brightly colored plumage of the many avian species living in the forests. You might also get to see spider monkeys playing in the trees or iguanas resting on toppled logs.
At the end of the trail, you will find yourself on the beach, where thousands of sea turtles come onto the beach between July and October to mate and lay their eggs before returning to the Caribbean. A short walk back along the beach gives you plenty of time to observe the turtles and take in the scenic seascape before you arrive back at the park station. If you're lucky, you might even witness the hatching of the newly-born turtles and see thousands of the tiny reptiles racing to the waves.
The turtle nesting season is one of the most remarkable sights in the world, and nature travel enthusiasts should make sure to stop by Tortuguero National Park on their Costa Rica tour. While you're visiting the park, don't forget to watch for other animals in the forests. There are jaguars, sloths, ocelots and other creatures you might see on your tour of the park that are hard to find anywhere else. El Gavilan Trail is just one of many the park has to offer, but it is perfect for those who want to see the turtles as well as experience the natural beauty of the park's forests.
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