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Saving Turtles in Costa Rica

This is a guest post by Dr. Michael Kirsch. If you would like to guest post on the AirTreks Travel Blog, please read our guidelines.

Costa Rica means rich coast in English. Soon after I arrived, I did feel rich. This occurred when I changed American dollars into Costa Rican colónes. Five hundred colónes is roughly equal to 1 dollar. So, when I was handed several bills in denominations of 5000 and 10,000 colónes, I felt quite rich, indeed.

Eco-Lodge on the Pacuare River
Eco-Lodge on the Pacuare River

Costa Rica has many treasures that are practically free for tourists. Walking through the rain forest is a priceless experience, and there is no entrance fee. On our recent trip, we visited the Pacuare Nature Reserve, a region on the Caribbean coast of the country devoted to protecting endangered sea turtles. This is an active research station where turtle nesting and hatching are carefully studied by biologists and research assistants. Through their efforts, sea turtle populations have been gradually increasing over the past decade. Every night, researchers and volunteers patrol the beach to protect newly hatched turtles and to guard against poachers. During our recent trip to Costa Rica, we found a nest brimming with newly hatched leatherback sea turtles.  We watched the miracle of these small creatures flipping their way across the beach to reach the sea.  Only the tiniest fraction of them will reach adulthood.

Pushing along

While this nocturnal beach event was exhilarating to witness, the Pacuare lodge is not for every traveler. The accommodations are rather primitive and the humidity during the rainy season is severe. The only electricity available to you will be your flashlight. For those who want to touch the young turtles, you are not permitted to apply insect repellent on your arms as this might be toxic to the young turtles. I’ll leave it to your imagination what your arms might look like in the morning. However, this is an ideal site for younger travelers and students who will enjoy a few days of rustic life to participate in active animal conservation.

Remember, you will need travel vaccinations before traveling to Costa Rica. Hepatitis A and typhoid are present in several Central American countries, so travelers are advised to discuss these travel vaccines before departure.  Traveler’s diarrhea also frequently occurs in these locales, so make sure that you choose your food and beverages wisely.

Costa Rica is a rich experience for travelers.  Is it on your list yet?

*Photo credit : Chadica jimmyweee


Michael Kirsch, MD, is a practicing physician in Cleveland Ohio.  He is one of the founders of Travel Clinics of America, an organization devoted to the health and safety of international travelers.  This website offers travelers a wealth of information on travel vaccinations and health and safety tips, as well as finding a trained travel physician in your community.

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