- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After a late breakfast, wander along the deserted four miles of beach and study the tractor-like tracks of the previous night’s leatherback turtles. Then take an afternoon boat trip through the adjacent canals and into the reserve’s primary rainforest. Reserva Pacuara is Costa Rica’s most important nesting ground for leatherback turtles. The 1,850 acres of jungle, beaches, and canals are also home to birds such as toucans, herons, kingfishers, parrots, hummingbirds and such rainforest mammals as peccaries, two and three toed sloths, howler, spider and capuchin monkeys, the strange coatimundis, and pumas – just to name a few.
After the sun goes down, accompany one of the biologists on their turtle rounds. During nesting season, your job is to walk the beach looking for a leatherback laying eggs. When you find one, wait with the researcher until the turtle is done laying eggs. Then, have the chance to approach the turtle and assist in measuring and tagging it before the giant leatherback returns to the sea. Turtle egg poachers are a major threat to the survival of leatherbacks, so your next job is to carefully dig up the eggs and rebury them in another location so poachers cannot find the nest.
When the turtles begin to hatch later in the season, you have the chance to observe dozens and sometimes hundreds of baby leatherbacks scratching their way to the surface and making their way into the surf. The process is grueling. Hatchlings at the top of a nest often pack the sand below them so that their siblings cannot escape to the surface. This means that in the morning you might be invited to play midwife to these trapped baby turtles. By loosening the sand in certain nests, you allow hatchlings at the bottom a chance to escape to the sea to begin their lives. While the leatherbacks are hatching, 250-pound green turtles come to these same beaches to lay their eggs, and visitors can be out searching for these turtles, measuring, tagging, and hiding the nests of these endangered turtles too.