Oh my god! GO THERE!!!!!
Ok, will break it down. I just returned from a weekend in Tortuguero... single girly, 2 nights only (due to Spanish classes, grrrr!)
Bus from San Jose via Cariari and Pavona.
Tortuguero website goes into WAY too much detail. There is no 9am bus from Cariari to Pavona, so if you take the 6.30am bus from San Jose to Cariari, you still have to wait 3 hours for the 11.30 bus! Cariari was busy, lots of shops, bank, etc but HOT! There is a fried chicken/ fast food place opposite the old bus station with ceiling fans. It´s cheap and cool, I went there to wait because I was starting to cook. People were nice, free toilets if eat/drink there, drinks came with ice! Bus from San Jose only took 2 hours, dead easy. Only 4000 colones all the way from San Jose to Tortuguero and you don´t need a tour company, do it alone and save a stupid amount of money. Also, bus from Cariari filled up early, I got the last seat wentr I returned from the fast food place at 11.10. It left 6 minutes early, lots of people standing. Also website for Tortuguero village says about all the different companies- there was no choice so don´t worry about all that. There´s a bus- get it, there´s a boat- get it. Don´t stress with all their unneccesary detail. Nice restaurant space at Pavona.
Lancha trip- Pavona to Cariari
Well-organised, safe, fun on the bends! Lots of locals on boat, boat drivers slowed down to let us take photos of crocodiles. Quite long, but stunning scenery. AMAZING!
Hotel El Itaco
People waiting to greet guests at other end, Took big bags on bike to hotel, only short walk, friendly, smiley and very nice! Hotel in good location, rooms clean, lovely atmosphere, fab shower, big room, nice breakfast, $25 a night, fab owners- lovely! First night slept badly because of some very noisy Americans and Italians. Second night had amazing nights sleep. Fans in room, safe, recommend.
Don´t stress! Book it there, go with the flow! I went on hotel organised turtle tour- great. Saw green turtles laying eggs, covering eggs, leaving sea, returning to sea. Tour guide was Victor- explained turtle protection program well and clear that he loves his job. Would recommend Victor. Organised another tour with him the next day, walking in forest. AMAZING!!!! Saw eyelash viper, fer de lance snake skin, monkeys, red poison dart frogs, leaf cutter ants, all sorts of insects, too many ants, bats, massive spiders, more mosquitoes than ever before (Deep Woods Off worked well, only a handful of bites, but there were swarms of mosquitoes so got off lightly), peccary skull, incredible plants, most impressive trees ever and lots more. Also did Canoe tour with Abel- very good at imitating sounds of animals! Then did Casa Marbella tour with Daryl. AMAZING!!! He really knows his stuff. I´m a biologist and was absolutely blown away by this tour. He really cares and answered all my questions with a lot of detail. Saw 3 types of monkey, river otter, awesome birds, river turtles, baby caiman, big caiman, iguanas, soooooo much. Boat really is awesome- very quiet and Daryl has a fab eye for the animals. Other boats from the big lodges were zooming past and making too much noise for some of the animals. Definitely do a tour with Daryl!!!!
I travelled alone and felt 100% safe there. Have travelled across 4 continents (extensively) and this felt the SAFEST place I have EVER been to. I walked alone on the beach up until you have to get off, in the dark around the village, everywhere. Camera out taking photos, wore little shorts- no problem at all (wouldn´t have done this in most places!). People are friendly, lots of happy dogs in the strret. They don´t want food, they just want to trot along with you or sit next to you for a bit. Just looking for a bit of company!
Ate at Wild Ginger twice- would have gone somewhere else the second time but the food was THAT good! Lovely couple running it, reviews on trip advisor justified, great place. I never normally go back somewhere twice, but this had to be done!!!
- Arghhhh, AMAZING!!!!!!!
- Go there independently, don´t bother with expensive lodges- you´ll lose out big time (money and the experience, also Tortuga lodge motor boat was going above the speed limit in the national park, very bad impression in terms of whether they care about the money or the park) Buses are easy!
-I booked the hotel but sorted the rest out there, no need to stress!Edited: 2:55 pm, August 06, 2012