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Trip report-Tortuguero (El Itaco, tours, travel,Wild Ginger)

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Brighton, United...
posts: 262
reviews: 27
Trip report-Tortuguero (El Itaco, tours, travel,Wild Ginger)

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!!!!

The village

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
San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 44,931
reviews: 3
1. Re: Trip report-Tortuguero (El Itaco, tours, travel,Wild Ginger)

Thank you ...specailly that you dealt directly with services..providers and did not pay anything in advance to any body...some huge sharks around looking for your money....

Please come back soon...we love positive people like you!!


Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 6,074
reviews: 22
2. Re: Trip report-Tortuguero (El Itaco, tours, travel,Wild Ginger)

Great trip report Catfee! You've provided a lot of help to independent travelers. Can't wait to hear about your other weekend adventures.

Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 8,564
reviews: 58
3. Re: Trip report-Tortuguero (El Itaco, tours, travel,Wild Ginger)

Catfee, really enjoyed your report. Absolutely agree that Costa Rica is a place for independent travelers. Hopefully others will took courage reading your report, and do the same, also in other areas.

Lake Havasu City...
Destination Expert
for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
posts: 6,808
reviews: 6
4. Re: Trip report-Tortuguero (El Itaco, tours, travel,Wild Ginger)

Awesome report!!

Tortuguero, Costa...
posts: 78
5. Re: Trip report-Tortuguero (El Itaco, tours, travel,Wild Ginger)

Great to hear you had such a wonderful experience! Tortuguero really is a magical place, unlike any other destination in Costa Rica. I wholeheartedly agree with all of your recommendations, and hope that future travelers will take your advice. I've just started helping out with TortugueroVillage.com, so I appreciate the corrections and will look into that section soon.

I am really glad you enjoyed our food so much! We're trying to remember you, when did you come in? What did you eat? Any constructive criticisms for us?

Thanks again, and if you haven't done so already, we'd be thankful for a quick review. We're striving for #1 in the province of Limón (currently #3) and every review helps!

Tortuguero, Costa...
posts: 78
6. Re: Trip report-Tortuguero (El Itaco, tours, travel,Wild Ginger)

Thanks for the review! Of course we remember you, but I was confused because I thought you were French! ;) Don't worry about the little white lie, we were happy to practice Spanish with you!

Enjoy Orosi, and definitely go and see Frank and Marie Claire if you can arrange for her to cook a meal for you!



San Francisco...
posts: 68
reviews: 3
7. Re: Trip report-Tortuguero (El Itaco, tours, travel,Wild Ginger)

Love to hear this. Were staying at Casa Marbella for two nights next week. Would it be easy to take busses from PV? Gecko wants to charge $55 pp. How much cheaper would it be on our own? Would it take longer?

Tortuguero, Costa...
posts: 78
8. Re: Trip report-Tortuguero (El Itaco, tours, travel,Wild Ginger)

I'm not sure about the cost, but the public option would be a bus to Limón, another to Moín, and then a taxi to the boat docks. The boat alone costs about $40 per person, so $55 from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero sounds pretty reasonable. You might save a few bucks with the bus option, but you won't have to transfer from bus to bus to taxi.

The alternative would be a bus to Guápiles, another to Cariari, and a third to La Pavona, where you catch the public boat to Tortuguero. This way might save you some money, but it's less direct and more of a hassle, as you have to change busses so many times.

I think you'd catch the MEPE bus that goes to San José (~$14) and tell the driver you want to get off in Guápiles, and if they don't stop at the terminal you need a taxi (~$2), then the bus to Cariari that leaves every 20 minutes ($2), then the bus to La Pavona that leaves at 11:30 or 3:00pm ($2), and finally the boat ($3.20). Altogether, about $24 per person, so much cheaper. The trip would take about 6 1/2 hours, and you have to plan well to make sure you don't miss the last bus, because there are no later boats to Tortuguero.

I guess you just have to decide what's more important: saving a few bucks, or having a more comfortable trip and more time to relax. I would vote for the Moín route, because you're on vacation and you should be comfortable and relaxed.

San Francisco...
posts: 68
reviews: 3
9. Re: Trip report-Tortuguero (El Itaco, tours, travel,Wild Ginger)

You definitely helped me decide hahaha. Ill stick with the shuttle through Gecko. Where is your restaurant? We will have to come in.

Tortuguero, Costa...
posts: 78
10. Re: Trip report-Tortuguero (El Itaco, tours, travel,Wild Ginger)

We're at the north end of the village, just two minutes or so from the park with the giant toucan and parrot statues. From that park, you head straight toward the beach and turn left where we have a sign hanging in a tree. You can see our sign hanging over the path, and it's about 200mts. from the tree.

It actually sounds more complicated than it is.

Hope to see you soon!