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“Jungle on your doorstep” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Congo Bongo

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Congo Bongo
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Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, Manzanillo 506, Costa Rica   |  
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20% off room rate
1 review
“Jungle on your doorstep”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 18, 2009

We had a great week at Congo Bongo. Although unprepared for the wet season, we loved living in the middle of the jungle with busy animal life right on our doorstep. With howler monkeys and crabs and fireflies keeping us company – and having kilometres of Caribbean beach all to ourselves!

Stayed December 2008
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208 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (27)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
gouda, Holland
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2009

My wife and I stayed in San Jose for a week and we had it with that place, so we were happy to go to the outside, to Congo Bongo in Manzanillo. We didn't know the place, but we heard some good stories about it.
And, as we wrote before, it was great!!!
The owner and wife greeted us with open arms.
We had a beautiful bungalow, so quiet, so sereen, unbelievable.
Close to beach and the setting is outstanding.
We thought, we were on a island with no people what so ever!
All this for a reasonable price too.
Also a restaurant on the property and otherwise we walked to the "centre" of Manzanillio and found nice people, 2 or 3 good restaurants and a nice walk to there!
The beaches, by the way, are white, fine sand and blue sea, good to swim, no undertow, good for us and also great for a family with children.
To make a long story, it is really excellent!
We advise everybody to go there. Make time and see for yourself!

  • Liked — The total experience, beach and forest!
  • Disliked — Evrything is great.
  • Stayed November 2008, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Battle Creek, Michigan
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 18, 2008

Our family stayed a week in the Palm House at Congo Bongo in December of 2008. We have twin 2-year-old girls who absolutely loved it and we cannot wait to go back. Daan and Marisol were fabulous hosts and took great care of us. Beyond that we were alone and appreciated the secluded privacy. While maybe not for everyone we really enjoyed being right in the middle of the rainforest jungle and seeing all of the howler monkeys and lizards. Mosquitos were not that bad during our stay. The house gave us the feeling of camping in the jungle yet it was well equipped for our needs and comfort. The walk to the beach is through a beautiful and pristine section of protected rainforest. I think it is a bit longer than 200 meters and the boardwalk may need a little work but it only added to the adventure. It rained a few of the days while we were there but we still got several sunny days to enjoy swimming in the warm Caribbean Sea. If you need something to do on a rainy day I highly recommend a visit to the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary up the road in Cahuita. There are several great restaurants nearby in Puerto Viejo but our favorite was Maxi's in Manzanillo. It is within walking distance and we ate there 3 times. The whole red snapper is delicious. Again anyone who goes to Congo Bongo expecting a luxury resort will be disappointed. If you go expecting a great jungle adventure and are not scared of a few bugs then you will love it. We are now back in cold and snowy Michigan wishing we could return.

  • Liked — Secluded in the rainforst yet close to everything.
  • Stayed December 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 17, 2008

First, I would like to say that all the other reviews are correct in the level of beauty found at this place. The amount of wildlife directly surrounding the area is amazing. But, I found the website to be very untruthful in its description, which is what I based my choice of accommodations on.

My first experience began when the owner Daan and his dog, or is it a horse, showed us the "cabin". While we where standing and chatting, the dog decides to mark his territory on one of the small statues in the sitting area and then decides to crap in the grass right next to the sitting area. Never during the entire stay was it cleaned up. Great start.

Not one of the houses on the property are 200mts. from the beach as is advertised. Not even as a toucan flies is it 200mts. from the ocean. The beach is at least a 1/2 mile walk through the jungle from most of the houses. Albeit the walk is very beautiful, it gets to be a chore hauling gear to the beach every day. I am not sure, but I don't think four years of use constitutes a house to be "new" as most of the rentals are also advertised.

These houses are NOT "totally screened in" as is advertised. In fact, all the windows are unscreened and are only secured with the use of wooden shutters. Works really good when it's 85 degrees and 90% humidity, NOT. Insects and animals come and go as they please, Crawling and crapping on your dishes, food and clothing. We had to clean a set dishes to use when we first got there. I know, I sound like a whimp, but I spend a considerable amount of time in the field hunting, fishing and camping and am very comfortable with nature. But when you make travel decisions to a foreign land based on an owners description and then plan, prepare and pack for such and then are surprised when arriving, that makes a week stay tough. Although the wood used is exquisite, this place is a notch below any of the rustic log cabins I have stayed in while hunting. The latter at least had protection from the biting insects. Funny, but like someone else's review stated, the mosquitos where only bad when we where there too. Hmmmmm.

The comfort level of this place leaves alot to be desired. There is absolutly no where to sit and relax that is comfortable for more than 5 minutes. All the furniture is wood and without any cushion. My wife is tiny, and she couldn't stand it after the second day. One hammock that holds one person is not enough for any sort of relaxation for more than, well, one person.

As for amenities, it was nice to have drinking water provided, but the pump/spout being used is left out in the open with the dishes, so as you can imagine, was not clean. Yes, other than toilet paper, this was the only amenity.

You must place all your used toilet paper in a waste basket, including paper used for crapping, and not once during our week stay was any of the trash collected. The "fresh" linens provided had obviously been on the bed for weeks (not used, just placed) and only after asking for them to be cleaned on the fourth day where we obliged.

As far as help from the owners, every time we checked at reception, there was never anyone there. When we did walk to the owners house, all his wife would say is that Daan was sick and sleeping because of the previous nights drunken stooper. It seems that Daan's drunken tyraids are quite famous around Manzanillo.

The beach is beautiful but is full of debris and local trash, which seems to be the norm for this side ofCosta Rica. Not a lot of pride in their country. There is also a serious issue with Chitra's. These are tiny flea like insects with a nasty bite that will last for 10 days, only if you don't scratch it. Think bad case of poison ivy. That was the only thing I could compare the itch too. The bed netting is no match for these guys. Natural "Bug Off" seemed to be the only relief.

Overall, I think if I where a little more truthfully informed about the place we could have been prepared for the week of camping. As it went, our relaxing vacation became one of always being worried about what was crawling about at night and being tortured by the wooden chairs.

As for those of you whom disagree with me, you won't have to worry about me booking up the houses on your special days. There are way nicer places to stay for the price and I will never waste my money on this place again. Check out Casa Dikini, we stayed there last year and will go back next time.

  • Liked — The property arund the houses
  • Disliked — The accommodations themselves
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2008

First off, the place is incredible. Total privacy, yet totally open, and i mean literally, there's not a wall above waist high! This is definitely not a place for everyone, i mean, there are tons of bugs, crazy animal sounds, and like i said the place is open and in the middle of the rain forest. But for the adventurous type who know how to enjoy pure and raw nature, you'll have a blast! It's super fun to walk around and see the different creepy crawlies, wild trees, and look for monkeys way up in the trees! We had one run across the patio in the middle of the night during a rain storm, it was wild! But you see... We like that, we enjoyed all the surprises of being in the middle of the forest, especially since we were just a beautiful short walk to one of the best beaches in the area and one great restaurant where we could grab a drink or have some great local fish. The trip was awesome, but remember, this place is NOT in town, it's about 7 miles away in Manzanillo, so you'll need a vehicle or bikes or something to get around. We walked into town one day and it took us over 3 hours! So if you're coming to party at night and be close to the action, this is not the place for you. But if you want complete privacy in a wild environment, this might just be the place you're looking for.

  • Liked — Privacy
  • Disliked — mosquitoes
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Hampshire
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2008

If you love nature, you will love the Congo Bongo! This is truely paradise. The owner, Daan and his family are great hosts. They are happy to help with anything you may need during your stay including tours. We have been going to the Congo Bongo for 8 years and always enjoy our stay. We will be traveling again to Costa Rica in 2008 and the first place we booked was the Congo Bongo. The houses are private and set apart so you feel that you are alone in a jungle paradise. You can view all kinds of wildlife from your house ont he comfortable varanda that Daan built. We have howler monkeys that wake us every morning and play in the trees. I am an avid bird watcher and one morning a Tigger Heron visited us at our house, we also see keel billed and chestnut billed tucans along with various other birds right outside our house. The grounds are beautiful and I love the jungle trail to the beach in the mornings. The house itself is amazing and you have great views from every room. I will never stay anywhere else but the Congo Bongo, if you love nature you gotta stay here. A great experience! Kathy & Rae Thomas

Stayed February 2007
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2008

We have stayed at Congo-Bongo 3 times in as many years. As you may assume we really like it there. The pace is very laid back so if you want alot of excitement I don't recommend it. But if you are looking for peace and quiet and lots of time on a secluded beach go for it!
The owners, Daan and Marisol, are wonderful people. They are so friendly and do all they can to help you have a great time in Paradise! Also if you are in the market for real estate Daan can help you with that ,too.

Stayed February 2005
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Congo Bongo

Address: Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, Manzanillo 506, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Manzanillo
Beach Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Shuttle Bus service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 12 Specialty Lodging in Manzanillo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Congo Bongo is located at the Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife refuge at the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. It's surrounded by a great diversity of flora and fauna. The amazing unspoiled Caribbean Sea is just a few steps away.We have 7 rental houses, fully equipped. You will enjoy the peace and quiet of the tropical jungle and you will live an unforgettable experience. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Congo Bongo Hotel Manzanillo
Congo Bongo Costa Rica/Manzanillo

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