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“Great spot if you don't mind the lack of privacy” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Tortugal

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Tortugal
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Rio Dulce, Guatemala   |  
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Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
57 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 81 helpful votes
“Great spot if you don't mind the lack of privacy”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2013

We really enjoyed our bungalow stay here. The location is simply beautiful (sunrise is worth waking up for), there's a nice little boardwalk to explore, free kayaks, a great library/book exchange and a large TV in the common room. There's also a swim raft with a couple of lounge chairs on it and pulley-style bucket service to the bar. There is wifi in the restaurant area, but the signal was unstable in our room. Tortugal is also a marina, so you can check out the boats and chat a bit with the liveaboard lifestylers if you are so inclined. Since you can only get here by boat and there are no other places within walking distance, you are a captive audience for the food, which was OK (not great), and moderately priced.

The bungalows are rustic, thatch roof affairs with mosquito nets and large open spaces at the tops of the walls. This leads to the major thing overnighters need to be aware of -- you can hear a pin drop in the room next door. It's as if they are in the room with you. Every word of every conversation and every sound from every activity is heard with perfect clarity in your room.

All in all, it's a naturally beautiful place for a day or two of rest and relaxation. It's alive with birds in the morning and hot enough to want to swim in the afternoon. One more thing -- English is definitely spoken here, and some (not all) of the staff had no patience for my limited Spanish.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
daphnetortugal, Owner at Tortugal, responded to this review, March 9, 2013
Thank you for your review. I am sorry about the lack of privacy, it is something we definitely want to change. Not yet sure how to do it but we will figure it out.
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161 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    86
    56
    8
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    4
See reviews for
21
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 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 (29)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Munich
Level Contributor
16 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2013

I had a wonderful stay at the Tortugal and would have liked to stay longer but all beds were booked already. So, I only stayed two nights in the open air loft El Ranchito. It is a four bed dormitory on the second floor overlooking the marina. It was absolutely wonderful lying in my bed overlooking the river and the marina.
The dorms, the common toilets and showers were all well maintained and clean. In addition, the manager helped me with all my questions and gave me really good advice on what to do and how to get there. It is a very good value for your money. Highly recommended.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Summertown, Tennessee
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2013

Tortugal is awesome! Manuel and the staff took such great care of us, going above and beyond on little details that made our stay amazing. The place is beautiful, with fun central areas (great food) and a maze of docks right on the lake. The location is central, making it an easy spot to head out on adventures to Livingston, the hot waterfalls, Rio Dulce, etc. or just hang out reading, playing pool and paddling around in their kayaks and canoes. Our private bungalow was lovely, clean, comfy and only $40 per night. Highly recommended!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Columbus, Ohio
Level Contributor
22 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 8, 2013

Our family of four stayed in the hostel, which consists of four beds upstairs in a thatch-roof shelter (no walls) built on a section of the yacht dock. (Rained hard all one day -- the thatch never leaked, though all the geckos came inside.) Each mosquito-netted bed had an associated large, lockable trunk that could easily fit a backpacker's gear. The shelter is cross-shaped, and the hostel (2nd level) had a bed in each gable and a central common area having a settee and coffee table with a few books. Each bed alcove had a small light, and there was one light in the common area. The first floor of the shelter had a picnic table, a non-functioning propane burner, and a hammock, and served as a pass-through on the boardwalk through the mangroves to the bathroom (two bamboo-screened toilets and one shower). You share the lower level of the shelter with other guests, including bungalow guests who come down to the water to do yoga and yachters who use the picnic table for odd jobs or meals. The dock cat comes and goes. Down the dock 100yd is the main structure, a large, mostly-open restaurant with an upstairs pool table and lounge (couch and books), and two finger docks for visiting lanchas (motor boats driven by the locals who come to peddle fresh fruits or deliver guests from the town a mile away) -- you can dive and swim off the dock there, very popular with our kids. Food was good and not too overpriced, though selection was limited. The other guests are mostly boaters of one stripe or another, and most of the boats docked there can handle the open ocean with berths for 2-6 people (they were mostly sailboats). We found most of the guests friendly, and the staff helpful. We really enjoyed hiring a lancha one day to take us down to the mouth of the Rio Dulce, to the Caribbean town of Livingston; another day we took the hostel kayaks upriver to Lago Isabal and toured the stone fort ruins. We hired a beautiful boat and her captain for a sunset sail that was exhilarating. We fished off the dock, though the aforementioned cat expertly grabbed my son's fish and made off with it as soon as he unhooked it! A wonderful, lazy interlude in an otherwise very busy trip. Why am I posting a year later? I was just re-reading my journal of last year's 3-month trip to Guatemala and found the entry on Tortugal. We'd certainly go there again; before we arrived there our kids (10 and 12) were leery of a place with no walls, but by the time we left they thought staying there was "like being inside a book." We paid $10/bed (January 2012).

Room Tip: The hostel over the dock is EXACTLY what you want, if you like a breeze, a view across the wide rive...
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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daphnetortugal, Owner at Tortugal, responded to this review, February 15, 2013
Thank you for such a professional review...and that you were pleased with The Ranchito and the company of Louise, our Marina cat. Your review is such a pleasure for me to read,it makes it all worthwhile. We are at your service. Hope to see you here again soon.
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San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Level Contributor
48 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2013

We chose a bungalow for our stay because we prefer a private bath. The dwelling is spacious and clean and we have yet to see a scorpion here in the middle of the jungle on the side of the Rio Dulce. The staff is excellent and very helpful. The community of North American and European sailors that spend the winter here, on and off their boats, is interesting and included us in an adventure to the hot springs. I read the unfavorable reviews and they were from 2009 and 2010, indicating to me that the managerial problems have been resolved. We are spending 5 nights here and are very, very relaxed.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cuttingsville, Vermont
Level Contributor
94 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 25, 2013

This is our second time at Tortugal but our first time staying in their rooms. Last May we spent a week here on our boat and enjoyed it so this year we booked rooms while getting our boat ready to launch over at Ram Marine. Our first room was in the Bungalows and very charming and comfortable with a mosquito net over our bed. The hotel is was designed by someone with an artistic bent and has lots of lovely local details. Most rooms have a bookcase with a selection of books and natural materials are often used. The staff are very nice and helpful. We hadn't booked enough days so had to move to one of their rooms next. It was smaller although with two small rooms and no mosquito net, although so far I've only seen one of these critters.
The food has been very good. Lovey fresh fruit and vegetables plus a good choice of proteins in various sauces. I loved the fish with coconut milk and twice baked potato. They all come with salad or steamed veggies. The chicken soup with noodles is terrific. Grilled chicken is a favorite too. Friday night is movies and pizza out on the deck.
They have a house for rent, some suites and dorm accommodations as well. This is a popular marina so you meet lots of boaters from the U.S., Canada and Europe.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Guatemala City, Guatemala, Guatemala
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2013

I recently travel to Rio Dulce and stayed at Tortugal. The room was well priced and clean. When finding things to do, they staff helped us find what we needed. They recommended a wonderful restaurant for dinner. The food was pretty good. I highly recommend the breakfast burrito. The kitchen closes at 8pm, and the bar at 9pm, so not a late night party place. It was quite with great scenery and friendly guest. Overall, the staff was wonderful. There was one waitress that I hope was new. They only take visa but they allowed me to pay for my room via paypal, since I only had a MasterCard with me.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Tortugal

Address: Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Phone Number:
Location: Guatemala > Izabal Department > Rio Dulce
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 16 Specialty Lodging in Rio Dulce
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tortugal is your little piece of paradise at the edge of Guatemala, set 22 miles across the mountains from the Caribbean Ocean. We are firmly out of reach from hurricanes, and yet Belize, Honduras and Mexico are just a short sail away.Tortugal is a welcoming and tranquil place where your worries float down river. All of our guests will find our lodgings elegantly simple, comfortable, clean and graciously quiet. Our hotel prices will fit all budgets, from a single bed in our hostel to an entire home for rent by the day, week or month.We have a wonderful restaurant/bar at the edge of the river. Homemade food made fresh every day. Adventures abound: from kayaking and swimming on the river, to exploring local caves and geo-thermal waterfalls.The Rio Dulce region is located on La Ruta Maya, the an ancient Mayan pathway. By land one can travel easily by bus to most anywhere in Central America and Mexico. Rio Dulce is just 45 minutes away from the border of Honduras at Los Encuentros, and 4/12 hours away from all of the following: The Mexican border just below Palenque; San Ignacio, Belize; and the fabulous ruins of Tikal in northern Guatemala or Copan just across the border in Honduras. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Tortugal Guatemala/Rio Dulce

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