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“Excellent jungle lodge” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Tortuga Lodge & Gardens

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Tortuga Lodge & Gardens
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Across from the airstrip | 1 mile north of the Town of Tortuguero, Tortuguero 6941, Costa Rica   |  
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4th Night Free
Ranked #1 of 9 Hotels in Tortuguero
Cardiff,Wales
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
107 helpful votes 107 helpful votes
“Excellent jungle lodge”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2014

The river journey from La Paviona to Tortuguera in torrential rain was an exciting introduction to Tortuguera. The lodge is one of the furthest from the village - a 5 or 10 minute boat ride - but once you get there it is a spectacular spot situated right on the waters edge. Our room was roomy and airy and the fact that there was merely mesh rather than glass in the windows only added to the atmosphere as we could clearly hear the sounds of the rain forest and the torrential rain while in bed.
Vivianna on reception was delightful and very helpful, nothing seemed too much for her.

We had a very good 3 course lunch on our first day but were very disappointed with both the dinner and the breakfast and were glad that on our second evening we went to Wild Ginger which was exceptional. The staff in the dining room were however very pleasant.

We chose to make our own arrangements for turtle watching and a kayak trip into the jungle as those offered by the hotel seemed very expensive.

The natural looking pool was situated within a foot or so of the river and it was delightful to cool off in. There were plenty of beds and hammocks , the hotel also offers complimentary coffees and pre dinner canapés which our family took full advantage of !

We borrowed boots from the hotel and decided to walk the trails behind the property but gave up pretty quickly as it was exceptionally muddy and the bugs were unbearable.

All in all it was a very good choice to stay in while in Tortuguera which itself is well worth a visit although we would not have wanted to stay more than 2 or 3 nights there.

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Natalia J, Guest Satisfaction at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, responded to this review, August 7, 2014
Dear welshbelle,

Your description of your room, the sounds of the forest and the rain while you were in Tortuguero made me smile.

I am glad to hear that you enjoyed the staff, setting, pool, the screened window in your room. We have tested them so that they do not allow the mosquitoes to get in but they do allow the breeze to flow freely making the rooms very cool and refreshing. These screened windows also give you the opportunity to experience the sounds of the rain forest while you are in Tortuguero. It is part of what we try to offer: the rainforest experience.

I’m glad that you enjoyed the tours you booked in town, some of them are quite good . Our tours seem more expensive on the surface, but they include round trip transportation, the entrance fee to the park, refreshments while on tour and the services of an English speaking Naturalist Guide. When you book your tours in town, a lot of the time one or more of the things listed are not included, so the initial price is lower, but by the time you add things like the entrance fee, they are the same or very close to the same.

I was concerned when I read that you didn’t enjoy our food, we’ve recently gotten several reviews where guests rave about it. I am not able to track down your reservation to see what specific dishes you had that you found so disappointing. if you have the time and can let us know what it was about the food and which dishes you ordered, we would really appreciate it. We work hard to provide exceptional meals in a very remote location, if one of these recipes is not working for our guests we would like to know to see how we can improve it.

I hope you enjoyed the rest of your time in Costa Rica!

Best Regards,

Natalia Jiron
Guest Satisfaction
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413 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
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English first
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2014 via mobile

The Tortuga Lodge and Gardens is an excellent choice of accommodation for anyone looking for a comfortable, welcoming, value-for-money stay in Tortuguero.

Even though it was the rainy reason, it could not put a damper on our trip and stay as the staff at the Tortuga Lodge and Gardens brightened it up with their helpful attitudes. The surroundings are beautiful and include a lot of wildlife, and the rooms are by comfortable.

The best thing about our stay was probably the food! An amazing selection from breakfast through to dinner kept us looking forward to each meal! You won't be hungry or displeased here.

Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
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Natalia J, Guest Satisfaction at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, responded to this review, August 6, 2014
Dear Jarred L,

Thank you for writing such a great review about Tortuga Lodge & Gardens. I was delighted to see that you though that the best thing about your stay was the food and that our selection kept you looking forward to each meal!It was wonderful to read that you felt you made an excellent choice and that it was comfortable, welcoming and good value-for money. .

You must have been at the lodge while we’ve had a low preassure system ……, it’s great that you had fun with it, as you know, Tortuguero is located in one of the largest lowland tropical rainforests in Central Ameria and rain is part of the mix. How much rain depends on the season, but we seldom have to cancel activities and have plenty of rubber boots, umbrellas and rain ponchos on hand for those times when they are needed.
The menu you enjoyed is served using the freshest local ingredients. As you were able to see at our riverside restaurant, we are slowly transitioning from serving fixed menu family style meals to offering a reduced a la carte menu for breakfast and dinner. We schedule meals around the activities that you plan on doing while you are here so that one does not get in the way of the other.


We hope you will return to Costa Rica someday, since you enjoyed Tortuga Lodge so much, you may want to try our sister hotel in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Monteverde Lodge & Gardens.

All the Best,

Natalia Jiron
Guest Satisfaction
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Harrison, Arkansas
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 3, 2014

My husband and I recently traveled to Costa Rica with our granddaughter. We were fortunate to have included Torguga Lodge and Gardens in our itinerary. It is very close to the Tortuguero National Park, one of the last large tropical rain forests in Central America. Our guide, Juan, took us on a turtle expedition late at night and spotted turtle tracks across the beach, leading us to a female making her nest. After a patient wait, we were able to watch her lay her eggs. A magical experience! How Juan could see those tracks in almost total darkness was a mystery. We also went on a natural boat excursion through the creeks of Tortugero National Park and saw lots of birds and caimans. Another highlight was the "Word Adventure" where the lodge guides will take you on a short boat ride to a local school to help young children with English lessons. I highly recommend this, especially if you are traveling with children. The fact that the meals were fresh and delicious was icing on the cake! The only suggestion I would make is to be sure and check with a local staff member before you walk the nature trails behind the lodge. After a hard rain, they can be flooded and you can get disoriented. Clearly marked "This way to Lodge" signage at forks in the trails would be helpful.

Room Tip: Second floor rooms catch the best breezes and avoid foot traffic by your door and windows.
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Natalia J, Guest Satisfaction at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, responded to this review, August 5, 2014
Dear QR365,

Thank you for your great post about our lodge.

I will let Juan know how much you enjoyed the Turtle Nesting tour you had with him. It also amazes me how they are able to spot a turtle in the darkness. After doing this for so long they really do become experts at their field. I cannot tell if you reserved the standard turtle nesting tour or the private turtle nesting expedition that we offer our guests.The Private turtle nesting tour is highly recommended by our staff since instead of being in a group with 50 other people like in the standard tour, we offer you a private group experience of a maximum of 8 people gathered around a turtle. Our guests get the chance to have a more up close experience that will remain in their memories for a long time. On top of that you can choose from a picnic or a gourmet meal under the stars at the Jaloba Ranger Station. It is quite the experience.

The Words Adventure Program started out as an education experiment for the local children of Tortuguero and continues to be a good way to involve lodge guests with the surrounding community in a way that is both fun and beneficial for all. We have seen that it is extremely popular among our guests that travel with children since they get to spend some time with other children teaching them their language. I am glad that you got a chance to enjoy this activity with your granddaughter.

Our lodge’s trails are two short trails behind the lodge that offer the opportunity to view nature and tropical wildlife but they are muddy by nature and flood when it rains a lot. We always recommend that our guests check with us first just to see how the trails are doing on that day. We will give you rubber boots at no extra cost and we recommend not to start your hike after 5:00 pm since it gets dark and dangerous very fast. The way to have the best chance of seeing wildlife on the trails is to start by walking a few minutes down the trail and then stand still for at least a half hour- the more time the better. We had signs set up throughout them but they seem to have come down somehow. I have let the maintenance department know and they told me they will send somebody to go put them up again. Thank you for letting us know about this.


Thank you for taking the time to tell us how you felt about the Tortuga Lodge & Gardens.

Kind Regards

Natalia Jiron
Guest Satisfaction
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Mississippi
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2014

This is an area that is not easily accessible; however, I would not miss it as a part of visiting Costa Rica. We came in by boat and left by plane. Flying is much more convenient, but I decided to come by van since we arrived in San Jose at noon and wouldn't be able to catch the plane until the next morning. The big drawback was the rain and humidity, but isn't this what you'd expect in a rain forest during the rainy season? The staff was great, and we loved the food! The restaurant was right on the water so that we could see an iguana walking by the pool. We tried to use the trails behind the lodge, but the water was up to our knees- too much rain! Needless to say, we didn't see much wildlife on the trails. We took a private turtle nesting tour and found our turtle coming in from the beach as we were walking to the beach. I would recommend the private tour because you go to an area that the group tours don't go. We were excited to find our turtle!

Room Tip: The rooms at the end are more private. Without air conditioning you really don't want to close...
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Natalia J, Guest Satisfaction at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, responded to this review, August 5, 2014
Dear pam5959,

Thank you for spending some time at our lodge and for saying that “This is an area that is not easily accessible; however, I would not miss it as a part of visiting Costa Rica” Tortuguero is definately a remote area, but that’s its main charm and getting there is half the fun. We offer our guests the option of flying in or out if they are willing, as this saves them the long bus and boat ride. Our hope is that the boat ride, plus passing through Braullio Carrillo National Park, makes the land journey interesting enough so that they enjoy it. Still you do save a lot of traveling time if you arrive and depart by air.

It’s great that you got to see a turtle just as you were getting to the beach. I hope that you were able to see the whole process or at least a part of it. You are right to recommend the private turtle nesting tours since you avoid the crowds and end up having a more personal and close experience. You don’t have to wait a lot to get your chance to enjoy the sight plus you get the great meal under the stars as a special treat.

The Caribbean experienced some heavy rainfall which caused the trails to flood. I am sorry you were not able to enjoy them. They are usually very muddy that’s why we offer rubber boots free of charge at the reception area. Raining is of course a distinct possibility when visiting Tortuguero. As you say, it is the rainforest. There is a good chance it will rain during any stay there, although the amount is very variable. Sometimes you may get days of sun ,other times you may have days broken up with violent but brief showers, and sometimes it can rain heavily for an extended period. This is what keeps the rainforest lush and alive with wildlife. I hope you had a chance to enjoy the many boat tours we offer our guests that take them through the canals where they are able to enjoy just that.

It was great to have you stay with us.

Cordially,

Natalia Jiron
Guest Satisfaction
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London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2014

after a torturous trip to get here.... the road was flooded causing a 2 hour detour to a different boat dock, it is a very attractive spot.....

authentic style, breakfast was good, dinner a bit bland - food is not the highlight here.... but the surroundings are stunning... the river cruise is interesting, even in the rain, and the guide is informative. All staff were pleasant, helpful and friendly.....
Wi fi worked in the reception area but was not a strong signal.....

Worth flying out... the airstrip is right across from the hotel and saves that long approach on very basic roads......

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Natalia J, Guest Satisfaction at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, responded to this review, August 1, 2014
Dear Lesley R,

The heavy rains that affected the Caribbean coast last week were caused by the speeding up of the North Easterly Trade Winds, due to a high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of México. I’m sorry that the two nights you stayed at our lodge (July 26-28th) the weather was affected by this particular event.

On the Saturday that you got to the hotel, we were not able to use the usual La Pavona route we use due to high water level the river, so we had to go through Caño Blanco which is a different entry dock than the one we normally use. This was decided en route when we were notified of the situation with the rivers rising. This caused the 2 hour delay to get to the lodge. We apologize for the inconvenience but we had to alter our route as a precaution and a safety measure for our guests.

For guests considering a stay at Tortuga Lodge, we offer packages where you get to decide what kind of transportation you want. You can go to/from Tortuguero by bus and boat or in a shared single engine charter flight. It normally takes half a day to get to Tortuguero by bus and boat. The flight is a 30 minute flight. We are happy to plan your trip so that you go one way by land and one way by air or any combination of your choosing.

The weather ended up slowing down our WiFi service as well. Since the rains were so heavy, most of our guests went to the reception area and were using some sort of device all at the same time; this of course made it even slower.

Fortunately, we were able to get it up quickly. We recently installed a new fiber optic system which allows for broader bandwith that has improved the service. All told we were without internet for about 45 minutes and it took our IT Manager about 15 minutes to fix the problem remotely from San Jose.

I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy the food. I checked with our lodge and I was told you had the pork loin served with roasted peppers, pineapple sauce with baked potato wedges and the red snapper with a spicy star fruit and tomato sauce served with Caribbean seasoned mixed vegetables. I am inquiring to see if we have gotten any other feedback in regards to these two specific dishes. If they are not working, we definitely want to make the necessary changes to them. We appreciate your comments and will look further into this

I was really glad to hear that inspite of how hard you had to work to get there; you enjoyed your time in Tortuguero. You’re right, the river scenery is stunning and a good guide makes all the difference.

I hope you enjoyed the rest of your time in Costa Rica and that the weather was better at your next stop.

Kind Regards,

Natalia Jiron
Guest Satisfaction
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Oldenzaal, The Netherlands
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2014

First, I have to say that the resort is really beautiful. We had booked a room on the first floor and although there was no airconditioning it didn't really get hot in the room as there was also a fan. There were insect screens instead of windows which was nice and breezy and you could hear howler monkeys and tucans in the morning. Hammocks add to the laidback feeling. Coffee is available for free all day and there is a small but nice swimmingpool. There are however some things to keep in mind when you plan on going here. The resort is not easily accessible and if you wish to eat or have breakfast anywhere else you have to go by boat. Breakfast is rather expensive as well as all the other food that is served. There is no shop where you could buy a bottle of soda or some snacks. Tours are expensive. We only booked Tortuga Lodge and Gardens because we wanted to see the turtles nesting on the beach. We paid $ 49 per person, walked for about an hour and then had to wait in the dark for two hours. The guide said there were no turtles on the beach so we walked back the same distance. I can understand why the hotel cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of the turtles but I don't agree with their policy that this risk should lie fully with the customer. The next morning we asked for a refund of part of the money we paid but the manager advised us to write an email which I did. Unfortunately I still didn't receive an answer. All in all I would not visit Tortuga Lodge and Gardens again.

Room Tip: Rooms on the first floor are nice.
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Natalia J, Owner at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, responded to this review, July 29, 2014
Dear Linda,

I am the CEO and Founder of Costa Rica Expeditions, the company that owns Tortuga Lodge. Julian asked me to respond to your email.

Whether or not we should refund you all or part of what you paid for the turtle tour is part of the larger question of whether hotels and travel companies should assume all or part of the risk for things that are not in our control. This does not only apply to whether or not guests were able to see wild-life, but also to anything else that we cannot control and effects the quality of the guests’ experience. For example the weather.

If we guarantee or partially guarantee the experience, the refunds we have to give if the experience does not live up to the guarantee would increase our costs and the increased costs would be reflected in a higher price. Whether or not to guarantee and charge more or not guarantee and charge less is a decision that each company makes. Guaranteeing that guests will see a particular animal or have good weather is rare, but not unheard of.

In our case we have come to the decision that the cost of wholly or partially guaranteeing that you will see turtle nesting outweighs the benefits of doing so. For this reason we do not guarantee the experience.

Almost all guests understand that seeing turtle nesting is not guaranteed and do not request a refund. For us to give a refund to perhaps the half a percent of those guests who do not see turtles and ask for a refund and not the 99.5% of the guests who do not see turtles would not be fair to the guests who did not ask for a refund.

I am sorry, but as long we have been honest with you and not told you that seeing a nesting turtle is fully or partially guaranteed, it would not be right to give you a refund. If you feel that someone from Costa Rica Expeditions or Tortuga Lodge told you that seeing a turtle nesting was all or partially guaranteed, please let me know the details and we will look into it and reconsider your request for a refund.

There is one other situation in which we would refund. Though we do not guarantee that you will see turtle nesting, we do guarantee that your guide will be highly professional. If you do not feel that you guide was interesting and entertaining we will contact the other people in your turtle nesting group and consider giving everyone in your group a refund.

Sincerely,


Michael Kaye
CEO & Founder
Costa Rica Expeditions & Nicaragua Expeditions
Legendary Service*Unforgettable Memories®
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Omaha, Nebraska
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2014

We stayed here in May 2014. Overall an excellent place place to stay. we did this a part of a package deal thru costa rica expeditions which is a great travel company.( see my separate review) we stayed here for 3 nights and 4 days. Rooms were great. only drawback was rooms were not air conditioned and it was hot and humid - but what do you expect you are in the middle of the jungle. Pool is nice and great after watching critters all day. Food was amazing and had a good variety with great salads, main courses, and deserts. Service was outstanding. The guides were friendly and very knowledgable. Nothing better that coming back after 4 hours on a boat looking for critters that to come back to the lodge and have fresh juice and ice cold towels for your face :) nice touch. Our main guide Nelson was a great bird spotter and had a wealth of knowledge. Gardens are full of wildlife and you are able to walk around and see lots of neat things. we did 4 private wildlife cruises which I would highly recommend.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Natalia J, Guest Satisfaction at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, responded to this review, July 29, 2014
Dear rigbypuppy,

I am glad that you found your stay at the Tortuga Lodge & Gardens to be excellent overall.

You’re right, Tortuguero can be hot and humid but as you say, that’s to be expected in the rainforest. We originally designed the lodge so that our guests could hear and feel the forest around them as much as possible. . The large screened windows allow the breeze to flow freely and at the same time let you hear the sounds of the gardens and the rainforest beyond. Each room has a ceiling fan to help keep you cool while you are in the room. Most of the time between the breeze and the fan the temperature is comfortable, but occasionally it’s not.

You really seemed to enjoy your tours into Tortuguero National Park “looking for critters” without a doubt this is one of the highlights of visiting Tortuguero. Three species of monkey, the many possibilities of seeing tropical birds, reptiles and amphibians and the always present possibility of finding River Otter, Tapir or something even more exciting keeps our guides enthusiastic about sharing these creeks and lagoons with our guests.

I was especially happy to read about how much you enjoyed the food. Our Executive Chef, Federico Barrantes, is one of Costa Rica’s new young chefs. He says his goal with Tortuga Lodge & Gardens is to surprise his guests with the freshness of the ingredients and the high quality food even in such a remote location. From your review I think he succeeded.

I read your post for our sister property, Monteverde Lodge & Gardens. Thank you for visiting our two lodges.

We hope you will return to Costa Rica some day and visit us once again.

Kind Regards,

Natalia Jiron
Guest Satisfaction
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Additional Information about Tortuga Lodge & Gardens

Address: Across from the airstrip | 1 mile north of the Town of Tortuguero, Tortuguero 6941, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Tortuguero
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( Wi-Fi ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 9 Hotels in Tortuguero
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Tortuga Lodge & Gardens 3.5*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Owned and operated by Costa Rica Expeditions, Tortuga Lodge & Gardens sits on 146 acres of private land on Costa Rica’s northeast Caribbean coast. The lodge is designed to blend into the river and the rainforest. The open air restaurant, the naturally purified pool and the hammocks draped throughout the grounds all meld smoothly into the water flowing endlessly past. So smoothly that it will quickly become difficult to imagine one without the other. The lodge has 12 River View Downstairs Terrace Rooms, 12 Upstairs River View Balcony Rooms, 2 River View Downstairs Junior Suites (with connecting door available) and 1 River View Upstairs Penthouse Suite. Outside all rooms have a front porch sitting area and a hammock. Lie in your hammock in front of your room and close your eyes to listen, you will hear life going on in the forest. Inside all rooms have a private shower with hot water, a ceiling fan, in-room safe, alarm clock, free wireless internet, hair dryer, two in-room wicker chairs and a small table. Tortuguero can only be accessed by boat or by domestic or charter plane. Tortuga Lodge offers complete packages including round trip transportation, lodging, meals and excursions. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Tortuga Lodge And Gardens
Tortuga Lodge & Gardens Hotel Tortuguero
Tortuga Hotel Tortuguero
Tortuga Hotel Gardens
Tortuga Lodge & Gardens Costa Rica/Tortuguero

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