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“Comfort, value, location.”

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Tortugal River Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Victoria
Level Contributor
39 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Comfort, value, location.”
Reviewed March 5, 2013 via mobile

Probably the best value we experienced in over 3 weeks in Guatemala. Right on the river, only minutes from the awfulness of downtown Fronteras but a world away in terms of where you want to be.

After a long and vile journey from Xela to Rio Dulce we were just about all in when "Rhum" from the Tortugal picked us up at the public dock and whisked us away to the tranquility and comfort of the "La Casita Elegante" in minutes.

Our accommodation was beautifully appointed and equipped with all we could ask for; hot water "rain" shower, somewhere to store our clothes (not always a given in Guatemala) and, best of all, a lovely comfy king size bed. Everything we needed to recover from a week of volcano climbing and that awful journey.

If I have any reservation at all it would be the slightly prickly "Manuel" on reception who needs to be aware that one shouldn't be snippy with those who're paying your salary. They don't call this a "service industry" for no reason old son!

Other than this, everything perfect.

Highly recommended.

  • Stayed February 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Martin_Victoria
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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252 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (36)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
57 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
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
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Helpful?
1 Thank michaelszippy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
daphnetortugal, Owner at Tortugal River Lodge, 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.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Munich
Level Contributor
15 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
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
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Patty L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Summertown, Tennessee
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Melina B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Columbus, Ohio
Level Contributor
29 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
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
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Donna_in_Ohio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
daphnetortugal, Owner at Tortugal River Lodge, 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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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Level Contributor
48 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
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
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank LovetheWorld12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cuttingsville, Vermont
Level Contributor
127 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank ScottFreeVT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tortugal River Lodge

Property: Tortugal River Lodge
Address: Casilla Unica Fronteras | Between the Bridge and Castillo San Felipe, 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 #3 of 18 Specialty Lodging in Rio Dulce
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tortugal is an oasis of tranquillity, hospitality and unparalleled nature on the largest river and lake system in Guatemala, 22 miles inland from Livingston and the Caribbean Ocean. If you have been travelling to or from Guatemala to Tikal or Belize, Tortugal is a great stopping place for a day or so to rest and relax as though you were at home. Trips to Livingston or the soothing and therapeutic hot waterfalls at Finca Paraiso, excellent massage service can be arranged. Rooms at Tortugal are said to be the most beautiful in this region and are furnished and decorated with your comfort and relaxation in mind. Several options in accomodations include a private lodge for up to 9 persons to elegantly decorated private rooms and bungalows for one to four persons. You will arrive by water to Tortugal's welcoming restaurant built over the river to offer panoramic views of what is happening on the river from sunrise over San Gil to Castillo San Felipe. Homemade food includes many vegetarian choices, steaks, seafood, Mexican, Asian cuisine, homemade with love. The Rio Dulce region is part of La Ruta Maya, the ancient Mayan road. You can dive and swim in the clean water of Rio Dulce here. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Tortugal River Lodge Guatemala/Rio Dulce

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