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“Memorable stay at Tortuga Lodge”

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Tortuga Lodge & Gardens
Ranked #1 of 9 Hotels in Tortuguero
Certificate of Excellence
Barcelona, Spain
Level Contributor
68 reviews
39 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“Memorable stay at Tortuga Lodge”
Reviewed February 8, 2013

Last January we spent 2 nights at this Lodge, and made the reservation through Costa Rica Expeditions, who own this Lodge as well as another one in Monteverde.

We would really like to mention Gustavo Mendez, who took excellent care of our reservation (Jungle package). Any of our requirements was taken into account and every email was promptly and efficiently answered.

Everyone from the staff was helpful and willing to offer the best service. Pura Vida!

We stayed in an upstairs room with lovely views on the river and great comfort. No need for a/c, plenty of fresh air through the screened windows, which at the same time allowed for the wonderful sounds from the jungle at night time.

Excellent unpretentious homey food, perfectly served at the river front, while enjoying the views.

Our interest in visiting Tortuguero canals was perfectly taken care of, as we had morning and afternoon boat tours on both days. We would highly recommend, at least one day, to go on an early departure (6:00h). Juan was an excellent guide, and we really got to see lots of wildlife with him. Nice touch to be welcomed after every excursion with a fresh towel and a drink.

Last but not least, we were lucky to have lovely sunny days without a single mosquito.

Keep it like this and hope to be back very soon!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank XenaTR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Vällingby, Stockholms Län, Sweden
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed February 1, 2013

If you are looking for something wonderful and special Tortuga Lodge & Gardens is somthing for you. We've been staying at many places in the world and this is one of the best places you can find for a unique experience and great memories. The setup of the lodge is fantastic, great very special houses and rooms, absolutely fantastic staff - reception, restaurant, bar, cleaning.....And also excellent guides for excursions. We had Juan taking us on a first class kayaking and boating tour in the canals. His knowledge and passion for the nature in Tortuguero is unique and he shared it in a fantastic way. We highly recommend the lodge and their tour.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Anki59
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sandusky
Level Contributor
29 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed January 29, 2013

If you want to be transported into a vacation spot that is calm and relaxing this place is for your. Your little cabin is bordered on one side by the beach and on the other by the rainforest. The sound of monkeys and ocean waves mixed together is FANTASTIC!
This spot is not for everyone. There is little to do but swing in a hammock or walk the very natural beach. It is also difficult to get to as you arrive by tiny pantoon boat. We felt like we were in a movie. AWESOME!

Room Tip: All rooms were incredible and surrounded by natural sounds of the ocean and jungle
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank nkinsel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level Contributor
42 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed January 25, 2013

I stayed here with my husband and two young children for three nights and would highly recommend it. We organised our stay through Costa Rica Expeditions and found the service and staff to be excellent. We took the minivan and boat option into the lodge and then flew out and found both modes of transport to be efficient and a great experience. The lodge was incredible, beautifully located with lovely common areas and very nice rooms. We particularly liked the infinity pool and spent time in there every day with our four and five year olds. The staff were wonderful and really spoilt us rotten and the guides were excellent. The food was delicious and plentiful, but the wildlife is the real attraction here. We went on two boat tours and also spent time walking on the trails behind the lodge, and had a very special kayaking trip. We saw so many monkeys, capuchin, howler and spider, really close up too. We saw crocodiles, caimans, frogs, insects, spiders, fresh water turtles and many beautiful birds, it was a wonderful experience for all of us.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank KateG100
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
186 reviews
73 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 201 helpful votes
Reviewed January 22, 2013

It is a wonderful area to visit and you almost forgive them everything given the enormous amount of birds, crocodiles, caymans etc you can see. Still, the rooms have no AC so make sure you stay on the top floor (there are only 2) to benefit from the breeze (and to have a better view).
There isn't any choice of food in the restaurant so be prepared to eat what they give you which is not fantastically good.
The boat rides through the jungle are amazing but there are probably better hotels in Tortuguero from where you can also visit the river.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank JamesXXI
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MichaelKaye, CEO at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, responded to this review, January 23, 2013
I agree with James XXI that the upstairs rooms are preferable because they get more breeze, but he is mistaken that there are only 2 upstairs rooms. There are 12 upstairs rooms. (Perhaps it was a typo, rather than a mistake.) There is also 1 upstairs suite. There are 12 down stairs rooms.

It is also true that we do not have air-conditioning. Because we do not having air-conditioning we can have large screened windows that allow you to hear the sounds of the rain forest. Most guests feel that the ceiling fans and the breeze keep the rooms comfortable enough to make it worth it. This very fortunate, because if even a few of the hotels in Tortuguero had air conditioning it would vastly overload the grid and then none of the hotels or the village would have electricity.

Fortunately there is only one hotel in Tortuguero that has air-conditioning. This is the only hotel that has an a la carte menu.

Since we usually get raves about the food, I surprised that James XXI didn’t like the food. It would be a great help if he could let us know his specific suggestions for improvement.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gainesville, FL
Level Contributor
385 reviews
59 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 384 helpful votes
Reviewed January 20, 2013

My husband and I are recently back from a three-week holiday trip to Costa Rica. We stayed at three different lodges (Bosque del Cabo, Copa de Arbol, Tortuga Lodge and Gardens) and all three stays were incredible, even though the experience at each was unique.

First a few words about us; we are both biologists and my husband has a long history with Costa Rica, having done his dissertation research there over 30 years ago. The first two weeks of this trip were spent on the Osa Peninsula (which we love dearly), but we were also ready for a new Costa Rican experience. Our only previous time in the Tortuguero area was several years ago on a short canal boat tour, as part of a cruise ship shore excursion. We were not terribly impressed with the wildlife viewing on that trip, but the allure of the strawberry frog, emerald basilisk, and eyelash viper could not be denied, and we decided to spend the last five nights of our recent trip at Tortuga Lodge and Gardens. Little did we know that we would have such a wonderful experience, and that we would leave the place feeling as if we were saying goodbye to long time friends.

Our chartered flight to Tortuguero was arranged by Costa Rican Expeditions, and was completed on a twelve-seater (a six-seater coming back). It was a quick and easy flight from San Jose’s Tobias Bolaños International Airport. We were met at the Tortuguero airstrip by Eduardo, a welcoming and helpful host, who helped us arrange excursions and deal with other logistics throughout our trip. We made the short boat ride across the river to the lodge, and as other reviews have noted, were greeted by numerous staff waving to us in welcome. Once off the boat, we were ushered into the open air restaurant for breakfast (granola, juice, fresh fruit, gallo pinto, toast, omelets – many items to choose from), and then once finished, headed to reception where we met Julian, who checked us in. Julian is the manager of the lodge, and we believe he is a major key to the lodge’s success. He exudes customer service, as does the entire staff. In our meeting with him, it was clear that he cares about his guests’ specific interests and how the lodge will be able to meet those interests. When he learned of our deep interests in biology, nature, and the work of the late turtle conservationist Archie Carr, he made it his mission provide as many diverse excursion opportunities as possible within our five day stay.

Our room (16) was great; an upstairs room on the end, with screened windows on three sides. In combination with the ceiling fan, the windows provided enough cross breezes to keep us cool despite the lack of air conditioning, and insects were never an issue. The room was rustic (beautiful wood floors) and very clean, and the maids provided us with different towel sculptures every day. We had both front and back porches, with the front porch facing the river, and the back porch facing the garden and past that the jungle. We spent many hours of down time on the front porch watching the river go by (and the toucans fly across it). The bed was very comfortable and we slept great every night - you could actually hear the ocean, even though it was on the other side of the river.

As described above, breakfasts were great, with a number of choices every day. We also very much enjoyed lunch and dinner, which were served family style. Virtually every lunch or dinner consisted of a soup, a salad, an entrée with vegetables or starches, and dessert. Entrees such as beef on sugar cane skewers, rice and shrimp Limon style, ginger chicken with rice, fish soup, roast pork with chile and coconut sauce – all delicious. All three lodges we stayed at on this trip had great food; of the three, Tortuga Lodge’s meals were the most like home-cooked comfort food, and definitely emphasized local style and ingredients. The lodge was also very good about substituting if the planned meal did not meet a guest’s dietary requirements. I don’t eat fish and my husband does not eat fried food – so the day they served fried fish for lunch, we were able to substitute a delicious grilled chicken in sauce. Service was great, and we especially enjoyed talking with Stephanie and Ileana.

Of course, the reason we came to Tortuguero was to see the wildlife, especially the wildlife that is not found on the Pacific side, and we were not disappointed. The unique canal environment of the area is one of the strengths of TL&G. We took three boat excursions, one at 6:00 am (Angelo), one at 7:30 am (Juan), and one at 2:00 pm (Don). We were not sure what to expect from these boat excursions, as we had that less than inspiring canal tour several years ago as a shore excursion while on a cruise. But we needn’t have worried, our excursions with Angelo, Juan and Don took us much deeper into the canals, were much longer in duration, and the experience of these guides was clearly in evidence. Our Tortuga Lodge excursions took us into some very narrow and seemingly remote canals, where we saw three species of monkeys, chestnut mandibled toucans, two- and three-toed sloths, numerous brilliant emerald basilisk lizards and massive green iguanas, caiman, river turtles, jacanas, manikins, parrots, anhingas and numerous species of kingfishers, herons, and egrets. We loved our tours with Juan and Angelo – they were great and we saw tons of wildlife. Our final boat excursion with Don was very special to us for a couple of reasons. The first is that Don worked with Archie Carr, sea turtle biologist and transformational conservationist. If you are not familiar with Dr. Carr’s work, pick up a copy of “The Sea Turtle: So Excellent A Fishe” or “The Windward Road: Adventures of a Naturalist on Remote Caribbean Shores”, or the biography “The Man Who Saved Sea Turtles: Archie Carr and the Origins of Conservation Biology”. My husband and I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Carr back in the 1980s, and his contributions to and effects on Tortuguero, the green sea turtle, and conservation (especially in Costa Rica) cannot be denied. The beaches of Tortuguero, including those directly across from the lodge, is where he did much of his work. Don recounted a number of stories about working with Dr. Carr, and his impact on the area. This excursion also provided us with one of the most authentic animal interactions we saw on our trip, and exemplified Don’s expertise as a guide. At one point in our tour, Don stopped the boat, said he heard something, and backed us up a fair bit. Soon we also heard the noise, a hysterical dog-barking-like sound – and saw the reason for the cacophony – two Capuchin monkeys working in concert, had stolen eggs from the nest of a bare-throated tiger heron. The heron was going wild, and one of the monkeys was in clear view, clutching an ill-gotten egg.

For those who have a greater sense of adventure and a keen interest in what comes out in the jungle at night, the lodge offers excellent Twilight Tours. You never know what you are going to get on night hikes; some lodges provide only tame walks through their gardens. That is not what we got at Tortuga Lodge, and we were so glad! We took three night hikes over our five nights at the lodge, and they were all excellent, hiking through the blue and green trails. Juan (twice) and Angelo helped us find numerous species we would likely not have found on our own, such as the eyelash viper, a caterpillar that acts as a snake mimic to avoid being eaten, and a variety of frog species. By the end of our stay our search images had also really improved, and we were able to find a number of reptiles and amphibians on these hikes, including red eyed tree frogs, tink frogs, a cat-eyed snake, and a chunk-headed snake. Juan and Angelo were both great guides, and they were very patient with us (especially when my husband doggedly pursued the first tink frog). The conditions, especially for the second and third night hikes, were quite exciting, as the recent rains provided a lot of mud and obliterated the boundaries between trail and habitat in some sections, as the flooded trail merged with the surrounding jungle. The last two nights my husband located three caiman, two of which were basically swimming on the trail. Juan also took us on a hike through the national park, and found a short-nosed green vine snake. How he saw that little camouflaged snake I’ll never know, but it was a great find.

Although using these experienced guides will provide the best chance of seeing animals on property, there are numerous opportunities to see wildlife on your own as well. We saw juvenile green iguanas and brown basilisks in the grassy area in front of our room, a turtle at the beginning of the blue trail, a pair of slaty-tailed trogons flew into the tree in front of our room every morning, and we saw collared aracaris in a different tree in front of our room every day. Chestnut mandibled toucans made regular fly overs. You can hear the strawberry poison dart frogs calling from the forest behind the reception area, and they are relatively easy to find when walking the trails behind the gardens. My best find of our three weeks in Costa Rica was a canopy lizard in the tree next to our room – it was the first time I had ever seen one and we had no idea that we would be so lucky on this trip. These lizards are sort of the new world equivalent of old word chameleons, and they have the same independently moving eyes and similar motion. We managed to see monkeys a couple of times on the blue trail, and my husband found a large crocodile sleeping at the edge of the pond that is behind the garden.

It took me a few weeks to write this review because it was so hard to put into words the magical feeling that we had while at Tortuga Lodge and Gardens. The personal attention, outstanding staff and management, knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides, delicious and plentiful food, gorgeous surroundings, and diverse and ubiquitous wildlife made Tortuga Lodge and Gardens our home away from home on the Caribbean side. We look forward to returning (hopefully this turtle season), and strongly recommend this lodge.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
9 Thank reptileenthusiast
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MichaelKaye, CEO at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, responded to this review, January 23, 2013
Wow!!! We have received a great deal of positive feedback over the years, but reptileenthusiast’s review is one of the most generous, helpful detailed reviews that we have ever received.
Off all the things reptileenthusiast wrote I particularly appreciate that (s)he pointed out that Tortuguero is a magical place to visit even when the turtles are not nesting---especially when you have really great guides.
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San Diego, California
Level Contributor
43 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed January 18, 2013

We were here the first week of January 2013 and absolutely loved everything about it. The location is incredibly beautiful, the staff is stellar, the food is very good, the lodge is beautifully maintained, wildlife viewing is superb...and....beds are most comfortable.

We did a morning and afternoon wildlife boat tour in the canals along the river. I do not know if all the guides are wonderful but can attest to Ferdinando's skills and love of his land. As on safari, the ability of the guide to spot wildlife is critical to enjoyment and Ferdinando was very, very good.

We enjoyed the services and warmth of the manager, Julian, and his entire staff, most of whom live in the small town down river. A visit to the town is interesting and fun and a place to buy souvenirs. The lodge promotes the town by not having an on-site gift shop which we appreciated.

Arriving at Tortuga Lodge can not help but remind a guest of the television show, Fantasy Island..if one is old enough to remember "zee plane, zee plane." But, not wanting to be a spoiler, I won't tell why this is. Just know that you are immediately light hearted as you are greeted.

We saw more wildlife here than in either Arenal or Monteverde. Because it was not turtle season, we wondered if it was a mistake to go at this time of year. It was not! From our balcony, we watched toucans, monkeys and many birds. It was wonderful. We had beautiful weather, which is always a matter of chance but it made up for the torrential rains in Arenal.

The grounds are meticulously maintained, the pool sparkles, housekeeping is immaculate and it all seems to work together well. We would return in a New York minute. In fact, we just might.

Room Tip: End rooms are by far the ones to have if you can. If not, then others are quite fine. Don't let...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Jane P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tortuga Lodge & Gardens

Property: 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 ( WiFi ) 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*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
11 River View Downstairs Terrace Rooms. 12 Upstairs River View Balcony Rooms. (A little more expensive, but worth it. See what reviewers have said by clicking on "room tips") 2 River View Downstairs Junior Suites, with connecting door. 1 River View Upstairs Penthouse Suite with 2 baths. 1 of the Downstairs Rooms is Wheelchair Accessible with 2 baths • Beds: 4 Downstairs Rooms and 5 Upstairs Rooms have 1 King Bed. 6 Downstairs Rooms and 3 Upstairs Rooms have 2 Double Beds. 1 Downstairs Room and 2 Upstairs Rooms have 1 Queen and 1 Double Bed. 1 Downstairs Room has 1 King and 1Double Bed. 2 Upstairs Rooms have 1 Queen and 1 Double Bed. The 2 Junior suites have 1 King and 1 Double Bed • All rooms have: In-room safe, hot water, ceiling fans, reading lamps, hair dryer, free wireless internet and large screened windows so you experience the sounds of the rain forest. • All rooms don't have: TV, AC, or mini-bar. • Service Style: Personalized, informal, caring. • Restaurant: Cuisine: What a Costa Rican Grandmother would cook if she was also a creative and contemporary professional chef. Caribbean themed cocktails, and no we don't mean pina coladas, although we'll make you one of those too. •Atmosphere: Quiet, laid back and with an emphasis on the natural surroundings - most buildings are open air. • No background music. • Suggested activities at hotel: Palm and Orchid Gardens. Plan on 1 or 2 hours. Award winning Riverside Pool. Plan on at least 1 hour per morning or afternoon per day. Hammocks everywhere. Plan on losing track of time in one. 2 computers with internet for guest use at no charge. Spend as little time as possible. You're on vacation. • 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. • Suggested stay: 3-5 nights. • Owned and Operated by Costa Rica Expeditions. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Tortuga Lodge & Gardens Hotel Tortuguero
Tortuga Lodge And Gardens
Tortuga Hotel Tortuguero
Tortuga Hotel Gardens
Tortuga Lodge & Gardens Costa Rica/Tortuguero

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