Tortuga Lodge Review, Costa Rica
My final destination in Costa Rica before heading back to San Jose for my flight out was Tortuga Lodge located just a 10 minute boat ride from the edge of Tortuguero National Park. Another Costa Rica Expeditions selection, I was quite curious to see how the lodge was — at this point CRE had done an exceptional job with possibly just a little disappointment in Arenal Manoa.
I flew into the area via a charter flight. There's no airport here, just a paved runway. On one end of the runway there's a patch of sand on which the boat from Tortuga Lodge waits for passengers. The boat literally crosses the Tortuga River to get to Tortuga Lodge.
As the boat pulled into the dock at the lodge, I was greeted by a few of the staff. One was holding my fruity and refreshing welcome drink. Always a good start to any stay!
Immediately I notice that the grounds around the lodge are beautiful. A mix of rainforest trees and open areas so you can walk unencumbered. I learn later that behind the lodge are a couple of trails through the rainforest where the main attraction is the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog.
The main building at Tortuga is nice with many tables both for eating and enjoying the outdoors. A full bar is available for those needing to quench a thirst –- I quickly became a fan of the watermelon juice.
The rooms (there are 26 in total) were reminiscent of wood cabins with 4 rooms in a block – two rooms on the main floor and two rooms on the second floor. All rooms overlooked the river. And surprisingly the lighting in the bathroom was sufficient for a good shave! A seemingly silly thing to notice, but I've been in places where I couldn't see well enough to know if I had shaved a spot on my face or not. The rooms followed an open style that is common in Costa Rica – no air conditioning, a ceiling fan, and windows that were covered with a mesh to keep out bugs. I was not hot at night, but I have to admit that the jungle noises did wake me up during the night. No matter, an extra bit of coffee in the morning took care of any missed sleep.
The meals were served at set times with the tables set up with the right number of seats to accommodate couples or families. Food was brought out family style where every dish contains enough for everyone at the table. Lunch and dinner were 4 courses with a salad and dessert. The menu for lunch and dinner was preset, but breakfast was made to order.
Tortuga Lodge made for an excellent base from which to partake in activities in the areas including: a trip into town; a guided night walk; kayaking in the canals of Tortuguero; and both a morning and afternoon boat ride into Tortuguero National Park. On two occasions I joined a guided morning walk on the grounds of the lodge along with a night walk into rainforest behind the lodge.
For those not willing to brave the mosquitoes in the rainforest, the Blue Jeans Dart Frog can be seen in good numbers around a particular tree just a few steps from the lodge. A nice distraction while waiting for tours to start.