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All reviewsnational parkbreakfast not includedbig roomentrance feeclean roomssoccer fieldturtle tourbook toursnice breakfastcouple of nightsearly morningstayed two nightsno air conditioninghostelhammockscabinasvillage
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Reviewed 21 August 2016 via mobile

There's two parts to this review; the lodgings and the tours that are affiliated with it.

1st of all, the room was great. We had the front room opening on to beach views. It had a double bed and 3 singles with a large bathroom and plenty of space to store luggage. The two big fans kept us cool at night. There was an outside porch with table and chairs but it was so close to the dining area and hammocks we didn't use it. There was a swimming pool in their sister place for guests to use. They look like there's a renovation going on and to be honest, it needed it. But it was fun to cool down in the afternoons in the absence of not being able to swim in the sea ( due to strong currents). Wifi worked well.

The owner was very laid back and easy. I took issue with the 10% charge at the only ATM in the village. He allowed us to paypal money into his account and he gave us cash for a bargain 5%!

They only offer breakfast and cold drinks are limited to water, beer or cheap cola.

I wouldn't hesitate to stay here again. It was a great location with friendly staff.

Now for the tours.....

We were greeted at the boat port by a guy who said he was from our hotel and told us about the tours we were going on...not asked...told. I know we came to tortuguero to see wildlife but it was kind of put on us not as a sales pitch "this is what you can do", more an expectation "you will go canoeing, then you will walk in the park" etc. The guide was not from our hotel. But we went along with him as it sounded like everyone was paying roughly the same prices. The canoe trip was ok. There were many tourist boats out and the guides were good at sharing the space so everyone got to see what had been spotted. We saw caimen, sloths, monkeys, basilics and loads of birds. Don't forget to take a rain coat as we did. It can rain hard!!! The cost was $20 per person. We negotiated a cheaper price for our two kids. This did not include the $15 per person entrance fee into the national park ( again, cheaper for kids under 9). The ticket allowed us to walk in the national park for the rest of the day. The walk was interesting but I regret not hiring a guide. We may have seen more. However we did see lots of spiders, a few monkeys and a really cool snake which I managed to get quite close to for a photo only to find it was very deadly and I probably should have showed more caution! And if you are wondering why people are wearing Wellington boots, it's because some areas are flooded. You can rent them near the start of the walk for $2. Take long socks!

The turtle tour was a little underwhelming if I'm honest. It didn't start well when our guide told us he would pick us up at 7:30. Because we had children we could go on the early tour. We bumped into him shortly before and he told us that we had to go at 9:30. It was something to do with a lottery of who goes at what time to limit the numbers. We were not happy because the kids would have been knackered and not enjoyed it. Anyway some kind people swapped with us. We saw one turtle crawling back into the ocean and one laying it's eggs. The guide had a red lamp so you could see what was happening ( no photos at all!) But in the two hours we were gone we spend maybe 20 minutes watching the turtle and then we had to stand aside to let another group in whilst we had a Q&A with the guide. On that basis it seemed a little expensive for a family of four ( $80) but it's a necessity when in tortuguero and it was an amazing sight to see. Just would have liked to see more or spend more time observing.

I'm glad we went but be prepared to be whisked around the tourist trail and dig deep into your pockets. And take plenty of cash with you to avoid the ATM!

Stayed: August 2016, travelled with family
2  Thank Gordon H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 August 2016 via mobile

I had a love/hate relationship with this place. The location is pretty great because it's right on the beach close to the border of the national park. There are some nice hammocks to chill in and the staff was friendly and overall very helpful. But I had a very difficult time with my room. I didn't see the interior of any other room, but mine was nothing more than a concrete cube with a bed in it and a rotating fan affixed to the wall. The roof is metal and there is one small window with a thick screen that does not allow for any air flow whatsoever. It was by far the hottest place I stayed in in my whole 3 weeks in Costa Rica. The room was like an oven during the day and did not cool down at night until about 3am. Sleeping for me was impossible. I don't know what all the other hotels are like in Tortuguero - but it seems that for such a hot place it would make more sense to construct homes and hotels that are more open and airy with thatched roof instead of corrugated metal. I was so hot here and sleep deprived that it ruined my stay in Tortuguero. But I'm sensitive to extreme heat so that's not to say that someone else would be just fine with this discomfort.

About the turtle tours:

I used the a guide from the hotel for the turtle tour and absolutely did not like him. It was a two hour window we were supposed to have to be on the beach and experience the turtles laying their eggs. The guide for our small group rushed from one stop to the next at breakneck speed to see the turtles. There was no time to linger and really experience and process this magnificent thing we were seeing- it was like two minutes with the red light focused on the turtle and the guide saying " ok, you see the turtle going back to the ocean? You see?ok, let's go!"' Then a rush down the beach to find one laying eggs. Then the same: " ok you see the eggs coming out? You see? Ok. let's move!" There were two other large groups behind us waiting to crouch down and see.. Then we sat in the dark waiting for a turn to see again... There was a distinct feelingbthatvtherecwerecturltlescalll around us coming and going from the ocean but we just were forced to stay still in the dark waiting among a crowd of people to see this one animal. We got a quick opportunity to crouch down again seeing the turtle cover up the eggs with her flippers. After 60 seconds, I said, " we should have a look at her face because it's incredible to see the tears the turtle produces that protect her eyes from the sand- and we can see and hear her breathing" his response was , "Ok, later. You see the camouflage of the eggs? You see? Ok let's go!" We got up and he raced off down the beach to the trail that led us back to the village.
Many other groups were still lingering on the beach and talking about what they were seeing and experiencing. It felt as if our group did not get the same opportunity to linger- we were hustled back as soon as possible, having spent one hour running around, instead of using the two hour window for a more leisurely, immersive experience that I paid for.
All and all the beach felt chaotic with too many groups crowded around one turtle and not enough time to enjoy and learn about the animals that you were there for. I don't know if other tour agencies or guides would handle it differently. A staff member at the Turtle Conservation Center in town recommended a place called " Roots"'that have certified guides that I was told were of better quality.

Stayed: August 2016, travelled solo
Thank Alexis L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 August 2016 via mobile

Ask yourself before booking this place what do I expect for $30?
The answer should be 'not too much'.
And in this case not more than a bed in a non air conditioned room with a shower.
Don't be bothered by noise as there are no windows but screens. The night turtle tour comes back around midnight and you'll hear doors slam, shoes being slammed to be cleaned and people talk for at least 30 mins. The first morning noise is around 4:30 with the early tour people.
So if you don't mind any of this: this is the place! Cheap, clean, wifi, and friendly. Don't expect matching sheets and towels, complimentary shampoo and shower caps. There are other places that do provide that.
It's a short (safe!) walk from the docks. Find the Salvadoran street vendor for a delicious $3 meal and enjoy the view of the canal.
Also know that when you buy a $20 tour they add $15 for admission to the natl park. They won't tell you upfront, so beware of all the tour selling people.
To us the tortuguero part of the trip was a bit disappointing: it's a tourist trap.

Stayed: August 2016, travelled as a couple
1  Thank joyce D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 August 2016

Tortuguero is a small village, and one of the most remote places in Costa Rica -- it can only be reached by boat or plane. Cabinas El Icaco is right on the beach... nice to hear the surf pounding, friendly and helpful staff. Tortuguero is a very safe place and you can sign up for a tour to see the turtles nesting. Most of the guests at El Icaco were Europeans (they all speak English well). The hotel is billed as a hostel, but I'd say it's a couple steps up -- clean and adequate, if a bit on the austere side, but we were very comfortable... beds are comfortable, the breakfast was good, and there is hot water in the shower -- what else does one need? I visited Tortuguero a few years ago and there were only a few of us on the bus to Pavona where you get the boat to Tortuguero. Now there are swarms of people at the boat dock. The bus from San Jose to Carriari is nice, but the bus from Carriari to Pavona leaves a lot to be desired, and the boat landing needs serious upgrading. It was difficult getting on the boat because the step up is hip high. Something as simple as a concrete block to step on would have made a big difference. You need to bring a flashlight -- I brought a tiny 3-bulb LED on a keychain that was very adequate. Best to travel light with just a small backpack, and the trip will be easier. Most people just stay a couple days, see the turtles (always at night), do a canal tour, maybe the jungle walk in the national park (a hotel patron said he saw more wildlife in park than on the canals) but it's at sea level so very warm. I just brought one pair of shoes that I wore the whole trip, my substantial Crocs classic sandals.... easy to wash the sand off, walk through water and wet grass, etc., one pair of shorts, wore my nylon cargo pocket pants (they dry in a minute) to travel and for night, a couple of tops, a light jacket, rain poncho that folds up into a very small packet, and small fold-up umbrella. Everything fit easily in my small backpack, even a book to read, which I started while relaxing in one of the hammocks in front of the hotel. Great experience both times.

  • Stayed: August 2016, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Sue H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 August 2016 via mobile

After our trip with the boat we were welcomed by a friendly host. The hotel is a bit out of the centre of town, but in short walking distance. Thats how we like it. The swimming pool is very small and is at another hotel. In my opinion the swimming pool is not an asset.

Stayed: August 2016, travelled with family
Thank SandraAtje66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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